First of all, to all the people who attended, I hope you enjoyed the seminar as much as I did. Fearghal gave a great overview of all things related to Hamstring Injuries. It’s a complicated area and while we have made large strides in the past few years, I do think from the research that we are only beginning to really understand the issue.
Normally when we go to these Seminars, we often don’t reflect and learn from them as much as we should (I have been guilty of this). So I would encourage you all to give yourself an hour or two and review the slides over the next few weeks, notebook by your hand and scribble your learning points down. Practice some of the exercises that we did, review the methods of assessment and reflect on how you can upgrade your clinical management of these injuries. The easiest way to re-inforce the information and learn is to chat to people about this and discuss some of the main points.
A few things I took away from the seminar I will outline below.
  • Don’t be afraid to load the hamstrings as soon as the athlete can tolerate the load. This is helpful, not harmful.The traditional conservative approach is not going to help in the long term. The research has shown that having hamstrings long and strong is really important to protect against injury. Fearghal touched on how they use Nordics and other very high load hamstring exercises early in their program, and there will be more research published later this year on this early stage intensive loading. Watch the space!


  • Always start from the end. What do you want your athlete to be able to do before returning to play in order for you and the athlete to have full confidence in their hamstring?
  1. Most don’t have access to Nordbord, so maybe a certain number of repetitions of Nordic Hamstring Exercise? Certain amount of strength measured using a Dynamometer.
  2. Minimal amount of loading through a range of exercises e.g. RDL, SLDL, TRx Rollouts etc.
  3. Minimal number of training sessions completed?
  4. Hitting certain speed markers?


  • Assess, re-assess, re-assess… As you progress through the rehab programme, are you actually getting better? Fearghal spoke about re-assessing the assessables. Unless the markers you have used during the initial assessment are improving, how do you know that your rehabilitation programme is working?
    1. Is the site of palpation smaller?
    2. Is their pain during rehab? During specific exercises?
    3. Has their passive knee extension improved?
    4. Has their outer range knee flexion strength improved?


  • Know the running demands of the sport. This is extremely important. Are you giving out a generic rehab programme or preparing that individual for their sporting demands?
    1. What sport does that person play?
    2. What are the positional demands of that sports? Defender vs Midfielder?
    3. What is the overall running volume of that sport?
    4. How many max speed runs will that person be potentially exposed to during a game situation?
    5. Is that person ready for the worst case scenario or minimal demands?
    6. How can you replicate those demands in rehabilitation?


  • Always be on the watch out for the unexpected.
    1. Know your mechanism of injury. This can give you a better idea of the potential area of injury and also give you a better prognosis in the timeline to return to play (Askling, 2013).
      • Sprinting? Probably the Biceps Femoris Long head
      • Stretch? Potential for more proximal tears of the hamstring group. Time to return to play will be longer, median 50 days.
      • Position of knee and hip during injury?
    2. Be aware of pop and loss of function that may suggest an avulsion.


Thomas Divilly
Chartered Physiotherapist, MISCP, CSCS

As we gear up to present our next speaker Mark Roe, who will speak on training loads and injuries, we will begin to explore the role of training load on both athletic performance and injury reduction.

Training load is currently the hot topic within Sports Medicine and Sports Performance. But what is it? Training loads can be broken up into both internal or external variables. Internal training loads are the biological stressors imposed on the athlete during training or competition, these are commonly measured by heart rate, blood lactate, rating of perceived exertion etc. External training loads are objective measures of the amount of work completed during training or competition and common measures include GPS parameters. 

