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?
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.