Top Doc's Warning For This Weekend's Great Manchester Run
A leading doctor has issued a stark health warning to runners hoping to ‘wing it’ at this year’s Great Manchester Run.
Newbies and ill-prepared competitors who have left things ‘til the last minute, are risking serious health consequences and lifelong injuries, claims top medic at Pall Mall, Dr Chun Tang.
From muscle tears to respiratory difficulties and damaged joints, Dr Tang says approaching the big race with an ‘it’ll be all right on the night’ attitude, could lead to permanent injury and health issues that could stick with you for life.
“When it comes to taking part in any run, preparation is key,” said Dr Tang, Medical Director at Pall Mall in King Street. “In other words, no train, much pain.”
“And those who are simply diving in without any prior experience are at an even greater risk of damaging their health, sometimes for life.
“Even seasoned runners, need to be prepared for a long-distance undertaking.
“Running 10k or Half Marathon is physically demanding, which is why putting a running program in order, months in advance is crucial,” added Dr Tang.
“From the correct footwear to breathing techniques, everything should be planned with precision.”
“Diet, footwear and the right stance and form, are critical – or else you could be at risk of untold damage to your ligaments.
Dr Chun Tang emphasised newcomers are especially at risk of serious long-term damage.
“The body of an untrained runner will experience micro-tears which can lead to sustained aches and pains and over time, these escalate causing further damage.
“You also risk repetitive strain injuries such as tendonitis which can lead to a lifetime of complications and may even need surgery to repair.
“Your body could struggle with temperature regulation; this can lead to experiencing chills while you sweat and lose electrolytes causing you to feel dizzy and sometimes faint. Drinking sports hydration drinks can help replenish electrolytes after a long run.
“Stress fractures from running are also a risk, especially if you have undiagnosed osteopenia, that’s the precursor to weakened bone disease osteoporosis,” said Dr Tang.
“Respiratory complications are another concern as breathing needs to be focused and in a set pattern. Novices won’t know how to breathe correctly and could be denying themselves enough oxygen. This could lead to feeling faint. We recommend relaxed rhythmic breathing, remembering to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.”
This weekend, as an expected 25 thousand plus prepare to take part in the 10K and half-marathon event, hundreds will be ill-prepared under the false hope of ‘winging it’.
“A lot of people who take part have pledged to raise money for charities so the pressure to finish is on,” added Dr Tang.
“While the gesture is fantastic, the promise might be too much to handle but, because it’s for charity they push on and end up putting themselves in danger.”
“We always see a rise in enquiries for MRI scans on knees, hips, feet and ankles following major running events like the Great Manchester Run, which we offer at our Newton-Le-Willows Private Hospital.”
While others may be taking on their first mammoth sporting task since covid, Dr Tang warns this could also be dangerous because they’re out of practice.
Here are other factors you need to consider before taking on a mammoth run.
Complex carbohydrates of the slow-release kind will give you sustainable energy. Porridge is a great one, eat two hours beforehand. And of course, stay hydrated.
The right footwear
If you’re to become a serious runner, you need to invest in a proper pair of running shoes with the right grip and support. This will help cushion the midsole area of your foot and prevent any serious damages.
Running in fancy dress
If you are going to dress up in a gimmick outfit, be mindful of weather and temperature. The weight of the costume and perhaps consider walking rather than running.
Lots of people swear by cod liver oil and turmeric to support their joints. It’s always advisable to seek medical expertise before you start taking supplements. But generally, most doctors will agree supplementing with cod liver oil or other omega 3 supplements will have a positive impact. It usually takes three months for a supplement to get into your system. So again, forward planning is a must.
A good idea is to be the right weight, by having the correct BMI. The more weight you carry, the more it will impact your joints and muscles. So, keeping within your correct body BMI ensures you’re not excessively impacting yourself physically.
If you’re preparing for a full marathon, ideally you should be running around 40 miles a week. This should follow at least a 12 week build up. Preparing for 10k run should take about eight weeks of build-up and you should be running two to three miles around three times a week.
Bad form means certain parts of your body will be taking the strain as you run. This repetitive strain, on say a knee joint, can have a great impact and potentially cause irreversible damage. I would advise seeking the expertise of a physio if you are concerned about your posture.
If you haven’t prepared in the right way, the stakes are stacked against you, as in you’re likely to hate the run. Having a bad experience will also mean your performance is even worse. Add the pressures of needing to finish to raise money and the guilty feeling will pile on. Practise mindfulness, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. These will help with your focus and a positive attitude.
It’s important to be physically strong for the task in hand. Therefore, a targeted strength building regime should be implemented. It’s also a good idea to undertake yoga or Pilates classes to improve flexibility and suppleness.
Even after thorough training your body will take about a week to recover. And if you haven’t trained you could be looking at two months to recover – if you’re lucky. In many cases though you can do damage that last years. No train, much pain.