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Self-care to support runners

In the lead up to the London Marathon this weekend, alongside all the training, remember to take time to help your body recover as well.

Running is a much-loved sport for thousands of people, offering lots of feel-good-factor benefits as well as great joy for many. However, lots of people experience injuries, aches and pains when building up their running, especially for a big event like a marathon. While it's always important to speak to a specialist and not to self diagnose, here we look at some common running complaints and spa ways that might help address them.

Back pain

Running is a high impact sport, and many of the common injuries and complaints are the result of repetitive stress.  Commonly back pain is a muscular strain often caused by a lack of core strength (abdominal and back muscles), tight hamstrings, and mechanical imbalances in the feet.

Spa support for back pain

Unsurprisingly, a good back massage can ease back pain by reducing muscular tension, increasing blood flow to aid healing and providing endorphins that are known to reduce pain and aid recovery.  Lots of runners also find that damp heat and temperature contrasts can really soothe back pain, so a good thermal suite is a great way to go about easing the tension.

Top tips for core strength

Regular Pilates is also a nurturing way to improve your core strength and provide long-term support for back pain. A podiatrist can also help assess whether you have any mechanical imbalances which can be compensated for using orthotics.  In the meantime, walking is a good way to maintain fitness while you let your back heal.

Shin splints

The bane of any sports enthusiast’s existence, once shin splints arrive they are tricky to get rid of and have a tendency to return.  The term covers a multitude of shin-based pain but essentially it is a dull ache in the front of the lower leg, usually along either side of the shin bone.  A change in terrain and increased mileage can bring it on, but essentially it is a repetitive strain injury.

Spa support for shin splints

Acupuncture is wonderful for reducing pain and promoting healing and has often been used by sports professionals in the treatment of shin splints … that, and rest.

Top tips for shin splints

Whatever you do, don’t ignore it.  Often shin splints seem to ease while running and start hurting again when you stop - at the first sign, rest and they should subside, if not visit a physiotherapist.  Tight muscles can be a key contributor, so make sure you stretch properly, try using a foam roller for maintenance, and ideally avoid road running.

Sore feet

As if your poor feet don’t work hard enough on a daily basis, you have now decided to pummel them into the ground in a bid for good health… and you can bet your bottom dollar that with them being all the way down there on the floor, you hardly ever give them the attention they deserve … Depending on where pain in your feet is focused it a little TLC can go a long way.

Spa support for sore feet

Reflexology is a full body treatment using pressure points.  However, as this unique form of therapy focuses on the feet, it is a wonderful way to soothe and invigorate tired soles with the added bonus of offering a little relief to other aches and pains as well!

Top tips for taking care of tired feet

Take some time to spoil your feet with a good moisturiser and maybe convince someone very nice to give you a home foot massage once in a while.  For a longer term impact, make sure you have a good pair of trainers and if the problem persists or is very uncomfortable consider visiting a podiatrist or a physio.

Tight hamstrings

Lots of exercise and not enough stretching will generally contribute to tight hamstrings, but it is the bending and flexing motion that shortens muscles where they cross the posterior knee, giving a feeling of tightness.  Conversely, sitting down for long periods of time can have the same effect.

Spa support for tight hamstrings

Massage is always good for tight muscles, but a full body massage that focuses on stretching and deep tissue techniques is particularly good for sports injuries.  Combining this with time using hydrotherapy facilities can also help generally as the temperature changes will help ease muscles.

Top tips for tight hamstrings

Make sure you have a good stretching routine before and after you finish exercising - no one ever wants to do it, but you will regret it if you don’t. As with shin splints, you can try using a foam roller to ease muscles and try taking up a counterbalance to running such as yoga or hot yoga. Most importantly, don't ignore an injury - speak to a specialist, and get informed advice about what to do to support your body.

Need a little rest? Book your next spa break

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