I've started the C25K program a few weeks ago. Just finished Week #3, Day #2 and am loving it. I'm doing the program every other day right now (as opposed to 3x week). When I'm walking/jogging I don't have any trouble breathing or feel that exerted, but do have some minor knee pain. I was originally having bad shin pain with a bit of foot cramping, but new shoes and a slower pace seem to have fixed that. The lady at the shoe store did a thermo image of my feet and said that the left foot is 1/2 a size bigger than the right, and also that I put most of my weight on my left side. (That is also the knee that hurts a bit more).
Yesterday after my run was the first time that the pain continued after I was done running. It's not a sharp pain, more of an ache. I also have minor aches in my elbows and a little bit in my hips. I would think that this is just a sign that my body is getting used to doing something different, but I'm also afraid that it could be a sign of something more serious. How do you know how much is too much?
Does anybody have any thoughts/ advice? I did ice the left knee last night after my run and I am just achy today again. I'm sure the advice will be that I should take a break, but I am also sure that if I stop the program there is a very small chance I'll get back on it. i am thinking maybe long(ish) walks in between training days might be a good thing?
Any input is greatly appreciated.
Started C25K 08/05/2011
Canes Classic 1 Mile 9/5/2011
BCC 5K 10/14/2011
Creaky Bones 5K 10/22/2011
Any time I see a post where pain is happening at multiple places at once, especially in a runner, I begin to suspect a systemic problem. A lot is being discovered about inflammation right now, whether chronic or as a response to injury or repetitive motion. The most recent research suggests that inflammation is not always a bad thing, but it is generally recognized that there is a very close relationship between inflammation and pain. Most importantly, even in cases when it is due to a natural and beneficial process, it is not always necessary and often avoidable.
Chronic inflammation is generally considered dangerous, and has been linked to chemical changes in the body that can lead to rather morbid consequences over time. The kind of inflammation that you appear to have however, is brought on by the repetition of activity you are not accustomed to, in parallel with what you have found to be invigorating health benefits. This apparent paradox is not uncommon, and we are finding more tie-ins to lifestyle issues that may or may not be elective. Certainly, if you were a smoker or had other unhealthy vices, the answer would be a no-brainer, but people who are trying to do everything "right" experience similar problems.
A few items you may find useful come to my attention enough that I can probably suggest some common solutions. A few well-documented dietary strategies have been found to be beneficial to many sufferers of chronic pain, and to those with the kind induced by exercise. I will list the ones that come to mind:
#1) Avoid sugar, in all its forms. This includes the vegetable and fruit sugars found in many products that claim to be "sugar free." Even calorie-free artificial sweeteners affect many people. Bottom line, if it's sweet, try to avoid it during any bouts of chronic pain.
#2) Avoid simple starches, which are rampant in the food supply. They quickly convert to sugar in your body with the same results. Not all carbs are bad, but those that are stripped out of their natural sources and isolated into convenience food products most surely are.
#3) Improve the profile of fats you consume. Many who exercise are trying to "stay fit," which is often code for "lose weight." Surprisingly fats, though they are the end-product of energy storage, do not always become incorporated into the body as fat tissue, but as carriers for vital nutrients and materials for building and maintaining cell membranes, including nerve tissue. The excess often passes through. Avoiding all fats is one of the worst mistakes you can make, and consuming only light unsaturated vegetable fats is just as bad.
The same goes for cholesterol, which your body makes for a reason. Consumption of undamaged cholesterol in lightly cooked eggs actually improves HDL/LDL profiles. You cannot produce vital hormones or have healthy tissue of any kind without a varied fat profile, including cholesterol, unoxidized saturated fats (coconut and minimally processed cocoa are fine examples; avoid overheated fats), monounsaturated fats (olive, etc.), omega-3 fats (fish, walnuts), and a smaller ratio of omega 6 and 9 fats found in many vegetable products already. Unfortunately, the use of grain-based feeds in the production of poultry and other farm animals for food, and in commercial fish farms, has led us to believe we are not getting overloaded with pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats. Just as we are what we eat, so are the animals we in turn consume.
#3) Spice up your life. Many herbs we think of as seasonings are actually the most potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatories found in nature. Ginger, turmeric, and hot peppers pack enormous benefits for active bodies, and cinnamon acts to suppress spikes in blood sugar, which are always associated with inflammation.
#4) Mineralize. Healing of sore tissue, and other metabolic, catabolic, and immune functions of the body are more difficult when the body is deficient in vital minerals, which most of us are. Everyone talks about potassium, but it is present in many foods and is needed in small amounts. Calcium and magnesium, both found in leafy greens, nuts, and other vegetable sources in highly absorbable forms, are more important to focus on. Balance them right, and your body will use what it needs and discard the rest. Overuse of any mineral, especially in supplement form, can lead to more problems, not less.
