After healing a stress fracture, should I use the AlterG treadmill even after I’ve started running outside? Well, that’s a great question, and that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run Podcast.
Let’s say you’ve been injured and you’ve waited around, you’ve done nothing, you’ve endured all of this frustration and you finally started running again. Now that’s great. Well, the question here is whether or not you should keep using something like an AlterG treadmill or whatever strategy you’ve been using to maintain your running fitness while you were injured and actually recovering from the stress fracture.
The way I think about this is really simple. You have basically three workouts. You have your long run, your tempo run, and your speed work. And the goal here is to make sure that you rebuild your fitness as fast as possible without getting re-injured. So when you think about those three workouts, which one do you think is actually the most stressful on your body? Because remember, a stress fracture is caused by too much stress applied to the bone. It is not caused by running too much. It is not caused by running too fast. It’s not caused by doing too many races. It’s caused by too much stress. So you have to think about how to reduce the stress as you increase the amount of fitness building activities after your injury.
The magic formula is the one that keeps you below your cumulative stress level that would cause that re-injury. So the way I think about this in general is that, well, your long run is generally pretty long, so you might want to do that outside just because obviously getting to run outside does a lot to build your confidence. It’s also very difficult logistically to get in an AlterG treadmill and go run for two hours.
Your tempo run should probably be outside because you need to actually do a run that’s relatively fast to build confidence, neuromuscular connections, better running form, all that as well.
Speed work is also very important to build your neuromuscular connections to actually increase your threshold for faster paces. But speed workouts are very stressful and I think for most people, if they think about those three workouts, they would probably think their speed work is the most stressful. It’s also, logistically, it’s the easiest to do and way easier than something like a long run in a treadmill like the AlterG. So if you have to choose one of those three workouts to do in the AlterG treadmill where you can really bump up the speed with a lot less worry, I would probably pick that one.
But to answer the question, I think yes, even if you’ve been running in an AlterG treadmill, like I teach people to do in the Fast Track Challenge or on consultation calls, if you’ve been doing some other strategy similar to that and then you start running outside, you suddenly have the force of gravity as a variable all the time. So you have the amount of time that you run, you have the speed at which you run, and the force of gravity. So if you take the force of gravity using one of these other strategies to reduce the stress a lot while you do something that’s a lot risky or like a speed session, well that can reduce your overall stress applied to the bone and you might be able to run a whole lot more and get your fitness back a whole lot faster without getting injured again. That’s really the key.
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