Nagging injuries and small aches or pains can occur at any time, whether or not you cautiously exercise, and typically when you lose focus, do not pay attention, or do too much, too soon, and too fast. Regardless, they happen.
Here is a great emailed question that prompted me to organize an answer that works as a "one stop shop" for information and techniques to use to both prevent injury and help quickly recovery from them.
NOTE -- This is by no means an excuse to avoid seeing a doctor when you feel you need professional help.
Stew, I am just starting to train for a future in Special Ops. I am finishing my athletic career this year in college (football) after a broken ankle. I still have two years to start preparing for my future after college, and I am leaning toward Navy (SEAL) or Army SF, but that is another question for down the road. Right now, I am more concerned with starting a new style of workouts, losing weight, and running longer distances. What are some of the injuries I can avoid by making this transition? I ask you because I have read you had a similar journey. Thanks for your time and service. Kevin
Great question. Below are several links from previous articles that explain in greater detail all of the different ailments that can occur when a heavy body runs, changes from heavy lifts to high rep calisthenics, rucks, and swims, and swim with fins (ankles !@#!). Here are the top five recommendations on very common injuries:
Lower Back Pain – Doing higher repetitions of lifts, calisthenics, fireman carries, bear crawls, sit-ups, or flutterkicks, can lead to a strain of the lower back. It might just appear as a spasm at first, but lower back/lumbar strains can seriously slow you down to the point that you cannot run, ruck, do sit-ups, or even swim with fins. Coming from a powerlifting / football background, you likely have a strong foundation, but if you reduce weight training to get better at all the other Spec Ops events, you still need to add in plank poses, stretches, and even some TRX movements (Atomic Pushups, Rollouts, Planks)
Knee Injuries – These are common with running, just as much and maybe more so than in football, but much less severe. ITB (Illio-tibial Band), PFS (Patella-Femoral Syndrome) or runner's knee, and Patella Tendonitis are typical with running too much, too soon, and too fast. Build up progressively. See the Spec Ops Running plan link below for more exercises and tips to avoid pain.
Compartment Syndrome or Shin Splints – Many people, especially younger runners, get shin splints, which can become stress fractures or compartment syndrome. All will slow you down, but the stress from them and the ICS will stop you dead in your tracks with running, and you will need time and professional help to fully recover. See additional links below.
Shoulder Injuries – Most injuries you will see will be lower extremity injuries, but since the shoulder is the most versatile joint, pay attention to it. With the shoulder's versatility, there is vulnerability. This is especially true with high repetition pushups, dips, pullups, push presses, and other over head or carry exercises.
Foot Injuries – As you know, the ankle can stop your training dead in the water if sprained, and especially if broken. One good thing about running in boots in your future, even with a chronic ankle sprain like me, will help add stability on your ankle. Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis are also two pains that are common when miles get high on uneven terrain (trails, fields, sand).
There is nothing quite as helpful as ice, anti-inflammatory medication (motrin as an example), and rest for helping with recovery. However, get a Foam Roller and learn how to roll out painful muscles. I have found the Foam Roller extremely helpful in reducing pain enough to get back to running quicker.
I have found something interesting online that may also help with some of these injuries. Check out www.PainsandStrains.com -- they have doctor recommended packages that teach you how to recover from a few of the major injuries.
When to See a Doctor About Overuse Injuries Ask the MD: Becoming a Stronger Runner – Avoid Injury How to Prevent Running Injuries Best Shoulder Prehab Workout Advanced, Progressive Running Program for Special Ops Prep