James Vickers helps ELLE magazines Debbie Morgan prepare for her 50k!

James Vickers helps ELLE magazines Debbie Morgan prepare for her 50k!

Week #4 – Houston, we have a problem….

I admit it. My hamstring was hurting for quite some time before I was eventually persuaded to seek advice from a professional. Classic – continue to train because you feel you need to, that the aches and pains are really not that bad, but, inevitably, you make the problem worse and end up giving yourself a longer recovery period, and less time to train. My current situation. Tim Weeks recommended I visit James Vickers at the Centre for Health & Human Performance (CHHP) at Harley Street to be examined.

With abject horror I realised I had put on a dress that morning…Luckily, professionals such as these have handy pairs of shorts in stock for just such an embarrassing situation. I was saved. But I also didn’t think to take any trainers… Attempting to run on a treadmill without them is a very odd feeling, and made my running technique look even more bizarre than normal. Basically, I was the most unprepared person to visit a physio. But James was great, asked all the right questions and wiggled, wobbled and prodded all of the relevant bits, definitively concluding that the problem was not with my hamstring.

Interesting. It appears the problem was with my Sciatic nerve. The largest single nerve in the body. Excellent. Then, the word that no one wants to hear = needles. Turns out that ‘Intramuscular Manual Therapy’ (IMT) is an effective form of treatment for such an issue. This involves inserting a solid filament needle into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point – otherwise known as “muscle knots”, to you and me – which generate local twitch responses aimed at assisting in the reduction of the pain cycle. Can’t wait for my next session!

But the reality was that it really did help. I had more mobility and less pain after just one session. I was also given the following exercises to do to further improve my area of weakness:

Hamstring chair bridges – 25 reps, x4 – Lie on the floor with your knees in the air, legs bent at a 90 degree angle, placing your feet on a chair, which can move along the surface if pushed (the idea behind this being that if you move the chair, you’re not doing the exercise correctly), and lift your bottom up, as high as you can, squeezing your bottom all the way, to engage your glutes and hamstrings.

McConnell wall squat – 10 secs x6, x4 – Using a wall, lift your knee up the wall so that your leg is at a right angle, pushing your knee into the wall, as you gently lower yourself into a pretend-seating position, ensuring your left leg doesn’t go over your foot (push this out to the left) and keeping your back straight – hold for ten seconds. Swap and do the other leg. Repeat.

It may sound like not much, but I challenge you to do these exercises and not feel ‘the burn’… Plus, I have to do them Twice. At least, until the run itself.

So, to summarise: I have to run 50 kilometres in four weeks time and, as it stands, I am not allowed to run for longer than 20-30 minutes at a time. Considering the longest run I have completed was 10 miles two weeks ago, I am not filled with a huge amount of confidence. Seriously, help! Amy completed the London Duathlon this weekend!!

Advice from James Vickers

At what point should you visit a physio?

If unsure about any musculoskeletal pain. We all get aches and pains from time to time but if one doesn’t fit, is prolonged or inhibiting you in any way, then it’s best to get it checked out.

Are there warning signs that it’s a bigger issue than just the need to rest?

If you’re getting pain that wakes you at night then generally you want to get that checked out. Pins and needles and numbness that is not related to you sitting/sleeping on an appendage (i.e. arm/leg etc).

Are there any websites that you recommend for finding physios outside of London? & are both useful websites.

Do you have any additional advice on this topic?

Generally people need to be stronger than they think for dynamic activities. For example, runners need to have strong and durable calves, which is often overlooked. Investing some time strength and conditioning that is specific to the sport that you’re going to be doing will benefit both your performance and reduce your risk of injury. Getting advice on what is most appropriate is therefore advisable.


Things to think about

1. Always, always remember not to wear a dress to a physio appointment. And bring trainers.
2. Giving Max Willcocks’ quinoa salad a try.
3. The need for a positive mental attitude. Even though I can’t train right now, I can do this.

Follow Debbie Morgans full story

Elle UK, 8 Weeks To Train For A 50k [Debbie Morgan]