Training for the SMH Half Marathon

Sunday 15th May 2016: 6 weeks to go!!


 Whether this is your first, or you are a seasoned veteran pounding the roads and taking in Sydney CBD’s finest sights of the SMH Half Marathon, preparation is the key!

Here a few top tips that all runners need to be considering as you approach the Start line:

Pick a Plan and Stick to it! Hopefully by now your training schedule is well underway. There are such a variety of training plans to choose from, but make sure you have picked one appropriate to your level of running and time you can allocate to be able stick to the plan. Generally, this includes two ‘tempo’ or maintenance runs in the week, and a minimum of one longer run at the weekend, which should be slightly slower than your aimed race pace. Your plan should also include some Hill training and Speed work.

 Cross-Training: All running and nothing else can lead to disaster, particularly if this is a new pursuit for you. Take the time to work on your Cardio with other activities; swimming, rowing machine, bike, cross-trainer. The different muscle groups used will reduce the chance of injury or over-use issues, and you will be impressed at the cross-over of cardiovascular fitness and leg strength.

Rest: Running every day will not get you there injury free or any quicker…. Rest and Sleep are huge parts of running, particularly when you are up to your longer weekend runs.

Stretching: Despite the constant debates of stretch or not stretch, it is often dependent on the person. As Physio’s we see people who are Injured, and who DON’T stretch! Part of patients’ recovery is to stretch out tight areas; our advice is if you know an area is tight, DO stretch it, throughout the week and before you run, as otherwise this can lead to other areas compensating, or going back into your poor Biomechanic patterns.

Stability work: Very few runners spend enough time working on stability… If you think about it, running is like lots(!) of Single Leg Squats – it is a common thing when we see an injured runner to see that they have a very poor single leg squat – what does yours look like?! It might be a sign of poor glute control, or tight calf, or weak core stability if you are unable to do this action without control.

Strength Work: Like the stability issue, lots of new runners are not only training cardiovascular fitness, but the strength of muscles and tendons that have not been loaded as much previously, likewise increasing your training places more stress on areas such as your Achilles tendon, or developing the common ‘Runners-Knee’ (ITB syndrome). Consider strength based training to counteract these issues: come and see us for advice if you are aware of these becoming an issue.

Nutrition: Running after a heavy night out, eating on the go, not enough hydration spells disaster, even for the more seasoned runners. The other mistake people often make is taking the Electrolyte / Sports drinks on the day, when never having trained with them, leading to spikes in energy and stomach cramps. Aim to train like your race-day, taking on fluids during your longer runs in the lead up to the event as you plan to during the race.

Massage! This is not an over-indulgence, part of your active-recovery, stretching and maintenance whilst not running can include fascial release, Needling and Soft Tissue treatment. Our massage therapist Alex performs wonders with our running Clients! Also, don’t forget to come and see our Sydney Physiotherapy Solutions Team in the massage Tent after you finish your run for your complimentary rub-down.

Seek advice early, and listen to your body!

 Best of Luck, and see you all at the Finish Line!


Pilates For Skiers


As the Ski season is approaching here is a great exercise we do in the Pilates Studio to help you prepare for the snow…

Pilates, a method of exercise that specializes in core strength, flexibility, balance and control, is especially well-suited for ski workouts.

Tips to stay motivated in winter

Winter is creeping closer and staying fit and healthy can become more of a challenge!! The dark, cold mornings and red sniffly noses can make those training goals just seem a little further out of reach…..

One way to stay a little motivated is to pick an exercise goal or event and then set a plan to keep you honest!

You may want to get involved in the Sydney Running festival and train to do a running event! There are plenty to choose from…. Here are a few pointers:

– Give yourself enough time to plan your training schedule. If you are already a runner – give yourself at least 8 weeks to prepare for your event. If you are new to running – allow yourself 12 weeks to work up to it.

– For longer events try to do 3 runs a week. That’s one longer run and 2 shorter runs. The shorter runs can include some speed work or interval training.

