5 Strategies to Train Smarter for your next Obstacle Course Race (OCR)

I recently spent time training with Ben Greenfield, a renowned triathlete, obstacle course racer, health guru, author, and Internet health celebrity.  He organized an eight hour obstacle course race training program recently in Spokane, Washington.  Participants trained together and were taught the best practices to compete at a higher level in the sport of obstacle course racing.

BenShatto_BenGreenfield

The interesting thing about obstacle course racing is the diversity found within the sport.  There are athletes who compete at the highest level and capacity as well as those who are just beginners.  If you are a beginner, a coach can help to insure that your improvement is not hampered by poor training techniques that will ultimately lead to injury.  If you perform at an elite level, a coach can help fine tune your training and get you on the winner’s podium.

Regardless of your fitness level, a good coach can help you take your training to the next level.  The following five strategies that I learned from Greenfield will help me to both train and compete at a higher level.

5 Strategies to Train Smarter for your next Obstacle Course Race (OCR):

1. Improve your grip strength.

Proper grip strength is important when competing in an OCR.  In most cases, the number one reason to fail or not complete an obstacle is due to poor grip strength.  Easy exercises to train grip strength include: dead lifts, pull ups, and farmers carries.  Greenfield recommends hanging from a pull up bar for time as a way to judge your fitness while gaining strength and endurance in your grip.

He also highly recommends working on wrist and finger extension strength.  In my physical therapy practice, I have concluded that it’s critical for clients to keep the appropriate balance between wrist flexors and wrist and finger extensors strength to lessen the risk of certain wrist and elbow overuse injuries (such as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow).

Your grip strength will improve more rapidly as your wrist and hand muscles find their optimal length tension relationship (which allows for maximum strength production).  Like Greenfield, I often recommend using a thick rubber band as a way to improve finger extension strength (as demonstrated below).  Work on extending each finger equally when performing two sets of 10-15 repetitions multiple times per week.

GripStrengthCollage

2. Work on your running.

Greenfield and I both agree that obstacle course races are still primarily a running event.  You run, perform an obstacle, and run some more. In order to better prepare for any OCR event, a good portion of your running should contain a heavy dose of trail running with a focus on hills.  For further information, please refer to Are Obstacle Course Race (OCR) Athletes Finally Getting It?

3. Implement High Intensity Training (HIT) or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) into your exercise routine.

Research continues to develop in support of the importance of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for athletes.  The ability to perform short bursts of high intensity activities has a significant positive effect on many of the body’s major systems.  HIIT is a superior approach to increase cardiovascular fitness and improve hormonal regulation.  When performed properly, one to three HIIT style workouts per week will be sufficient to see improvements.

CrossFit workouts are often an effective and relevant form of high intensity training (HIT).  It’s an excellent method to train your legs and body to handle the hilly and variable terrain.  The constantly varying movements and exercises performed in CrossFit can help you prepare for the varying types of obstacles.

4. Use sport specific training.

This is a concept that is often confusing.  Every athlete needs to spend time training.  Training is performing an activity, such as weight lifting, for the expressed purpose of making the body stronger.

The importance of sport specific training is different.  This is training in your specific sport or activity with the expressed purpose of improving that activity.  Training for a runner may also include very specific running drills designed to work on specific components of running.

In order to improve in the sport of obstacle course racing, you need to practice performing the different obstacles such as the following:

  • Picking up heavy objects and carrying them either in front or sometimes on your shoulders
  • Pulling sleds
  • Scaling walls
  • Swinging and climbing along monkey bars
  • Rope climbing
  • Crawling in mud

This training would be separate from your actual running training.  However, you would combine both performing the obstacles with running as sport specific training.  The take home message from training with Greenfield is that if you want to improve, then you will need to practice.  There is nothing better than having a coach who is an expert at the sport.

5. Learn how to recover properly.

The eight hour obstacle course race training program was a long time for me to stay active and exercise.  Just like any hard work out or race, it’s important to implement proper recovery strategies.  When possible, avoid traveling a long distance right after an event or race.

By implementing many of the following strategies outlined in 14 Tips and Strategies to Self-Treat Muscle Pain and Muscle Cramping & Spasms – Treatment Options, I was able to quickly return back to my training and preparation for my next event.

As with any exercise and activity, obstacle course racing is not without risk.  With proper training and recovery strategies, a majority of the risks can be eliminated.  If an injury occurs, it’s important to take care of it quickly to avoid worsening symptoms and prolonging your recovery.  Please consult with your coach or physical therapist so you don’t lose time on your training.

