It’s happened to even the best runners . . . a fall or cross-training accident lands you with a nasty arm injury like a broken collarbone, dislocated shoulder, or sprained wrist. Multiple weeks in a cast or an arm sling makes it difficult, not to mention painful, to even consider keeping up with your running routine.
So what do you do if you want to stay on track with a training schedule and not lose the critical endurance and muscle strength you have built up? Don’t miss these quick tips:
Talk to your healthcare provider
Whether it’s your family doctor, orthopedic surgeon, or sports medicine specialist, you need to consult your healthcare provider regarding any exercise regimen you plan on engaging in with your arm injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, your doctor can make recommendations and let you know what is and what is not ok as far as helping your body recover.
Prepare for movement
Arm mechanics play an important role in your balance and propulsion as a runner. You want to prepare your upper body accordingly before a run, that is if you have been cleared for training. Gently stretch your arms and back prior to running and jog five to ten minutes to get blood circulating and muscles warmed up.
Run on flat surfaces
Reduce your chances of falling and re-injuring yourself by starting back out on flatter surfaces with predictable terrains like paved roads, sidewalks, indoor tracks and treadmills. You will want to start slow and gradually increase your pace, maintaining a keen awareness of any soreness or pain. Always stop if you can sense your injury becoming aggravated by the movement.
Don’t forget follow-up care
After your run, don’t forget to stretch your arms and upper back to prevent stiffness and soreness around the injury site later. You may also was to consider going ahead and icing your injured arm for 10 to 20 minutes to prevent swelling. Your doctor may additionally recommend using over-the-counter anti-inflammatories as needed for inflammation.
If logging miles simply isn’t in the cards for you, you might try one-arm strength training activities instead. They can help you retain muscle mass, hone your balance, and even improve your coordination. One-arm strength training exercises may include:
Hip raises – lying down with your back flat to the ground, your knees bent, your arms down at either side of you, and your feet hip-width apart flat on the ground, slowly raise your hips up in the air until they are in line with your knees and back down again.
Wall sit – with your back against the wall, walk your feet out in front of you and slide your back down the wall until you are forming a human chair with your knees bent in a 90-degree angle above your feet. Hold for as long as you can up to 60 seconds at a time.
Squats – do normal squats in place but slow the rate at which you squat down and raise back up. Always make sure to stick your rear out and keep your spine in a neutral position, never letting your knees lunge forward past your toes.
For the most part, you will not be able to run with an arm sling as its whole purpose is to immobilize the joint for healing. See the best slings for arm injuries here: https://www.vivehealth.com/
When running simply isn’t feasible, in addition to strength training, you can try activities like stationary cycling, water aerobics, and yoga. It is crucial, however, that you don’t interrupt your body’s natural injury repair process by pushing too hard too soon. Forgoing recommended physical therapy and ignoring physical activity guidelines could result in long-term damage that leaves your arm in pain every time you run long distances.