Lacing up for spring
After a long winter, spring is finally here and, although we still have a little time to go to really enjoy the warmth, this change in the season often brings about associated change in our workout regime and training as we move our running back outdoors to enjoy the fresh air. Whether you are putting on your running shoes for the first time this year, moving outdoors from the treadmill, or getting more focused with workouts in preparation for a race event, such as the Bluenose Marathon, which is fast approaching in May, running is a great way to get fit and improve your physical and mental health and wellbeing. The rewards for running are numerous and include:
- Improved cardiovascualar health and endurance
- Improved lung function and respiratory efficiency;
- Weight loss
- Boosted immune system
- Lower breast cancer risk in women
- Prevention of musculoskelteal injuries by maintaining muscle tone
- Improved joint range-of-motion and flexibility
- Reduced muscle and bone loss that occurs with age – through the forces exerted on the skeletal system, running can help stimulate bone formation and increase bone density, in the lower body and spine
- Improved energy levels, reduced stress and elevated mood
- Opportunity to learn new skills and build friendships
Spring is a time for renewal and change. Whatever your motivation for running this season, and whatever your level, bear in mind theses simple tips to help keep you running in good health to reduce your chance of injury:
- Make sure you have a pair of good quality running shoes – this is a great opportunity to re-assess your running shoes and replace them if need be. There is no “universal” shoe. We are all built differently so take the time to find the best type of shoe for your feet and running style so you have the support you need, both for shock absorption and control/stabilization of the foot, to keep you running comfortably and reducing the chance of injury. If you need help choosing the right shoe, visit a local running store for advice.
- Consider using orthotics – orthotics may be helpful in improving the mechanical efficiency of the feet, correcting lower extremity mechanics and alignment. Innate issues such as fallen arches or a leg length difference may contribute to problems elsewhere in the body, such as with your ankles, knees, hips and spine.
- Run smart and respect your body’s limits – listen to your body and stop before the point of injury, gradually build up distance with proper progression of training, have rest days, be aware of good running form and vary your terrain so as to vary the strains on your body. If you need advice on your technique and training, attend one of the many running training clinics in the city.
- Warm up before you run to warm up the muscles for the run ahead. Jogging is a great warm up. Even if you are only doing a short run, ease into it with a gentle jog for the first mile or so, before gradually settling into a comfortable pace.
- Cool down at the end of your run to prevent your muscles from tightening up.
- Stretch – stretch after your run to help maintain flexibility, ease tight muscles and reduce the chance of injury. Pay particular attention to stretching your calves, thighs, hips and buttocks and hold stretches for at least 30 seconds, repeating 3 times for each muscle group. Be careful not to overstretch as this can cause injury (stretching . should not be painful). Avoid stretching before your run when your muscles are cold and tight but feel free to stop and stretch after one or two miles into your run, once you’ve warmed up, otherwise wait until the end.
- Keep warm when running outdoors by wearing layers, especially if it’s cold (layers can easily be removed if you get hot).
- Stay hydrated
- Make sure you are visible if you are running at night.
- Prevention is better than cure… visit your osteopathic manual practitioner for a regular tune-up to correct any imbalances before they become a problem, to help keep you moving better, to reduce the chance of injury as you increase your training.
Running injuries and osteopathic manual therapy
Hopefully the tips outlined above will help to keep you running in good health, and injury free. However, should an injury arise, we have a team of dedicated healthcare professionals on hand, here at the Halifax Osteopathic Health Centre, to help get you back on track, inclduing ostoepathic manual practitioners, massage therapists, physiotherapists and an traditional chinese acupuncturist.
As with all physical exercise, there is always the potential for injury, even for the most experienced of runners, especially during periods of strenuous training. As said by John Jerome, author of The Elements of Effort “When you are using yourself hard – and enjoying it – overuse is never very far away”.
Running injuries can generally be split into two kinds: injuries from trauma (such as following a fall), or injuries from overuse. Overuse injuries are perhaps the most common and can be chronic and persistent if left alone, untreated. They can result from over-training, wearing unsuitable or worn-out running shoes, running on unsuitable terrain, coming back from injury too quickly, or innate/structural/biomechanical issues, including hyper-mobility (too much flexibility) hypo-mobility (too little), flat feet, or a leg length difference, for example.
Common running injuries include ligament sprains, torn or inflamed tendons, muscle tears and repetitive strain injuries, especially relating to the knees, hips, shins and ankles, such as Runner’s knee, patella tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis and shin splints. As well as lower extremity injuries, runners can also experience pains elsewhere in the body, such as low-back pain.
Learn to listen to your body and stop and rest if you start feeling niggling aches and pains. If a sudden or nagging injury doesn’t resolve on it’s own, with rest, then consider seeing an osteopathic manual practitioner for further assessment. Your practitioner will not only assess and treat the specific area causing you pain, but they will also look at the injury in relation to the rest of your body’s structure, identifying other related areas of tension and restriction, elsewhere in the body, that may be upsetting the system, contributing to less efficient running and eventual injury. Osteopathic manual practitioners take a global approach to assessment and treatment, to restore the body’s natural equilibrium and harmony, and running is an activity that requires whole body engagement if it is to be done well and efficiently.
Osteopathic manual treatment utilises a range of techniques to help reduce your pain and facilitate your recovery to help get you back running as quickly as possible, including soft tissue stretching and joint articulation. Advice on specific stretches may also be given to aid both in injury recovery and prevention, as well as referral to other healthcare practitioners as needed, including massage therapy, physiotherapy, to address muscles imbalances for example, and/or orthotics referral.
Pilates for Runners
Kelly Whitman, a physiotherapist and certified Pilates Instructor at the Halifax Osteopathic Health Centre, is offering a new session of ‘Pilates for Runners’ beginning on May 23, 2017. The 6-week session involves a weekly one-hour Physio-Pilates class for runners of ALL levels, focusing on improving flexibility, strength, alignment, and core stability. Addressing muscle imbalances caused by running can help prevent overuse injuries and improve running form and efficiency. Fee is $120 (billed as group physiotherapy) and pre-registration is required. For more information go to revivephysio.ca/classes.
References and Resources
(Online – http://aerobicsfirst.com) (Accessed on 20th April 2017)
Bahr, R. & Maehlum, S. (Eds.). (2004). Clinical Guide to Sports Injuries: An Illustrated Guide to the Management of Injuries in Physical Activity. Oslo: Gazette bok
Brukner, P. & Khan, K. (2002). Clinical Sports Medicine. (Revised 2nd ed). Australia: McGraw-Hill Australia Pty Limited
Guten, G. N. (Ed.) (1997). Running Injuries. USA: W.B. Saunders Company
Kowalchik, C. (1999); The Complete Book of Running for Women: Everything you need to know about training, nutrition, injury prevention, motivation, racing and much, much more. New York, NY: Pocket Books
The Running Room
(Online – https://www.runningroom.com/hm/) (Accessed on 20th April 2017)