The importance of monitoring training loads has come to prominence over the past few years as its role in enhancing athletic performance and injury reduction has come to light through research. Traditionally the model to stress response imposed on the biological system has been based on the General Adaptation System Model proposed by Hans Selye in 1931. As John Kiely outlined in his article “Periodization Paradigms in the 21st Century: Evidence-Led or Tradition-Driven”, the periodization philosophy of training hinges on the presumption that biological adaptation to future training is largely predictable and follows a determinable pattern. However, we know that individual athletes will respond differently to each other even when doing the same training program/session. Biological stressors are often neglected as just training stress alone, however it comes in many different forms. For example, a wide range of imposed stressors emotional, dietary,social, sleep, academic have been demonstrated to variously down regulate the immune system, dampen adaptive response, and negatively affect motor coordination, cognitive performance, mood, metabolism, and hormonal health, consequently reducing performance and elevating injury risk. These all add up, and both the sports medicine professional or coach needs to be aware of these factors. Therefore, the ability to monitor the training loads of athletes, both internal and external, and their individual response is vitally important to enhance performance and prevent injury.

Thomas Divilly
Chartered Physiotherapist, MISCP, CSCS

Our latest Seminar is on Ankle Instability

SPI Education June Seminar


Management of Lateral Ankle Sprains and Chronic Ankle Instability


We are delighted to have Dr. Eamonn Delahunt , Associate Professor School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, UCD giving this talk, the first of number of speakers SPI Education has planned over the next few months.
Dr. Eamonn Delahunt is an Associate Professor in the University College Dublin School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science. He graduated with a first class honours BSc [Physiotherapy] in 2003. Upon graduation he was the first-ever physiotherapist to receive an Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology postgraduate research scholarship. He completed his PhD in the minimum time required graduating in 2006. Dr. Delahunt is committed to the philospohy of the protection of athlete health and the prevention of illnesses and injuries in sport. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed articles. Dr. Delahunt has an active research group, including 8 PhD students and 4 research MSc students. Dr. Delahunt has extensive clinical experience in the area of sports physiotherapy and is a Specialist Member of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists
Twitter: @EamonnDelahunt
Saturday, 3rd June 2017  9-12:30
Sports Physio Ireland, 29 Fitzwilliam Street Upper, Dublin 2.
This lecture is aimed at all health care professionals: Physiotherapists, Sports Therapists, Massage Therapists, S&C Professionals. All are welcome to come along.
Cost: 65 euro.  (Early Bird and Members of SPE 50 euro)


Top Reasons Why a Personal Fitness Trainer Is Important

Many people believe that they do not have to hire a personal trainer for their fitness workout. After all, there are so many resources online, teaching people what type of exercises they need to do in order to lose weight or build muscles. Or you can simply do what everyone does at the gym.


These statements are misleading. Indeed, there are many workout routines, even monthly schedules available online, but they are all general purpose exercises, or they apply only to the specific cases presented in the articles. What works for others, does not necessarily work for you. The same applies to following other gym goers around and mimicking their routines. You do not have the same level of fitness and endurance like they do and, possibly, you do not have the same end purposes in going to the gym.


Today we will discuss the top reasons why you should consider hiring a personal trainer. These reasons, as you will see, have a lot to do with achieving your goals and staying safe while you exercise.


  1. A Trainer Keeps You Accountable

When you work out on your own, you may feel tempted to cheat on your training schedule, especially right before the weekend, on days with inclement weather or when you feel a little tired. When you hire a trainer, you know that someone is waiting for you at the gym and their work schedule depends on you, in the same manner as on the other people on their list.


Just as you would not skip work on a whim, you would not ruin someone else’s work schedule, so you will not likely skip on your gym session.


  1. You Are Safer from Many Potential Injuries

A personal trainer has extensive knowledge in the use of gym equipment and in the general level of endurance of people in various phases of training. The trainer will detect a malfunctioning machine before you start using it. They will notice the first signs of overuse injuries in your gait and movements, and will recommend you to go to the doctor and check it out. Also, they will recommend you a series of exercises that are adapted to any of your specific prior injuries or conditions, if they exist.


  1. You Have Permanent Moral Support in Your Trainer

Your trainer wants you to succeed. Not only because they are paid for this, but because they really believe in what they do and in the long term benefits of staying fit and healthy. Whenever you feel discouraged, they will tell you the right words you need to stay motivated. They will keep a chart of your progress and show you how far you’ve come along since the first session. Thus, you will never feel that it is too hard to reach your goals.