– Remember the 10% rule as a general guide – gradually increasing distances by no more than 10% each week.

– Remember the importance of cross training and strength work. Cross training is good in the prevention of overuse injuries and strength is so important for long distance running.

– Stay healthy! Eat well and stay hydrated. You are less likely to end up sick and out of action….

– Finally, don’t let niggles turn into injuries! See your Physio early for any problems and get a running assessment if your have poor running form or are new to the sport.



Hamstring strains – When can I play?

Assessment during motion by monitoring data from sensors fixed to the body

These sensors are fixed to your body and transmit data to be analysed

As the soccer/football season ramps up locally, those of you with an old, recurrent or new hamstring injury will be asking………When am I safe  to play?

You no longer need to be unsure.

The latest technology which objectively measures when you are ready to resume full training and take the field again, as used by Manchester United, is dorsa Vi.

Sydney Physiotherapy Solutions is proud to have this cutting edge technology to assist you with your recent or recurrent hamstring injury. We use it to direct rehab and return you to any running sport without any guess work.





Training to be a Desk Worker


Office workers are the new endurance athlete.

Sounds strange but I think we need to start treating these workers like athletes. Just like we get a myriad of overuse injuries with endurance sports such as marathon running, Ironman, Cycling etc,  sitting at a desk for 8-10 hours a day comes with a whole laundry list of overused muscles and joints and make us much more prone to injuries. Now you may feel like you sustain some of these injuries outside of work for example bending over and tying your shoelaces sending your back into spasm or doing overhead weights leading to shoulder problems.

In reality, the range of motion deficits which are primary contributors to your injury have built up over time with poor posture and lack of daily movement, and then slowly crept into the way you move when exercising or doing any kind of physical tasks around the house.

Here are some things you should be “training” to prevent injuries.

Upper body – specifically shoulders, neck

1.  Pec muscle tightness – These don’t feel tight until you actually have someone palpate or massage them, but this leads to shoulder mechanics issues, and that dreaded tightness in upper back and traps.  I measure shoulder position all the time and the symptomatic side is always way tighter in the chest muscles.  It leads to poor shoulder mechanics and shows up in clinic with  a patient who has hurt their shoulder doing a military press or a sore neck and upper traps area after doing burpees or pushups.

2.  Deep neck flexor weakness – Poking your chin forward all day and not using your deep neck flexors, which are like your core but for the neck, leads to weakness.  This leads to increased load on the discs and facet joints of the neck.  These two structures are a common complaint in clinic.   A lot of evidence in the literature has focused on deep neck flexor strength and shows that it plays a large role in reducing neck pain.

Lower Body – Specifically hip and back

1. Tight hip flexors – if you sit all day with your hips flexed at 90 degrees then your hip flexors are shortened.  Over time they become a real restriction to hip extension. If you are a runner you need good hip extension or you will begin to extend through your lower back. With repetitive back extension plus the load of running you can expect to load the joints poorly and eventually have pain.

2.  Lumbar discs – The pressure on the discs in slumped sitting is enormous and can lead to bulging sometimes even neurological symptoms like pins and needles and numbness or loss of strength.

So as athletes would do, you need to be training your deficiencies. Stretching/massaging/foam rolling the muscles you know are going to be prone to tightness.  Strengthening the muscles prone to weakness.  Here’s a general list of areas to start with ….


  • Pectorals
  • Upper Trapezius
  • Levator Scapulae
  • Hip Flexors
  • Quadratus lumborum


  • Deep neck flexors
  • Lower/ mid fibers of trapezius
  • Serratus anterior
  • Core
  • Glute medius

For tailored programs it would be best to consult a professional

The Functional Movement Screen – Simplifying Movement

Developed by Gray Cook in the United States, the functional movement screen (FMS) was created to help standardise movement assessment.  With the FMS we can derive objective measures to assess injury risk in performance activities.  The FMS looks at 7 fundamental movements such as squatting, inline lunge, straight leg raise as well as rotary stability and trunk push up.  With the screen the patient is ranked from a score out of 3.   3 is a score showing you are able to perform the task well, where 1 is a poor score and indicates either a range of motion issue or a strength/stability issue.  Total score is out of 21. FMS-Pictures

