Preventing Injuries From Happening in the First Place

Did you know that the greatest risk factor for an injury is having already experienced that injury? For example, if you’re a trail runner, you may be used to years of ankle sprains that happen when you step on a rock the wrong way or the damn tree root that appears out of nowhere.

Who else has been here with me?

Perhaps you’re thinking that ankle sprains are just a part of trail running. Or maybe spraining your ankle on a run gives you this sense of belonging, like you’re finally one of “them”.

Yes, you likely have great company in the Trail Runner with a Sprained Ankle Club.

BUT these all-too-common injuries that can cause weeks, months, or years of training delays don’t have to be the norm for you.

I’ll say it again – the greatest risk factor for an injury is a past history of that injury. AND a past injury in one place on your body can also increase the risk for an injury in another place. For example, research indicates that when you sprain your ankle, your glutes can become inhibited (a.k.a. turn off) within 24 hours of the injury. You may do everything you know to help your ankle heal, but when your glutes are inhibited, your hips can’t react to forces as efficiently, and your risk for an injury up the chain (ie. knee, hip, back) is more likely.

So, the secret to preventing another injury from happening in the future is to consider the whole body. And not just the physical part!

As you may have experienced in the past, injuries can stir up a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions. It’s common to feel frustrated and discouraged when you have to place your training on hold, scratch out of the next race, and/or have no idea when you’ll be able to lace up your running shoes again.

You might find yourself distracted at work, disconnected from the people you love, and feeling like you’re just not yourself.

If you’re like most people who like to run, running is one of your favorite things to do because it’s an outlet to clear your mind and reset. It’s a way to numb or escape the feelings and/or stress on your plate because chances are that somewhere along the line you’ve learned that negative emotions are inconvenient and having them makes you weak.

[I get it – I learned those things too. AND they’re also total BS.]

So how do you escape the inner turmoil when you’re sidelined from running?

The more we bury, escape, or numb feelings, the more our body unconsciously holds onto them. This creates tension in the muscles, reduces reaction time, and compromises the body’s ability to react to unexpected forces efficiently.

In short, avoiding the mental and emotional side of injury (and life in general even when you’re not injured) can lead to repetitive physical setbacks.

I have a hunch this isn’t what you have in mind for your future self. And the good news is that with a few new tools and a well-rounded support team, you can in fact achieve an injury-free running routine.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Invest in a TEAM of experts who can support you in whole body wellness (ie. an MD, a PT, a mindset coaches, a strength coach, a sports dietician or nutritionist, etc). I say a **team** because as lovely as it would be, there is no ONE person that specializes in all of these components. And I know you want the BEST of the best on your team, so invest smart right from the start.
2. Get adequate sleep and nutrition
3. Take your rest days seriously
4. Create a cross-training routine
5. Establish a mindfulness practice that becomes a habit (ie. meditation, journaling, breath work, etc)
6. Ask for help when you need it. You are not designed to go through life alone!

By: Dr. Jen Davis, PT, DPT, Mindset Coach

Do you have a team of experts? Are you in search of a place with a team of experts to provide a whole body approach to staying injury free? The Happy Bananas Subscription includes just that. Here you will find a team of experts including Dr. Jen Davis herself, alongside sports dietitians, physical therapists, coaches, sports psychologists, sports cardiologists, and so many more to keep you running healthy!