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What is My Running Injury Recovery Time?

I am frequently asked,” How long will it take to get over my running injury?” The truthful answer is it depends on your definition. If it means running at your best with less of chance of further running injuries this takes time and hard work. The runner at greater risk of injury has less than 3 years experience and a running injury within the previous year.

The Running Injury Recovery Program provides with a step by step training plan to recovery in fastest most direct manner.

The Four Phases of Rehabilitation

Your self-management program will be divided into four phases, each with specific goals:

Phase One: Self-Help and Education

– Phase Two: Regaining Mobility and Control

– Phase Three: Functional Strengthening

– Phase Four: Return to Efficient Running

Phase One is the acute phase immediately after an injury when there is pain, swelling, and inflammation. Our goals in Phase One are (1) to treat the injury symptoms, (2) to protect the injured area to prevent further injury, and (3) to learn about the many factors involved in choosing between professional help and self-management.

In Phase One, you’ll use the PRICE method of treatment (protect, recover, ice, compression, and elevation). We work to reduce the swelling with ice, compression, and elevation. We reduce or take a temporary rest from running to prevent further damage. And we protect the injured area until full range of motion is regained.

Transitioning from Phase One to Phase Two, you’ll start using self-mobilization techniques and stretching exercises as tools to identify and assess your specific injury. The goals of self-assessment are to locate the areas of tightness, stiffness, and weakness that are signs of muscle imbalance; and to focus your attention as specifically as possible on the injured region.

In Phase Two, you’ll also begin to directly address the problems caused by (or that caused) your injury, using self-mobilization techniques and stretching exercises. Our recovery goals in Phase Two are to regain mobility (full range of motion), correct muscle imbalance (tightness, stiffness, and weakness) and work on body awareness (postural control and biomechanical factors).

Phase Three continues with the self-mobilizations and stretching exercises you learned in Phase Two, and adds more challenging tasks that concentrate on strengthening the dysfunctional components of your running. These functional strengthening tasks are harder than in those in Phase Two, but easier than those you’ll find in Phase Four.

In the first part of Phase Three, you’ll learn closed-chain exercises, such as stepping and hopping, which form a direct chain of balance from the feet upward through the body. In addition to strengthening your muscles, closed-chain exercises also help develop balance and body awareness, decrease undesirable side-to side movements (shear forces), and promote a functional running pattern.

In the second part of Phase Three, you’ll begin building up your running time through a walk-glide program, which is a progressive series of fitness walking and controlled running (gliding) exercises. We call this period of rehabilitation post-injury running.

Phase Four pulls together all the skills you learned in the previous phases and adds exercises that will help you return to efficient running. The goals of this final phase is to build endurance, power, and running efficiency.  In this phase, minimally reaching your goal will not be enough. These exercises will actually be more challenging to your balance and control than the ones you might encounter in your regular training program.

Phase Four exercises include drills in accelerations and hills, and plyometric exercises. Plyometrics are specialized, high-intensity training techniques used to develop athletic power (strength and speed), and to improve the responsiveness of the nervous system. Performance of these exercises requires a great deal of mental focus, strength, energy, and neuro-muscular coordination.

The Individualized Plan

What makes this a self-help book and not just a running “advice” book is that the methods we use here are not “one size fits all.”  In my PT office, no two patients ever follow the exact same pathway to recovery.  When an injured runner comes to me for treatment, I learn about their individual history and running goals, evaluate their injury, and develop an individualized injury-management plan specifically for that patient.

This book will show you how to develop your own individualized recovery plan, just as we do in my office. You’ll be guided step-by-step through a comprehensive self-assessment that will determine where you begin, and put together a customized injury-management plan, using six specific criteria:

1. Your running history.

2. Whether you have pre-existing conditions that affect your running – including pre-existing medical conditions, injuries, or surgeries.

3. The severity of your running injury.

4. Whether your injury is simple or complex.

5. The specific region of your injury.

6. Your individual running goals.

The time-frame required for you to complete your program will also vary depending on your most recent assessment criteria, and on your individual ability to progress through certain checkpoints required for clearance through the phases.

The length of time will be different for each person, depending on their condition and injury.

  • Typically, a simple injury with no Red Flags takes about two weeks. A simple injury with Red Flags takes about four weeks. A complex injury with no Red Flags takes about 14 weeks, and a complex injury with Red Flags takes about 16 weeks.

This post is written in part by Bruce Wilk, author of the The Running Injury Recovery Program. Bruce is also a board certified physical therapist and the director of Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialists, a private physical therapy practice located in Miami, FL, and the president of The Runner’s High, a specialty running store also located in Miami. He is also the RCAA certified head coach of the Miami Runners Club, and has completed multiple road races himself, including 26 full marathons and four Ironman races. For more information, please visit postinjuryrunning.com, and to purchase the Running Injury Recovery Program, please visit goneforarun.com

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