Archive: June 28, 2016

Run Fit 5 – Indispensable Stretches: The 5 stretches critical to injury prevention in runners #runfit5

Stretching is something that most runners do in one form or another. However, often stretching is done rather haphazardly as runners are unsure regarding which is the best technique, how long a stretch should be held, and what you should feel.


First of all, every stretch should be comfortable; you should never stretch into pain. A longer, mild to moderate stretch is infinitely more effective than a short-lasting strong stretch. Thus you should be looking to hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeating each stretch twice, all the while feeling a comfortable stretch in the muscle.


Technique and positioning are also essential to effective stretching. Stretches should always be eased into (and out of) and should be held consistently – never ‘bounce’ a stretch. Also make sure you are in a stable position as trying to stretch and balance leads to inefficient stretching / falling over. Stretching pre exercise should be particularly gentle and should be preceded by 5-10 minutes of warm up. Stretching post exercise is most effective when done shortly after you finish rather than an hour or later on when you have cooled down.


The 5 stretches below are simple yet effective. Most people would have seen them before and perhaps already do them. The key with these exercises is technique. Technique is everything. So make sure you read the technique tips for each exercise to maximise their effectiveness. And of course if you have any questions, shoot us an email.


  1. Kneeling hip flexor stretch

There are several components to making this an effective stretch. Firstly, place a pillow or something soft under the knee you are kneeling on otherwise your kneecap with get sore. Secondly, make sure you squeeze your glutes and tuck your tailbone under to position the pelvis correctly. You should feel a stretch in the front of the hip or down the front of the thigh; either is fine.

Hip flexor stretch for runners


  1. Step calf stretch

For this one, place the foot you are stretching on the edge of the step so that your heel is hanging off the step. Your other foot should be completely on the step. Slowly lower the heel on the stretching leg – transferring weight to that leg, until you feel a stretch in your calf.

calf stretch for runners.


  1. Standing hamstring stretch

Place your foot on a step or a low park bench. Have your standing knee slightly bent. Keep your back straight and bend forward at the hip until you feel a stretch down the back of the thigh. Repeat with the knee straight and the knee bent.

hamstring stretch for runners


  1. Lying quad stretch

Nice and simple. Lay on your stomach and pull your knee towards your bottom until your feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. To get a better stretch gently contract your Gluts to push your hips into the floor.

Quad stretch for runners.


  1. Foam roller

Strictly speaking not a stretch but the best way to loosen off the pesky ITB. Have the leg you are rolling straight and the other leg bent forward at the hip and the knee with the foot on the ground (this takes some of the weight off your rolling leg and makes it more comfortable…….slightly). Slowly roll up and down, stopping before the roller gets to the bony outer part of your hip and the outside of your knee. You only need to repeat this 7 or 8 times on each side for it to be effective. Be aware that it will be a bit painful for most people though and consult your doctor or physio if you are taking blood thinning medications.

ITB stretch / release for runnersstretch to ease runner's knee


Obviously these are general exercises so if you want a full and thorough assessment and an individualised programme, combined with expert guidance, book an appointment with us at Bespoke Physiotherapy in Covent Garden. Individualised care is especially important to those returning to running from an injury, or those increasing their training.


Make sure you explore the other blog posts in our runfit5 series to discover more running injury prevention tips.


If you would like to discuss anything with us directly or learn more about Physiotherapy and running please contact us at You can also follow us on Facebook, instagram and Twitter.


Until next time, keep on running and run smart.


Jon Castle

Director and Principal Physiotherapist

Bespoke Physiotherapy

Running Injuries – FREE advice, Covent Garden Physio

NEW Running Injury Workshops, Covent Garden


Bespoke Physiotherapy are extremely excited to have finally met our neighbours ‘Runners Need’ in Holborn last week. With the overlap between foot biomechanics and lower limb injuries, we hit it off straight away!

These running specialists are highly trained in helping runners choose the best products and have helped many of our patients get the best out of their runs. They offer shoe fitting, gait analysis and provide a complete range of products to suit all types of runners.