Which strategy can you implement in order to take your obstacle course race training to the next level?  Please share your comments below.

A special thank you to Ben Greenfield for sponsoring a fantastic event!  I highly recommend that you check out his popular fitness, nutrition and wellness website BenGreenfieldFitness, which features blogs, podcasts, and product reviews.

If you have a question that you would like featured in an upcoming blog post, please comment below or submit your question to contact@thePhysicalTherapyAdvisor.com.  Be sure to join our growing community on Facebook by liking The Physical Therapy Advisor!

Why Your Upper Back Hurts When You Run

WhyYourUpperBackHurtsWhenYouRun

http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/injury-prevention/upper-back-hurts-run_151708

Competitor

June 13, 2016

As featured in this post for Competitor, I explain how poor technique or weak back muscles can contribute to upper back pain while running.  You’ll learn why it’s important to get your body to do the opposite of hunching forward and to stretch out the neck and upper back muscles in order to eliminate pain when running.  I also recommend a series of exercises to strengthen the lower and mid trapezius muscles, and the rhomboid muscles, along the spine at the base of the neck.

At the end of a long hard run, you expect your legs and lungs to be burning, but your upper back? No way.

Unfortunately, “it’s a very common thing,” said Nick Studholme, a sports chiropractor in Colorado.  As the intensity and length of a run increases, many runners will often experience a worsening sharp pain in their upper back, in between or under the shoulder blades.  It’s not quite debilitating, but it sure is painful and annoying.

It’s particularly common in novice runners, said physical therapist Ben Shatto, but it can happen to anyone with poor technique or weak back muscles.  And that’s most of us.  Continue Reading

Are Obstacle Course Race (OCR) Athletes Finally Getting It?

Obstacle course racing (OCR) is gaining in popularity as a sport.  There are more and more organizations offering events like the Spartan Sprint, the Tough Mudder Mud Run, the BattleFrog OCR, and the Warrior Dash.  As the sport evolves, there are notable trends and skill sets that OCR athletes should take note of to be successful.

I recently competed in the Boise Spartan Sprint.  Although the field of racers was significantly smaller for the open registration group compared to last year, I chose to compete in the even smaller competitive group.  Watching the other athletes and comparing the event to last year I noticed a few trends.

Running

Regardless of the organization hosting the event, the gist of the event remains the same.  Run, perform an obstacle, and run some more.  These OCR events are still primarily running events.  The obstacles are the reason why many people participate in these types of events.  They are fun and challenging, but the event still includes running.  The most successful OCR athletes will also be proficient at running on trails.

Most events are set in more rugged outdoor terrain.  To be successful, you must be comfortable running on uneven surfaces.  In the case of the Boise Spartan Sprint, you must also be comfortable running hills.

BoiseSpartanSprint_Hills

To better prepare for any OCR event, I would recommend a heavy dose of trail running with a focus on hills.  From my prospective, Boise Spartan Sprint participants seemed more comfortable running this year.  Maybe the word is getting out that these events still require running as a skill set.

I recommend that you are capable of running whatever the expected distance you would be competing in (plus a couple of miles) on a similar terrain in order to insure your body has the endurance needed for both the running and the obstacles.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

The format of many OCR events is to run, perform an obstacle, and then run.  This means there are times when your intensity will be high and times when you can lower the intensity during the event.  Performing high intensity interval training (HIIT) or high intensity training (HIT) should be a mainstay in your exercise training.  It will be particularly useful during an OCR event.

The amount of HIIT in preparation for your race will vary and is dependent on the distance.  If the race course will be a shorter distance (under 5 miles), then a majority of your running could be HIIT and shorter distance recovery runs.

If you will be competing in longer distances (10 miles or more), then I would still incorporate a weekly longer run just so your body will be prepared for the mileage and time on your feet.  I highly recommend that you run outside–preferably on a trail or uneven terrain to prepare your legs adequately.  You will need to feel comfortable running downhill and on uneven terrain.  Dominate the hills, and you will dominate the race.  Please refer to my Training Plan that I used for Race to Robie Creek, a very steep half marathon 8.5 miles uphill and 4.6 miles downhill.

