Can I run if my fracture’s not yet healed on the x-ray? Well, that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run Podcast.
I was just doing a call with someone who’s a runner who actually is running before his fracture was healed on the x-ray. This is something that happens quite often where you go to the doctor, you have a stress fracture, maybe your doctor doesn’t even see a crack on the x-ray, but tells you you have a stress fracture, even though there’s no crack and you get confused, you wonder why you have to stop running, you wonder after you why you have to wait for an x-ray.
And if you have a fracture where there is a crack, you understand that it’s broken, but it seems crazy that you go in to see the doctor, they think you’ll be healed in four weeks or six or weeks, and when you get that x-ray, it’s not completely healed on the x-ray. So what do they tell you to do? “No running. Nothing. Don’t do anything. Sit around. Just wait, come back in a couple of weeks, we’ll do another x-ray and then we’ll see if it’s okay to clear you to run.” I get this question all the time, and I schedule oftentimes these calls where I talk to runners every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, who are in this exact same situation where we do these calls, they’re short calls, but they’re able to get advice and direction on what to do to maintain their fitness and actually start running, start moving, start doing stuff while waiting for that x-ray so that they don’t just lose all running fitness and that’s the really crucial piece.
Whether or not you can run on your foot before that thing actually shows that it’s completely healed on the x-ray, depends on a couple of things. Number one, what your goals are. If you really need to maintain your running fitness, you probably have to do some stuff that normal people are not going to do so you can maintain your running fitness while you actually continue to heal the fracture. That’s the first thing.
The other thing, it depends on how much it hurts, how much pain. So the pain is usually indicating whether you’ve got some healing or lack of healing happening. The way I think about it is that if you still have pain at the fracture site, well, it’s still an active fracture site. And obviously if it hurts when you touch it, when you push it, when you just wiggle your it, well, obviously you shouldn’t run on it. That’s one of the first things we talk about is how much actual pain do you have? And more important, what it shows on the x-rays is how much pain you have and what you’ve been doing because the stuff that you do in your recovery will affect the pace of your recovery. Just like the stuff that you do in your training will affect the pace of your training and the speed at which you actually get stronger and faster.
It also depends on how much you’ve actually been monitoring as you go through the recovery and you start to ramp up your fitness. This is why I think it’s so helpful for people to schedule a month of visits, where they’re actually doing stuff, they’re monitoring what’s going on. Then we talk about it on a Monday, after the weekend; on Wednesday, in the middle of the week; and on Friday, before the weekend. That way you don’t get too far off track, and you don’t have to talk to me, but you’ve got to track all of the stuff that indicates that you’re getting better to determine what you can do so you can keep adding more and more activity, more and more running as you go through the recovery process. That’s really essential.
You got to think about what works in your training. You need to apply that same stuff to your healing and sitting around doing nothing never, ever makes you stronger in training. You’ve got to really think about what you’ve got to do. If your doctor says you have to wait for an x-ray, well, that’s one opinion. You can get another opinion and I do second opinions all day long for people that have these exact issues.
But you have to just think about it in terms of what’s logical. Is it really logical that you can’t do anything for a whole month? Is it really logical that you can’t do anything for another two weeks just because it looks like it’s not completely healed on the x-ray yet when you have no pain at all? It just doesn’t make sense.
If you’re confused, try to do something, try to do something to make the tissue stronger, try to do something to test it out in a way that’s safe with the guidance from somebody who knows what they’re talking about.
If you really want to understand how bad your stress fracture really is, you have to understand the different forms of stress fractures. And this is something to teach to you in the Stress Fracture Masterclass. It’s free, you can go sign up, it’s at docontherun.com/stressfracturemasterclass, all one word. And in this session, I’m going to teach you the differences between stress response, stress reaction, and stress fractures, and what all of those different stages really mean to a recovering runner who wants to run and maintain your running fitness while recovering. So just go to docontherun.com/stressfracturemasterclass and sign up now.