#336 Running injuries caused by running during isolation - DOC

#336 Running injuries caused by running during isolation

Today on the Doc on the run Podcast, we’re talking about how you need to be careful when you’re dodging other runners and you’re out on a run during this period of social isolation. 

Today on the Doc on the run Podcast, we’re talking about how you need to be careful when you’re dodging other runners and you’re out on a run during this period of social isolation. 

Earlier today, I was doing a telemedicine call with a runner who’s been injured, and she actually mentioned that she thought she might have actually started getting this injury back in March when the whole COVID shutdown happened. Because she started running with a mask. She started trying to stay away from people and she was socially isolating.

And what happened is she said she was zigging and zagging and changing direction a lot to stay away from people. And we were talking about this and it’s interesting because I think you actually can get running injuries when you’re changing direction frequently and you’re out on these runs because you’re trying to stay more than six feet away from people. I just thought it might be worth talking about that a little bit about how that can happen. And how you can actually start getting an injury when you’re a runner and you’re just trying to change direction frequently to stay away from other people while you’re out on your run.

I was actually thinking about doing a series of podcasts on COVID-related injuries. And I mean, they obviously have nothing to do with the virus, but they have to do in all these additional things people are doing. I get so many calls now from people who are getting weird injuries that they’ve never had before. And much of it is because we’re not able to just go do our normal routine. And so we’re doing things we don’t normally do and things are getting stressed in ways they’re not normally getting stressed and we get injuries.

And so it’s interesting this idea of wearing a mask, but trying to stay away from people and doing lots of zigzagging. I was on a run yesterday and I was running down the street and normally I have a very specific path I run when I do each of these different runs. And there was somebody coming toward me who wasn’t wearing a mask on the sidewalk. And so I ran out into the street around the cars and I don’t normally do that. But jumping off of a curb into the gutter and then around some cars suddenly changing direction actually does lead to lots of injuries.

And many, many years ago I was doing a marathon in Huntsville, Alabama that was supposed to be a really fast marathon because it’s very flat. And yet there was a guy named Robert who was a really fast marathon runner that I was friends with. He was like super fit and he always would run three-hour marathons and I was talking to Robert about it and he said, “Oh yeah, I don’t like that marathon. I did that years ago. I don’t like it.” And I was like, “Why don’t you like it?” And he said, “It’s really turn-y.” And I was like, “What do you mean really turn-y?” And he said, “Well, if you look at the course, it actually …” and it’s true.

It’s like you go like a couple of blocks and you turn right. A couple of blocks, you turn left. A couple of blocks, you turn right and you are turning over. And he said, “Man, there’s hundreds of turns on that thing”. When you actually map it out. If you drive the course, you feel like you’re spending more time turning than you do driving.” And he said that. And he said, “So even though it was flat.” He said it’s really hard because you’re changing direction. When we train for marathons, we’re not generally changing direction. We’re running at a pace in a more or less straight line for most of it.

And I used to do every Friday, I would do a half marathon and I would start at the zoo. I would run up the bike path along Ocean Beach, turn right at the windmills, go all the way up that road, turn left, go to where the buffalo enclosure is, and then go all the way up that road, pass the Conservatory of Flowers and the museums. And then all the way to the end of the panhandle and turn around and come back. The exact same way. I did that every Friday afternoon. But if you think about that, that’s a half marathon and basically turn right at the windmills, turn left and go to the buffalo enclosure, turn right, that’s it. Six turns in half a marathon.

And that’s true for most marathon runners, I think, and most of us who do 5Ks, 10Ks, whatever. We go out and we do a run and there are very few turns. And right now, when you are in sort of not really quarantine mode, but running and trying to stay away from people, there is no question we are dodging people and changing direction in a way that can lead to a whole range of different injuries. And so that is one thing that you have to really recognize.

So if you’re getting some kind of weird injury, some kind of weird knee pain or weird peroneal tendon pain or weird plantar plate injury it may be because of this sudden change in direction. This isn’t something we normally do as endurance athletes typically. If you have a weird injury and you’re trying to figure it out, that might be something really useful to look at is the pattern of injury and the pattern of discomfort.

So if you have discomfort in one place in your foot or in your knee or in your ankle or wherever it is. If you go out and you do your routine, and you notice that when you swerve left to dodge somebody, or when you swerve right to dodge somebody that you feel it, it literally could be that that is what set it off. And if you can mitigate that change in direction when you’re on your runs and trying to stay away from people that might actually help. So that would be like homework piece number one.

The exercise would be to go out and do your run and see if when you change directions, see if when you change course, see if when you dodge somebody and change direction if it actually exacerbates the discomfort or the pain in some way that you can actually notice while you’re doing a run. So that can be useful exercise to figure out, but during this shutdown time and this sort of social isolation time. There are all sorts of weird things that people are getting. And it’s important to try to figure out the patterns if you really want to change it. So that’s the first thing.

So listen, if you think you might’ve gotten an over-training injury during this period, and you’re trying to figure out what to do, there are lots of different resources we have available for you other than the podcast. And one of the things that most runners can access that actually can provide you a lot of very specific information is the webinars that I do for recovering runners.

So you can go to docontherun.com/webinar and I’ve got a number of webinars that I’m doing every week to try to help people figure out what they should do next when they have these little nagging injuries that just won’t seem to go away. So go to docontherun.com/webinar. Check it out. They’re free. You can come join. You can send me your questions in advance. And when you’re on the webinar, you can actually enter your specific questions in the chat box and I’ll answer those live so you know what to do so you can get back to running as quickly as possible.

Join the next webinar here: