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Avalon news and views

March 2016

Running: Article Two - Injury Prevention

With all injuries, prevention is better than cure and some simple knowledge can go a long way to keep you injury free. There is a sliding scale with all non-traumatic injuries, for instance, it would be very rare to wake up and suddenly have one of these four conditions. You will probably notice a niggling pain, gradually increasing in intensity until it has become an injury.

These are the four most common injuries that I see in both novice and experienced runners, and following that, some simple ways to avoid them.

Plantar fasciitis:

The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that connects the heel bone to the base of the toes. The characteristic symptoms are pain in the sole of the foot, at its most intense as soon as you get out of bed, easing the longer you are on your feet.

Knee pain:

I’ve used the term knee pain and not ‘runners knee’ because the latter is a specific injury type that, in my experience, is quite rare. If pain or visible swelling is present for any length of time following a trauma, then it’s possible that there is some tissue damage and this should be assessed. If your knees ache during or after running and this is gradually getting worse, then it’s something that should be addressed.

Shinsplints:

This is exercise induced pain on the front of the shin and while it can be a relatively mild injury it can be a precursor to something more serious, such as a stress fracture.

Muscle soreness:

This might seem obvious but the reason your muscles ache can vary. As you start to run you expect your muscles to ache as they are adapting to exercise and this is relatively normal. If you experience high levels of stiffness 24 hours post exercise that lasts for several days this is a sign of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and is more problematic. It’s caused by an accumulation of microtrauma to the muscle tissue and associated inflammation that induces pain.

The good news is that all of these conditions can be minimised or mediated with some simple good practice.

All your workouts should consist of a warm up period, the main exercise session and then a cool down period. I feel that the best way to achieve this is to briskly walk for 5 minutes or so before and after the running. The warm up will increase blood flow and warm the muscles up which increases flexibility and will protect from injury, whilst the cool down allows the body to remove the waste products from the muscles by slowing down the blood flow again to normal levels.

It’s a good idea to stretch after each run but if I’m going to be honest, I usually stretch the next day and get good results from this. I think this is partly that I’m more inclined to actually do the stretching, as when I’ve finished a run, stretching seems tedious.

Always wear correctly fitted footwear for the terrain you are running on. It’s worth seeking the advice of a reputable running shop that will carry out an assessment of your gait and find suitable shoes for the type of running you plan to do. You don’t need to spend a fortune but bear in mind that this is your biggest investment in a pastime that is essentially free in every other aspect.

Don’t go too fast, too far, too quickly. Sudden rapid increase in distance, speed or amount of hills can easily stress your body too quickly for it to adapt, and cause injury. As a general rule, you should not increase any aspect of running more than 10% a week and only increase one aspect at a time. From the injuries I treat, I feel it is safer to focus on running for a longer time rather than running at a faster pace.

Don’t run through pain - it’s there as a warning signal. When starting out it can be difficult to differentiate between an ache and pain but the criteria I apply to myself is, if it’s sharp pain around a joint, then I will take some time to find out what is happening.

Allow yourself time to rest. It’s great to be enthusiastic but I think that your body will thank you for starting off gently and giving it time to recover as you progress.

DISCLAIMER

When I’m asked the question “can anyone run?”, the simple answer is “yes, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should.”. As examples, if you are on any kind of prescribed medication you must speak to your GP or consultant about how best to exercise and if you are significantly overweight, it may be better to combine a controlled diet with walking until considering running.

Posted 21-03-16

Running: Article One - Starting Out

If you’re considering starting running, the chances are that weight loss/control and improving fitness are two of the most important goals.

Without going into too much detail, when we walk we can be exerting a force 2-6 times our body weight through our knees and when we run the force can be much greater.

This means that for every pound we are overweight there will be several extra pounds of pressure on the knee. Conversely, every pound of weight we lose will relieve several pounds of pressure from the joint. This can be shown to have a direct effect on the risk factors for osteoarthritis as well as helping protect from heart disease and diabetes.

To lose 1 pound of excess weight we need to burn roughly 3500 calories, so to achieve this loss in 1 week means a reduction in calorie intake of 500 a day. This is a lot to lose from diet alone but to remove 250 from the diet and burn 250 extra from exercise makes it seem a lot more achievable. This equates to an average chocolate bar and a 20-30 min jog which psychologically is much less imposing than relying exclusively on either.

An achievable goal to begin with would be 2-3 exercise sessions a week and although initially this does not equal 3500 calories, it is a very safe starting point. Combined with some simple dietary changes such as reducing the amount of sugar in your diet, positive change should be seen very quickly.

For the first few weeks your exercise should be a mixture of jogging at an easy pace interspersed with recovery periods of walking. There are many free apps for IOS and android smartphones that will specifically train you from zero to 5K in around 10 weeks. This one is endorsed by the NHS http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k.aspx. Ten weeks may be longer than necessary for some people but this timescale will make it much less likely that you pick up one of the most common injuries along the way.

DISCLAIMER

When I’m asked the question “can anyone run?”, the simple answer is “yes, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should.”. As examples, if you are on any kind of prescribed medication you must speak to your GP or consultant about how best to exercise and if you are significantly overweight, it may be better to combine a controlled diet with walking until considering running.

 

 

Posted 08-03-16

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