Injury Recovery Tips
Once an injured athlete has been cleared to return to his or her sport of choice it can be tempting to tackle workouts at the same intensity as before the injury. However, during the first few weeks post-injury athletes should be cautious as to not re-injure themselves. Listed below are tips for returning to exercise safely and effectively.
Take it slowly
Do not assume that you can return to the level you were at immediately before injury. Even if you cross trained religiously, your body will not be in optimal condition for your particular sport, and your injury will be at risk for relapse. A good rule of thumb is to return at no more than 50% of your volume prior to injury with low intensity for the first week back. The following week you can increase volume by no more than 25%, and by the third week you can jump up to 90% volume while reintroducing intense workouts.
Avoid running with others
Although social running is typically a healthy activity that can make the miles fly by, running with other people immediately after injury may inhibit a runner from listening to his or her body. Running alone enables a person to be fully aware of what his or her body is saying, such as delivering pain cues or requiring a quick break.
Have a plan
When returning from injury it is important to have a detailed plan and to stick to it. Choosing to “play it by ear” can cause you to overdo your return to running if you are feeling especially good. Instead, take a conservative approach by setting activity limits on yourself daily. This tactic will keep you from experiencing a relapse and will recharge your mind, making you excited and ready to run.
Having expectations about an upcoming racing season or fitness level can push you to try and come back from injury faster than is safe. When you are injured you should eliminate your racing plans, at least temporarily, in order to provide yourself with a pressure-free atmosphere.
Know the difference between good pain and bad pain
You are likely to feel residual pain near an injury site when returning to running, especially if coming back from a muscle or bone injury. If the pain is dull or aching, it is likely safe to continue running, but if you feel a sudden or sharp pain, stop immediately.
Continue cross training
Instead of completely eliminating cross training from your routine as soon as you are cleared to exercise, gradually reduce the amount of time spent cross training and increase the amount of time spent running. Cross training is good for supplementing fitness and its continued incorporation will keep you from jumping back into running too much too soon.
Incorporate strength training
Once your are past your injury begin strength training in order to prevent a re-occurrence. Seek the advice from a doctor or physical therapist on which exercises would be best for you and do them regularly.