Today on the Doc On The Run Podcast, we’re talking about how pain is the most underutilized tool for recovering runners.
Nobody who’s a runner wants to wind up with pain. However, once you get injured and you’re trying to recover from your running injury, pain is actually one of the most useful tools at your disposal.
In fact, I often tell runners and doctors at medical conferences, that pain is probably the most abundant and most underutilized evaluation tool available to runners when they’re trying to get back to activities like running. And here’s the thing, you have lots of pain and that pain is useful. The problem is you’re wasting it.
Every runner who calls me for a consultation, who does a second opinion, telemedicine visit, well, they all can tell me what their heart rate was during their last workout, what their pace was during their last speed session, but very few of them can actually tell me what their pain level is on a daily basis, or for that matter, how it’s changed.
The way that your pain feels right now and how it changes throughout the course of your recovery is the most useful thing, and the most accurate thing to use as a predictor of when you can actually alternate your activity, increase the distances that you run, and increase the intensity of your workouts.
A pain is also very reliable as long as you track it. It can be just as reliable as your heart rate or your pace or your perceived exertion or any of these other things that you typically measure as a runner. It’s also reliable, it’s cheap, it’s reliable, it’s available. And it’s one of those things that you can use to do four different things.
The first thing is to determine your diagnosis. The pain that you have and the way that you describe your pain to me when you call me for a second opinion, actually really helps me figure out what the diagnosis is, what exactly might be wrong with you.
The second thing that’s actually really important if you’re training for a specific event, is that the pain level that you have in the changes that occur within your pain level over a given period of time, when you try different treatments, well, that actually really helps you determine the severity of your injury. And obviously the more severe it is, the more protective you need to be of that injured part, and the more diligent you need to be about protecting it as you return to activity.
The other thing that’s really, really important is that it actually does help you. Your pain level, it helps you determine when you can increase your activity. So if you’re tracking your pain and you’re trying some treatments and your pain level starts to decrease, well, that implies increased strength in the injured tissue. And that increased strength in the injured tissue then allows you to safely take the activity level, the distance that you’re running, the intensity of your training, it can take all those things up a notch and see if your pain level goes up or not.
And the other thing is that obviously if you’re training, if you’re running, if you’re increasing your intensity, you’re running longer distances and you start having more pain, well that tells you that you need to back off.
So, pain is cheap. It’s reliable, it’s abundant, it’s already there. And if you’re not using it, you’re wasting it.
Go to https://www.docontherun.com/fasttrack/ and grab your seat now. I’ll see you in the training.