Updated: May 13, 2020
You just got the green light to resume running. Now what? As runners, injuries are inevitable. Tendinitis has proven time and time again to be the “Achilles heel” for runners. I have found the most difficult part of an injury is the first few weeks of getting back on your feet - to run again while not aggravating your prior injury or sustaining a new one. Your first instinct, after taking some down time due to an injury, is to go back to the same training and probably more to make up for the lost time. To combat this instinct it is best to take a look at the broader issues and adhere to a more sustainable program. At times the progress may seem slow but this will give you the best chance of a full recovery back to your desired active lifestyle. Let’s address some common questions: What is tendinitis? We must first understand what the injury is and more importantly what the underlying cause is. Tendinitis is a common overuse injury that stems from many different factors, ranging from muscular weakness to limited range of motion. These factors combined with the repetitive running motion and an increased workload can cause a nagging injury in places such as the achilleas, IT band and the hips amongst others. What should I do on my first run back? Make sure to start at a slow pace giving your body a chance to warm up. “Pole pole” (pronounced poley poley) is a term used in the storied Kenyan running culture meaning slowly, slowly. Pole pole is especially important for coming back from a tendinitis injury. As you work into the run you can increase to a comfortable “conversational” pace. Make sure to slow back down to a slower pace to allow your body to cool down. Hydrate, eat, and stretch to ensure you are ready for tomorrow’s workout.
What should I do on recovery days? As runners, we are creatures of habit. We enjoy routine. I found that to stay in shape I could supplement with cross training on recovery days (biking, swimming, gym work, yoga etc.) until I was able to work my way back up to full training. I would recommend doing this around the same time of day that you would have gone for a run. This helped keep me patient on my journey to becoming a robust athlete with the added benefit of expediting recovery by increasing blood flow and strengthening underlying weaknesses that could have been a cause of the injury in the first place. I always use my pain level to guide my progress. I monitor my pain level during my warm up exercises and run. This takes some discipline as you have to be honest with yourself in order to not cause further injury. Apply these fundamentals even after the pain has subsided. Although it may seem tedious, patience will be key to remain injury free. See you at the finish line!