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How to stay injury-free while running

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I caught up with Alex Clark MCSP, the in-house physiotherapist at Neo G, to talk about running.

Here are his four tips for runners on how to stay injury-free.

Don’t jump straight in

I get it — the sun comes out and suddenly you want to swap your commute in the car for a jog to work, but make sure you build up to spending increased time on your feet, rather than jumping straight in.

Going straight into long runs or increasing the time on your feet drastically over a short period of time can contribute to both heel and foot pain, as well as other injuries . Consider gradually building up to activities in the next few weeks, increasing your mileage slowly as your body adjusts to increased demand.

Take another look at your shoes

With the better weather, people tend to wear different footwear such as lightweight trainers. However, this footwear can be less supportive for the heel and foot arch and can therefore alter your natural stride — increasing the likelihood of shin splints, Achilles pain, or plantar fasciitis. This in turn can lead to knee or lower back problems — not fun when you want to be out enjoying your run.

While I’m not suggesting you swap your regular trainers for expensive shoes, there are products out there that can help make your footwear more supportive. Invest in a good pair of orthotic insoles that either offer heel support or arch support, depending on your feet, or, if you’re wearing trainers with thin soles, consider using an insole for cushioning and support. Look for an insole that integrates cushioning with medical grade support to relieve pressure on the feet.

Make time for rest and recovery

It may seem counterproductive, but making sure you give your body ample time to rest and recover is key to staying injury-free. Increased temperatures and time spent running can cause swelling, so invest in an ice pack and use it on problem areas after a long run to help ease this swelling and prevent potential injuries arising.

If you’re already experiencing muscle aches and pains, using a heat pack along with massaging the part of your body that’s in pain can help to relieve painful symptoms and reduce inflammation to get you back on your feet sooner. If you can get into a daily routine of applying some heat and massage to problem areas, and ice when swelling occurs, this will allow you to enjoy running without worrying about potential injuries.

Know how to spot something more serious

Mild pain and discomfort can be common when running, but it’s important to seek professional help if home remedies don’t work. Many problems, especially those caused by overuse, will respond well to rest and cold or heat therapy, but know when to see an expert. If you have severe pain, if you’re unable to put weight on your foot, or if the swelling or pain persists after a few days, make sure to seek help from your doctor or another medical professional.

It’s also a possibility that other pain in your body is being caused by problems in alignment in your feet. If this is a concern, seek advice from a physiotherapist, who will advise on exercises and strategies that might help.

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Fitness

Friday Fitness Freak

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Image sourced from stock photo library
Image sourced from stock photo library

Whatever level you’re currently at with your health and fitness, it’s important to make sure that you’re getting enough protein in your diet.

Our bodies use protein to build and repair tissue. Our bodies also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other essential chemicals — it’s an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.

Here’s how you can make boost your protein intake.

Eat a steak

  • Not a great option if you’re vegetarian, but eating a high quality beef steak is one of the easiest ways to give your body a big boost of protein.
  • Go for the best-quality steak that you can find — cuts such as sirloin or rib-eye are generally the easiest to prepare.
  • Fry your steak quickly in a hot pan and season with some salt and dried herbs.

Protein shake

  • There is some logic behind downing a protein shake immediately after an intense session in the gym.
  • Studies have demonstrated that the body best absorbs protein after exercise, so after training does give you a window which technically is the best time to refuel.
  • Do some research on your protein shakes. There’s lots of ready-mixed options that are actually a bit of a waste of time. Also, milk-based protein powders can be difficult for your body to process.

Go nuts

  • Packed full of protein, nuts are super-tasty and a great snack.
  • Try and go for organic nuts that haven’t been roasted and salted.
  • Almonds, Brazil nuts, and Walnuts should probably be your top choice, but mix it up and keep it interesting.
  • Organic nut pastes can be used instead of things such as processed peanut butter.

Off the shelf

  • There’s lots of off-the-shelf snacks that will make bold claims about how much protein is contained within them. Some of them taste better than others, but generally they’re fairly rubbish.
  • In an emergency, I’ll often opt for a product called Bounce Protein Ball — a surprisingly tasty squidgy ball of protein. The Almond version is particular good. A 49g ball delivers 12g of protein. The good news is that there’s no trans fats and it’s gluten free.

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