The advantages of being a physio and a runner
11 January 2016
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Brad Brown: Welcome onto this edition of Old Mutual Live, great things start here, great things start now and it’s a pleasure to welcome a returning guest onto the podcast today. We spoke to her a while ago, a little bit about her running journey, particularly on trails and where they love running. But it’s wonderful to be able to welcome Tarrin van Niekerk back onto the podcast. Tarrin, welcome and thanks for taking the time to chat to us today.
Tarrin van Niekerk: Thank you for having me Brad.
BB: Tarrin, the reason I wanted to touch base with you again, the last time we spoke, we spoke about your journey and running, but you’re a physio by profession. I wanted to chat a little bit about running from a physio perspective and some of the other things you’ve got going on as well.
I always joke because my physio is always injured, it’s like my mechanic whose car never works! Are you one of those runners who can fix everyone else, but you struggle with niggles?
How to remain injury free
TVN: Not at all. I think I’ve been fortunate enough to run injury free for the last six years now. I think the only reason I’ve been able to do that is because I’ve learnt from my patients, they’ve been my best teachers in what to do and what not to do.
BB: I love that and I was going to ask you, what’s the reason you’ve been injury free, but you beat me to it! What are some of the biggest mistakes you see runners making and I’m talking your patients too, that cause them to not just get injured, but to stay injured?
TVN: What people don’t realise is that injury free running is a holistic approach. It’s not just one thing or the other. I usually break it down into seven principles. There are seven things that you need to do right to stay injury free. The first one is good running form. People often don’t realise that poor running form leads to injury. The second one is strength training. I’ve recently read that strength training can decrease your injury risk by 50% and that’s quite a lot.
TVN: Yes. Mobility maintenance, adequate joint mobility is very important and I’m not talking stretching. Stretching is just useless when it comes to injury prevention, we’re talking joint mobility and the next one is nutrition. This is one runners always get wrong, they forget that poor nutrition leads to injury.
If you don’t recover properly, you’ll just get re-injured. Recovery, sleep, athletes are sometimes, and because we have day jobs, we don’t sleep enough. We have kids and busy lives, we’re not fulltime athletes who can take day naps.
Running shoes, getting the right running shoe for you, not just a popular shoe, but getting a good running shoe. Having a coach, I think that really helps because training error is a big part of injuries. Doing too much, going out too fast, especially with novice runners, I see that often.
A coach is great – but listen
BB: I think you bring up an important point there with the coach as well and I see it so often as well. It’s one thing having a coach, but another important bit with having a coach is actually listening to that coach. Runners are notoriously bad listeners, aren’t they?
TVN: They are, but it’s not just listening to the coach, but listening to what your body can do. Because even if the training programme says you’ve got to do that 10km, if you’re not feeling like that 10km, you should probably not be doing that. You should rather be listening to your own body. I think we lose touch with how we feel and how we recover and how we should be feeling before we train.
BB: I think that’s vital and one thing I know my physio always laughs about is runners are notoriously bad at. If they’re given advice and it’s a case of, you talk about listening to your body; but if you are struggling with a niggle and you need to rest it, you need to rest it.
The Traffic light guide to pain
That thing is not going to get better if you take it out for a run. How often have you heard runners saying, it’s sore, but if I take it out for a 10km run, let’s see how it feels. Generally it’s not going to feel better after that 10km run is it?
TVN: I give them the traffic light guide. Saying that, if the pain is there a little bit but it doesn’t get worse during the run and it’s not worse afterwards, you’re kind of safe. But if you go out for that run and that injury gets worse and worse, you shouldn’t be there.
BB: I think that’s super advice. Tarrin, tell me a bit about the running workshops that you guys host as well? I’m interested in it and I think it’s a great innovation and just by what I’ve read online, they sound fantastic.
Running workshops in the Pretoria area
TVN: The idea started a couple of years ago, but I really just started teaching injury prevention two years ago. The idea is exactly what we’re talking about now, is runners are not educated enough about what causes injuries. I mean running injuries is a big thing.
I think they said about 70% of runners get injured and it moves up to 90% for people training for a marathon. If we can teach runners better prevention strategies, or a more holistic approach, their chances of injury become less. That’s really the reason I started it, it’s maybe counter-productive to my physio salary, but I really enjoy teaching runners how to prevent their own injuries.
BB: I was going to say, it’s not great for business is it?
BB: I love that. If people want to find out more about those clinics, how often do you host them?
TVN: We see what the need is. I host them now with ultrarunner.co.za or people can just have a look on runningclinic.co.za. We often post it on the page, we try and do about two a year and often I just give a few talks here and there. So we put it up as the need is there and as we decide to host one.
BB: Tarrin, you run a lot of trail, do you find that trail aggravates injuries or it’s actually better for you to run more trail, from an injury perspective?
Is trail better than road in terms of injury?
TVN: Well, at this stage Brad, we don’t really know. There’s not a lot of research out there to show us whether trail running causes less injuries or makes you more or less prone to injury. I’ve heard runners and I’ve read this on blogs, everyone claims that trail running leads to less injuries, but there’s really no proof out there.
In my mind, it makes sense, because you use so many different muscles and techniques. But there’s still the basic faults and mistakes we have that causes injuries, even in trail runners. Maybe in trail running, what we do see often is traumatic injuries – ankle sprains, big falls, broken bones.
BB: It’s one of the hazards of running trail, is tripping over roots or smacking your head on a branch or something like that I guess. You’re never going to trip over a root in the middle of a Comrades run. You might fall into a pothole, but maybe not a root.
Tarrin, thank you so much for your time here on Old Mutual Live once again. I’ll pop the links to that website in the show notes. If people want to find out more about your physio practice, where can they get more details?
BB: It’s as simple as that. We’ll pop those in as well, thank you very much for your time today Tarrin, much appreciated. We look forward to catching up again soon, all the best for 2016 for you and yours.
TVN: Thank you, have a nice day.