Today on the Doc On The Run Podcast we’re talking about the 3 keys to recovering at a faster pace.
Healing after a hard workout and recovering from a running injury are basically the same process.
The problem with injured runners is that we think the process is different. Recovering after mile repeats and long runs is second nature. We don’t have to plan it. We don’t have to ask for help.
We work out to the point of pain, suffering and mild tissue damage. We recover. We heal. We are stronger as a result of the day-by-day tissue damage and tissue repair process.
We don’t have to design a daily recovery plan or create a schedule around it. Short term recovery is just second nature, like eating or sleeping. It happens automatically.
But when a runner gets an over training injury everything goes sideways. We become confused about what has happened and we start to confuse ourselves about what what should happen next. We get off course. We forget the basics. Our self induced confusion delays our recovery, hampers our healing and keeps us from getting back to running as quickly as possible.
This year I published a new book called the Runner’s Rapid Recovery Journal. The entire idea behind that book was to simply help the injured runner look at the ways you can apply what you learned from running and recognize new opportunities for healing faster.
It just blows me away when I talk to smart, educated, highly experienced runners who seem to have forgotten everything they learned in training when they’re trying to figure out how to heal their running injury get back to running.
In the simplest sense, after many years of working with injured runners I can tell you that there are three things runners do to heal faster and get back to running and training without reinjury faster than runners who keep getting injured over and over.
Track. Protect. Strengthen.
Everyday I talk to an injured runner on the phone or over a webcam they tell me what they don’t know. And they don’t even realize what they don’t know.
Most runners are really not tracking what exercises they’re doing during the recovery, what it feels like when they do those exercises and what it feels like the day after the do those exercises. Most runners can’t tell me how much pain they had two days ago. Most injured runners aren’t tracking their pain. Most recovering runners aren’t tracking or swelling.
Although it sounds like an oversimplification it really seems like most of the injured runners who actually call me for a consultation are sticking your heads in the sand instead of looking for clues about what to do differently.
Let’s face it if you have a terrible long run or a speed session where you can’t seem to stay on pace, you would almost certainly make some kind of change in your training schedule or your plan immediately. The reason you would make that change in your plan is because you have been tracking your goals, monitoring your progress and then you see something take a dip.
Anything you measure changes. If you keep track of your pace and your heart rate and your perceived exertion when you’re training, you will know what you need to change, when you need to change something. Pain, swelling and bruising are all things you should be tracking and measuring when you’re recovering from an over training injury.
I created a single page PDF pain journal that you can ask the printout for free. It’s one of the worksheets that’s included with the Runner’s Rapid Recovery Journal. It’s a crucial tool for any injured runner. It will be in the show notes at doconrun.com under the podcast tab and you can get it for free and start using it today.
All of the runners who are actually recovering and healing quickly are paying close attention. They’re tracking everything. They’re making changes when they need to make changes and that really does help them get back to running and training faster and with a lower risk of re-injury.
Start tracking your progress and know what to look for today!
I was on WebCam call yesterday with a recovering runner. He’s had a serious injury and using fracture walking boot. The fracture walking boot is protecting his injured foot. If you’ve ever worn a fracture walking boot, you know it feels like you were injured. It feels like you’re protecting the injury.
But during our webcam call, he said he has been having pain when he was doing long walks or hikes in the fracture walking boot. If you have an injury and you feel pain in the injured area you’re not sufficiently protecting that injury. You’re stressing the injured tissue enough that you’re getting pain. You don’t have to be a doctor to figure out that if you’re stressing the injured tissue it’s going to take longer to heal it.
I believe it is true that most runners do not need to wear a fracture walking boot for four weeks six weeks 10 weeks or 12 weeks. I like sure medical conferences several times a year where I tell doctors in the audience most runners don’t need to wear fracture walking boots as long as doctors are telling patients. That is my opinion. That is what I teach to doctors.
But at the same time it is also true that any healing tissue has to be protected sufficiently if it’s going to heal as quickly possible. Maybe you need a cast. I doubt it, but maybe you need one. Maybe need crutches for a very, very short period of time. Maybe you need a slight modification to the inserts in your running shoes. Maybe you need an arch support. Maybe need to run on the different side of the street.
All of these modifications are ways to decrease stress to specific tissues when you’re recovering from an over training injury. And the amount of modification that you need in order to decrease the stress to your healing injured tissue could be as little is some felt applied to your running shoe insert or as drastic as a cast and crutches.
The point is, we need to make sure that you understand exactly how much protection the tissue needs to continue healing so you can get back to running.
This may sound simple but you need to get stronger if you want to be stronger.
When I talk to injured runners who are recovering they all want to continue to get stronger. All athletes like to get stronger and hate to get weaker. Overwhelmingly when I do WebCam consultations, injured runners will ask me whether or not they should try to do exercises to strengthen that injured healing tissue.
Damaged, healing tissue cannot be strengthened until it heals.
I am not talking about strengthening the injured tissue. I am talking about strengthening everything else that can support and protect that healing injury, so it can continue to heal as you increase activity, and resume full training.
If you get a metatarsal stress fracture and you stop training, you stop working out all together, you’re going to get weaker everywhere.
There is an enormous amount of evidence in the medical literature that if you get injured, your chance of getting another over training injury later start to skyrocket.
If your entire body is weaker and less coordinated you will load other structures in your foot at higher peak forces that put them at risk of over training injuries.
So first and foremost you need to maintain your strength and fitness as much as possible when you are injured. You need to strengthen everything else your body that can support and protect that one injured part.
When you resume running, you need to make sure that the other 99.9% of your body that is not injured is actually a strong as it possibly can be. That means you need to start strengthening and working out as much as possible, right now, without putting undue stress on the healing tissue in your foot or ankle.
The bottom line here is you need to figure out how to track, protect and strengthen, right now. It’s not going to happen automatically. It’s not going to happen without a plan. You either need to talk to an expert who can create a plan for you or you need to come up with a plan yourself.
Go to the show notes for this episode and just check out the Runner’s Rapid Recovery Journal. Right now it’s available for a discount . But even if you don’t buy it just looking the description in the show notes will help you understand what you really need to do to track, protect and strengthen your healing running body so you can get back to running as quickly as possible.
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.
To print out your copy of the pain journal, Download here:
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!