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How To Prevent Running Injuries After A Break

Thomas Pinna
|
March 10, 2022

As you return to running after a few weeks of inactivity, beware this is the time in which injuries have the highest chance of catching you. Yet, the benefits of exercise hugely outweigh the possibility of injury. All you need is this blog to provide you with solid knowledge and tips for a safe and exciting return to running.

The most common mistake on your return to running is to do too much, too soon. Strangely enough, we seem generally unable to precisely grasp when the best time for our body to stop is. So we learn from experience and only understand our limits as we start feeling some pain, most commonly in runners the Achilles, knees or hips... in most cases, what we commonly call ‘running injuries’ are less of an injury and more of a protective mechanism of our nervous system; for an exhaustive coverage of that, check out our previous blog.

Practice patience

Patience is your best friend when returning to running. We can be easily fouled by excess enthusiasm and optimism, and only face the harsh reality when it is too late. Try learning from past injuries and experiences, log your miles every time and write down your physical reactions in a diary.

Start with walking

Walking is the natural precursor of running. In other words, it is the easier version. If you haven’t been walking much in the past weeks, then it is sensible to start with long walks before jumping into more physically-taxing activities. Out of common sense, you should be able to walk daily for more than 30 minutes before transitioning into jogging.  

If walking is already your bread and butter, then it is ever so useful as a warm-up and warm-out activity in your runs. On the web, you can find weird and wonderful exercises as warm-up for running, from ‘activation movements’ to hops or jumps, but nothing may be better than a good walk, started at moderate intensity and gradually turning from brisk walk to jogging.

Keep a running log

Having a log of your actual mileage, time spent running and feelings felt after a run is a great way to be more objective in your decision making. Indeed, when it comes to ‘return to running’ a log can be trusted more than your particular and variable feelings, allowing you to take a better informed decision as to how much, or whether, to run on this day.

Vary your training

Pacing through your return to running really doesn’t mean doing nothing as an alternative. You can do many other types of exercises on your days off, improving your cardio (ie. HIIT, swimming, cycling), your strength (ie. weight or bodyweight training) or your mobility (ie. yoga). Exercise variety should be an objective even when you’re back at full-regime running.

Have good sleep

It is no secret that consistent lack of sleep is correlated with a greater sensitivity to pain, anxiety, stress and, ultimately, injuries. Make sure you sleep plenty when returning to running as this is when your body will be most active at repairing itself.

Eat well

Food provides nourishment for your body to work and the building blocks for your muscles to recover after a run. When it comes to food, a big mistake is seeing it only as a source of energy. Indeed, not all food is the same. Priority should always be granted to good quality foods, including lots of vegetables, roots, wholegrains, nuts and seeds. Avoid processed foods (ie. white flours, any food with additives and preservatives, things that wouldn’t be readily available in nature), sugary and salty foods.

In summary, exercise may be the most important element for longevity and health. The benefits are innumerable, yet the beauty of it can be spoiled by the fear of injuries. Learning the key elements of injury prevention, and from here drawing your understanding of what’s best for your body, is paramount when you’re looking to get back to running safely.

By 

Thomas Pinna

Thomas completed a master’s degree in Osteopathy at Swansea University. He explores the interrelations between our physical and emotional health, and the neuroscience behind it, which led to publishing a research study in the renowned journal Frontier in Psychology. After graduating, Thomas joined the medical-equip Medical Volunteer International, providing Osteopathy for asylum-seekers at the Moria refugee camp. This experience strengthened his resolution to end health inequalities as it is often the case.

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