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How to increase your running capacity and avoid injury

To increase your running capacity, be consistent and follow a planned running program, build up your running routine slowly and deliberately, and work with a physical therapist to avoid setbacks.

As a physical therapist who treats runners and clients who wish to get back into running after an injury, I often hear patients say that they reinjure themselves upon a return to running.  After receiving physical therapy, it’s common to see that another area of their body is now hurting. Many of my clients blame this pain on the way their body is shaped is causing them to sustain injuries.

It is true that certain characteristics of someone’s skeleton and biomechanics can place them at a higher risk of sustaining an injury, but it doesn’t mean that the shape of the body part in question is the actual cause of an injury.

"We know that saying a physical therapist is necessary for this sounds very market-y but it can have the biggest impact on your running experience."

Be consistent and follow a planned running program. The most common reason after returning to running is doing too much, too soon. People who run on a consistent basis, for example 3-7 days/week, have built up a capacity accommodate their workouts without sustaining an injury. By running regularly, your body adapts to the stresses that running places upon it. If you have trouble maintaining consistency, sometimes a coach or running partner can help.

Build up slowly. Runners who come back from injury typically try to catch up quicker than their body can tolerate, and they then sustain another injury or reinjure themselves. Their body’s capacity to tolerate the stress of running decreased during their time off, because their body was no longer receiving the stresses it needed to stay at their prior capacity.

Avoid injury by using a slow progression and regimented return to running schedule. Your schedule should consist of easy jogs to start for just a minute at a time followed by minute long walks. Gradually increase the number of repetitions and ratio of run to walk time, eventually returning to a full jog at your desired pace. This allows the body to properly build the capacity to tolerate the stresses required for running.

Each time you go for a run you are allowing your muscles, tendons, joints, ligaments, and cardiovascular system an opportunity to remodel and improve itself to better prepare for the next run. By doing this you are improving your resilience to running, improving your capacity for stress, and decreasing your risk of running related injuries.

Because running is a repetitive activity, any movement that is outside of the normal stress that your body is used to is compounded over thousands of steps in a matter of minutes. This is when the injuries can occur if your body is not ready. A great physical therapist can help you avoid injury on the way to increasing your capacity.

Incorporate your physical therapist into your routine. By working with your physical therapist at Rose, we can help you understand what your body is going through and help you to adapt and adjust to avoid pain and injury. While we might recommend working with a running coach, keeping in touch with your physical therapist can give you the extra oomph you are looking for to get you back to full action more quickly. This progression should feel natural, and seeing your physical therapist on a regular basis can allow you to adjust your training routine.

A training routine does not need to be complex or very long, but it must be consistent. Work with your physical therapist to adapt to how your body is doing. A great physical therapist should help adjust your pre- and post-run routine on a regular basis, and add and remove cross-training exercises to help you continue to strengthen your body and avoid injuries in the future.

We know that saying a physical therapist is necessary for this sounds very market-y but it can have the biggest impact on your running experience. If you want the best expertise in understanding your muscles and figuring out little aches and pains, this is what physical therapists do. A physical therapist is the missing ingredient in most people's routines that is often forgotten. In many instances a single physical therapy appointment can have a tremendous impact on your running routine, your running enjoyment, and to help you avoid injury.

Our bodies are capable of withstanding and adapting to great amounts of stress, so long as you make it a gradual process. At Rose Physical Therapy Group, we have many therapists who have taken courses on running prevention and rehabilitation who understand this principle and can determine a proper plan of care and return of running progression specifically for you.