Returning to the Track

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If you’re a runner, odds are you’ve dealt with a running-related injury. Don’t make the mistake of returning to your regular running regimen without proper recovery; this could potentially increase the severity of the original injury. When in recovery, take these steps to ensure proper treatment – getting you back on the track in a jiff.

Take off the mask.

We tend to make the mistake of covering up the symptoms of an injury, rather than treating the core root of the problem. Using over-the-counter pain relievers as your go-to daily pain management will not pay off in the long-run when dealing with the most common types of running injuries often referred to as overuse injuries. In order to get back on track, you must address the root of the problem and often times this is accomplished through strengthening, stretching, rest, and may require physical therapy.

Start slowly.

If you went through the trouble of staying away from running and also received physical therapy to help heal an injury, then be wise about getting “back into it.” You can’t expect your body to be in the same shape it was when you decided to take some time off. To prevent sparking the irritation of the injury, ease into your running program: starting with 25 percent of what was previously “normal.” Progressing from this point often involves following the 10 percent rule (i.e., add only 10 percent to your weekly mileage when returning to your normal program).  For many returning runners it is beneficial to incorporate softer surfaces such as grass, trails, and the track to reduce forces being put on the body.

Mix and match.

There are many ways to get exercise that will still enable you to receive cardiovascular training without re-injuring yourself. Try alternating between low mileage runs, biking, power walking, swimming, and elliptical use. This cross training can help get your body back in gear for hitting the pavement. (It is advised to ask your physical therapist what exercises are recommended.)

Drew Nesbitt, DPT

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