Tips to starting Couch to 5K

What is Couch to 5K

The Couch to 5k programme provided by the NHS gives us a great way to look after our health. It is a structured exercise programme to get you running for health and is highly recommended by our private physiotherapy team.  Running ability is built up slowly week on week with the aim of running 5k or 30 minutes without stopping by week 9.  

Starting Couch to 5K

On the first week you begin by running for 1 minute. Followed by walking for 1 minute. Try to run 3 times a week subsequently the periods of running gradually increase until by week 9 you are able to run 5k. 

 Exercise at times which suit your lifestyle and build up at your own pace. More importantly you don’t need to have any equipment apart from running shoes. Running is possible in town or country. 

Learning to run can be a great boost to your fitness regime both physically and mentally. In addition it’s important to ensure that you avoid injury if commencing running for the first time. 

Top tips to get you started and avoid injury – Physio Answers | Private Physiotherapy

You do not need an expensive pair of trainers or a specialised fitting but they do need to be comfortable.  

Ease into the run gently for instance, walk for as long as you feel you need to warm up your muscles before you break into the run.  

Ensure a good running position: 

  • Gaze directly in front of you, ears in line with your shoulders.
    • Pull your shoulders back almost like you’re squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades. Shoulders should move opposite to each other and opposite to each leg.   Arms should be at a 90-degree angle, keep your elbows close to your sides, thumbs pointing to the ceiling, hands relaxed.  Keep a long, tall spine and a tight core angling slightly forward from your hips.                                                                             Knees should be in line with the middle of your feet so they strike the ground directly under your knee.  Think about using your feet to push off the ground rather than lifting them up. 
     Common problems which you may encounter when running. Knee pain can be on top of, behind or around the knee joint and feel dull or sharp. Private physiotherapy can advise on correct stretching exercises for your specific injury. The initial aim of treatment is to reduce the pain, inflammation and swelling using a combination of ultrasound, taping, massage and stretches. The Achilles is the very strong tendon which links the muscle at the bottom of the leg to the heel bone. Running can irritate this tendon.  Sudden sharp pain can be a ruptured tendon and you will need to seek medical help straight away. If the pain is not acute but does not recover it may be a good idea to talk to seek professional help. Gentle massage foot stretches and cold compresses may help in the short term.  Shin pain is experienced on the front of the legs below the knee and is often referred to as shin splints.  There are many causes of this including insufficient warm up, poor technique, poor biomechanics (the way we are put together and move) or over training. It is often not sufficient to just rest until it feels better then go back to what you were doing before. The problem will almost certainly return, alternatively you can get some treatment and advice as soon as possible from a Private Physiotherapy specialist who deals with sports injury.Heel pain or swelling in the heel or bottom of the foot can occur if you suddenly start doing a lot more running, run uphill, or your shoes are not supportive enough or are worn out. The medical name for heel pain is plantar fasciitis. It is important to control the pain and inflammation and gently stretch the tendon. Physio can help with this by assisting the healing process and prevent further damage and furthermore, reduce the loss of movement and strength. This will firstly enable a return to sport in the shortest time by reducing the chance of reoccurrences and secondly examine techniques and biomechanics and modify if necessary. Good luck! Private Physiotherapy can advise on whether running is the right sort of exercise for you.