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On What to Do When You're Injured

Posted Jun 24 2013 10:02am
Every day I find myself perusing the r/running thread on Reddit. I follow race recaps, check out people's accomplishment stories, and follow the polls and questions that innumerate the board. Things like "How to deal with Gnats While Running" and "Favorite GPS Watches".

Without a doubt there is also always one or more post on the front page about injury. Usually a "Help! Just Started Running and Having Shin Pain!" or "Need Advice Recovering from Hamstring Injury." It seems that for every positive story posted, there is one about someone being injured. Unfortunately this is just how the sport works. Having personally dealt with two longterm injuries, I can vouch for this.

While reading about injuries can be somewhat depressing (I don't want to think about injuries when I'm not injured), I'm always curious to peek into these threads and see what people are writing. What advice are they giving? What things are they trying? As much as I know r/running is a helpful community with lots of success stories and motivational users, I no longer understand the notion behind posting about your injury to look for advice. In my opinion, the internet has far too much advice for its own good. When you're injured, call a doctor. Period.

That said, I admit that this statement comes from someone who didn't deal so well with my first injury. Hours upon hours were spent googling my symptoms and possible quick-fixes and recovery techniques. After all was said and done I'd spent four weeks Googling, was still in pain, still couldn't run, and finally found myself calling the doctor. Weeks were wasted looking for advice online when I could have seen the doctor on day one, started PT a month earlier and been back to running much sooner. Because the thing is, no matter what the internet says and no matter how many injuries fit into a type (ITBS, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, etc), every body is different. What causes shin splints in one person won't necessarily cause it in another person.

In total I've spent about four months in PT over the last 15 months and I've learned a tremendous amount of things about my body. My chronic ITBS is caused by weaknesses and imbalances that are unique to me. The way my right knee goes this way and my left hip juts out that way. The way my feet hit the ground and my lower back engages. And, therefore, the solutions to my recovery are unique to me. What fixes my ITBS might not help someone else's.

So, while I am all for the internet coming together to help people out, please don't let the internet or your friend that said such-and-such be your only solution. Call a doctor, go to physical therapy or a comparable treatment, and figure out the way your body moves and works.

What's your first step when you realized you're injured? Are you a chronic Googler?
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