5 Things Runners DON’T want to Hear
It’s a given, a therapist’s hands and the work that the hands perform should be effective in helping injured runners. Over 10 years of consulting injured runners I have come to recognise that not only are the hands important in the care of an injured runner or athlete, but so too is the mouth of the therapist. The power that a therapist’s words contain can in many instances ‘make or break’, or ‘fasten or slow’, an injured runner’s recovery.
My first experience of how a therapist’s words could affect treatment was when I was a teenage triathlete. My therapist (an incredible one) at the time during one consultation casually said ‘you have child bearing hips’. Needless to say as a teenage and image conscious boy I was quite devastated. Women’s hips…what did she mean? I spent the next 6-12 months thinking about my hips self-consciously far more than I should have.
This lesson of the power of words on patients actually has served me well through my physiotherapy career. I have long been very conscious of the phrases, and words I use to coach a patient back to full recovery and beyond.I have long been very conscious of the phrases, and words I use. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
Interestingly on my podcast The Physical Performance Show Australian Running legend Craig Mottram in outlining his recovery from a troublesome and lingering Achilles tendon running injury stated that it was an overseas doctor Hakan Alfredson, who spoke with confidence, and gave Craig reason to believe that he would return to pain free running, when belief was most needed. To listen to Craig tell this story click HERE>>
The top 5
Here’s 5 phrases, and why I don’t think any runner receiving physiotherapy or other allied health or primary care should ever hear:
1. Running isn’t for you
Just listen to how runner’s refer to themselves. They say ‘I’m a runner’. That running is part of a runner’s self-image. They don’t just run, they don’t just do running, they are a runner. Hence when someone such as a medical professional says to a runner, running isn’t for you-they in effect are saying, ‘you need to change who you are’. If you say this to a runner-don’t expect to see them for their next consultation.I’m a runner’. That running is part of a runner’s self-image. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
2. You just need to stop running
I have injured runner’s regularly tell me that a medical professional told them to ‘just stop’. That was their advice to the injured runner. As a therapist who understands the psyche of a runner (see 1 above) learning that his has been espoused as advice, frustrates me. I see this advice as the seemingly ‘easy advice’ to give. It takes the need out of the advice dispensing practitioner needing to develop a wise return to running program, one with graduated loading, and appropriate rest scheduling. Perhaps this is just too hard, and hence why runner’s still get told to ‘just stop’.
3. You have a bad running style
Gait analysis of an injured runner, or runner looking to run at their best is imperative. Running with great technique is actually Step 2 in my ‘You CAN Run Pain Free!’ best-selling book (click HERE>> for more information). However in some instances where language is neglected a therapist can inadvertently do more damage than good. Statements like ‘your style is not great’, ‘that’s terrible’, ‘your hip flexors are shocking’, ‘you’re not using your glutes at all’, ‘your strides are way too long’; can really rattle a runner’s confidence.
Not forgetting that we all feel a little ‘shy’ when it comes to our running style being analysed on video by someone else. The better way to share technique tips that could be improved could be … you have got a nice basis for a running style, however here are some things we need to change to improve your technique and your injury profile…
4. Running will wear out your knees
I have previously blogged around a landmark study* that showed that running can actually be protective against the onset of knee osteoarthritis. The mechanism is simple- it helps us all remain closer to our ideal body frame weight (to learn more about the frame weight concept click HERE>>). I regularly tell clients who ask me if their knees will ‘wear out from running’ that they have much greater likelihood of wearing out their knee joint(s) by becoming overweight through being sedentary than they do through regularly running. Extra frame weight creates extra loading of the knee joints which can in most instances potentiate earlier degenerative changes of the knee joint(s). These changes are even more pronounced in the presence of pre-existing intra-articular knee joint injury.
*To read more about the study and its findings click HERE>>
5. Go for a jog
It’s funny any none runners would not perceive or recognise the difference in the meaning behind going for a jog, and going for a run. To a runner however (even if the speed of the runner is not going to win Olympic Gold or beat Mo Farah) there is a big difference. Running is what gets done in training; irrespective of the speed of the session-it’s a run, not a jog. On the other hand, jogging is something that you do for a bit of casual fitness, but it is far different to a ‘run’. The key difference relates to (1)-if you run regularly you run, you don’t jog. It’s not about speed, it’s about the mindset.Running is what gets done in training; irrespective of the speed of the session-it’s a run, not a jog. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
So next time you are to speak with a runner, keep the above in mind, and your advice will likely be much more palatable, and the runner receiving care will likely have a respect for your advice and insights.
Yours in Running,
Brad Beer (APAM)
Author ‘You CAN Run Pain Free!’
Founder POGO Physio