If you have suffered from a leg injury, whether as a result of running or due to an unrelated cause, you may be wondering about the best way to get yourself back into training after your recovery. It can be hugely frustrating to be unable to train due to pain and injury, and you may feel a bit depressed worrying that your fitness is diminishing with every day that you are out of action. However, coming back to your running too soon can be disastrous, and can lead to long term problems or even make your injury worse. How then, should you approach this?
Work Out In Other Ways While You Can’t Run
To avoid too much malaise or loss of cardiovascular or muscular fitness while you can’t run, do some form of other exercise. If your injury is minor, you can go for brisk walks or swim. If it is a more serious injury where you shouldn’t be using the leg at all for a while, stick to upper body training. It can be hard to get a good cardio workout this way, but you can still work on your core, arms, back and shoulders with resistance exercises, and use circuit techniques to get some cardio benefits.
Assess Whether You Are Ready
Experts say that before you even consider starting to jog or run, you need to be able to walk for 30 minutes at your usual, comfortable pace without experiencing any pain. If you are in any doubt, stick to brisk walking for a little while longer before you start trying to run. It is better in the long run to sacrifice another week of training than to be set back for even longer by running when you haven’t recovered fully.
Make a Plan
You will need to begin at an easier level than you were running at before the injury, and gradually work your way back to your previous level. You should establish a plan for doing this based on how long you will run for, what kind of speeds you will aim for, and whether you will do things like alternate between running and jogging or walking. The ideal plan will vary according to how serious your injury was, how fit you were before, how long you were out of action, and whether or not you could train while you were in full recovery mode. If you are not confident designing your own plan, talk to a physical therapist or personal trainer for help.
You may need to wear things like knee or ankle protectors, or use insoles or gel heel cups of the type you can find at sturdyfoot.com to run comfortably after your injury. In some cases, this will just be a temporary measure while you get your strength back and the injury fully heals, but in others you may need to use them every time you train from now on, to prevent pain or the injury recurring.
Coming back to running after an injury should never be taken lightly, and you should always put your long term health and wellbeing above your desire to run! When you are sure you are ready, have a good plan in place and the right gear to protect you, and you should be able to return to previous form safely.