CrossFit

CrossFit as a form of high intensity training (HIT) is an excellent method to train your legs to handle the hilly and variable terrain.  The constantly varying movements and exercises performed in CrossFit will also help you prepare to handle the following varying types of obstacles:

  • Picking up heavy objects and carrying them either in front or sometimes on your shoulders
  • Pulling sleds
  • Scaling walls
  • Swinging and climbing along monkey bars
  • Rope climbing
  • Crawling in mud
Spartan_Barbwire

(Courtesy of Reebok Spartan Race)

Performing CrossFit style workouts is an excellent way to help to prepare for an OCR event.  CrossFit teaches you how to prepare for these different obstacles by refining the skill sets necessary to tackle them.  It also prepared me to perform the obstacles when fatigued.

Weight Training

Weight training (in particular, barbell training) is a critical component in physical resiliency.  Lifting appropriately heavy weights is applicable for almost everyone regardless of age and/or present health status.  Weight training has positive benefits on the following:

  • Muscle strength
  • Bone density
  • Cardiovascular performance
  • Neurologic performance and adaptability
  • Mental and cognitive function
  • Proper hormonal regulation

In the case of OCR racing, being stronger will always better prepare you for the terrain you will run on and the obstacles performed.  Weight training will also help to increase your body’s margin for error when illness or injury occurs.  To quote Mark Rippetoe, “Stronger people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.”

Spartan_Sandbag

(Courtesy of Reebok Spartan Race)

The key to all training (including weight training) is that the system must be properly overloaded to produce the desired effect.  Too little, and you will not receive a positive benefit.  Too much, and you risk injury.  This overload principle must guide all exercise routines if there is to be actual success and benefit from the training.  Although any properly dosed/prescribed form of resistive exercise would be beneficial, the most effective exercises to help you prepare include squats, lunges, dead lifts, and the overhead press.

Grip Strength

Many of the obstacles (rope climbing, monkey bars, bucket carries, and climbing walls) require adequate grip strength.  Current research on successful aging has found a correlation to poor grip strength and frailty, so developing adequate grip strength is a good idea either way.

In prior years many athletes would fail an obstacle solely because of their grip giving way.  Although this still occurs frequently, I didn’t see nearly as many failed obstacles this year during the Boise Spartan Sprint versus last year.

Spartan_RopeClimbs

In order to perform at a high level, you must develop proper grip strength.  Recommended exercises to train grip strength include dead lifts, pull ups, and farmers carries.

When working on grip strength, nearly everyone always focuses on finger and wrist flexion strength.  If you remember to also work on your wrist and finger extension strength, you will find your grip strength will improve more rapidly.  You will also lessen your risk of certain wrist and elbow overuse injuries.

Recovery Strategies

Once you complete the OCR, enjoy your accomplishment, but don’t forget to implement proper recovery strategies!  Be sure to properly cool down after the race.  Don’t sit!  Stretch and continue to move.  You will need to make sure that any scratches or wounds are properly cleaned and covered.  Hydrate appropriately and begin working through your recovery process.  For more information on how to quickly recover, please refer to the following posts:  14 Tips and Strategies to Self-Treat Muscle Pain and Muscle Cramping & Spasms – Treatment Options.

OCR events are a fun way to stay fit and promote general resiliency.  The variety of skills needed to be successful is what makes it so fun.  If you have the opportunity in your area to work out in a gym that is geared toward OCR racing, such regular practice on obstacles will be particularly effective when training for the more technical obstacles.  Keep in mind that the most important skill sets are sometimes the ones most overlooked.  Focus on your running; implement HIIT and HIT; weight train; and work on your grip strength.

Have you competed in an OCR before? Please share your experience by leaving a comment below.

If you have a question that you would like featured in an upcoming blog post, please comment below or submit your question to contact@thePhysicalTherapyAdvisor.com. Be sure to join our growing community on Facebook by liking The Physical Therapy Advisor!

The Number One Reason Why You Won’t Reach Your Training Goals

MTA_NumberOneReason

http://marathontrainingacademy.com/number-one-reason

Marathon Training Academy

June 6, 2016

In this guest post for Marathon Training Academy, you will learn how to effectively exercise and work the core muscles in order to prevent or treat low back pain (LBP) as well as other common running injuries affected by weakness in the core and pelvic muscles.

The number one reason why runners won’t reach their goals is also one of the most preventable reasons: injury!  Nothing derails a perfectly developed training plan like an injury.

