Today on the Doc on the Run Podcast, we’re talking about how maintaining your running fitness is the highest priority for an injured runner.
Today, I was doing a second opinion consultation, it was a telemedicine visit, we were talking over webcam, and this runner who had a metatarsal stress fracture said that she was told she just had to stop running, and that healing the stress fracture was her highest priority.
I’m going to disagree with that just a little bit.
I think that it’s very important to heal a metatarsal stress fracture when you have one. That is for sure. However, if you’re an injured runner, and you have one of these running injuries that can take a long time to completely heal, your highest priority is to actually figure out how you can maintain your running fitness while you heal that injury. That is actually a much higher priority, because all tissue is going to heal eventually if you can reduce the stress and strain to it.
The question is whether or not you, as a runner, can afford to take off the amount of time necessary to just sit still, and let it heal.
In most cases, you really can’t, because we know, for a fact, if you are in a cast for weeks at a time, you’re going to get weakness, stiffness, loss of neuromuscular connections, your running form is going to fall apart, you’re going to lose your running fitness, and you are going to be permanently weaker as a runner after that.
If you want to avoid that scenario, you have to focus first and foremost on your ability to strengthen and fortify everything else that is not injured, so that when that piece of injured tissue, like the stress fracture, or the Achilles tendon, or the plantar fascia, or whatever it is, that when that thing actually heals that everything around it is as strong as possible to actually support and help stabilize your foot, so that when you run your form is as good as it can be.
In addition, if you can do something to actually maintain your overall strength during that period while you’re actually trying to recover, then you’re going to do much, much better. Now, The Runners Rapid Recovery Journal is a thing that I wrote to help runners who are injured try to figure out what it is that they were doing in training that was working, that they’re actually not doing, and neglecting when they’re sitting around trying to wait for something to heal during this recovery process.
It’s extremely important that you figure out what you need to do to maintain your running fitness. You cannot ignore that. The fact is, is that when you’re injured, and you’re waiting all of your fitness is declining. When a doctor tells you, “Just sit still,” that’s not really the right approach.
Now, it’s true that you have to relieve the stress and strain to that injured tissue enough to let it heal, but when that doctor tells you that you just have to wait, and that that’s your priority, you have to stop them in their tracks, tell them, “Take your hand off the door knob. I have another question.” And the question is, “What can I do to maintain my running fitness while this heals, without slowing down the healing process?” And if you can ask them that question… I mean, your doctor does want you to be able to run, but a lot of times they’re in such a rush in the office that they don’t really have time to explain it to you. But you need to stop them, and make sure you get the answers you need
If you go through the Runner’s Rapid Recovery Journal, and you get a lot of information, you can probably start making some adjustments on your own without trying to talk to your doctor about it. But those exercises in the journal will also help you formulate your questions better when you do talk to a doctor, when you do get a second opinion, when you schedule a telemedicine visit with another doctor, during any of those things.
Make sure that you understand that your goal is to run, not just to heal the running injury, and that’ll help you get back to running as quickly as possible.
If you don’t really understand even where to begin then you need to get focused. The best way for any recovering runner to get focused is to work through the exercises I have created for you in the Runners Rapid Recovery Journal. Go to the show notes page for this episode and you can find a link there. Or you can also go to docontherun.com/journal where you can get an instant download version today. You need to figure out what your goal is, you need to figure out what mistakes you’re making and you need to figure out what you already know how to do that you’re not doing right now. The Runners Rapid Recovery Journal will help you figure that out. Go get it now and get unstuck!
Get the Runner’s Rapid Recovery Journal