Getting Help With My Back

Why Runners Should See A Sports Medicine Doctor As Their Primary Care Physician

by Renee Ruiz

Everyone should have a primary care doctor. Selecting that primary care doctor requires a little more than just pointing at a name on a page. Many primary care doctors have a secondary specialty. For instance, some primary care doctors are also sports medicine doctors. If you are a runner, this is the type of primary care physician you should look for. Here's why.

They’ll Understand Your Goals

The average person's goal, from a medical standpoint, may be to stay healthy enough to avoid serious disease. But as a runner, your goal is to stay healthy enough to run — and run well! A sports medicine doctor will understand these goals on a deeper level than a doctor who does not primarily work with athletes. They can make recommendations that are in line with those goals. For instance, they may prescribe you a different medication knowing that you want to be able to stay active. Or, they may make different dietary recommendations knowing that you burn a few hundred extra calories per day through exercise alone.

You Can See the Same Doctor When You Have an Injury

If you develop a running-related injury like shin splints, runner's knee, or a stress fracture, you can just go see your primary care physician. You won't have to spend time looking around for a different or new doctor to see about these injuries. Since most runners do face an injury or two at some point, this is a good thing to plan for. Your primary care doctor will know you and your health better because they've seen you repeatedly over the years, so they may be able to take better care of you in the case of an injury, too.

You’re Less Likely to Be Told Not to Run

If you walk into some doctors' offices complaining that you have heel pain or knee pain when you run, the doctor might just tell you not to run anymore. A sports medicine doctor is far less likely to take this approach. They'll understand your desire to run, and they'll work to help you find ways to run with less pain and a lower risk of injury. 

If you're a runner, then you want a sports medicine doctor as your primary care doctor. Many sports medicine doctors do offer primary care services, especially for athletes, so you shouldn't have a problem finding one in your area.