by Heba Hosny in Health + Nutrition

How can I resume running after a traumatic injury?

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This is a common concern that some of our readers have risen lately. So, we decided to dedicate an entire article to address this issue in details. Let’s get started!

Let’s face it: We are all prone to accidents and when the unthinkable happens to serious runners in particular, it is very hard from them find sanity and peace away from their beloved sport. If you are one of them, let’s just agree that your doctor MUST give you the permission to resume running before you could even think about it.

Getting started again

When you have your physician’s green light, your next step is to figure out the most effective training technique in order to reach optimal results.
Well, there is no definite answer to this question. It depends on the place and severity of your injury, how long you were inactive, and your overall fitness level. In most cases, ninety days is what takes stress fractures to completely recover.

Walking easily without the slightest pain is essential before you attempt to run. Usually your body absorbs forces that are as twice as your bodyweight while walking. This is a critical step to decide whether your injured bone will be able to handle the much greater impact of running.

if you can walk fast and easy for an entire painless hour, it is about time to add small running intervals

Here is a good tip: if you can walk fast and easy for an entire painless hour, it is about time to add small running intervals. As you know, running impact forces are twice those of walking. So, the only way to know if you are ready to run is to run. But hey, you must take it slowly but surely so you wouldn’t risk delaying your recovery process.

It is important to remember that the purpose of your initial runs you is just to adjust your body to the running feel and motion once again. That’s why; it may seem as if you are running for the first time! However, this feeling will disappear after a few regular runs.

Don’t start running too soon!

Now here is a no-brainer observation: If you feel any pain in the injured area, it means you are not ready to run yet. So, don’t be stubborn and push too hard. Respect your body signals and delay running until your are 100% comfortable.  However, it is important to note that the source of your pain may be some common tissue discomfort as your muscles are still getting used to running again.
So, how can you tell the difference? Your best bet is to consult your doctor.

Ready to run few minutes pain-free? Great!
Now you need to alternate walking and running. Giving yourself walking breaks will allow you to evaluate your running capacity while warming up your muscles. Gradually, increase your running intervals while decreasing the walking ones until you are back to the good old days of continuous running.

It usually takes six weeks to four months to fully recover in most cases. In the worst case scenario, an entire year would be needed. Your best option is to incorporate cross-training activities such as cycling and water-running especially in the initial recovery phases. As we mentioned earlier, your first running sessions will only help your bones adapt to running but it doesn’t improve your fitness. In other words, these initial runs are not training in essence. That’s why; you will need to focus on cross-training for a while.

3 main training variables

There are 3 main training variables that you need to adjust along the way:  running frequency, distance, and intensity.
A word of caution here: please don’t increase all of them simultaneously. Instead, you may increase two of them at maximum in the same interval.

During the first weeks, it is recommended to increase the frequency/ distance of your runs, while maintaining moderate intensity. Few months later, you can add some high intensity workouts such as tempo runs to your program. As a rule of thumb, never increase distance or intensity by more than 10% and never increase both simultaneously.

To start up, you may run every 3 days or every other day in order to allow your ligaments, tendons, bones, and muscles adapt to the stress of running over time. After a while when you feel ready, you can run 2 consecutive days and take the 3rd off, then you can go for 3 days running and one day off, and so on.
It goes without saying that you need to completely avoid the all injury causes, including running on concrete, old running shoes, too much downhill running, or increasing your distance too quickly.

Some additional keep-it-simple tips include starting your recovery on easy, flat surfaces and avoiding running with a partner who may be more capable than you are that you may be tempted to reach his/her level too early!

We also suggest you keep track of your runs. In case anything goes wrong, you’ll have a complete record of your running efforts. You can also show the progress of your runs to physician, who can give you individual advice on your performance.


Here is a 7-Week Schedule for Runners Returning from an Injury to help you out.
Do note that your physician needs to adjust this schedule to your individual needs.

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