Ready, Steady FUN RUN!

Got a 1k, 5k or 10k run coming up?  Reduce the risk of injuries whilst on your fun run with these top tips to enjoy your run to the full.

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Happy feet = happy runner

Every runner will need different types of foot support, depending on their foot posture and loading technique.  I always recommend that people go to a specialist running shop, where they assess your gait and biomechanics and advise you accordingly.  Having said that, it’s really important not to wear a brand new pair of trainers on race day.  Start training in your new shoes and gradually get used to them well before you race competitively.

Do NOT carb load

Yes, if you’re running a half or full marathon you’ll need the extra energy, but for a relatively short race (1-10 kilometres) that pasta party the night before won’t really help.  Eat as you normally would but avoid any fatty or spicy food that might trigger gastrointestinal issues on the day – you could probably do without that!  On the morning of the run, eat a sensible breakfast as you normally would before training.  Have a small snack about an hour prior to the run to give yourself an extra burst of energy.

Warm up before your run

Before racing, it’s a good idea to slowly raise your heart rate and get your muscles ready to run.  Evidence has shown that warming up properly is the best way to prevent an injury and avoid DOMS – more on that later.

Start a slow jog or gentle warm up for about 5-10 minutes, then walk briskly to the start line.  If you are at an organised event with a group warm-up session, do take full advantage of it.  It will get your muscles warmed up and should get you pumped up and ready to enjoy the race.

Consider your position at the start line

people doing marathonDon’t be tempted to be the first to cross the start line, especially if you’re a newbie.  Standing too near the front will mean that seasoned runners will be racing past you, which can be off-putting.  It can also lead to a crash and burn early on, if you start too fast.  Pace yourself and listen to your body – it will thank you later.

Hydration is key

Take advantage of any water stations throughout the course to ensure your body stays well hydrated.  It’s worth slowing down for a few seconds to get that essential fuel in your body – you’ll make up for the time lost as hydrated muscles work far more efficiently than dehydrated ones.

Cool down and stretch immediately after running

quads foam roller.jpgYou crossed that line – woohoo!! But you’re not actually done yet.  Slow down and walk for a few minutes after the race to allow your heart rate and blood pressure to normalise.  Gently moving will improve blood flow, which helps remove lactic acid that will have built up during the run.

Additionally, do some gentle stretches to the main leg muscle groups such as quads, hamstrings and calves to relieve muscle tension.  You can foam roll your legs and then perform 30 second stretches as below to each muscle.

Don’t let DOMS dishearten you

DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the deep muscle ache that you feel for 24-48 hours after a workout.  You probably won’t feel it immediately, but you’ll know all about it when you try to get out of bed or climb the stairs for a couple of days after running.  This is a natural physiological reaction to your body exerting itself and is completely normal, especially if you haven’t pushed yourself as hard during training as you did during the race.  If you do suffer from DOMS, try having a hot bath, or you could use some Deep Heat or other warming balm to soothe sore muscles.

If you’re new to running, your body may take a few days to recuperate, so allow yourself time to recover. Continue to hydrate, eat nutritious food and get some good sleep for a few days following the run.

Have fun on your run!

Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a personal best, especially if it’s your first race.  Crossing the finish line and enjoying the experience are great achievements and not to be sniffed at! Relax and enjoy your accomplishment – you’ve earned it!

Phoebe

 

If you experience pain after running that persists longer than two days, please contact us.  We will happily discuss your pain with you and see if physiotherapy is the right course of action.

Slipped Disc and Back Pain explained

What is a slipped disc?

Slipped disc MRI -KB annotated
An MRI of a lumbar spine, demonstrating a slipped disc. The disc fluid bulges out, putting pressure on the spinal cord, causing pain in the back and/or the buttock, thigh or feet.

The spine is made up of 24 vertebrae, with soft, gel-like intervertebral discs that sit between each spinal vertebra.  The discs act as padding, absorbing impact and reducing shock to the spine during daily movements.

A ‘slipped disc’ is usually associated with trauma or an accident.  The outer-shell of the intervertebral disc becomes damaged, allowing the gel inside to leak out. The discs lie directly over the spinal nerve root, causing the protruding disc fluid to pressurise the nerve, causing localised back pain. When the nerve is pressed or irritated, people can experience neural symptoms, including numbness, tingling or weakness in the affected area.  Often, the sciatic nerve is compressed, resulting in sciatica or nerve pain into the buttocks, thigh or feet.  A ‘slipped’, ‘herniated’ and ‘bulged’ disc all refer to the same type of injury.  The diagnosis indicates the percentage of leaked disc fluid, and whether or not the nerve has been affected.

What causes a slipped disc?

A slipped disc is often but not always associated with trauma or a bending forward motion. With age, the discs lose some of their water content, making the disc less spongy, and more susceptible to injury following minimal strain. Sometimes twisting or turning whilst lifting heavy objects can cause a sudden sharp back pain.  The pain can be specific to the lower back, or cause burning or tingling down the leg.  Typically, people feel pain on one side only, however it can be more generalised across the lower back.

Management of a slipped disc

According to NHS statistics (2016) a third of UK adults experience some form of low back pain, although only 1 in 20 have a diagnosed disc issue.  Although anyone can suffer with low back pain, slipped discs typically affect people aged between 30-50.  Men are twice as likely to be affected by a slipped disc as women.

If you have slipped a disc, there are different management options available. Often, the pain improves naturally over time as the disc eventually shrinks away, reducing pressure and relieving pain on the nerve (see the Case Study at the bottom of page). This can take 6-8 weeks, or sometimes longer. A combination of pain-relief and physio can usually help to relieve the inflammation, tightness and pain in the back and legs.   A Physiotherapist will assess you and use a range of techniques to speed up healing, reduce pain and increase flexibility.  In severe cases, patients may need to consult an Orthopaedic Surgeon who will advise whether surgical procedures or steroid injections are necessary.

Self-management of a slipped disc or low back pain

If you suspect that you have a slipped disc, try to keep mobile and doing your usual activities. If you rest for too long, your joints may stiffen up further, exacerbating your back pain. You may need to take pain killers or anti-inflammatories and rest from the aggravating factors. This will keep your spine flexible, keep your muscles strong and help to speed up healing.  Pilates is an excellent way to help manage low back pain in the long-run.  This type of exercise has been shown to strengthen the core muscles, improve lumbar stability and control, and consequently prevent recurrent injuries.  A physiotherapist can advise when to start core strengthening exercises as part of your treatment programme.

Case Study:  The scan below belongs to a 29 year old woman who presented with pain and tingling in her right leg.  The patient had a steroid injection, as well as a course of physiotherapy, including massage, stretches and core strengthening. Within five months, her disc herniation had resolved, the pain and paresthesia had gone.  (Hong, J & Ball, P (2016) N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1564)

MRI of a lumbar spine showing slipped disc before and after treatment
MRI of a lumbar spine showing slipped disc before and after treatment Figure A: MRI at the time of injury; the yellow arrow shows a lumbar disc herniation and nerve root compression. Figure B: MRI at 5 months post-injury; the green arrow shows the disc is no longer compressing the nerve or spinal cord (white/grey column next to the vertebrae), with complete resolution of the slipped disc.

 

If your back pain is worrying you, please contact us to discuss how physiotherapy could help you.


Naomi Sofer, Specialist Physiotherapist

March 2017