#413 Pain measurement points of runners - DOC

#413 Pain measurement points of runners

Today on the Doc On the Run Podcast, we’re talking about pain point measurements that are crucial for recovering runners.


Now this episode actually comes from part of a discussion I had when answering a question at the International Foot and Ankle Foundation medical conference. I was lecturing on running injuries and was talking about how you can actually, as a physician, look at a runner who has an injury and help them figure out how they can get back to running a whole lot faster than the standard routine of just waiting for it to heal and then returning to activity. And part of what I was talking about is pain measurements.

Although many doctors will ask you in your initial interview, “What is your pain on a scale of one to 10? How much does it hurt?” They very rarely ask you many more specifics about that pain. And what’s interesting is that we as runners know that we should track everything, rate of perceived exertion, power output on the bike, how our pace feels when we’re doing our mile repeats, what our heart rate is, what our heart rate is on long runs versus speed sessions versus hill repeats.

All of these things are things that we track because we know they’re important. When you’re recovering as a runner. The most important thing that you can track is your pain because your pain is what actually tells you whether or not you can move from one level to the next.

When I was talking to doctors about this at the medical conference, I was trying to explain to them the importance of this and some things that are really interesting and some interesting ideas about it. Now, I was actually listening to a business podcast just before this medical conference and one of the speakers had said that what you should do is to actually write down every single thing you do for three days in order to develop some awareness and some efficiency.

Obviously it seems a little silly if you have the same routines that you’re going to write down, “Woke up, put on my clothes, made coffee.” It seems silly, but the argument for this was that if you only do this for three days, you will probably become aware of some things that are complete waste of time and are not actually helpful for you and then some things that you can actually delegate to other people you really don’t need to do.

This is definitely true of pain. You want to go and track the things that you do every day that will actually help you keep track of your pain in the most consistent way. What I see runners do and what I was explaining to the doctors at this medical conference is that runners want to feel, okay what is my pain when I do hill repeats? How much pain do I have after I run 20 miles? How much pain do I have after a speed session?

But that’s not what actually helps you when you’re recovering. What helps you when you’re recovering is to know what is the difference in pain level day to day with the things that you do every day? That’s the big key. How much pain do you have when you’re getting out of bed? How much pain do you have when you’re walking upstairs? How much pain do you have when you’re walking on hardwood flooring or tile or carpet? And what’s the difference between those things? Because if you only have a two out of 10 when you’re walking on hardwood floors or tile and you have zero out of 10 when you’re walking on carpet, that’s really useful information.

That implies that when you get back to running, you might be able to run with cushioning type running shoes or running on a softer surface without as much trouble. How much pain do you have with socks or without socks when you’re walking around? Sometimes just a sock is the difference between pain and no pain. 

Ifyou get to that level, you know you’re very close to that threshold where you can actually start putting a lot more stress on that injured structure. How much pain do you have with shoes versus without shoes? And no matter what, whether you’re just walking around the house doing your normal activities and going to work or if you’re actually returning to the gym, you’re doing some strength training or you’re doing some workouts where you’re actually running on a treadmill or running outside, we want to know how much aching pain you have at the end of the day.

All of these are things that you’re probably not really thinking about, but will be extremely helpful if you start thinking about them and you start tracking them. That’s part of the stuff I talk about in the three day Fast Track Challenge that will help you figure out where you are, help you figure out what your real pain baseline is and then help you figure out how to make decisions from there to get back to running as quickly as possible.

Go to https://www.docontherun.com/fasttrack/ and grab your seat now. I’ll see you in the training.