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Consultants Corner: Running

Doctors from BMI Healthcare share their expertise.

28 September 2018

Running has long been a popular sport and with it being easily accessible and often social, it’s no wonder why. Whether a seasoned athlete or an amateur we are all susceptible to injury and so we have been speaking to one of our Specialist Orthopaedic Consultants at The Chiltern Hospital, Mr Ahmad Malik, to get his advice on how we can minimise injury to our bones and joints.

I’ve heard that running can damage joints and I’m concerned about the impact it is having, what can I do to reduce the risk of damaging my joints?
Keeping to a sensible weight is always helpful and avoiding overtraining is essential. You should also use good absorbing footwear and vary the surfaces that you run on - look for softer surfaces and try to keep the hard pavements and surfaces to a minimum.

You should also make sure you are generally fit by cross training in other disciplines such as cycling, swimming or gym work – these will all help build strength.

If I feel any aches or pains after a run, what would you suggest I do?
Localised pain can be treated with resting and the application of ice.  You are probably aware of the RICE technique (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). More generalised pains are best treated with pain killers.

Once the pain has settled you can re-introduce exercise on a very general basis (not just running) and build up slowly.

Should I consider running if I have a joint replacement?
As a general rule running after a joint replacement is not advised. Sensible low impact exercise is encouraged but not the sort of impact that running will generate.

What can I do to minimise cramp attacks?
If you get cramp, the best way to get rid of it is to rest. Most cramps don’t last more than about 2-3 minutes at most. Some evidence indicates that light passive stretching can help muscle cramps go away faster than rest alone.

I’ve just finished a run, what should I do right away?
Right after you finish, try and eat something small, preferably protein or with natural sugars, such as a piece of fruit. Then, begin to slowly drink water.

If I have a strained muscle, what should I do to help it recover?
The first thing to remember is RICE; rest, ice, compression and elevate the injury. Then I would seek a professional opinion of a physiotherapist. Early diagnosis and treatment can really speed up the healing process.

If I want to challenge myself with a big run how would you suggest I prepare the night before a race?
I make sure I have a balanced meal with good carbs, veg and protein. I mentally prepare myself for the race by going over the course and plan when I will need to eat/ drink.

What should I do to aid my general recovery on the week following a long run or marathon?
Make sure that you eat lots of fruit, carbohydrates, and protein. Light massage will help loosen your muscles. Don’t schedule a deep tissue massage yet, just a gentle massage or a light rolling with a foam roller.

How long can I expect until I make a full recovery after a long run?
Scientific evidence indicates it takes around two weeks for muscle to repair themselves following a long run (marathon).

How soon can I get out and running again?
Going out for a very easy light run 2 or 3 days following the race will increase blood flow to the legs and aid recovery. This should only be around 20 minutes long. The following week slowly increase the time but not the speed. Two weeks after that you can slowly increase your training again.

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