5 WAYS TO BOUNCE BACK FASTER
1 KEEP MOVING
You can continue to run if slowing down allows you to log miles without pain and with proper form, says Lewis Maharam, a sports doctor in New York City. ‘Running while recovering from muscle strains or tears brings blood flow to the area and helps the muscle heal properly,’ he says. However, don’t run if an injury changes your gait, or if you have a stress reaction or fracture. In those cases, keep up a routine with no-impact crosstraining, such as pool running or swimming.
2 STAY FLEXIBLE
By foam-rolling and performing dynamic stretches you pump healing blood to injured tissues and improve range of motion, says physiotherapist Michael Conlon. ‘Runners often think that they don’t have to do these things because they are not hitting the road while an injury heals but it’s almost more important to make them part of your daily routine now,’ he says. Roll then stretch, before and after a crosstraining workout. Skip any stretches that aggravate your injury or feel painful.
3 EAT UP
If you’re logging fewer miles, scale back on dietary indulgences such as pizza, ice cream and chips to avoid gaining weight. But don’t crash-diet: your body burns calories to heal, so you may need more than you think, says a 2015 study. Taking in enough protein is especially important: ‘Protein is broken down into amino acids, your body’s building blocks, to repair muscle tissue,’ says Maharam. Include a healthy protein source, such as eggs, fish or beans, in every meal.
4 MANAGE PAIN
Some studies have found that NSAIDS such as ibuprofen inhibit healing by interfering with the process that causes inflammation and tissue repair. Others say that occasional use won’t hinder muscle repair. Sports specialist Dr Nathaniel S. Jones prefers the middle ground: pain can disrupt sleep, and over-the-counter pills may help you get the quality sleep that’s needed for the nighttime healing process. But limit anti-inflammatories at other times – taking them longterm can cause kidney damage.
5 LESSEN STRESS
If you run to blow off steam, you’ll likely need to find another form of physical activity to manage your stress. ‘Not only does stress cause the body to release hormones that affect healing and recovery, but having an injury in itself can cause stress,’ says Jones. Try meditation, yoga or gentle hiking in a quiet, scenic setting – a 2015 Stanford University, US, study found that a 90-minute nature walk reduced negative thinking more effectively than a walk in an urban area.