We came across this fab infographic this week from The Strength Continuum, clearly summarising some research carried out into the most effective way in reducing your risk of injury.
You still see it, day in day out. People obsessively stretching before and after exercising and in between exercise sessions. But the evidence is quite clear, stretching before or after exercise isn’t going to play a significant part in reducing your risk of injury, when compared to other measures.
If you’re a regular exerciser, the risk of picking up injury can often feature in the back of your mind. So what are the best steps to take to reduce the risk of picking up an injury?
According to this research, having a varied exercise programme (multiple exposure), training your proprioception (so balance and co-ordination) and working on your strength will help reduce your risk of injury. In fact, strength training reduced sports injuries to less than a third and the risk of picking up an overuse injury was halved.
Although there isn’t a magic way to totally prevent injury, taking the right steps can certainly play a big part in minimising the risk of injury.
That’s why here at goPhysio, we incorporate strength training into your recovery through a range of services. We’re extremely privileged to have an onsite facility, our STRONG ROOM! Having access to this amazing space enables us to make sure we can teach, guide and support people to work on their strength as part of their recovery process and beyond.
If you’d like some support with your injury, interested in getting started with getting strong but don’t know where to start, get in touch!
When we created our new clinic space in 2016, we were very clear that we wanted to create a specific space for rehabilitation, supervised exercise and strength & conditioning training. All the evidence and latest research into the best outcomes with training and recovery points towards strength training being the gold standard for outcomes and long term physical durability.
So, when you visit us at goPhysio. You’ll find this dedicated space, aptly named THE STRONG ROOM!
Why The Strong Room?
As many local residents may recall, 11 Bournemouth Road, Chandlers Ford, was once a National Westminster Bank. What does every bank need? A vaulted safe room, of course, AKA a strong room. When we purchased the property, the original strong room was still in situ.
The heavily re-enforced walls and roof no longer served their purpose and to fit in with our grand plans, this area of the building was demolished. (Not an easy task I can add!). If you’re interested you can see the demolition and building works here or you may have seen our photo journal if you’ve been to the clinic!
In it’s place, a new space was created, to house our rehabilitation service. As an adage to what once stood there, we decided to name this space The Strong Room. Why? Because this space focuses on improving strength (amongst other things!).
What is rehabilitation?
Physiotherapy and sports therapy for people with aches, pains, musculoskeletal and sports injuries, unless you were a high level athlete with access to such facilities, traditionally consisted of treatment based around a treatment couch. Such treatments were often pretty passive, and accompanied by a programme of exercises for the injured person to complete in their own time at home. These exercises are generally progressed at the next physiotherapy session until the patient felt ‘better’ and able to resume normal activities.
However, the outcome and success of treatment often falls on adherence to exercise, the correct exercise technique and the type, timing and progression of the exercises linked to tissue healing and functional goals.
With instant access to both the facilities that offer a huge range of exercise programmes and onsite support of our specialist Graduate Sports & Rehabilitation Therapy team to augment our Physiotherapy team, this space is a great asset to what we can offer you at goPhysio.
The space is used for both 1-2-1 rehabilitation during physio or sports therapy sessions and also regular small group rehab and specialist young rehab for under 16’s. What’s great about it is that it isn’t an intimidating or scare environment. You receive full support, from a team of friendly, clinically trained specialists – a wonderful combination of facilities and expertise, all under one roof!
If you’re in the clinic, let us show you the great facilities we have on offer and find out more about how it could help you.
No one wants an injury, particularly runners. Not being able to run because of an injury is highly frustrating.
The good news is, so many running injuries can be avoided very easily with the right understanding, knowledge, preparation and planning.
Here, we’d like to share with you some top ways of helping to prevent an injury if you’re a runner.
Warm Up Effectively
A solid warm up should consist of foam rolling (which can improve performance), mobility work to maximise joint health and longevity, dynamic stretching and muscle activation to fire up the key players in running (calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes). Running backwards is a great way of activating your glutes which play a huge role in stabilising the hips and promoting good form when running forwards. Read more about warming up here.
Know your run. If you’re heading out on a new route, make sure you know the terrain, any obstacles, gradients or side-planes and are equipped for the specific weather and conditions that you’re running in.
Increase mileage safely and run with proper form. There are so many resources now online to help guide and direct your training in a ‘smart’ way. This is crucial to preventing injuries if you’re serious about progressing your running. Joining a running club or group is a great way to get guidance and support too.
Beginners should avoid increasing their mileage every week. Instead try every 3-4 weeks. Add an extra day into your running week to increase your weekly mileage. Advanced runners should increase their mileage by 5-10% of their current mileage and remain there until they’re comfortable. This may take several weeks. Injury can occur easily if you ramp up your speed or mileage too quickly. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!
If you’ve been injury free for a long time and you aren’t looking to shave seconds off of your PB, we wouldn’t advise you to alter your running form. Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a ‘perfect’ running technique. Technique only really needs addressing if it’s causing you problems, if not, then don’t try and change it!
