You’re gonna get injured

Let’s be honest, if you play any sport or keep yourself fit and active…

Sooner or later you WILL get injured…

And if you’re training for the type of conflicting goals we’re talking about here… like squatting heavy and running a marathon the chances go up.


Because you’re trying to cram everything from max strength to LISS sessions into your week.

It’s the main reason for athletes suffering from the aches and pains I talked about in yesterday’s email.

Or at least trying to do everything from every programme is the problem.

If you’re aiming to hit some big numbers in the gym and out on the road you can’t simply bolt two powerlifting and  10K programmes together. 

There simply isn’t enough time in the week to do them 

Sure, we can reduce the chances of this happening.

That’s why I encourage a decent strength training programme…

And why I hammer on about having a BALANCED training regime

But eventually, it will happen — you WILL get injured.

Which poses an even greater problem…

Which is that if an injury isn’t treated properly, the long term effect can be even worse than the initial injury itself.

To illustrate that, I heard a line a few years ago that went something like…

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can cause permanent damage”

Let me explain what that means (and what it’s got to do with any injuries you might get)…

Every injury you suffer is like an insult to your body.

We all get insulted at some point in our lives.

If you’ve got supportive friends, caring parents, etc… that insult will be barely noticeable.

You’ll brush it off. And you’ll get on with your life like without any lasting consequences.

What if the opposite were the case?

Or if it happened often enough?

Or it was a serious insult?

In this situation, you’re like the kid who got bullied the whole way through school…

The mental scars could last a lifetime…

Leaving you riddled with underlying self-doubt and social anxieties that spill over into everything you do.

The injuries you pick up are just like this.

If it happens often enough…

Or if it’s serious enough…

It will start to affect other areas of your body.

But a good rehab plan is like having caring friends and supportive parents.

You come through the experience with no lasting consequences.

Because it deals with not only the pain but why it’s there in the first place.

Because a good rehab plan is an active one.

One that teaches you to move well again…

Makes you stronger…

And, ultimately, prepares you for the activities you enjoy doing.

Something that you won’t get by with a “rub” and doing a bit of stretching can’t do.

Practising what you preach – graded exposure and progressive overload in rehab

I injured myself in mid November last year. Nothing serious just a mild grade 1 tear in vastus lateralis, one of your quads, when doing some heavy squats. I took it easy for a couple of weeks and gradually worked back into things. I then tore it again in the first week in January! To say I was not happy would be an understatement.


man squatting

What went wrong?

Continue reading “Practising what you preach – graded exposure and progressive overload in rehab”

Lies, damn lies and what your physio, chiropractor or massage therapist has told you

The treatment for soft tissue and other injuries has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years. Yet for all this many, well-meaning, therapists of all persuasions still seem set on perpetuating some outright garbage. What are some of the biggest and best of them told on a daily basis to those seeking help for their injuries. Continue reading “Lies, damn lies and what your physio, chiropractor or massage therapist has told you”

Training equals Rehab

Training equals rehab, rehab equals training is a phrase that was coined by the American physio Charlie Weingroff. For me, the phrase means that rehab and training do not stand separately from one another. They are a continuum that blends seamlessly together. Parts of the rehab process sit at one end of the spectrum and parts of standard training are at the other the rest sits in the middle being neither one nor the other. Properly progressed rehab should resemble basic strength training and properly performed strength training has an injury preventative aspect. Continue reading “Training equals Rehab”

Plyometrics: Why we use them

Plyometrics are an often misunderstood and misused form of training, think box jumps in a Crossfit WOD. We make use of them in the mid to late stages of our lower body rehab. But why do we use them? Their main purpose is to teach you to be more explosive or to create faster ground reaction times. That is to hit the ground and come off it again as fast as possible. This is essential in any sport that requires you to run or jump.


Man performing plyometric drills Continue reading “Plyometrics: Why we use them”

Return to running: stronger, fitter, faster the rehab opportunity

Any return to running program is rarely a straight line. Returning to running after an injury is a frustrating process, there is little point in pretending otherwise. The injury now means you can’t run or can’t run as much as you would like to. On top of this, you have a rehab program to follow that all seem like a waste of time. The first step in speeding up the rehab process is to embrace it. Start looking at the rehab period as an opportunity to develop a more robust body and come back stronger and, potentially, faster. Continue reading “Return to running: stronger, fitter, faster the rehab opportunity”

Knee pain and running: where it is tells you what it is

What are the most common causes of knee pain in runners?

