Return to Running

How do I tell if I am ready to return to running after an injury? Most athletes will use the presence or absence of pain to assess whether they have healed completely.  Using pain as a sole outcome measure can be detrimental.  A more robust and detailed tool that assesses the runner’s biomechanics, pathomechanics, function, and pain is needed. 

The “running readiness scale” developed by Dr. Blaise Williams is a great tool to assess whether or not an individual is run ready.  The running readiness scale consist of five tests, all of which are one minute in duration and a 30 second rest between each exercise.  The five-step test is quite intense, it stresses many of the major muscles and tissues a runner will use.  It seems to be a simple, yet effective tool, that can confidently predict if you are ready to return to running.

The tests are as follows:

1) Hopping on both legs at 160 beats per minute tempo at 4 inches’ height
2) Plank (on elbows)
3) Single leg squats at moderate pace (30 seconds each leg)
4) 6-inch stair step-ups (leading with right leg 30 seconds and vice-versa) at a fast pace
5) 90-90 squat position with a Bosu-ball behind the back against the wall (held statically)

The runner must pass all five portions of the test.  Any significant loss of form, compensation, or pain is a fail.  If a runner is to fail this test its best to continue to rest, rehab, cross-train, and consult with their health professional. If you pass the test, remember to gradually ease your way back into running.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to contact me.

Happy running 😊

Note:  Dr. Blaise Williams is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and the Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) RUN LAB