How do I get back into running after an injury?

Running is a big sport in Singapore. Over 50,000 runners competed in the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon just two months ago. With 41 more running events this year alone, and Singapore aiming for a spot in the Abbott World Marathon Majors, it is very clear that Singaporeans do love our running.

Running is easy right? One foot in front of the other and off you go! All you need is a pair of shoes.

(The barefoot runners may disagree about the needing shoes part.)

Why do runners get injured?

singapore runner, soh rui yong, running injury
Soh Rui Yong working with chiropractor Jesse Cai. He is a 2x SEA Games gold medalist and the national record holder for 10km, 15k, 20km, half marathon, and full marathon!

The injury rate for running may be higher than you think. A study published last year found that 66% of runners suffered from at least one running injury. Common examples of running injuries include:

  • Runner’s knee
  • Shin splints or stress fractures
  • IT Band syndrome
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Patella, Achilles, or hamstring tendonitis (tendinopathy)

Virtually all of them are the result of repetitive overuse-type situation.

Not surprisingly, over-training, sometimes also known as training error, is thought to be the reason why runners get injured.

People often talk about how “tight” muscles or flexibility, “weak” muscles, or even alignment can cause running injuries. However, the latest research do not support such narratives.

So if you hate foam rolling or stretching, the good news is you can stop.

In fact, we have known for a while now that stretching reduces running performance.

How long should you rest a running injury?

This is a tricky question.

There are so many variables involved in why a person get injured that I am not sure if I could give a blanket-answer that will actually be helpful for you.

The first thing to consider is that evidence-based, top-of-the-line chiropractors and physiotherapists prefer load management over complete rest. Because research (again) tells us that more training is not necessarily worse for you. Within that context, there are cases whereby you might keep training despite being injured.

The second thing to consider is that there are many, many exercises you can do while injured that will actually promote recovery. The eccentric exercise protocol for Achilles tendinopathy developed by Alfredson in 1993 (!!!) demonstrates exercise can help with both pain and return the sport.

We have known this for over TWENTY YEARS!

What is the 10% rule in running?

The 10% rule in running suggests that you shouldn’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% each week.

The reason is quite simple – sudden increase in training load is associated with running injuries.

What is not obvious to most of us is that highly running mileage on its own doesn’t increase your risk of injury! Another study on this here.

For perspective, the elite marathon runners average 120km up to 180km PER WEEK!

Also, for your consideration, running a marathon has been demonstrated to reverse some aspects of knee joint damage. Like, omg much, no? So when people start telling you that running is bad for your knees, you can show them this paper to tell them they are wrong.

How to get back to training after an injury?

First and foremost, when in doubt, seek professional help.

running injury, 10% rule, sports chiropractor

Second, Tom Goom from RunningPhysio has done a little update to the 10% rule. My personal opinion is that 30% increase week-to-week may be too much for beginner runners. Especially post-injury.

Bear in mind that this table refers to the MAXIMUM weekly increase. Not the recommended weekly increase!

When it comes to back to running programming, there are at least two major considerations you should keep in mind:

    1. Sudden increase in distance across two weeks
    2. Non-specific recent change in one or more training variables (including velocity, distance, training volume or frequency)

Third, don’t forget to do your strength and conditioning. Strength training reduces injury rates by up to 67%. (Only a mere 4% for stretching.)

Why seek professional help from a chiropractor or a physiotherapist?

Really, because, there are a lot of variables to consider.

With professional help, you are paying for our clinical reasoning process. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule that we know of yet. So a lot of return-to-sport training comes down to our clinical judgement. (Also why it’s important to see some one good.)

Most of what I do in practice is to help individuals adapt to their unique lifestyle needs/demands. I don’t do a cookie cutter style approach. If you are looking to run a 2.4km for speed, I’ll work with you on that. Conversely, if you are trying to just finish a marathon injury-free, I will also work with you to facilitate that.

Just remember that everyone of us are different when it comes to our body’s load capacity, our resilience to injury, our tolerance to a training program/progression, etc. Therefore, always keep in mind that what works for your running buddy may not actually work for you.


Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.

Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.

*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.