Things runners need to look for in a physical therapist

Things runners need to look for in a physical therapist

I hate when I have to include a disclaimer at the beginning of anything, but here we are: if you are seeing a PT and the situation I am about to describe sounds familiar, that DOES NOT make them a bad PT! 

But here’s a dirty secret: THEY DON’T TEACH YOU HOW TO EFFECTIVELY MANAGE RUNNERS IN PT SCHOOL. PT school teaches you how to be a safe and effective general clinician; the rest is on you to choose your path for continuing education based on who you want your clientele to be. However, you don’t really even brush the surface of what a runner’s needs are.

So Runners: if you are dealing with an injury, and your health care provider’s solutions involve:

  1. Just stop running. (in some cases, this may be appropriate – especially anytime you are dealing with bone stress; however, most of the time modifications to mileage and intensity are sufficient). 
  2. Injections, surgeries, and invasive procedures, especially early on in an injury (again, situationally dependent, but generally not helpful for the majority of overuse-type injuries in the long term). 
  3. Passive stretching or exercises that do not involve weight bearing as your primary method for rehab (I will say this until I lose my voice, but it takes a STIMULUS to create a RESPONSE, and passive activities where you are not challenged and loading your muscles ain’t that!) 

OR if your provider is not:

  1. Talking about your training routine and looking into how this injury occurred (the majority of running related injuries are from TRAINING LOAD ERRORS)
  2. Giving you a clear return to run plan that involves progressive return to your desired mileage (not just “clearing” you to run with no guidelines)
  3. Actually watching you run to determine if there are areas that need to be addressed with your form…

Then it may be time to get a second opinion. The demands of running on the body are not complicated, but they are specific – make sure you are working with a physical therapist who understands how to address them.