The best protocol for injured runners is a customized recovery plan and that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run podcast.
The best protocol for injured runners really and truly is a customized recovery plan.
I was just giving a talk recently at the International Foot & Ankle Foundation, where I was talking about protocols that I use with injured runners to help them get back to activity after common foot and ankle injuries that happen to runners, just normal overtraining injuries. The thing is, and what I was telling them is there are a few things that I use as protocols, how to get people off of crutches, process I use to help them decide when they’re going to get back to running. Those things are protocols, but they’re also very customized.
When I say my protocol or a doctor says my protocol for a stress fracture is six weeks in a boot or two weeks on crutches and six weeks in a boot or something, that is their protocol and that is a cookie-cutter treatment plan. When hen I had a standard practice, I had the exact same thing. In fact, I have a whole book, a three-ring binder of all of these protocols for different conditions, where the staff was supposed to get all the instructions, all of the instruments, all of the things like fracture, walking boots, or corticosteroid injections, or whatever I was going to use for that condition. With that protocol, they were supposed to get it in the treatment room with you before I even walked into the room. So in many ways, those decisions are made before you even show up and see the doctor. But what you really need is a customized treatment plan.
The treatment plan for training for a marathon, for somebody like Kara Goucher, who has really been one of the most incredible figures in American sports, well, the way that Kara Goucher trained, her plan would never work for me. I’d break in half if I did that for a week.
So, you have to think about the ways that where you are in your recovery and the things that you can do and the things that are going to work for you, given your particular place in recovery. You have to really constantly update, constantly re-evaluate, constantly look what’s going on with you, with your foot, with your fitness, and you have to adjust your plan based on your rate of healing.
The goal with any protocol, whether it’s a standardized cookie-cutter treatment plan from some doc in the box, or if it’s a thing that I created with you or a thing you created on your own going through these 12 steps framework that I give to you, well, it really relies on you figuring out how bad it is, figuring out how to take the stress and strain off of it, experimenting with some activities and then as you heal, rather than just waiting for some time, like four weeks or six weeks or eight weeks or 12 weeks, as it increases the strength in the tissue, you make adjustments in your activity level based on your symptoms going down, based on the strength in that tissue by your own self-exam, or if I was talking to you every day, or you’re in the runner’s aid station, where I talk to you three times a week on webcam, well, in that case, we would do it together. But we’re always talking about what did it feel like? What does it feel like now? What can you do now that increases your activity level, so you maintain your running fitness and get back to running faster? That’s what you got to do.
Whether you do it with me, whether you do it with your own doctor, or you do it all on your own, you have got to figure out how to make those assessments and adjust accordingly. Otherwise, you’re just going to lose all your running fitness. And that is never going to help you get back to running any faster. So, if you want to check out that 12 steps framework, again, just go to docontherun.com/12steps, and you can get it there. So, go check it out. I’ll see you in the training.