When It's O.K. to Run Hurt

Photo of Dr. James Weinstein by Thomas Ames, Jr.

Photo of Dr. James Weinstein by Thomas Ames, Jr.

I'm no doctor, and I'm certainly not qualified to dish out advice to other runners about how to handle injuries, but in today's New York Times, Gina Kolata's article, "When It's O.K. to Run Hurt," caught my eye, and made so much sense to me that I thought I'd pass it along.

I got a certain amount of satisfaction from the article's opening sentences, because they recount an episode that sounds like something I would do:

"Just before the end of last year, a prominent orthopedic surgeon was stretching to lift a heavy box and twisted his back. The pain was agonizing. He could not sit, and when he lay down he could barely get up.

So the surgeon, Dr. James Weinstein of Dartmouth College, decided to go out for a run.

“I took an anti-inflammatory, iced up, and off I went,” Dr. Weinstein recalled. When he returned, he said, he felt “pretty good.”

The article goes on to explain that although you should never run through extremely serious injuries -- broken bones or torn tendons, for example -- most other injuries benefit from exercise and actually heal more quickly with the improved blood flow that exercise promotes.

Much of the article relates to Dr. Weinstein but another doctor, sports medicine specialist Dr. Mininder Kocher, is also cited extensively -- and it sounds like Dr. Kocher knows athletes like me pretty well.

Explaining how injuries can be psychologically damaging as well as physically painful, Dr. Kocher explains: "If you take athletes or active people out, they get depressed, they get wacky."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Give the article a look, and take care of your bodies, everyone! Prevention is, after all, the best cure.

See you on the trail!