Running may seem like the most natural of movements, that all humans should be able to do. It is a great way to relieve stress after a busy day at work, burn calories and get fitter. It is also a fundamental part of many sports. However, for many people it does not feel natural and can be a real struggle. People who have sustained an injury and have been off running for a significant period of time are at even greater risk of displaying inefficient running styles. This may pre-dispose them to further injury down the line.
For the lucky few, running does come naturally… Thinking Mo Farrah for example. However, if you are just starting to run or have been running for a while but plan on increasing your training intensity, frequency or duration, then it is vital to have a running analysis and go through a thorough conditioning program. A running analysis will improve your efficiency and thus make you faster. It will also help reduce the risk of pain and injury. Of course, if you are already feeling pain while running, then modifying your running style can change the stress on sensitive soft tissue structures and reduce pain.
It can be really confusing to try and analyse your own running style. There are many different movement variables and stresses on the body to consider. This is why it can be helpful to have a qualified physiotherapist assess you. It is important to take a thorough history of your training schedule and consider changes to your training, as there are many variables that can lead to an injury. Your strength and flexibility will also be assessed. Then your running will be recorded on a treadmill. Our senior physiotherapist Paul will view it back with you in slow motion, assessing various different factors such as, trunk posture, foot strike position, running cadence (frequency of strides per minute). You will be taught specific running drills, stretches and strengthening exercises along with the development of a running program, so that you can meet your specific goals.
Paul has had an interest in running injuries since 2011, when he had a patient who fractured a bone in their foot while training for a marathon. Since then he has worked with the British military, where he led a running analysis and re-education clinic.
Paul’s Top Tips for Avoiding Running Injuries
- Do not suddenly increase the training intensity of your programme without adequate strength and conditioning to tolerate the change. Many running injuries are due to over training
- Make sure you complete your warm-up. It is very common for people to decide to go out for a run having spent most of the week sitting behind a desk. They think they will go easy to start and make that their warm up. However, you will be in a much better position to run efficiently if you have completed a dynamic warm up, increasing blood flow and flexibility to all the major muscle groups and joints involved in running.
- Stay hydrated. Adequate hydration allows for circulation and delivery of nutrients to muscles for health and recovery. This is especially important in a hot and humid environment.
- Do not run if you are feeling very fatigued. Muscles are most likely strain when you are tired. Listen to your body and rest if you feel you need it.
Paul’s Top Stretch for Running
Front of Thigh Stretch
The front of your hips can become very tight from the amount of sitting we all do during our days in the office. This can reduce the range of movement at our hips and increase the risk of injury, particularly to the lower back and knee. Place the knee and shin of the leg to be stretched against the wall. Use a pillow under the knee for added comfort. Step the other foot forward. This is an intense stretch, but hang tough for about a minute each side and don’t show anyone your pain face! Do every day to start noticing a big difference.
For more information on Running Analysis or to book an appointment with Paul, please call the clinic.
Chartered Physiotherapist BSc (Hons), MCSP, MHCPC
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those of First Physio only and do not constitute medical advice.