Category Archives: run off road

Update on my running – Highlander Mountain Marathon.

Here is an update on how I’ve been getting on since my last treatment session with you back in December.  I’ve delayed sending this as I wanted to include an update of the Highlander Mountain Marathon.

grapho showing weekly running milage after physio
weekly running miilage after physio

When I came to Physio in December I had been suffering with a strained adductor muscle (since August) and recurrent problems with my calf and ankle muscles which you’d diagnosed were caused by poor upper body posture from working at a laptop all day.  I was keen to get these problems sorted out so I could be fit enough to start training in earnest in the New Year for the Highlander Mountain Marathon at the end of April.  My training runs prior to seeing you had been very irregular, at the most consisting of a long weekend run and one other 10k run per week.

Your physio sessions got me back running again and the advice you gave me about my posture and running form chimed with advice I’d been given by Susie Baker, my Alexander Technique teacher, in the past.

New leaf in 2015
I decided to turn over a new leaf in 2015 and set myself a target of running or walking at least 5km every day.  I’m pleased to say this is something that I am still doing and I usually only have a walking instead of running day once a fortnight or so.

Running every day
Contrary to fears that running every day was going to exacerbate the calf and ankle problems I had been suffering with, I found that the aches and pains lessened and then disappeared completely.  Running every day gave me the opportunity to concentrate on my posture more and to practice running with good form.  Knowing that I have to do 5km every day means that as soon as I get any pains or niggles I treat them straight away with either stretching, wobble board or foam roller as appropriate.  I have even had a couple of sports massages from Katherine Golik to treat tired legs.  I’m going to continue with running every day for the foreseeable future: I’m used to it now and it’s become a habit.  The only thing I would add is more core exercises to enable me to maintain good form over longer distances.

Highlander Mountain Marathon and Butcombe Trail
As well as the Highlander Mountain Marathon in April (running 32 miles with 3,890m of ascent over a weekend with a backpack containing food, clothes, sleeping bag and tent), I ran the length of the Butcombe Trail during one long day in March: an unsupported solo run of 48 miles in 11 hours (which included time for map reading and stopping in several pubs on the way round for tea, coffee and extra water).

Man v Horse marathon
My next challenge is the Man v Horse marathon in June followed by a 50+ mile ultra in September.


Photo showing: Testing off road shoes with AAA-Physio @ Moti BS8. 14kmph : foot contact slightly ahead of body centre of gravity
Testing off road shoes with AAA-Physio @ Moti BS8. 14kmph : foot contact slightly ahead of body centre of gravity

Top of right glute painful, John has identified that my right foot veers left just at the end of my stride, meaning my hip twists probably causing the pain. It’s only in the last month.

Question is what causes it; shoes, stance or what?
1. New tyres – popped in to Moti and the attentive chaps spent 45 mins sorting that in line with John’s instructions. Very different but comfy, hope an old foot injury in my foot isn’t aggravated as it always casts a shadow over new shoes.
2. Posture – while standing – ‘peering over cliff’, this is the one I’ve been concentrating on, feet, knees, pelvis and head, oh and chest and shoulders if a man can concentrate on more than 4 things at once! While sitting – pelvis, shoulders and head (superman eyes)
3. Running style – shorter stride landing on ball of foot not so heavily on heel, pelvis, elbows (pushing back and not too far forward), and the head, again. Needs working on at the next session.
I really should stretch more.
Been running and out on MTB, neither very good. Torn between resting and pain of getting fit again once John has worked his magic vs glute and back pain of continuing exercise.

Why no magic button John can crunch?

Student Discount Physio

Tins of beans for dinner, studying and recycled toilet paper. Its tough being a student, so we thought we’d make life that little bit easier….

Bring along your student card and receive your physio treatment for as little as £33*.

Book online 24/7 or drop-in in person to the AAA-Physio Clinic @ Moti Running Store, 49 Whiteladies Road (Near The BBC)

*T&C’s apply – Pre-booking & payment essential.
£33 is the price for a 30 minute follow up appointment

How to keep up with the kids and defeat ageing #1


Runner good technique on hill
Keep on running

Problem – I think I do a good level of exercise, 3-4 hours a week, often including 10-15 miles (running) off-road, I also do circuits at least once a week, in the hope that it will keep the body in shape, and that I can keep up with the kids and defeat ageing, while enjoying the countryside west of Bristol.

However, every couple of years the body rebels and all sorts of random parts of the body rebel. Back – Knees – Ankle – Neck

Treatment – ring John @AAA-Physio and get myself booked in. Somehow he identifies which bits of my back are the root cause and tells me I don’t sit properly at my desk. He also finds aches I didn’t know I had. A few crunches and 24 hours of thinking not much has changed… ..the old body is revived!

1) I really should stretch more often & use free the exercise sheets on John’s website
2) I shouldn’t wait till my backs ceases up or a muscle locks up before seeing John
3) Chasing balls is for dogs and not middle aged men!

Black Cocker Spaniel
Ideal Ball chaser – Spaniel not Human.

Athletics and Triathlon – Physio #2 800m Champs Winner

Both myself and my daughter have had physio from John.

My daughter runs 800m track athletics and following an injury to her ankle just before the SouthWest Championships visited John before the finals at Millfield, which following a couple of sessions with John she managed to win, we will be visiting John again soon to work on some technique training before next season. She is currently running cross country for Westbury Harriers and finished 3rd in Avon at the Tri Counties Championship

J. Reed

Major ankle sprain #1 – Physio Assessment

I sprained my ankle on 7th June running down hill in long grass. I don’t know why but it just went over – There was a horrible “pop”. Within minutes it looked like this:

Accident and emergency did an X-Ray and said soft tissue injury ONLY- an orthopaedic specialist agreed. Thank God as in 10 days time I was due to fly for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hong Kong and there was nothing that was going to stop me going!!

