Five signs you may be getting injured
It would be amazing if we could predict and prevent injuries happening, but unfortunately it’s very difficult to do. There are numerous intrinsic and extrinsic factors that affect us, some of which we aren’t even aware of!
Here are 5 signs that you may be getting an injury:
Signs of pain shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to your training. The types of pain you need to be aware of:
- Joint pain
- Muscle and tendon pain – also referred to as strain
- Ligament pain – also referred to as a sprain
The symptoms you can expect are a reduction of movement through the area and surrounding structures. You will most likely experience pain when moving the injury site, and some bruising and/or swelling.
With a strain or a sprain, the type of tear, location, and severity will all influence recovery times. Work with a fitness professional to help get you back on track as quickly, and safely, as possible
Post exercise discomfort (otherwise known as D.O.M.S. – delayed onset of muscle soreness)
After a particularly hard training session, micro tears within muscles can lead to soreness. This is due to increased demands on your body. These micro tears are important for strength and performance improvements, alongside the right recovery and nutrition. DOMS are very common in beginners and those who step up their training too quickly.
The pain can feel similar to other muscular injuries, but it’s different and the recovery will be quicker.
This happens when you’ve asked too much of your body and have gone over your recovery capacity. Signs are behavioural, mental and physical. Over-training is a very big subject that can be broken down into many areas. The more common causes include:
Calorie deficiency: Each person has an energy/calorie level they need to reach each day to cover their daily needs. This goes beyond just general movement and being awake. It goes to a deeper level for tissue and cell repair, brain function and the endless tasks the human body performs. In terms of running performance, if you have a negative calorie intake you’re not allowing your muscles to recover and repair. This can lead to increases in muscle tissue breakdown and, ultimately, a reduction in performance levels and increased risk of injury.
Repair inefficiency: If you over-train, the micro tears in your muscles that happen during training can’t heal quickly enough before the next session. This will promote further muscle tissue breakdown and injury risk. Your aim when training is to be in an anabolic state to keep your body’s ability to repair, strengthen and perform better. The opposite of this is being in a catabolic state. When you are in this phase your stress hormones (cortisol) are too high. This will place too much strain on your nervous system and muscular system, leading to a consistent drop in performance and also your health. To stay clear of over-training you want to promote an internal anabolic state.
You can prevent over-training by:
- Smart periodised training and allowing for adequate recovery
- More sleep if you’re not getting enough
- Not getting in a calorie deficit, but being smart with your intake: eat clean foods that hit your daily requirements of good fats, proteins, carbs that have high nutrient and vitamin levels and keep hydrated
- Taking yourself away from negative and stressful environments
Fatigue can have physical and mental causes. It can cause the transfer of signals between nerve synapses to become slower, delaying the activation and action of the working muscles. As you become more aware of how your body is performing during your training, you will begin to learn when your muscles aren’t able to sustain optimal performance.
Mental fatigue will have the following effects:
- Decreased concentration
- Decreased levels of consciousness
- Slower reaction times
- A general feeling of tiredness that isn’t the same as feeling sleepy
- You will look to skip training days or do them with a decreased level of effort
If you are experiencing tiredness in the muscles, aching joints and any of the symptoms above, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue. Do the following:
- Check your training schedule to see if you’re doing too much
- Check if you’re getting enough quality rest between training sessions. Sleep is a vital component of recovery and performance.
- Go through your training logs to see if your performance is declining
- Analyse your nutrition and hydration to see if you’ve fuelled correctly
- Get feedback from a coach
- Be honest with yourself so that you look after your health.
When training, it’s important to log and track your training progress. This will give you vital information about whether you’re improving, stagnating or dropping off in performance.
A sign that you may be heading towards a performance drop may be that a previously “easy” running session now is feeling hard and causing you problems. This could just a bad day (everyone has them), but pay attention to what happened before this. Check back on your training, nutrition and sleep logs to see if you’ve prepared yourself optimally in order to peak come your training day.
If you notice areas where you could have prepared better, make the necessary changes to what was lacking. If the next “easy” run then turns out to be easy, it was probably your preparation causing your performance drop off. Be consistent and learn from this episode in your training.
If you do feel all is OK with your training, nutrition and sleep, but you’re still experiencing a drop in performance, then there are a few things to consider:
- Be honest with yourself
- Get a coach, or someone else, to look at your data
- Change your training stimuli as you may have reached a period in your training where you’re bored and lacking motivation
Just slight changes in your running technique can be an indication of potential problems in the near or distant future. To become an efficient runner you’re looking to:
- Run on your forefoot
- Have good posture in the upper body
- Optimal mobility of the hips and other working joints
- Multi-directional core stability and strength
- The strength and flexibility of the muscular system to deal with the demands of running
- The correct activation and drive of the hamstrings and gluteal muscles to drive your legs
The above are the fundamentals and basis for efficient running technique.
If your technique resembles the following:
- Landing on your heels
- Driving from the quads and hip flexors
- Landing heavy when your foot strikes the floor
- Slumped over posture
Then you could be heading towards some potential running injuries.
People often look for the quick fix when trying to correct an issue with their running technique. The running market is full of information on footwear and orthotics.
Be aware that trying to correct an imbalance through footwear and orthotics will in most cases only provide a short-term fix and won’t correct the underlying cause of the problem. The body will adapt to the new positions and potentially cause more inefficiencies, leading to more problems in the future.
The feet are designed to work without orthotics and bulky running trainers. Deal with structural imbalances through manual therapies, flexibility and strength training.