The most common injury to runners is also the most common injury for those in the western world: low back pain (LBP).  LBP is estimated to affect nearly 80% of the U.S. population at one time or another.  And worse yet, once you have experienced an episode of LBP you have a 90% chance of having a reoccurrence.  Continue Reading

The 3 Most Common Mistakes Runners make that can cause Low Back Pain

MTA_3Mistakes

http://marathontrainingacademy.com/low-back-pain-2

Marathon Training Academy

May 25, 2016

In this guest post for Marathon Training Academy, you will discover the three most common mistakes runners make that can lead to low back pain (LBP), and you will learn prevention tips in order to avoid injury.

Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most prevalent medical conditions treated in the United States and throughout the western world.  Avoiding the following most common mistakes can save you from costly medical visits, prescriptions, chiropractic visits, and physical therapy services.  More importantly, avoiding injury and LBP insures that you can keep training and racing to your heart’s content!  Continue Reading

Take a Peek Inside of the Treating Low Back Pain during Exercise and Athletics Video Package

Did you know that an estimated $50 billion dollars is spent annually on back pain related issues?  It affects nearly 80% of the U.S. population at one time or another.  It’s one of the top reasons for physician and physical therapy visits and one of the most common reasons for missed work days.  The best training plan in the world won’t do us much good if we’re unable to implement that plan due to pain and/or injury.

WomanWithLowBackPain

When reviewing research or anecdotal evidence online, there is no shortage of articles, blogs, and opinions regarding low back pain (LBP).  But what about a specific resource for the athlete, the weightlifter, the CrossFitter or the runner who is experiencing low back pain during exercise?  How does an athletic population know how to handle episodes of LBP?  What specifically can an athlete or active person do to avoid low back pain to lessen the risk of injury and lost training days?  Is there a specific step-by-step plan that really works?

The prevention and rehabilitation strategies outlined in my rehabilitation guide, Treating Low Back Pain during Exercise and Athletics, answer those questions.  You will learn how to safely self-treat your low back pain and helpful methods for a speedy recovery.  (Not to mention, possibly saving you time and money by avoiding a physician visit!)

The good news is that participating in sports, running, CrossFit, and weightlifting doesn’t increase your risk of developing LBP.  On average, being in good health, physically fit, and active actually decreases your risk.

The Treating Low Back Pain (LBP) during Exercise and Athletics Video Package includes:

Treating Low Back Pain during Exercise and Athletics eBook

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In this eBook, you’ll learn why it is critically important to prevent the first episode of low back pain.  LBP has reoccurrence rates as high as 90%.  If you have already experienced an episode of LBP, you’ll learn why exercise is an important component to long term management.  Most importantly, you will understand how to avoid pain and injury in order to take your training to the next level.  Topics include:

  • Specific strategies for LBP prevention.
  • How to address specific causes of LBP.
  • Best practices on how to prevent and self-treat when you experience an episode of LBP.
  • A step-by-step LBP rehabilitation guide complete with photos and detailed exercise descriptions.
  • How to implement prevention and rehabilitation strategies.

7-part Series of Instructional Videos

Nearly 60 minutes of actionable advice to prevent and treat LBP as it relates to active individuals, sports, and athletics.  An in-depth look at treating LBP with a 7-part series of instructional videos in which I address the following:

  • Potential Risk Factors for Lower Back Pain
  • What are the Core Muscles?
  • Prevention during Exercise (Part 1 and 2)
  • Initial Treatment
  • Further Treatment and Taping
  • Long Term Management Strategies and Final Recap

Want to peek inside the video content? Watch now as I describe what really the “core” is and why it matters.

Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome eBook

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In this BONUS eBook, you’ll learn how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).  You’ll learn how to utilize prevention strategies to help you develop a personal training strategy that will allow you to push past your limits and prior plateau points in order to reach a state of what is known as overreaching (your body’s ability to “supercompensate”).  This will speed up your results, so that you can train harder and more effectively than ever before!  Topics include:

  • How to recognize the warning signs.
  • Specific strategies for OTS prevention.
  • How to self-treat OTS.
  • How to safely overreach.
  • A complete guide to Foam Roller Stretches and Mobilizations with photos and detailed exercise descriptions.

Is your low back hurting? Are you ready to take your training to a new level?  What are you waiting for?  Let’s get started! 

Use discount code LBP to receive 15% off now!

Purchase Package

Still on the fence about the Treating Low Back Pain during Exercise and Athletics Video Package? I understand that the full package may not be the right choice for you. You still have the option to purchase only the Treating Low Back Pain during Exercise and Athletics eBook.

