By Emir Dedic
For the most of us, running is a major outlet to everyday life. It helps us escape the daily grind, it keeps our mind focused on something else, and it gives us something to look forward to every day. When that outlet gets interrupted by an injury there are several reactions to that event. Some of us get depressed and don’t want to do anything at all. For those folks, it is the end of the world. This is especially true, if it happens before a big race that you have been training for long and hard. On the other hand, others go into denial, and just try to brush it off and keep going. That works sometimes, but most of the time it can lead to a bigger injury.
Over the last 2 years I’ve battled several instances of ITBS, one minor case of Plantar Fasciitis, and a tendonitis on my right foot. Not all of these happened at once of course, but each injury stopped me in my tracks and made me reevaluate my training. Steps I describe below it’s what made me come back stronger and faster.
Any injury should be evaluated individually, and sometimes medical attention is needed. This guide is to help those that have gone through the acute phase of the injury and are thinking about coming back to running.
First of all, do not get right back into running!
Here are 3 easy steps to come back fast and strong:
- More often than not, running injuries are caused my muscular imbalance somewhere in your body. If you are not sure what that imbalance is, a full strength program should be implemented. Now you don’t have to join a gym by any means, as most of the strengthening can be done at home with just your body weight. There are many plans out there for that, but certainly it is most important to strengthen the muscles of the glutes, core, hips and legs.
- A circuit consisting of some of these exercises should be implemented 2-3 times a week and 1-2 times ones you go back to running: push-ups, squats, pistol-squats, planks, hip trusts and lateral leg raises
- This circuit will get you stronger and keep you injury free
- Start some form of non-impact cross-training to keep your body in shape. Keep in mind that based on your injury some of this won’t be possible, so you really have to evaluate what feels comfortable for you. Biking (indoor or outdoor) and swimming are great examples of some non-impact exercising you can do.
- Most importantly, rethink and reevaluate your training plan. Try to go back and look if there have been any sudden changes in mileage, or terrain. Did you get new shoes or suddenly increased your speed? Identifying what caused the injury in the first place will help you prevent it in the future.
Once you are feeling better, do not just jump back into your training. Take a week or two of easy running, mixed in with cross and strength training, and see how you feel. If the injury returns, go back to the step 1.
Keeping your body strong will help prevent injuries and it will ultimately make your running easier as your posture and strength will improve.