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Runner Therapy: Run Smart. Use Your Brain, Too.

Posted Mar 23 2010 12:00am

A patient of mine came in with pain in his lower abdomen and groin muscles. He had not run for 2 weeks and he was climbing the walls in anger and boredom! He had pain when he walked. He had pain when he ran. He had pain with a simple cough and sneeze. So he did what any frustrated runner would do, he checked the internet…and in his hysteria was convinced it was some kind of prostate cancer, bladder problem or any other life threatening illness imaginable. I quickly diagnosed him with a rare and annoying running injury called osteitis pubis.

Although we relieved the pain in 2 weeks, each time we got it better he would run when I told him not to or would do 10 times more than I suggested, and ended up relapsing. Four times. FOUR times we went back over my suggestions and started from scratch. Four times he was better until he would run hills because ‘I just had to!’….3 months later, he finally trusted me. Now he is back to running hills pain-free.

In my role as a physical therapist who specializes in runners, I’m often in a precarious position. You see, the runners I treat are the most passionate, determined, and persevering group. I love this about them. They will do every exercise I prescribe (actually more times than I prescribe it) and buy any gadget I tell them to.  At the same time, however, they are the most idiotic, almost downright stupid, believe anything, buy anything individuals, often showing little common sense! Loyal- yes, hardworking- yes, good consumers- yes!….(they get another injury every few months! ).  The problem is, they love running so much, they are devastated without it. So the lines become blurred for me on whether I am a physical or mental therapist, more often then not, both…one to treat the problem, one to treat the patient! One to massage the knee, one to massage the heart.

So we’ve created this column. One, so you can ask your questions, no matter how idiotic and obvious, and two, so we can solve said problem and get you back to running pain-free with no psychological imbalances! So fire away! Whether you’ve had a mysterious foot pain that you’ve tried everything from WebMD to treat, or you have no idea how to ask out that girl you met in your running class or what to do with your free time so you don’t wallow in your self-pity as you take time off to heal…we will attempt to cover it all to keep you and your type-A self happy and healthy!

Run smart. Use your brain, too.

- Marisa

(Marisa, MS PT SCS ATC, is a physical therapist in private practice in midtown NYC.  She one of a dozen or so therapists  in the state of NY to be board certified in sports.)

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