Bouncing Back – Returning to running after injury

Running injury 1

Any questions the anaesthetist asked just before I went through to the operating theatre to have my appendix removed. Yes actually I do have a question – why? Why now? Why today? Why this week? I’ve got a rather busy week and planning on running 20 miles this Sunday. So in answer to your question, yes I do have a question! Unfortunately I didn’t get to find out the answer and probably never will. Instead I find myself in the same boat as so many others out there when injury or illness strikes at the most inconvenient of times. It throws a spanner in the training plan works as well as turning us into miserable caged animals.

Now fast forward a few weeks, you’ve eaten grapes, watched Friends re-runs and done a pretty good job of being a patient and it’s now time to get back out there. However what if you’ve forgotten how to run? What if your Garmin splits are slower?  How will you get back on track for your next race?

Well after a rather laboured and underwhelming first run back last week I was inspired to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask myself what I would say to my patients whether returning to running from injury or illness.

1. Are you ready?

Before setting back out into the running jungle ask yourself are you ready to run again? If you’re recovering from injury have you addressed all the contributing factors to your injury i.e. training errors, technique, muscle imbalance, trainers etc. Bear in mind that any factors which haven’t been addressed may just rear their ugly head again quicker than you can say ‘park run’.

Ideally you should be pain free or symptoms stable enough that your physio is happy for you to get running again. If you are under the care of a physio they will check if you have any swelling or instability and that you have full range of movement.

2. Build up slowly

Rome wasn’t built in a day so start off slowly! It doesn’t matter that the last time you ran was that 15 miler, a lot has happened since then and you can’t expect to pick up where you left off. Setting your sights too high can lead to further injury and at the very least disappointment. Follow a graduated programme to ensure the load on any vulnerable structures is built up slowly and not overloaded.

3. Be realistic

Prepare yourself that you may have lost running fitness or that there may not be quite as much fuel in the tank as the last time you checked! They say patience is a virtue which in this case is very true. Prepare yourself that it may not all be plain sailing and you may have some ups and downs in your training.

4. Running through it

We often get asked, what if it hurts again? I find that people returning from injury to running are often quite apprehensive about this and are often extremely sensitive to any aches and pains. There is no right or wrong answer to this and is very individual. Essentially you need to ask yourself is the juice worth the squeeze?  By that i mean how much is riding on getting back to running. If the answer is a lot and you will do whatever it takes to get round that marathon course then in this case you need to be prepared for some aches and pains. If the answer is no, then take your time and listen to your body. Allow at least 48 hours between sessions in order for the body to recover and for you to assess the impact the run has had on the body.

Finally, be nice to yourself! Returning to running after injury can be a scary and daunting prospect. There’s no point focusing on the what ifs, focus on what you’re going to do next and all those runs you have yet to run!

If you’re injured or returning from injury and want some advice, give Rich or Charlie a call today on 07938 680320 or email charlotte@fit4-physio.co.uk