  1. You Will Never Hit a Plateau and Stay There

A plateau is a level of endurance and performance which most people training by themselves reach and which they cannot exceed. This plateau is not their ultimate goal, but way below it. It usually occurs when you keep doing the same type of exercises, using the same muscle groups, until they reach their maximum endurance. Meanwhile, your other muscle groups are not properly trained and you will get bored of doing the same exercises without noticing any further progress.


A trainer will create a varied mix of exercises which keep your fitness sessions interesting, work out your entire body and prevent you from hitting a plateau.


  1. You Will Learn Useful Tips for Staying Healthy

A personal trainer will do more than recommend exercises and watch over you while you do them. They will offer you advice about resisting food cravings (especially for sweets and fast food), recommend healthy food and drinks to take before and after your training sessions, and teach you a healthy schedule of eating and hydration for the entire day.
As you can see, there are so many benefits for you in hiring a personal fitness trainer. Once you start exploring this option, you will also find out that it is not very expensive, either, so you will certainly have no more objections to it.

What Is Cyclist’s Palsy and How to Treat It

Cyclist’s palsy is also known as handlebar palsy and this alternate name gives a good hint of the cause of this type of injury. It has to do with the way cyclists grip the handles of the bike, and how much pressure they put on their wrists and palms according to the position of the seat and the pedalling style.

What Is Cyclists Palsy and How to Treat It

The main symptoms of cyclist’s palsy are:

  • Clumsiness in hand and fingers movements;
  • Inability to perform fine movements, such as pinching or typing on a keyboard;
  • Numbness in the thumb and palm.


This type of injury is not threatening, but it restricts the mobility of the hands, with a negative impact on the most basic daily activity. So, what causes these unpleasant symptoms? There are two possibilities.

One of them is the compression of the ulnar nerve which runs along Guyon’s canal (on the pinky side of the hand); the other is the compression of the median nerve which runs through the centre of the wrist (this particular condition is also called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome).


How Does Cyclist’s Palsy Occur?

The main cause of cyclist’s palsy is the continuous shock absorbed by hands during intensive training and long distance cycling races. This is valid both for road cycling and for off-road and mountain cycling, and it can occur even after just one race.


Why do some cyclists experience it? A part of the problem is not riding a bicycle adjusted precisely for your body type. The way a cyclist sits on the seat, puts their feet in the pedals and keeps their body posture during training or racing influences the amount of pressure put on the hands and wrists and the position of the hands on the handles.


Professional cyclists not only have a professionally adjusted bike to fit their height and weight, allowing them to keep a correct posture; they also have a custom made handlebar on the bike, designed according to the way they usually grip the bars.


Thus, cyclist’s palsy is completely preventable – it all depends on how you adjust your bike, and the way you grip the handles. Before we move on to treatment, here are a few helpful tips for avoiding cyclist’s palsy:


  1. Wear Padded Gloves

Padded gloves are very useful for cyclists. They absorb sweat, preventing your hands from slipping off the handles and suffering an injury. More importantly, these types of gloves offer protection to the areas of your wrist and hand which receive the full blast of the shock while riding the bike.


  1. Opt for Custom Made, Foam-Coated Handles

The next thing you should consider is investing in a bike handlebar which is custom made for you. The team specialising in designing handlebars will study your grip and hand position on the handles on a stationary bike and will create an ergonomic model, which offers you maximum comfort, protection and safety.


  1. Change Your Grip Position during the Race

It is important to avoid applying continuous pressure on your wrists, thumb and palm while cycling. The simplest way of doing that is by constantly changing the position of your hands on the handles. Most importantly, learn the best types of grips for flat road, uphill/downhill and off-road cycling.


Treatment of Cyclist’s Palsy

The first thing you should do once you note the first symptoms of cyclist’s palsy is to take a break from cycling for a few days and, while recovering, have your bicycle or handlebar adjusted to prevent another occurrence. If the symptoms are associated with pain, you can take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. These drugs also help reduce the swelling and inflammation in your hand – the main cause of the pressure applied on the nerves.


