Looking for advice when starting to run?

5km tips

If you’re just setting out on a new training goal it’s an exciting time, I’ve got some tips and training aids to help you on your journey and reduce the risk of injury.

  • Training load– pick a training plan, there are plenty available online and it saves the guess work. Aim to not increase your training load by more than 10% each week. The key for new runner is to listen to your body- if you need a rest take it and alter your schedule to suit you. We all lead busy lives don’t be disheartened if you miss a training day, just make up for it.
  • Recovery – Just as important as the run itself allow your body adequate time to recover. Running places loads of upto 2.5 times your bodyweight through your body- it’s a brilliant exercise to loads the muscles and keep healthy and strong, but we need to make sure we can adapt and recover from the training sessions. Take time to foam roll after your run, include stretching and mobility work, the following day go for a short walk or swim, your body will thank you for it.
  • Nutrition – also a part of recovery what you eat and when will influence how you feel during and after your run. Ensure your meeting your daily requirements for all nutrients. Don’t obsess over carb loading initially, if you’re meeting your daily needs you should be fine.
  • Sleep – aim for 7-9 hours of good quality sleep each night, especially after a training day. During the sleep cycle the body resets, adapts and processes muscle memory- it’s a key part of training.
  • Water – if you’re feeling thirsty it tends to mean you normally haven’t taken enough water on board throughout the day. We’re composed mostly of water so it’s an element we need to fuel our cells. During the day ensure you’re drinking water- leave a water bottle on your desk or set a reminder on your phone- it’s easy to remember if you have to.
  • Strength and conditioning- one way to reduce the risk of injury is to implement strength and conditioning alongside your run schedule- this can be once or twice per week and will benefit your overall health and running ability. Next week I’ll post an easy strength and conditioning circuit that can be done at home.

Chronic Pain

Chronic Pain Recalibrate Sligo Injury clinic ciara Mulrooney

If you’ve suffered with any type of pain long term, you’ll know how frustrating it is. Rest assured that you’re not the only person and please don’t suffer in silence. Approx. 13% of the Irish population have chronic pain (Irish Journal of Medical Science). Chronic pain can be from tissue which was injured, nerve related, fibromyalgia, referred, low back, neck, knee, ankle, arthritis, sciatica, post dislocation to name a few… As you can see it can affect anybody anywhere! The type of pain may be sharp, dull, intermittent, or constant. Sometimes people who may look fine are suffering pain. The one common factor is that it tends to decrease a person’s quality of life, which is a huge factor to consider when getting help.

What is pain? Essentially pain is a reaction to a threat which may harm us, on a basic level pain is what keeps us alive, we become aware of something which might cause us danger and we react to take steps to avoid this danger and protect ourselves from any more harm. We experience a stress reaction to this threat and the brain initiates our systems to call a halt to any danger and try to heal the area as quickly as possible.

Isn’t that a good thing? Well yes, it is, we need this type of response to be able to heal fractures, muscular strains and protect us from harm. It’s when this response becomes heightened and in a constant state that the problem arises. If this occurs the body will be apprehensive to move or use some muscles more than others to keep us safe, this can lead to increased tension and perceived pain when doing certain movements. When we’ve healed from an initial trauma we don’t need to remain in this state, we need to let the body know that it’s safe to move and use it otherwise we become more sensitised.

What else can affect it? Many different factors can alter how the pain affects you. This can range from the severity of the injury to the length of time we are sensitised. The longer the pain persists the less it takes to aggravate the pain- it’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken down. Stress, lifestyle, sleep, nutrition, exercise, memories, nerve/tissue health, anxiety can all affect pain – in a nutshell pain is multidimensional.

What can I do about it? There is no one size fits all answer because after all we are human and all individual, what works for one person may have zero effect on someone else. But what we can do, is determine what’s causing the issue, work on getting muscles desensitised and back doing their job, letting the overworked muscles relax and creating more control. Thus, allowing us to decrease the pain threat and get on doing things we enjoy and improve our quality of life.  At Recalibrate I work with you to devise a plan to get you back moving, managing your symptoms and getting the most out of life.

Is lack of sleep holding you back?

What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?

  1. Inadequate recovery – sleep is key to recovery, and recovery post exercise is key to progression, if we don’t recover enough we run the risk of overtraining and becoming injured. This can lead to an increased perception of DOMS and lack of motivation to exercise.
  2. Increased stress – prolonged fight or flight state using energy up we need to exercise, stress can impact many different factors of our lives. Chronic prolonged inadequate sleep can lead to an effect on mental wellbeing.
  3. Decreased reaction times– the more tired we are the less reactive we become, making the likelihood that we’ll overstep or miss a cue due to a delayed reaction
  4. Decreased learning capacity – when we learn skills we need to fine tune them, sleep is crucial to motor control and memory letting us build these patterns to use next time we need them.
  5. Lower overall health – not enough sleep can lead to an increase in illness due to an effect on the immune system – our bodies reaction to not having all the required elements it needs to function at its peak

Why is this important?
Research has shown that those who get less than 8hours sleep were at an increased risk of injury.
Sleep is something we can put measures in place to control and is a simple component to increase recovery and decrease the risk of injury or performance impairment. Aim for 7-9 hours per night if possible and see how you feel!



