For an injured runner, is the elliptical machine the answer?

I haven’t run in seven days, since I hit the finish line of the Seattle Torchlight 8K Run last Saturday.

But I have done 14.25 miles this past week — on the elliptical machine (I also walked more than three miles, for whatever that’s worth). The elliptical machine is my prime running alternative. I actually like moving up and down as I listen to tunes on my headphones. I can enjoy the same rock-and-roll fantasies that I do when I am running.

But I am left wondering today if I am actually helping my injured left ankle to heal. (There’s nothing broken, just muscle or ligament damage that has caused some swelling; this ankle was fractured many years ago.)

With the elliptical machine, you save your ankles and joints from the pounding you take running on pavement. Your feet generally stay steady on the foot pedals; your knees and glutes do more of the work.

When I tore my hamstring in 2008 after being accidentally tripped twice by fellow runners in a 5K race, the elliptical machine helped me stay in shape when I had to take five weeks off from running. I was surprised the machine didn’t bother my hamstring any, but it didn’t.

With my ankle, I’m not so sure. It remains a bit sore and swollen after a week off from running.

Perhaps swimming is a better alternative. But swimming leaves me dizzy, and I can’t listen to tunes.

My physical therapist has all the answers here, but I may not be able to see her for awhile. Maybe I just need to give it more time.

Any of you current or previously injured runners have any thoughts on the elliptical machine? Love to hear from you on this.

Till next time.


About monteenbysk

I am not an elite runner or bicyclist, though I am friends with many. I run, walk, and bike for fun and the health benefits. I can get you to the finish but probably not to the Boston Marathon (and especially not to the Tour de France).
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2 Responses to For an injured runner, is the elliptical machine the answer?

  1. John Swenson says:

    When I was completely out of running for two months a few years ago, I used an elliptical machine 4-5 times/week for about 4o minutes a day. It helped me keep my cardio up, but it was soooo boring. When I started running again, I didn’t feel too out of shape, but it still took me a while to get back into good running shape. If I did it again, I’d probably split my time between the elliptical machine and stationary bicycle — with some real rides on the roads on weekends.

  2. Florida Fournet says:

    An elliptical trainer or cross-trainer (also called an X-trainer) is a stationary exercise machine used to simulate stair climbing, walking, or running without causing excessive pressure to the joints, hence decreasing the risk of impact injuries. For this reason, people with some injuries can use an elliptical to stay fit, as the low impact affects them little. Elliptical trainers offer a non-impact cardiovascular workout that can vary from light to high intensity based on the speed of the exercise and the resistance preference set by the user..

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