Getting injured sucks. Returning from injury is exciting, especially if you’ve had a long lay off from running. Here are our top tips for a comeback that’s safe and will have you running better than ever.
Tentatively heading out for a test run that you’re not exactly sure you should be doing usually means you’re not quite ready for it. This scenario can come about when you’re kidding yourself that you’re all better and you feel you should test your form on the same route and at the same pace you usually would. This can often lead to disappointment because at best you will be slower than you were pre-injury and at worst you’ll be hobbling back home having set back your recovery further.
In the same way you should seek out sound professional advice when an injury progresses, it’s best to go pro when looking for advice on when and how to get back to running. Your Twitter followers won’t have the answers that are right for you, so make sure you ask the real experts. Regular check ins with qualified physiotherapists, sports therapists, podiatrists and osteopaths, depending on your injury, will ensure you’re guided properly and safely back to running with minimal guess work about when it’s safe.
It sounds like a really obvious one, but the strongest bounceback to running will come with the most careful progress.
A simple rule of thumb that’s often overlooked is that you need to walk before you run. You should be able to walk briskly for 20-30 minutes with no discomfort from your injury before you begin to add any jogging, let alone faster running, to your plan.
We know the hardest bit about getting back to running after an injury is being patient. When you are ready to start, it’s good to be cautious and start with some very short reps of running within a longer walk. This will ensure your body can definitely take the increased load without causing a setback.
Start with something like five sets of 90 seconds of jogging with the same amount of walking between, and add a few two minute reps following that if you have no pain. Taking time after you’ve tried this will ensure no fierce setbacks occur to push you back on to the injury bench. Run just a few times in the first week back to see how you feel when you recover, and try not to run on consecutive days. Aim to be able to run for 20 minutes continuously with no reaction from your injury at a slow pace before you even consider increasing pace and distance.
Slow and steady will win this race.
Just because you’re feeling fit and ready to resume your pre injury training, shouldn’t mean your rehab should immediately slide. Aim to keep some consistency both of your focused rehab for the injury, and your general strength exercises which should be baked into your regular routine to help ward off injury. This commitment reduces the risk of a further setback or bump in your progress.