Tuesday, April 18, 2017

4 Don'ts and Dos for Injured Runners

Been there, run that. I'm the runner who ran a race on a broken toe. I'm the runner who bought herself a road bike and road tested it wearing the boot. I'm the runner who trained for and ran a marathon while battling plantar fasciitis--with my doctor's approval, of course.

We've all got stories. While researching this post, I found multiple stories of runners "pushing their limits", including this story about a runner who was planning to crutch walk the Boston Marathon. I get it. He's injured and can't run. But come on man! These articles portray the runners who do these things as heroes. I'm thinking that this act of bravery could lead to new injuries, including nerve damage to the upper extremities. Brave or foolish? Not to say that any of us wouldn't consider said act of bravery. It is Boston after all!

I also read a race recap where the runner actually walked a half marathon--wait for it, it was the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon--wearing a boot. Foolish? Risky? I've been in a boot and all I can say is wearing it threw off my entire gait. I would imagine there's a huge risk of injury to the unaffected extremity. The author even commented in the post that she regretted her decision to bootwalk the race. But if you are interested in trying this, she has some suggestions how to best attempt this.

Common sense tells us that sometimes, as runners, we have to give ourselves a break. But all runners know that common sense isn't always common when it comes to race day decisions. There's no glory in being sidelined. An injured runner may be longing to participate in an event he trained for. Is the price to pay--more time off the road, medical bills, and worse--worth it?



What are the top 4 things injured runners shouldn't do? 

1. Injured runners shouldn't run.
Every time I've been injured, my body has sent off warning signs, like flares at an accident scene. Do you choose to ignore the red flags? I'll spare you the "it's just a flesh wound" meme from Monty Python's The Holy Grail. Interestingly, my RA was diagnosed last fall based on a Baker's cyst that popped up behind my left knee (it's still there). Somewhere deep in my subconscious, I must have known that cyst was a bad thing because I chose to ignore it until after my #holottafun girls weekend and Panama City Beach half marathon. Denial is a powerful thing because one week later, everything changed.



2. Injured runners shouldn't Google their symptoms and make a diagnosis.
There are several problems with Googling your symptoms. First, there is there is so much more to medicine than looking up symptoms and making a diagnosis. That's why medical professionals go to school for years before becoming qualified to see patients. The information you find on Google could be inaccurate--imagine that? Or the information you find could send you down the wrong pathway. If you walk into your doctor's office and tell them what's wrong with you, and you are wrong, it could skew their diagnosis and testing in the wrong direction as well.

A word of caution: Be very careful making your own diagnosis.



3. Injured runners should not post symptoms on Facebook and ask for advice. 
I see this every day, multiple times per day. And it makes me cringe every damn time. Sometimes it's the questions that make go hmmm. Other times, the answers are so out there that I am stunned into silence.

Here's an example that I saw yesterday while preparing this post:
"I have this weird pinch in my lower back around the tail bone. Pain shoots down my right leg when I bend over or start to sit. It started while making German cheesecake yesterday so it's not like I was doing that would've done anything to my back.
Has this happened to anyone before? Any recommended stretches to counteract the pain?
Seems legit.
This is real and it's spectacular. I can't don't have to make this stuff up.

4. Injured runners should not complain to non-runners that they can't run. If you do, be prepared for lots of eye rolling and comments about how running ruins your knees. "Running is bad for you," one of my physician partners once told me.

What's an injured runner to do?

1. Go to a reputable physician (sports medicine is great) and find out what's really wrong with you. I love my sports medicine physician. I would have sat out Big Sur if she had told me to (thankfully she didn't) and I would have walked on hot coals if she thought it would have helped.


2. Acknowledge your feelings, work through your grief, and use all that mental toughness you've honed through your years of running to turn your head around. You will get better and you will get back on the road. Stay positive. Read this.


3. Cross train appropriately. Don't overdo your rehab and risk injuring something else. When I couldn't run to train for Big Sur, I took it to the pool and did pool running aka aqua jogging. While pool running is zero impact, the movements mimic running. One benefit of pool running that I didn't expect is when I got back on the road, my stride was lighter, and guess what? My PF went away.

