Can Physiotherapy help with marathon preparation?

The benefits of functional physiotherapy screening for marathon preparation

Running a marathon is one of the most difficult physical challenges most people will do.

We spend several months training, hopefully properly, eating the right foods, getting enough sleep, buying the right running shoes, raising sponsorship money, rallying friends and family to support, and should generally be a really positive experience.

Some people however, don’t feel the positives! They may have no experience of what it takes to run a marathon, of how tough the training is, how much preparation needs to be done, how your body feels at higher mileage, and how your mind will cope with that. Certainly there are numerous pitfalls and uncertainties that can taint the whole experience and create undue levels of stress around what should be a physical accomplishment people can be proud of.

How does a runner avoid these marathon training pitfalls?

Firstly, there are numerous common sense points to make

  • Start training as early as possible – generally speaking, the more time people have, the better they can prepare for it, the better they perform.
  • Seek advice from an experienced marathon runner, with respect to all elements of training and race day hints and tips.
  • Don’t ignore injuries. Yes, they may go away as your body conditions to cope with volume, but aches and pains are telling you something. Listen. It would also be useful to get any old injuries re-assessed, to determine if they will be inhibitory throughout your training. Go and see your physiotherapist!
  • Learn some simple lessons early. Your body performs better when it is rested and recovered, fueled and optimally hydrated.

So having understood the above, what else can you do to improve your chances of enjoying your training, and enjoying the marathon itself?

Well, the answer is, quite a lot. Physically you might find some benefit from undertaking a screening process, where a physiotherapist can undertake a full and thorough assessment of you, particularly your legs and lower back, to ascertain where potential problems with flexibility, control, stability, strength and alignment may lead to injury inhibiting training and performance. Understanding where these issues are and putting together a programme to counteract them whilst you are training can ensure a much more productive and efficient training programme, helping to keep you injury free and ultimately leading to a better run time.

Taking it a step further, entering into an appropriate strength and conditioning programme with your personal trainer, working the legs harder through their functional range of motion, and completing a progressive loading regime will help to improve the strength and endurance of the relevant muscle groups leading to further improvements in performance.

Gone are the days of ‘just running’ to get ready for a marathon. Why not employ all elements of physical preparation in order to get the most out of your training and event. It’s something you will be proud of forever, so you may as well be at your best!