When can I run if my doctor says don’t run because of an injury? That’s a great question, and that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run Podcast.
This is a question that I get in many different forms all day long. I get them as YouTube comments, I get them in emails, and I get them in the middle of consultations with runners when I’m doing second opinions over webcam. So, when can you run when your doctor says, “Don’t run”?
First of all, I don’t like it when I hear the doctor say, “Don’t run.” What the doctor should say is, “Let’s figure out how you can run.” And if you’re injured, that’s what you should be thinking about too, is not, “When can I run?” but, “How can I work out right now?” And I really do mean right now. Most of the time, when I talk to runners, I get them working out that day or within the next couple of days after some very simple testing that they do.
So, when you can actually run safely, if your doctor says, “You can’t run” is based on a couple of things. The first thing is you got to think about this, why did your doctor say, “Don’t run”? Is it because they think you’re just going to be unrestrained and you’re going to do something really stupid and break the bone, tear the tendon, rip the ligament, or whatever? Why did they tell you not to run?
The next thing you have to think about is how weak is that tissue that’s injured. If you just broke the bone, it’s very easy to move it out of place. As it starts to heal and become more stable, it takes a little more force to move it out of place. As it gets to where it’s almost completely healed, it’s almost full strength. At that point, unless you do something really crazy, there’s probably very little risk for you running on it. But you have to think about the variables.
You also have to think about how you can decrease the stress or strain applied to that particular piece of tissue when it’s injured if you’re going to run on it. So, if you hurt your foot, as a really simple example, if you step on a piece of glass or you twist your ankle or anything like that, you’ll limp. Why do you limp? Because when you do, you decrease the stress and strain on that injured part by spending less time on it.
When you look at somebody limping, they are literally spending a shorter amount of time on the injured foot versus the non-injured foot. So, you have to figure out some strategies to reduce the stress and strain on that injured tissue if you want to run sooner. How can you do that? A couple of things.
Let’s take, for example, it’s a plantar plate injury. You have an injury to a very small ligament at the bottom of the second toe. What could you do? You could brace it. You could basically put something on there that’s going to reinforce and protect that thing. You can tape it to pull down on the toe and take some of the stretch away from the plantar plate ligament, or you could do some things to speed up the healing of the tissue.
Your nutrition could matter. The things that you’re doing to actually decrease the blood flow through there could matter. If you had a stress fracture and used a bone stimulator, that would probably speed up the healing as well. But you’ve got to think about all of the different pieces that go into protecting that tissue so that it can heal, so that you can run sooner rather than later.
If you want to check out something I made for you that could help you figure out that process all on your own, no matter what your injury is, really and truly, it’s the Injured Runners Roadmap, and you can get it for free at docontherun.com/roadmap.
When you go through it, it’s literally just the step-by-step process that I take every runner through when we do a second opinion call or they do the fast track challenge or need a house call where I see them in person, I do the exact same thing. So, I’m helping you try to figure out, no matter what the injury is, what can you do to protect that healing tissue while you maintain your running fitness and this is the roadmap to do it. So go get it and I’ll see you there.