Austin Manual Therapy Associates


How PT Can Help You Get Back to Running After an Injury

Have you struggled with knee pain while running, limiting the kind of miles you are used to putting in? Are you tired of dealing with persistent plantar fasciitis? Our physical therapists at Austin Manual Therapy Associates understand how important running is for mental, physical, and emotional well-being. We can help you effectively resolve any pain or injury to get out and run without limitations!

Running is one of the most popular ways people exercise, but unfortunately, research has shown that over 50% of runners experience injuries every year. And for long-distance runners, the percentages can be as high as 80%.

We have experienced physical therapists who know the demands of running and resolve issues and prevent future injuries. Call Austin Manual Therapy Associates today to request an appointment with one of our running specialists!

Common running-related overuse injury

There are many possible reasons for runners to experience pain and injury, but acute running injuries are rare. Acute injuries include muscle injuries, sprains (i.e., ankle sprains), or skin lesions (i.e., blisters and abrasions).

The vast majority of running-related issues are overuse injuries. The most common injuries occur to the soft tissues in the lower extremities. The knee is the most susceptible region, but the foot and upper thigh/hip regions are also vulnerable to overuse-type injuries.

The most common mistakes runners make are ignoring an issue when it is mild and training too far too fast. Trying to “push through” pain or ignore aches and pains to increase mileage or speed often results in overuse-related injuries. The most common overuse injuries include:

  • Runner’s Knee
  • IT band syndrome
  • Shin splints
  • Achilles Tendonitis
  • Plantar fasciitis

Runners often mistakenly focus on changing or addressing issues that either don’t matter or have been ineffective at helping resolve the problem. The risks for running are well documented, and research has consistently shown that what people perceive are the risks are not actually what is causing injuries. For example, runners believe the following reasons cause the following their injuries:

  • Not stretching
  • Not warming up
  • Lack of strength
  • Wearing the wrong shoes
  • Excessive training

Out of the five reasons listed above, excessive training is the only one that puts a runner at a higher risk.

According to multiple studies, the real risk factors for runners are:

  • Previous injury
  • Lack of running experience
  • Excessive weekly running distance

The most common running-related problems result from a mismatch between the tolerance of the tissue and the volume of load/forces caused by running. This is why having one of our experts is so beneficial; we can assess your body’s ability to handle loading and teach you how to manage it safely.

There is no doubt that your primary focus should be on completing rehabilitation if you are injured. Once your injuries are resolved, a deliberate, focused return to run program will ensure a safe return to running.

How physical therapy can help

Our physical therapists at Austin Manual Therapy Associates help runners in various ways, including injury assessment, rehabilitation, injury prevention programs, return to run protocols, and transition from couch to running a 5k program. This advanced training helps us maximize outcomes for our patients by addressing the root of the problem instead of focusing only on a runner’s symptoms. All of our therapists are fellows from the prestigious American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists.

We typically start with an injury evaluation, a biomechanical assessment, and gait analysis to identify all the factors contributing to the injury. Our therapists will take a thorough history to understand more about the training schedule, the history of previous injuries, and the runner’s overall health status. This information is used to create an individualized program to alleviate pain and get you back to running.

Your physical therapist will then incorporate a “return to run” progression to assist you in a safe return to training and, for some, competition. Physical therapy will provide the foundation for a successful return to running while reducing future injuries!

Return to run protocol:

Different “return to run” guidelines help runners safely return to running without provoking their injuries or creating new injuries. These programs focus on progressing with specific instructions. For example:

Phase 1: Walk 3 minutes – run one minute. After 2-3 sessions with no increased pain, progress to phase 2.

Phase 2: Walk 2 minutes – run 2 minutes. After 2-3 sessions with no increased pain, progress to phase 3.

Phase 3: Walk 1 minute – run 3 minutes. After 2-3 sessions with no increased pain, progress to phase 4.

Phase 4: Run 5 minutes – walk 1. After 2-3 sessions with no increased pain, progress to phase 3.

Phase 5: Run the entire time.

If you experience increased pain at any time, return to the previous phase and stay there for 2-3 sessions before progressing to the next step.

Contact Austin Manual Therapy Associates to get started today!

Our physical therapists understand how important running is to the individual and use education on running injuries and the early recognition of overuse symptoms to empower our runners to find solutions that work.

If you are a runner and want strategies to prevent injuries or recover from an existing injury, request an appointment with Austin Manual Therapy Associates today.