Prevent and treat common running injuries

As any of you runners out there know, injuries are very easy to pick up and can easily put you back weeks, if not months, in your training.

Here’s a lowdown of the most common injuries, how to prevent them and how to treat them if you do fall victim.

ITB Syndrome or ‘runners knee’
Caused by poor mechanics, incorrect technique or a muscle imbalance, ITBS usually presents itself through pain at the outside of the knee.

It’s caused by a tightening of the iliotibial band, a sheath which runs down the outside of the leg from the hip to just below the knee.

It can be prevented by strengthening the quadriceps, particularly the medial muscles, adopting good technique and stretching. A decent pair of running shoes provided by a running specialist can also work wonders.

It can be treated through rest, sports massage, stretching and strengthening. One of my previous posts explores this condition in greater detail.

Periostitis and anterior compartment syndrome or ‘shin splints’

Periostitis is inflammation of the sheath surrounding the bone and causes pain at the inside of the lower leg.

It is most commonly caused by poor biomechanics, incorrect footwear or a sudden increase in training.

Prevent it by wearing the correct running shoes for your feet and gait, avoiding increasing your distance by more than 10% each week and running on tarmac or grass rather than hard pavements.

If you do suffer, rest from running, use ice in the early stages and use heat in the later stages. Anti-inflammatory medication may help and taping can help relieve the pressure on the muscle attachments.

If the pain is more towards the front or outside of the lower leg, it’s more likely to be compartment syndrome, which occurs when the muscles, blood vessels And nerves become too big for the compartment which contains them and causes pain due to the pressure created.

It is commonly caused by overtraining, biomechanics, poor footwear or excessive uphill running. Treat it through rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication in the early stages. Gait analysis can confirm whether you are wearing the correct trainers (all good running shops can do this) and orthotics can be prescribed to ease the pain.

Achillies Tendonitis
The Achillies tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bones. It’s commonly caused by overtraining, incorrect trainers, not enough recovery in between runs, overpronation (when the foot rolls in) and weak or tight calf muscles.

Prevent it by wearing the right footwear, not increasing your distance by more than 10% each week, good stretching and, if you have tight calf muscles, regular sports massage.

Treatment includes rest and ice in the early stages, sports massage, and strengthening and stretching techniques.

The recurring theme with all of the above is the importance of the right footwear to correct any biomechanical issues. All good rung shops offer free gait analysis and can advise you of any issues you have and provide shoes to suit your running type. If you do experience an injury I cannot express enough the importance of rest. Under no circumstances should you try to run though the pain, trust me, you’ll only make it worse.

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Budget-busting workout solutions

As I write this I’m looking out onto a glorious Bristol basking in the sunshine. Summer is inching ever closer, bringing with it thoughts of holidays, bikinis and less forgiving outfits.

If like many people in the current climate, your budget doesn’t stretch to a regular gym subsription, fear not, there is plenty you can do to exercise your body without damaging the purse strings.

Outdoor workouts
More and more personal trainers and group exercise instructors are now taking their classes outdoors. Most charge on a pay-as-you-go basis which are often very reasonable as their own overheads are reduced by using free, local spaces. If you are in the Bristol area, try Calon PT at Victoria Park and Greville Smythe Park or British Military Fitness on the Downs.

Get running
Running is great exercise and, bar your kit, is completely free. If you’ve not run before, start slowly with a walk/jog programme, for example intervals of jogging for 1 minute and walking for 3 minutes. Gradually increase the jogs and decrease the walks as the weeks go on until you can run comfortably without stopping.

Mew Mum? Take your baby along
Loads of trainers now take Mums out for buggy fit classes where you walk or jog with the buggy and stop at intervals for circuit-style exercises. In Bristol, we have Buggy Buddies, The Mummy Workout and Buggy Fit

Get on your bike
Check the National Cycle Network for traffic-free routes, quiet roads and themed long-distance routes near you. Don’t let fear of traffic or under-confidence put you off, we have some beautiful cycleways in Britain. As long as you have a bike, it won’t cost a penny and you’ll get to experience great scenery. Oh, and if that’s not enough, check for ‘refreshment’ stops along the way and treat yourself to a spot of lunch (or cheeky glass of wine) en route.

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Sleep: a pain in the neck?

