21 July 2019

Running advice: Coming Back From Injury

March 16, 2016

Many of us have experienced problems with sore muscles and injuries during training for a big event, but when should we take time out and how do we get back into training after a break? Sportsister spoke to former Olympic athlete Andy Graffin, who gave us his expert advice on getting back to running after injury.


What are the main things to consider when coming back from injury?

Most running injuries are a result of overuse, that’s why spotting the early warning signs and taking appropriate action, rather than ignoring aches and niggles, is the best course of action.

In most cases you’ll need to seek medical advice for diagnosis and treatment but, for more run of the mill pains and niggles, rest is often the first course of action.

When coming back from injury, it’s key to build up again gradually. Don’t try to ‘catch up’ your training, simply pick up from the point at which you left off and continue with the same plan.

It’s important to try and find out what caused your injury in the first place. If, for example, the cause was an unsuitable pair of trainers, they’ll still be unsuitable when you run again.

If injuries were caused by a biomechanical factor (i.e. the way you run), then a qualified physio should be able to diagnose the issue and advise on a plan to correct it.


Can gym work help and what kind of exercises are the best?

Many runners like to mix up their running training with gym work, or other ‘cross training’. There can be benefits as it gives the body a break from the repetition of running, and undertaking an activity that is lower impact (e.g. swimming or cycling, etc.) will allow our legs a little more recovery time.

Any core strength training work will help with running as a strong core helps to maintain our running posture.

However, if you’re training for an event, make sure you’re making running training your primary focus. Gym work and other cross training should complement running training but not replace it.  The old adage that ‘running is the best training for taking part in a run’ is very true.

What useful things did you learn from your experiences of coming back from injury?

Injuries are part and parcel of training, but the good news is that there are very few injuries that can’t be fixed!

Like most runners I was impatient to get back training again, feeling that I was losing hard earned fitness with every day. But rushing back invariably doesn’t work.

In the long run a week or so of lost training won’t have an impact if we can keep up with a consistent training schedule for the remaining training. In fact, a week off training can often provide other benefits by letting the body fully recover from past training and allow it to step up to the next level.


My key tip is to get good advice (eg. from a physio) and then follow it!

How do you keep motivated when you get frustrated when coming back from injury?

It’s easy to feel that we’re not getting anywhere with our training, and we’re not progressing. Remember that we don’t all progress at a steady rate. Sometimes our training times won’t improve and we’ll feel tired, but stick with it and you’ll see the benefits in the long run.

The Women’s Sports Magazine

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