It's that time of year when we are heading into the 10k and half / full marathon season. Most of us are starting to increase our mileage and in particular, follow set training programmes.
But it's also that time of year when the clinic goes crazy with running based injuries. So if it's not going well 😧 what do you do 🤔
I have a race in few weeks but am injured!
This is an awful and all too common scenario. What should you do?
Is the issue consistent for more than a week? If so its probably not a muscle pull and this is the time to visit someone to get it assessed and fixed.Don't let it linger.
If running is causing the issue....stop!
STOP 😮! But if I stop I will not be fit enough to race, I cant take time off, I will fall behind in my programme!
That's a real and extremely valid concern and at The Reinge Clinic we are not in the habit of stopping people as it can lead to additional issues, normally we try to modify. One of those most common modifications, is to get you onto an Elliptical Cross Trainer whilst dealing with the injury.
Why an Elliptical Cross Trainer?
Ok, first of all let me clear up, why not a treadmill. Well:
In most cases (but not all) injuries occur due to the impact involved in running and the treadmill, whilst reducing impact due to the natural spring in the bed, does not fully remove it.
The treadmill running action is actually rather removed from running outside.
The treadmill requires the user to keep up with a moving belt, not to drive themselves forward. This means the glutes and hamstrings don't engage in the same way as when pushing your body upward and forward and the glut is one of the major muscles involved in running 😉. The running specific strength you develop on a treadmill will not translate particularly well to an outdoor run. That makes it hard to use as a long term alternative, whilst tackling injury. By long term we are referring to over 4 weeks, which is a realistic minimum recovery time for many injuries.
So the Elliptical cross Trainer scores points here:
There is no impact, so it really helps when we have issues with shin splints, knee pain created by internal rotation of the leg due to over pronation, etc. etc 👍
It requires you to push downwards and backwards. That engages the glut and hamstrings just as it would in outdoor running 👍
It's a reciprocal action....Your body rotates and your opposite arm and leg drive at the same time, just as in running outside. Studies show that on a treadmill a person will run with reduced rotation, partly due to the rails either side and partly due to the lack of need to drive forward 👍
The Elliptical Cross Trainer is a great alternative to running
So the Elliptical cross trainer is a really useful tool for dealing with most injuries we see, whilst keeping the runner going. It's obviously not as interesting as running, but needs must! It's also perfectly suitable to keep following you running programme. You can still use it to do efforts, recovery runs, tempo and long run equivalents.
Here's an anecdotal story from the clinic but a nice demonstration of how the cross trainer can really help:
We had a runner who had deferred from The London Marathon the maximum number of times due to injury and had to do it this time or would have to go back into the ballot. It was January and they had just come out of plaster for stress fractures of the tibia, we had twelve weeks and they couldn't walk without pain.
We obviously treated them but after a long fight to convince them we carried out the entire training on an Elliptical Cross Trainer, with the exception of a few hundred metre slow runs just to get some light impact through the legs. They certainly found the equivalent of an 18 mile run a little mind numbing but they enjoyed the 'effort days'. Did they complete the London Marathon?
Yes they did! Without pain, without injury and in a not too shabby 3hrs,30 mins.To top it all they still pain free and now running ultra marathons 🤗.
So if you have an injury, don't panic! We really do get how important it is to get to that finish line and using our sports science as well as physiotherapy and sports therapy knowledge we have the skills to get you there.
Ian Reinge is a Physiotherapist and Sports Scientist based at The Reinge Clinic which has two locations, in Kenilworth, Warwickshire and Portishead, Bristol.