#5) Eat fresh. I'm not just talking about Subway. The fresher your food, the more enzymatic activity you will incorporate into your digestive and immune systems, as a vital catalyst for many of the metabolic processes that will allow your body to heal as fast as you wear it out with exercise, my most important point. Enzymes are potent anti-inflammatories when used systemically (on an empty stomach), and have even been prescribed for chronic pain. The important message about natural pain control, is that it helps to control your pain without preventing you from healing, which is the unfortunate effect of many of the medications that are developed for the same purpose.
#5) Eat germs. A healthy body has about 1,000 trillion bacteria (roughly 4 pounds of microbes) in it at any given time; over 400 strains commonly occupy the skin alone. Without these valuable life forms to break down the food we eat, we would die for lack of nutrients. Nobody likes the idea of slimy little creatures inside us that we can't control, but actually, you can control them, which is the idea. If you can't beat them, join them. Eat fermented foods rich in beneficial bacteria, and you will enjoy what people all over the world, who live without health complaints we consider common, have known for thousands of years: An active lifestyle can feel good all day. Fresh cheeses, yogurt products, and sauerkraut are just a sample of beneficial, fermented products that continue to break down into bioavailable nutrients after we eat them. There are many less familiar, but even more beneficial and tasty to try. The digestive process starts before we eat them, and ends with friendly visitors ready for more work. The more good bacteria you ingest, the less room there will be for the ones that cause disease and pain.
If you are OK with the dietary stuff, there are things to know about joint pain that are not common knowledge. Sometimes the pain you feel in your joints comes from the joints themselves, but most of the time it is produced by other tissue that acts on the joints in some way. This can involve bones and cartilage, the usual targets of our attention, but it is more likely going to involve ligaments, tendons, and most importantly, the muscles that produce the movement in the first place. Tension from muscles not only manifests as pain elsewhere, but it is the prime suspect when other structures are damaged by their strength.
Running with stiff, painful muscles can trap our joints into a pain sandwich. If your muscles cannot be relaxed between bouts of exercise, the next stop is a repetitive motion injury. When they are very sore, muscles will not always relax with rest. Some gentle movement to keep them from stiffening helps, but sometimes further intervention is required. Ice (like certain meds) often feels good by numbing us, but it slows healing immune system activity at the same time. Stretching can further irritate a sore, contracted muscle, as common sense tells us it should. Yet, ice and stretching are the most commonly advised forms of sports pain treatment.
People tend to repeat what they hear, and what people hear is often based on someone's attempt to provide an answer, whether properly informed or not. We are creatures of habit and followers of example. Some trends start slowly, and while I am somewhat pleased to see that finally, soft-tissue mobilization/relaxation is being done with foam rollers, etc., it can often be done better with one's own hands, with greater sensitivity, without a piece of apparatus in the way. People use devices to save time and keep their hands clean, but I often recommend what I consider a more effective method of relaxing muscles that consumes little or no extra time in the day.
Almost everyone in the Western world takes a bath or shower, at least once a day. This time is often spent massaging water, lotions and soaps into our skin, because it cleans and it feels good, but for an athlete, it is a great opportunity to discover and correct sore spots in the muscles that act on our joints. Many times this can be done without spending any additional time over our usual routines, and can be incorporated as a daily checkup we can't miss. Soaped-up fingers gliding up tired legs will often find spots that need a little extra attention, and when done daily, can provide many of the benefits of a weekly professional massage. While some of us may be better than others at self-care, few of us are bad enough at it to do any damage. At least, the odds are you will be better off than without.
Some of the above you surely know or have heard about, but since this is a community forum, I thought it best to include as many easily implemented strategies for confronting sore joints as I could think of, for the benefit of all who visit. Remember that the world is constantly changing, and much of the advice you hear must change with it. Much of the above would not be found even ten years ago, some is very new, and to top it off, I have a surprise I read about just yesterday.
When confronted with sudden pain, we often get the advice to use what we call the RICE protocol for acute care. It stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. While these are common and effective strategies for dealing with acute trauma such as internal bleeding, they are not appropriate for many sports injuries, such as sprains. While you may not have heard of it yet, the new model looks less like RICE, and more like MEAT.
This newer protocol has been found to be effective with many sports injuries once treated with RICE. MEAT stands for Movement, Exercise, Analgesic, and Treatment. It is obviously more active than RICE.
MOVEMENT: means to keep things moving to increase circulation and avoid stiffening or joint-fixation.
EXERCISE: means to model the healing process after the acute stage, by placing the demands the healed tissue will need to satisfy.
ANALGESIC: means to control pain without interrupting the inflammation that is part of the healing process.
TREATMENT: means to begin working constructivelywith injured tissue, rather than passively expecting it to fix itself.
Not as catchy, harder to remember (especially for athletes themselves), but more clinically relevant. (Thanks to Erik Dalton for the acronym, and much of the research on pain control that goes on today)
Thanks James! So much info. Could you expound a little on MEAT? I'm very interested. I sprained a quad while running yesterday. Got off my ice pack before reading this....I am interested in the fastest recovery. I just started W6 of C25K and am miserable with the fact that I may be sidelined for awhile. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
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