“The idea that the harder you work, the better you’re going to be is just garbage. The greatest improvement is made by the man or woman who works most intelligently.”~ Bill Bowerman
After my previous hip FAI surgery, I got frustrated by the lack of tips and advice for getting back into running after a three month plus layoff. All the information I could find about returning to running was for runners that have been sidelined for a week or two or were coming back after a stress fracture and it didn’t make sense, for me, to jump right into 10 minutes of continuous running after everything my body had been through.
Recovering from FAI surgery has its own unique issues like extremely tight hip flexors that can shorten your stride, all sorts of muscle imbalances from the time on crutches, and other lingering gunk from the trauma of surgery.
The following return to run program is extremely cautious, slow, and can be frustrating, but it got me back healthy and strong. I guess you have to decide what’s more important, the immediate gratification of a short run or longevity and being able to backpack, ski, and hopefully run into your 50’s and beyond.
Return to Run Program
I am not a physical therapist or any sort of medical professional, but I can say that I successfully returned to running after my first two hip surgeries using the plan below that I compiled from various resources. And success to me was setting a new 5K PR, running a trail half marathon, pacing a friend 22 miles in a 100-mile race, and winning my first trail race! I recently had FAI surgery on my other side and can’t wait to get started on this plan once I can walk for 30 minutes without pain or am 12 weeks-post op, which ever comes second.
- Begin walk/run sessions once you are able to walk for 30 minutes without any pain/tightness/discomfort.
- Run 3 times a week with bike/elliptical on non-running days.
- After completing a walk/run session, you can advance to the next box if you meet the following
- No pain while running
- No increased pain/swelling for more than 2 hours after the session
- Pain does not alter your normal gait. No limping!
- Pain does not continue to increase over time.
Return to Running Tips:
- Don’t slack on PT. Just because you are feeling better and running doesn’t mean you can forget your rehab exercises!
- Don’t feel bad if old injury symptoms creep back up. It took me three weeks to get past week 1 of the return to running plan, but after that recovery was exponential!
- Resist the urge compare your return to running pace with your pre-injury/surgery pace. Track your progress as it comes and celebrate the little victories – I ran a consecutive mile yay!!!
- Find a physical therapist that specializes in running form and have a gait analysis done.