Marathon runners...a how-to guide for injury prevention

Monday 26th January 2015

The marathon season is slowly creeping up on us! As you begin to increase your mileage it is so important to look after your body now so it will look after you in April! Avoid the setback of any potential injuries early on and don't suffer in silence. Here at Body Rehab we're here to address any issues to make sure you're putting your best foot forward as you plod the pavements.

So here is our how-to guide for avoiding running injuries... type certainly doesn't fit all!

With such a great variety of running trainers out there it can be difficult to decide which to go for. Choosing the right shoe can make a perfect partnership, but choosing the wrong one can result in muscle imbalances and poor running posture. Running in the wrong shoes for long distance runners can cause a multitude of problems. Certain muscles can become overused and tired whilst others aren't used enough, making you more prone to injury. 

Running trainers can generally be divided into three categories, stability, performance and minimalist. The type of trainer you choose will depend on your running style and the shape of your feet. An experienced shoe retailer can use gait analysis to identify your running style and will encourage you to try running in the shoe itself before buying. We personally recommend Nick Rivett (just metres from Body Rehab) and RUN Brighton. 

If you bought a brand spanking new pair of trainers to begin your training, remember to keep an eye on your shoes for wear and tear. The trainers you bought pre-marathon training will not support you in the same way after mile upon mile of long-distance running. Once the support is gone, you could be vulnerable to shin splints and other nasty injuries. Check the soles, on the heel and the sides of the soles. If they are tired out and look worn down, it could be time to replace them. 

Still unsure? Why not come down and see us for an MOT check and bring your trainers with you? 

Don't push through the pain..

Running through your pain threshold won't make you a hero, but it might prevent you from reaching race-day.  66% of Brighton marathon drop-outs last year were because of injury. Stop the injury before it stops you!

All long-distance runners occasionally suffer from aches and pains. If you do get injured, ice the area and rest for 48 hours. You can try a gentle jog after this time for 15 minutes to test the waters. If there are no repercussions ease slowly back into your training but keep an eye for any tenderness or niggles.

If however the problem bothers you on consecutive runs, you need to check it out with a physio.  It is very tempting to ignore the problem in the hope it will go away so you can stick to your training schedule.  Addressing the root cause of an ache or pain you notice in training can prevent a chronic injury or secondary problem. Prevention is far easier than cure. At Body Rehab our team of expert physios use 'hands on' therapy, ultrasound, taping and acupuncture. These are expert 'damage limitation' techniques for your tired muscles, reducing pain and inflammation and working to prevent any secondary injuries that could rear their ugly heads. 

Sports massage and stretching - get ahead of the game!

Treat your body to some TLC with a sports massage to keep your body in check. A regular sports massage will check your muscles are in good working order, identify tight areas and keep your body in good alignment. A good therapist may identify tight areas you weren't even aware of. The repetitive movements of sports massage can improve circulation and blood supply to your weary muscles. This can play an amazing part in recovery, increase flexibility and help to get rid of post-running soreness. 

Stretching pre and post run prevents injuries, reduces stiffness and helps to relax your muscles. Don't wait until you're injured to begin stretching, get ahead of the game and keep your muscles working like a well oiled engine! Tight muscles cannot perform well together and won't reach their full range of motion. Pre-run you should be doing some dynamic stretches to warm up the body effectively. This warms your muscles and increases blood flow, waking up your body nicely. We recommend running specific stretches including lunges and knee raises. 

The best time to stretch statically is after your run when your muscles are nice and warm. This will help your muscles to relax, re-align and restore normal range of movement. Hold stretches for a full 30 seconds and remember to stretch the front and the back of the body equally. These are all available on the Brighton Marathon website so there are no excuses for not stretching properly!

Time out- your body will thank you

Rest, relaxation and zzz.

Rest days are essential to provide recovery for your muscles after grueling longer runs. Don't schedule two hard sessions two days in a row. This is simply not enough time for your body to stock up on the glycogen levels it needs for the next session. Instead schedule an easier, shorter run between sessions. Failing to do this can cause fatigue, and fatigue can make you far more prone to injury. 

Sleep is also a huge factor in how your body recovers. Like a master reset button, a good sleep gives your body a chance to repair itself. Running on an empty tank will get you nowhere. Lack of sleep weakens the immune system and interferes with our levels of glucose, which in turn will influence the muscles. Although some may feel energized after 6.5 hours sleep whilst others need 9, make sure you are getting enough for you. If you are training for a marathon you will need more sleep than the norm. If you deny your body the rest it needs you make yourself more likely to become injured or to pick up an infection - make this priceless TLC an essential part of your training regime!

Mix up your workout - balance your training (and your body)

Don't just run! Adding in other forms of exercise such as Pilates or Cross Training can really benefit your marathon training. Pilates can give you a foundation of fantastic core strength. It can balance the body and make you aware of your posture as well as any tight areas. Alongside your running, Pilates can help to stretch out these areas, enhancing flexibility and range of movement to the tight spots. 

Cross Training also has great plus points. Used by Mo Farah amongst other pro athletes, the non-impact exercise increases your cardiovascular fitness whilst training all the muscles in the body. Although strong leg muscles are essential for you runners, it's also important to pay attention to other muscles in the body. When you run you are not only challenging your legs, but also your core strength, pelvic stability and even your upper body. Training all your muscles in unison will therefore greatly support your marathon training and boost your pavement performance.

If you have an ache you are worried about, come and see us to assess the issue. We see most of our marathon runners just weeks before race day. Rather than waiting, why not avoid the stress and try our Perfect Preparation Package including an MOT and 2 sports massages for a discounted price.  Our MOT assessment is exclusively for Brighton marathoners, including a core assessment and check up to ensure you're right on track. Find out more here or ring to book your initial appointment. 

Like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter for more top tips!