Thousands of people will be doing the London Marathon for the first time this April. Some will be experienced runners ready for a challenge and others may be relatively new to running and may not fully appreciate the stresses and strains put on the body with such a repetitive sport.
So how can a Physio help me?
Physios are trained to analyse the way we move and to be able to identify when someone is not using the best strategy. I’m sure you’ve noticed many different running styles!
My husband always laughs at the way I point out to him runners in Richmond Park who have quirky habits that I know may well lead to trouble later on. Some are obvious asymmetries like an exaggerated kick out to the side that even my husband can spot! But others have small, subtle variations that, when repeated over time, can be just as troublesome.
As well as looking at someone’s overall style of running we can then break our assessment down into much finer focus.
Flexibility: Sometimes an old niggle which has not been properly resolved can lead to joint stiffness. Or you can just be on the stiffer end of the flexibility scale. Some runners can be hypermobile (too flexible) meaning they can have issues in controlling their limbs sufficiently. We examine your range of joint movement to ensure you have sufficient flexibility in your body to run fluidly.
Core strength: It is very important that the deep postural muscles of the trunk – like the deep abdominals, back and shoulder blade muscles – are doing a good job. If you lack this ‘core stability’ then there is no firm platform from which your leg and arm muscles can work from. The pelvis and shoulder girdle and surrounding muscles provide this platform. We will check all the deep postural areas.
Power: Strength in your lower limbs is important if you are to avoid injury. Being such a long race you need endurance too.
Postural symmetry: Simple things like favouring one side of your body and leaning too much one way can lead to problems on one side. We will look at the symmetry of your body and make sure your alignment is as good as it can be.
Muscle length and tightness: We look at the length of your muscles to check you are not overly tight in one or two muscle groups – or that you have tightness in one side of your body.
We check your general fitness too – no good having the legs for it but no puff!
It is true that some runners have a very strange running style that never gives them any bother – take Paula Radcliffe and her waggling head! But in general some simple advice and correction given at the start can greatly reduce your risk of developing a problem during your training period up to the marathon and beyond. So if you have just signed up – contact the clinic and book an appointment to get checked out.
Our running clinic specialists can give you a running assessment and advise on improving running performance, avoiding injury and recovering from problems.
Other running articles by our specialists
- Is sports massage a luxury or a necessity?
- Getting your nutrition and hydration right on marathon race day
- Running a marathon? Is sports massage a luxury or a necessity?
- Running a marathon? Read our Physio, Nic Pugh’s marathon story
- Voucher offer for marathon runners
- Running the London Marathon? Why it’s a good idea to get checked out by a Physio first
- London Marathon – race day preparations
- 10 top tips for injury free running