Low back pain is very common. Up to 80% of the population will experience this type of pain in their life. For most people (70%) who get back pain they will mostly recover, although recurrences are common. For a smaller group of people (up to 30%) it may become persistent (lasting for longer than 12 weeks) and disrupt many aspects of one’s life. This can include difficulties in the ability to do day to day activities, exercise, work and participate in social activities and hobbies.
Very similar to our general health, the health of the structures of your lower back is maintained through regular movement, keeping the back, trunk and legs strong, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy body weight, caring for our mental health, regularly sleeping well, and not smoking or drinking too much alcohol. So, when these things go wrong, the structures of the back can become sensitised and unhealthy and we experience back pain.
It’s very important to understand that back pain usually improves with the right treatment even if you have had it for many years. Our Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, Hayley, has a special interest in managing low back pain. She can help you to understand why you have pain, and get you back moving, active and living again. Call our friendly staff for assistance today.
Hartvigsen, J., M. Hancock, A. Kongsted, et al., What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention. The Lancet, 2018.
O’Sullivan, P.B., J. Caneiro, K. O’Sullivan, et al., Back to basics: 10 facts every person should know about back pain. 2020, BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine.
It goes without saying that recent times have thrown up their share of challenges for runners. Altered work conditions, home schooling, events cancelled – it has been a time of huge change for all Australians. Running is more than a sport, it is a lifestyle, an anchor to our true selves, our outlet, our stress relief, and our social life. During the Covid-19 restrictions, many of these aspects of running have been taken away from us and it is only now that we can start looking towards a future where we can run again with confidence. If you have found yourself lacking your usual running fix, how do you kick start your running year again?
1. Set achievable goals
Whether you have had a lay-off from running, are brand new to the sport, or are just looking for some added motivation do get you going this year, you need to set some goals. Goals act as the carrot, the reward at the end of all your hard work and training. However, we need to be careful about setting goals. If the goal is too ambitious, then it may be too out of reach and actually be more off-putting than motivating. Pick something that you are confident you can achieve, with a bit of work (don’t make it too easy either), and set a realistic time frame. For example, the goal of “I want to run a 5k in under 25 minutes by the end of August” is a great goal if you can currently run 26 minutes but not such a great goal if you are currently completing it in 35 minutes. Likewise, setting a timeframe helps to add some urgency to your goal setting. Remember your SMART (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goals? Well this is your chance to put the theory into practice!
2. Build routine
We are creatures of habit and the single best thing you can do to kick yourself back into the habit of running is to create a routine. The routine itself doesn’t specifically matter, as long as you create the routine and stick to it. If you are brand new to running or haven’t run for a long time, then set yourself a routine of trying to do some kind of exercise every day. Keep the bouts of exercise themselves short and very achievable and focus more on the routine than trying to get a killer workout at each session. Always think about tomorrows session so that you are always keeping the routine alive and in your thoughts. An example for a person who wants to run 3 hours per week could be: rather than running 3x 1 hour (actually giving you 4 days per week when not running), splits the 3 hours into 6 runs of 30 minutes with a strength session of 30 minutes on the seventh day. This creates the habit and routine of training daily and is something that can be built upon easily in the coming weeks.
3. Explore somewhere new
If you are anything like me you will tend to run the same routes and the same laps and loops on a regular basis. This is actually a good idea because, as we discussed above, building a routine is paramount in getting the consistency to your training. However, when you are starting back up, it presents a great opportunity to check out some new trails or routes, perhaps exploring areas close to home that you don’t normally run or heading further afield to tackle a new mountain or a new trail. Talk to other runners and get some ideas about places you can run that you might not have considered. In recent weeks I have personally found a couple of really nice trails that are really close to home, but that I had never considered exploring before. Now I know they are there, I will include them in my regular training routine.
4. Focus on technique
Running technique is crucial for efficiency and to minimise your risk of injury. Good running technique will enable you to run further and faster, and to enjoy the running more than ever. A great time to start working on your running technique is after you have had a bit of a lay-off or don’t have any pressing events on the horizon. It takes time to perfect a new technique and in the short term you may find your running performance actually reduces slightly and muscles you didn’t even know you had, start working harder than ever before (hello calves and hamstrings!). This is fine and will improve with practice, and whilst you are getting back into your full training is a great time to implement these changes.