However, if you do not see any improvement of your condition after a few days, you should consult a doctor. In the first phase, the doctor may administer a local injection with corticosteroids directly into the Guyon’s canal.


In the most serious case, after assessing the degree of nerve injury through an examination called nerve conduction testing, the doctor may recommend even surgery to restore the full functionality of the nerve.
As you can see, the consequences of cyclist’s palsy can become quite serious. At the same time, it is very simple to prevent its occurrence, so please remember the golden rule in cycling: always ride on a bike that is professionally adjusted for your body size and weight.

SPI Team

How to Prevent the Most Common Inline Skating Injuries

Inline skating is very popular among people of all ages, but especially among children and teenagers. It offers more freedom in movement than riding a bicycle and also a considerable speed. For this reason, a lot of people use it as a means of doing sports, having fun, and getting quickly from one point to another without the hassle of taking the car or the bike.

How to Prevent the Most Common Inline Skating Injuries

However, many people who practice inline skating are prone to accidents – these accidents being quite prevalent among novices. Statistics say that out of the most serious inline skating injuries which ended in the ER, 14% are suffered by beginners who do not yet master the art of swerving or stopping their inline skates properly.


What Kind of Injuries Are Involved in Inline Skating?

By far, the wrists are the most exposed body parts to injury while inline skating. This is generally due to the fact that the natural instinct when you trip while skating is to put your hands forward to break the fall. A research study conducted by the Medical Clinic and Polyclinic, Department of Sports Medicine, University of Tubingen, Germany showed that the overall percentage of injuries in inline skating is:


  • 38% to the shoulders, arms and torso;
  • 31% to the legs;
  • 21% to the pelvis and hips, and
  • 10% to the head.


Understanding these statistics is important, because it shows the mechanics of injuries and helps us become more aware of the dangers. For example, although the head injuries have the smallest proportion in the above percentages, they also tend to be the most severe. For this reason, you should always wear a protective helmet, even if the statistics say you are the least likely to injure your head.


What Are the Best Ways of Preventing Inline Skating Injuries?

There are no specific injuries or conditions related to this sport – injuries are strictly related to accidents. For this reason, our list of tips will refer to the prevention of such accidents, rather than the prevention of specific injuries.


  1. Beginners Should Practice on Special Lanes

There are special lanes for inline skating in parks and sports facilities. These are the ideal places to practice until you master your skating technique. The lanes are smooth, in a straight line and with very wide curves, helping you learn how to advance forward, swerve and stop. There is no pedestrian or bike traffic on these lanes, so you will be able to concentrate on skating itself without fear of accidents.


  1. Wear Protective Gear All the Time

Accidents can happen even to seasoned inline skaters. A sudden bump in the road, a person unexpectedly appearing in front of you are enough to cause you to fall down. The most common items of protective gear are the helmet and the knee, elbow and palm pads. If you take part in a high speed skating race, you should also wear a mouthpiece to protect your teeth in case of a violent impact with another competitor.


Apart from these protective items, inline skaters are recommended to wear long sleeve shirts and full length trousers in order to minimise the amount of cuts and bruises in case of an accident.


  1. Learn How to Fall

This is one of the first lessons an inline skate trainer would give to all beginners. Learning how to fall safely is a must if you want to reduce the extent of your injuries. The best way to fall, when it is inevitable, is on your sides – right or left. Falling backwards should be avoided at all costs because you could injure your spine or neck. When you fall forward, do not lock your elbows, but let the shock travel up your arms and along the muscles. This will avoid a serious wrist sprain, or even a fracture of the metacarpal bones.


  1. Warm up Before Skating

Warming up should be done in two sessions: the first before you put on your inline skates, and the second with your skates on, before you start gaining speed and swerving. For the first part of the warm-up, you should focus on flexibility by doing a series of stretches. For the second part, assess your range of movements, practice various stops (in a curve, all of a sudden, at various speeds) and build up momentum gradually.


  1. Keep a Close Eye on Your Surroundings

Once you leave the sanctuary of specially designed lanes for skating, anything could happen. For this reason, you must be very careful at what is ahead of you and around you, navigate carefully in traffic, never skate behind a car or a bike, and pay special attention to the potential bumps and irregularities in the road.

