I’m Injured!! When Can I Return to Running???

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So, you’re injured. Initially, you’ve probably followed the age-old RICE principle:

Rest

Ice

Compression

Elevation

This principle still has its place in rehab, but it is not the “holy grail” it once was! Even Gabe Mirkin, who introduced the regime in 1978, has withdrawn his support of the it due its ability to delay healing! Therefore, the first common mistake most runners make post-injury is prolonging this phase beyond the first 2-3 days. After the initial inflammation and pain is under control, the RICE principle becomes far less helpful due its negative effects on healing!!

The next stages of rehab should involve the MEAT principle:

Movement (Regular & Gentle)

Exercises (Safe & Effective)

Analgesics (Not Anti-inflammatories!)

Treatment (Self or Professional)

This principle aims to restore normal MOBILITY, STRENGTH & FUNCTION in the shortest possible timeframe.

  1. MOBILITY: Before you begin running again, check that you have full range of movement (ROM) in the joints surrounding the affected area. Compare ROM to the unaffected side! There should be little or no swelling, or pain. Both will limit normal ROM. A daily regime of prescribed mobility exercises will help speed up the return to normal.
  1. STRENGTH: The injured area should feel strong & stable prior to a return to running. The MEAT principle above will help promote this gradual strengthening process. Before you hit the road again see if you can do the following pain free:
  • Walk briskly for 30 minutes
  • Balance on one leg for 30 seconds
  • Perform 15-20 controlled single knee dips
  • Do 20-30 single leg calf raises
  • Perform a lunge matrix (forward, side, reverse, diagonals)

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This is especially important with any type of fracture, ligament injury or after surgery. Again, compare to the unaffected side!!

  1. FUNCTION: So, you feel ready to hit the road again, how do you return from injury without once again ending up on the Physio’s couch? The injured tissues are healing and therefore cannot tolerate the normal amount of stress, strain & load. Therefore, you must modify the amount of load to reduce the risk of recurrence yet still stimulate the healing tissues. How you plan your return will depend on the nature and severity of your injury and the length of time you’ve been out for. It should be gradual and graded. The more severe the injury, the more gradual and graded it needs to be. Initially, a walk-run-walk-run regime is advisable.

If you’re just returning from a slight niggle or have had less than 2 weeks out with a minor injury you may not need to be so cautious with your return. That said, even in that situation, returning straight to pre-injury level is a common mistake that can cause more serious injury. Begin running at your comfortable pace initially and progress from there. These 4 tips will help:

  1. Work below your ‘break point’
  2. Allow a rest day between each run and after a rehab day.
  3. Change 1 thing at a time (speed, distance, surface or elevation)
  4. Progress gradually when ‘comfortable’ to do so

These three key indicators will help you decided when its safe to return to running, however, if you are still experiencing pain or symptoms despite normal mobility, strength and daily function, always seek professional advice. Our expert clinical team see loads & loads of running related injuries and will be able to get you back to your best in the shortest timeframe possible.

Contact us to discuss your specific injury in more detail.

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Principles of Injury Prevention and Optimal Performance

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Dedicating to positive change through exercise is a necessary component of improving your health. However, an exercise mode that is unfamiliar, excessive or eccentric (lengthening under load) in nature increases the risk of excessive overload and eventually injury. There is nothing more frustrating than successfully working towards a training or health goal and for injury to prevent you achieving. Therefore, Clyde Injury Clinic has designed “The CIC 3 Step Injury Prevention Strategy”, an easy-to-follow guide explaining how to prevent injuries when training. This step by step process will reduce your long-term risk of injury and allow you to achieve all the exercise goals you set yourself.

The CIC 3 Step Injury Prevention Strategy


Step 1: Warm-Up Specificity: You know the importance of warm-up before exercise. It prepares the various bodily systems (& mind!) for the stress of exercise. To help reduce the risk of injury, warm-up should be as specific to the mode of exercise as is possible (i.e run to run, swing to swing, jump to jump, push to push, pull to pull, stabilise to stabilise!) Exaggerate the movement patterns and use very light loads, this way when the real work begins, your body will be primed and ready to perform!

 

Step 2: Progressive Overload: You want to be able to lift more, perform better and see progression. This motivates you to continue working hard and achieve your goals. Overload is when you place a load on your body that it is unfamiliar with or unaccustomed to. It is a necessary component of becoming fitter, faster, stronger. If Overload is applied too rapidly or in too large amounts, this excessive stimulus can lead to damage of the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons & bone) and eventually injury. The key to avoiding this situation is by introducing overload in a gradual and progressive way which allows your body to comfortably adapt and change to the increase it detects without causing damage to the underlying tissues.

 

Step 3: Be Realistic: Know yourself, push yourself, but be realistic in what your body is capable of at any given time. We are all designed differently, and as a result we all perform differently, with different strengths and different weaknesses. If you are naturally good at a certain forms of exercise then trust that your body can cope with being pushed. However, the areas of exercise where you feel weaker should be approached with more care. Never avoided, in fact you should be dedicating more time in your training diary to these activities, but at the appropriate intensity to avoid accident and injury. The principle of progressive overload will keep you right and most importantly….INJURY FREE!!!

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