For the past year, I have been struggling to overcome the debilitating effects of two torn hamstring tendons that have, thus far, reduced me to very slow miles. Throw in the flu and a sinus infection, and it has been a rather miserable twelve months, at least from a running standpoint.
Although running gives us a feeling of invincibility, we are not invincible. We are all destined to encounter physical setbacks, and that's precisely why we need a good team of health care professionals to assist us, keep us on the roads, or get us back on the roads as soon as possible.
Following are six important members of your team.
1. The Primary Care Physician-Whether it's the sniffles, hemorrhoids, or an infected something, the primary physician is our first line of defense against the physical ills of the world. Mine is a 4-hour marathoner. Make sure yours is familiar with your running addiction. If he is, he will treat you accordingly. For example, when I turned 50, my doctor informed me that he was obligated to recommend a colonoscopy. Then he added, "Given the miles you run, I'm sure you're pretty regular." He knows me and treats me accordingly.
2. The Leg Man-Sooner or later, if you run, you're going to visit an orthopedic surgeon. Again, make sure you enter his office with your complete running resume. Once he has a full understanding of what you do, he'll be less likely to simply suggest you stop doing it. We can't do what we do without our legs, so this is one very important health care professional to us.
3. The Physical Therapist-They love us. While others whine and moan, we, like the guy at the Salem Witch Trials who was crushed to death with stones as his sentence, ask for, "More weight." We readily take on the most painful and strenuous physical therapy regimens. Select a good sports medicine PT, and your recovery will be hastened.
4. The Podiatrist-In 2000, I broke a metatarsal on my left foot. After 4 weeks in a cast, my podiatrist removed it to take a look. He was very pleased with my recovery, so he promptly recasted me. I was astounded, and a bit perturbed. "You said I was nearly healed." I cried. "If I take off the cast and tell you not to run for two weeks, you'll be out there running tomorrow," was his reply. He was right, and, thanks to his advice, I healed completely. It all starts with our feet, so podiatrists are extremely important to us.
5. The Chiropractor-Have one on standby. A good adjustment not only feels good, but it can help us avert future problems. These guys know what they're doing, and their treatments are ideally suited to runners.
6. The Massage Therapist-Good for the body, mind, and soul. Treat yourself to a massage after a grueling race.
Maintain a good team, and they will maintain your running health.