I haven't ran in over a year. I'm not an avid runner and I don't like running competitively. To me running is a time to be outside, move my body and clear my mind.
Last August my foot started hurting when I ran. I don't know why. I don't remember injuring it, but it started hurting. The physical therapist side of me said I needed to stop running and let it heal. The side of me that wants to be fit and in shape had a hard time with that, but I eventually listened.
I never thought it would be an entire year before I ran again.
During that time I worked on my ankle strength and stability. I worked on my glute and hip strength and stability. I compared my left sided strength to my right side and no matter how hard I worked my left side never equaled my right in strength and stability.
Here is one exercise I worked on often. You can see I am not good at it on either leg in this video!
Here is the same exercise a few weeks later. I got a little better at it!
Being a physical therapist this really bothered me. No matter how often I exercised for rehabilitation of that ankle specifically it just didn't get better. So I did not run for an entire year, but I did other forms of exercise. I swam, surfed, lifted weights, did the elliptical, did the rowing machine and played volleyball. Sometimes after playing a volleyball game my ankle would be sore, but it would go away by the next day.
The point of this is as an athlete or a person who likes fitness one needs to have many movement options available. I worry about my patients who only do one form of exercise. Eventually that can lead to overuse injuries and then they have nothing else they love to do.
I try to give my patients who have injuries or pain as many possibilities of exercise that are safe for them as possible. I try to minimize the number of activities that I say they cannot do, and usually it is more like don't do that right now while you are healing. I have rarely told someone they can never return to a certain activity that they love, and I think that is an important quality to look for in a physical therapist. Look for someone who will listen to what is wrong with your body at the moment and listen to what you love to do and find as many ways to say yes to movement for you and as few no's as possible. The job of the physical therapist is to get you moving better, so if you go to a PT who tells you not to do anything you probably need to find a new PT ASAP!
Today was my first day of running in over a year. It was slow and short and I was ok with that. I probably only ran 1.5 miles in 20 minutes and then my body started to ache and I stopped. I probably will only run 1-2x/week for a few months and slowly increase my mileage. I enjoyed the late summer morning air and solitude of running in the morning. Then my foot was a little sore and I had to wear tennis shoes to work to have support to my feet.
The moral of the story is listen to your body and give it time to heal. Implement the proper recovery strategies and find the appropriate people to help you along that path. Get rid of the extremists who either tell you not to do any activity or who tell you to push through the pain. Listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs.
It is also important to have a variety of activities you like to do to keep active. That way if one has to be put on hold for a time you will have other options. Again find people who support and respect your healing process and who won't encourage or pressure you to push through the pain or discomfort.
If you need guidance with healing a specific injury reach out and schedule something in person or online with me or your local physical therapist.
Here is the link to another blog I wrote about running injuries if you want more tips on how to prevent or fix your running injury.