Is it Safe to Run After a Head Injury? 5 Things You Should Know

Published on September 20, 2023

Suffering a head injury can be quite a setback. If you’re someone who loves to run, the puzzling question is whether or not it is safe to hit the pavement again.

But that’s a query that carries a multitude of considerations. In this article, we will explore several things you need to know when deciding whether it is safe to start running again after a head injury.

1. Know When Can You Start Running Again
After a head injury, it is crucial to know when it is safe to start running again. Often, the answer largely depends on experts.

In other words, your doctor or physical therapist plays an integral role in determining when it’s safe to return to your regularly scheduled runs. Factors taken into consideration include the severity of your injury and accompanying symptoms.

They may suggest easing back into running slowly, only after all symptoms have completely ceased or subsided significantly over time. This gradual re-entry and strict attention to symptom changes are both crucial in avoiding further complications and ensuring a fully productive return to running post-head injury.

2. Identify Symptoms to Watch Out For
Recognizing potential symptoms after your head injury is just as crucial as knowing when to run again. Initial signs hinting that you may not be ready to pound the pavement include headaches, dizziness, and balance or coordination problems. These are physical indicators that your brain might still be in the recovery phase.

In addition to these, cognitive changes such as difficulties with memory or concentration can also suggest a slower healing process. Specifically, these could signal post-concussion syndrome, a disorder whose effects can persist for an extended period after the injury.

So, make sure you don’t dismiss these symptoms. If you notice any, give your brain time to heal and consult with healthcare professionals before getting back on track.

3. Know What Dietary Changes Can Aid Recovery
While recovering from a head injury, it’s necessary to pay special attention to your diet. Nutrition plays a pivotal role in the recovery process as certain nutrients are crucial for repairing brain damage.

For instance, including a good amount of protein in your diet can contribute significantly towards tissue repair. Omega-3 fatty acids, typically found in fatty fish, chia seeds, and walnuts, should also be part of your meals due to their positive effects on brain health.

Don’t forget about antioxidants either—found abundantly in fruit and vegetables—they combat oxidative stress, which is often heightened following a head injury. Remember, the goal is to consciously fuel your body with nutrient-rich food that can support your journey back to running after a head injury.

4. Consider the Severity of Your Head Injury, Such as a TBI
If you’ve experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI), it’s important to recognize that this serious condition may extend your recovery timeline. TBI is characterized by significant damage to the brain caused by an external force, such as a fall or a car accident.

Part of dealing with the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury includes understanding that returning to your usual running routine may take quite some time, months, or even years in severe cases. And much depends on the extent and location of the injury.

Therefore, a personalized plan from your healthcare team is particularly crucial if you have experienced such an injury. They will closely monitor your progress, manage symptoms, and gradually reintroduce physical activity as you recover.

So, always factor their guidance into your decision about when (and how) to start running again following a traumatic brain injury.

5. Embrace the Importance of Sleep in Recovery
You should never underestimate the impact of solid rest on recovery from any injury, including a head one. When you’re sleeping, your body works overtime to repair damaged tissues—your brain included.

Due to this, getting adequate and quality sleep every night becomes more crucial than ever following a head injury. Well-rested bodies can respond better and faster to treatments and heal more efficiently compared to those deprived of proper sleep.

Decreased brain activity during sleep gives your brain a chance to rest and reconstruct neural networks that might have been affected by the injury.

In short, make it a priority to have plenty of good quality sleep when recovering from a head injury, as your road back to running may depend on it!

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