by Todd Shatynski, M.D.
When runners feel pain, their first reaction is to work through it – after all, running fast is about ignoring pain! (Crazy when you think about it, isn’t it?) However, when it doesn’t go away, but rather gets worse, often the next reaction is to jump to the worst-case scenario. When they actually show up in the doctor’s office, often the fear of a long-term layoff or career-ending injury can be crippling and emotional! After all, with us treading that “knife’s edge” between pushing the limits and injury, approximately 70% of runners will get injured in a year.
My goal as a non-surgical sports medicine physician is to first determine the injury, then figure out why you suffered from it. The injury is the “victim.” Often the “culprit” is an imbalance, asymmetry, or training error. My goal then shifts from educating the runner about how we can get the injury to recover and, more importantly, how we can keep it from recurring. Doing this efficiently is important as you are able to miss less time from the sport that you love! My goal is to help you run “forever”!
As a runner for over 30 years (including a brief collegiate career and multiple marathons with a personal best of 2:39), I have sustained a long list of injuries with two resulting in surgery. As a result, I have a keen awareness of the emotional effects that “missing your run” can mean. I know that most injuries will improve with time off and correction of the “culprit” – but I understand the fear that it could mean the end of running forever. My focus is to prevent this from happening. Starting with healing the injury with as little intervention as needed and moving to figure out the cause, I am always trying to find ways to keep you in shape while you recover. I also understand the “crazy” in all of us and realize that attending to the fragile psyche of the runner can be as important to recovery as anything else.
Through this column, I hope to address many of the common problems that I find in runners. I hope to reach issues that are important to all – elites and back-of-the-packers, young and old, novice and experienced. I will examine many of the things that runners can do to stay healthy, decrease their chances of injury, and get back running as soon as possible. I like to look at the athlete as a whole, so I hope to address musculoskeletal injuries as well as the psychological effect of athletic injury. As a result, I hope to help keep spirits up when one of you inevitably gets injured, preventing you from fearing the worst and getting you back out there as soon as possible!
Dr. Todd Shatynski is a sports medicine specialist with an emphasis and interest in the nonsurgical treatment of injuries and is trained in the use of musculoskeletal ultrasound for the diagnosis of soft tissue injuries and the guidance of injections. Dr. Shatynski has extensive experience with orthobiologic regenerative medicine, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections and bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) stem cell injections for the treatment of degenerative conditions. He is often involved in teaching residents and sports medicine fellows.
Dr. Shatynski has extensive experience in a variety of sports, including football, hockey, and endurance sports. A graduate of Guilderland High School, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, as well as participating in running and triathlons. He has completed multiple marathons and Ironman distance triathlons, including Ironman Hawaii.