Avoid running injuries on your summer holiday:
At Apex Clinic, Belfast every summer we frequently hear how injuries have ruined many runners’ much anticipated holidays. Running too soon upon arrival, inadequate footwear and dehydration are just a few of the elements which can lead to an injury. So before you set off for that run in the sun, check out our top tips to prevent running injuries on holiday.
Long haul flights increase the risk of lower back disc injuries but there are 2 ways to reduce this risk. The first one is to recline your seat back as far as possible, for as much of the flight as possible. Positioning your seat as far reclined as you can, is perfect for reducing the load through your lower back discs, making them less susceptible to injury. The second way is to try to walk around the plane for 5 minutes every hour if you can, to help to reduce the load through the lower back discs also.
Don’t run too soon on arrival:
Pay special attention to your back during the first 24 hours after flying, as this is when your lower back discs are most vulnerable to injury. Avoid running for the first 24 hours of your holiday and avoid lifting heavy weights at the gym also during this time. Minimize any lugging around of heavy suitcases by using a trolley, as any heavy lifting can increase the likelihood of lower back injury.
Don’t run for the hills too soon:
After you’ve given your back the rest it deserves on arrival, when you go for that first run, it is best to stay clear of steep inclines for the first 48 hours of your holiday until your spinal discs have really settled from flying. This will avoid placing a high load through your lower back discs, which can trigger a sudden, acute episode of lower back disc pain.
Choose your running surface carefully:
Whilst running on the beach is so enjoyable on holiday, we recommend that you run on damp, firmer sand, closer to the sea. Soft, dry sand on the beach is good for shock absorption however the uneven surface that it provides can significantly increase the risk of developing injuries such as an Achilles tendon problem or runner’s knee (pain under the knee cap) especially when running barefoot. Running without shoes forces the smaller stabilizing muscles in the knees, ankles and feet to work harder, which increases the risk of injury, and so is best avoided if new to this.
While we may be tempted to reach for flimsy flip-flops which offer no support, the advice here is to choose your footwear carefully. It is estimated that 200,000 people a year in the UK suffer flip-flop related injuries, and many of these injuries lead to long-term damage. Flip flops provide very poor arch support and cushioning under your heels and this can result in Achilles problems, arch pain, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis in the foot, runner’s knee and even sprained ankles, as the likelihood of tripping is greatly increased. Instead of flip flops, choose a pair of sandals, with an ankle strap for a little more support. Keep flip-flops for pool side use or beach wear, and use them for very short periods only.
Hydration is key:
Dehydration increases the risk of muscle cramps and muscle strains, which can disrupt training, so keeping well-hydrated is essential. The key here is to obey your thirst, staying hydrated before, after and during your run. Listen to your body and consume foods with a high water intake such as fruit and vegetables to stay hydrated in the sun.
While these pointers are hopefully helpful guidelines, it’s always advisable to seek a professional physiotherapy opinion on your return from holiday if any aches or pains continue, once you’ve returned home again. It’s better to treat and clear injuries quickly than have to take a prolonged break from running in the future.
Have a wonderful holiday from the team at Apex Clinic, Belfast.