However, if you have an injury and a gait analysis suggests you would benefit from altering your form, it would make sense to address this issue. You might try to reduce your stride length so that you plant the foot with a vertical shin, this will reduce the forces transmitted through your legs and limit any deceleration from planting your foot too far forward. Also, try to maintain space between the knees. Allowing the thigh to internally rotate or drop in when you run can lead to overuse injuries occurring at the hip, knee and foot.
Ensure that you wear a comfortable shoe that fits well. Rubbing and blisters can put an end to anybody’s run. Don’t be tempted to buy the shoes that look the nicest, fashion won’t help keep you injury free. If you have low arches, find a shoe that supports you in the areas that you need it. Seek professional advice from a reputable running shop where you can try the shoes and they have video gait analysis. Read more about the importance of getting your footwear right here.
Strength Work Between Runs
A stronger kinetic chain will decrease ground reaction forces (GRF), making running more comfortable and more efficient. Working on your core stability will promote the transfer of forces from your upper and lower limbs, meaning less work for your legs. Strong glutes will stabilise your hips and prevent poor biomechanical loading from occurring. Pilates is a great way to help this or specific strength and conditioning exercises.
Balance & Proprioception
Proprioception is your body’s awareness of where it is in space – so your joints and brain and muscles all talking to each other! Along with balance, it’s a crucial component to keeping you injury free. It enables your body to cope and respond to uneven terrain, pot holes and curbs and varied weather conditions. Both are very trainable with the right exercises.
If you’ve ever sprained an ankle and haven’t undergone a rehabilitation programme, the chances of you re-spraining that same ankle are very high. After an injury your ankle suffers from a loss of proprioceptive ability and strength, which needs to be rebuilt with balance, proprioception and strength work. If you’re lucky enough to have never sprained an ankle but enjoy running both on and off road, lower limb stability with balance and proprioception work should be a part of your regular gym routine.
Catching Minor Injuries In The Early Stages (Recognition & Treatment)
Being able to recognise the early stages of injury will allow you to nip them in the bud before they become an issue. Examples include plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathy, shin splints, runners knee or patella tendinopathy, ITB syndrome and muscle strains. As soon as any signs or symptoms are noticed, your best option is to consult an injury specialist. We all know what muscle soreness (DOMS) feels like. If it’s a different pain, don’t run through it or just think you can rest, it will disappear and then you can get straight back to your 10 miles!
We provide you with easy access to help and support if you’ve developed a running injury. The majority of running injuries are what we term ‘overuse injuries‘ and need a highly trained and experienced professional to really help you get to the root cause and address it effectively.
Cool Down Correctly
Exercise causes our muscles to break down on a microscopic level, which can lead to muscle shortening if left untreated. Stretching after running will help maintain the resting length of your muscles and prevent any imbalances from occurring. Sports massage is a great way of helping recover too. A sports massage will help flush out any lactic acid and waste products left sitting in your muscles following exercise, as well as promote the flow of nutrient-rich blood to those areas to facilitate healing and decrease recovery times.
Sleep is very important when talking about injury prevention in runners. When you sleep, hormones are released that promote recovery. When you don’t get enough sleep, stress hormones and inflammatory markers remain elevated which adversely affects your ability to recover. These hormones can also alter appetite regulation, potentially leading to weight gain. To remain injury-free, you need to sleep and recover to the best of your ability. Establish good habits by going to and getting out of bed at the same time each day, and try to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep each night as a minimum, 8 hours is great. Read how we think sleep is the magic elixir for runners on a previous blog here.
Do these eBibs from ilovetorun resonate with anyone? Certainly ‘run true’ for a lot of injured runners we see at the clinic!
You might be surprised to hear that there is no such thing as ‘Perfect Posture’. It has become a deeply ingrained belief that slouching will lead to back problems. However, the most recent evidence makes it clear that posture variability – so changing positions regularly, is the most effective way to prevent back issues. In fact, trying to hold yourself straight and upright all the time may even add to back problems, as you’ll be creating unnecessary muscular tension.
But, that said, if you do spend a lot of your day sitting at a computer, driving or sat in meetings, doing regular exercises such as Pilates, can be really beneficial.
Here’s some excellent Pilates exercises that may help combat the effects of sitting.
#1 Spine Twist
Starting position: Natural standing position. Centre engaged.
Cross your arms over your chest and place the palms onto the front of your shoulders.
Action: Breathe in to prepare.
Breathe out as you twist your upper body to the right, keeping your pelvis stable. Imagine growing taller from your waist as you twist.
Breathe in as you twist your upper body back to the centre, maintaining a lengthened spine.
Repeat up to ten times alternating sides.
#2 Arm Openings Level 2
Start Position: Lie on your side with your shoulders and hips stacked. Head supported on a small cushion. Ensure your back is in neutral and your centre is engaged. Hips bent to approx. 45 degrees and knees bent to 90 degrees. Arms reaching in front of the body and resting one on top of the other.
