So you’ve been given the direction to STOP RUNNING by your Doctor…
Many of us runners have been so frustrated by an injury, we eventually head to the doctor to figure out how to manage this. Or perhaps, you have never had pain/injury and this completely stops you in your tracks with your running. The decision to seek out help in itself is great; however, many times we are told to stop for weeks or even perhaps FOREVER depending on what doctor you see. Now, I must say there are plenty of primary care and orthopedic physicians who run or are encouraging such healthy behavior and will guide you to success. For the sake of this post, what do you do if you get the old-school advice to simply “rest and let it heal”?
More often than not, continuing to run is a valid option and can improve your outcomes when an injury attempts to sideline you. Often, there is a specific “dose” of running tolerated with injury that can help us keep our fitness without prolonging recovery when injured. Some instances do arise such as bone injury or acute sprain/strain and should be followed by appropriate rest for that specific tissue injured. Following up with a physical therapist, particularly one familiar with the art, science and practice of running, is the best bet to decide on how to proceed with injury.
On this same topic of a health practitioner advising a runner to just “rest for 6 weeks”, another thought comes to mind. How often have us runners heard, “running is bad for your knees and hips”! One study comes to mind by Eduard Alentorn-Geli et. al. published in JOSPT describes the relationship between hip and knee osteoarthritis (joint disease/breakdown). The conclusion was clear in this study that recreational running regularly resulted in less instances of osteoarthritis than sedentary behavior. Now I must say that they did find that elite runners did have slightly more osteoarthritis than the other 2 groups. We all know that there are inherent risks with high level activity/training and very few of us reach an internationally competitive level; however, I’d take the potential knee replacement for an olympic qualifying time if it came down to it, but that’s just me!
In conclusion, please consider the possibility of improved results with LESS rest and an active approach to your recovery. Have your cake and eat it too!
Written by Doctor of Physical Therapy, Joey Przybyla.