Don’t run the risk of injury!
As spring approaches, you might be tempted to grab those running shoes. Running is a great way to improve your general fitness, help with weight loss or help you live longer by increasing your cardiovascular fitness! But before you hit the pavements, Rebecca Nelson, founder of Ireland’s leading physiotherapy and sports injury clinic, Apex Clinic, Belfast shares her expert advice on how to stay pain free and prevent injuries while running.
Get the right gear
Whether you are an experienced runner or keen to get started, getting the right kit is important. First up, if your trusty trainers are showing signs of wear and tear, it’s time to invest in a new pair. A specialist running shop will be more than able to offer you guidance on the latest trainers to suit your foot type. Or, if you have a specific foot problem, our team of podiatrists can assess whether insoles (orthoses) are required, as well as suggesting which trainers are best suited to your foot type.
Next, the clothing you wear is also important. Start your run wearing several layers to ensure your muscles are kept warm, which will reduce the likelihood of a soft tissue injury. Throughout your run, layers can be removed as required.
Mind your muscles
Before you set off, avoid the temptation to neglect your warm up, as research indicates that warming up before exercise is actually more important than stretching. Our advice is to begin your running routine with a brisk five-minute walk, or a gentle jog on the spot, which will gradually increase the temperature of muscles, making the collagen fibers of your muscles more elastic. Post run, don’t forget to stretch your quads, hamstrings and calves immediately in order to maintain flexibility, reducing the risk of injury.
Advice for new runners
If you are new to running, the best way to get started is to start out slowly, gradually building up speed and distance over time, as doing too much too quickly will increase your chance of injury. A walking/running programme is a great way to introduce running into your fitness routine. Begin with two minutes of walking, followed by two minutes of running in intervals of 10 to 15 minutes on the flat, gradually increasing the length of each session over time. Repeat this process two to three times per week, allowing a day’s break in between sessions.
On the surface
Varying your choice of running surface is essential in reducing the likelihood of injury. Research has shown that more frequent runners should limit road or pavement running to two to three times per week, as the harder surface places a greater load on the body’s joints and on your spine. Instead, introduce grass, bark or treadmill surfaces into your running routine, which are kinder surfaces for your body, reducing the impact. Another option is to consider aqua-jogging at a local swimming pool, which involves running with an aqua-jogging belt around your waist in a pool and is an excellent way to reduce the load on all of your joints but mimic the action of running.
Suffer from shin splints?
Shin splints is one of the most common running injuries that we treat. At Apex Clinic, our experienced team of physios will assess you to determine what exactly is causing the pain, before creating a tailored treatment plan in order to clear it. In the vast majority of cases, shin splints can be cleared completely with the correct treatment regime. Without the correct treatment, shin splints can last for years.
Keep muscles happy with sports massage
Sports or deep soft tissue massage is recommended monthly for anyone who runs twice weekly or more. This type of massage works by focusing on the deep layers of muscle tissue, keeping them flexible and it irons out any build up of scar tissue. A build up of scar tissue increases the chances of pulling a muscle, so should be avoided.
Stop pain in its tracks
If pain is having an effect on your running routine, now is the time to seek help with one of our experienced physios, who will enjoy getting you running pain free again. To book an appointment, call Apex Clinic, Belfast on: 028 9048 4153. No GP referral is necessary.