Something I have noticed since being injured is how paranoid I am about sensations in the calf region of my legs. I am transfixed on that area, any slight discomfort, niggle, or itch is immediately paid attention too. It has even gone so far as, I have been worrying about a discomfort on my left calf, looked down 10 minutes later to realise there is a piece of grass scratching at my leg 😂. Some awareness is of course to be expected, but there is a point where it becomes too much.
I am sure every runner who has had a serious injury is guilty of having this paranoid reaction to their previously injured area. Even when we are busy doing something else, our mind becomes accustomed to focus on the injured area 24:7. As a result, we have a heightened response to any sort of feeling in that area, and may even convince ourselves of a pain that does not exist.
Having had an injury for 6 months, it became a subconscious reaction for me to focus on my tibial area. If I thought I was focused elsewhere, my mind still felt that slight tingle in my lower leg. I was indeed, ‘paranoid’ of any sort of feeling. I was even aware of a numbness in my leg throughout an exam. A discomfort to be expected by any normal person who has sat cross-legged for 2 hours, but to me, I was significantly more aware of that numbness than anyone else would’ve been. I most definitely was paranoid; believing that to be a bad sign.
Following my follow up with the physio and consultant, where I was told I could start getting back to running, he too reinforced this, and reassured me of where this paranoia stems from. Without making the error of telling me it was all in my head, he justified how all running injuries are also injuries to the brain. He did say this was normal! (If normal is such a thing!). He explained that as a result of having a long-term injury, your mind becomes so used to having discomfort, that it almost generates a feeling of discomfort that does not exist. Your brain begins to work alongside your nervous system, sending discomforting sensations to that area, convincing you, you are still experiencing abnormal feelings. In fact you are not, your brain has just decided to tell you that you are.
Consequently, as I have experienced, overcoming an injury also involves overcoming a mental injury. You have to work towards convincing your brain your injured area is no longer injured, and you no longer have pain or discomfort associated with that area. It is only once you have achieved this, that you will truly overcome your injury. Therefore, be sure to remind yourself, once you have been given the all clear, and you know your injury is healed, that the pain you may experience from then on is nothing serious. It will either be a manifestation of your brain, or muscular discomfort as you return back to training.
So please don’t get paranoid, just be sensible and cautious, and follow your prescribed running recovery plan.
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I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!