Running is more popular than ever right now. With gyms, parks and recreation centres closed, runners are hitting the roads in droves. While running is one of the simplest and most accessible forms of exercise, it can also leave its participants injury prone. If you’re an avid runner, chances are you’ve had a significant injury at least once if your life, and are regularly attending to small issues. Normally, you’d book an appointment with your health care practitioner, but during COVID-19, you can’t just walk into the sports medicine clinic like you could a few weeks ago. Thankfully, telehealth is a way to see your chiropractor or physiotherapist without leaving your home. It’s injury-prevention in your living room.
How telehealth works
Brittany Moran is a chiropractor at the Runner’s Academy in Toronto. She says telehealth has been in the works for years, but COVID-19 expedited the process of getting the practice into clinics.
“Much like if you’re coming into the clinic, we’re able to assess movement,” Moran says. “I’ve been creative in having people use a foam roller to tell which side of their body is tighter than the other. Even though we’re not able to use our hands, there’s still a lot that we can accomplish in a telehealth session.”
For a telehealth session, your practitioner will send you a link via email to set up a secure video chat. Then they’ll be able to talk with you about what’s going on, see how you move and suggest home care for your injury. Moran says even just a discussion is valuable for someone who’s experiencing pain.
“This way you can talk with someone about what’s going on and they can tell you if you should be running on this injury,” she says. “It’s way better than simply Googling your problem. We’ll prescribe some exercises you can do at home to get yourself back on track.”
Telehealth sessions are also very educational for the client. Because they’ll be treating themselves at home, they have to know what’s going on with their body. Moran says she’s been using old textbooks to show and tell clients what their issues are.
The obvious drawback of telehealth is the inability to receive manual therapy. While telehealth will never be option number one, it’s still a good candidate for treatment when you’re unable to get to a clinic.
Another note: chiropractors aren’t allowed to see new patients via telehealth, but physiotherapists are. If you’ve been seeing someone consistently, telehealth appointments are even more viable options as your practitioner will already have a sense of how your body moves, your injury history and your training load.
Your first telehealth appointment
For a telehealth appointment, dress in running clothes, like you would if you were going into a clinic. If you have the space to set out a yoga mat, that’s great (a lacrosse ball and foam roller are also an asset, but not a necessity).