Today on the Doc On The Run podcast, we’re talking about finding your number one missing piece in your running injury recovery.
Think about what happens when you start running. You decide you want to run. That’s the first step. You make a decision, then you go out and you actually run. Then you realize it’s really hard to run. So you run a little bit. Maybe you walk a little, run a little, you alternate, then you run more than you walk and then eventually you’re really running.
Then what do you do? You start adding some things to supplement your running training. You start stretching. You start maybe learning about nutrition. You modify your diet a little bit. You start paying more attention to your hydration when you’re running. You start doing a recovery smoothie after you run. You start sleeping better.
You start really paying more to maybe your nutrition and you’re fueling during your runs. You start working on your running form, maybe hire a coach, maybe do a little speed work, doing some strength training to supplement your running fitness. Then you even start working on your pacing strategies for your races.
These are all things that are important pieces, but thinking about your pacing strategy when you haven’t even started running is a really bad idea. It’s not going to be very helpful. So it doesn’t matter what you think about pacing if you can’t actually run the whole distance.
I talk to runners all the time on webcam consultations, in the runners’ aid station, where they call me and they just ask questions, and what I see over and over is that people are always looking for the idea of like they’re not really a runner, but they’re thinking about pacing strategies, or they’re just thinking about a hope that there’s going to be one treatment, one pill, one thing that’s going to help them. “Should I take ibuprofen?” Well, I don’t know. What is your goal? Do you just want the pain to feel less obvious when you run but not really treat the injury? That’d be one way to do it. It’s not a great plan, but that is a way.
I get questions like, “Should I take collagen?” Maybe, if you need collagen supplementation and if it’s going to actually help your ligament heal or boost the process and the stress fracture healing at the beginning. Do you need vitamin D? Maybe, if you have a vitamin D issue or you’re trying to heal something that requires vitamin D to heal it. But there are lots of pieces. The way that you sleep matters, the amount of protein that you’re taking in typically matters. The stretching that you’re doing to actually loosen up the structures around the injury, that can be very helpful.
Meditation can be helpful to reduce your overall stress. Neuromuscular retraining can help you really get the muscles firing in a more coordinated way to protect you better as you’re returning to running, so that you’re putting less stress and strain on the injured tissue. The balance that you have, the balanced training that you do that actually lets you maintain more stability so you don’t wobble and load things asymmetrically really matters. The muscle strengthening that you’re doing, the things that you do to strengthen the muscles around that injured part to better support it so it’s less likely to get overstressed and re-injured actually matters.
Visualizing the tissue healing can really be helpful to actually boosting your body’s ability to mobilize the materials and the building blocks to actually get that tissue to repair. Those things all matter, and a lot of people really want to know about those things. They want to know about visualization. So they’ll ask me questions on runner aid station about that, or about specific ways to boost their protein.
But you have to think about what is your number one missing piece. Maybe you have all the pieces in a row. You’ve done all the stuff that you can do to take the stress and strain off the tissue. Maybe you’re doing all the stuff that you really need to do to modify your nutrition in a way that will actually optimize your healing. Maybe you’re really paying attention to your sleep.
But maybe you’re missing the one big missing piece, and maybe that is something like trying to better offload the stress fracture so that you’re not beating it up so much when you run. Maybe you need to decrease some of the strain on the Achilles tendon. Maybe you need to lower the tension on the plantar plate ligament. Maybe you have to just position your foot a little bit differently when you’re running so that there is actually less load on the plantar fascia, if that’s what’s been injured.
You really have to try to identify the big missing piece. If you go back to that running analogy and you think about this, okay, if you’re running and you’re stretching and you modify your diet and all that, well, what are you going to do next? What is the next piece that’s actually going to make the biggest boost in your strength?
That’s really the same process that we’re talking about. So you have to really think about the things that your doctor has told you to do, the things that you know are going to actually help you recover faster, and then figure out what is the next most important thing you can do right now to make sure that it’s starting to heal, you’re starting to recover, and you’re getting back on track as fast as possible.
One of the ways you can do that is you can check out the 12 steps presentation I put together for you. What it is is it’s basically the 12 steps to running injury recovery that I work through with you. If you call me for a consultation, a second opinion, or a webcam visit, it’s the way that I think about injuries and what you have to do stepwise right from the beginning to really get back to running as quickly as possible. You can go to docontherun.com/12steps, and you can sign up there. I’ll see you in the training.