Running After an Injury
Photo by Heather Gardner.
Returning from injury is a frustrating period of time for a runner, one where the risk of re-injury is extremely high. Often, athletes come back too fast, causing either a new injury or worsening symptoms of the old injury. A safe return to running is discussed.
Athletes often return too quickly to activity once they have been cleared to exercise, which often leads to setbacks and more frustration. A safe way to increase mileage is to follow the 10% rule, which states not to increase your weekly mileage by more than 10%. Although tedious, this method is a safe and effective way to ensure you do not succumb to another injury.
Listening to one’s body is an important aspect of returning from injury safely. Although it can be difficult to accept, runners are often slower and more easily fatigued in the first couple of weeks post-injury. Use the body’s signals of soreness and fatigue as signs that you should be conservative when you return to running, and avoid the urge to jump right back into intense training.
For runners who are coming back from injury and are struggling with sticking to a decreased training load, cross training can be the solution. Supplementing running with cross training helps a runner stay fit while reducing the amount of impact to the body. A general rule of thumb is that ten minutes of cross training is equivalent to one mile of running.
Coming back from injury is a great time to develop good habits, such as strength training, core, and physical therapy sessions. Using the time that is not currently being devoted to additional running to create strength and core routines specifically designed for your needs is recommended. For instance, if you developed a hamstring injury, focus on a lifting routine that strengthens hips, quadriceps, and hamstrings by implementing squats, lunges, and Russian deadlifts. By the time you are back to your normal training load, you will have decreased your chance of a reoccurrence and developed good habits in the process.
Another consideration when coming back from an injury is to invest in performance wear, such as compression socks that help circulation and promote recovery. If suffering from a lower leg injury, such as shin splints or a calf strain, compression socks will improve blood flow and the transport of oxygenated blood to the affected areas, thus improving recovery.