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I Used These 5 Exercises to Get Back to Running After an Injury

Like most runners, I have learned to mentally overcome pain. All it takes is the right soundtrack to ignore side pain or knee discomfort. However, in the past month, my body has reminded me why this is not good. In addition to getting back pain in my lower back, I also got myself into a bad case of runner’s knee during regular tempo runs.

As a result, I had to postpone running until July and most of August, which are my favorite months for running outdoors. After a few weeks, my pain – although bearable – did not subside, and it even appeared during low-impact cardio. So I signed up for physical therapy in hopes of getting to the root of my pain.

The good news is that after a month of therapy, I was able to go on my first run last weekend. I still haven’t recovered 100%, but it was a huge achievement that I was able to complete my run without pain. I also acquired many new exercises that my physiotherapist recommended. Here are the exercises that not only got me back to running, but I never neglect them again.

1. Hamstring stretch

My therapist was shocked when I told her that I don’t stretch before or after my run. Who has time for this? But in the future, I will add pre-run stretching to my workouts on the days I run and the days I don’t run. To stretch my hamstrings, I bought the original Stretch Out strap through Amazon. (will open in a new tab). The 6’4″ nylon stretch strap has 10 individual loops that allow for a wide range of exercises. To use it for hamstrings, simply lie on your back, insert your foot into one of the loops, and lift the strap with your palm. hands until you feel a comfortable stretch in your hamstring. The strap can be used for other purposes as well, and it even comes with a free guide that will show you how to stretch everything from calves to triceps.

2. Increase

illustration of a woman taking a step up

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Often, some of the simplest exercises target the most muscles. That’s why I was recommended to do three sets of 30 squats during each therapy session. The workout itself is simple: just stand in front of the step, put one foot on the step (leaving the other on the ground) and slowly rise, engaging all the muscles in your legs. You can use a training bench for this exercise, although I personally like steel plyoboxes as they tend to be sturdy and non-slip. I bought this box from Amazon (will open in a new tab) so that I can continue to do this exercise at home.

3. Dead bugs

dead bugs

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I have a love-hate relationship with ab exercises. When I remember to do them, I give my best, but most of the time I tend to skip them. However, my physiotherapist told me that I have a weak core, which can cause lower back pain over time. One of the exercises that my therapist made me do three times a week is the dead bug. It’s not the prettiest name or the prettiest exercise, but it essentially requires you to lie on your back, bend your legs 90 degrees, and alternately raise your arms over your chest while extending your opposite leg (here’s more on how to do dead beetle with the correct shape, plus what happened when our fitness editor did 100 dead beetles a day for a week). After a month of dead bugs, I switched to hanging leg raises, which are considered one of the best ab exercises. Be careful: they will burn your abs and arms, as you must do them while hanging from the bar.

4. Bird dogs

illustration of a woman doing an exercise

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The bird dog is my new favorite exercise, and not just because it has a cool name. After a few weeks of incorporating them into my workouts, I saw and felt an improvement in my daily posture. To perform this exercise, you need to get on your hands and knees. Your shoulders should be over your wrists and your knees under your hips. Then you simultaneously raise your right arm and left leg, extending them away from your body. Hold for a few seconds, keeping the core firm, and then slowly return them both to the starting position. Now you repeat the action, alternating arm and leg. You won’t need any tools other than a yoga mat to complete this exercise. However, I also love using my $11 medicine ball. (will open in a new tab)fulfill them. You simply lie face down on the medicine ball and perform the same movements while balancing on the ball.

5. Leg extension

illustration of a woman lifting her leg while sitting

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Anyone who plays sports is familiar with the leg extension. To help strengthen the muscles around my knees, my physical therapist had me do single leg extensions using ankle weights. So far I have found 10 pounds. the weights are very light, after 10 slow reps I felt a burning sensation in all my legs. The two pointers that mattered were:

1. perform a lift with your toes pointing into the air

2. Raise your leg for at least 5 seconds and lower it for another 5 seconds.

Too often I rely on momentum to lift heavy weights, and slowing down has changed the world. I bought the $29 Sportneer Adjustable Ankle Weights. (will open in a new tab) for this exercise.

Looking for more workout inspiration? Here are two full body workouts you can do anywhere. If you’re a runner, why not check out the best running shoes on the market, as well as the best Nike running shoes for Swoosh fans and the best running sunglasses to protect your eyes in the summer?

Today’s Best Gaiam Ankle Weights Deals

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