Today on the Doc On The Run podcast, we’re talking about how there’s is no healing for a runner without risk.
There is no success without work.
There is no love without commitment.
And there can be no healing from a running injury without risk.
Many years ago I remember somebody telling me that you have to work hard to be successful. I believe that’s true.
When I was in residency, I did lots of research, and I kept this card on my desk that said,
“The problem with good ideas is they quickly degenerate into hard work.”
And that’s true of most things.
A couple of years ago I was doing an Ironman race and I remember seeing somebody on the course holding up this huge sign that said,
“A year ago, this seemed like a great idea!”
But it takes a whole lot of work from getting to from the registration page for an Ironman to actually finishing that event.
It takes a lot of work, and to succeed in that effort you really have to put in a lot of work.
The same goes true with relationships. Whether it’s a business relationship, an intimate relationship, family it takes a lot of commitment, a lot of time, and a lot of effort to make those relationships work, and with healing, it’s the same thing.
Everybody wants to believe that there is some “best practice,” some “standard of care,” some “safest way” for you to heal when you get a metatarsal stress fracture or achilles tendinitis or peroneal tendinitis or plantar fasciitis or any other common overuse training injury when you’re a runner.
But there is nothing that is risk-free!
Nothing is free in medicine.
It’s not free in terms of costs, and it’s not free in terms of risk. And for most runners, the risk part is the bigger part of the equation.
So you have to really think…
What really happens when you just sit still? You get weaker, you get stiff, you lose your neuromuscular connections, and your running form falls apart. You lose your aerobic fitness. It takes a lot of time to build all that running specific fitness back up.
Most doctors want to think about your injury as this isolated piece of you that has to be treated. But we have to treat the rest of you. It definitely has to be a holistic approach when you’re an athlete.
Compartmentalized medicine is where we tell you, you have to sit still, stop all activity, everything else because you have one fractured bone in your foot which is a stress fracture. In fact, it’s not even really a true fracture, it’s just irritated and aggravated and overworked.
Well, that’s just one bone. You have one out of your five metatarsal bones, so only one of those five metatarsals bones in one foot is injured.
And when you think about it in terms of your entire foot, you have 26 bones in your foot,
1 out of 26?
Come on, this is not a huge thing, and you’re talking about one little injured bone that’s a part of your entire system that has been injured.
Should you really decimate the fitness in all of the rest of your body just because you have an injury to this one part? It doesn’t make sense, particularly if you want to get back to running.
You have to think about what you need to do to restore, maintain, and facilitate the healing in the rest of your body while protecting that one injured part. You have to maintain your fitness. You have to stay strong.
In fact, you need to beef up the strength in everything around that one injured part so it can carry that healing piece through your return to running without it getting re-injured.
That’s the real task when you’re an injured runner. The task is not to figure out how you heal an injured Achilles tendon as an isolated thing. Not how do you heal a second metatarsal stress fracture as an isolated thing, but how do you heal that thing while maintaining all of your running fitness and putting yourself in a position to better support and protect that injury as you return to activity, full training, and racing. That is really the task.
But there is risk in all of that.
There is risk that you’re going to get weaker and stiffer if you sit still. There is risk if you’re going to wait six weeks before you start running again, and yes, there is risk if you start getting a metatarsal stress fracture and you just go out for a run the next day. There’s risk that you’re going to make that stress fracture worse.
But there probably is an in-between approach that will work better for you as a runner.
There is an in-between that can let you move it, strengthen it, work it…without injuring it. So that is what you have to focus on. That’s what you have to try to figure out, and that’s what you need to discuss with your doctor.
If you’re working with your doctor, and your doctor just seems to be giving you the average approach, doesn’t really seem to be helping you figure out how you can get back to running, you can start with the Healing Goal Runners worksheet.
I think most patients when they’re runners, and they go to see a doctor, they get distracted by the doctor because the doctor is rushing them through the visit.
The doctor has a whole bunch of people to see, and you’re only one of those people. So, if you can be very clear in your direction, very clear in your goals when you go to the doctor, that can be very helpful because it can help you redirect the conversation with your doctor to figure out what is really least risky for you, what is it that you can do to help maintain your running fitness while you actually recover from your over-training injury.
And if you could do all that, if you can have that conversation with your doctor, then you will get back to running a lot sooner than the average patient. So, go get the Healing Runners Goal worksheet. It’s on the website under the podcast show notes for this episode under the podcast tab at docontherun.com. It’s free. You can download it. You can print it out. You can use it, and you can start mapping out your plan for getting back to running sooner.
Download the Healing Runner’s Goal Worksheet. It will help you take what you know about goal setting in running and use what you already know to focus your healing. It’s free. Go get it now!
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!