4. Learn from your injury. Was it an overuse injury? How can you prevent it from happening in the future? My nemesis is plantar fasciitis. I've had PF on and off for years. Is it because I'm a heel striker? More likely. I'm not going to do much about how I land but with my CrossFit Coach, we work on a lot of posterior chain activities to help prevent me from coming down so hard on my heels. My sports medicine physician put me in soft orthotics, which support my arches but don't increase the impact as I land on the ground. I've also had success with making wise shoe choices both on and off the road. No more kitten heels for me--not that I ever was a high heels kind of gal anyways!

Recently, I was sent a pair of The Healing Sole Plantar Fasciitis Flip Flops to try and review. These flip flops were designed by an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle surgery. She found that after 4-6 weeks of use, 80% of patients reported improvement in pain and function and 94% said they would recommend the flip flops to a friend. I'm recommending them to you.


Since receiving the flip flops a few weeks ago, I've been wearing them non-stop. At first glance, the flip flops looked like another pair of black flip flops that I own and love. I slipped the Healing Soles on and the first thing I noticed was the arch support. The soft soles cradle the bottoms of my feet but the arch supports make my feet feel secure. It took a little getting used to the rocker bottom soles, but the flip flops were designed that way to take the tension off your arches as you walk. There are also some built-in supports that you can't see to help keep your heel in alignment and offload the ball of the foot. I will say that these are the most comfortable flip-flops I have ever worn and after a long run, I slip them on to help my feet recover.

There is a raised toe lift under the big toe that has taken me some time getting used to. My feet and toes are pretty well aligned, but that toe wedge sometimes rubs up against my 2nd toe. It doesn't hurt, it's just something I'm not used to. Since I have arthritis in both my big toe joints, the wedge makes my big toes feel like they are resting on a pillow.


If you are a chronic PF sufferer like I am, these flip flops would be a great tool to add to your PF war chest. I have a discount code for 20% off through April 29. Just use Wendy20 at the checkout.

What advice do you have for injured runners? Ever run through injury? Ever have plantar fasciitis? What works for you? Have you ever asked for injury advice on Facebook? What is the craziest advice you've ever gotten for an injury? 

I'm linking this post with Tuesdays on the Run: Marcia, Erika, and Patti; Coaches' Corner: Debbie, Susie, Lora, and Rachel; and Wild Workout Wednesday: Annemarie, Jen, and Nicole.



Disclaimer: I was sent a pair of Healing Sole Plantar Fasciitis Shoes in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.




83 comments :

  1. Get a body that works. OH WAIT YOU CAN"T TRADE IT IN. (DOH!) There are times when I wish I could trade in my body. it is a lemon. Ah well.
    I've made many a mistake, but my body tends to break hard and fast. I go from 100% ok to NOT and looking back only reveals clues that a freaking genius would be able to fit together. Ah, the life of suz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm running in a lemon as well. Sisters of another mother, apparently.... :p

      Delete
  2. Great info and advice ;-) I have dealt with PF a couple times, and it's an angry demon! I did a marathon with very limited training in the final month due to a sudden PF flare...staying off my feet was tough, but I was able to do the race. Had I persisted in doing the long runs, I probably would have had to take a dreaded DNF

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm so guilty of "running through an injury". Hence how I ended up with my back thrown out! But, now I've learned my lesson. And if I'm just totally dragging for a few days, I now try to take a day off and throw in some gentle yoga. Just trying to listen to my body more.

    PF isn't one of my issues (mine is right hip and lower back), but those flops look awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm amazed at how well these flip flops work and wish I'd had them last year!

      Delete
  4. If I had a nickel for every medical professional who has told me to stop running I'd be off on a yacht somewhere. I'm a muscle strain kind of girl with ITB and hamstring issues being my main demons. A friend of mine walked Boston yesterday after rupturing his achilles. Another friend walked Boston last year with stress fractures. These are people who have the ability to run it every year too. That I don't get.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand not wanting to DNS Boston. But where do you draw the line?

      Delete
  5. Google can be my best friend and worst enemy, lol. I've learned to not go to google to "self-diagnose" injuries.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wendy, your tootsies look super cute in the flops. My hope is that you have many more years of running and loving it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love them! Thank you so much for the opportunity to try them out! Between the flip flops and my soft orthotics, I've got PF covered.

