When aches and pains cross our path, it’s easy to think our fitness will be lost as we heal, but in many cases, we can maintain and recover efficiently by employing a new paradigm of training called active recovery.
Healing from knee pain.
Take Emily, for example. She was training for her first half marathon and pushing mileage when her knee began to ache during her run. Although I had her rest passively for a few days and ice it to reduce swelling, I also incorporated the elliptical to maintain her fitness until she could run again pain free.
The elliptical is low impact, weight bearing and similar in movement to running, which makes for a great mode to continue to train without stress to the knee joint. She was able to get in easy effort workouts with low resistance for longer sessions for endurance as well as high intensity interval workouts for fitness and stamina. This not only allowed Emily to continue her training, it also helped her stay emotionally strong and focused on a new goal to heal the knee issue.
Schedule a search and release massage.
In many cases, knee pain is due to the build up of muscle tension and weakness in the muscles that surround the joint. By scheduling a massage, you can have the therapist search and then release the tension in your trouble areas. For runners, this tends to be in the Iliotibial Band and thigh muscles just above the knee. You can also perform a DIY release massage using a foam roller. foam rollers are available at your nearest Fitness Resource Store.
Returning to running the smart way.
Once the pain subsided, I had Emily weave running into her workout gradually by combining the two modes together. She performed 20 minutes on the elliptical followed by ten minutes of easy effort running on a treadmill. She passed that test so we upped it to 20 minutes, and eventually she was running her normal 3-4 runs per week at an easy effort. She continued to use the elliptical for the higher intensity workouts through her half marathon as she found that her body responded well to harder workouts with lower impact forces.
Train your weak spots.
Emily is now training for her second half marathon with a more balanced program that includes running three times per week, the elliptical twice per week followed by a total body strength routine, and yoga once per week. She incorporates regular flexibility with foam rolling and post workout stretching and has been pain free ever since.
Aches and pains aren’t the end of the road. They are simply a sign that something is off balance and needs adjusting. When you listen and modify, you’re able to avoid injuries and continue to improve your performance.