For many people who take up running it becomes a bit of an obsession as the potential rewards are manifest – aiding weight loss, helping to prevent osteoporosis, combating stress, reducing anxiety, and improving circulation. However, as with everything, running comes with a few warnings and potential side effects … but nothing a good spa break can’t help with!
Cause: 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 Solution: Unsurprisingly, a good back massage can ease back pain by reducing muscular tension, increasing blood flow to aid healing and providing a general ‘feel good’ factor – endorphins 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 such as the one at Whittlebury Hall, followed by a hot stone massages is a rather pleasant way to go about easing the pain and treating yourself, all at the same time!
Top Tips: Regular Pilates is a great way to improve your core strength and provide a long term solution to back pain; and a podiatrist will be able to assess whether you have any mechanical imbalances (such as flat feet) which can be compensated for using orthotics. In the meantime, walking is a good way to maintain fitness while you let your back heal.
Cause: The bane of any sports enthusiast’s existence, once shin splints arrive they are tricky customers to get rid of and have a tendency to return as well. 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 – what’s that saying? No good deed goes unpunished?
Spa Solution: Acupuncture is wonderful for reducing pain and promoting healing and has often been used by sports professionals in the treatment of shin splints … Taoist Practitioner Toby Maguire at The BodyHoliday really knows what he is talking about, and let’s be honest, combined with a good rest in St Lucia you are guaranteed to feel better in no time!
Top Tips: 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 to break down lactic acid after exercise, and ideally avoid road running – all of those things will help to prevent a recurrence.
Cause: As if your poor feet don’t work hard enough on a daily basis anyway, you have now decided to pummel them into the ground in a bid for good health as well … 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 could simply be that they need a bit of TLC, or it could be the result of tight hamstrings, mechanical imbalances, or ill-fitting or unsupportive footwear.
Spa Solution: Reflexology, available at Grayshott Spa Hotel, is a full body treatment using pressure points. However, as this unique form of massage 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 any other aches and pains as well!
Top Tips: 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 effect make sure you have a good pair of trainers, and if the problem persists or is very uncomfortable consider visiting a podiatrist and looking into that omnipotent pair of orthotics.
Cause: Lots of exercise and not enough stretching will generally do it, but it is the bending and flexing motion that shortens muscles where they cross the posterior knee and gives a feeling of tightness. Conversely, sitting down for long periods of time can have the same effect.
Spa Solution: Massage is always good for tight muscles, but a full body Thai Massage, which focuses on stretching and deep tissue techniques is particularly good for sports injuries. One place that really knows what it’s talking about when it comes to treating the body is the specialised SHA Wellness Clinic, which offers a range of treatments including Thai Massage, as well a hydrotherapy area – the temperature changes will help ease muscles as well.
Top Tips: Obviously you need to 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, try using a foam roller to ease muscles out (it can be painful, but worthwhile), and try taking up yoga or hot yoga – it is a brilliant way to maintain fitness when you are injured and the overall effect can also improve your running technique and general fitness … yoga classes are always filled with people with running injuries, and once they start, most become devotees!
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