Using Running To Recover From Work Injuries

 In Key West Half Marathon, News

By: Sara Zipf

While nearly 21% of adults in the US are living with chronic pain, a surprising number were caused by an injury sustained through work. Work injuries can have a huge impact on a person’s physical health, causing pain and reduced mobility. Even a simple strain can impede a person’s daily activities and, in severe cases, lead to long-term disability. Meanwhile, the impact of work injuries on mental health can be just as significant, triggering anxiety, depression, feelings of isolation, and low self-esteem. But if you’re a runner, there’s some good news. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, running can play a key role in your recovery. It doesn’t just help you build muscle strength and flexibility, but it can also help reduce inflammation and pain by releasing natural painkillers in the body that help with nerve repair and regeneration. Moreover, running can also have a profound impact on mental health, from reducing stress to boosting your mood.

Work Related Injuries

As many as 2.8 million people suffered a non-fatal workplace illness or injury in 2022, a 7.5% increase from the previous year. Some of the most common injuries sustained through work include back, neck and head injuries, strained or pulled muscles, broken bones, bruises, soft tissue injuries and repetitive strain injuries. These injuries are often caused by lifting and carrying heavy loads, frequent bending, repetitive motions and prolonged exposure to vibrations or extreme weather. The good news is that many of these injuries can be easily avoided with simple safety measures, regular physical examinations and training programs. But if you find yourself trying to manage a work injury, running can be a formidable ally.

Physical Rehabilitation

Depending on your type of work injury, its severity and how long you’ve had it, running can be an effective form of rehabilitation. The repetitive, controlled running movements combined with engaging multiple muscle groups can help to gradually restore your mobility, strength, and confidence. Low-impact running such as gentle trail running or jogging, can also help maintain cardiovascular health and lift your mood thanks to the release of endorphins. It is also beneficial for improving circulation, which can help with the healing process by delivering oxygen and nutrients to injured tissue. You can also include intervals of walking in between runs to help build endurance while allowing sufficient rest periods.

Restoring Mental Well-Being

Carrying a work injury, regardless of the severity, can have a significant effect on your mental health. It can often lead to feelings of anxiety, frustration, isolation and sometimes even depression. Not being able to perform your usual everyday tasks, experiencing a loss of mobility and potentially having to take time off work can erode confidence and self-esteem and increase stress levels. Fortunately, running can provide a powerful antidote to these mental health challenges. The release of endorphins combined with the rhythmic motion of running can help reduce stress, enhance your well-being, and increase happiness.

Tailored Workouts

One of the great advantages of using running to help you overcome a work injury is the flexibility it offers and the ability to adapt your running program to suit your needs. Depending on where you are in your recovery, you can modify your running routine to include cross-training activities like cycling or swimming, providing you with a break from the repetitive impact of running while still keeping up with your fitness. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to stick to running, you can adjust the intensity, speed or distance of your runs to suit your current recovery period, comfort and ability.

Listen To Your Body

When running to help you overcome a work injury, you must listen to your body. Don’t ignore feelings of discomfort or pain, as this could exacerbate your injury and prolong your recovery. Start slowly to give your body time to adapt and gradually increasing the duration, distance, and intensity of your runs. While you can continuously modify your running program as you start to recover, don’t be tempted to push yourself too hard too soon. Instead, incorporate rest days to allow your body to recover properly and reduce the risk of repetitive strain. If you start to feel pain during a run, slow down and if the pain continues then stop and stretch. If the pain doesn’t stop or intensifies, you should consider ending the run.

Even a fairly minor work injury can affect your quality of life. However, by using running as part of your rehabilitation journey and also listening to your body, you can look forward to being on the road to recovery much sooner.

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