Injury Prevention Made Practical

I have 33 days to get ready for a 1/2 marathon, 13.1 miles.  I’ll save you the details of my To Do List for the last 33 days but trust me when I say it was less than relaxing.

Yesterday was my “Kick Myself in the Ass” day to do my first run of over 10 miles.  My friend Rushton tapped out of the 4:30 AM run for good reason: her husband’s Alma Mater Alabama was in the National Championship football game the night before.  I needed this run to see where my fitness level was and to take that important mental step to reintroduce myself to the pain of endurance running.

The reason for this blog post is to show you a live example of what I did to help speed up my post-workout recovery and to help avoid an injury during my follow-up runs over the next week or so.  After my 100 minute run, I was not able to relax on the couch, schedule a massage at the spa or join friends in a yoga class after lunch.  Runner injuries are too common for athletes, young and old.

After this workout, like most of my workouts, I guzzled some water and Gatorade, grabbed a quick bite to eat on the way tot he shower, loved on my wife and children, shared a bowl of cereal with my son (he insists on drinking the last of the cereal milk) and race to work to start my busy day.

Healing With a Hectic Lifestyle

Here’s exactly what I did, in order, to gain the benefits of my workout while reducing my chances of it leading to an injury.  (Time to perform these steps is noted)

  1. Drained My Legs – I elevated my legs on the wall for 3 minutes while pumping my ankles and wiggling my toes to promote the drainage of waste products from my legs. (3 mins)
  2. Pushed The Fluids – 50/50% Rules of water and sports drink. (2 mins)
  3. Carbs and Protein – Replenish my muscle stores and help the recovery process.  I finish the 2nd half of my whole-grain bagel with almond butter. (2 mins)
  4. Roll the Pain Away – I’m a very loyal roller before and after most workouts. (3 mins)
  5. Quick Stretch – I don’t do this as long as I would like but a slow and steady stretch of my hamstrings, quads, ITB’s, calves and hip flexors surely makes a difference.  (4 mins)
  6. Advil & Glucosamine – Helps keep my muscles and joins healthy. (30 secs)
  7. Ice Bag on Calf – Wrapped ice on sore calf to shower with, saving time. (1 min)
  8. Cold Shower –  Lowering my body core temperature and thermally aiding in the reduction of inflammation is always a good thing.  (4 mins)
  9. Ice with Compression – Wearing my 110% calf sleeves with ice inserts helps me recover during my 30 minute drive to work and while I’m on my feet for 90% of the remainder of the day. (30 secs)

Total Time Expenditure:  20 minutes (only 1.394% of your day)

The Results

My legs were a bit stiff when I first got out of my car but that quickly passes with a brisk walk into the stadium.  My “healing” started as soon as my run ended.  Instead of waiting for the obvious pain to set in and dealing with a chronic problem, I put my body in a position to optimize its recovery capabilities.

As you can see, none of these steps were difficult or time-consuming.  Injury prevention doesn’t have to be complicated.  As I like to demonstrate with Mike Ryan Fitness, injury prevention and sports medicine can be quite simple.

As the large John Wooden quote wisely displays on the wall in the Jaguars’ Athletic Training Room:  “Perfection of small makes big things happen.”

Take Home Point

Stop looking at your busy schedule as a reason why you can’t dream big as an athlete.  Working your fitness plans around your crazy life is just part of the workout.  Take it in stride, do the little things to promote your recovery after every workout and know that you can’t put a price on great health.


Author: Mike Ryan

After 26 seasons as a full-time certified athletic trainer and registered physical therapist in the National Football League, Mike Ryan has outstanding first-hand experience. His unique professional and athletic background has sharpened his skills in the arts of sports injury management, elite rehabilitation, performance enhancement and injury prevention. Mike is now taking his experience to mainstream America. His mission is simple: Sports Medicine advice that is easy to use and brings fast results. Learn more about Mike Ryan

10 thoughts on “Injury Prevention Made Practical”

    1. Great point, Guy. I have a great article in the works regarding low back pain from prolonged sitting. I have a few tricks to protect the discs of the spine when sitting that can save your back very easily. MDR

  1. Hey Mike, Cool article. Took quite a bit from it that I need to apply to my prep for the 1/2 that I have on the 5th! Especially draining the legs. If your ever out in the LA/SD area we should run a 1/2 together!

    Hope you get to rest soon now that the NFL season is coming to a close. C.Sawyer

  2. I agree with Guy. Proper recovery is so crucial. With any exercise that involves an excess amount of eccentric contractions, you have to watch out for DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Its not a good feeling to wake up the day or so after a work out and having extreme muscle soreness which only gets worse over the next 72 hours. The best thing you can do is keep moving!

    There are lot of medical journal articles published lately about the affects of NSAIDs on muscle recover and injury rates. Nothing 100% conclusive, but it’s something worth checking out.

  3. And if you included a trigger point therapy session once a week, we could find those triggers before they caused contraction, etc. and avoid injuries…as well as recover quickly. I work with many marathoners (boston marathon) and the trigger point sessions work. Last year I had 27 runners…not one injury nor need to slow down…with all your other steps…this would be great.

  4. No doubt heat has its place, but too many people use heat where ice is needed. Cold water baths are the way I, and my athletes recover post hard practices or workouts. Good stuff, prevention is the key, take care of your body before it breaks down.

  5. Mike, Great point. We all have busy lives as athletic trainers but it does not mean you have to sacrifice living life! Nice to read your blog and good to see other ATC’s getting after it. It is not easy but nothing in life worth having is easy. Safe training and good luck on your 1/2, I debating about doing a full marathon…a gift to myself for turning 40!

    1. Thanks for sharing your support, Brian. Staying in shape is not a chore in this profession, it’s a necessity. From the need to have a very strong core to stress management, fitness for those that apply sports medicine is as important as eating in my mind. Go for that marathon!!

  6. Hi Mike,
    Great article. Love reading your work. As a long term athletic sports trainer myself in Australia with professional AFL and Soccer, I understand the commitment that is put into sports teams from our perspective. The NFL sounds like an amazing sport to be involved in and hopefully one day I will have the success of being able to join an NFL team as a certified athletic trainer.

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