#175 If you don't think it will work, you shouldn't do it. - DOC

#175 If you don’t think it will work, you shouldn’t do it.

Today on the Doc on the Run podcast we’re talking about how if you don’t think it’ll work you shouldn’t do it. 

As an athlete I’m sure you know that it’s important you believe you can accomplish your goal.

If you think you’re going to qualify for Boston or you want to qualify for Boston, I’m pretty sure you know it’s crucial that when you show up for your marathon where you intend to qualify, you actually have the belief, the conviction that you can run fast enough on that day to qualify for Boston. I don’t think anybody qualifies for Boston showing up on the starting line thinking, “yeah, I probably can’t run that fast but maybe things will go okay and I’ll just take off and just fly to the finish line the last ten miles of the marathon.” It doesn’t work that way. 

What’s interesting to me is that many patients, many injured runners don’t really think that much about how important it is that you actually believe in the treatment you’re being offered. You believe in the treatment plan you’re getting sold on by your doctor. The reason I brought this us is I just saw a patient who’s really interesting. He’s actually in the education business and we were talking about how important it is that you actually believe something will work, and how that belief actually impacts your results. 

Now in something as simple as finishing a race, qualifying for Ironman Hawaii, or qualifying for the Boston Marathon, I think all athletes get that, but he was talking about this from a very different perspective about how in education training, and about how taking a course or embarking on some training program, your belief in the success of that program is actually really crucial. 

I recently heard something similar expressed in a book I was reading by a sales trainer and he actually was explaining how there’s a very interesting phenomenon where about 90 days after a salesman either begins a new position selling a certain product, or after the salesman who is in a company who begins selling a new product within that company will suddenly stop closing deals at about 90 days. What he was explaining is that, and this applies to everything, he was saying it applies to medical device sales, it applies to selling trucks, it applies to selling industrial equipment, all kinds of different products, but he said typically what happens is that when a sales person stops closing on deals, it’s because they stop believing their own sales pitch. 

A new product comes out, some new drug, some new medical device, and the doctor presents this research and the sales person who’s going to sell it becomes convinced that this is a great thing, it’s going to help lots of people, and they start making sales. They become very convinced that this is a great product for patients, for injured people, for people who are sick, whatever the thing is that they’re selling, and they become really convinced, and they’re sold on the idea that this is going to be a great thing, and so they sell it, and they’re able to sell it because they believe that it’s going to be effective.

Then about three months in something happens. They hear from some colleague that someone had a complication, or they hear from some other sales person that there’s a newer better device that’s competing with that one, and they become less convinced in their own sales pitch. The truth is, is that nobody should be selling anything to anyone unless they absolutely totally believe it’s the right thing. 

Doctors sell things to patients all the time. If a doctor tells you to stop running, then the doctor is telling you that you need to stop doing something that you know you want to do. The doctor’s trying to sell you on that idea. The doctor’s trying to convince you that its necessary. If the doctor wants to give you a fracture walking boot, the doctor’s trying to sell you on this idea of using a fracture walking boot. If you need surgery, the doctor’s trying to sell you on the idea of surgery. 

That thing that’s important here is that, it’s not that you just decide to do whatever the doctor says, but that you actually believe what the doctor is telling you makes sense, that’s crucial. So we know with lots of different treatments there’s tons of information and research that actually shows that your belief in the effectiveness of a treatment, of a training program, of a process, that actually highly influences and affects the possibility that we’ll actually be successful for you. 

So if you’re an injured runner and you feel like you’re being sold something that doesn’t really fit for you, you don’t like the idea of bed rest, you don’t like the idea of using crutches for six weeks, you don’t like the idea of using a fracture walking boot for a month or two, then you need to ask questions. That’s really important because if you don’t believe it’s going to work. If you believe it’s unnecessary, if you believe you’re being treated for even the wrong problem. A doctor says you have an ankle sprain but you actually think you have some kind of fracture in there that’s just been missed or misdiagnosed, well that may be true. 

I see patients all the time for second opinions. I talk to patients all the time on remote consultations where they call me, they send me their MRI, they tell me that they have some injury and they’ve been told they have to just stop running, and it seems like they’re actually being treated for the wrong problem. Obviously if you do all the right things for the wrong problem you’re not going to get better. 

We have thins innate sense to tell what’s right for us and what’s wrong for us, and you as a runner certainly have that. If you go to the doctor and you feel uneasy about the treatment, even if you trust the doctor, you shouldn’t do it. You need to ask more questions, you need to see what the alternatives are, you need to get a second opinion. You have to do something to either find out what treatment will actually work for you or get more evidence from the doctor or from a different doctor that will actually convince you that its necessary for you to do the treatment that you’re being sold. You have to know that it’s going to work for you if you’re going to do it.  

The reason this is so crucial, and the reason I talk about this all the time is that runners have much higher stakes than normal patients. You get very clear changes in your strength, in the strength of the bones, in your neuromuscular connections, your coordination, your aerobic fitness. You lose all of those things very quickly when you take on a treatment that takes away all of your activity, immobilizes you, puts you on a non-weight bearing status where you’re not walking on your foot. Those are really high stakes for athletes. They’re not really high stakes for normal sedentary people who don’t run. For them it really doesn’t matter that much, they’re not going to do anything later anyway, but if you intend to continue running marathons, you continue to do triathlons, you continue to do ultra marathons, you have more concern that you’re going to be interfered with in terms of your capacity to train by the treatment that’s being sold to you. 

If you’re just unhappy that you’re not going to exercise for a few weeks that’s one thing, but if you actually don’t really understand why the treatment that is being proposed is going to be helpful for you, you have to get more information so you can believe in, trust in, and then pursue that treatment. Otherwise, like I said, if you feel uneasy about the treatment, you don’t think it makes any sense and you don’t think it’s going to work for you, even if you trust the doctor, you shouldn’t do it. 

If you have a question that you would like answered as a future edition the Doc On The Run Podcast, send it to me, and then make sure you join me in the next edition of the Doc On The Run Podcast. Thanks again for listening!