Treating injuries is fast, but treating runners is slow. That’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run Podcast.
Many years ago when I was first in practice, I actually met someone, who was a doctor, who was a runner herself and she liked to treat runners and she happened to make a lot of money. So I was very impressed with her and I actually flew across the country to spend one day in her office following her around to see exactly what she does to make so much money, because I wanted to know.
Well, when I was in her office, there was one particular visit that really struck me and what it was, was we were going in to see this guy. He was a runner and he was a new patient and as we got there, she looked at the chart and the information that he had filled out that was on a little folder holder on the door, and she looked at it and she said, “Okay, this guy’s a runner. He has plantar fasciitis. I’m going to show you how to treat plantar fasciitis in a runner in under a minute.”
We went in the room and she basically walked in, introduced herself, picked up a sheet of paper that was already in the folder, there was instructions on how to do the stretches and the things that she would generally do for people with plantar fasciitis. And she started talking and she said, “All right, you need to do this. You need to wear these stable shoes. You’re going to do this. You need to wear these inserts, you’re going to pay for them at the front. We’re going to do an injection to calm down the plantar fascia.”
Literally grabbed his foot and without asking him if it was okay, shoved the needle in his foot, did the injection. I saw his eyes bulge when she did that, and she said, “It’s going to feel fine. We’re going to put a Band-Aid on it. That’s going to be it. You can take that Band-Aid off later. Now so and so here’s going to explain all the other instructions to you. My assistant’s going to explain it and then we’ll see you back here in two weeks.” We walked out the door and she spun around and she said, “That is how you treat plantar fasciitis in a runner in under a minute,” very proudly.
The first thing is that, yes, if you have plantar fasciitis, I could tell you what to do in under a minute and that’s not going to address any of your concerns about being a runner. If you had a stress fracture, same thing. Don’t put stress on the bone, let it calm down and heal. See you later. If you had Achilles tendonitis, really simple. Don’t do anything to stress the Achilles tendon. Don’t stretch it. Stop running, do whatever. Leave it alone. It’ll eventually heal. See you later. Now it doesn’t really matter, you can have any injury and doctors can treat it quickly. In fact, I remember when I was in residency, the CEO of one of the large insurance companies in the country said that any doctor should be able to treat any condition in less than seven minutes. Now, that’s absurd.
You can treat injuries really quickly. This is true, but helping runners actually maintain their running fitness, that’s not so easy. And the problem is, is that when you go to the doctor and you’re an injured runner, the question isn’t really how do I heal my stress fracture? Or how do I get my Achilles tendon to calm down? Or what can I do for my plantar fascia? The question is, how do I maintain my running fitness while I heal that stress fracture or that Achilles tendonitis or the plantar fascia? What can I do to make sure that I don’t lose all my running fitness, get stiffer, weaker and everything else? That requires special attention.
So when you’re in that circumstance, you really have two choices. One of them is you can demand that attention from the doctor by stopping her in her tracks when she’s finishing her sentence, like reaching for the doorknob to try to get out of the treatment room as quickly as possible. Or your second option is to try to figure out how you can pay close enough attention to your injury that you can figure out how to maintain your running fitness and ramp up your activities while still letting it heal.
Now, if you want to learn about how to do that, I’ll show you how in the Fast Track presentation that I’ve created for you. You just go to docontherun.com/fasttrack and I’ll walk you through the process of figuring out how it is that you can actually figure out how bad it is, how you can really assess what to do so you can look for those opportunities that you have to take to maintain your running fitness while letting the injury heal. And these are things that doctors are not typically going to explain to you, because they don’t have time. That’s the thing. So go to docontherun.com/fasttrack and I’ll see you in training.