For those who have suffered from an injury that keeps them from their favourite past times, like running, you likely want to know when and how you can get back on the grind. This is especially true for those who run in marathons and competitively. After all, every day you’re not out there running is another day that you have to spend building up your endurance and strength again. To help you get back on the trail as quickly–and safely–as you can, follow these 10 tips.
10 Tips for Running After An Injury
1. Go Slow
Once you start feeling less and less pain from your injury, you may be tempted to just start running immediately. Don’t give into temptation. Just because you don’t feel pain doesn’t mean you’ve fully healed up. Even still, you shouldn’t jump right back into what you were doing before your injury. Instead, you need to start slow and build up to that point. Fight back the urge to push yourself. Once you receive the clear to start up training, then you should travel a smaller distance than you would normally. Make sure your pace is slower, too. Over time, you can build up that strength and endurance again.
2. Continue Physical Therapy
After an injury, you’re typically prescribed a few hours a week of physical therapy. While going to PT may be a pain, this is a key method of helping yourself heal faster. The professionals at physical therapy know exactly what you need to do in order to speed up the process of your healing. They may even have additional tips on how to start running again. Even after your injury is less painful, it is still crucial that you keep up with physical therapy.
3. Rely On Muscle Memory
For those who have been running for years, the good news is that your muscles will remember how to run. You just need to unlock their strength and up your endurance again. Most of the hard work has already been performed by you over the years in the conditioning of your legs. While you may feel like you’re learning how to run for the first time all over again, rely on your body. It will get back to where it was before in time.
4. Don’t Compare
The biggest thing you can do to set yourself up for failure is to compare yourself. While it may be tempting to measure the number of miles or the time it took you to complete a circuit and then compare that to your stats before your injury, don’t. This is only a method for making yourself feel depressed and upset with yourself. Instead, you should celebrate the small victories. Keep track of the number of miles and your time based solely on your stats for post-injury. Doing so will help you keep track of the progress you’ve made and instead allow you to be proud of yourself.
5. Set Goals
With running, you’re always setting goals for yourself. Make that time, run that number of miles, go to that competition and receive that placement, these are the things that drive you. They can also drive you to help yourself heal and train after an injury. Each day, you should have a goal that you want to meet with your fitness. It doesn’t always have to be running either. You should also include goals for your physical therapy and other areas of your fitness. By setting goals, you can help yourself stay on track and feel accomplished when you meet them.
6. Be Kind To Yourself
Positivity goes a long way to recovering from an injury. It’s important that you accept from the start that your injury is going to affect your running performance for a while. You also need to accept that you can still achieve the same athletic performance you had before your injury with enough time and patience. Recovery and rehabilitation aren’t going to happen overnight. By staying positive, encouraging yourself, and celebrating the small victories, you can ensure your mind and heart are in the right places to help you rather than hinder you.
7. Incorporate More Fitness
After an injury, it isn’t just your running game that’s going to be affected. Your overall flexibility, strength, and core are all going to take a hit. So, while you may be focused on just your running, it’s important that you take the time to strengthen the rest of your fitness, too. As a runner, you know that running isn’t just about the strength of your legs. You should look for ways to relieve muscle tension. By improving these other aspects of yourself, you can make it back to your former performance a lot quicker.
8. Don’t Fight Through The Pain
While you’ll likely be pushing yourself to improve each day, make sure that you pay attention to your body. If your injury starts to hurt again, then relax on your workout. Maybe even take a day off to relax it. You don’t want to push through the pain when you’re recovering from an injury. It could worsen the injury and make rehabilitation even longer.
9. Use The Terrain
One excellent method to consider when you’ve started up training again is to take walks along rough terrain. Keep in mind here; this is walking, and not running. The rough terrain will challenge your legs and strength enough not to force you to run. You can receive a good workout while still being gentle on your injury.
A final tip that can help you get back into running shape is to include cross-training into your workout. This can help improve your strength without running. Depending on the type of injury you received, if you need to take it easy running, you can still find effective workouts through cross-training that can maintain your strength, endurance, and fitness. Just be sure that you go slow, too.
Running is a great past time to stay in shape. Just because you received an injury doesn’t mean you’re out of the game forever. By following these 10 tips for running after an injury, you can improve your strength and be equipped with the knowledge to train yourself safely and effectively without causing further harm.
Brittany Waddell is a contributing writer and media specialist for RightFit Personal Training. She often produces content for a variety of fitness blogs.