How many times have you, as a runner, been told that you have an injury and can’t run- so maybe you should go and do some swimming instead. Or yoga?
How many times have you as a Therapist told a runner to do this?
As a tip to the Therapists. Please don’t.
It is one of the most frustrating things to hear as a runner and pretty much the worst thing you can do (in their eyes) as a Therapist. Just because someone runs as a hobby, it does not mean that they can swim – or that they enjoy swimming.
Imagine telling someone who enjoys driving cars fast around tracks that they can no longer do that- instead, here, why don’t you mow the lawn with a flymo. It’s kind of the same thing- you’re going around in circles with a machine that makes a lot of noise- so therefore you’ll get the same amount of pleasure out of it.
As a Therapist you are willfully misunderstanding the nature of the issue.
Runners don’t run because they generically enjoy endurance sports or enjoy “doing something of a repetitive nature for hours on end”. They run because they enjoy running- and can be pretty good at it.
A few years ago, (before I took up swimming- importantly, NOT because I couldn’t run), if you told me as a runner that maybe I should swim for the next 5 months instead of run I’d have told you where to stick it and gone off to find another opinion. I hated swimming. I wasn’t good at it, it didn’t make me feel the way running feels. You’re cooped up in a 25 metre pool with a load of other people, it’s an inefficient way of travelling and personally- I get fatter when I swim- it certainly doesn’t hold weight off like running does. It is a complete non-option. It’s like telling a serious wine drinker that from now on they can only drink White Lightning… It’s still alcohol isn’t it? Not the point.
Why am I writing this now? Right now, during the covid crisis there are a load of people who have started/restarted running. It is their lifeline to sanity and it is the thing that they want to do. To tell them that they can’t do this- and suggest that swimming would be an appropriate alternative is a huge mis-reading of the situation. (Not to mention swimming pools, although open, do not provide nearly the same escape as they might once have represented to people).
Ok, if there is a stress fracture or suspected issue like that, then running is generally going to be out of the question. Running is not intrinsically a bad thing to do, it does not destroy joints and is a useful thing to be able to do. Ok, everything is probably bad for you if you do it too much- but try to find a way to keep someone moving-, through reduced loading or whatever. Be intelligent, be creative.
If you “ban” a person who enjoys running from running, are they going to listen? Highly doubtful, even/especially if you give them an alternative- such as swimming. The worst thing you can do as a therapist is tell them to stop. So try not to.