I have woken up this morning with a very sore neck and judging from statistics I’m not alone. According to a British Medical Journal study in 2008, musculoskeletal problems, including back and neck pain, accounted for 49% of absences from work in the EU.

Left untreated, neck pain can cause loss of movement, headaches, soreness across the shoulders and even down into the arms and hands. This can have a profound effect on daily life and often reduces a person’s ability to preform even the most basic of functions.

My neck pain is down to poor sleeping position after an uncomfortable night but there is plenty you can do to ease stiffness and ensure a pain-free sleep.

1. Pillows
Make sure you have just enough support to keep your neck and spine in alignment whilst lying on your side. Too many and your neck will be left at an awkward angle and too little and your head will not have enough support. Orthapedic pillows can be used to get the correct level of support for your neck.

2. Heat
The use of soft heat pads or a hot water bottle before you go to bed can help ease tight muscles and reduce pain.

3. Exercise
Specific strengthening exercises can reduce pain by making your body stronger and more able to cope with stresses and strains. If you already have neck pain, talk to a professional before undertaking a programme.

4. Massage
Deep tissue massage can work to relax soft tissues surrounding the neck, easing pain and encouraging a good night’s sleep.

5. Medication
Short-term, anti inlammatory medication like ibuprofen can help relax the muscles surrounding your neck and reduce inflammation. If the pain continues, however, see a back care professional.

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5 Reasons to train with a friend

1. You’re more likely to do it. If you’ve pre-arranged to meet someone, not wanting to let them down will put you off pulling out last minute.

2. It’ll make the time pass faster. If you have someone to chat to, especially if you run outdoors, the minutes will fly by as your mind is taken off the task at hand. You just need to have enough puff to talk and exercise at the same time!

3. It’s more motivating. You can encourage each other and give each other a push when the going gets tough.

4. You get to indulge in some healthy competition. Most of us enjoy a bit of light hearted competition. Who can lose more inches? Who can run the furthest? Trying to get one better will push you each a bit further each time.

5. You’re more likely to see results. Quite simply, each of the above points leads to an increased likelihood of achieving your goals.

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I did it!

Well, I did it! 13.1 miles in the bag.

I was struggling with various ailments in the weeks leading up to the run. As soon as I got up to the longer distances, my body began to protest and a lack of strength training make itself apparent when my knee began to niggle after a 9 mile run.

Once it came on, it was ever-present. I’m sure it’s down to ITB syndrome which is very common in runners. I managed to bag a few sports massages from Andy which certainly helped but I really needed more and there wasn’t the time before the big day.

On my long runs I’d also been really struggling with stomach cramps. Again, this is pretty common in runners but very frustrating as when they came on there was no running through it, I just had to stop. I’d had to do this a fair few times in the weeks before so was nervous about whether I had the fitness to run the full distance and also whether I’d have an attack on race day.

I’d read that immodium can stop the cramping so armed with a couple of tablets, I set out for my train. The train was jam-packed but we managed to squish in sardine-like and made it to Bath in plenty of time.

The atmosphere was amazing all around the city. I could feel the buzz as soon as I stepped off the train. When we started the weather was cold but cloudy. I set off at a nice steady pace and at 3 miles was bang on 30 minutes into it, nice, comfortable 10 minute miles.

The crowd provided much-needed motivation all the way round. The streets were lined and there were people blasting music out of cars and on their front gardens, live bands and a wonderful samba band at Queen Square, giving us a surge of euphoria as we rounded the hill. Andy and our 2 boys were camped out in Victoria Park and I managed to spot them both laps, loving my 3-year-old on his Dad’s shoulders throwing his arms in the air when I passed shouting ‘come on Mummy!’. Just a shame he was shouting it at the wrong person…

I carried on with my steady pace, and at 8 miles broke off from my 2 friends. We’d agreed that we weren’t obliged to stay together so I made the most of my energy and powered on.

Until 10 miles I found it great, my pace was just right, I felt good and was enjoying soaking up the atmosphere. Then at 10.5 miles I discovered ‘the wall’ and hit it at speed. I had nothing in reserve and kept missing the kids handing out the much-needed jelly babies. I dragged myself on to the end, willing myself to keep running. Unfortunately this coincided with the point on the course which had hardly any spectators, right when I needed them most.

I had a lonely mile or two. A girl behind me had her name on her shirt and as we met the crowds once more they all began to shout her name. I pretended I was Julie for a mile or two which did the job until Julie over took me.

