Marathon Running

Llyn Gwynant in Autumn

Llyn Gwynant North Wales in Autumn, Fabulous place to walk and run.

Less is More – Each year, more than 50 patients attend the clinic suffering from the affects of training for the annual marathon. I shall attempt here to give some guidelines as to why and how best to avoid those common injuries that prevent so many people from achieving their lifetime goal.

Fortunately today’s modern runner and the guidelines given to complete a marathon do not necessarily recommend grinding out 100 miles per week! as was common in the early 1980’s. The average runner does half this amount and suffers little or no decrease in competetive ability Sheehan G. Physician Sports Medicine 19:21 1991).

Quick Facts on Shock Absorption:

Initial ground contact forces

  • Vertical Thrust 2-3 times Body Weight
  • Forward Shear 50% Body Weight
  • Medial Shear 10 Times Body Weigh

These forces must be dissipated in less than 1/3 of the time(0.2 secs) than available when walking.

Peak impact forces generally occurr in the first 20-30ms after foot contact.

Runner’s feet contact the ground 800-2000 times per mile (50-70 times per minute for each foot). This means dissipation of 100 tons of force per mile!

Deterioration of shock absorption in running shoes:

  • After 50 miles 25% Loss
  • After 100-150 miles – 33% loss
  • After 250-500 miles – 40% Loss

The Route of Shock Absorption – Initially the medial foot arch, along the Lateral lower leg muscles and membrane between the Fibula and tibia to the Fibula joint at the side of the knee. From here via the Biceps Femoris (Hamstring muscle) to the Ischial Tuberosity (Sit Bones) into The Gluteus Maximus and Sacroiliac muscles, then into the Multifidus and medial portions of the Quadratus Lumborum. At all times the Transvers Abdominal musles must maintain a stable position. Any Tight, or shortened muscles or joint misalignment may cause interference with the dissipation of these forces leading to chronic injuries which are likely to appear once distances increase.

Affects of Altered Posture – Often we work for a number of years in a particular style of job that has led to rconsistently being in a particular position, ie. Computer or seated desk job, Long distance driving or heavy manual labour of a repetetive nature. This may lead to muscle overuse, imbalance and postural change. Exercise does not always create injuries but continuous and repetetive high impact spot such as running will eventually cause breakdown. Hence Less is better, Quality not Quantity

Recommendations – Make a plan! One long run per week. Two shorter runs of between 30 and 40 minutes one practising quality of running ie. good breathing patterns, smooth arm work and gliding foot work landing on the heels and rolling off the forefoot concentratiing on using as little energy as possible.always leave 48 hours between runs.Allow in your plans not to increase any long run by more than 10 – 15 mins duration, and whatever you do, DO NOT suddenly apply the time of you long run to a new course that has long uphills or down hills! This is quaranteed to bring on an attacl of shin splints or patella pains. If you plan to attempt a fast run time and you live within range of the marathon you intend to compete in, try this. Break the Marathon into three parts, run the three different parts as you weekday run Then for your long run run the two halfs, follow this by two times two thirds and finally two three quarters. Nine complete runs which will familiarise your body to the course and give you a good idea as to the time you should complete the course in.

STRESS and the Wise Runner – Many people these days work very long hours under very hard conditions. Many people suffer from home related stresses. Some have financial worries. With this in mind the adding of yet another physical stress may lead to functional breakdown. Signs of this are picking up colds easily, over tiredness erratic behaviour and injuries that will not resolve themselves. It is necessary to ensure in your training schedule time for rest sleep and food plus a break from the training occasionally.

Running Injuries

There are many common injury presentations for runners. Achilles Tendonotis, Patellar tendonitis, Shin splints, Plantar Fasciitis, Hamstring injuries Quadriceps, Iliotibial tract External rotators and Back injuries are just a few. Many of these injuries are preventable given the correct stretching and muscle balancing exercises. Often there is dysfunction in the joints around the hips and back which prevent the huge forces developed whilst running from being dissipated throughout the body. Poor ability of some joints to rotate will mean compensating elswhere. Usually on a short run this may not cause a problem, however when stepping up to the longer races such as the marathon, breakdown will occurr at the weakest point.

Correct trainers for your body weight and size are essential, remember most trainers lose 50% of their shock absorption capabilities within the first 50 miles. For a good runner’s website where many issue regarding stretching and running are reviewed visit

Here at the clinic we offer a full body check up for runners including orthotic prescription. We also have special 5 session treatment courses for runners, making it affordable. For further details please email