Bed rest is like chemotherapy for runners, and that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run Podcast.
One of the most powerful ways to reduce stress and strain from any piece of injured tissue is to get completely off of your feet and bedrest is actually one of the things that can do that.
I wrote the foreword for a book called “The Bed Rest Survival Guide” and in that book, the author goes into great detail about how you actually survive bed rest, and she was put on bed rest, and she understands it because she broke both heel bones and every runner that’s like their worst nightmare, because we know that when you sit still and you don’t move anything because you’re on bed rest, like really, really strict rest, well, you’re going to get weaker, you’re going to get stiffer, and it’s going to be very difficult to get back to the same level of running activity later.
I was talking with a runner recently who she actually asked me during the call, should I just do bed rest and I literally said bed rest is like chemo for runners. With chemotherapy, we’re basically giving you something that’s so powerful, we’re just trying to figure out, is it going to kill the tumor first, or is it going to kill the patient first.
If you’re going to die of cancer that’s reasonable to try that, but when you’re a runner who really wants to continue to do marathons or ultra marathons or regular competitions of triathlons, whatever, you really cannot afford to kill all of your fitness it just takes too long to get it back. And depending upon how old you are, it might be extremely difficult, if not impossible to actually get back to your prior level of competition, if you’ve been on strict bed rest and abandon all physical activity for a significant period of time.
So, if a doctor tells you that you need bed rest, you really have to figure out, is really strict bed rest necessary or is it really that you just have to be diligent about not using that extremity for some period of time, maybe with crutches, maybe with a knee walker, maybe with something else, but even if you’re on bed rest, you have to think about what you can do to maintain any level of physical activity and physical fitness that could support your running activities later. That’s really the crucial piece.
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