Bespoke Physiotherapy is now teaming up with Runners Need, Holborn to offer additional advice to runners of all abilities through our NEW workshops. These will take place on the first Tuesday and the second to last Thursday of every month between 1-2pm (in store at Runners Need, Holborn WC1V 6DW)


r need


What can runners expect?


This workshop is free to all customers, just turn up on the day between 1-2pm and come and say hello. We can help with:

  • Injury assessment
  • Injury advice
  • Advice on physiotherapy treatment options
  • Advice on training schedules
  • Gait analysis
  • Foot wear advice
  • Advice of keeping physically fit for running




Bespoke Physiotherapy and Runners Need are also offering our joint customers 10% off in store or on physiotherapy services when you present our discount voucher (please ask in store or your physiotherapist)


Should I bring anything along with me?


If you are keen to have your gait analysis completed and / or your trainers reviewed, please feel free to come in your gym kit and bring your trainers along with you!


When is the next workshop?


The workshops are held in store at Runners Need, Holborn WC1V 6DW on the first Tuesday and the second to last Thursday of every month (between 1-2pm). Our first workshop will be held on:


** TUESDAY 5th JULY 1-2pm **


We look forward to seeing you there – if you want to speak to a member of the team before attending, please feel free to contact us on

Back Pain – How to manage it!

New back pain guidelines – what does it all mean?


Are you wondering what to do for the best for your back pain? Well the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE) guidelines for the early management of low back pain (2009) are currently under review with some interesting changes!


Health care practitioners use these guidelines to keep on top of best practice to ensure their patients receive the best care and treatment. This keeps their fingers on the pulse of the current evidence base which is crucial for physiotherapists.


Here at Bespoke Physiotherapy, we are extremely interesting in these up and coming revised guidelines as low back pain is single handed the most common injury we see in our busy Central London, Covent Garden clinic.


So what treatments are we doing right that is not changing?


Exercise, exercise and more exercise! Whether it is specific physiotherapy exercises, normal daily activity or even aerobic exercise or yoga; exercise is still the first and most crucial step in managing low back pain.


Running strength Exercise - Bridging 2. Bespoke Physiotherapy Covent Garden London


Hands-on treatment, such as massage and manipulation by your physiotherapist, should always be used alongside home exercises because there is not enough evidence to show they are of benefit when used alone.

Combining physical and psychological treatments (i.e. talking therapies) are recommended for patients who have not seen an improvement in their pain on previous treatments or who have psychological and social barriers to recovery (i.e. low mood or anxiety).


What has been put on the back burner when managing back pain?

The guidance no longer recommends acupuncture for treating low back pain as there is limited evidence to support its benefit when compared to a control sham group.



Paracetamol was previously the first option for managing low back pain however, the new draft guideline recommends that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin should be tried first. Weak opioids, such as codeine, are now only recommended for acute back pain when NSAIDs haven’t worked or aren’t suitable.


Why come and see us at Bespoke Physiotherapy?


All the physiotherapists at Bespoke Physiotherapy are highly skilled and trained at identifying the root causes of low back pain and can help you restore function and activity as soon as possible. We also have the full use of the Oasis Sports Centre multi gym to use during your treatment sessions to ensure that you can exercise safely whilst your injury recovers.


Our physiotherapists are also extremely good listeners and can help you decide whether additional psychological treatments may compliment your physical treatment plan. They are confident to refer you on to such services and can liaise with you GP as required.


consult 2

What are the key points to take away for both physiotherapists and back pain sufferers?

  • The best treatment for low back pain is to keep up with normal activities and to exercise as pain allows.
  • Be open minded to talking therapy if you pain persists despite treatment or if you feel you are experiencing symptoms of low mood or anxiety, as this can help expedite recovery alongside your physical therapy.
  • Liaise with your GP for analgesia support, which can be progressed to Codeine based medication should the anti-inflammatories not be effective.

If you have any concerns or questions regarding your back pain or recovery, please feel free to contact our team on

Written: 23rd June 2016 by Clare Henson-Bowen, Director and Principal Physiotherapist at Bespoke Physiotherapy in Covent Garden, Central London