Run for mental health 2016

When I heard that a good friend and all-round good Samaritan, Ben Hirst, had pledged to run from Burnie to Hobart (a whopping 340kms) from February 25th-28th, 2016 in support of Speak Up Stay ChatTY (a local not-for-profit organisation aimed at improving mental health awareness and suicide prevention), my first thought was “this is amazing!”, but was followed closely by “how the @$#% is he going to survive that??!”.

With regular exercise and physical activity playing a vital role in management of many mental health conditions, I was keen to support him through this monster of a challenge. After briefly reviewing my own inadequacies as a long-distance runner, I thought my efforts would be best spent providing my services as a physiotherapist within his support crew rather than making a pitiful attempt at chasing him down the midlands highway on foot. With Ben having run in events such as the North Face 100 previously, we had a reasonable idea of what we were up against but were definitely heading into relatively uncharted territory at 340km. A daunting prospect for a physiotherapist, given that we spend the majority of our time promoting evidence-based practice! So it was back to basic principles for us with a focus on 2 main aspects of the event:

  1. Preparation/prehab – We refined Ben’s strength, conditioning and loading program based on his video-analysed running technique, postural and biomechanical analysis. This program ensured that Ben was creating optimal muscle balance and loading across his major joints in preparation for the gruelling loads his body will endure over a 4 day period.
  1. Recovery – Between running sections of the event we have shaped an effective recovery protocol for Ben at each of his overnight stops. This will include ice-bathing, manual therapy such as massage and dry needling, assisted stretching as well as combination compression and cryotherapy, with thanks to Whiteley AllCare for donating a Powerplay kit and leg wrap. We will also monitor and ensure that Ben keeps up adequate nutrition and hydration throughout the event.

Fingers crossed for Ben to get across the line for his intended finish in Hobart on February 28th. Any donations to the cause and/or raising of awareness would be much appreciated by all involved. If you can join Ben for some of his run and throw a donation in the tins that would be great. Check out the event website by clicking here to see how Ben is progressing and where you can find him on the road. You can also donate online by clicking here . Many thanks to Leap Health Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Centres, Whiteley AllCare and Ben Scarlett of the Tasmanian Institute of Sport for their generous support of this event in the hope of bringing Ben home in one piece.

Ian McHugh – Physiotherapist – Leap Health New Town / Kingston