Voltarol believes in The Joy Of Movement and that pain should not hold you back from your physical goals. To help people who suffer body pain run the London Marathon (taking place on April 23 this year), Voltarol have worked in conjunction with the experts at the GSK Human Performance Lab (HPL) to provide the following important tips and advice for those who suffer with body pain but want to run the marathon.
1 Seek advice
Experiencing chronic or acute pain does not mean a marathon is an unachievable goal. If you are suffering with chronic or acute pain, seek medical advice ahead of marathon training. A medical professional will advise on exactly what level or type of exercise you can safely do.
2 Moving your best
Have a “Movement Screen” to assess your mobility, stability, balance and flexibility which all underpin the way you walk and run. This screen helps identify weaknesses or limitations in your movement that could hinder you running at your best. Pain in a certain place can also lead you to make compensations in the way you move which can affect your performance, or increase risk of injury elsewhere in the body. For example, if you have a knee injury, you may be putting extra strain on your other knee to avoid the pain. Before training for an event like a marathon it is a good idea to have a screening conducted by a certified tester. This can be done at many gyms or by a physiotherapist.
Pain from various acute and chronic pain conditions has been shown to be reduced by massage therapy. Moderate massage has been shown to be more effective than light pressure massage across various parts of the body. If you are suffering from ongoing pain, self massage on a daily basis, at the beginning of each day or pre exercise could help reduce pain and stiffness in certain joints, which may help to make training sessions more manageable.
If you visit a physical therapist, they can help to provide taping to effected areas which can provide external support to key joints, helping to reduce the pain you feel when exercising. These approaches may not provide a long term benefit to pain conditions, and so good advice is to seek out a long term solution, but taping may help in the short term until you complete your goal of completing a marathon.
5 The importance of warm ups and cool downs
The aim of a warm up is to raise the core temperature of the body and key muscles, as well as preparing the body for the training session. For people in pain this is particularly important to give the best chances of reducing pain later. A 10 minute warm up consisting of some light cardio exercise and dynamic stretching can help reduce the pain you feel and reduce injury risk. Similarly, cooling down after exercise helps to begin the recovery process by returning the body to its normal state, and removing toxins that can cause muscle soreness. Cooling down should become an important part of any runner’s training regime.
6 Think you can and you will
Most people will experience some discomfort or pain during long distance running, which can lead to a negative and de-motivating mindset. Fortunately, our perception of pain can be altered by practising simple psychological techniques. Distraction strategies which divert the focus of attention away from a source of pain can work well. Listening to music or focusing on a particular aspect of your technique are two good ways. Many runners also develop their own positive phrase which they can repeat to themselves during difficult moments to help dispel negative thoughts. Reframing your thinking during running can also be effective in maintaining a positive mood. A slow time can be reframed as only a little more effort required, rather than a failure. It is down to personal preference which techniques you use, and practising them over a period of time is most effective.
If you get your nutrition strategy right, you may be lucky and not experience pain as a result. However, on the day it is quite common to suffer stomach cramps, and an upset stomach. Coping mechanisms will be individually dependent on the symptoms, but in general it is best to try and deal with the symptoms, e.g. slowing down, and taking a toilet break if needed. If the symptoms are severe, however, you should stop and get medical attention. If symptoms are mild, then try sipping water, eating savoury food, or stopping and resting for a few minutes. This may not be what you want to do, but it may be the best way to get you running again sooner.
8 Feel the burn . . . BUT make sure it’s the right kind
With the increase in volume and intensity that marathon training requires, it is common to get some form of pain though training. Try to spot the difference between “pain through training” and “pain through an injury”. If you feel you have an injury, you should seek medical advice and get it looked at. If what you are experiencing is just pain from training, take a couple of days off training as this may help. One of the key aims of marathon training is to increase the stress on the body so that during the recovery the body repairs and adapts to the training stress – making a runner fitter and faster. If you feel aching and soreness, this could be the body’s way of telling you that you need more time to adapt and recover.
9 Don’t underestimate other forms of exercise
Through marathon training; aerobic fitness, metabolism and muscle condition will improve. However, this increase in running may result in “overuse” or “impact” injuries which could reduce the length of time you can run for. “Non” or “low” impact aerobics training, like swimming, cross training or cycling, can complement marathon training by helping to develop aerobic fitness without putting even more impact on joints. Although you can’t rely solely on low-impact training as this will not condition the muscle to the load like running will.
10 Remember R and R
A recovery strategy is important as it will help pain not become so bad that more training is unpleasant. Good quality sleep, good nutrition and allowing enough time for your body to recover between training sessions are all really important. In addition, you can also try:
• Wearing compression garments post-exercise for up to 24 hours, although some people find this uncomfortable. If possible, medical grade compression garments are ideal.
• Cold baths for 14-15 minutes in water at a temperature of 14-15 C after exercise. You don’t need to do this after every session, but this strategy could be useful during a busy training week when you are running a lot.
• Cherry juice is naturally high in potassium. Drinking 30-35mL twice a day has also been shown to aid recovery, and improve sleep quality.
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