5. Dream big
What is your dream event, your lifetime running goal? Maybe it is a 5k PB, a marathon, a trail ultra, an overseas event – we all have bucket list goals. Now is the time to really dream big and take inspiration from these long term blue sky challenges. The surge of adrenaline from visualising the start of your next big challenge or event will help you set short term goals, build your routine, and get back out there on the roads and trails.
I hope that has helped provide some tips and inspiration for the rest of your running year
May your dreams be big and your worries stay small.
Dave Coombs –Physiotherapist / Running Coach
To see more from Dave Coombs you can find his page on the link provided http://www.davecoombs.com.au/
What is an aerobic flush recovery session?
On the days in between intense physical activity and training it is extremely common to become physically and mentally fatigued.
With sports coming back and athletes ready to give it there absolute best and kick the year off with a bang! It is likely that at some point you may begin to feel drained both physically and mentally.
Although this may indicate that you need a bit of a rest from your sport and take some time off there is a minor risk that you may lose some of your conditioning during this brief period. There are some alternative ways to maintain your condition and have a break at the same time.
An “aerobic flush” recovery session is a commonly used tool in elite sports to enhance recovery amongst there athletes.
There are many reasons as to why an aerobic flush can be beneficial to add to your routine. Firstly aerobic flush sessions have the capacity to identify any niggles that may need addressing. Secondly they allow the body the opportunity to reduce or “flush” any metabolic waste that is caused by high intensity exercise. Lastly it also provides the athlete with an opportunity to freshen there mind and give them a mental change up from there normal sports.
To give you an example:
Say you are a semi-professional or up and coming AFL player. You are currently training three times a week for about an hour and a half each time and have a game on the weekend.
You can see how this might become quite physically and mentally demanding.
As an “aerobic flush” you can play a low intensity game of soccer or go play a game of tennis instead.
As stated above this can be beneficial both from a physical and mental perspective. In fact there is good evidence to suggest that low intensity exercise can have a positive affect on muscle soreness.
If you would like to find out more about recovery and aerobic flush recovery sessions please refer to our previous article on injury prevention and recovery or please feel free to contact us here at the clinic.
Injury Prevention Post COVID
Now that local sports are coming back there is the expectation that some teams will be playing multiple games in the same week. It is known that a large spike in activity places players at increased risk of injury. Here are a few tips to try and reduce your risk of getting injured during this busy time of the year.
1. Steadily increase your workload
- From this point on it would be an excellent idea to steadily increase your workload over the next few weeks
- For example, if you are returning back to football and generally run around 5-6km during a game, initially start of by running 1-2km during a training session and then steadily increase your distance over a few weeks
2. Adequate warm up and cool down
- As always make sure you spend 10-15 minutes doing a good warm up and cool down
- A good warm up will include a period of Jogging, some dynamic stretches and some sport specific skill drills
- A good cool down will include a period of Jogging, some passive stretching and some foam rolling
3. Optimise your recovery
Recovery and rest are arguably the most important aspect of your training
- Recovery techniques like using a foam roller or spiky ball, cold water immersion and massage are excellent things you can add to your routine to get the most out of your recovery
- Most importantly make sure you get an adequate amount of sleep and eat good nutritious food.
4. Listen to your body
- If you begin to feel a bit more tired than normal its likely because your body is struggling to keep up with the demands that your sport is placing on you. This might be a good indication to either give yourself an extra day for recovery or to reduce your current workload to a more suitable amount
- If you don’t want to completely reduce your workload, a nice way you can do this is by doing an “aerobic flush”. An example of an “aerobic flush” includes a small 30-minute low intensity game of soccer or a game of touch
5. Get your niggles sorted
- If you have been struggling with an injury and it has not fully recovered now is an excellent time to see your physiotherapist for an assessment. This will allow you to set a plan and complete specific rehabilitation work before the season kicks off. Your physiotherapist can also help guide your return to increased activity. Contact the clinic today on 5578 7155 to discuss how we can help you return to the sporting field in peak condition.