Marathon running advice
The Chartered Marathon has certainly been another success this year. Sports injury is an inevitable side effect of trying to stay physically healthy. Besides helping patients to recover better and more quickly from their injuries, we hope to educate the public to prevent physical problems. There are so many prerequisites to even just taking up jogging, let alone Marathon running: general heart/lung and musculoskeletal condition, running techniques, strategy, terrain, shoes, nutrition to name a few. Most people in Hong Kong are simply not qualified to run a Marathon, as they would not have the time to fulfill the prerequisites! However, basic physiotherapy preparation for running could be very simple and not time consuming if one knows how. Lumbar (low back) and lower limb joint mobility, particularly lumbar, hip and knee extension (straightening) , ankle dorsiflexion (ankle bending up) , foot and toes extension (toes bending up) helps to ensure range of movements are available for running. Hip flexors (front of the hip), quadriceps (front of the thigh), hamstrings (back of the thigh), dorsiflexors (front of the lower leg) and posterior calf (back of the lower leg) muscle stretches before (warm-up) and after (cool-down) running help to optimize muscle efficiency and recovery. Repetitive one or two leg ski-squatting and skipping help strength, stability, endurance and proprioception (sense of balance) . Such exercises should be modified so they could be performed wherever, whenever and as often as possible daily, especially before, during and after training. Note that these are the absolute minimum required if we are to enjoy healthy running. I am sure patients are willing to follow our advice to stretch if this is emphasized enough!