This is the fourth of Noakes’ Ten Laws of Running Injuries. “Most Injuries are Curable”
Chances are, your running injury, it is curable – and you do not need any strange holy water, bizarre cacti, or rare metallic based salve to make things better. When you consider that most running injuries are due to intrinsic forces, it would make sense that we – the runner – are capable of fixing these problems. Noakes says, “Only a small fraction of true running injuries are not entirely curable by simple techniques, and surgery is only required in very exceptional cases” (Noakes 753). If you walk into the doctors office and they offer to cut you up without trying a whole bunch of other stuff, hobble on out and find someone else.
Unfortunately, there are a few occasions in which simple is not the answer. Firstly, Noakes points out that people with severe biomechanical abnormalities might be at risk, but in his experience, “only a small number of runners have such severe mechanical abnormalities” (Noakes 753). So chances are, you probably are not that biomechanically abnormal it is not fixable. I would even go so far to say that with minimal running, and some long term form work/rehabilitation, there is a good chance your biomechanical abnormality will stop causing injury.
Secondly, Noakes mentions severe degeneartion of important tissues – in particular the Achilles tendon (AT) – can cause damning injury. No one really likes their AT. Tendons are hard to stretch and are lower on the blood flow list, consequently, when they do get minor tears, they take longer to heal. The AT is such a vital part of running, that repeated damage that is not allowed to heal correctly can tank your running career. Noakes also notes that “the prospects of a complete cure without recurrence are rather small” (Noakes 753). Take care of your AT, and do not ice it. It is already low on blood, massage it with a warm compress.
The last type of injury not easily curable is for those “who start running on abnormal joints.” Again this is not a lot of us as most of these abnormal joints became abnormal through some contact type sport (rugby, football, soccer). Often when big joints (knee, hip, ankle) get mangled they seldom fully recover; even for the stars with million dollar doctors looking after them.
Noakes ends this law with some information that I think every runner should heed when confronted with an injury:
An imporant corollary to this fourth law is that if you are not completely cured of your running injury by the experts with whom you consult, it is time to look elsewhere. But treat even the advice of runners with some caution, and do not accept it unconditionally without seeking a professional assessment from someone knowledgeable about running and sympathetic to runners (Noakes 753).
That quote is pretty gnarly, and incredibly important. If you are not cured, go somewhere else. Do not trust runners. Sure we give each other advice, and chances are, it is probably pretty good advice based on experience, but get a professional opinion, too. And see a doctor who knows a thing or two about running. In college the head of our medical staff was on the medical crew for the Islanders back in the 80s when they were winning Stanley Cups all over the place. (He would liked to wear his rings and would rotate through them despite the fact he probably just ordered tape…). He despised running and runners. He had no problem telling runners who checked in that they should not be running, that getting injured was to be expected if you were a runner. Do not go to someone like that, they will not help you.