What is the single most effective but most often neglected tool injured runners can use to get back to running sooner? Well, that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run Podcast.
Pretty much every runner who calls me for a consultation or every runner who signs up for the fast track challenge, they all have one thing in common. The number one question and the number one thing they want to get out of their discussion with me is “How can I start running sooner? I don’t want to wait six weeks. I don’t want to wait three months. I want to get back to running so I don’t lose all my running fitness. Can I start running now?”
Well, that’s a great question and what happens most of the time is that runners call me and they actually say, “I think I need to get an MRI so that I can figure out if I can run. I want to get my next X-ray so that I can figure out if I can run” and that’s not really the way it works.
I have to tell you that the most effective tool that you can use as an injured runner is detailed tracking of changes in your symptoms, mainly your pain. If you have bruising and swelling going on, you probably have a bigger problem but when things are calming down, you need to get your fitness back and you haven’t yet felt like it’s okay for you to run. And you’re trying to sort out can you run, it’s really changes in your symptoms and your pain.
I believe this is way more important than an MRI in the overwhelming majority of cases. It is more important than X-rays and the overwhelming majority in cases and it is definitely more important than some prognosis given to you by a doctor based on an arbitrary grading scale of your injury.
The way that this works is you actually figure out when you first get injured, how much it hurts really on a scale of one to 10. How much it hurts at key times and then basically as you go through the process of recovery, when you when you’re paying goes down, you know the tissues more stable and it’s starting to improve. So, you’re basically taking the changes in your pain to determine, is it okay for you to start exercising, is it okay for you to add more exercises and have you done just a little bit too much and you need to ramp back.
So, if you have an injury and you don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t know if you can run, you don’t know if you’re doing too much and making it worse, start tracking your pain. This is the thing I talk about in depth in the runner’s rapid recovery journal. It’s really inexpensive. You can get it online. It’s got a copy of a pain journal that’s already made for you in there. But you’ve got to start tracking your pain and it blows me away when people call me. Their training, their foot hurts a little bit, they don’t know if they’re doing too much and I’ll ask them their pace, they know what their pace is, I ask them what their heart rate was, their average heart rate during their last run. They know what that is, no idea what their pain is. So, this is information that you can use later. But if you’re not tracking it, you’re missing it and you’re losing it because you can’t go back and figure out what it was later.
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