First aid for marathon runners
St John Ambulance has issued
crucial first aid advice to marathon competitors
for dealing with the injuries or accidents they can expect.
St John Ambulance is in its 28th
consecutive year of providing essential first aid cover to the
Flora London Marathon. Each year over 1,400 St John
Ambulance volunteers from around the country devote their time and
expertise to help and encourage runners over the 26 mile course -
that’s one volunteer for every 35 metres. Last year the charity
treated over 4,000 participants, from celebrities to
Ann Cable, Commissioner of St John Ambulance
in London, who is in charge of the first aid operations at this
year’s marathon, said: ‘A marathon is a massive challenge even for
elite athletes, let alone for people running one for the first
‘We want to make the process of that final
element of training for the marathon more comfortable by making
people aware of how to combat some of the frequent injuries our
volunteers treat each year during the marathon itself.’
Here are our tips...
- If you get a blister, leave well alone if it’s unbroken
- If it’s broken or likely to be damaged, cover with a dry,
non-adhesive dressing that extends well beyond the edges of the
- Do not break or cover a blister with any creams or lotions
- To avoid blisters, make sure your running shoes are a good fit
and don’t use the Marathon as an opportunity to break-in new
- If you start getting a headache, feel nauseous, have pale
clammy skin, cramps or a rapid, weakening pulse – you may be
suffering from heat exhaustion
- This is a serious condition, so seek help straight away
- If you are training and no help is available, find a shady spot
in which to lie down with raised legs
- Even if you recover quickly, see a doctor as soon as you
- Wash your hands
- Try to wash or pick out small pieces of grit, but don’t attempt
to remove anything embedded in the wound
- Rinse with water or use an antiseptic wipe to clean the
- Apply adhesive dressing
- Ensure you are up to date with tetanus jabs.
Knee joint injuries
- If you injure your knee, lie down and support your knee in
a raised position.
- Put an ice pack on it or a cold compress
- Put soft padding around it and bandage it in place
these actions will minimise swelling
- Go to Accident and Emergency
- Don’t try to walk on the leg or straighten the knee
- Don’t eat or drink anything in case you need an
- This is caused by friction damaging the skin
- You can prevent this by covering nipples with plasters or
- If they bleed, wash and dry carefully and cover with a plaster,
but do not use waterproof plasters
- Sometimes, nipple bleeding may be due to more serious problems.
If in doubt, consult your doctor.
Regarding drinking water
- Drink sensible amounts of fluid to keep
hydrated, but avoid drinking too much too quickly, or in short
amounts of time.
And finally in all cases of injury on marathon
day seek out our St John Ambulance volunteers at any stop along the
course - just look out for the first aid signs.
Good luck – run well.