Things are going great. You are recovering from your injury nicely and doing all the right things to be smart about it. You have returned to running 3-4 miles on solid ground without incident, have started doing some easy hiking, and being on your feet all day is not an issue.
And then you go on a short trail run or more aggressive hike…and WHAM! Pain returns!
You are upset. You are frustrated. You are scared! And you have every right to be. You have been doing everything right, following exactly what your rehab specialist or coach has been telling you to do.
Lucky for you, there is a reason the pain came on and it is not because you did anything wrong or because your body is not healing. Your body is likely healing just fine. The onset of pain likely came down to…hills. The downhills, to be specific.
Your body works a lot harder on hills than it does on flat ground, and even harder on downhills. Yes, going up feels more difficult because you are working against gravity, but going down actually makes the muscles and tendons work harder because they are required to control the body more during the decline.
Running (or hiking) downhill can contribute to flare ups in any part of the body, but where I see it most often is in patellar tendon of the knee or the posterior tibialis tendon of the foot. Personally, I experienced several posterior tibialis flare ups on both feet when I was returning to the trails after my significant time off with my foot sprain last summer. Even though I was doing everything necessary to strengthening the feet, especially the injured side, and everything was progressing really well, nothing tests them like actually going out and doing.
As frustrating as flare ups are (and believe me, I was frustrated in having to take a couple weeks to back down my training to let things recover), it can be good information to have. Pain is not a bad thing, it is simply information. By testing movements or activities as appropriate, the body provides feedback. Sometimes it is feedback of, “that felt great, let’s do more,” and other times it is, “I’m not ready for that yet, let’s continue strengthening a bit more.” Whatever that feedback and information is, it allows you to continue to progress and/or address the weaknesses in your body accordingly.
It comes down to this: The process is never linear! My colleague put it best, “the recovery and rebuilding process is like a 5 year old’s drawing.” As you start testing movements, weights, distances, terrains, etc. again, there will be setbacks. You have ups and downs. You have steps forward and step backward. But when you look at the overall trend, it is an upward path if you are doing things right.
As long as you are doing everything right, be patient with yourself. This is all part of the process!
Have more questions about your situation? I would love to answer them. Schedule a FREE 30 minute Discovery Session to get all your questions answered.
Join me on Facebook:
Follow me on Instagram:
Subscribe to my YouTube channel:
Subscribe to my Podcast