Running after injury

2 Essential Factors For Running After an Injury

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Embarking on the journey of returning to running after injury can be both exciting and challenging. It’s crucial to approach this process with patience, diligence, and a well-structured plan. Two key elements in your rehabilitation journey are managing volume and intensity progressions. In this blog, we’ll explore the significance of these factors and provide insights on how to strike the right balance for a successful return to running.

Progressing running volume after injury

Volume, in the context of running, refers to the distance or duration of your training sessions. As you recover from an injury, it’s essential to start with a conservative volume and gradually increase it over time. Volume is easily measured and tracked with smart watches, phone apps or even a good record of where or how long you ran.

Here is a suggested progression: 

  1. Initial Assessment: Begin with a thorough assessment of your current fitness level and
    any lingering discomfort or pain. Consult with a healthcare professional or a physiotherapist
    to ensure you have a clear understanding of your body’s readiness to return to running. Returning to running before adequate tissue healing may increase your risk of re-injury.
  2. Start Slow: Initiate your comeback with short, easy runs. Focus on time rather than
    distance initially. For example, start with 10-15 minutes of easy jogging, allowing your body
    to adapt to the impact gradually. Shorter runs don’t mean harder runs.
  3. Weekly Increment: A classic load management rule is to increase your running time or distance by no more than 10% each week. This gradual approach helps prevent overloading your healing tissues and reduces the risk of re-injury. This may not be an appropriate approach for all injuries and can sometimes be unnecessarily slow. Consult your physiotherapist to see how this rule may apply to you and your injury.
  4. Listen to Your Body: Pay close attention to how your body responds after each run. If you
    experience pain or discomfort, scale back your volume and consider revisiting your
    rehabilitation plan with a professional.
  5. Take a rest day: Allow your body adequate recovery to ensure you are running with good technique and your tissues are able to recover in between runs.

Progressing running intensity after injury

Intensity refers to the effort level or pace at which you run. It’s equally crucial to manage
intensity as you return from an injury. Intensity is also easily measured with your watch or activity tracker or your running apps. For safe and effective intensity progression we recommend the following strategies:

  1. Start with Easy Paces: Initially, focus on easy, conversational paces. Avoid pushing yourself
    too hard, as higher intensities can place additional stress on healing tissues.
  2. Incorporate Walk Breaks: Intersperse your runs with short walking intervals. This not only
    helps manage intensity but also provides moments of active recovery. 10 x 1km runs is much easier on your body and healing tissues than a 1 x 10km run.
  3. Gradual Speed Increases: As your body adapts to running again, gradually introduce faster
    paces. Incorporate strides or short bursts of increased speed to gently reintroduce higher
  4. Avoid High-Intensity Workouts Early On: Steer clear of high-intensity interval training
    (HIIT), hill sprints, or tempo runs during the initial phases of your return. These workouts can increase the risk of overexertion and setbacks. See our blog on MAS running for an example of high-intensity running.

Here are some bonus tips to consider when returning to running after injury:

  1. Cross-Training: Supplement your running with low-impact cross-training activities like
    swimming, cycling, or elliptical workouts to maintain cardiovascular fitness without
    overstressing your healing tissues.
  2. Strength Training: Include strength training exercises to build resilience in the muscles
    supporting your running mechanics. Focus on core stability, hip strength, and single leg
  3. Regular Assessments: Periodically reassess your progress and adjust your plan as needed.
    Consult with healthcare professionals or coaches to ensure you’re on the right track.

Returning to running after an injury requires a thoughtful and progressive approach. By
carefully managing both volume and intensity progressions, you can rebuild your running
foundation while minimising the risk of setbacks. Patience and consistency are key—listen to
your body, celebrate small victories, and trust the process as you make a triumphant return
to the sport you love.

Happy running!


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