Friday, February 13, 2015

Returning to Running After Injury

One of the hardest parts of recovering from an injury is getting back into a routine. Athlete’s often times feel stress or anxiety when thinking about starting over, or even worse, re-injury. The most important thing is to get back on your feet and get back on the right track to reach your running and fitness goals.

You may not be able to pick up right where you left off after an injury so it’s important to set realistic goals and allow your body to adapt to exercise again. Excessive exercise can lead to pain, inflammation, and re-injury, so it’s important to begin running on a small scale.

To decide if you or an athlete are ready to begin running or training, it’s important to test and check for these signs to prevent more serious injury if you are not completely healed:

  • Full range of motion- the athlete should be able to move the affected joint around freely with little to no pain.
  • Swelling- swelling can mean that the injury isn’t completely healed and can be a sign of distress to the injured area.
  • Instability- the athlete should be able to confidently do the following without the feeling of the joint giving way or locking up:

o   walk briskly for about 30 minutes
o   balance on one leg for 30 seconds
o   perform 20-30 single calf raises
o   jump, bound, or hop 10 times pain free

When it comes to dealing with recovery, the ultimate decision should be up to the athlete. While the athlete may feel recovered physically, it’s possible that their confidence and ability haven’t been fully restored. There is no established formula in returning to running after injury. Therefore, there’s no reason to overexert yourself before you’re ready. In order to get back on your feet again and progress back into your routine you should remember the following steps:

  1. Work below your ‘break point”. Find your baseline, which is the distance you can run without pain during and 48 hours after your run. Take 10-20% off of this distance for the first few runs until you feel comfortable.

  1. Allow a rest day between each run and day of exercise.

  1. Progress gradually when you are comfortable enough to do so. To have a good workout you don’t have to run until it hurts.

  2. Allow for modifications. Allow yourself to adjust slowly. If you need footwear inserts or to begin on a more padded surface, you may start out on a treadmill or indoor track.

Running is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise and rehabilitation methods. Not only can it be done virtually anywhere, it can be done without any expense to the athlete. When returning to running after an injury or rehabilitation of an injury, remember to trust your mind and body.

Ankle Sprain Rehabilitation. (2014, January 1). Retrieved February 7, 2015, from

Returning to running after injury. (2012, July 10). Retrieved February 9, 2015, from

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