Tips to get you Through an Injury and Back on the Road

Some transient discomfort is often present during running and is considered part of successful training program. For muscle strength and endurance to build, the muscle must see some increase in stress over what it is used to experiencing. This mild discomfort can be considered a sign of progress:  "No pain, no gain." However, this discomfort should be short-lived and dissipate within a reasonable timeframe after your workout is finished.

If your symptoms persist your should seek guidance from a medical professional.  Depending on the diagnosis, they may suggest you decrease your overall running load for a time or stop running in order to allow your symptoms to settle. Luckily, there are some very good options to stay fit until you can gradually return to you full running program. 

Depending on the specifics of your injury you will need to determine what you can do pain-free.  Work with your medical professional to determine what activities you should definitely avoid and go from there.

If it is important to avoid impact, water running is a great option.  This involves doing a running motion in deep water.  Most suggest that beginners use a floatation device, such as a belt, to start off with in order to maintain good form.  It is helpful to do specific set workouts, such as intervals with some good intensity.  This will best maintain your fitness and help the time pass.

Cycling is another great option, which will allow you to get outside too.  It is important to maintain high cadence between 80-100 rpm in order to best mimic running and avoid muscle tightness. Doing some hills at a lower cadence will help with leg strength.

If you are able to access winter sports, Nordic skiing is an amazing workout and improves balance and lateral movements, which can be neglected in running.

During your time away from running don’t neglect your strength program. Quite often an injury is a result of a weakness and you have likely been given some specific rehab exercises to address the cause. Additionally, this is an ideal time to really work on your general strength with a variety of exercises.  Yoga and pilates can assist with balance and flexibility too.

With your dedicated cross training plan you will likely have maintained your fitness. However, your body will take time to adjust back to the impacts associated with running. In order to avoid another injury it is important to return to your full running program gradually. Continue to cross-train hard and gradually introduce elements of running.  Your health care professional can assist with you a walk/run program that is appropriate for the nature of your injury. As you increase your running volume you can decrease your cross training until you are able to add in speed work to your running. Dovetailing these will ensure you don’t lose fitness.

Dr. Sara Forsyth
MSc, MD, CCFP (SEM), DipSportMed (CASEM)
Dr. Sara Forsyth is a Sports Medicine Physician at both Footbridge Clinic and Fraser Orthopaedic Institute. She received her M.D. from the University of British Columbia in 2002 and her Diploma of Sports Medicine in 2008. In 2012 she earned her Masters of Science from the University of British Columbia. Read full bio


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