5 Crucial Injury Recovery Tips
No doubt about it… it sucks to get a running injury. Your training gets disrupted… you can’t go hang with your friends on a cruise through the ‘hood and it brings up flashbacks of being grounded as a kid. Nobody likes it.
We do our best to teach you how to not get injured in the first place, but if you find yourself injured we’ve still got your back. When you’re working your way out of an injury there are always “best practices” and “not-so-best practices.” So, here are some tips to get you back out there with your buds without any of those pesky setbacks that can happen if you overdo your rehab.
Here are 5 steps I’ve used for years to help myself and other runners through those days and weeks of slow return to normality.
Step 1: Start slowly
I totally understand how badly you want to get back out there. I’ve been there myself. And, I’ve found out the hard way that the surest way to not suffer any setbacks on the path to recovery is to ALWAYS listen to my body first and not rely on what my head and heart want to do.
The big key to a healthy and successful return to your running is to progress through your comeback gradually. Get used to always be testing the waters of where your body is at on any given day. It’s much more efficient to follow a gradual, safe progression than to fall into the old “one step forward… two steps back” routine. Take on the mindset to always be very gentle, compassionate and patient with yourself and with your body. You’ll heal much more quickly if you don’t rush the process.
Step 2: Practice your technique as you rehab
If you're recovery demands that you walk at first, be sure to use the ChiWalking technique, of course, and use your ChiRunning whenever you're able to run, even if it's slowly. BUT, here's the crucial thing to remember! Walk and run AS IF YOU DON'T HAVE AN INJURY. That's right. Don't favor either side of your body… or one leg over the other, or you might inadvertently train your body to move asymmetrically as you rehab. That could lead to more injuries in the future.
Step 3: Check your level of discomfort as you go
Consider your body to be your rehab director, and your job is to listen to it very carefully for feedback on how you're doing. Listen for any inklings that you’re either feeling better or worse than yesterday. If you're feeling better, you're on the right track. If you feel the same, don't worry, you're still pretty much on the right track… just give it some time. If you're feeling worse, then what you're doing might be questionable, especially if what you're feeling is an increase in discomfort. Go back and try something that does work.
Step 4: Gradually add distance or speed
If you're walking early in your rehab try to sense when your body says it's okay to try a little running (I'm talking meters… not miles). Gradually add in brief "running breaks" to slowly get your body used to running and the accompanying increase in range of motion. Then, as you progress in your healing, and if your body says it’s okay, gradually intersperse longer periods of running with shorter periods of walking throughout the rest of your recovery.
Step 5: Find the reason for your injury
If your injury is running-related, try to go back and see if you can figure out how you injured yourself to begin with. This is the key to moving ahead without the fear of a repeat injury or future setback for the same reason. Do your best to decipher exactly where it originated and make corrections on a fundamental level with your form.
Be aware that most injuries are caused by either impact or overuse. You'll feel impact injuries mainly in your bones and joints. Practice the ChiRunning focuses dealing with landing softly on your feet, reducing bounce and increasing pelvic rotation.
On the other hand, overuse injuries predominantly affect your muscles in the form of soreness, muscle pulls and ligament strains. These come from using your muscles too much or incorrectly… or both. Overuse can also mean you're striving when you should be relaxing and falling forward. So, go back to the ChiRunning focuses that promote ease and relaxation.
With this handy toolkit of specific steps to take your recovery from injury will be more of a nurturing discovery process and we'll have you back out on those roads and trails before you can say, "Let's do this!"