Use discount code LBP to receive 15% off now!

Purchase eBook (Download)

How to Leverage your Nutrition to Train Harder and Recover Faster

As a physical therapist, I help to educate my clients about a wide variety of strategies from nutrition to physical components including advice on exercise, hands-on techniques (such as myofascial and joint mobilizations), and self-care techniques.  Time and time again in my practice, a client will struggle with healing from an injury.  He/she may be performing the right exercise and receiving the proper treatment, yet he/she is unable to properly heal because his/her body doesn’t have the proper nutrition level to allow the healing to occur.  Poor eating habits not only sabotage your results, but can also lead to severe chronic illnesses (such as heart disease and diabetes).

Preparing To Lift Heavy Weight Bar

Your body’s ability to train harder and recover faster is not just about the exercises performed.  It should also be centered on the fuel you put in your body.  Your body cannot perform optimally, recover adequately or heal from injury properly without adequate nutrition.

Focus on your Recovery Nutrition

The majority of your diet should be from real food.  My personal belief is that food which is minimally processed, organic and/or home grown is likely to have a higher nutrient load and will therefore be healthier for you.  Your body simply cannot heal and recover quickly or adequately when substandard fuel “food” is consumed.

Initially, focus on macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrate) when it comes to food.  For me, this includes a diet high in protein from many sources (plant and animal-based), high in fruits and vegetables, and low in processed carbohydrates.

Runners and endurance athletes should pay particular attention to protein intake as maintaining muscle mass is critical for performance and injury prevention.  For more information on protein supplementation, please refer to How Much Protein Do I Really Need?

Consider Supplementation

I am a believer in supplements although you must choose wisely.  Your dietary belief system, genetics, and the type of exercise and/or activity you mainly participate in will determine which supplements may work best for you.

When choosing supplements, I tend to gravitate toward supplements that can enhance performance, improve recovery, stabilize blood sugar, and reduce systemic inflammation.  The ultimate goal with supplements is to aid your body in improving health and/or performance.  Try to choose the most natural products as possible and experiment to see what works best for you.  Look for supplements that don’t contain extra fillers, sweeteners or additives.  For more information on supplementation, please refer to My Top 10 Supplement Recommendations.

Add Super Greens to your Diet

Most people do not consume enough greens.  Green super foods, such as spirulina algae, chlorella algae, and wheat grass are packed high in antioxidants.  They can have a cleansing and an alkalizing effect which will decrease your inflammation level and aid in recovery.  Super greens boost your immune system and are generally good for you.  I think the argument can be made that algae is the king of “super” foods.  It is likely the most important food/supplement most people are not taking.

I have been experimenting taking algae for the last four months, and it has allowed me to train harder and recover faster.  I am setting new milestones in my ability to perform many of my more difficult CrossFit exercises (such as ring muscle ups).  I have seen more improvements in strength, cardiovascular performance, and recovery then at any other time in my life.

My new favorite way to add greens and protein are supplements called ENERGYbits® and RECOVERYbits®.  They are made from organically grown NON GMO spirulina algae or chlorella algae.  Spirulina algae have a high concentration of plant-based protein (64%).  It also contains 40 vitamins and minerals including iron, nitric oxide, Omega-3, and all of the B vitamins.

ENERGYbits_ProductPhoto

Because of their overall nutritional profile I now consider spirulina and chlorella algae a top performance and recovery supplement.  I take 30-45 of these small tablets per serving.  I have had great success taking them prior to a work out and directly afterward.  I also take them mid-day as a snack or meal replacement.

A general rule is to consume spirulina prior to exercise (which are the ENERGYbits®) and chlorella (which are the RECOVERYbits®) after exercise.  Chlorella is high in protein.  It also has detoxing properties and an impressive micronutrient profile.

Also, be sure to listen to Ben Greenfield’s interview with the founder of ENERGYbits®, Catharine Arnston, on the benefits and importance of algae.  Please refer to Is This The Most Dense Source Of Nutrition On The Face Of The Planet?

In full disclosure, I am now an affiliate for ENERGYbits®.  I signed up primarily to get the same 20% discount I can offer you.  You can only purchase them online, so when you check out, just enter discount code PTAdvisor for 20% off all products.

BUY NOW

Avoid Injury and Overtraining Syndrome (OTS)

Nutrition is an important component for both performance and recovery.  Proper recovery is critical to avoiding injury and Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).  Every recovery protocol should include a multifaceted approach that incorporates strategies to positively affect the muscular, nervous, and hormonal systems.  This includes proper nutrition, getting adequate sleep, cross training, and implementing self-care modalities (such as compression band use and foam roller use).

