running safely

How to Safely Return to Running After an Injury

From ankle sprains to IT band syndrome, running injuries are highly common. In fact, up to 90 percent of runners reportedly have to take time off from training every year to deal with an injury.

If you’re currently recovering from an injury be sure to keep these tips in mind when you start training again. They’ll help you stay safe during your workouts and avoid future issues.

1. Start Slow

Many runners, especially those who are training for a big race, want to go right back to their old schedule as soon as their doctor gives them the green light to start training again. This is rarely a good idea, though, especially if you’ve been out of commission for a few weeks or months.

Be patient and ease back into training after recovering from an injury.

To test your limits and get an idea of where you’re at, some coaches recommend starting with just a ten-minute run at an easy pace. If you can run for ten minutes without any pain or discomfort, add another two minutes to your next run. Keep adding two minutes per run for as long as you can.

Whenever you start to feel discomfort, back off and decrease your time to a duration that doesn’t come with any pain. If you can complete two successful runs, try upping your time again by two minutes to see how you do.

2. Avoid Running Downhill

Even if you can run comfortably, it’s best to avoid running downhill until you’ve been running for two or three weeks for 30-45 minutes without any pain and at a normal (for you) speed.

The reason for this is that running downhill puts extra force on your joints and muscles. For example, a nine-degree decline can increase the force by 54 percent!

When you’re just getting back into running, start with flat routes. If you do have to go downhill, be sure to slow down and shorten your stride to minimize the impact as much as possible.

3. Wear a Brace or Strap

Be sure to take proper precautions to avoid additional stress or injuries during your runs. A brace or strap is helpful for ankle or knee injury prevention and protection.

These tools help stabilize the joints and keep them moving through a proper range of motion. They can also provide some compression to decrease swelling and speed up the healing process.

When you’re shopping for a brace, make sure you find one that’s meant to support runners with your specific condition. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist to see what they recommend.

4. Continue to Check in with a Professional

As soon as they are cleared to start training again, many runners start skipping out on appointments with their doctor or physical therapist. They also tend to start slacking on their rehab exercises.

If you’re serious about your recovery, make sure you to continue to check in with your doctor or therapist regularly to make sure everything is healing properly.

Listen to their recommendations, too. This means that, if your doctor says you’re overtraining or that you need to scale back your workouts, you should do as they say.

Remember, it’s better to take some extra time off now than it is to overdo it and have to deal with a more serious injury later.

5. Cross Train

One of the most important things you can do to prevent future injuries is to cross train regularly with resistance exercises. This will help you get stronger and fix movement patterns that may have contributed to your original injury.

It’s ideal for runners to spend at least 2-3 days a week cross training. Some strength training exercises every runner should be doing include:

  • Squats

  • Deadlifts

  • Push-ups

  • Lunges

  • Planks

These exercises all work multiple groups at once. If you do three sets of 10-12 reps of each exercise, you can get an effective strength workout in around 30 minutes.

Returning to running after an injury can be a slow and frustrating process. But, if you follow these guidelines and listen to your body, you’ll come back stronger and less injury prone than ever before.


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