Marathon training- when you need to see an osteopath

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

You may remember in an earlier post I had my sport massage therapist weigh in on when to seek out treatment.  Glenn at Blue Eye Osteo has kindly offered his advice too.  I was introduced to Glenn by Becca (From Snickers to Marathon and fellow Zero Calorie Advent Calendar founder).  He helped me a few year ago for some pains I was having.  Turned out I really needed my back stretched to realign my hips.  It made sense to reach out to Glenn for his views treatment during
marathon training.

For those that don't know (I hadn't heard of it before moving to UK), the NHS defines osteopathy as:

a way of detecting, treating and preventing health problems by moving, 
stretching and massaging a person’s muscles and joints.

With that in mind, here are Glen's views on when to seek complementary therapy during marathon training.

Pitt stop theory of when to have treatment.

My best analogy in deciding when to rest, have a massage / osteopathy or other treatment is to liken yourself to a car. 

The more miles you do, the more you’ll need a service.  So, think about how often a treatment would benefit you. If you are well when you go for a treatment and your osteopath or therapist finds little work that needs to be done, your frequency may be too often. However, if you turn up aching from head to toe, or worse, then you could do with making your trips more regular.

Certainly, if you develop symptoms, these are your ‘warning sign’ on your dashboard. Ignore them and they could shortly rectify on their own accord. But if they don’t, you risk causing problems with other components of your car - which have to compensate. 

Runners definitely have to think about biomechanics, particularly the 'kinetic chain’ comprising from the foot to the pelvis, if not lower back too. Any problem in the foot/ knee / hip / pelvis will have to be compensated for elsewhere. So, like tracking on a car, it’s worth ensuring that you are as structurally aligned as possible before embarking on any prolonged, intense form of training.

Massages are generally good for muscle health, working away lactic acid and soothing irritable high tension points that can occur. Osteopathy tends to be good for mobilising stiff joints, but a good osteopath should also work on the soft tissues (i.e. musculature too). An interesting point is that if a joint is stiff, the muscle has to work harder to create movement around that joint, which can lead to muscle fatigue if not injury.  Therefore, joint mobilisation can also have a knock-on benefit of helping muscles indirectly.

As an osteopath, I encounter runners of all kinds on almost a daily basis in my practice. I rarely use dry-needling (acupuncture commonly used by osteopaths, to differentiate from the traditional chinese medicine (TCM) approach of acupuncturists) unless I come across tight muscles that just won’t relax through osteopathy and / or massage. Of all my dry needling sites, the achilles is the most popular followed by the supraspinatus, a rotator cuff muscle at the top of the shoulders. 

A foam roller is useful for your ITB and other muscles, as well as mobilising the thoracic / mid part of your spine in particular. A tennis ball can also help: for example, laying face up with your left outer foot placed on the other bent (right) knee, roll over to the right to place the tennis ball in your left gluteus maximus / ‘buttock' and then lean across to the left slowly to get pressure in various tender points in the muscle. Work up to a maximum intensity of 7/10 ‘good pain’ (where 10 is agony) and hold for about 20-30 seconds, so called self-inhibition techniques.

So, good luck with your training and marathon(s). 

Whether you’d like a structural review, a simple relaxing or sports massage or you have a specific problem and need some osteopathic advice and treatment, I’d love to help you out!

Big thanks to Glen for these great tips.  If you have ever seen an osteopath, leave a comment below with what your injury was and how you felt after treatment.

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