The main objectives of the FMS from a clinical stand point is to try and identify any flaws with movements and more importantly any asymmetries between right and left.   Asymmetries can lead to overload on certain joints and over time lead to injury. A score lower than 13/21 is generally considered poor and indicates the person is a high risk of injury in a dynamic sport.  If there are significant differences between sides ie. a score of 1 on the right leg forward lunge compared to a 3 on the left leg, this can signify a problem. It helps our physios communicate properly with you, your coach or your trainer to discuss the safest and most effective ways for you to exercise.

After the test, you’ll get a report with some recommendations about how best design your exercise programs to minimise your chances of injury.

If big issues come up during the test, like pain or gross limitations in the way you move, we may suggest you return for a follow-up physiotherapy consultation to appropriately address those problems.


Develop new muscles – humans as plastic beings

by Stuart Baptist, Senior Physiotherapist

Plastic means changeable.

It means that we are not hardwired and can change and adapt in order to better interact with our environment.

Sometimes we get ourselves into a bit of a pickle.  We have picked up bad habits, learnt to move in a suboptimal fashion and are slowly but surely developing stress pattern in our tissues.

This cumulative strain leads to tissue stress and eventually breakdown.  Reduced movement, dysfunction and pain are only a few steps away!

Part of our job as a physiotherapist is to evaluate the suboptimal movement patterns (whether that be spinally or around the hip or shoulder for example) that can lead to the development of damaging stresses around our joints.

Once these patterns have been identified we have to teach new movement patterns, restoring to factory settings if you like.  Teaching simple things such as how to sit, stand and walk for example.  Only when the background (or core) has been optimised can we layer on more complex movement patterns on top.

Sometimes during that early relearning phase we can use things like mirrors, tape applied directly onto the skin or even more technologically advanced systems like the DorsaVi (see to increase the amount of feedback we can give patients.  The more feedback you have to more you can help to reinforce optimal movement control in the learning phase.

And just in case you think you are immune to cumulative stress on the body just look below to a normal person exposed to nothing but gravity over 65+ years.images 9.07.31 am

Sustained attention to developing muscles that resist gravity (postural muscles! a.k.a. the core muscles) can dramatically resist this development and be the difference between

images-2 these two examples:



Can Too Forum – Ask a Question

At Sydney Sports & Orthopaedic Physiotherapy we are very proud of our association with Can Too Run & Swim.

In addition to the special offers to Can Too participants for Initial consultations  for physiotherapy and pilates assessments, we are again pleased to provide an open forum for quick advice from our expert physiotherapists.

If you have a question regarding training or injuries, please feel free to ask & our response will be within 24 hours.  If the leave a comment box is not displaying,  simply click the Read More button below.

We look forward to assisting in making your training more enjoyable and your goals more attainable.

Happy Training from the team at Sydney Sports & Orthopaedic Physiotherapy



Treadmill Running and Outdoor Running

Optimise your training by knowing the relative merits of treadmill running and outdoor running!

There are conflicting opinions as to whether running on a treadmill is similar to running outside, in terms of biomechanics. Outside, your legs have to propel themselves forward as opposed to having to pick up your feet on a treadmill, as a belt slides underneath. There is also no wind resistance and the climate is controlled. However, there is some scientific research to suggest that running on a treadmill at a 1% grade may relatively accurately reflect the energy spent running to simulate an outdoor running technique[1]; so running on a treadmill might not be a bad option for simulating outdoor conditions when set up in this way.

