Tip of the Week

  • Sports Tips of the Week

Preparing for a Spring Race? - Mar 9, 2017

As many of us are preparing for a spring race, we are increasing the mileage and increasing the repetitive loads on our soft tissues. This can lead to areas of tissue tightness or stiffness that can affect our comfort and performance. You should take the time to stretch out these specific areas for a prolonged stretch period. Try holding the position 3-5 minutes a side every day for a week.

The attached image of a great quad stretch for both quads at the same time. Quads get really stiff with long runs, speed work and hill repeats. Be sure there is no pain, only strong pulling in the front of the thighs. Separate the knees and lower your buttocks to the floor. You can use a block or a stool behind your upper back or go right to the floor if you are comfortable. Stay there for 3-5 minutes.

Your community Physiotherapist,

Julie  McGivery

Body positioning during running - Feb 16, 2017

We all have a natural and comfortable way of standing and running but there is a preferred form or posture to maximize your efficiency and minimize efforts to your muscles while running. Striving to get close to this can be helpful in speed and injury prevention.

You will likely need a mirror beside your treadmill or set up your video on your phone to film your position.

Optimal position is having a fairly straight alignment of the head over the shoulders, shoulders over hips, and hips over ankle joints. So, if I took a photo of you running I could draw a straight line through your ear canal, shoulder joint, hip joint and ankle when you are in the hip extended position. There is a slight forward lean that comes from your ankles of ~20 degrees. No bending from the waist at all so keep your buttocks tucked in.

With all of the treadmill running with our weather this month I thought we could have something to think about.

Your community Physiotherapist,

Julie  McGivery

Benefits of Water Running - Feb 10, 2017

In this crazy weather, we may need to consider alternatives to running outdoors. Treadmill is always a good choice but be sure to vary the speed and incline during your run to avoid overuse injuries. Repetitive strain of the same tissue is one of the leading causes of running injuries. Especially to the plantarfascia, shins, calfs, achilles and hamstrings. When we run outside, these factors vary without our knowledge. This allows for changes of muscle length, recoil, different muscle use, and periodic breaks to individual tissues.

If you want to take impact or of the equation altogether and try something different, try water running. This is a great cardio activity and you can simulate the running form and focus on good core activation and body mechanics.

To water run:
- put on a water belt that they use for aqua size and go into the deep end. You can do laps in a lane as long as your feet don't touch. Alternate your feet and arms in the same pattern as running while feeling a medium firm core. This activity is really hard and much more taxing than running outdoors so cut your run time in half. I would say a 30 min workout would equate a 10-12k run at moderate pace.

Stay safe on the roads this weekend, especially with snowbanks.

Your community Physiotherapist,

Julie  McGivery

Hot or cold for pain? - Feb 2, 2017

This is a question I get frequently from athletes. There are a lot of recommendations when you have an injury or soreness from running. I will try to give you my two cents.

Hot- applying heat to any tissues can improve circulation to the area and reduce tension in a tissue. If you have an injury or soreness this can assist with tissue repair and recovery by bringing repair cells to the area quicker. It may also reduce spasm in a muscle. It is ok to use heat right away after injury if it feels good. You can use hot bath, whirlpool and hot packs. Be sure to watch the area to avoid burns with heat packs.

Cold- ice and cold packs can reduce blood flow to an area and create an analgesic effect. If your main complaint is pain or excess swelling, this may be a good choice. If it feels worse after, maybe try heat next time. I wouldn't cool an area more than 10 minutes at a time.

Of course, when in doubt, ask a physio!



Your community Physiotherapist,

Julie  McGivery

Can good core strength improve running? - Jan 16, 2017

Yes!!!

Having a solid base (our trunk) reduces the effort that the extremities have to use to propel ourselves forward. We can become faster with the same effort with improved core activation with running. Good running form has an erect trunk position with a slight forward lean from the ankles ( 5-10 degrees). The best way to work on core for runners is to focus on keeping the spine position strong while in running simulated movements. This does not imply that doing crunches, planks, back extensions are useless but they may not transfer over to the running activity as well as choosing core activation in a standing position.

Try this... stand on one foot, hold your core strong ( not your breath) and raise the opposite hip to 90 degrees while raising the alternate arm in a running type pattern. Hold 10 seconds. repeat 10 times each side. You can progress to doing this on a balance board or Bosu as long as you can hold your core steady.



Your community Physiotherapist,

Julie  McGivery

PART 2: Shin Splint Prevention - January 12, 2017

Another reason for the development of shin splints apart from a drastic change in training is tightness in the calf muscles. This can create a shortened contact of the foot on the ground. The ankle cannot be flat and flex forward at the same time if the muscles behind the foot are tight. This will force you to lift your foot earlier in the cycle via contraction of the shin muscles. This results in overuse of this tissues and then.... yup, PAIN!

Good news!!! We can avoid this by stretching your calfs after you run or do any impact/jumping activities.

Following are the two calf muscle stretches. One with back knee bent, other one is straight. Hold each position for 60-90 seconds, both sides.

Your community Physiotherapist,

Julie  McGivery

PART 1: Avoiding Shin Splints - Jan 5, 2017

Shin splints are an inflammation of the tissue on the front of a persons shins. It can hit either one or both legs. It can feel like sharp pain, tightness, pressure, or cramping. It is unpleasant and can definitely make running difficult.

