Today on the Doc On The Run Podcast, we’re talking about how healing a running injury is an active process.
Training for a marathon is an active process. You have to think about what you’re going to do, you have to come up with a plan. You have to design a training program that will get you stronger, get you faster, get you more fit and better prepared for your event, if you’re going to finish your race on time. It takes a lot of effort and activity to get you to the place where you can actually finish a marathon.
Well the fact is that when you get injured, healing itself from that injury is an active process, but unfortunately by default, people revert into a passive process. And what do I mean by that? Well, think about what happens when you get injured, if you get a metatarsal stress fracture, you get Achilles tendonitis, you get plantar fasciitis, or you get some injury that affects your foot and ankle.
So what really happens is that circumstance? Your foot hurts, you can’t train, you can’t run, you’re frustrated that you’re not running and you’re not training, and you go to the doctor. What does the doctor tell you? The doctor says, “Stop, stop running. Stop doing what hurts. Stop doing what bothers it. Stop doing what’s preventing the healing. Sit still. Don’t do anything. Wait, it’s going to take four weeks or six weeks or something else for this to heal.” All of those are passive ideas.
They’re trying to tell you that there is some magical timeline during which healing will take place, and then you’ll suddenly be ready to go and jump back into your training plan. That’s just not true, bad things happen when you sit completely still if you’re an athlete. You’re going to lose your aerobic fitness, you’re going to lose your neuromuscular connections, your coordination’s going to be terrible, your form’s going to fall apart, you’re going to get weaker, you’re going to get stiffer.
And as a consequence of all those things coming together, once your doctor says you’re “healed,” well then you’re actually more at risk of another overtraining injury as you return to your training program.
So instead of looking for some magical passive process, you have to come up with an active process if you want to heal. What can you create that’s going to be a plan that’s going to help you get stronger? You need to think about all these things. You want to try to create something, you want to plan something, you want to search for something, you want to do something, you want to stretch something, you want to move something, you want to feed something, you want to grow something. Yes, you want to rest, you want to heal, but all of those are active activities.
You need to have an active healing process.
You need to plan out your healing the same way that you would plan out your training.
You need to think about what can you do right now?
What are the things you’re missing?
What could you be eating differently that’s actually going to feed the healing process, the rebuilding process?
How can you stretch and prevent scar tissue from locking up your foot and ankle, and putting you more at risk later?
How can you maintain your running fitness now?
What can you do to strengthen everything else in your system that is going to support and protect that injured part, once you actually do start returning to your full running training program?
You have to look for all those things.
Good things happen when you do active training, bad things happen when you do passive recovery. You can’t just wait for recovery, you have to be active in that process, try to figure out the things that you can do right now, try to figure out the things that are going to help.
I promise you’re probably missing dozens of things you can do that will add to your recovery and speed up that process right now. Don’t just sit and wait, do something.
Healing is an active process.
Pain is the best tool to help an injured runner decide when run. You don’t have to figure out what to write down. We made a simple Pain Journal PDF for you.
If you have a question that you would like answered as a future addition of the Doc On The Run Podcast, send it to me PodcastQuestion@docontherun.com. And then make sure you join me for the next edition of the Doc On The Run Podcast!