I Was Told I Should Never Run Again Because I’m Going to Damage My Knee

Recently, someone said to me, “I was told I should never run again. I have knee pain and I’m passionate about running. Running is really important to me, and I don’t want to do something that keeps me from running. I just want to run.”  I totally get it. I used to race bicycles and it was something I did all the time. It was a big part of my life, and there was nothing that was going to keep me from riding. Although, one year I had pain so bad that I had to stop a lot of my training rides after about two hours.

I wanted to be out riding for three and a half, four, four and a half hours. Having to stop at two hours because it hurts so badly put a wrench in my plans for training. I eventually figured it out with some position changes, some physical therapy, and some massage therapy. By the end of the summer it wasn’t a problem. Had anyone told me to stop riding because you’re going to harm yourself, I would’ve said, “No way!” But I hear this all the time as a physical therapist now: “My so and so told me I shouldn’t run again.”

Well, the truth is, you know, you should be doing those things and you’re not really going to harm yourself if you’re listening to your body. You may need to stop temporarily, but not forever. Pushing yourself while running won’t cause you to blow your knees out or cause joint wear and tear. The truth is that people who run have less knee arthritis than people who don’t run.

Has the physician ever told you that one? There’s research that shows people who run have less than the arthritis and people who sit on the couch all day long. It’s because you’re moving and loading it. The best thing for your body is movement. Arthritis is not a death sentence. Arthritis is just some inflammation in a joint and it’s all it is. Just because you have arthritis doesn’t mean that you are doing damage. People without pain have arthritis. This is a proven fact. Pain is much more complex than a lot of people understand or realize. Pain is something that’s just a signal to you that something’s not moving well and your body would move even better if you could figure it out.

A lot of us can’t figure it out on our own. Even myself as a physical therapist, I’ve been to see other physical therapists to help me figure out where the problems are that are keeping me from moving the way I want. It’s okay to let it try to heal on its own. But if things aren’t moving the way they should and they’re getting irritated consistently, they may not ever heal all the way. Whether it’s a tissue problem or just the way you feel, your body isn’t going to move as optimally as possible so that you can perform to your peak. Performing to your peak might even just be like, “I feel good, I feel strong, I feel confident and I can go home and hang out with my kids without being irritable.”

That might be your peak and that’s all you need and if you’re having trouble getting something like that, then there are people such as myself as called physical therapists that can help you. The problem is most people don’t know what physical therapy is, or they have a preconceived notion that they tried physical therapy and it didn’t work. I had someone yesterday ask about a simple exercise for their ankles because they’ve been spraining their ankles and I said, “Well, I could show you an exercise, but if I don’t show you the right one, it may not work. Or, if I don’t know which is the right one,  how can I show you one exercise if I don’t know which is the right one?”  I would rather spend 20 minutes with you figuring out which is the right exercise that you need.

That’s what we do. Exercises are our medicine and exercise feels good. The only side effect is that you feel a little sore the next day sometimes, versus an ulcer in your stomach, hives, rashes, grogginess, or fogginess that people may experience from other pain meds. So, if you’re someone who has been told you should never run, squat, or lift, then I’d love to help you because I haven’t seen someone who’s told me that, that I couldn’t help. I had a patient come in, who was told to never lift more than 35 pounds or she was risk of damaging her back.

Look, the person owns a horse farm, has a 70 pound dog that she has to get into a bathtub a couple times a week. She’s got lift like 50 pound hay bales. So, she’s doing it because she has to. Turns out her hip was the problem, not in her back. Her back moved great. She felt pain in her back because her hips didn’t move well. It’s kind of like if your car develops a shimmy and you feel it in a steering wheel. The steering wheel isn’t the problem, the alignment is the problem. It might be one of the tires is out of balance, or one of the weights on the wheels fell off, or it could be a bushing somewhere else.

That’s how the body works too, sometimes you feel the symptom in one place, but the problem is somewhere else. That’s what we specialize in, looking at the whole body. So, if you’re someone who has heard this before, who under no circumstance wants to actually, stop running or working out, and you want to feel comfortable and confident that you can work out without damaging something, then I’d like to invite you to our clinic.

We have a few openings for a free total body diagnostic where we could get you in to spend a little bit more time with us, and see exactly what the problem is and we can give you a path for how we can help you.

About The Author

Aaron LeBauer

Dr. Aaron LeBauer is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Business Coach to 1,000's of healthcare entrepreneurs. He owns LeBauer Physical Therapy, LLC, with his wife Andra, in Greensboro, N.C. He has been helping active people stay fit, active, healthy and recover from injuries without needing more pain medications, injections or surgery since 1999.

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