Today on the Doc On The Run podcast, we’re talking about the difference no, maybe and probable, an injured runner and you’re trying to figure out whether or not you can run and still heal
Today on the Doc On The Run podcast, we’re talking about the difference no, maybe and probable, an injured runner and you’re trying to figure out whether or not you can run and still heal.
I do consultation calls with runners every day. Most of those runners are not people who were out for run, they got injured, then they just basically found me online, and then decided to call me for consultation. It doesn’t work like that.
Almost every person who calls me has really one question that they want answered. That is, can I run with this injury? The reality is, is that there’re usually three possible answers, no, maybe and probably. The fact is there’s never just a straight yes, aside from, yes, you can run, but you might make the injury worse. The big thing is trying to figure out whether or not the injury you have is one that you can do something to reduce the stress, reduce the strain on that injured tissue, and continue to ramp up your activity in the terms of your running without making the injury worse. That’s really the big reason people call me. They want to know that.
I also get people who email questions to me to use on the podcast, for episodes like this, wanting to know, can I run with Achilles tendinitis? Can I run with a sesamoid injury? Can I run with a metatarsal stress fracture? The short answer is, maybe, unless I really know what your circumstances are. I have to really understand what it is that you’re doing, how bad the injury is, and what we can do to modify your activity so that it does reduce the stress on that one particular injured part. For example, if you have an Achilles tendon issue and we put a heel lift in your shoe, that will actually decrease some of the tension on the Achilles tendon. If you can decrease the tension on the Achilles tendon and the stress and strain on the Achilles tendon enough to allow it to heal, then you actually can continue training and should theoretically be able to ramp up your running and not make the injury worse.
This is also true with stress fractures. When you have a stress fracture in one of the metatarsal bones in your foot, doctors always act like that’s some huge thing, like some terrible problem. They go, “You’ve got a broken bone in your foot, you can’t possibly run,” but you have 26 bones in your foot. You have five metatarsal bones. If only one of those bones has had too much stress applied to it, and we can do something to modify the inserts in your shoe, modify the way that you run, modify what you’re doing to decrease the stress and strain, particularly to that specific metatarsal bone, then you usually can continue to train and ramp up your activity without making the injury worse.
The truth is, is that, when I start talking to people, and when people send these inquiries to me and say, “Oh, I’m an elite runner, can you just tell me if I can run? Because my doctor told me I shouldn’t run. I just wanted to know if you think I can run.” Well, the answer’s no. If a professional, a doctor, someone looks at you, they evaluate you, and they tell you based on what they see, what they’ve seen on your x-rays, what they believe that you can’t run without making it worse, then I’m not going to tell you that you can just make it worse unless I can talk to you and figure out what it is that you could do differently. That’s really what I do differently when I talk to runners who have injuries.
It’s not that I have some magical ability to help people run. It’s just that I can listen to you, hear your story, hear what your goals are, hear what you really need to do, learn how you need to maintain your fitness, learn what race you really want to do. Then, take your specific injury and, instead of giving you some cookie cutter four-week plan, or six-week plan, or some standard plan that doctors are trying to sell to you, just to get you out of the office quickly, we spend a lot of time talking about what you can really do differently.
You can do this on your own, you can figure out what it is that you have to do to reduce the stress and strain. I’ve actually produced courses that actually teach you how to determine how bad your stress fracture is and what to do to keep running, if you have a metatarsal stress fracture. I’ve also made courses on Achilles tendon injuries, so that you can figure out how to reduce the stress and strain on the Achilles tendon, reduce the inflammation around the tendon, and continue to train and maintain your fitness, but you can do it on your own.
If you’re really diligent about figuring out how bad your problem is, how bad the injury is, and then you can take what you know about that and figure out how to reduce some of the stress and strain on that particular tissue, then the chances are not just maybe that’s a correct answer for you. The chances are really good that the correct answer for you is probably. Then, you can go try that. You can do a test run. You can try to modify your activity and see if it feels okay when you run. If it feels okay when you run, then you know it’s safe to do that. Then, you can very gradually ramp up your activity and you can keep running. You just have to remember it’s not just no. There’s also maybe, and there’s also probably. You just got to figure out which one is really right for you.
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!