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Workouts for Common Runner Injuries

Injuries can be frustrating for avid runners, but they don’t mean the end of staying fit. In fact, cross-training or engaging in alternative workouts can aid in faster recovery and maintain cardiovascular and muscular strength. Here are some workouts for common runner injuries.

When I was in the 4th grade, I used to walk about a block away from home to catch the bus. (This was back in the day–and it was totally okay to walk a block away from home without any worry from your parents) Our bus was unpredictable — sometimes it was super early, some days it was super late, and some days it didn’t show up.

To pass the time while we waited for the bus, one of the girls would pack a jump rope and we’d jump double dutch every single day without fail. We’d teach each other new tricks and pretty much just have a great time.

One day it was raining, we didn’t care, we jumped anyway (I was a smart fourth grader, really I was). I slipped on a wet spot and sprained my ankle pretty severely. To this day, 25 years late, my ankle has never been right. If I run too long, or even if the weather is off (I swear my ankle has a memory and it remembers whenever it gets even a little bit wet outside!) I feel twinges of pain.

Here are a few exercises that are great for a sprained ankle (I am NOT a doctor but these are really helpful for ME):

  1. These upper body workouts! This is a really good excuse to get buff arms! 🙂
  2. Calf Raises: These should be done as long as you are able to put weight on the ankle

Range of motion exercises from WebMD:

  • Trace the alphabet with your toe, which encourages ankle movement in all directions. Trace the alphabet 1 to 3 times.
  • Sit in a chair with your foot flat on the floor. Slowly move your knee side to side while keeping your foot pressed flat. Continue for 2 to 3 minutes.

Workouts For Runners with Injuries

Here’s a list of alternative workouts that runners can consider when they’re sidelined due to injury:

  1. Swimming: It’s an excellent full-body workout that is low-impact. The water provides resistance for strength training while also allowing cardiovascular exercise without putting strain on injured areas.
  2. Water Running: With the help of a flotation belt, you can mimic the running motion in the deep end of a pool. It gives the feeling of running without the impact.
  3. Cycling: Whether you’re on a stationary bike or outdoors, cycling is an effective way to maintain cardiovascular fitness without the impact of running. Make sure your injury doesn’t get aggravated by the cycling motion.
  4. Elliptical Trainer: This machine mimics the motion of running without the impact, making it a good option for those recovering from specific lower-body injuries.
  5. Yoga: Not only can yoga increase flexibility and strength, but it can also help in injury prevention. It’s also beneficial for mental wellness.
  6. Pilates: Like yoga, Pilates focuses on core strength, flexibility, and balance. It can be a gentle way to build strength without straining the injury.
  7. Strength Training: Focus on non-injured parts of your body. For instance, if you have a leg injury, you can still work on your upper body strength.
  8. Rowing: Using a rowing machine is a low-impact way to achieve a full-body workout, focusing on both cardiovascular fitness and strength.
  9. Walking: If your injury allows, walking can be a gentle way to stay active. You can also consider Nordic walking using poles to involve the upper body more.
  10. Tai Chi: This ancient Chinese martial art emphasizes balance, flexibility, and relaxation. It can be a gentle way to keep moving without exacerbating injuries.
  11. Resistance Bands: These are versatile tools for strength training and can be adapted for various exercises to suit your injury.
  12. Isometric Exercises: These involve contracting a muscle without moving the joint, making them a good option for those with joint-related injuries.
  13. Balance Exercises: Standing on one leg or using tools like a balance board can help in restoring proprioception, especially if the injury has affected your balance.
  14. Physical Therapy: Consulting a physical therapist can provide tailored exercises that not only help in recovery but also maintain strength and flexibility.
  15. Meditation and Breathing Exercises: While these don’t provide the physical workout runners are used to, they can be beneficial for mental wellness and stress reduction during the recovery phase.

When dealing with an injury, it’s crucial to listen to your body and consult with medical professionals to ensure that the chosen workouts are appropriate for your specific condition. Avoid rushing back into running; recovery takes time, and returning too quickly can lead to more severe or prolonged injuries.

What are some other great posts for runners?

Have you ever had a run injury? Do you remember any silly decisions from your childhood?


Wednesday 26th of April 2017

Oh man - the ankle! I hurt my left knee when I did studio photography with really heavy equipment and it's never been right. I could have years without even an ounce of pain, but then a random rainy day will make it hurt again. I know all about this!

Janine Huldie

Wednesday 26th of April 2017

It is funny what we remember from when we were younger. I never injured myself jumping rope, but for me it was roller skating. I loved it and pretty much was like Tootie from Facts of Life and lived on mine until the day I fell backwards on my butt injuring my tailbone. To this day, I still have issues from that fall. But wish I would have had a bit more knowledge how to help and heal that injury. So, I appreciate you sharing ways to help if you do hurt yourself exercising, specifically running.


Wednesday 26th of April 2017

I truly believe our bodies (and minds) remember stuff like that and let us know about it too!! I also love picturing a 4th grade you playing double dutch in the rain :-) Love this link up and I think this theme is super helpful for all runners!


Wednesday 26th of April 2017

Double dutch was all all all we did in PGH as well at the bus stop. Until the lemon twister arrived on the scene (do you remember that?!) THAT is how I screwed up my ankles. Still wobbly here at 48.