Runners get hurt — a lot.

Whether it’s a simple ankle sprain, a flare-up of Achilles Tendinitis, or something much more serious, runners always seem to be nursing an injury.  Current prevalence research indicates that anywhere between 19-79% of runners are dealing with a current injury. One of the greatest predictors of a future injury is a previous one, so it’s critical to return to running in a way that ensures you don’t have a recurrence of pain.

So how fast should you be getting back?

Like most things in life, the true answer is “it depends.” Multiple variables need to be considered: overall fitness level, age, type and length of injury, running frequency, and a host of others. That being said, there are some general rules to follow when returning from an injury.

The General Rules are:

  1. Start with a run/walk program.
  2. Increase intensity OR distance by 5% each week. You cannot increase both; it’s either one or the other.
  3. Listen to your body. Pain in the area of injury that lasts into the next morning means you have done too much.
  4. Ensure that you are performing a complimentary strengthening program to target the structures in your body that led to the injury in the first place.

A sample return-to-running program may look like this:

In this example program, you simply follow this plan and progress each week if no additional pain is experienced into the next morning. Otherwise, move back a week if pain is experienced into the next morning.

I hope that all who are experiencing current running injuries find this helpful and get back to running soon!

Van Gent RN, Siem D, van Middelkoop M, van Os AG, Bierma-Zeinstra SMA, Koes BW. Incidence and determinants of lower extremity running injuries in long distance runners: a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2007;41(8):469-480. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2006.033548