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A Return To Running Program

A Return To Running Program
A Return To Running Program

Return To Running Program

Rehabilitation of an injury requires returning the individual to pre-injury activity levels. Achieving this frequently involves a return to running. Below is a simple outline I use in my clinic for returning patents running where running is an important component of their training (and life). Obviously this is not a one size fits all return to running program but is a useful way to help slowly progress the rehabilitation in some patients to safely include running.

Who Can Use This Return To Running Program?

Specific conditions I have used this return to running program successfully on include patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome (runners knee), ITB frictional syndrome, Achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciopathy to name a few. The program can also work well in lower limb post surgical rehabilitation.

Implementation of any return to running program should be guided by your physiotherapist or appropriately skilled treating practitioner. This program is not a substitute for previously prescribed rehabilitation exercises, generally speaking these exercises should be continued throughout the return to running program unless advised otherwise.

This return to running program is generally only appropriate:

  • When the individual can walk at a fast pace with out a limp for at least 30 mins pain free.
  • Where an individuals injury has almost fully healed.
  • When indicated as ready by your treating physiotherapist or practitioner.

The return to running program begins at stage 1 and is broken up into four five minute blocks consisting of some walking and some jogging totaling 20 minutes of activity. Over subsequent stages the jogging to walking ratio is progressively increased until at the completion of the program (stage 19) consists of 20 minutes of continuous jogging.
Example: Stage 1: Walk for 4 and a half minutes then jog for half a minute, repeating this cycle four times without rest between the cycles.

 Stage Walk (Mins)   Jog (mins) 
 1 4.5  0.5
 2 4.5 0.5
 3  4 1
 4  4 1
 5  3.5  1.5
 6  3.5 1.5
 7  3  2
 8  3 2
 9  2.5 2.5
 10  2.5 2.5
 11  2 3
 12  2 3
 13  1.5 3.5
 14  1.5  3.5
 15  1 4
 16  1 4
 17  0.5 4.5
 18  0.5 4.5
 19  0 5

 

When To Progress To The Next Stage?

Ideally the program is performed 2-3 X a week with 1 – 2 days recovery between sessions. Progressing to the next stage 2-3 days after the last session, providing that the current stage was performed without any increase in your symptoms during or after the session.

Please Note: When looking at the table you will notice that the walk to run ratios are repeated over two stages, meaning stage 1 and stage 2 are the same and then stage 3 and stage 4 are the same and so on… This is intentional do not skip stages, just because you completed stage 1 successfully does not mean you jump directly to stage 3, there are no shortcuts. The return to running program should take around 6-8 weeks to complete depending on frequency of training and accounting for any setbacks.

My Symptoms Have Increased What Do I Do?

If you experience an increase in pain or symptoms during or after one of the stages it is recommended that you then have a few recovery days to allow your symptoms to settle and then drop back to the previous successfully completed stage with a lower jogging to walking ratio and look to build from there. Generally contact your physiotherapist if you have any concerns.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic provides this information as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on A Return To Running Program should consult his or her physiotherapist or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.

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