Wondering what to do when you’re injured and can’t run? Try some low impact options like aqua-jogging or elliptical (assuming you’re already biking and swimming). Aqua-jogging alone has been shown to maintain your cardiovascular fitness specifically for running while rehabbing an injury. Recent reports reflect a 1:1 ratio, meaning a 90-minute training run can be substituted for 90 minutes of aqua-jogging. Even though your cardiovascular fitness will not increase, this will help maintain your fitness as you gradually transition back to the road. As for the elliptical, you can get the same 1:1 effect if you’re able to tolerate a high enough intensity on it, especially if you’re able to reach the same heart rate or perceived level of exertion. Coaches at the University of Oregon actually use both methods as part of their training program, even for healthy runners.
If you’re lucky enough, you may have an Alter G in your area. This anti-gravity treadmill will allow you to keep running with less weight bearing down on the injured area. Similar to aqua-jogging and elliptical, there is close to a 1:1 ratio compared to road running.
Ultimately, the hardest thing to do is to rest or modify your routine. The discipline required to overcome those urges that drive us to keep pushing is almost insurmountable at times. But you have to listen to your body and nd sensible alternatives to maintain your fitness and come back strong.
Tyler Bowersock is the owner of Virginia-based University PT, specializing in orthopedics, manipulative therapy, and sports medicine.