Mind Over Matter: A Positive Mindset Can Help You Heal Faster from Running Injuries

Suffering an injury is a double blow for many runners: to their body and to their ego. Recovering from an injury is both a physical and a mental process and, in many ways, a positive mindset can help the body heal faster. Although many people do not accept the fact that the way we visualise the healing process matters,

many doctors and physiotherapists agree that there is a strong relationship between the way athletes approach their recovery process from a mental point of view and the duration of the recovery.

Mind Over Matter-A Positive Mindset Can Help You Heal Faster from Running Injuries

In this article, we will be trying to teach you how to build a positive mindset and confront an injury in a realistic manner with a clear outlook on the future. We believe that most of the post-injury harm mostly comes from within, from negative thinking, bleak perspectives and scenarios built in the runner’s mind.


These are a few helpful tips to help you stay optimistic and heal faster:


  1. Stop Looking Back and Making Comparisons

As you are taking your first steps after surgery or after the removal of the cast, you are tempted to remember the days before your injury, when you were running effortlessly for miles. Stop making this kind of comparison, stop it right now! This will only lead to wallowing in self-pity and never getting back to your former level of fitness.


Even if the gravity of your injury will diminish your athletic performance, you are not a defeated person. You are still a survivor, a strong person who can make the most of the circumstances you have to face. However, given the advancements of medicine, you are most likely to recover completely and be able once again to run effortlessly for miles. For now, focus on the first post-injury steps and learn to build strength and endurance again.


  1. Learn Everything You Can about Your Injury

Ignorance is the source of our deepest fears. Not knowing what kind of injury you suffer from can make you create the worst case scenarios in your mind. With so many sources of reliable information online (and your own doctor who will be more than willing to explain), you should find out everything there is to know about your injury: how long it takes until it heals, what type of rehabilitation therapy you need to follow, how long until you are ready to go back to your regular training. Having this information and a clear timeline until recovery, you can focus on positive thoughts and planning for your comeback on the running track.


  1. Give Yourself a Pep Talk

As you move on from complete rest to physical therapy, keep encouraging yourself with small speeches and reaffirmation statements. Remind yourself that you are strong and you will get over this injury. Find motivation in every milestone you achieve in your therapy and keep telling yourself that you can and will succeed to overcome this injury and get back to your usual performance level. This daily pep talk will work wonders for your mindset and your motivation to push yourself forward, and it will help you stay on track with your physical therapy.


  1. Set Yourself Achievable Goals

If you want to keep a positive outlook on your recovery, you need to determine a list of milestones which you can actually achieve. Setting unrealistic goals for your recovery means setting yourself up for failure, disappointment and even depression. Serious injuries take time to recover and your muscles need time to regain their strength and flexibility.

Trying to push yourself too hard with extenuating exercises and training may even cause you to suffer another injury or reactivate the existing one.

This will mean more time away from training and a longer time to recover, sometimes incompletely.


The best way of healing your injury is to remind yourself that this is just another hurdle which you will get over. Keeping a positive mindset is just as important as benefitting from professional medical treatment for your running injury.


There are so many types of so-called sportswear in stores, that amateur runners have a hard time identifying the kind of shoes and sweats which are truly efficient and recommended to offer them protection on the track or on the treadmill. While professional runners have already learned what type of equipment allows them to run freely, without over-sweating and without causing them injury, amateurs do not even know exactly how important it is to wear adequate equipment. The Importance of Adequate Equipment for Runners


Why Are the Clothes You Wear during Running So Important?

Running is a specific type of body movement, in which you put extra effort on your feet and legs and use all the muscles in your body. As you are gaining speed, you encounter the resistance of the wind, which means that you have to put in extra effort to overcome it and keep up your running speed or even accelerate.


If you remember the physics lessons back in high school, you know that the larger the surface you offer to wind pressure, the greater the resistance – proportionally greater, in fact. What does it mean for the beginner runner who is trying to build up speed and endurance? It means that if you wear a large, baggy t-shirt and loose-fitting trousers, you will have to put in extra effort to overcome the air pressure.