      Delete
  7. The flip flops look cool! Having the right footwear is definitely huge when it comes to avoiding injury. I totally agree - polling FB about injuries is not a good move and I see it often as well! I go to my doctor as soon as I can when something doesn't feel right...better safe than sorry!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The best advice I can give runners is to find a physician or NP who works with athletes so that you get the best guidance possible!

      Delete
  8. Guilty as charged. of course, I've run a race with an injury - stress fracture, broken foot. And I'm the queen of googling. I've never had PF knock on wood. The best advice is have a positive attitude. And only chat to your running friends. they understand because we've all been there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. We sure do need our support system!

      Delete
  9. Injury is such a nasty word in running planet! Why are we so stubborn?

    However, I have had other non-runners tell me they stopped running after injuries, and when I asked what those injuries were, she said blisters .... I stopped listening and thought "Why would anybody stop running because of blisters", then realized that not everybody has my enjoyment of pain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't even consider blisters an injury. Clearly our perception is different.

      Delete
  10. You are strong and determined, I'm sure you will overcome the struggle.

    Tears are so therapeutic! I cried on my way home the other day, out of pure frustration with the father of my child. It helped me feel better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, but there were a lot of tears last week. It's exhausting!

      Delete
  11. Those flip flops look very comfy. I am in need of some comfy ones that have some support. Some of my runner friends have been injured and they go to Doctors that are runner's themselves because they are very familiar with their lifestyle and can relate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have to find a provider who "gets it"!

      Delete
  12. I definitely ran, then walked through my ITBS. Now I'm on year 4 of the battle, and know it's my fault. I was pushing during my 2013 half to get a good time for corral placements at Disney World, and didn't stop and walk when I should've. My leg blew up in the last 5k.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of my partners has chronic ITBS and she struggles to run or bike. That has to be one of the worst injuries.

      Delete
  13. Oh yes to all of those don'ts, although I'm pretty sure I've done them all! It's just too tempting to google and diagnose yourself. Every time!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Guilty! Although I've Googled a lot more about menopause than running injuries in the past couple years. My husband has had some spectacular bike crashes and our inactive friends are quick to question when I'm going to stop him from riding. Not gonna happen, honey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I won't even cross over to the dark side and talk about menopause! It's really the perfect storm over here right now.

      Delete
  15. I've been wearing Vionic flip flops (formerly Orthaheel brand) for years and the arch support helps with my PF, but I'm intrigued by these flip flops. Right now the "shop" portion appears to be broken, but I can get to the sizing page, which is interesting - what shoe size do you normally wear and what size flipflop did you get?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wear a size 8 1/2 running shoe and they sent me size 9 flip flops. You could ask them about sizing. I'll let them know the site isn't working.

      Delete
  16. I'm with you and Suz...a total lemon here. I've bad knees and ankles since I started running back in junior high school. But I just have learned to tweak what I need to in order to keep running. I just wish I could find my motivation!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet some strength training would fix you right up! Make those lemons into lemonade!

      Delete
  17. Well I have the whole floppy toe story and I am glad you found some new sandals to try. I think regardless it is better to keep sandals on my feet instead of going barefoot. Otherwise injury free so far! I think it helps too that I don't move that fast! LOL! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Even though I don't have PF I wonder if these flip flops would be a good option for me. I know I really shouldn't be wearing flip flops at all, but I think supportive ones would be ok as long as I don't do alot of walking. I totally hear you on the google thing. I just can't help it! Somehow I think that learning as much as I can will help me figure it all out. But I do listen to the professionals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think any supportive shoes are a good thing! I'm super picky about my shoes now. I think flip flops are ok, as long as they are supportive. I also like my Oofos.

      Delete
  19. Non-runners are so unsympathetic! LOL.

    Great post, Wendy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I won't even tell you what my non-runner sister and mom said to me at Easter. Let's just say I had to shut them down.

      Delete
  20. Isn't it so annoying how when you're finally diagnosed with something you can pick apart allllll the red flags and precursors? It's one thing that really gets me. Why couldn't I have said information while it was happening? Why did I have to connect the dots AFTER the fact? #ugh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What's that saying? Hindsight is 20:20?

