Q I’m just about to return to running after three months out with a lower-back injury (disc and sacro-iliac joint problems). What sort of training should I do to return to running fitness without risking more injury?
When returning to training, particularly high-impact training like running, after a back injury, you must tread carefully (no pun intended). Start with a month of low-impact exercise, such as cycling or using an elliptical trainer in the gym, to re-develop your cardiovascular fitness. Using a rowing machine is not advisable due to the strain that it can place on your back if done incorrectly. Think about control and quality in your exercises. Maintain good posture and a stable pelvis throughout your work-out. (Visualise Michael Johnson – the 400m runner keeps his pelvis and torso incredibly still while his legs are pumping away.)
When you start running again, use a treadmill at first. That way you can simply step off the machine if anything goes wrong, rather than having to limp home. Start out by alternating one minute of running with one minute of walking for 10 minutes in total. This will allow you to concentrate on your running without getting too tired or distracted.
Leave a good 48 hours between that first run and your second, to see if there is any reaction from your injury. If everything is okay, you can begin to increase your running time and reduce the number of walking breaks until you’re running for the full 10 minutes. Take this process slowly over a two- to three-week period. This may sound overly cautious and boring, but you’re rehabilitating post-injury and it needs to be done gradually. And, since you’re not running flat out, you can still supplement your running with low-impact exercise.
Greg Ryan, chartered physiotherapist with Medifix Clinics, London
I just got back from the GP feeling like the whole visit was a waste of time.I have CONSTANT lower back pain,and since I'm running in the FLM next year,and a sports therapist told me that I could permanantly damage my back doing 26 miles if something is trapped,I was understandably a bit worried.He said to go see a chiropractor,so I've asked around(including on here)and also went to my GP.
I was told that there are no chiropractors on the NHS,but they can refer me to physio(which I've had already and did not help at all)which will take nearly a year for an appointment,or they can refer me to a back clinic,which will also take about a year for the appointment to come through. The doctor says maybe I'm too active,to wwhich I answer I've started training BECAUSE I was a couch potato in pain before,and am now trying to so something about it.I'm a lot fitter already,but the back pain is a big handicap. I was given a prescription for painkillers. Marvellous. Sorry,I'm ranting.Just frustrated that situations like this arise,and seem very hard to solve.I'm going to sulk. Lovejoy. www.justgiving.com/Lovejoy "Sex is a private thing. It should between you and the person you're doing it to." Martin Crane-1993"Frasier"
Posted: 01/10/2003 at 16:32