Sports injury: To train or not to train is the question

Athlete running road silhouette

If your chosen activity causes pain and injury, is it better to not do anything – and not get injured? This is a question that we are being sometimes asked by clients who come in with an injury caused by their chosen sport – running, cycling, swimming, climbing and such like. Although it can be frustrating to feel that one has to start from scratch after an injury or period of inactivity, there are also opportunities in terms of learning how to optimize and prevent injury. Learning about limitations and perceived limitations, and new possibilities of where you can take your fitness if you manage your physical and mental wellbeing, can be quite an exciting journey. Which also includes recovery and rest, an area often underestimated. What is certainly true is that sports bring out imbalances in the body, but there are ways to keep them in check – for example through targeted exercises, diversification of activity, diet and bodywork/therapy. Not doing anything is definitely more perilous than being active, in terms of a host of diseases which affect us not only physically, but also on a mental and cognitive level (for more information, click here). And there are some serious downsides associated with stopping training or becoming less active, as functional fitness coach Emma Oko points out in her little article “What happens when we stop training“. What’s best is definitely to be active – and not get injured! Or at least return to fitness as quickly as possible. And if you feel you cannot even do any sports because of pain, it may be an idea to tackle those issues so that you can start being active. Often, it is the fear of pain that holds us back, rather than the pain itself. Guided stretching and strengthening can help discover what you can actually do – often quite surprisingly – and also help to get back to fitness, and health, step by step. Here’s what Paul Smith, sports massage therapist and sports rehabilitator here at Therapy Room Sheffield, says about running (but this can be equally applied to other sports): Runners’ Injuries Running, like any other activity or sport, is good for our fitness, wellbeing and mood enhancement. Unfortunately injuries are part and parcel of any sport and activity, running being no exception. For runners, injuries take generalised forms such as musculoskeletal sprains and strains, joint injuries, and low back pain, but other more unique type injuries can be as common. In my experience plantar fasciitis, ilio-tibial band syndrome, achilles tendonitis, and muscle imbalance, tend to be injuries that bring runners to a full stop. They are often symptoms of an accumulation of issues that have arisen over time. “Where the pain is, the problem is not”, said Ida Rolf, a pioneer in the field of musculoskeletal work, in the last century. This certainly holds true! To get to the bottom of the underlying causes is the challenge and prerequisite for getting better and avoiding re-injury. Part of my remit as Sports Therapist at Therapy Room Sheffield is to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate such injuries. But I’m also passionate about putting strategies in place for individuals to reduce the incidence of these injuries occurring, enabling the runner to prepare for events and competition, or for the jogger to carry on enjoy their running. I believe that regular maintenance is key to identifying and reducing possible future injuries through a variety of techniques, of which massage is one element. Pre-event and post-event massage prepares the runner for the race or event on the day, but it’s the preparation in ensuring the body is ready in the weeks and months before the event, for me is the key element. Maintenance of the musculoskeletal system is as important as training in running, as in all sports. So keep running injury free. Paul Smith