      Delete
  21. The worst is when everyone gives you advice -- and you haven't asked for it. Everyone's a dr these days.

    But I also think that people often enable other people. Sure, it's okay to run that half even though you've only been running 2 x week and your longest run was only 7 miles. You can do it! You can just walk it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bottom line, you have to make your own decision and not let anyone influence you.

      Delete
  22. Replies
    1. You'll only find the worst results on Google!

      Delete
  23. Sharing but had to tell you here to that all of these have been my experience with my sister. She's a kick ass runner. But she googles and keeps running and avoids her feelings…
    Aside :-) I can share that here because I've already told her :-)
    On top of all of that this post applies to most everything in life even beyond running <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think your sister is pretty typical of most runners! People do what they want to do...

      Delete
  24. OMG this is me injured! lol!
    I still have some lingering PF-- I am totally going to check out these flip flops now!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I still have some lingering PF flare ups from time to time. I really have no idea at all what to do to keep it from coming back. As you know, you can be doing everything right and it just pops back up! Uhg. I have not seen that brand of flip flops I have been wearing my Birkensocks a lot lately.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love my Birkenstocks but I'm not so sure how much they help my PF since the sole is so hard!

      Delete
  26. Injured runners shouldn't run! YES!!! I have run through an injury until it completely took me out. Now I am the queen of unsolicited advice about my injury. HOWEVER I will ask "Do you want some unsolicited advice?" and if they say yes I blather on, if they say no I say "OK" and honor that request. So maybe it's not completely unsolicited. I am very careful with my hip now and do my cross training and when it's the teensiest bit ouchy I ice and take it easy for a couple days then get back at it. Oh and I may mention it in my blog, mostly putting notes on my training log to see if I can see a pattern and not rely on memory for when I last felt 'the pain'.

    I loathe the people on FB complaining about their injury and going into details and then continuing to do exactly what they should not be doing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just don't give advice. I've got a license to protect... :p

      Delete
  27. I ran through a stress fracture and now I'm spending a lot of $$$ on PT, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage to fix this chronic ITB inflammation. Arggg. It sucks.
    I do look at google a lot. I think it helps me ask more informed questions when I go see my Sports Med doc.
    Here's hoping u get run Grandma's and I get to run my race in May. 🍷🍷

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you get to run your race in May. Grandma's isn't looking good...

      Delete
  28. Great tips! Especially the Google one. I know I am so bad for that. Going to the doc is best and taking it easy not to make it any worse!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's important to have a doctor or provider you can trust!

      Delete
  29. AH yes. Dr. Googgle... so hard to stay away. Those flip flops sound terrific!

    ReplyDelete
  30. DO NOT GOOGLE YOUR SYMPTOMS. That one is key! I freaked myself out when I did that. haha Live and learn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! You are so right! And I have lots of stories I could share over drinks about stuff people have come into the clinic with thanks to Google...

      Delete
  31. I saw that crowd sourcing post. I rolled my eyes pretty hard too. I'm not sure whether it's because I'm older (and maybe a little wiser), or have been running so long, but I have figured out the difference between an injury you can run through (PF, mild strains) and those you just need to use your brains and sit down and recover (stress fractures, torn ligaments or surgically repaired knees).

    I think what really drives me crazy is when these people act so stupidly and risk their health, they proudly post it on social media, and their followers are all like "you're such a hero!" "you're so brave!" No, you are just an idiot.

    I have had PF off and on for years. Right now I just have a little awareness of it when I get up in the morning. It hasn't gotten worse, and it disappears within minutes, so I feel like it's under control. Ironically, it improved once I got away from the arch supports and motion control shoes. Now I wear a cushioned shoe that has worked well for me for about five years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is definitely the downside of social media. I'm really judicious about what I post there.

      Delete
  32. I wonder what percentage of runners run through an injury?.. I've done it as well. And yes I've googled my symptoms too just to see what it could possibly be. But I don't tell the doctor what I think the diagnosis is.
    I've had issues with PF in the past and even purchased sandals specifically designed for PF. Fortunately I haven't experienced any flare-ups lately and hope it stays that way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it depends on the injury--PF, you can pretty much run on without worry of further injury. I think it's important to support the feet and try to cut it off as early as possible.

