2. Each Injury Progresses Through Four Grades
This is the second of Noakes’ Ten Laws of Running Injuries. It is fairly short and rather simple. It reminds us to listen to our bodies, and how to judge objectively what ails it.
If you have a child, or pay attention to the state of our (United States) education system, you know testing is the end-all-be-all. And with testing comes grades. Even first graders are receiving grades these days. No longer is little Johnny satisfactorily writing his ‘J’s’, but he is doing them on the ‘C’-level. Awesome.
I digress. Even in running there are grades, at least to some degree. Noakes breaks our injuries into four grades, each a little worse than the prior. These grades are important for a couple of reasons: they can help us talk to a doctor if you choose to go that route, and mainly, they help the individual ascertain the damage that is occurring when something hurts. These grades are for intrinsic injuries.
The first is Grade one and it is the most basic. It is “an injury that causes pain after exercise and is often only felt some hours after exercise has ceased” (Noakes 749). Those little knocks that seem to slow you down in the morning, or bother you a few hours after you have called it a day, those are grade one. A grade one is the simplest injury to deal with. and sometimes, they seem to go away on their own. (They do not really go away on their own, you have changed your form to compensate for the injury and in turn fixed what was wrong.)
A grade two injury actually occurs while you are exercising. Noakes says that it does not cause pain sufficient to stop or reduce the exercise, but it is enough to cause discomfort. This one is tricky as it can sometimes be difficult to decipher what is fatigue, and what is an injury. With patience you can learn, though it does take time. I am still learning.
Grade three takes the discomfort seen in grade two to another level and the pain is actually enough to hinder training and race performances.
Finally, grade four. This is the worst type of injury and is “so severe that it prevents any attempts at running” (Noakes 749). You do not want grade four. It is a doozey and can take long periods of time to heal.
These grades can help athletes determine their injury level and what actions they should take. It is important to listen and recognize when your injury is migrating from a grade one to a grade two as it is a sign that what you are doing is not working.
Aside from IT band issues and stress fractures, a grade one injury will not suddenly deteriorate into a grade four injury (Noakes 749). So have no fear your little knock will suddenly render you couch bound, get out there and keep going. Listen to the knock, what is it telling you? Pay attention to your injuries and if they start to get worse, start thinking about changing things up. It seems simple enough, but it takes discipline.