I finally got to the end in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Everybody then came to a sudden halt as we waited to filter out into runners village. My legs were seizing up but I was soon joined by my friend who was just 30 seconds behind me. We shuffled through, collected our goodie bags and medals, inhaled the mars bar which was in the bag and set of to meet our other friend (who came in 10 mins later), husbands and children.

The sun had managed to creep out by this point and we wandered round a sun-drenched Bath with the rest of the tin foil covered people until we found a suitable watering-hole for a celebratory glass of wine. Tired, wobbly but happy, Andy, me and the boys made our way back to the car behind Victoria Park (not enjoying the hill) and set off for home, a hot bath and more food than I’d eaten in a long, long time. All in all a great experience and already looking forward to the next 🙂

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Busy, busy, busy

Wow, I’d better apologise for the silence on this blog for the last few weeks. We have been busier than ever over the last 6 weeks. This is largely due to the Groupon promotion we’ve been running and also historically this is a pretty busy time for us anyway.

In February alone we did 19 consultations, 110 spinal rehab sessions and a whopping 100 sports massages. We gained 10 new clients in February, 6 as a result of Groupon. That’s 6% of the clients we saw during the month who came in with one of the vouchers. A pretty good return in just a month and we hope many more will come back to see us in future months.

To say we’ve been manic since the end of January would be a huge understatement. We’ve been receiving up to 30 phone calls a day. As Andy, Carolyn and I are fully booked at the moment, we need to have the answering service on for a chunk of the day so in between clients we’re also frantically trying to call people back as to not miss anyone.

We’ve also been quite busy ‘backstage’ this month. We’re working with espace solutions on the development of a new website. It’ll be a lot more user-friendly and will include lots of extras which our current site doesn’t have. It’ll be up here soon.

We’ve also contributed to an online piece written by Suzi Dixon in the Telegraph Expat Health section. It’s all about back health on long-haul flights and how to ward off an attack when travelling. Read it here.

With all of this going on the poor blog and Twitter feed have been neglected. Fear not, dear readers, I promise to keep some time aside each day to bring you the latest in health and fitness and lots more tips and information on how to keep your back in top condition.

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4.5 Miles to go and I’m there!

Ok, admission time. I’ve not posted my training diary for a few weeks. work has been so busy do to a recent promotion we’ve had go out. As a result, I’m now working weekends and as I need to be in work earlier and leave later, I can’t run in any more.

Also, I’ve had no time to write my training log so just to briefly get you up to speed on the last few weeks, I’ve done well. I’ve had some good days and some bad days but the good are outweighing the bad.

I’m now up at 8.5 miles-whoo! I can run the distance in 85 minutes which is excellent (for me!) and if I manage to run the half at that pace, I’ll come in at 2h10m which would be amazing.

Sunday was a real turning point. myself and the 2 friends I’m running the half with ran from my house in Longwell Green to Bath via the Bristol to Bath Railway Path. It was early, it was cold and it was wet. Everything should have been against us but it was such an easy run. My breathing was steady and besides a minor twinge in my Achilles I felt none of the aches and pains which have been ever-present the last few weeks.

The route is lovely and flat, and best of all (probably due to the horrendous weather conditions) it was quiet. We probably met 5 cyclists and a handful of runners along the way. I was, however, glad of the presence of the other 2 when one said ‘oh, it’s like something from Silent Witness here’ as we passed through a creepy, deserted, damp waterside tunnel. My GPS wasn’t picking up a signal so we had no idea of our distance throughout but as I was finding it so easy I figured we were running slower than usual and as it took us about 85 minutes to get in I thought we’d done roughly 7 miles.

After a Costa Coffee stop our lifts back arrived and I said to Andy on the way back that I felt I hadn’t had much of a workout. After running for an hour and a half I find this incredible, especially when I remember that a year ago I could barely run for 5 minutes. After a wonderful warm shower to warm my bones I headed to mapmyrun to plot the route and see how far we’d done. To my surprise it was 8 miles!

This gave me a massive lift. An amazing feeling to have run 8 miles so easily. Suddenly everything is falling into place and I’m feeling confident about the half for the first time. Yesterday was my 85 minute 8.5 mile run and I’m feeling ready, prepared and fit for the 13.1 miles. Bring on the 10 mile run this weekend!

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