Most injuries occur when we try to push ourselves to run too far, too fast, too soon. I actually injured my left hip flexor when I tried to do a 30 day run streak. I was only running roughly 3 days a week at the time, averaging about 15 miles. My so called 30 day run streak only lasted 9 days. And I have since been on and off the sideline since the beginning of November.
Depending on the severity of your injury is what determines just how much time off from running is needed. For a mild muscle strain or shin splints, a few days with proper stretching and ice (for the first 24-48 hours) will typically be enough. A moderate injury such as a strained ankle, knee or even a moderate hip flexor injury, generally requires anywhere from one to three weeks off to heal. And when it comes to a severe injury such as a severe hip flexor injury, a runner could be looking at up to eight weeks to fully recover. Only after you have taken the necessary time to complete some physical therapy, massage, and strengthening for your injury will you then be able to gradually make your way back to running.
Trying to run before your muscles have healed will definitely result in you taking even more time off and possibly even injure yourself even worse. I know this all too well, because I have tried more than once to start running before my hip was ready. And as I sit here writing this article today, I am still feeling the pain in my hip, because just yesterday I went out for a run knowing in the back of my mind that it may just be too soon. And, it was!
It is also very important that when you do go out for your first run after your injury has healed, you must take it slow. You can’t just go back out there and run the miles or the speed that you were doing before the injury. Start off with low miles and a slow speed, and gradually build yourself back to your pre-injury running schedule.
So please learn from me… When injured, take the time to heal your body first. And take your time when getting back into your running routine. Come back stronger and healthier than before you became injured.