Please meet Silvia. She is one of our amazing and very qualified (see below ) physios. She kindly answered a few questions about herself and also gave us loads of advice for runners.
I’m from Italy, specifically from Sardinia, the island with the most stunning sea of the world. I studied in Florence, where I got my degrees, but spent my last year of study at the University of Seville, Spain. I got my Master’s degree in Sport Physiotherapy in Siena, a pretty city in Tuscany.
And then I did a specialistic course in Perth, Australia, at the Curtin University (I like travelling , you know? ).
Physiotherapy was my first choice from the beginning. (I would have liked to be a famous singer in a rock band, but luckily for the world I decided to carry on a different career ).
I always loved everything regarding medicine and our body. It’s a world that fascinates me. And I’ve always been into sport. I’m a volleyball player and I am interested in the injury setting (fortunately never on me): recovering, rehabilitation, return to play.
So, physiotherapy was the choice for me, the perfect match between medicine and sport. However, during my studies and years working, I realised that the physiotherapy world is more than just 1+1=2. To be a great physiotherapist you need to have basic notion about psychology, nutrition, biomechanics, physic, and you can’t ever stop studying, learning and reading, because the information around physiotherapy practices is continuously changing and moving forward, and you need to stay up to date. It’s a big challenge sometimes….
… and I LOVE it!
What areas of physio are you most interested in, or most passionate about?
As I said earlier sport physiotherapy is my big passion. To help an athlete to recover from an injury and follow them on the journey until they are ready to return to sport is a big satisfaction. It’s a big effort from both sides, the athlete and the physio. For them it means stopping something that they love; it means sacrifice; it means pain and frustration. The physio’s job is to guide them, support them and find the best and most effective plan. And I’m not talking only about the professional athlete – this applies to people that decide to run a marathon, or people that cycle to work, or play football once a week.
We understand you are a keen runner, and applied for the London Marathon ballot. A lot of our clients are also keen runners and a few are currently training for half and full marathons. From your experience what should runners do when they first feel a niggle or an injury?
Usually the running injuries are really annoying because they come gradually as a small discomfort. For example – on the knee, or on the hip. Runners usually continue their training because the pain is not so intense to stop them running, until one day it suddenly becomes so strong that they are forced to stop and ask for help. Due to not seeking help when the pain first appeared the recovering process can be slow. My suggestion for a runner that starts to feel niggles for two or three (maximum!) consecutive training sessions – see a professional (a physio is good!) who can recognise if that niggle is likely to develop into an injury, or if it’s a normal pain from training.
Are there any key exercises or training activities that you do and that you would advise runners to do to safe guard against injury?
Strengthening is important. Some runners think that as running is cardio they don’t need to do any strengthening exercises. That’s not true. On a run of 10km, the average number of the steps we do is high, and each step we take causes impact. There are reaction forces that come from the ground and back to our body. If we are not strong enough to support this impact, we’ll put a lot of pressure on our joints and soft tissues. Possibly causing injuries. Hip and knee muscle strengthening and core improvement is essential. Furthermore, runners need to train motor control (muscle activation) and balance. A muscle can be strong but It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s been activated with the right timing and in the right position. There are lots of exercises that can improve that and make the run safer and also improve the performance.
At the moment I’m training at The Foundry with different classes that mix strengthening, cardio and functional movements. I have noticed the difference when I run! I feel much stronger, more resilient and resistant.
Another thing that I strongly suggest for all runners is a Running Analysis (you can get one from our friends at The Running School). It’s an assessment of your personal running biomechanics. It shows you what you can improve on in terms of running technique and optimising your performance.
What are your top tips or advice for training and avoiding injury?
Don’t run too much too soon
What are the most common injuries you see in runners?
The most common injuries I see in runners are Ileotibial band syndrome, runner’s knee, bursitis, tendinopaties, and less common but really important to recognise – hip or foot stress fractures (mostly in women). As I said, none of these injuries are usually traumatic and they are most commonly caused by strength deficits, altered muscle activation, muscle imbalance, poor running biomechanics and overtraining (don’t forget about lack of sleeping/fatigue and malnutrition).
How important is warm up and cool down for injury prevention and performance?
The warm up and cool down are absolutely necessary so that you don’t “traumatise” the body.
Before running it is important to warm up to prepare the body for the run. The cool down allows the body to recover after the exercise and return to the initial balance.
How are you enjoying working at technique, and what sets technique apart from other physios?
I love working at Technique! ♥️ We are a great team. We work hard, we share opinions, but we also enjoy our work – making it fun and never boring. And the fact that we are established with The Foundry is even better. It’s an amazing environment, friendly people, a great service and always up to date with the latest research, training and treatments.
What distinguishes Technique from other physios is our aim to support people not just after their injuries, but also before. Our goal is PREHAB. Assess an athlete BEFORE they start their training season and then follow them through their season. We try to be 360 degrees support.
It’s all about prevention, not just treatment.