February 04, 2019
Sun Run Jean-Francois Esculier

Instead of stretching after a run, do squats, lunges, front & side planks says PABC physiotherapist Jean-Francois Esculier, a physiotherapist who treats injured runners at Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Clinic.

To decrease the chance of injury while training for the Vancouver Sun Run 10K race, newcomers to the sport are encouraged to pace themselves with shorter runs throughout the week, do strength training and learn to run softer.

And forget about static stretching before or after the run, says Jean-Francois Esculier, a physiotherapist who treats injured runners at Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Clinic.

“Holding a stretch in one position before a run does not reduce injuries, and holding a stretch after a run does not reduce injury,” said Esculier. “Static stretching does not help prevent injury.”

But dynamic stretch, gently mimicking the athletic motions, will help slowly warm the muscles, tendons and joints to help them from becoming inflamed or strained, he said.

“Instead of standing and stretching, you have to start slow and gradually build the movement, that’s much better,” he said.

He said a mistake he sees newcomers or returnees to running make is loading up 30- to 60-minute runs back-to-back on weekends only, which could cause injury, instead of maybe doing one long run on the weekend and two 15-minute runs during the week.

“More sessions, but shorter times each” is preferred, he said.

And that especially applies to athletes who regularly engage in other non-impact sports.

“If you can bike for an hour, don’t think you should be able to run for an hour,” he said. “Your heart is not slowing you down, your body is slowing you down.”

He said too much training too soon can lead to typical runner complaints, such as knee or Achilles’ tendon injuries.

Esculier instructs his clients to not worry so much about foot striking, whether they land first with their heel or toe, for instance, but more on cadence, that is, how many steps they take per minute.

The ideal number of steps per minute is 170 to 190, which is about three a second. To achieve that, runners have to train themselves to “take shorter steps and run at the same speed.”

“This reduces impact and has been linked to fewer injuries in runners,” said Esculier. “There’s less bouncing up and down and less impact on your body.”

They should run softer, which produces a more fluid run that allows the shoe to absorb more of the impact of each step.

“So, take shorter steps and try to run softer,” he said.

And rather than applying heat or ice packs after, the body will recover more quickly if runners take a short, light bike ride, he said.

“The single worst thing a runner can do is to not listen to the body,” said Esculier.

He said runners who follow a strict training schedule even when they’re feeling pain will likely need to take time off from training and that could set back their progress.

“If you start feeling pain, you should stop,” he said.

Susan Lazaruk
Vancouver Sun, January 28 , 2019

Photo: Arlen Redekop/PNG