Today on the Doc on the Run podcast, we’re talking about whether or not you should run on a treadmill when you’re recovering from a stress fracture.
Today I was doing a webinar entitled, “Am I Ready to Run?” And the whole point of the webinar was to help runners like you figure out when you have an injury, what you should do in each of these phases of transition: when you think you have stopped recovering, when you feel like you’re already recovered and you think you’re done healing, and you think you’re ready to run, and then you’re going to start running outside.
What do you do? How do you make sure you don’t get re-injured? How do you make sure you don’t exacerbate the injury and prevent it from healing further? How do you make sure you don’t get a different injury because you’re compensating? How do you test those things and figure it out? Well, that’s what I was talking about during the live webinar.
But at the end of the session, one of the attendees, Gordon, actually asked a question and he said, “Should I run on a treadmill if I have a stress fracture and I’m recovering from a stress fracture?” Because he’s concerned that he’s heard that the stress fractures can be exacerbated or even caused by running on treadmills because you have this same repetitive force that happens over and over and over.
What I thought I would do is just give you the answer I gave to Gordon, because, and the reason I’m doing this is that Gordon signed up for the webinar. He was there, he attended, but we went kind of long and he had to get off and actually wrote in the chat box that he had to get off the call because he had something else he had to take care of. Well, I totally understand that, but I do appreciate him being there. I do appreciate all of you who listen. And I just wanted to try to make sure that he got his answer as fully as possible, but also thought it might help you.
Here’s my answer to Gordon’s question as presented during the live web. Well, let’s see, next question was from Gordon. All right. My question is, “Is it okay to run on a treadmill? I’m returning from a stress fracture injury. I read that a treadmill gives the exact same stress with every step versus say a trail, but with COVID-19 and smoke, running outside is a challenge and all that.” Yes. Gordon, that is a great question. Yes, stress fractures, there’s a lot of evidence that treadmills cause the same repetitive stress in the same way. That is definitely true.
However, it’s true, like in California, if you have a treadmill, that’s a lot better than not running at all. Right now there are lots of fires. I did not run at all the last several days because there’s been fires and it’s not good for you to run in the smoke. I don’t. I really want to. I almost ran yesterday because the air was a little better, but I thought this is still a stupid thing to do. I try my best to not do stupid things, right? Yes, it is true that running on a treadmill is worse, but what are you going to do?