Tennis Elbow

Have you got elbow pain that’s holding you back? Read on to see if this can help you.

Given the name it’s easy to think this injury is restricted to tennis players only but golfers, painters, and anyone can suffer from tennis elbow.
Signs: pain on the outside of the elbow where the forearm muscles attach. Weakness or pain gripping objects. When stretching the muscles there may be pain and they may be tender to touch.
Some people also experience neck or shoulder pain with tennis elbow. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis as symptoms can be similar to cervical spine referred pain.

Why does it happen? 
There are a number of different reasons, these vary from overuse, inadequate technique increasing load through the forearm, doing a repetitive movement that you aren’t used to eg painting, changes in coordination from fatigue, a decrease in range of motion in the neck or shoulder. 

What can I do to help it?
Firstly make sure it actually is tennis elbow and not something else, also if the pain persists after trying some methods get professional help from a skilled musculoskeletal therapist. 

Things to try:
1. Gently stretch the forearm muscles, hold your arm out straight and move your hand upwards applying a light pressure with the opposite hand, hold for 10 and push the hand the opposite way holding for 10. Repeat 5 times each way. Twice a day
2. Place your arm on a table with a dumbbell or water bottle in your hand. Leave space for the hand to move freely. Move your hand upwards as far as possible, then down as far as possible, perform these slowly and controlled. Repeat 15 times. Try twice a day
3. Massage: do some gentle massage on the offending muscles, not too painful just a little bit!! 30-40seconds twice is enough
4.Assess your technique, are you rounding your shoulders or compensating somewhere to allow you to do a movement, become aware of how you are moving and see if you can improve your technique so the forearm isn’t overloaded.

Runner’s Knee

Knee pain

Despite the name, runner’s knee isn’t just for runners, it’s a general name given to pain around the knee cap and is also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome.

What does it feel like? This can be an achey feeling around or behind the kneecap when doing certain movements like going down stairs, hills or after sitting for a while.

What can cause it? While there is no definitive one size fits all answer, there are many different factors which may cause runner’s knee. These can include an increase in training load, running on uneven surfaces, inadequate footwear, extended sitting. Physical factors can include how the patella moves, not enough strength in the quadriceps, glutes or calf muscles, a lack of flexibility in calf, hamstrings or hip flexors, balance issues and ankle dorsiflexion may all play a role in runner’s knee.

How do I fix it? First we need to figure out why it’s occurring, if we know that then we can look at ways to decrease the pain. Here are some simple tips you can implement to see if it will help your pain. Training: Initially it’s important to decrease the training load and go for a 10% increase/week if running. Also, mix up the training, don’t have too many hills in every session. Aim for a shorter stride length.

Movement: Try not to sit down in the one position for too long, stretch your legs or move around if possible.

Balance: stand on one leg and try to stay in the one spot without falling for 30 seconds, when this gets too easy close your eyes and see how you get on. If it’s too hard use the wall or chair as support until you build up your balance.


1)Clam exercises – lie sideways, bend both knees, keep heels together and lift the top knee away from the bottom knee, make sure you don’t roll sideways and do the exercises slowly.

2)Double leg mini squats: stand with feet shoulder width apart, toes point slightly outwards and squat down slowly, for this you don’t want to go below parallel, it’s a mini squat! Keep an eye on how your knees move, do they drop in or out a lot? If so work on controlling the knee as you do the squat, using a band around the thighs can help give feedback for this or look in the mirror.

3)Straight leg raise: lie down flat, bend the knee which doesn’t hurt to about 45 degrees’ angle and keep the other leg straight out on the ground, make sure your back is flat. Point your toes up towards the roof and slowly lift your leg off the ground, when it’s in line with the opposite leg hold for 5 seconds and lower it back down.

Stretching: quads, calf and hamstring stretching hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

Taping: sometimes ktaping or using a method called McConnell taping can decrease the pain, it can provide feedback. While this may be beneficial short term it generally doesn’t get to the root of the cause of the problem

Footwear: make sure your runners aren’t too old or worn out, have a look at the soles and see is it time for an upgrade.

It’s important to note that what works for one person may not work for another, so even if you seem to have the same problem as someone else the reason causing it may not be the same. That’s why their pain may have gotten better by doing certain exercises but it’s not helping you. If you have any worries or are unsure about your pain, it’s easy to get in touch to have your issue assessed and figure out what’s causing the problem.

Concussion – where’s your head at?

Working as an Emergency First Responder and Athletic Therapist with soccer, hurling, football, hockey teams of all ages levels I’ve seen many firsthand concussions. We, as a society, need to be more attentive of concussions and their possible implications.

The more aware players, coaches, individuals and professionals are about concussion the less likely we are to have long term or future implications. We need to recognise the signs, report to appropriate people, and return to play gradually. Check out my info image below with some details of concussion and what to do.