During the injury of rehabiliation period, many runners will resign themselves to the fact that they will have to undertake some form of cross-training. The question is – which activities are best? Essentially, anything that doesn’t aggravate your problem or cause excessive pain. However, while your heart and lungs don’t have a clue what type of exercise you are doing, your neuromuscular system will, which is why the more similar your activity is to running, the greater the ‘transfer of training’ will be. So lets have a look at all the options available to you…
Sometimes referred to as water running, aqua jogging is one of the most running-specific cross-training options out there. It involves exactly what the name suggests – running in water, usually with a flotation device around your hips to keep you upright and afloat. It’s a highly effective choice for impact-related injuries such as shin splints and stress fractures.
Running in the water at a high-intesity will typically burn around 570 calories an hour. If your efforts resemble treading water, it’s more likely to be 350 calories. While you are undertaking this exercise, remember to monitor your effort level, and not your heart rate, to ascertain intensity as heart rate is always lower in water-based activity. Focus your efforts on interval training to make sessions shorter and to curb your boredom. Something to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t try and achieve the same cadence as you would on dry land
This is a low impact alternative which replicates the alternate-leg action of running. A recent study found that the stepper and the elliptical cross trainer compared quite well to running in terms of fitness gains. Furthermore, the calories spent on this option are around 382 calories per hour for moderate intensity. Remember to not slump forward over the control panel. Stand upright and if possible, go hands-free. Use a relatively swift cadence and don’t put on too much resistance, which typically makes the action less similar to running.
Cycling has long been considered a great complementary activity for runners who are in the rehabilitation stage of their injury. A recent study found that when runners decided to add interval training on a bike to their usual running routine, they improved their 5km times by an average of up to 30 seconds within a six week period. The calorie usage all depends on the speed and terrain. A leisurely 12 miles per hour will typically burn 509 calories per hour. However, 18 miles per hour will take you a little closer to 763 calories. Spending an hour in a spin class will burn 540 calories.
Rememebr to ride at whatever cadence feels most comfortable to you. In previous years, it has been common practice to try and match your cucling and running cadence. However, there has been no concrete evidence to suggest this is correct. Furthermore, it was found that attempting to maintain a high cycle cadence during low-to-moderate intensity riding was tiring and uneconomical for the rider.
The obvious difference here is that your body weight is well supported by the water when swimming, which is a great way of unloading injured joints or soft tissue. The amount of calories burnt during this particular exercise will all depend on the stroke performed, and also the efficiency of the stroke. For instance, swimming front crawl laps at a moderate to vigorous pace will burn anywhere between 528-623 calories per hour. However, more sedate swimming, or much slower strokes such as breaststroke and backstroke, will burn approximately 445 calories per hour. Be sure to learn the proper technique for every stroke. Try not to swim with your head out of the water as it puts extra stress on your neck and
As previously mentioned, research has show that the elliptical trainer compared quite well to the treadmill in terms of the fitness gains to be made, but the kinematics are a little different. At any one time an athlete could burn 318 calories per hour whilst putting in a moderate effort. However, to get the most of your workout, and to make it more running-specific, ditch the arm poles. A recent study has indicated that a higher rate of perceived exertion but not higher heart rate, when using arm poles compared to legs only.
Whether it be through using exercise equipment or doing significantly low impact exercises such as swimming, there should never be an excuse not to keep training while you are injured. Of course there will be instances where you just physically won’t be able to, however for the most part you should be able to do something to assist in your rehabilitation.