Woe to go: How do you get back into fitness post injury?
Recovering from injury can be frustrating – especially when all you want to do is get moving.
But the key thing from a physio's perspective is that you listen to your body.
People's most common mistake is trying to do too much too soon. That is when people can end up injured again.
Pre-injury you might have been able to blitz out a 10 kilometre run no worries, but a few months off through injury can make a big difference, so it's really important you don't just go out there and try to pick up exactly where you left off.
You're not going to be able to go out and run 10km straight away – you've got to condition yourself to achieve that.
That's why fun runs and events like the ICC Surf to City on Sunday March 12 can be a great place to start, as it has 3km, 6km and 12km options and you can bike, run or cycle.
When you first start back from injury you need to start at the appropriate level for your condition.
This can be hard to work out, but it's all about listening to your body and adapting to suit your level and condition.
For example, you could be sore for a couple of days after exercise, and it could just be general aches and pains, but if that soreness lasts longer than three to four days you've probably overdone it and need to reassess your training.
If you adjust your training and you're still getting pain, then you probably need to get it assessed.
Start with little and often and build up gradually as your body allows.
With running, your body weight can have an impact too. If you were fit and 70kg, then you get injured, you put on some weight and you don't do any activity for a long period, you need to acknowledge that when you're looking at starting again.
Likewise, if you haven't run for a long time, think about a non weight-bearing activity to get you started and build up that fitness, something like swimming, biking or cross training.
When you do start running, start with a flat surface and get comfortable on the flat before adding in any hills or uneven surfaces.
Starting again can be tough, but if you're sensible about it, realistic with your goals, and you're listening to your body and adjusting your training to suit, you should be on the right track.
Tips to live by:
- Be realistic about your goals - Acknowledge that you've had time out from running, or fitness, and set goals that allow your body to adjust and re-condition
- Listen to your body - Recognise the difference between normal aches and pains and something more serious; and take notice of any patterns of soreness (i.e. if your knee hurts after every run you should get it checked out)
- Start low and slow - As a general rule we'd recommend you increase your training by 10% each week. So if you're running 30 minutes three times a week, the next week you might do 33 minutes
- Warm up and cool down and if your muscles are tight, stop and stretch
- Sportsmed Southern Physiotherapy director Andrew Mackintosh
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