#208 Challenge your doctor to do better when you are a runner - DOC

#208 Challenge your doctor to do better when you are a runner

Today on the Doc On The Run podcast, we’re talking about how you should challenge your doctor to do better when you are a runner.

If you’re a runner and you’ve been injured, whether you just got injured, or if you have been injured for a little while and you’re really not sure where your recovery is going, you need to challenge your doctor to do better. This is a fair thing. 

I’ll warn you right now that you are going to probably feel like to do that you would have to be somewhat confrontational. That doesn’t mean you have to be offensive but you have to do something different if you really want to get your doctor on board with a rapid return to running.

Now, there’s something that I’ve got for you at the bottom of the show notes page in this episode, and you can print it out. It’s called the Top 10 Questions a Runner Should Ask When Going to The Doctor. 

Print this out and you fill it out, Take it with you to your doctor visit, and it really will help you stay on track and make sure that you stay focused on your goal of returning to running, above and beyond the goal of just healing the specific injured tissue that is bothering you and slowing down your running.

I think it might be helpful just to talk about a couple of those questions here just to give you an idea about how you should think about things differently when you go to the doctor. 

The very first question is, “If you didn’t have any foot pain at all…what would your goal be?” 

How often do you want to run? 

What race would you want to run, what time, and what pace?

Then you want to tell your doctor, “Look, the reason I’m here today is that my foot hurts but I want to …” And then of course you write in your goal, you want to run a certain race, on a certain day, in a certain time, and you need your foot to heal so that you can do that race. 

To you, success is going to be finishing that event in your goal time, not just making your foot look better on an x-ray.

I’ve got 10 questions in this whole thing that you can print out that will help you when you’re at the doctor but a couple of other ones that you just really need to be thinking about all the time. 

You need to make sure that you are getting the best diagnosis. 

You need to give the information to your doctor that’s going to help you explain what kind of treatments you’ve tried. Again, all of these are in the Top 10 Questions a Runner Should Ask When Going to The Doctor, so don’t worry. You don’t have to remember them. You can just print it out and you’ll have it there at your visit, it’s free.

One of the most important things to ask is…

“Is there any way I can run now without the risk of failing to achieve my primary goal?”

You have to really think about that. Remember, your primary goal is to get back to training, to finish your race, to keep running forever, whatever it is, but you have to know what your goal is and then you have to get your doctor on board. 

You have to make sure that your doctor’s 100% sure that she has the correct diagnosis and, if not, you want to ask her, “Well how could you be sure?” 

You also need to ask your doctor, what else can I do right now to maintain my running fitness while this injury heals?

Now, this is a big one. This is something that most doctors don’t even ask, don’t think about.

Most runners don’t ask because the doctor distracts you and focuses so much on the injury and explaining to you why you have to sit still. They’re selling you on this idea of letting your fitness whither away. 

If you ask the doctor, “What else can I do right now to maintain my running fitness while I’m healing,” they will usually stop and try to come up with some things that you can do that will be helpful to maintain your fitness so you can achieve your primary goal after you’ve actually healed.

You need to also ask your doctor, “How will I be able to tell when I can safely resume running?” Again, this is the million dollar question. You’re not there because your foot hurts, you’re there because you want to run and the pain is interfering with that capacity to run. 

You need to also ask your doctor, “What, advanced treatments, covered by insurance or not, are available that might actually help me feel faster?”

There are always other things that are outside the sort of normal realm of treatment that may or may not be covered by your insurance that might be helpful for you, but most doctors are very, very busy. 

If you don’t stop and ask your doctor these specific questions, it’s unlikely that they’re going to offer all of these various treatment options to you because they just don’t have time to talk about it, they’re not going to bring it up. They usually bring up those things later when it’s been a long time and you’re not healing.

I spoke to someone who called me yesterday who had an injury. He’s been injured for 10 months and he said, “Well, should it take this long?” Let me think about it. No matter what the injury is and how long it’s been, 10 months is way too long. 10 months is too long to be injured when you’re a runner. 

Think about right now. If your injury, your foot, your ankle, your Achilles tendon, whatever it is that’s bothering you right now, if you thought about what it would be like if this thing was continuing to heal and still wasn’t better and you still weren’t running 10 months from now, what would that be like for you?

If you really think about how agonizing that would be, you understand how important it would be to start considering those more advanced treatments and the things that can actually get you back on track right now, you don’t need to wait. 

Go print out the top 10 questions a runner should ask when going to the doctor, fill it out, take it with you, fill it out as you’re at the doctor’s office to fill in those specific questions, and use that to help you get back on track and to develop a plan with your doctor to get back to running sooner.


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!