I have been very fortunate in that ever since I first starting taking sport seriously, mainly through triathlon that I have never had a sports injury. I have always recovered very quickly after races and have therefore been luckily in that sense too. However at the beginning of October I participated in Shelter’s Urban Rush, a 15 miler run from the East to the West of London and about 10km in I had this awful pain in my knee and I had to stop and walk for a bit. Due to never having an injury prior to this it was hard to gauge how serious it was. So whether you call it stupidity or determination I carried on to the end having to stop every now and then to ease the pressure. When I crossed the finish line there was a physio present and she said it could be my IT band. So she showed me a few stretches and that was that.
The following week I had already signed up to Midnight to Midnight a 24 hour race with a 10km loop every hour on the hour. I knew I would only manage 2 or 3 laps at a push and didn’t plan on doing them consecutively as we wanted to get some brunch in! I hadn’t had any pain since the race the week beforehand so I thought it was relatively safe to run in this event. Towards the end of the first 10km both of my knees started to hurt and it was the exact same pain that I had felt at the Urban Rush. Luckily we were nearly at the end so I finished, went and had some brunch, changed my shoes and moved onto the next 10km. Now this is when you can call it stupidity as about 4km in my knees started to hurt again but this time I called it quits. This is when I knew it was time to seek professional help and not to ignore the signs of an injury.
So I started to research Physiotherapy in London and this is where Capital Physio came in. They had a great website with lots of information, reviews and plenty of branches in the UK including one that was conveniently around the corner from my work. I had never been to a physiotherapist before and I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of price but Capital Physio definitely seemed reasonable. I also wasn’t sure of the setup of the session however any fears about what the appointment may hold were immediately diminished when my physio a lady called Des introduced herself. She was very open and really easy to chat to. She walked me through the process and asked me lots of questions about my injury such as the type of pain I felt when it happened, how often and how long I’d been running for.
Now the issue with my injury was that it was something that I had felt after about an hours worth of running and not on a day to day basis. Therefore I wasn’t expecting there to be any solid results straight away. Des however asked me to do a couple of exercises to look at my stability such as squats and one legged jumps to see how I landed. She was happy with the results and said that because I had been running for a long time and had not been injured before that she didn’t believe it would be anything detrimental however she still needed to physically check my knees and legs. I always feel at ease when someone is honest with you and not just allowing you to believe that something may be wrong for their own gain. After Des had examined me we spoke about the next steps.I was open to Des’ suggestions as I definitely felt some real pain after my last few long runs and my main concern was that if I ignored the pain I would only be making it worse and I didn’t want to be in a position where I had to stop strenuous exercise for a long period of time.
I was asked to take a week off running and not wear the same running shoes that I had been wearing when I had felt my pain (luckily I had a spare). Then she gave me three exercises to do:
- One legged squats – ensuring that I didn’t move to far forward as the knee shouldn’t go passed the foot.
- A side plank.
- Side plank variation – with the inner leg bent at the knee and lifted from the ground.
I had to do these every day for about 30 seconds each with 3 reps. Although it feels like another thing to add to your schedule you will not be doing yourself any favours if you don’t listen to your physio and do the exercises that they recommend.
The next session Des and I spoke about how I’d been getting on with the exercises and then looked at my knees again. After examining me Des noticed that my leg did not full extend which drew her attention to my hamstrings. Oh boy they were tight. So Des massaged them rather deeply and apparently I might be slightly bruised the next day! Des then asked me to start doing one legged hops until our next session alongside the other exercises. I was already ready to start building up my running. I had to build up to 3 x 5km runs a week and see how I got along. Des made sure I had her email in case I had any niggles before our next appointment.
Des was very open in the fact that it’s common to have very tight hamstrings and calves and that physio wasn’t the only way to cure the tightness. She confirmed the use of foam rolling which I definitely believe in but can be painful when you don’t do it often and how deadlifts also help to extend the hamstrings, oh my, probably not one for me!
Des and I carried on with our appointments until I felt comfortable with multiple runs within a week and getting back up to 10kms as well as carrying out my exercises. The last time I had seen Des I had pulled my hamstring and Des was very happy to have a look. Although my appointments have now finished, Des has ensured that if I need anything that I shouldn’t hesitate to ask which I will be keeping in mind whilst prepping for my first marathon in September.
My recommendation for injury are:
- Don’t wait until it gets really bad, you know your body just go and check it out
- Check out Capital Physio they have lots of therapists in multiple locations
- Do the exercises they won’t be forever and there’s a reason why you’ve been asked to do them
- If you’re asked to give the exercise a rest then do it, you will only be making it worse in the long run otherwise