Physios keep the marathon moving

Runners in the London Marathon encountered a range of problems- from dehydration and stiff joints to dislocations. Physios were there to offer helping hands.

Around 130 physios from the official medical team and others attached to charities were out in force to treat the aching limbs of competitors in the 25th London Marathon last month. Dan Tunstall Pedoe, a cardiologist and medical director of the event, told Frontline that physios' services at the event were 'indispensable'. Phsyio director of the London Marathon, Rose Macdonald, said the main problems facing athletes were stiff muscles, joint problems, blisters and dehydration. Some runners suffered stress fractures or dislocations. Rose has worked on the event for every one of its 25 years but has just retired from the role. She says she will miss the occasion but that the experience has been 'wonderful'. She praised the event's team of physios, who come from as far afield as the US to help runners in the marathon, for their dedication and willingness to give up their time to work with the athletes. 'You would not believe how grateful the participants are for the help of the physiotherapists,' she told Frontline. Susie Jones, who works as a physio in private practice in Wimbledon, London, will be taking over from Ms Macdonald from next year. She was working at the finishing line of this year's marathon and says her role involved dealing with runners who were close to collapse, needed massage or were depleted of body fluids. 'It's a great event, it's fun and a wonderful atmosphere.' Susan Crewe Smith, a physiotherapist at Coventry and Warwick Hospital who volunteers her services for the marathon, said that two of the crucial services physios provide during the event are massage and advice. 'After the event some of the amateur runners are quite exhausted, have very stiff limbs and need advice on how to recuperate.' Ms Crewe Smith, who has worked in theĀ  past with the French Olympic squad and Tour de France riders, says the marathon gives physios a great chance to get 'hands-on experience' of working with both amateur and professional athletes. Gerard Hartmann, who runs a residential clinic for athletes in Limerick, has worked with the women's winner Paula Radcliffe since 1997. He told Frontline that Paula's recuperation after the race included massage, light stretching exercises, a gentle jog, an assessment of her joint mobility and ice baths. He added: 'Other than the well-documented gastrointestinal distress Paula did not have any problems on the day. She is an elite athlete and she recovered very easily.' More than 35,550 runners took part in this event with 35,105 passing the finishing line. Physios interested in joining the support team for the 2006 marathon should contact Lisa Thompson at London Marathon Ltd, PO Box 1234, London SE1 OXT
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Rael Martell

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