Running Clothes Offer More Than Sheer Comfort

Professional running equipment did not appear overnight. It has been developed through continuous observation and testing, working closely with professional athletes. They are specifically designed to offer your body the exact type of comfort and protection it needs during a long distance or short distance run.


Here are some simple examples to show you the ways in which running equipment is different from your everyday “sporty” clothes:


  1. Running Socks

“Really? Socks matter?” Yes, they do – very much. They are precisely designed to follow the contour of your foot, without seams, to eliminate the risk of chafing. They are also made of special materials which absorb sweat quickly and do not allow your feet to overheat as a result of sustained effort.


  1. Compression Clothing

Those tight shirts and shorts worn by runners during competitions are not to show off their sculpted bodies. They are the most advanced type of running clothing made of compressive materials which are demonstrated to improve performance by maintaining the correct oxygenation level in muscles after reaching the lactate threshold (this is when you start to feel your muscles becoming sore and heavy).


  1. Specialized Materials to Let Your Skin Breathe

Have you reached the level when you feel sweat trickling down your body, and an increasing heat wave emanating from within while running? This means that you do not wear adequate running equipment. Specialized materials absorb sweat as soon as it forms on your body and allow your skin to breathe by ensuring one-direction air intake. This sounds like sci-fi stuff, but this is why proper running gear is more expensive than t-shirts and sweats you buy from your local hypermarket.


  1. Last but Not Least… Shoes

We have already covered the subject of running shoes in previous articles, but they are so important, that we make one more mention of them. Wearing adequate running shoes, not only specifically designed for running, but also specifically designed for your type of running gait, is essential. Adequate shoes offer you optimal support and allow you to reach your highest potential as a runner. Inadequate shoes will further damage your incorrect running gait and may even cause you to suffer running injuries.
We believe that these reasons are sufficient to convince you that running equipment truly matters. It is not a fad, it is not for the sake of “looking like a pro”, but it is meant to offer you optimal comfort, safety and support during your running sessions.

SPI Team

How to Recover Quickly from a Dead Leg

How to Recover Quickly from Dead Leg

Dead leg, or quadriceps contusion, is a condition most frequently encountered in contact sports (football, rugby, etc.) but it may affect runners in case of accidents (tripping and falling down). It is caused by crushing the muscle against the thigh bone (the femur) which is one of the longest and most dense bones in the human body.


There are three grades of severity for dead leg, starting from the grade 1 mild contusion, to grade 3 which represents deep crushing of the muscle and requires using crutches for one or two months. During running, athletes may typically suffer from grade 1 quadriceps contusion – the lightest form of injury. Nonetheless, this is still quite painful to require taking a break from training and following a physiotherapists advice to return to your regular running schedule after healing.


The symptoms of dead leg are:

  • Pain immediately after the impact (accident)
  • Difficulty in walking and restricted movements
  • Swelling and bruising within a few hours after the incident


If you suffered from dead leg, the first thing you must do is sit down and refrain from putting any pressure on the injured leg or pressing down on the muscle in an attempt to massage the pain away. Your doctor will recommend therapeutic massage at the appropriate moment along your recovery path.


These are the basic steps to curing dead leg and getting back on the running track as soon as possible:


  1. The RICE Method

Extensively discussed in other articles, the RICE method remains the most efficient first aid technique for many types of running injuries, including dead leg. Ice applications should take place during the first 72 hours after the injury in 10-minute sessions with a break of 2-3 hours between applications.


As for compression, you should ask your doctor to recommend a compressive bandage of adequate elasticity to prevent further crushing of the muscle and restriction of the blood flow.


  1. Ultrasound/Electrical Stimulation

Your doctor may prescribe a few sessions with an ultrasound or electrical stimulation machine. The duration and intensity of the sessions will be determined by the severity of your injury and the treatment will take place in the presence of a licensed professional.