Action: INHALE to prepare.
EXHALE, float the top arm upwards and over your head, beginning the first part of a circular motion, keep the eyes in line with the hand.
INHALE for the second half of the circle as you return to the starting position.
Tips: Imagine holding a piece of chalk in the top hand and drawing a large circle above the body for level two. Think of your shoulder blade drawing downwards as the top arm lifts like the counter weight on a railway gate.
Start Position: lie on your stomach with a cushion under your tummy for support if required. Ensure centre is engaged, shoulder baldes are drawn down and back of your neck is long. Bend your arms into an ‘L’ shape and place your elbows slightly higher than shoulder height. Hips turned outwards and legs wider than hip width apart.
Action: INHALE to prepare.
EXHALE, gently slide your shoulder blades downwards and lengthen your upper body off the mat, using your hands for support. Maintain length from the crown of the head to your tailbone and continue peeling your body away the mat, section by section until your hip bones are lifted.
INHALE and hold your cobra position.
EXHALE, layer your body back down onto the mat commencing with your hip bones and finishing with your forehead to return to neutral spine position.
Tips: Imagine peeling the body away from the mat section by section beginning with the forehead, then the shoulders, breastbone, lower ribcage, waist then hip bones. Reach your tailbone towards your heels to prevent over extending your lower back.
#4 Breaststroke Prep Level 2
Starting position: Lie on your front. Forehead resting on a small (1 inch) cushion or folded towel. Back of the neck long. Arms resting long beside the body on the floor. Palms facing inwards. Neutral lumbo-pelvic position. Legs out straight, hip-distance apart.
Action: Inhale to prepare
Exhale, slide the shoulder blades gently downwards and reach from the shoulder blades to the fingertips towards the feet and allow the arms to hover 1 2 inches off the mat. Simultaneously, lengthen the upper body off the mat to hover the breastbone approx, 1 inch form the floor (no lumbar extension). Keep the back of the neck long.
Inhale and hold the position.
Exhale, relax the shoulder blades and arms to the mat. Simultaneously, lengthen the upper body as to lowers to the mat to return to the starting position. Keep the back of the neck long.
Repeat 6 – 8 times.
#5 Swan Dive Level 1
Starting position: Lie on your front. Legs out straight, hip-distance apart. Arms bent up beside the body, with the elbows slightly below the level of the shoulders. Forehead resting on small cushion or folded towel. Neck long.
Action: Inhale to prepare.
Exhale, lift your breastbone to hover off the floor, allow the neck and head to follow the movement, keeping the neck long.
Inhale and hold the position.
Exhale and lower the breastbone to the mat, allow the neck and head to follow the movement, keeping the neck long.
Repeat 6 – 8 times.
Doing these exercises throughout the week can be really helpful at easing any built up stiffness and areas of tension and reminding muscles to work! But there’s no substitute for moving regularly. Don’t forget, the most important thing is moving and changing position throughout the day!
Pilates is a great form of low impact exercise to help strengthen your core muscles, improve your posture and help to keep you flexible and mobile. Whilst doing a class once a week is a great start, you can bring some of the key elements of Pilates into your daily life to get even more benefit from Pilates.
Here are five ways you can bring Pilates into your everyday life:
#1 Engage your core
This isn’t just for Pilates classes! Keeping your core gently engaged through the day when you are moving around is a great way to further strengthen your core. Practice makes perfect! Try engaging your core before you get out of bed in the morning, before climbing a flight of stairs or before bending down to reach into a cupboard. Read more about this key building block of Pilates here.
#2 Move correctly
Pilates classes involve a series of slow, well controlled movements. Take this principle and apply it to all your movements, thinking about moving in a more purposeful and controlled manner, rather than rushing from A to B with no thought! Avoid any sudden or jerky movements and aim for smooth stable movements. Think quality of movement from the cues you might have picked up in your classes.
#3 Be Mindful of Your Posture
Imagine you have a helium balloon attached to the top of your head, pulling your spine up tall to stop you slouching. Think about sliding your shoulder blades back and down into your back pockets to open your chest and keep your upper back strong. Tuck your chin in slightly and keep the back of your neck long. If you work in an office and spend a lot of time sitting or in 1 position for long periods of time, you can start to feel the effects – by keeping these principles in mind you’ll be more productive and feel less achy at the end of the day!
#4 Keep breathing
Try bringing some Pilates style breathing into your day – place your hands on your ribs and take a deep breath in, filling and expanding your lungs all the way to the base. Hold the breath for a moment and then exhale, pushing all the air out your lungs. Repeat 3-5 times. This is a great way to bring some calm or clarity to a busy day!
#5 Stretch it out
Start or finish your day with some basic Pilates stretches to get your body warmed up for the day ahead or cooled down after a long day. Try a ‘Cat Stretch’ on all fours to get your spine moving and then take it into a ‘Thread the Needle’ to get some rotational movement. Use a ‘Childs Pose’ or ‘Shell Stretch’ to relax and unwind at the end of the day.