8 expert-backed tips for returning to running after an injury
If you’ve ever been sidelined from running, you’ll know how upsetting it can be. Running injuries come in all shapes and sizes; from shin splints to runner’s knee to broken bones, all are unpleasant and can hinder your running routine. Most injuries require periods of rest for a full recovery which, despite it being annoying, means taking a break from running for as long as the doctor or physio recommends.
Importantly, even after the recovery phase, returning to running after an injury isn’t as simple as lacing up and bouncing out the door. It can be a stressful experience, and you might find that you’ve lost confidence. However, plenty of runners successfully get their mojo back after an injury. All it takes is patience and perseverance. So, to help you get back into action, we’ve put together some tips from those who know best, including Lucy Bartholomew, Stephanie Ede, and Constantine Louloudis.
1. Use the 10 minute rule – Lucy Bartholomew
Lucy Bartholomew is a 24-year-old ultra runner who ran her first 100k ultramarathon at the age of 15. Impressive, we know. She recommends the “10 minute rule” for runners recovery from an injury. This essentially means that you go out and run for 10 minutes to see how you feel. If the injured area is feeling stiff, sore or painful, you can stop. If not, you can keep going. The “10 minute rule” is all about getting you to listen to your body and understand what it needs, while taking less pressure off the run in the first instance.
2. Do pre-run and post-run yoga – Stephanie Ede
Stephanie Ede is a professional triathlete who leads up the customer success team at Let’s Do This. She puts her body to the test swimming, cycling and running immense distances, and recommends yoga as her go-to method when returning to running after an injury. A quick yoga routine before you run is great for warming up the muscles and improving body awareness, while post-run yoga helps cool down and loosen up. When recovering from an injury, yoga can help tap into the body and put you in a good headspace.
3. Combine walking and running – Constantine Louloudis
Constantine “Stan” Louloudis is a gold medal winning Olympic rower, who also works here at Let’s Do This with us (yes, we’re very lucky). For those returning to running after an injury, he recommends walking before you can run – or doing a mix of the two. While runners often feel pressure to run for prolonged periods of time, the walk-run method is perfect for easing your body back into intense exercise. Stan also advises to spend at least 80% of your training at tempo pace so as not to do further damage or wear yourself out.
4. Drop the ego – Emma Kirk-Odunubi
Emma Kirk-Odunubi is a footwear specialist and sports scientist who has been in the running industry for over 10 years. If you follow her on Instagram, you’ll know that she battles with IT band syndrome, which often flares up when running long distances. Emma recommends dropping the ego when it comes to running after an injury. On a 33KM planned run she decided to “stop at 30km and recover, rehab and be strong enough to come back later next week” – proving there’s no shame in deciding your body has had enough.
5. Stretch and foam roll – Claudia Saunders
Claudia Saunders is a professional athlete and a super speedy runner. She, like Steph, puts firm emphasis on stretching – with a particular focus on foam rolling. Why? Because the benefits of foam rolling are particularly poignant for those returning to running after an injury. Designed to relieve muscle tightness, soreness and inflammation, it can help assess how your body is feeling before and after a run, while also potentially preventing any future injuries.
6. Stay off road – Mo Farah
Mo Farah is the most successful British track athlete in modern Olympic Games history. This means he knows his stuff. When returning to running after an injury, Mo advises staying off road, as pavement can damage joints, ligaments and muscles. He recommends running on grass, wood chips and dirt instead, as these are kinder on the legs and will alleviate stress on your calves and knees.
7. Ignore the clock – Aisha Praught-Leer
Aisha Praught-Leer is a 1,500m runner who competes for Jamaica. In 2015, Aisha had achilles surgery – yet only one year she was competing at the 2016 Olympic games. So, how did she bounce back so successfully? Well, Aisha’s coach encouraged her to take off her watch when she was training and stop focusing on data. Times aren’t important in those early days. She recommends letting go of all the things that are getting in your way and making you worry – and simply just running, as quickly or slowly as you can.
8. Sleep and eat healthily – Paula Radcliffe
Paula Radcliffe is a former British long-distance runner and the three time winner of the London Marathon. She focuses on leading a healthy lifestyle to accompany here running, and this becomes even more important when recovering from an injury. Getting the right balance of protein, carbohydrate and essential fats alongside plenty of sleep and rest will ensure your injury is healing effectively and your body can support you. In short, if you take care of your body, your body will take care of you.
Ready to return to running after an injury? Check out our 5K races to get you back into the swing of things.