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Training & advice

Scott Masson - 4 Lesser Known Ways to Bounce Back from an Injury

As a dedicated runner, you will almost certainly pick up an injury at some point in your life. Unless you’re blessed with amazing genetics, the stresses and strains that an intense training regime puts upon your body will put you at high risk of injury.


It is therefore essential that you know how to prevent and rehabilitate any injuries that you pick up along the way. However, this article isn’t going to blather on about the generic tips and tricks. Instead it’s going to tie together disparate methods of injury rehabilitation from different sports and disciplines to give you some techniques that you may not have come across before in the running scene.

#1 Diet

If you’re serious about your training, chances are you already have your diet sorted. Your macro-nutrient breakdown of carbs, proteins and fats and supplements are likely on lockdown, helping you perform better on every run.

However, what a lot of runners neglect are some of the micronutrients your body needs to maintain healthy connective tissues and joints. The reality is that you are putting far more stress on your joints and tendons/ligaments than an ordinary person, so it follows that you need a more specialised diet.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are two essential nutrients which have been shown to expedite tendon recovery. When combined with MSM, Vitamin C and Magnesium, they will give your joints everything they need to repair themselves and keep you on the road.


Top Tip

When buying these sort of supplements, pay close attention to how much of the target ingredient is actually contained in each pill (some companies sell products containing woefully small amounts of the active ingredient) and check out the Informed Sport website, which is a quality assurance programme for sports nutrition products, suppliers to the sports nutrition industry, and supplement manufacturing facilities.


#2 Strengthen Your Tendons like a Powerlifter

Even amateur powerlifters can lift 200kg+ on some of their lifts, managing to shift weights far in excess of what their musculature would have you believe. This is entirely down to the strength of their tendons, ligaments and connective tissues and the techniques they use to strengthen them.

One essential technique which I think all runners should use as part of a rehabilitation programme or, ideally, as a part of their regular training regime is partial squats. As opposed to doing a normal squat with a full range of movement, by doing just a quarter of a repetition of a squat, your tendons and connective tissues take the brunt of the movement. You can see how to do a partial squat here.

For runners the benefits are twofold: firstly, you’ll increase your strength and power without gaining muscle to weigh you down. Secondly, and most importantly, you’ll dramatically strengthen the tendons in your knees, ankles and feet; all areas commonly injured by runners.

I can’t recommend partial lifts enough for maintaining healthy joints, and if you have any niggling injuries which won’t go away, you should absolutely give it a go.


Top Tip

If you don’t have a gym membership or access to squat racks and free weights, it’s worth looking into getting a core bag. Depending on your size and strength, anything from a 10kg bag to a 25kg bag will do wonders for your tendon strength.

You can pick core bags on the cheap from Sports Direct, and they almost always have some sort of discount going, so it’s worth keeping an eye out here.


#3 Deload Weeks

This is another gem from the weight lifting world, but is one which is roundly dismissed amongst runners and endurance athletes. In a deload week, athletes dramatically reduce the volume of training they do, so that their joints, and any accumulated injuries they’ve picked up, have a chance to recover.

Everyone I’ve spoken to in the running world seems to be strongly opposed to the idea of deload weeks, as they think that the reduced training will impact their fitness levels. However, the good a deload week does for your overall health far outweighs the negligible impact it will have on your fitness levels. Think of it this way; a chronic case of tendonitis will impact your training for weeks, if not months, whereas a couple of deload weeks, spread out over the course of the year, will keep you running year round.

Remember, your connective tissues cannot repair themselves at the same rate that your muscles can, so it is imperative that you give them the time they need to recover and adapt.


How to Do It

A deload isn’t just an excuse to slob out for a week – you should still continue training, but just reduce the volume by around 40-50%. For example, if you’re used to running 30 miles a week, simply dial down your training for a week and just cover 15 miles.

As an added incentive, I guarantee you’ll come back from your deload week more motivated than ever to train your hardest.


#4 Diversify Your Training

Diversifying your training is a great way to fix any muscular imbalances and therefore reduce the likelihood of getting injured, as well as giving your joints an opportunity to recover whilst you maintain your cardiovascular fitness.

For example, occasionally swapping out a run for a long cycle, a swim or even some light-weight resistance work will help work out muscles which might not get adequately exercised when running. These muscles might not sound essential, but they are instrumental in maintaining good posture and supporting your joints.

Many common running injuries such as Patellofemoral pain syndrome, hamstring tendonitis and even shin splints are caused by muscular imbalances brought on by distance running. So, by throwing in different forms of training, you’ll be able to create a balanced, healthy physique, which will allow you to perform better on the road in the long run.

Additionally, it will give joints which take a lot of abuse, such as your knees and ankles, a chance to rest and recover, while you can still maintain your fitness levels.


Scott Masson is a runner, road cyclist and powerlifter who says "I've had more than my fair share of busted joints, so I'm something of an old hand when it comes to recovering from injuries. I have learned some important lessons the hard way."