A musculoskeletal and sports injury physiotherapist from Kings Langley is highlighting the benefits running has on people's mental health.
Glen Robbins, owner of Hemel Physio - a physiotherapy, sports injury, massage and running clinic - in Apsley, is using his experience of what he witnessed during the pandemic to raise awareness of the benefits of running, and in particular the positive effect it can have on someone's mental health.
Glen, who was recently part of a presentation talk at Therapy Expo at the NEC on Mental Health, spent a lot of researching the effect of lockdowns, and effects of running to deal with stress/anxiety. To watch the video on the presentation visit: physioacademycourses.co.uk/running-and-mental-health.
He said: "Since the lockdowns we have noticed not only a spike in running participation but also a relationship with people running to manage their mental health.
"With gyms, sports facilities and clubs being closed during the lockdowns, a lot of people turned to running for exercise. And we did see a spike in running injuries during the first lockdown.
"Reports of depression and anxiety rose in the first lockdown, and a lot of people tried to manage that with running and walking.
"Lockdowns took a toll on mental health with increases in anxiety and depression and benefits from running are present for helping to manage both of these issues.
"Even 10 minutes of running can improve your mood, that surprised me as I thought it would need to be more than that.
"There are many benefits to running, aside from the obvious health ones, it is free, always available and anyone can do it.
"Running releases the endorphins, it is like a natural high, that's why it helps deal with anxiety and depression.
"If you are in a stressful situation, for example being lonely as you are isolated from friends and family, or the opposite and you feel suffocated being stuck in with the children, running can be a form of escaping those feelings.
"Pre-lockdown, we saw a lot of people here ahead of events, but since 2020, we have had people who are just running for enjoyment."
Glen is also raising awareness for Mind, the mental health charity that offers information and advice to people with mental health problems and lobbies government and local authorities on their behalf.
He is offering the clinic's most popular course for health professionals, completely free, to raise money for Mind.
He said: "I'm also raising awareness and money for Mind, the charity offers amazing support so I wanted to do something to contribute to what they do.
"All we ask is that you give what you can in return to this great cause and help us give back to those who may be struggling mentally under the new normal.
"If you have been financially effected that may be a pound a euro or a dollar or if not then whatever you can. This course would normally be charged between £300-£400 in normal times."
Advice to avoid injuries
Glen is also offering some advice on how to avoid running injuries, especially for those who are new to running.
Glen added: "I would say the 'rule of too' has a big effect on injuries - too much running, running too fast and running too often.
"My advice for people who are new to running would be to follow a graded running programme, like the couch to 5k.
"There are lots of programmes out there, online and on apps, and there is an NHS one too, they are gradual and will help prevent injuries.
"You have to let your body adjust to it. Most people we see are because they have overdone it.
"You do not need a membership, just a good pair of trainers, it is convenient - you can fit it around work or your home life. And being outside is beneficial for you as well.
"Running is very accessible for everyone.
"Running injuries are particularly high, you are 30 times more likely to get injured running than if you go to the gym, but you just have to be sensible and listen to your body."
To support Glen's fundraising for Mind visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/physioacademy-runningcourse.