Get back to running after an injury

Injured? Don’t retire your trainers just yet Contribution from Neil Gallagher, by Gabrielle Nathan 19th Sept 2018

Recovering from an injury? Here’s how to check your physical, emotional and mental health before returning to pound those pavements.

1. See a specialist

You’ve pulled a muscle mid-run and hobbled home. A few days later, you’re still in pain. You could wait it out and see if time heals your injury, but savvy runners will make an appointment to see a specialist straight away.

‘Even if it’s just a one-off and you get the all-clear, seeing a professional will give you the confidence to keep training. And if the injury is significant, catching it early means the shortest rehab and therefore the least time away from running,’ says Neil Gallagher, physiotherapist, rehab specialist and running expert at Six Physio.

You can help cover the costs of seeing a physiotherapist, chiropractor, osteopath or podiatrist, using the Simplyhealth Active Plan, and it doesn’t require a GP referral.

2. Don’t run before you can jump – literally

If you’ve been under the guidance of a health professional, they will be able to assess whether you’re ready to get back out there. But if you’ve recovered under your own steam, a good marker is your ability to jump, according to osteopath, massage therapist and experienced runner Nick Cowan.

‘Depending on the injury, being able to perform a vertical or horizontal jump several times will often illustrate whether your body can take the impact of running again.’ Jump to it.

3. Rehab with a massage

It may sound indulgent, but think of massage as a treatment.

‘A good sports massage will aid injury recovery before you start running again, and regular treatments after your first few runs will continue to help your rehabilitation process,’ says Cowan.

‘The deep and specific pressure applied during a sports massage improves blood flow and helps to break up any unwanted scar tissue that may have built up in the muscles.’

4. Rebuild confidence 

If your injury was caused by a trip or fall, it might be more than your bum that’s bruised – your ego may have taken a knock, too. Cowan suggests setting yourself a series of different goals, from the easily achievable to the more challenging.

‘When it comes to rebuilding confidence post-injury, be patient and be organised,’ says Cowan. ‘Recall why you want to run and assure yourself you will get back on track.’

But don’t get carried away; if you were intent on smashing PBs before you were injured, you need to be realistic about your goals and expectations post-recovery.

5. Get analysed

Ensure you’re on top form when you do get back out there with a gait analysis.

Running in the wrong trainers could cause lower-limb and foot problems. A podiatrist can assess your running style and provide tailor-made insoles, and if you have a Simplyhealth Active Plan, this will help you cover the costs of gait analysis and orthotics, helping you to stay injury-free.

‘Gait analysis identifies inefficiencies in your technique or strength and can benefit all levels of runners, from those just starting out to seasoned athletes who keep getting annoying niggles,’ explains Gallagher.

‘By using slow-motion analysis, any issues are magnified, allowing you and your therapist to create a plan to improve them, making you more resistant to injuries, and a better runner.’

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