We’ve all felt tweaks and pains whilst running up on the fells or on the road. Some are nothing but others can develop into an injury disaster. I’m going to talk you through spotting a developing injury and how to minimise time lost.
This Blog post will be aimed at runners but the process can be used for avoiding any overuse injury from any sport.
We’ll be using a 5 step process that I discover when watching a video by RunSmartOnline. The process begins with recognising the injury and progresses through to leading you out the other side, or ‘out of the woods’ so to speak. We use the process to steer you away from a small, manageable injury becoming something that will halt your training and become one of those that is no easy task to recover from.
Step 1 – Recognise You’re Injured!
So, you’re out running when suddenly you think ‘OUCH, that hurts a bit’. Most people (and I am guilty of this) will first ignore it and carry on running for another week before deciding that maybe reducing my training load might help and trying some over the counter orthotics that their training partner advised. You continue down this road until ‘OUCH’ it gets worse. Time to stop? Nah, I can run through it. Frustration begins to creep in before you bite the bullet and take 2 weeks off. Finally you dig out the running shoes again before ‘OUCH’, you start the cycle again. 6 Months later you’ve had enough and you hobble into my clinic uncertain if you’ll ever run again.
Don’t let this be you and recognise the signs at the first ‘OUCH’. These are some of the common signs you’ll notice with a running injury.
- Fluctuating or constant pain
- Typically sharp, burning, stabbing
- Lingers or worsens after a run
- Interferes with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
- They don’t feel good whilst running
If you spot these signs and follow this process combined with physical therapy and a personalised rehab plan you can avoid an injury disaster and be back running much sooner.
Step 2 – 7 Day Low Load Cross Training.
Every running injury comes about because the injured structure is unable to accept the load you are placing on it and this is why a personalised rehab program is vital. It is also the reason we have to off load the structure in order for it to recover but this doesn’t mean absolute rest is good. Combined with corrective exercises and rehab exercises, Cross training in the form of cycling or the Elliptical Cross Trainer is perfect for placing a reduced load through the structure whilst maintaining fitness.
Step 3 – Test Readiness to Run.
If you are now pain free during all ADLs and have worked through the Cross Training stage, progressively increasing load we can now test your readiness to run. This 6 min test can be seen in the video below and if you pass this test with no pain you can then progress to step 4 the NEXT day. If you experience pain don’t worry, remember you are going through this process to avoid an injury that would have otherwise have got much worse. Some injuries take longer than others and working closely with your therapist will soon see you through to step 4.
Step 4 – Trial Run.
Its time to see if you can now start to increase your training back to the level you were at before the injury. We start with a 10 minute test run. 10 minute is long enough to make an assessment on how you’re doing but is not long enough to cause any significant damage if you have already passed step 3. During the test we will use the 0-5 pain scale below. If you go above 2 and start to creep into 3 then you should stop the test and regress back to cross training for a short period of time. Pass the test run and we can begin upping the training.
0. No pain
1. Aware of the area
2. Feel it but not painful
3. Starting to hurt a bit
4. Yeah that’s painful
5. Hurts a lot
Step 5 – 1 Week Re-build
During this week the plan is to run every other day and increase run time by 5-10 minutes each session. Again we will use the pain scale and if the pain rises above 2 we need to regress. On the non-run days you should be using your corrective and rehab exercises. Below is a example of what your 1-week return to run schedule might look like. Run 40 minutes without pain and you’re out of the woods!
Of course the plan is very useful but without finding and treating the root cause, whether that be a muscular imbalance or running technique problem the injury is likely to keep returning. I cannot stress enough that assessment and treatment with a professional Therapist is essential to get you running again at 100%.
Hope you enjoyed the Blog and have found it helpful. Look after yourselves and keep on running!