How to manage an injury?

In order to manage your life as a runner, you need to listen to what your body is telling you. . This involves being aware of any painful signs that your body is giving you. Learning to identify an impending injury or the potential cause of an injury and knowing when to stop running and take the necessary time off to convalesce: these are just some of the situations that you need to master…


Learn to listen to what your body is telling you

Easy to say or write. But not so easy to observe and follow on a daily basis. For runners, listening to what their body is telling them naturally means focusing on those areas that are directly affected by the stresses involved in running: the legs, hips, pelvis and back. The golden rule for which there are no exceptions: Never run when in pain (persisting and diffuse) – particularly when it occurs during a training session, i.e. at the end of the warm-up phase.

Listening to what your body is telling you must also take into account periods of fatigue or stress. If you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, the risk of injury will rise. It is better to skip one or more outings (or replace them with a session in the swimming pool or on your bike). Naturally, the same applies in the event of sickness. Never run if you have a fever!


Know quickly when to consult a GP

It is important, over a number of years of sports practice, to learn how to recognise the difference between a minor injury and a more alarming pain that could be the warning sign of a full-blown injury. The muscle discomfort (i.e. stiffness) experienced after a long and/or intense session is not serious. However, a pain in the tendons (particularly when the body has cooled down or when you wake up in the morning) should be taken seriously (the same applies to any type of pain that arises during exercise).

Do not wait to consult a GP if you are in any doubt about the type of pain you are feeling. Your GP can give you advice and direct you to a sports traumatology specialist and/or request certain tests such as an ultrasound or MRI scan.


A physiotherapist that exclusively specialises in sports injuries can and should become your adviser as well as your guardian angel. It is important to keep in contact with him on a regular basis in order to check that you are still able to run with peace of mind.


Always keep in mind the following:

- Stop any sports practice as soon as you feel any discomfort – whatever that might be – that persists for more than 72 hours.
- Never run when you feel pain!Naturally, there will be sessions that are not so easy, but not to the point where you feel pain in a specific area.


Accept your injury

It can sometimes take several months to heal from an injury. More often than not, the runner, who is unable to do any exercise at all – not just the simple pleasure of running! – will go through a range of emotional states including anger, discouragement, indignation and melancholy.


Here are two words of advice that can help to overcome the trial of an injury:

- Stop feeling guilty.It may be that you increased your training time – without going through the different stages. Maybe you ignored the warning signs that your body was giving you. However, feeling guilty will not make you heal more quickly.

- Do not feel that your body has betrayed you. Injured runners will often feel this way. They will blame the painful area that prevents them from running. The knee, the Achilles heel or the aponeurosis was not the cause of the injury. Make the most of the injury period to really make peace with your body.


Take your time before coming back…

Do not botch up the end of your convalescence for the sole purpose of checking whether you still know how to run! It is important to follow the recommendations of your doctor or your physiotherapist. This concerns your timetable for coming back as well as the need to demonstrate caution.

Indeed, your body needs to find its bearings. From the point of view of the heart and blood vessels (if the break is lengthy) as well as the muscles and the tendons. And this goes further than the damaged zone. If you were running 50 km a week before your injury, it is naturally out of the question to consider running the same number of kilometres until you have spent a few weeks getting "up to speed". Badr El Hariri, the Parisian sports physiotherapist, emphasises the following: "The idea of gradually increasing the load when coming back after an injury is crucial. This will define how long the recovery phase takes, with times where you need to slow things down as well times when you can speed things up. It is important to validate each step of the process without discomfort or pain. "

As has already been mentioned several times, always listen to what your body is telling you. Beyond all the advice that you may be given, you are the only one who knows exactly how you feel when you exercise. There will always be that day when the pleasure of running returns. Intact. On that day, promise yourself that you will be enthusiastic, while also being cautious about how you manage your training sessions.


Injuries are not inevitable! There are many runners who will train for years without the slightest injury. However, it is likely that you will one day have to visit a sports physiotherapist, foot specialist or a doctor specialised in sports traumatology if your weekly mileage regularly exceeds 50 km and you participate in timed events.