The Proven Step-by-Step Guide to Running After an Injury: Part 1

I’m going to be honest with you, running is not my idea of a fun time.

As a kid I played house league soccer (defense & goalie exclusively), I was on the school basketball team for several years, and that concludes my time with running. I could sprint when I had to, and that is it. 

In elementary school I tried to forget that Track & Field had two parts to it, as I wanted to exclusively do the ‘field’ part. 

It’s not that I was terribly bad at running. 

Ok I was pretty bad at running any distance that went farther than a single kilometer. I had zero practice and zero need for that particular skill.

Aside from the lack of practice, there was really only one thing that stopped me from going for runs: it’s boring!

So many people love running, whether it be just for health purposes, it became a habit after doing it with sports practices, or as a stress relief exercise. 

judge judy time limit angerMy outlet was always dancing and swimming. Lots of cardio and full body work… zero running requirement (but when your dance teacher tells you to cross the floor in 3 counts, you fly or you die).

Now with the wonderful invention of podcasts, I have finally decided to give running a fair shot. 

The first question most people ask me when I say this is why I don’t just take adult dance classes or go to the gym more frequently throughout the week or go swim laps at a pool, so that I can still up my exercise and fitness but without torturing myself.

With every fibre of my being I wish it were that easy. There are a few reasons:

  1. Ya girl broke.
    Running (outside) is free! I like free. I can afford free. I can’t afford to get back into dance, although huge shoutout to all dance parents who continually forked out that much money for their kids.

  2. I don’t like being told I’m not allowed to do something.
    Never have, probably never will. A Specialist I was seeing a couple years ago told me running would never be in my future, and one of the only safe ways for me to get cardio was to bike. No dance, only light swimming (preferably no deep end for a while for safety), no shoveling snow, no cutting grass.
barnie HIMYM whaaat

  3. The reason I was told #2. 
       I have Post Concussion Syndrome. You can of course read a full explanation of that and my journey here, but a short run down is definitely             needed as a pretense for this particular blog.

 

The Problem

I have had more concussions than the average of all NFL players during on-season practices for the last 6 years.  No, seriously.

I was officially diagnosed with Post Concussion Syndrome in 2015, and was told in early 2017 that my chances of recovering any further were incredibly slim. 

What that translates to for functioning:

  • Headaches and migraines will likely not decrease any further in intensity or frequency 
  • My balance will never go back to where it was
  • Motion sickness is a continual companion
  • My memory and information processing will not recover
  • Check ins with a neurologist every 6-8 months to monitor my memory loss and reassess for early onset Dementia

When I was initially doing vestibular physiotherapy in 2016, it was found that once my heart rate reached approximately 145bpm I would experience an onset of symptoms that would not subside for several hours. Ideally, when recovering from a concussion, your activity levels must stay in the ‘safe zone’, and over time the safe zone will increase and the ‘danger zone’ will decrease.

activity level graph

Let’s say the first purple x is where I started my recovery after my last major concussion in 2015. The second x is roughly how far I progressed before being told I would not progress through the rest of the recovery process.

It is important to note here that this type of outcome is incredibly rare, and most people do fully recover from a concussion. 

So basically: 

  • If I mow my lawn, shovel my driveway for anything in excess of light snowfall, go for any amount of running, or partake in any physical activity that nears my heart rate to 145bpm, I will feel like crap for the rest of the day, and possibly into the next. 
  • Forever. 
  • I was about to turn 23.

 

The Solution

After a few years of self management, stubbornness, changes to a safer job, and an incredible support system, I’m ready to put this ‘no running ever’ thing to the test.

With the guidance from my coworkers at Strive, of course, so I do this properly.

 

The Plan

With Tyler as my main guide, we are going to take this step by step and turn me into a runner, right from the very basics.

Looney Tunes Crazed planning

We need to consistently cover the steps for concussion recovery, with regular check-ins, and consistent tracking of everything from both a running recovery standpoint and a concussion standpoint.  

Tyler will take me through a running preparedness assessment that will test my readiness from strength, range of motion, to post-concussion. 

We will take the steps for becoming a runner (from essentially nothing), our goals, cross-training, the build up to the first run, and each run and progression we go through afterwards, and show it all to you. 

Each step of the way, I will post my progress and journey. You will help keep us accountable, and learn the steps it takes to become a runner, whether it be the first time you put running shoes on or if you are trying to ease yourself back in after an injury.

You will learn the complete return to running protocol, plus see it in action. 

Don’t have a concussion? Just replace the concussion checks with your own injury-specific checks.

This should be fun! I’m actually very nervous. 

Oh boy.

Wish me luck!

Chelsea Simo
Strive Physiotherapy & Performance

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MIKE MAJOR, PT

BSc Kinesiology, University of Waterloo MSc PT, McMaster University

Physiotherapist

Born in Lahr, Germany

Mike treats people of all activity levels and ages from weekend warriors to elite athletes. He has mentored physiotherapists across Ontario as well as worked on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Physiotherapy Association. Recently, Mike represented physiotherapists within the Pan Am/Para Pan Am Games Medical Services Expert Provider Group. Mike has also had the opportunity to work side by side with orthopaedic surgeons, allowing him to work with many people following complex and traumatic injuries. Mike also consults over 1,000 physiotherapy cases nationally. This has given him a lot of insight into what Physiotherapy looks like across Canada.    

Prior to becoming a physiotherapist, Mike served in the reserves for 9 years as a member of the Artillery in the Canadian Armed Forces. He also enjoys coaching local athletes to help improve their performance through MeFit, a local not-for-profit organization.

What Really Matters...

Cats or dogs?

Dogs.

Worst idea you've ever had?

Skiing behind a car.

Worst fad you've ever participated in?

Rat Tail

Do you have any kids?

A baby named Maverick.

Last book you read?

Together is Better: A little Book of Inspiration

Most useless talent you have?

Sewing

 

What 3 things are you bringing with you, stranded on a desert island?

A multitool, My Wife, and our baby

Biggest Pet Peeve?

A multitool, My Wife, and our baby

In your high school yearbook, you won/would have won...?

Most likely to get stuff done

What song would play every time you enter a room?

Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

 

“It’s not the size of dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”