When an athlete goes to a doctor with a medical issue, he wants to consult with someone who speaks the same sports language.
Ideally, the expert has already run “in the patient’s shoes,’’ i.e., he can identify and relate to the problem at hand.
Which is why so many elite runners visit Dr. Ira Meyers, a podiatrist from Horsham, who just happens to have 90,000 miles on his personal odometer.
That’s not a typo.
Meyers has been keeping a logbook of his daily running mileage since he was a 14-year-old high school freshman on Long Island.
Who puts their trust in Dr. Meyers?
Oh, about 15 sub-4-minute milers, for starters.
“That’s kind of how I got myself into the network,’’ says Meyers, who runs his practice with Montgomery Podiatry Associates in Huntingdon Valley. “Runners ask me what I would do and I tell them what I would do because they know that I’ve been there.
“They say, ‘what would I do if I were in their position?’ And I can very easily relate to that. A lot of times I tell patients why I’m treating them a certain way. I tell them this is what I would do for myself. They can relate to that because I’m there with them.’’
His approach is as much about treatment as it is for providing preventive measures to avoid injuries.
“You look at elite runners, about a third or half of their time is spent running,’’ says Meyers, who just celebrated his 60th birthday with a 100-mile bike ride. “The other two-thirds to half are doing stuff so they don’t get injured.
“I know what to do and I tell patients what to do.’’
Having run a national class of time of 2:22 for the marathon back in the day, Meyers knows of what he speaks.
Meyers conducts his practice with Montgomery Podiatry Associates in Huntingdon Valley. Many of his patients hail from Bucks County.
“I have an all-around practice,’’ he says, “but I definitely specialize in sports medicine. I treat a ton of runners.
“I think I’ve had about 15 runners break the four-minute mile. In Track & Field News, on the list of four-minute milers, three in a row were my patients.’’
Out on roads, trails and track, Meyers’ long personal running odyssey began nearly a half-century ago.
“Back in 1974, I went to a running camp,’’ Meyers said. “They said keep a running log. So I did. I write down everything and I just use pen and paper.’’
Meyers ran track and cross country at John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, N.Y. and later for William & Mary College in Virginia.
After graduation, he continued to compete as an adult and barely missed making the United States Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials when he ran the aforementioned 2:22 at the San Francisco Marathon.
Just because he’s a doctor, don’t sell his competitive side short. He enjoys winning as much as the next guy.
In fact, that’s why he got into triathlons back in 2007. With a little urging from his friend Johnny King-Marino (president of the Bucks County Roadrunners Club), Meyers started participating in multi-sport.
“I always ran to compete, never ran for health reasons,’’ Meyers admits. “Running is a tougher sport than cycling or swimming. With running, as we get older, we need to cut corners more, not less.
“My time is so limited, I’ll just bike instead. Biking is a lot easier, to just jump on the bike, it doesn’t take as much work.’’
As for the elite runners, they’re usually checking in for something a little more complex than just plantar injuries.
“They’ve already been treated for some of the lesser, common injuries,’’ Meyers explains. “The usual stuff they can take care of themselves for the most part.
“A lot of elite and non-elite runners come because they’re just not getting better. Many think they have plantar faciitis and it’s not.’’
While many runners experiment with orthotics, Meyers says that area of the business has been reduced somewhat by the proliferation of shoe types.
Instead, he preaches more organic solutions, like running on softer surfaces such as grass or on a track.
“My office is not even a quarter-mile from the Rails-to-Trails from Huntingdon Valley,’’ he says. “It’s a great trail. Hard-packed dirt, I believe, is the easiest on the body. It’s accessible, they have a lot of trails in the area now. That’s certainly better than pounding on the pavement.’’
Upon graduation from William & Mary, Meyers took a year off to compete, then attended Pennsylvania College of Medicine where he met his future wife, Teresa, a Philadelphia native. They have four children (Rose, Carla, Max, Gabby).
Looking back, he’s most proud of several personal bests in running, including the 2:22 in San Francisco, which left him just four minutes shy of the Trials qualifier; plus a 1:05 half-marathon in Philly (he won the Brooklyn Half with a 1:06 in ’83), a 49.59 for 10 miles and a 29:17 for 10K.
In his later years, he remains competitive in triathlon.
He’s president of the Ambler Running Club and started the Warrington Triathlon in 2016. The races he directs have raised more than $250,000 for charity.
Dr. Meyers can be reached at montgomerypodiatryassociates.com or 215-938-7725.