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Running: How to recover from an injury pre and post-race?

By: Claire Mills, Physiotherapist and founder of Core LDN

First published: 19th April 2024

Featured in: Women's Health, ‘I suffered from an injury during half marathon training, here’s how I recovered’


How to recover from an injury pre and post race with the support of physiotherapy and Pilates

What are the most common running injuries? Why do they happen?


I’d say the most common injuries I see are knee pain either lateral or anterior, calf pain or shin splints. Generally these injuries are due to over training/ increasing mileage too quickly or due to a lack of strength/ capacity to run a distance… Normally it’s a combination of both.


What is the best way to prevent them?


Ensure you are doing core, mobility and strength work when training alongside your running, particularly if you are running over 10km as it will add in a further strengthening element essential for running longer distances.this could be a combo of weight training and Pilates my go to is Reformer Pilates. At Core LDN we use reformer resistance and add weights onto this to further add loading and strengthening.


Don’t overtrain or increase mileage too quickly. This is a common thing that I see as a physiotherapist- gradually increase your running following a training program. Also listen to your body, don’t push through pain or run when you have pain. If stretching and foam rolling doesn’t ease the pain/ niggle then seek advice from a health professional like a physiotherapist.


When it comes to knee / leg injuries how important is strength work?


Massive. In running the ground reaction force is approximately 2.5-3 x your body weight, your leg muscles therefore have to absorb this. When running a distance you therefore require adequate strength and capacity in these muscles to shock absorb particularly your quadriceps (thigh) & calf muscles predominantly your Soleus (deep calf muscle). By strengthening these muscles, alongside others, you improve the control of the limb as you make contact with the ground minimising any torsion through tendons or excessive rotation of the lower limb that can overload joints.


What else would you recommend for someone with a running injury?


Firstly, don't consistently try to run through the pain. Shorten your runs and decrease the frequency if possible factoring in rest, you can maintain fitness through other lower impact forms of exercise such as Pilates or swimming. Alongside this you may find doing some self release using a foam roller could help if the pain is due to muscle tension.

If this doesn’t settle the symptoms then seek advice from a health professional such as a physiotherapist. The likelihood is that something is overloaded, a physio will be able to assess the injury and your biomechanics then alongside treatment guide you through a rehab programme to strengthen the muscles that lack capacity causing the overload and get you back to running. 


Can applying heat or ice help with the injury?


There's lots of debate about this and really the research shows there's minimal evidence of the effectiveness of either. There is evidence that both heat and ice can give temporary local analgesic effects and both may reduce muscle soreness. I would say it's your own preference and in an acute injury/ swelling or post op I would choose ice over heat. You can also alternate between hot and cold known as contrast therapy. Does heat or ice help the injury....yes from a pain relief POV. I personally have found ice baths to also be effective in decreasing muscle soreness and pain from injury. 


When should you admit defeat and opt out of the race?


This comes down to goals. If you're trying to achieve a time and the injury has impeded your training in a way that you cannot achieve that goal or would be in agony trying to achieve it or worse cause further injury trying to complete the race then admit defeat and opt out. If however you are doing it as a personal achievement, maybe running it for charity then you could consider doing it but maybe opting to walk run i.e. run a mile walk a minute to give your body your recovery every mile (an opportunity to take in some water and fuel too) and you may well be able to get through it and enjoy it!


Is rest the best cure for a running injury post race?


Yes, generally I would say so if you are injured plus focusing on maybe some stretching or releasing i.e. foam rolling. You could also choose a lower impact form of exercise such as Pilates post the race to move your body, stretch/ mobilise and gently ease your body back into some movement. Alongside this if you are injured you should seek further advice regarding recovery and returning to exercise specific to your injury.




About Core LDN


Aimed at revolutionising the fitness and rehabilitation landscape, Core LDN firmly believe

that a one size fits all approach simply doesn't apply to wellness. At the heart of Core LDN's philosophy is a team of expert physiotherapists dedicated to treating and rehabilitating all injuries. Through a fusion of exercise rehabilitation in specialised CORE classes, clients can experience the benefits of Physiotherapy-led Pilates. Whether in recovery mode, navigating pre/postnatal stages, or striving towards specific fitness objectives, individuals can harness the power of personalised Pilates sessions.


To find out more about Core LDN, book a physiotherapy initial appointment or Core LDN Pilates intro visit www.coreldn.com


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