January 12, 2024

running schedule after an injury

How to stay fit and still be able to keep running despite an injury. A conversation with Joep Kamphuis (USC Physiotherapy in Amsterdam) about running and, in particular, his running schedules in case of injuries and the right structure in the event of a (running) injury.

How to stay fit and still be able to keep running despite an injury. A conversation with Joep Kamphuis (USC Physiotherapy in Amsterdam) about running and, in particular, his running schedules in case of injuries and the right structure in the event of a (running) injury.

Running is really your thing. What is your own experience with sports, especially running??

Until I was 12, I played football and lived in the countryside where I just ran, we did everything running. Later, I started rowing competitively and, as part of my training, I went running in the winter. This not only helped me physically but also mentally at the time.

Running makes me feel good and I notice that this is a quick way for me to stay fit and healthy. I also believe that running suits everyone. From an evolutionary point of view, we were made to run, just like swimming and climbing, for example.

Are you still running regularly? 

Yes, I'm mainly running fast now to stay fit and healthy and to push boundaries a little bit. But given the past hectic period, I'm not pushing it too much and distributing my energy. Now I run about 50 kilometers a week and I notice that I'm still improving. Sometimes with some new training incentives and still moving forward. You can make a lot of variation in running with longer distances, sprinting in between and running trails or training on the track.

Do you also have certain goals, such as a time on the Dam tot Dam walk? Or 10 kilometers in a certain time?

I had that obsession with numbers for a long time, but it too often led to disappointments. I trained with boys and girls who were really fast and clearly better. I am now especially happy to stay injury-free and fit. I would love to train to run 10 kilometers in 35 minutes, but I know that would push myself too much with a high risk of injury. And right now, I also have other priorities in my life.

It's nice to occasionally check my Garmin (sports watch) to see what it predicts I could walk, but I'm not focusing on that.

So you're not keeping a running schedule yourself?

No, I'm not running with a schedule right now but my sports watch tells me the right training stimulus every day and that works great for me. This can range from a gentle run to a more intensive interval training and this advice is almost always right for me. But I do keep an eye on the fact that I have at least 1 longer endurance training a week. I don't need to motivate myself to train hard because that's the best thing I do, but with this help, I can contain myself better and this watch, as a help, works great for me.

But what about the running schedules that you have developed? So why follow a schedule when a sports watch is apparently also good for advice?

Most running schedules and algorithms in sports watches are based on exercise physiology in healthy, uninjured people. If you have an injury and then follow a standard running schedule, or the advice of a sports watch, it's mutually exclusive.

If you then follow the recommended size and training intensity in the event of an injury, the build-up will go too fast. The biggest mistake that is then made is focusing on recovery times and a structure that applies to an uninjured person. In the event of an injury, you should look at other recovery times, such as the recovery time of tendons, muscle or connective tissue and a joint. This often requires a lighter training stimulus.

The schedules that I have developed are therefore mainly intended for people who have (had) an injury and want to run from there. If you are injured, you can often do quite a bit and you don't have to sit completely still, but of course with the right intensity. Too often I hear from runners who took a break for 1 week with or after an injury and then went back to testing what they can do. This almost never works optimally and often leads to disappointments with a longer period of recovery. Sitting still is often not necessary and with the right schedule and advice, you can work more actively on your recovery and still, adjusted, keep running.

So your running schedules are not intended to run the half marathon for a certain period of time, but to ensure that people with an injury can start working properly on such a build-up schedule again?

True. For 'performance' such as specific goals in terms of times and distances (for uninjured runners), I recommend using an exercise physiological schedule. So my schedules are really meant to get the injured runner back to running, with pleasure.

What I've noticed is that many enthusiastic runners who get injured feel like they have no control over their recovery. With my schedules and guidance, I try to give them this back. There is no timeline in terms of objectives and you can decide when to do the next training and take the next step. As long as you follow the basic rules like; when you stop a workout and what is good or bad pain. So pull the brakes on time.

It's the sweetest thing a runner wants to hear; 'if you do this, you'll be able to do it in 6 weeks'. But this does not work like that, especially in the event of an injury, and the conditions (criteria) are more important to get to the next level. In short: criteria based instead of a time-contingent structure.

“This approach is a missing link between the regular running schedules for the uninjured runner and the runner with an injury who works with the physiotherapist to recover with exercises but where physiotherapy lacks knowledge about building up to running and, above all, keeping patients running.”

You see AV'23 athletes but do you also see other athletes/runners?

I see a lot of things. Anyone who wants to run, from trail runners, ultra runners and the novice, recreational runner who just started to top sprinters, mila runners (middle and long distances) and marathon runners. But also runners who want to know if they can run barefoot.

Not everyone comes to me injured. It is often an initial discomfort that requires control and then, after various tests, we can adjust the training program slightly. I also do running analyses to provide advice on running technique and work with an orthopedic shoe technician where, together with the help of a pressure plate analysis, we can then assess whether a small adjustment is needed in the running shoe and whether the shoe suits you, or whether specific exercises can be worked on.

Do your colleagues in practice also work with these running schedules?

Yes, everyone in our practice uses these schemes and can do an analysis. I really enjoy working in a team and I also ensure that my colleagues are up to date by consulting weekly about ongoing processes and by regularly seeing patients together. If you use the basic conditions properly and explain them to the patient, any of my colleagues can work with them.

Are these schedules available online?

No, that's not smart because then you won't get the most out of it and it will still be customized, where we provide a personal schedule and adapted exercise program. You will receive the schedule via our practice app or online and we can also continue to give short advice remotely.

We receive a lot of positive feedback from our patients that make me proud and happy.

Do you have another final tip for the runner?

Listen to your body. Walk slowly and do a lot of interval training with walking in between. Avoid the repetitive shock load in the beginning and make sure you have the right running shoes!

Do you have a question for Joep or would you like more information? You can always email him: joep@uscfysiotherapie.nl  

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