The London Marathon ‘niggle’
With a few weeks to go before this years London Marathon, some of you will be entering the final stages of training preparation. I admire anyone that enters the event and even more those that successfully complete it and not just because they are finishers but because of the months of hard slog they put in to get there. It’s not just the physical effort either, keeping motivated, staying focused and avoiding injury is all part of the mix toward achieving your goal.
As training reaches it’s final stages, mileage and intensity increases, as does the anxiety that a niggle may become an injury. We are all used to living with the odd niggle here and there but when does a niggle become an injury? And what should we do about it?
Niggles are often unpredictable, they come and they go. Perhaps an ache first thing in the morning, some tightness during a run or soreness afterwards. Either way, they are often self-limiting and can be self managed without too much trouble. Whether training for a marathon or running just a few miles a week for fitness, there’s good advice that applies to all when a niggle become an injury.
If affected by an injury, runners should take all the usual precautions, reassess their schedule with a view to reducing mileage, use ice therapy, stretch, massage, and maybe consider the use of pain medication (if appropriate). A word of caution though, the over-use of Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (e.g. Ibuprofen), over exertion and dehydration can be stressful on the kidneys, so seek further medical advice if you are concerned about this.
The next bit of advice is the dreaded, most feared and disruptive – rest! Nothing is guaranteed to disrupt the schedule more than unplanned prolonged rest. Regular ‘normal’ rest is an integral part of the training routine; it give the body time to recover and adapt, helps prevent overuse injuries and prevent mental burnout.
As you approach the event, an untreated injury may jeopardise your schedule or the event itself. If an injury is so painful as to stop you running, then seek professional help immediately. A qualified therapist, should be able to diagnose your condition, treat it and provide you with a management plan to take you from pain to performance.
The Osteopathic approach, and the key to successful treatment, is to understand why the breakdown has occurred and to address those underlying issues, while at the same time treating the painful part and getting you back to training. Failing to address the underlying cause will hamper full recovery and may lead to future recurrent injuries. Good treatment will help you more than just function - it will lead to better performance. To all marathon runners, I salute you!
Mark Stockwell is a qualified Osteopath and runs clinics at The Natural Practice in Winchester. He has many years experience working in the fitness industry, has an interest in sports injuries and is also a runner.