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Every runner needs a physio, and not just when they’re injured.

Written by Dan Barratt & Adrian D’Costa

Measuring and comparing footstrike @therunningroom

Injury is every athlete's worst nightmare. Watching the Euros final last weekend, I couldn’t help but feel a real and genuine sadness for Germany’s top scoring striker Alexandra Popp, who suffered a tournament ending injury just moments before taking to the pitch for a once in a lifetime, dream moment.

We as runners, just as in any sport, face our own set of potential injuries and niggles. We’re lucky that we’re not exposed to some of the injuries contact sports face, and the risk of something happening that’s beyond your control (like a tackle) is lowered. Whilst this allows us to be proactive with injury prevention and minimise risk, we expose ourselves to the risk of injury due to repetitive movements, including Achilles, knee, calf, quad and hip related injuries to name a few.

But injury is just part of sport. Or is it? There’s nothing more frustrating than being stuck inside, unable to take part in the sports or exercises that allows us to express who we are as people. For us runners especially, should we be waiting until we feel something twinge or until pain stops us from being able to lace up the shoes and run, as that’s just the inevitable result of lots of training? Absolutely not.

We often open up our phone book, find a physio and ring them when we’ve already got a problem. Physios are often associated with injury rehabilitation. We tend to treat them a bit like our parents, who we turn to to wave a magic wand to fix something when we have a problem and then don’t speak to them again for another 3-6 months.

But what if your physio could help to ensure that problem didn’t exist in the first place? The process we work through with physio’s after rehabilitation is to prevent it from happening again. But where physios can be just as important is in two areas: preventing potential injuries from happening in the first place; and by improving running performance.

Developing a close and ongoing relationship with a physio should be an important part of every runner's routine. Affordability is of course a big factor, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you should be thinking about remortgaging your house to do so. When we’re rehabilitating injuries, the frequency (i.e. weekly, fortnightly, monthly) that we may need to see a physio is usually higher (i.e. depending on severity) than when working on injury prevention.

Measuring and comparing footstrike @therunningroom

Here’s what Adrian D’Costa of R&D Physio and the Official London Marathon Physio for 2022 had to say about the how regularly working with a physio can help to contribute to both running performance and injury prevention:

Understanding your stride length: Understanding how your foot makes contact with the ground, and how well you push off the ground can help to anticipate what injuries we could end up facing further down the line. Over-striding and heavy heel striking can be a good predictor of future hip problems, whilst front-loading the foot strike too much can be a good predictor of future knee problems.

Improving running efficiency: Improving our cadence needs to be done with guidance and care. Increasing cadence comes with shifting load and this can overload structures like muscles, tendons and joints. Additionally, there is NO magic number - cadence changes need to be made with consideration of a runner's preferred cadence to avoid significant overload on the body (both structurally and metabolically).

Strength and Conditioning: similarly to how rehabilitative exercises help us to rebuild strength and endurance around injured areas, preventative exercises can help runners to build strength and endurance around working muscle groups regardless of whether we’re injured or not. S&C is often neglected by both casual and elite runners for a number of reasons, including time, and the perception of running vs weight training. But S&C should be a fundamental part of every runner's repertoire as it helps our muscles to adapt to the progressive overload that comes with upping mileage and intensity. Physios are able to help us determine weaker muscle groups and areas before we become injured which will help to improve overall performance and also contribute to injury prevention.

Save you time and money in the long run (no pun intended): By investing in a physio for injury prevention and running performance, you may actually be saving yourself time and money in the future. By preventing injuries, this may save you needing to fork out for more regular physio further down the line when you run into an injury.

Ensure you stay a happy and healthy runner: Fundamentally, physios can also give you an indication if you’re overloaded and how to best balance your activity to get the most from your running and live a happy, healthy life. A physio will help us to understand our bodies better, diagnose known or unknown issues and help us to recognise our limits. In turn, you’ll have the best chance of staying fit and healthy so that you can continue to reap whatever benefits from your running that make it such an important part of your life.

Every runner and running coach should have a trusted physio as part of their team. We pride ourselves at Best Athletics on working closely with the talented physios at R&D Physio and The Running Room. Creating a strong link between Athlete, Physio and coaches where applicable gives you the best chance of staying injury free, so that you can continue putting one foot in front of the other.

To hear more from physio Adrian and learn more about R&D physio and The Running Room, you can follow him on Instagram via:



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