Running After An Injury
For many people, getting back to running after an injury is challenging. Running, however, offers several benefits – a stronger heart, stronger bones, weight loss, and a reduction in stress levels, just to name a few. Often times people are unsure where to start and how to progress, so they have a lot of questions on how to do it safely. If you suffered an injury, gone through the recovery process and getting back to running is your goal, a physical therapist can help guide you and get your body ready. Therapists use a progressive program to help guide patients through the transition from getting started to distance running. The levels below will step you through the program and are specific to running on a track, but can be adapted for running in any environment. It is suggested that you progress no more than one level per week and it is important and recommended that you rest two days in between runs.
- Level 1 – Jog on straights, walk the curves for up two miles total
- Level 2 – Jog on straights, jog one curve every other lap, two miles total
- Level 3 – Jog on straights, jog one curve every lap, two miles total
- Level 4 – Jog one and ¾ lap, walk curve, two miles total
- Level 5 – Jog all laps, two miles total
- Level 6 – Increase distance to 2 ½ miles
- Level 7 – Increase distance to three miles
- Level 8 – Increase speed on straights, jog curves, three miles total
Watch out for soreness and know what to do!
Soreness is your body telling you that may have overdone it or you are not quite ready to progress to the next level. If you experience soreness, stiffness or pain listen to your body and follow the guidelines below to progress to the next level:
- If you have soreness during warm up – take two days off and stay at your current level
- If you have soreness during a warm up, but it resolves – continue the run, stay on your current level
- If you have soreness that develops during a run – return to same level where your warm up is completed without any soreness
- If you experience pain or soreness in a joint (not muscle soreness) the day after running – return to same level where you were able to warm up without any soreness
- No soreness – go for it! Follow the program and instructions above
Whether it is trail running or preparing for a marathon, if you love running and want to get back to it, have a conversation with your physical therapist. They are there to help and can make sure that you get back appropriately and safely.