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Overcoming Running & Overuse Injuries


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Matthew Robbins – PT, DPT, CSCS

In last week’s post, Running & Overuse Injuries, we discussed overuse injuries and the running faults that often lead to them. In this post, we will discuss safe progressions back to running after being sidelined by injury.

Return to running programs are often broken down into two phases.

Phase One consists of rest and pain control while maintaining as much aerobic fitness as possible. This can be achieved from cross-training activities ranging from elliptical training and swimming to cycling and aqua-jogging depending on the severity of the injury.

Phase Two consists of a progressive return to running which can only be implemented once the individual is able to walk pain free without assistance (crutches) for at least one week. At this point a walk-run program can be initiated at 50% of normal running pace of the individual. Walking intervals gradually decrease as running intervals steadily increase for 3 blocks of 10 minutes totaling a 30 minute training session.

Once the individual has safely and gradually returned to a full 30 minute running session, intensity is slowly added back in at 10% increments up to full pace. Up to this point, running days are alternated with rest days so that running never occurs back-to-back.

Having achieved full intensity running pace in the last phase, the athlete can now begin to introduce repetitive days of running to increase the training load and stress to the musculoskeletal system.

This is a generic program outlining the basics of returning to running. If you are suffering from a running injury or currently overcoming one, seek out one of our running specialist physical therapists for a thorough evaluation and recommendations on how to personalize your recovery program to make it back to the next starting line in top form.


About the PT

Matthew Robbins, PT, DPT, CSCS is a physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist. Earning his Bachelors of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Tennessee Knoxville, he then went on complete his Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. Matthew not only effectively treats endurance athletes, but is an active athlete himself. He’s competed in more than 100 races to date including Ironman Louisville, Memphis St. Jude Marathon, and the Collegiate Track National Championship. Enduring three previous ACL reconstructions, he truly understands the complications and patience involved in the recovery process. Matthew enjoys treating patients with low back pain and knee injuries, as well as aiding in their recovery and the restoration of their active lifestyles.

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