Treadmill training can be great in adverse weather conditions to maintain training. Furthermore, rehabilitation from an injury can be carefully paced back on a treadmill. The surface can be more yielding. Using a mirror as feedback can also help work on “form” issues which might contribute to running injuries – such as running with one elbow slightly higher, or knees which “collapse” inwards due to proximal control or lower leg problems. Good treadmills can be programmed to simulate a course, or otherwise incline levels can be manually manipulated. Therefore, potentially, you can use a treadmill to really target areas of weakness in your running (such as hills, or declines) which need addressing.

The downsides of treadmill training are that it can be boring! Furthermore, it can be difficult to help you set your pacing over the course of a run. Lastly, in order for any skill to progress, the skill needs an appropriate degree of functional, “specific” training, which only outdoor running will achieve. The perturbations of the running surface, specific climate/conditions including wind resistance, stimulus and mental preparation involved in outdoor running are required at a certain minimum level of your training, to directly prepare and challenge your body (and brain!) for what is needed to successfully run an event.

So my final verdict? A combination of both treadmill and outdoor running can be a great means of mixing up training and targeting key areas for improvement. In the winter months, leading up to races towards the later part of the year, having an indoor option to keep up training is highly beneficial. Happy running!

[1] Jones AM, Doust JH (1996). ‘A 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running’. J Sports Sci, 14(4):321-7.

Make the most of Marathon Training

If you are thinking of doing a marathon here are ten things to keep in mind in order to make your training and competition the best it can be…..

1) Variety is the spice of life

Vary your training, include slow runs, fast runs, interval sessions and incline (hill) training. Mix up your routes, and build your distances gradually.

2) Shoes!

You’ll be pounding the pavements and covering long distances during the build up for your marathon and with every running step your joints absorb 2.5 – 3 times your body weight. As a result a good running shoe is imperative. Visit a good quality running shop for an individual assessment and recommendation of the best running shoe for your foot type.

3) Slow and steady wins the race.

Preparation is the key – start training early, plan your sessions, set yourself attainable goals and achieve them! Consistency is essential. Regular, varied training sessions of good quality, not just quantity, will help prepare you for a better performance and prevent injury. A minimum of 12 weeks is required to build your training for a marathon. A last minute training sprint is not the answer!

4) Don’t forget the warm up and cool down

Too often we try to save time by skipping these key components to our workout. A thorough warm up and cool down are vital to prepare our muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints and aid recovery in order to prevent injuries. So if you want the chance to partake in next year’s marathon too, don’t forget these key components!

5) Your body knows best

Pain is your body’s protective mechanism to warn you something may be wrong. Don’t ignore it and blindly push through. If an unusual ache or pain doesn’t resolve with rest – address it early. Seek help from a professional. This will give you the best chance of a quick recovery and prevent further injury.

If you have experienced problems when running in the past it may be worth considering a physiotherapy assessment with use of our digital motion analysis to address any problems with your running technique such as overstriding or reduced forward lean.

6) You are what you eat

Don’t forget that nutrition and hydration are as important as your physical preparation. Be aware that it is also possible to over-hydrate, resulting in hyponatraemia. Go to for advice on nutrition and exercise from the AIS.

7) Quality rather than quantity

Evidence has found a that high running mileage is the greatest predictor of running injuries. Whilst some long runs are a key part of your training save them for the peak season and don’t over do it. Remember your varied training sessions including shorter, faster runs and some conditioning training too.

8) Support

Never underestimate the motivation from training with others and having friends and family around to cheer you on and help you keep pace on the day.

9) Race day

Don’t try to suddenly up your pace or intensity at the last hurdle – race day. Be secure in your preparation and stick to your plan. Ensure you have a nutritious breakfast 2 hours before and stay faithful to your usual running clothes and most certainly your usual shoes!

Don’t forget to be liberal with the Vaseline and cover any potentially sensitive areas that may chafe!

10) Have fun! 

A good Physiotherapist is key to your marathon preparation. They are the experts at assessing and diagnosing biomechanical issues and and related symptoms.

Don’t forget you entered this for the personal challenge and to enjoy the experience so remember to do just that! Enjoy.