Runners are some of the healthiest injury-prone people you’ll ever meet. Because injuries are part of running, injury recovery is equally important.
Overuse of muscles and joints can lead to sore muscles, hurt joints, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, iliotibial band (IT) syndrome, and other ailments. When you experience a running injury, there are a few basic rules to follow before you get back on the road.
Basics of Injury Recovery
Recovery from running injuries will be a continual process as long as you run. Pounding the pavement day after day while training will eventually lead to some form of injury. If you have proper expectations that injuries are inevitable, you’ll prepare and feel better when they do occur.
Take Time Off to Recover
When you have a running injury, the worst thing you can do is to run through pain. It’s essential to stop running at the first sign of injury. This prevents things from getting worse and developing further.
Taking time off is your first step to healing. Skip a few training days and just rest. Get off your feet and avoid exercise during those first few days off.
RICE for Injury Recovery
Rice is good with stir fry or Mongolian beef. But this kind of RICE, stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. It is the standard protocol for running injury recovery.
As your body heals, you’ll be able to add in physical exercise, cross-training, or other low-impact activities to regain fitness, but the first few days of complete rest are vital to recovery.
Rest is an important first step toward recovery. Next, determine the cause of your pain and take steps to prevent reinjury.
Many running injuries are caused by muscle weakness, overuse, or improper running form. Whittle down the likely causes of your injury to create a plan for recovery.
Once you determine the source of your injury, stretch and do rehab exercises to strengthen the muscles near your injury. Do isolating exercises daily to strengthen muscles and prevent re-injury.
Foam Roller Love Affair
Not just for avid runners, foam rolling is a type of self-massage that allows you to alleviate tightness and muscle knots — by using a piece of equipment known as a foam roller. For injuries and tight muscles, the foam roller is your new best friend. You will come to have a love affair with that foam cylinder as she helps you roll into a healthier you.
Benefits of foam rolling
Helps with muscle repair recovery
Increases elasticity of muscle, tendons, and ligaments
Supports injury prevention by maintaining muscle length
Soothes tension and tightness
Increases blood flow to muscle tissues and connective tissues
Tip Toe Your Way Back
It’s tempting to jump back into running as soon as the pain is gone. But, regardless of downtime, it’s important to ease back into your running plan gradually. Tiptoe your way back into training.
Boost Your Fitness Level
After you’re completely rested, start off jogging slowly with low mileage. To boost your fitness level, do low-impact strength training and cross-training exercises. Try to do more cross-training than running at the beginning. Then over time, gradually add more mileage to your training runs.
Repeat the Injury Recovery Cycle
Once you go through a running injury and recovery, you’ll get to know your body’s limitations much better. You’ll learn where your breaking points are and how far you can push yourself. You’d think that over time we’d learn how to slow down, take it easy, and skip a workout. But we don’t, we continue to push through the pain, run slightly injured, and hurt our bodies even more.
You’ll inevitably experience an injury again. Recovery is a frustrating process, but it is necessary.
Here are some important things to remember as you recover:
- Listen to your body’s signals
- Be flexible
- Be patient
- Understand injury is temporary