Follow these suggestions so you can return from your injury strong and confident.
Cross-training is the immediate prescription when a runner winds up injured, but there’s more to it than a bunch of hours logged doing steady cardio. A mistake many rehabbing runners make is overlooking the fact that just because it’s not running, that doesn’t mean they can’t still do modifications of the very same workouts they do while running.
The aim is to maintain as much of that “sharpness” and power for when you are able to return to regular training. But first, it’s important to know exactly what’s going on injury-wise.
“A general ‘keep it easy for a few days’ is a surefire way to allow those antecedents to injury to remain hidden and ready to strike again,” said Lance Walker, the director of performance for Michael Johnson Performance labs. “A basic movement screen can be the first step in identifying these areas.”
Sourcing the root cause of the problem is the only way to correct that injury long term.
“Corrective exercises aimed at restoring symmetry and base functional movement patterns can be used to specifically target joint systems where antecedents to injury can be sourced,” Walker said.
Once the injury is pinpointed, you’ve got a timeframe to work with. The shorter your time out due to injury is, you can be a little more aggressive with cross-training and structuring your hard workouts. The longer that window, the more long-term focused you have be; keeping up that intensity would be too physically and mentally taxing for 4-6 months.
So what are some good cross-training exercises?
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“Pool running is my favorite form of aerobic cross-training for injured runners because there’s virtually no risk of injury and it’s very specific to running itself,” said Jason Fitzgerald, a 2:39-marathoner, coach, and author. Instead of sticking to steady-state “running,” Fitzgerald takes those same hard workouts and swaps the distance repeats for time. “The best way to structure your cross-training is to mimic exactly what you would do in your regular training.”