So the “Rest Ice Compression Elevation” thing was a little ignored and now 9 weeks later…. still swelling, feels unstable and painful at times.
Standing at work is making things so much worse- I’ve even had to wear TED stockings!

I can’t do Yoga-child’s pose, kneeling, plank, I can’t run- especially not uphill and I’m scared to do much incase it “goes” again! Sleeping at night is a nightmare, I stretch my ankle in my sleep and wake up in soo much pain!

Physio John Stephenson assessed and said ankle inversion injury plus reduced neural mobility. (Ref BUTLER, D)

PHYSIO Prescription
Moderate cardio work seated and Neural flossing.

10km in 50 mins #1 – Training with Physio

My name is Andrew and I am 38 year old Computer studies student. Every week for the last 6 years I’ve been playing 5-a-side. During the last 18 months a pain developed in my right knee. It would be sore and painful for a two or three days after a playing a match. To try and minimise the pain I had taken to wearing a knee brace whilst playing and also the day after the match. Because I’d usually recovered in time for the next match I neglected to seek treatment for this injury.

Earlier this year I decided to sign up for the Bristol 10k but knew I would struggle to train for it every week whilst still playing football because of this injury. I asked my friends if anyone knew any good physiotherapists and a friend recommended John as as she had had successful treatment with him.

I attended a session at the Moti running store on Whiteladies road. A series of tests undertaken during this session identified a weakness in my right leg. It was less able to resist force than my left leg. The left leg was also more flexible and had a greater range of movement.

I was then filmed running on a treadmill. The footage from this revealed that I was landing heavily on my heels and that my right leg crossed over slightly to the left as I ran.

A program was devised to eliminate my knee pain by treating these problems. As I spend a lot of time sat at a computer recommendations were made to improve my posture whilst sitting. I was also given a couple of back exercises to regularly perform. To improve my running gait and balance. I was told to run landing on my toes first, with my back straighter and to try and minimise the amount my head was bobbing up and down.

With the new running style I have been able to run long distances without feeling any knee pain. After the first few practise runs for the Bristol 10k my calves felt very sore. An indication that they were doing more of the work. The knee also feels stronger every time I play football. The pain I felt afterwards was reduced and my recovery time improved to full recovery within 24 hours. I no longer wear a knee brace and am hopeful that eventually it will completely subside.

Reviewing the progress we’ve made on the treadmill. The footage now shows that my weight is better distributed as I land, head is stiller as I run and my right leg doesn’t stray over to the left any more.

Running to Fitness: Week 3

This week on running to fitness: some personal posture points, running technique gems, and finally, news of a very wet 10k race.

One of the great things I’m finding about working with a physio, a massage therapist and a pilates instructor, is that it really feels like there is a team of people all looking after me, and, looking at my body objectively.  I’ve always felt that when I’m making an effort to stand up straight, I’m standing as tall as I can and with good posture.  However, my pilates instructor spotted that I rock back on to my heels, so my weight is shifted backward.  With some help I’ve learned to shift the weight so that it is centered above my toes when standing.  This is quite a different sensation for me and feels like I’m leaning forward all the time! Without these objective observations made on my posture I would have just carried on getting back pain, and other injuries, and I would not be enjoying my running as much as I am now.

Another postural change that has been intimated to me has been the need to push my chin in!  My body before running to fitness started must have resembled an elongated S shape: with my head sticking forward, my shoulders curved, my beer belly protruding and my bum sticking out!  By switching my abs on when running, making my ribs soft, relaxing my shoulders and tucking my chin in; my spine, correctly aligned, can handle the impact of hitting the ground.  I’ve also found that by tucking my chin in and reaching up through my crown that I grow slightly taller and my mobility in my neck is increased.

Last week, John showed me how to start a good running posture. By leaning forward (with an upright trunk) the centre of gravity is towards, but not directly over, the front foot as it lands.  This week we expanded on this…  John explained that I should be landing on balls of feet and scuffing the ground with quick feet not striking with my heel!

John made an adjustment to my ribs.  We spoke about using, what feels to me like a little muscle, the Lower Trapezius, to pull my shoulders back.  (Although apparently the Lower Trapezius is not that little)!  I’ve started using this muscle in Pilates when lifting my arms doing side-bends. This can be an under-used muscle and I had predominantly been using my Upper Trapezius to move my arm.

To help my stiff shoulders we also talked about what my arms should be doing during running.  Locking my elbows at ninety degrees, my arms move in parallel (and in time with my legs) but really lifting back and moving the shoulder.  John suggested that my hands should only just become visible in my peripheral vision when running.  This parallel action of the arms helps the momentum built up to go in one direction – no energy is wasted by flailing body parts!

My homework this week was to find a picture of Paula Radcliffe running on the beach.  I found the photo John was referring to – it’s a side profile view and you can really see the posture with the tucked in chin and arms reaching back.

I ran a slightly hilly and mixed terrain 10k on the weekend.  It threw it down with rain throughout (very refreshing)!  I found that I really noticed the difference switching on abs makes in giving me more hip stability through uneven surfaces and puddles (every part of the body continues in the same direction).  The arm backlift really helped going uphills and towards the end as I pushed for home.  I have to say that now I’m spending less time thinking about my posture as I race, which is enabling me to think about tactics.  I finished the race with a great time 52:06 another personal best!