alsoran runners Physiotherapy
or 'manage the damage'

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First, a true story!

Exactly 3 weeks (yes, that’s 21 days) before Comrades Marathon in 2008 I had the misfortune of running at full speed into a short pole.  It was dark and raining at the time!  I hit the pole ‘head-on’, that is, my left quad and the top of the pole connected at full speed.  That I did not snap my femur was a miracle!

Lucky for me this story has a happy ending.  It took 10 days of physiotherapy and RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) before I could actually WALK pain free.  Now I had the task of getting my legs to RUN!  Continued physiotherapy and a brilliant biokineticist got my quad into working running order and saw me lining up at the start of the Comrades Marathon.  Although my run wasn’t pretty (it doesn’t have to be), I was able to finish, albeit in a slower time.  But hey, what the heck, I got the medal!

One of the wisest moves you can make as a runner is to find yourself a decent physiotherapist.  I can honestly say that I owe my running success to some great physio!

I’m going to brag a bit here when I say I have never missed an intended start line in all my years of running.  In terms of the Comrades Marathon this is an incredible feat.  I have run and finished consecutive Comrades since 1998.  The odds on 13 years (plus) injury free years are very slim.

Thank you Helene Simpson and all her physiotherapists and biokineticist at the Sports Injuries Clinic at UCT!

Some points to consider when selecting a physiotherapist

  1. Make sure you are seeing a sports physio
  2. Make sure the physio is a runner or has a good understanding of running and a runner’s mentality
  3. Make sure the physio has a good reputation (there are some dodge ones out there)
  4. Are other services offered at the physiotherapy practice?  That is, biokinetics, sports doctor, pilates, back classes.  This is usually a good sign!
  5. Is your physio affordable?  Do they offer medical aid rates?

Once you find your physio and/or physiotherapy practice, and you are happy with them, stick with them.  Don’t physio hop!  This can cause undue mental stress to yourself and eventually you will start doubting yourself.  Sticking to one physio or physiotherapy practice gives the physio the opportunity to get to know your “history”.  When I see my physio with a new injury, she knows my history and so can get to the bottom of what’s causing my discomfort sooner.

Many a time I have walked into my physio’s practice and said “Helene, my hammie is playing up, I’m running xxx marathon next week, work with that!”  And she does!  My relationship with my physio is based on faith.  I have faith in Helene and she has faith in me.

Physios are not miracle workers (although in my case I believe Helene is!)  It is important that you listen to the advice of your physio regarding rest and running.  If your physio allows you to run while you are injured, you need to only run what they have sanctioned.

Don’t deceive your physio, the truth has a painful way of surfacing (usually during physiotherapy). 

One last bit of advice.  I know, runners only stretch when they are injured, but try making a habit of “warming” up your muscles before you start.

Enjoy your running and here’s to staying injury free!

Key words: Comrades Marathon, physiotherapist, physio, biokineticist,
Internal links: Stretching, Comrades Marathon, it doesn’t have to be pretty,
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website

Copyright Nikki Campbell 2008