There are 3 conditions that are likely to cause knee pain in runners; patella tendinopathy, ITB syndrome and patellafemoral pain. How do you know which one you have?
Whilst they all cause knee pain where the pain is lets you know which one it is that is that you are suffering from.




  1. Illiotibial Band Syndrome

ITB syndrome is a complaint that runners will often talk about but describe a pain in a different area. The true site of pain from illiotibial band syndrome is on the outside of the knee. The pain will be felt at and above the condyle of the femur. One of the common held thoughts is that it is caused by your ITB being tight but the problem here is it is supposed to be. The ITB is part ligament part tendon so should be pretty stiff so that it can do it’s job properly.

The pain that is felt when people talk about having tight ITB’s is generally more to do with tight quads.  The pain coming from the illiotibial band syndrome isn’t from the ITB itslef but from tissue underlying it. Another name for it is ITB friction syndrome because of how it rubs the underlying tissue.

When dealing with ITB syndrome we want to first calm things down. Playing with running frequency, duration or intensity are all useful to find the combination that helps. Increasing your stride frequency can also help. Increasing your stride frequency to between 160-180 spm reduces both the time spent in the air and the force you hit the ground with. Both of these reduce the chances of being in the zone that causes the irritation that creates the pain in ITB

In this post I expand more on illiotibial band syndrome

2. Patellofemoral Pain

Patellafemoral pain or PFP is where the pain exists on the front of  the knee  and can be along the edges or under neath the knee cap, patella. the pain will often present itself when sitting for long periods or on ascending hills/stairs. PFP is a particularly frustrating problem as the there hasn’t been any one biomechanical or physiological factor that accounts for it. PFP is more of a general overload of the tissue surrounding the knee rather than a specific biomechanical fault. This overload can be from one sudden incident such as a fall or repeated micro-trauma for an extended period.


For runners the problem is often more one of repeated micro trauma. In this situation the tissue becomes reactive because it never really gets a chance to recover from the previous bout of exercise. This is where load management becomes important. When looking to increase mileage or other variables it is better to make small regular increases rather than larger ones. Perhaps starting at 10% per week and gradually reducing this to 5%, then even 2.5%. In doing this you are allowing time for the tissues to adapt and get stronger and more robust by not exceeding the ability to adapt.

3. Patellar Tendinopathy

Patellar tendinopathy differs from PFP in that the location, whilst still on the front of the knee, is much more specific in location.  Sufferers of PFP will feel  pain below the knee cap in the patellar tendon itself. This is good news as having an exact location makes it much easier to treat.

The great thing about tendinopathy injuries is that we can treat them following some basic guidelines.

  1. Reduce pain.
  2. Build Strength.
  3. Increase power
  4. Improve movement

This doesn’t mean that you have to stop running but rather alter the fequency, intensity or distance. It might be that you run less frequently and keep the distances the same or that more frequently but shorter runs each time. Each individual will react differently to the demands of exercise which is why various strategies often need to be tried before finding the one that suits you. To reduce the pain and fit in with the clients schedule it may be that it is a case of running every 48 hours but in a run/walk manner.  Sufficient training stimulus must be maintained and by performing the run walk we never exceed tissue tolerance.

When building strength the progression will go from static, isometric, work to slow movements to faster movements. The isometric movements also help in reducing the pain as well as building strength and flow into pure strength development. The heavy strength work allows for sufficient demand to force adaptation in the tendon. The power development work sets you up for transitioning into more running specific work that finishes off the rehab.

All 3 examples of knee pain should follow a graded approach to the rehab process. The final phase of the rehab process should incorporate drills that better reflect the demands of running. This is the case in all of the 3 of the problems above where the ultimate focus needs to be on returning you to running better than before.




Capacity and performance: how much can you do before it hurts?

Knowing what you can and cannot do is the crux of any rehab program and pushing the envelop of this is where changes occur and, ultimately, you get back to doing the things you enjoy.

We can run tests until the cows come home but the bottom line is what can you actually do before things begin to hurt. We may be test you in a number of different exercises for our subjective and objective tests in the clinic but these really only give us a guide as to what you are capable of.

Continue reading “Capacity and performance: how much can you do before it hurts?”