When Something Hurts
In race walking, as in life, when we do not follow directions, we get punished for breaking the rules. An injury is the punishment for not following proper training guidelines. Once injured, you must treat the injury properly. Equally important, you must also reduce or eliminate stress to the abused area by decreasing or discontinuing your race walk training until the injured area heals.
Most people rationalize training through an injury to avoid getting out of shape. Not a good idea. Treat injuries with the respect they deserve. Unless you are a very experienced walker, have a knowledgeable coach, or a doctor gives you approval, do not train through an injury. Training through an injury often prolongs the injury. By the time you finally heal, you will be less fit than if you had just rested properly from the start.
Types of Injuries
Injuries fit into two categories: acute and chronic. Acute injuries occur all of a sudden, like a football player suffering a broken rib when he is head-butted by another player. Chronic injuries, more common in race walking, occur from the accumulation of stress at a specific area of the body. The same healing principles apply to both.
When you first hurt your body, tissue gets damaged, blood vessels bleed, and the injured area swells, slowing the healing process.
Once injured, you must prevent the damage from spreading. This is critical. However, preventing the body from compensating for an injury is an equally important though often overlooked treatment principle. For example, an ankle sprain causes you to limp and overuse the non-injured leg. The other foot then receives more stress and may begin to develop symptoms as well.