Q&A Jess Dougherty – Physiotherapist and Running Addict

As a movement specialist with a keen interest in running can you tell us why injuries are so high amongst distance runners?

Overtraining, training errors & not respecting the need for rest. Overtraining is due to a) increase in load, b) increase in intensity or c) a combination of both. If you find yourself with an overuse injury then have a look back at your training in the preceding weeks and assess what was increased.

What are the most common injuries you see runners getting?

Overuse injuries! Patello-femoral pain (or anterior knee pain) accounts for about 1/3rd of all running injuries, followed by Achilles/calf/foot injuries then hip/glute related injuries.

Should I run through a niggle and hope it gets better or should I head straight to the Physio every time something hurts?

We know that pain doesn’t always indicate tissue damage or the amount of damage/injury so stopping running as soon as you feel a niggle isn’t always the best approach. However, running or training shouldn’t increase the level of pain or discomfort. If training makes the niggle more painful, the time taken for the niggle to come on during training is quicker of the niggle takes longer to subside after a run the head to a Physio with an interest in running for an assessment. If they don’t give you 2-3 decent and worthwhile exercises then don’t go back, find a better Physio!

What are some key technique tips you give to your clients to help keep them running injury free?

*Increase your cadence: aim for around 180 steps per minute (count the number of steps you take in 20 seconds then multiply by 3.. or some Garmin’s have cadence sensors inbuilt)

*Think tall: imagine there’s a rope or piece of string on your head pulling your entire body towards the sky.

*Slightly lean your entire body (not just the trunk) forward

*Think light (not landing heavily) when you run.

What are the best strategies for improving recovery from an injury?

Listen to your body & do your exercises properly! Instead of spending 45 minutes doing a plethora of exercises 1-2 x a week spend 10-15 minutes a day doing 2-3 quality exercises & do them 100% correctly (strength, stability or stretching, whatever it is you lack & need to improve). Loading the muscles, tissues, tendons & surrounding structures builds up their resilience & amount of load they can tolerate.

Outside of being injured how else could a physio help me?

Plenty of ways! A lot of Private Physio Practices now offer Clinical Pilates which is an excellent injury prevention (and rehab) option, if you’re lucky some even offer running specific classes. Gait analysis technologies are improving and are useful in return to running after an injury. Using a knowledgeable running Physio to assess any weaknesses or stability issues you potentially have is also beneficial for injury prevention.