We know that running is what keeps you fit, healthy and sane… and that after a while it becomes a compulsion. This is why we’re committed to helping our runner patients get back to running as quickly and safely as possible after foot surgery. The good news is that in most cases you’ll be able to resume running. The bad news is that recovery does take time and it will never be as fast as you want it to be. But love your body, take care of it while it heals, and you’ll be back on the trails, streets, or track before you know it.
As a runner, you’re probably in-tune with your body but recovering from surgery isn’t the same as knowing that you need to rest or replenish your energy stores. So, how will you know that you are ready to run again?
First, and most importantly, listen to your trusted New Hampshire podiatrist. Everyone heals at their own pace, so stay patient and don’t force your feet to run when they’re ready.
Full recovery from a foot surgery can take 3-6 months or even longer, depending on the kind of surgery. With minimally invasive surgery - which is performed by making a very small incision and causes less trauma to your foot than traditional surgery -recovery can be up to twice as fast as traditional surgery. Your general pre-surgery fitness levels and commitment to physical therapy also contribute.
There are certain physical tests that you should be able to pass before running again. These challenges might sound simple but are great indicators that you’ve recovered and rebuilt enough strength to take the physical stress of running.
- Walk briskly for 30 minutes
- Balance on one leg for 30 seconds
- Complete 15-20 single knee dips
- Complete 20-30 single leg calf raises
Physical signs of recovery
You will also want to monitor your body for other signs of recovery. For example, you shouldn’t try to run if you are still swollen. Swelling is a sign that your body is repairing itself, which means that it’s still too early to train.
Another sign that it’s still too soon is that you’re still experiencing pain. Whether it’s an acute stabbing pain or more of a dull throb or ache, you shouldn’t add extra stress to your body while it’s still sending you signals to rest.
You should regain your full range of motion so that you are able to move your feet and ankles normally. Ultimately, you need to be able to walk briskly and normally with a stable, balanced gait before you think about running. Your gait is the cadence of your walk or run and if you aren’t fully recovered weakness or pain in your foot may cause you to alter your gait. An unnatural gait can lead to other injuries because it puts stress on parts of your body that aren’t accustomed to it.
What if I’m ready to run?
If you’ve recovered from your foot surgery and your trusted podiatrist has cleared you to run, you shouldn’t rush back to the distances or speeds you were achieving before your surgery.
You will want to follow a modified training program as you return to running. Your podiatrist may even recommend a schedule to follow to rebuild your distances. Modified schedules may include more rest days that you are accustomed to but it’s critical to allow your body sufficient time to recover from the physical strains of running so that you avoid re-injury.
It is also recommended to take more time to warm up, including walking briskly to build up to a gentle jog over 10 minutes. Initially, you should avoid inclines and sprints and slowly add these challenges back to your training runs incrementally.
And remember, if something hurts, slow down or stop. If you are eager to get back to running, but your body isn’t ready yet, talk to your podiatrist about acceptable cross-training activities like swimming or using an elliptical machine to keep your fitness levels up without compromising your recovery.
If you've recently had foot surgery and aren't sure if you're ready to run, schedule a consultation with a compassionate New Hampshire podiatrist at Nagy Footcare. We'll make sure that you can safely get back to your sport.