Dr. Kurt Strecker here. My blog post today has a direct, lay-it-on-the-line tone. The urgency comes from a deep caring and concern for the athletes we see every day in the lab and in the clinic. Serious injuries are often created when small aches and pains are ignored. Athletes frequently exacerbate problems because they are obsessed with exercise. Creating serious trauma in the name of fitness just makes no sense, yet we see it every day. The real crime is, most of these injuries are actually preventable.
Over the last three weeks, three different runners have come into the lab with knee pain. Here's the scenario:
- All of them continued to run after the initial onset of pain
- Not only did they finish the run they were doing when pain first presented, but they ran on subsequent days!
With all three runners, I had clinical suspicion of meniscus tear. Unfortunately, I was correct in all cases:
- MRI revealed torn medial menisci in the first two runners
- The MRI for the third runner revealed not only a torn medial meniscus, but also included a completely ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
What did all three runners have in common?
- An obsessive desire to run
- Very poor stability in the frontal plane
THE MADNESS HAS GOT TO STOP!
Exercise is for the benefit of the body, not its detriment! There is no sense whatsoever in building great cardiovascular fitness if it means you may, eventually, lose your ability to simply WALK.
In the case of each of these three runners, their severe injuries were totally PREVENTABLE. What got in the way? Here's what we heard:
- "I have to keep going. I HAVE to run."
- "I signed up for a race. I HAVE to train."
Really, people? Why are so many of you willing to risk serious and possible long-term damage to your body, AND possibly lose the ability to participate in the sports you profess to love? Actually, what each of these runners signed up for is surgery, rehabilitation, the possibility of no running ever again, and early-onset osteoarthritis.
70% of all runners are injured in a calendar year. 70%! If you are a runner reading this, it is likely you have been one of them. Is it hopeless? Absolutely NOT!
- What it will take is a commitment from YOU to become educated about how to become a stronger, more stable, and durable athlete. And that does not mean "just train more."
- You need to be to be proactive and build a solid frame BEFORE you rev the motor.
- You must take preventative measures to develop muscular balance in your chassis to avoid injury.
- You must develop proper functional strength, stability, and mobility in order to protect your body to then be able to train effectively.
- Finally, you need to continue these productive practices over the long term so that you can train, race, and recover with resiliency year in and year out. It CAN be done!
So how do you do what I've outlined above? You can begin your re-education about what true athleticism entails right here by reading our blog and our website. We also invite you to get in touch with us--we can help you put it all together.
My final takeaway is this:
STOP RUNNING THROUGH PAIN! Pain is a signal that something is wrong. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. You cannot accomplish any goal or fulfill any dream with a body that is unstable, unbalanced, weak, and broken.