Depending on what the injury is will determine the extent and type of training that can be carried out.
Is it either bone, tendon or muscle injury? Training with an injury should still be carried out but it will be dependent on protecting you from further injury or re-injury.
The aim being to maintain fitness, while promoting healing.
The methods of exercise, depending on the injury can be either:
Walking / slow shuffle Shallow water running Deep water running
Walking and slow shuffle replaces the longer non stop runs. If the injury is not too severe then this can take the form of long hikes and to add resistance, the use of a weight jacket. This type of walking could have a duration of four hours.
Track sessions are replaced with the injured athlete running in the outside lane at a slow run shuffle. Speed component must be kept to below any pain discomfort. It is building mental strength by self control while also inclusiveness of the athletes with the rest of the non- injured training group. The injured athlete keeps “shuffling” until everyone has completed the session. This type of training has been adapted from Kenyan runners training methodologies.
For many Kenyan groups it is not even a debatable point on whether to ‘push on’ in continuing with the group track work. Injured athletes will often shuffle on the outside lane till their compatriots have finished.
Shallow water running is carried out in waist deep water. This exercise builds strength while still keeping in touch with the ground. The run mechanics change, as this form of running forces the athlete onto the ball of the foot but the big advantage is the athlete can get back run form very quickly. By varying the depth of the water can assist with the rehabilitation of various injuries until transitioning back to normal running.
Deep water running should be practiced with a run belt and a stretch cord, so the athlete moves slowly up the pool. Interval work can be achieved in this session.
Always get an Expert to assess your injury and then follow the prescribed rehabilitation program. It could be either of the above mentioned regimes or a combination of all three. It is important to keep the moving and motivated. Most modern Physiotherapists are tuned in to these types of injuries now and will point you at sets of online exercises. The good ones (State Registered in the UK) WILL take you through a rehab routine by showing you and then getting you to try them in Clinic.
Active rehabilitation keeps oxygen and blood flow to the injury and aids in a faster recovery. Of course, increasing the cycle or swim volume is another method but not one that I recommend.
Cycling can also increase leg stress as does swim when pushing off the wall in turning and kicking. Swimming incorporating no kick turns can be tolerated but only when not swimming in your normal swim lane group but by yourself when you can completely control those turns.
I have to make the decisions that best suit my Athletes return from injury and always in consultation with what the Physiotherapist has prescribed.
Keeping fit with a run injury is possible depending on the injury, it’s your job to make the judgement calls that will best suit full recovery with all the information and practical tools at your disposal and with the usual consultation with your Coach!