      Delete
  33. Oops, I tried posting don't know what happened....so again...:)
    Great post!! I do google my symptoms and even self diagnose but when I go to the Dr, I only give them symptoms. I think once you plant the diagnostic seed, they just go with it sometimes.
    I tried running through an injury while training for NYC Marathon in 2015. But realized that I could really hurt myself and not only not run the marathon, but never run again so that was the end of that. Fortunately, NYC allows you to defer, so it worked out. Love reading your posts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, Grandma's doesn't let you defer, so it's a big decision for me. I'm pretty sure which way I'm going to go. But hang on for that one!

      Delete
  34. The internet is definitely not the place to turn to when you're injured and trying to figure out what's going on with your body. Seeing a doctor is definitely the best option for not only a diagnosis but also a treatment and recovery plan.

    Unfortunately, I sprained my right ankle far too many times as a child and a teenager, and despite physical therapy, it remains weak. I hate that I have to wear an ankle brace whenever I run, but its the best option for me. Others have tried to make other suggestions for me, but I'll stick with my own doctor's recommendations, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always tell my patients with ankle injuries that a sprain can be worse than a break. Once you hurt those ligaments, they don't usually go back to normal.

      Delete
  35. I'm so sorry about your RA. :( Tuesday I noticed my left shin was tight during my run and sore after. I've iced two nights now and taking another day off. I'm sick about the possibilities. It's so hard NOT to be an internet doctor. I've had absolutely no indications of injury or pain during training until right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You will be fine. Rest and stretch. And stay off the internet!

      Delete
  36. Totally agree you shouldn't self diagnose. I still do it but then I go to my physiotherapist and I'm always wrong! ha ha
    I totally cringe when I see people walking marathons in injuries, just don't. Stop when your body needs the rest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm the worst at this, so when I stop, you know it's real.

      Delete
  37. Dr Google is the downfall of so many.

    I've had PF, and it's a beast. I have found that regular rolling, stretching and icing helps keep it away, and if it flares, I keep up all of the above. I've also found success using Superfeet adaptive orthotics in my running shoes.

    I have "run" with an injury. I don't really count the PF, but last year, I tweaked my hip flexor and I had a few really big races, including the Disney Glass Slipper Challenge. With no refunds and no deferrals, it would have been a pretty costly DNS, so I figured I would just go for it and walk as needed. I don't regret it, exactly, but it probably wasn't my smartest decision.

    And I have asked for advice on FB from time to time. It never replaced actual medical advice, but sometimes, it was helpful to get ideas for different cross training workouts or ways to help relieve pain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally hear you on your race--I did run Big Sur, after all!

      Delete
  38. Walking a marathon with a boot? Are you kidding me? That is insane and horrible advice. I know I am completely addicted to running and racing but even I know when to cry uncle. I think all the advice you gave was spot on. Injuries happen for a reason and if you don't take the time to understand that and rehab properly, you won't be running for long.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess we all have to ask ourselves: is the short term gain worth the long term impact?

      Delete
  39. Great advice Wendy! I've been struggling with my current injury - it is so hard to let go of a goal race, but ultimately not worth causing a longer term issue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel you on that race issue. I'm hanging by a thread on the marathon plan...

      Delete
  40. This post is awesome! RUNNER's are insane and do dumb stuff when they are injured, I have been there and done that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's hard to keep a runner down!

      Delete
    2. Okay, that makes me feel better because I was having some serious regret there. But I did add a huge ETA at the beginning of my post! ;)

      Delete
  41. Yep, that was me who walked the W&D in a boot which I still regret, but I had hoped others would view that post not as encouragement to do the same, but in a "if you're going to be stubborn like I was, at least follow these tips to survive" kind of way. In hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have written it and it might be best to take it down, but I was just being honest about how I felt at the time.

    As for those flip flops, love them! I'm buying the new Hoka Ora recovery slides that have an early-stage meta-rocker system good for metatarsal injuries. Not as attractive, but better than wearing nothing but running shoes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no, I was so glad to find that post! I was looking for examples of the lengths runners go to to avoid DNSing. I hope you recover and are back on the road soon!

      Delete