Is a ‘fun run’ any fun?
Pain and overuse injuries following the City to Surf Fun Run raises the inevitable question – is it worth it?
Is the foot/back/calf/knee pain that comes from training really any fun?
The answer is obviously no, but the health benefits of training far outweigh the negatives.
Regular exercise benefits most of today’s major health problems – from diabetes and heart health to depression and back pain. It’s a key element in the prevention and management of so many conditions.
Fun runs provide a goal and motivation to train and achieve these benefits from exercise.
But what about the pain?
The more common problems include calf pain, plantar fasciitis/heel pain and sore knees.
These problems don’t have to stop anyone from training.
Following some sensible and simple ideas can greatly assist the ‘weekend warriors’.
Recommendations to help keep people on track
- Gradual increases in training are easier on the body.
- Supportive cushioning shoes can help people go the distance.
- Avoid running on hard surfaces, where possible.
- A stretch and warm up helps prevent injury.
- Pain (that does not stop you) is not all bad – some advice from an exercise professional is important if ongoing exercise is important.
Most conditions will improve with specific treatment and changes in routine, without resorting to cessation of training.
On occasions, more active treatment from the physiotherapist and/or podiatrist is a good idea.
This may include a stretching and strengthening program, or specific taping to support the injured/painful areas while they recover.
While rest can often settle the pain, relief may be temporary, so controlled training plays a vital part in the management of injuries.
- ‘I stretch my calf’ – Most runners don’t stretch, particularly the calf muscles. Runners need to stretch both the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles, with two different stretches.
- ‘I wear good shoes’ – Many runners’ shoes are worn out, or inappropriate. Replacing old shoes with well fitting, supportive ones can make a dramatic difference.
- ‘I have orthotics’ – With the plethora of over-the-counter inserts available, many think these have the same benefit as a properly fitted orthotic. Look at them wearing the orthotic; if it does not hold the foot arch upright, it may not be beneficial.
- ‘I don’t want an expensive orthotic if it may not help’ – Simple supportive taping worn for a few days can give a very good indication if an orthotic device will assist that client.
- ‘It hurt so I stopped’ – Pain that comes on during running, but improves as they continue, is generally not a justification to cease training. In fact, exercise can often assist in the recovery. However, the problem should be properly examined to ensure it can be resolved.
Doctors and physiotherapists agree there is no doubt that keeping individuals exercising is important.
Addressing injury concerns and preventing them can help make every day a ‘fun run’.