Do you always seem to be nursing an injury? Never quite back to 100%? Things go really well until you crash again and you're back to square one? It could be that you're trapped in the boom and bust cycle…
Persistent, long term injuries can be very frustrating for runners. The rehab process is often slow and the desire to just lace up your trainers and hit the road gets stronger by the day. Sadly though this can lead to a flare up of the injury and delay your recovery. This process of building up too quickly (boom) and then having a set back (bust) is know as the boom and bust cycle.
The term is very commonly used in chronic pain where it is a recognise issue. Below is an example. The graph shows daily pedometer readings. Note how a peak in steps per day results in a fairly immediate slump. If this trend continues people's activity levels can get progressively worse rather than better.
You may recognise a similar pattern in your own running. Just this weekend I chatted to a runner recovering from repeated injuries that was delighted she'd ran over 130 miles last month. Sounds promising doesn't it?! But when I asked, “how much are you running now?” She said, “nothing, I'm injured again!”
The solution to the boom and bust cycle is pacing. This means building up slowly at a rate your body can cope with and taking regular rest. Injury is likely to effect your cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility and running economy. This will of course vary a great deal depending on the nature and chronicity of your injury. Tissues take time to strengthen and adapt to allow you to return to your previous level. Often cardiovascular fitness comes back quicker than strength and tissue adaptation. This means the heart and lungs might be willing but the legs aren't!
Closing thoughts: the first step to avoiding the boom and bust cycle is noticing that you're doing it. That's half the battle! Stay positive and patient and you will get through it.
As ever with injuries on RunningPhysio if in doubt get checked out!