Starting all over again - any advice on avoiding injury?

I started the C25K in Spring - and was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Even when I had to run on a damp drizzling evening gasping past commuters. Maybe, I thought, I will one day be a runner. Maybe I'll be that fitter, lighter, faster me. After a couple of weeks I got myself fitted for good new running shoes.

Then I hurt the tendon on the outside of my ankle, and without realising did one more week 5 run on it. By the end I could barely walk - and had to admit defeat. Finally months later - the limp has gone, the pain has gone. I've been swimming, and doing some pilates, plus exercises the physio gave me to strengthen my legs.

So this morning, I ventured out again to nervously try week 1, run 1. It was ok. I kept my fingers crossed.

I really want to make it all the way through this time. I want to do park runs, then maybe a charity 5k or two.

So I'm thinking of taking it more slowly - maybe doing each week more than once until I'm confident I'm not going to get injured. Has anyone else had to do that - repeating weeks several times before moving on? Are there any exercises that help prevent injury in runners?

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  • I will be interested in any replies to this as I am now 5 weeks in to leg in plaster for broken ankle. 10 days untill the xray and plaster off I hope. I know I need to learn to walk before I can run but desperately want to get back to it. Didnt think I would ever miss running this much.

    Best of luck with your recovery.

  • And you - you don't want to mess with a broken ankle, at least the plaster will make sure you rest it. After that swimming has really helped me keep my fitness up - and when I couldn't kick properly I swam crawl slowly with a pull bouy float between my legs. If you can't do crawl you can still do backstroke or breastroke with a float until your ankle can move.

  • There are loads of injury prevention exercises. Mainly centred around strengthening the muscles around the joints. I have been doing leg weights at the gym to strengthen my knees and I also walk on tip toes and on heels around the house to strengthen my ankles as I also have an ankle injury! There are lots of articles on the Internet about it. I would suggest you listen to your body and take it slowly. Good luck!

  • Just did week 1 run 1 on friday after 4 weeks ankle injury. Like you being cautious. But am doing week 2 run today. Its still not pain free, but strapped up well during the run helps. and still taking anti- inflammatory tablets 3 times a day.

  • Unfortunately, as my chiropractor says'I can't wrap you up in bubble wrap', you are likely to pick up (minor) injuries in life. The best prevention from what I've learned is a good stretching routine and as one of the other comments suggested.... listen to your body.

    I stretch the spine and neck on a regular basis and this has help me with developing a better posture and flexibility. With stretching the stretch should be held for 30 secs but again don't overstretch. Good luck and enjoy!

  • I think its really important to do some stretches before you go for your run. I know a lot of people don't agree with that, but when I was having trouble with my shins, I found it really helped, and I haven't had any pain since. This is what I do to warm up and warm down, holding each exercise for 30 secs:

    1. Downward dog. pushing the heels to the floor (as far as comfortable).

    2. Bring right leg to hands into a low lunge. Drop left knee to floor. Rest hands either on knee, or lift arms above head. Repeat on left side.

    3. Sit on the floor, extend right leg out in front of you. Bend left leg and place foot next to right knee (or wherever is comfortable). Lean into straight leg (as far as you can). Repeat on left side.

    4. Sitting on the floor, put soles of feet together. Knees stay as close to the floor as possible, and bend over the legs, hinging from the hips, to wherever is comfortable.

    5. Standing, put your right foot against a wall, so the heel is still touching the floor and the foot is at an angle. Keeping your right leg straight, bend the left knee a little and push against the foot. Hold for 15 secs. Repeat on other side.

    6. standing roll each foot in a circle 15 times clockwise, then anti-clockwise.

    You might also add the physio exercises you have been doing into it, so that you can make sure your tendon is targeted. Other than that, just be careful and be aware. If its starting to cause you pain, stop immediately and rest for a few days. If it persists visit your doctor.

  • What fantastic descriptions of the stretches - thank you! When you look online it's confusing because in theory the warm up walk is meant to be enough but I think my legs are quite stiff and stretching may really help. I'm going to try to keep up with a bit of pilates for that reason as there are some good stretches at the end of the sessions and I can do the exercises at home.

    I've been really encoraged by all the advice - it makes me a bit more confident that I can make it if I listen carefully to my body this time so I don't let a niggle become a real pain.

  • hi, just reading this...I, too, am just coming back from an ankle stress fracture. And I did do 5-10 minutes of stretching before and after my runs before my injury (my body responds better that way)...still, the injury happened. But my doctor said to not let that thought deter me from getting back to running...although I have to learn to walk first before I can run again. I miss the running, but I will heed his advice. I'm now boot-free and one week into walking. And your tips listed above are very good ones that I can incorporate into my routine. Thank you for sharing...much appreciated!

    P.S. I love that I can now do a downward dog again. :)

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