What does my physio think about ultra running?


What does my physio think about ultra running?

Do you ever wonder what your physio thinks about your favourite forms of exercise or whether your health or lifestyle choices are a good idea? In the third of a series of blog posts entitled “What Does My Physio Think…?” we’ve asked our physios what they think about ultra running.

What is Ultra Running?

Ultra running is defined as running any distance longer than a marathon (26.2 miles). Classic distances for ultra events are 50km (32 miles) and 100km (64 miles) but every year there are more events at almost any distance over 26.2 miles, including 100+ miles. Most events are trail events but some are held on tarmac or even on 400m atheltics tracks!

Is Ultra Running good or bad for me?

Emily, our soft tissue therapist, triathlon coach, athlete personal trainer, comments:

“For ultra distance, athletes usually work at low intensity, aerobic pace: it’s not uncommon to adopt walk/jog/run combinations. In that sense, there’s less stress on the joints and cardiovascular system than in shorter distance running. As long as the athlete gradually increases mileage during training, listens to their body (and their physio / trainer / coach), human bodies can adapt to many things that “modern human beings” find “impossible”.”

Our spinal specialist Physio Shari says:

“Whilst this isn't my expert area, my personal opinion is that I would be concerned about the long term effects on the person's joints. However, I will support my patients with their ventures and help to get them in the best form possible to compete in ultra running as long as it isn't aggravating existing injuries/issues. Complementing the ultra running with cross training and strength/stability training is really important as well.”

Physio Paul, who specialises in shoulder & elbow, hip & groin and sports injuries, says:

“As with any exercise, build gradually into something as demanding as ultra-running. Not everyone is designed for it but if you are, take a long term plan to build up to distances you would like to reach. Whilst increased volume will mean increased load on joints, the impact of this might be spread out if you build up sensibly.”

And Nick, another of our sports injuries specialist physios, recommends specialist training for ultra events to avoid injury.