  1. Sports Massage

In the case of dead leg, it is important to follow your physio’s recommendations strictly. The problem with this type of injury is that applying massage too soon after the injury may cause the occurrence of a condition called myositis ossificans (the ossification of the muscle). When your physio gives you the green light for massage, you should approach a chartered physio who will apply the specific technique appropriate.


  1. Stretching

Gentle stretching will be included in your recovery programme within a few days after the injury, in the case of grade 1 dead leg. However, you should be careful about starting with light stretches, paying attention to the response of your body and not attempting to push yourself too much in the attempt of returning to your regular training.


One sign that you are prepared to move on to more difficult exercises is the ability to bend your knee at 90 degrees without any pain or tightness in your upper leg muscles.
The total recovery prognosis for the light version of dead leg is 7-10 days before you can restart your training and running. However, depending on the severity of your injury, your doctor may give you a different prognosis. No matter how eager you are to get over the injury, you should not skip any step in the recovery plan and instead wait patiently for your muscles to heal completely before you attempt running again.

Treadmill or Free Running? Find out Which Has the Lowest Risk of Injury

When it comes to running, there are two kinds of people: those who prefer running outside, and those who love going to the gym to run on the treadmill. Each of these two groups of people will defend their option with countless arguments.


In the end, it is a matter of preference, but we would like to take a closer look at the level of safety of each option. This article is not aimed to create a rift between free runners and gym goers. It is meant as a helpful guide both for beginners who have not made a choice, and as an eye opener for more seasoned runners, so that they can avoid injury while doing their favourite running routine.


Therefore, let us examine the conditions for each type of running and try to determine which one is safer.


Free Running

Either on a closed track or in the great outdoors, free running is the number one option for keeping fit for millions of people. Its number one advantage is that it does not cost too much (except for the running apparel and shoes). It is also great because you do not get bored, with the ever-changing scenery around you.


But this advantage can turn into a risk as well. If you are easily distracted by things you see around you, you may miss a bump in the track and fall down, possibly spraining your ankle. This risk of injury is multiplied by the fact that a lot of people (even some professional athletes) choose to listen to music on MP3 players while they are running, thus becoming oblivious to any warning noises.


On the other hand, free running helps you exercise your muscles better and helps you gain a correct gait. Every movement you make when your foot makes contact with the soil is different, and exercises all muscle groups in your legs. However, if you are running on a hard surface with inadequate shoes, running outdoors can cause shin splints and hamstring injuries.


Main Take-Away: Free running is great if you are a professional runner, and are good at focusing on your training and not getting distracted. Also, you need to use professional running shoes and know which type is adequate for the terrain on which you will be running.


Treadmill Running

Treadmill running is a great option for cold, rainy days. Even if you are a staunch lover of free running, you have to resort to going to the gym during late autumn and winter.


Treadmills are safer overall for amateur runners. They are provided with padding, so the impact on your muscles and joints is softer compared to free running. If you are just beginning to exercise and are a bit overweight, it is a great idea to start with the treadmill.


However, the main disadvantage of the treadmill is that your legs are not fully exercised. You are basically repeating the same type of step, and are not compelled in any way to correct your gait and vary the groups of muscles you are exercising. This repetitive exercise of the same groups of muscles leads to recurring cases of shin splints and IT band pain.


Observations by professional trainers have shown that treadmill runners tend to develop longer strides on the treadmill, trying to minimise the time when their feet are in actual contact with the treadmill. Several studies have also proven that running on the treadmill for a long time can change your posture, favouring the inward rolling of the ankle.


Also, if you happen to stumble on a treadmill, the consequences can be more serious than those of the same accident taking place on stationary ground.


Main Take-Away: The treadmill is a great complement to running outdoors, when inclement weather prevents the latter. However, continuous use of the treadmill may change your running posture, favouring the occurrence of accidents. It also favours repeated injury to the shins and IT band, which are the most exercised muscle groups during treadmill running.


The Verdict: Free running is healthier and better adapted to a complete work-out of your muscles. While the treadmill is great to keep fit during those days when you cannot do your running routine outside, you should not use it as a replacement for free running – both for fitness and health reasons.