Athletes, especially ultra runners, are no stranger to chronic pain and overuse injuries. The chronic pain many runners experience usually develops slowly, is persistent, and long lasting. Chronic pain is usually low-grade pain and directly associated with an injury. Sometimes the pain comes and goes. These are not symptoms that should be ignored, and can lead to long term injury that is difficult to heal.
Chronic injuries are often the result of trauma to the soft tissues. You may remember the acronym R.I.C.E. This is best applied immediately after an injury occurs, but can also help heal a chronic injury.
What is RICE
Rest: Rest is often the most difficult prescription for athletes to follow. Most athletes thrive when they are active and getting their blood flowing, but rest is crucial to helping the injury to heal. Regardless of the severity of the injury, activity must be stopped or severely limited to allow proper healing.
Ice: Cold therapy helps the healing process go faster. Ice or even cryotherapy helps increase blood flow to the injured area and provides temporary pain relief. When using ice, it’s important to not apply the ice pack directly to the skin (wrap the ice pack in a thin towel) and to leave the ice on the affected area for 15-20 minutes. Cryotherapy on the other hand only lasts a couple of minutes, but is intense cold.
Compression: Compression helps reduce swelling, increase blood flow, and sometimes helps with pain relief. You can use items such as ace bandages and KT tape to apply compression to the affected area.
Elevation: Elevating the injured area immediately after the injury is a way to control blood flow and reduce swelling. It’s important to elevate the affected area above the heart. A great time to elevate your injured area is when you are applying ice.
Long term treatment
As mentioned earlier, treating long term chronic injuries can be difficult and you might need more than just the R.I.C.E method. Other things you might want to consider are:
Physical Therapy: Also known as PT. Physical Therapy focuses on restoring function to the musculoskeletal system, including joints, tendons, ligaments and bones. This is done through strengthening exercises, stretches, and other techniques such as dry needling, graston technique, and ultrasound technology.
Deep Tissue Massage: The benefits of deep tissue massage include: releasing chronic muscle tension, reducing spasms, and can help improve recovery from injuries.
It’s also important to be extremely discipline with your treatment regime from long term injuries since they are going to take longer to heal.
Active recovery has become a well accepted practice by athletes and sports physicians for injury recovery. Athletes work hard to build their fitness level and don’t want to give that up. Rather than going into complete rest, athletes can transition into low impact activities such as biking, swimming, and pool running. These activities promote blood flow, exercise removes cellular debris that accumulates from damaged tissues and hastens the flow of synovial fluids, which lubricate the joints. When not being used regularly, muscles begin to lose their elasticity and bones get weaker, so keeping active can actually be a better and faster way to recover.
When choosing the route of active recovery it’s important to let pain be your guide. If you are finding your new activity is increasing your pain levels, cut back on the intensity or find something else to replace it with.
CBD for reducing inflammation and pain
CBD is well known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. It certainly stands to reason that taking CBD daily can help reduce inflammation and cut down on pain. It’s not a magic bullet, and it’s not going to heal your injury, but it can help alleviate the symptoms, and is a great supplement for any athlete. You can shop for CBD products on our website.