Prevention is the key to this one. Causes are often a drastic change in training pattern; beginning hill training with too many repeats, rapid change in speed (new run partner or pace), a change in type of running shoe and using them for a longer run, a drastic increase in volume or a significant time off then returning to same run pattern.
If you experience these symptoms, you cannot beat it. You need to take a minute and identify the cause and then rest until the pain subsides (usually a few days off). You could swim or bike in its place just no impact. Slowly return to your running and be conscious of the causative factor.

If the pain doesn't subside or you cannot identify the cause. Come see me, there are other causes that are person specific.

Remember, most pain with running comes from changes to your routine. Take caution with big changes.

Your community Physiotherapist,

Julie  McGivery

Hip Flexor Stretch - December 29, 2016

Many of us spend many of our waking hours in a seated position, whether at work or relaxing at home. This can lead to shortening of the tissues on the front side of our hip and thigh. This is less than ideal for maintaining a good running form. It reduces our ability to extend our hip, decreases function of the gluts, and forces us into forward bending of the trunk and reduces our core activation. A good stretch to perform 2 to 3 times a week can reduce this significantly and improve our running form and speed over time. 

Try this stretch for 5 minutes each side 2-3 times a week. It should not be painful but comfortable and you should stay still rather than bouncing as much as possible.

Your community Physiotherapist,

Julie  McGivery

Hurt vs Harm? - December 16, 2016

How do we know whether to run through the pain or to stop running when something hurts?
 
It can be tricky sometimes to know if a pain is ok to run through or not. Here are a few guidelines to go by;

  • Discomfort from a previous workout that is present in large muscles and usually both sides of the body is often delayed onset muscles soreness. This is still microtrauma to tissue so go easy and avoid an intense run in this state.
  • pain should not worsen with running. If something is tight and uncomfortable when you start but dissipates as you warm up, it is often ok.
  • if pain is worse while running or after a run you should take some time to allow it to heal.
  • if a pain have been present for more than 5 days, you should consult a health care professional. It is better to check it out than make it worse.
  • if you felt a sharp pain in an area while running that is causing ongoing pain or spasms, you should stop running.
  • bruising and swelling are not normal. You should rest and get it checked if it persists more than 5 days or worsens.
  • numbness and tingling is not abnormal symptom. It is a result of a nerve compression. If it persists during your run, you should rest and get it checked if it does not dissipate after a day or so. 

As runners we are used to a certain level of pain with training. Saying this, you will also know if a new pain is unusual. You know your body well. If it feels wrong, rest and/or get it checked out. You will save more time off running in the long run by nursing an injury really early.

Your community Physiotherapist,

Julie  McGivery

Myth vs. Reality - December 8, 2016

Myth: to avoid running injuries, it is best to run 2-3 times a week and cross train with cycling and swimming to equal 6 times a week.

Reality: No study has successfully quantified optimal or ideal frequency of training.

My educated opinion: The majority of running overuse injuries are weight bearing pathologies involving low and medium metabolism tissues. Although reducing impact on these tissues can reduce the accumulated stress on them, it may also not allow enough stress to build up the tolerance needed for long distance running and increase the risk of injury. Cross training has many advantages on muscle balance, flexibility and cardiovascular system but you should try to run 4 days a week minimum while training for longer events. Adding 10-20 minutes of impact on the days of cross training can reduce the chances of overuse injuries, odd as it sounds.

Another advantage of frequent running is the unconscious learning of efficient mechanics.

Your community Physiotherapist,

Julie  McGivery

Foam rolling or stretching? - November 3, 2016

Actually, both!

Foam rolling and stretching achieve different goals in the body's recovery.

Foam rolling is the use of a dense foam in the form of a roller 3-6 feet in length in order to perform self myofascial release in the soft tissues. It can be use to remove adhesions of fascia to muscle tissues (rolling from origin to insertion of a muscle) release trigger points (holding 60 seconds on tender spots in tissues), improve circulation, and encourage tissue recovery.

Stretching is not the same as rolling. Stretching is the act of prolonged lengthening of muscle tissue after its repeated shortening during exercise or sustained postures (i.e. Siting at a desk all day yields short hip flexor). Stretching should be completed after activity and not before. Muscles needed to be stretched vary from person to person. I would only focus on muscles that you feel are tight post run.  For a good stretch, the position should be maintained from 2-5 minutes. No bouncing as this can cause a stretch reflex or muscle damage. No pain should ever be felt during a stretching as this's damage tissue.

Your community Physiotherapist,

Julie  McGivery

Myth vs. Reality - October 20, 2016

Many practices and beliefs have persisted over time without any challenge from a process of scientific analysis. It is essential to challenge theories with new knowledge, evidence, and analysis repetition of results.
 
Myth 1- Cause of Running Injuries
 
Myth- Most running injuries are caused by external factors ( shoes, running surfaces, etc) or intrinsic factors ( poor flexibility, muscle weakness, abnormal biomechanics..).
 
Reality- The main cause of running injuries is the amount of stress applied to the tissues. Nearly 80% of running injuries are attributable to an increase in training volume or intensity.


Your community Physiotherapist,

Julie  McGivery