OTS usually starts with muscle soreness and a feeling of fatigue.  Then it quickly progresses into a case of overtraining syndrome or injury.  Overtraining can occur when the intensity and/or volume of exercise becomes too much for the body to properly recover from.  It’s always best to prevent OTS rather than attempt to recover from it.

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Nothing can derail your best laid training plans and goals like an injury or suffering from Overtraining Syndrome.  In my new eBook, Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome, I address the risk factors for OTS and how to recognize the symptoms.  Once you understand your risk factors, then you can take preventative measures to avoid developing OTS.  In order to continue training hard, you must prevent OTS and the associated poor performance, illness, and injury that can result in lost training days and opportunity.

LEARN MORE

Why You Keep Hurting Your Back

Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most prevalent medical conditions treated in the United States and the western world.  In fact, an estimated $50 billion dollars or more is spent annually on back pain related issues.  Nearly 80% of the U.S. population is affected by LBP at one time or another.  So why are we all hurting our backs?  Why does the pain seem to always reoccur?

2 Reasons Why Low Back Pain tends to Reoccur:

  1. The original risk factor(s) or precipitating actions that caused the initial low back pain (LBP) were never addressed.
  2. The inner core stabilizing muscles were never properly rehabilitated.  This makes the spine vulnerable to re-injury.

Just imagine if you had a significant knee injury which required surgery.  The injured leg would be weak and require specific exercises to help it to rehabilitate.  In most cases, the muscles of the injured leg would be obviously smaller due to muscle atrophy.  This same atrophy happens deep within the muscles of the lumbar region (particularly, the muscles known as the multifidus shown below).MultifidusMuscles

These muscles are responsible for spinal stabilization and to prevent shearing between vertebrae to vertebrae.  Just like the muscles in the thigh (in the knee example above), these muscles will shrink and atrophy when injured.  The problem is that you cannot see or feel them easily, so most of us never know that the spine’s ability to stabilize during activity is compromised.  This is a critical factor as to why reoccurring LBP is so prevalent.

Low back pain is a serious and debilitating condition.  It will either most certainly affect you or someone close to you.  The good news is that you don’t have to be a statistic!  You don’t have to live in fear of your next episode of LBP.  First, you need to address the likely causes that lead to the initial episode of low back pain, and be mindful of your risk factors.  Please refer to 12 Risk Factors for Low Back Pain.

Next, by implementing the proper exercises for prevention and rehabilitation, you can live pain free, train pain free, and live the life you want without fear of reoccurring low back pain!  Treating Low Back Pain (LBP) during Exercise and Athletics is designed for individuals of all levels from weekend warriors to soccer moms to elite athletes.  These principles can help you live the pain free life that you desire!

Treating Low Back Pain during Exercise and Athletics

product-cover-lbp

In this complete self-treatment package, Treating Low Back Pain (LBP) during Exercise and Athletics, I share very specific strategies for LBP prevention among athletes such as sport enthusiasts, CrossFitters, weightlifters, and runners.  These principles are helpful for anyone participating in athletics as well as those implementing a healthy lifestyle.  You’ll learn how to address specific causes of LBP as well as the best practices on how to prevent and self-treat when you experience an episode of LBP.  In this step-by-step LBP rehabilitation guide (complete with photos and detailed exercise descriptions), you will discover how to implement prevention and rehabilitation strategies.

LBP_Video

In this package, you get an in-depth look at treating LBP with a 7-part series of instructional videos in which I address low back pain prevention during exercise; specific warm ups for exercise and activities; what really is the “core” and why it matters; treatment techniques (including how to apply Kinesiological tape); and long term management strategies.  This includes nearly 60 minutes of actionable advice to prevent and treat LBP as it relates to active individuals, sports (such as running), and athletics.

product-cover-ot

In this BONUS eBook, Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome, I show you how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).  You’ll learn how to utilize prevention strategies to help you develop a personal training strategy that will allow you to push past your limits and prior plateau points in order to reach a state of what is known as overreaching (your body’s ability to “supercompensate”).  This will speed up your results, so that you can train harder and more effectively than ever before!  In addition, learn how to use the foam roller (complete with photos and detailed exercise descriptions) as part of a health optimization program, recovery program, rest day or treatment modality.

LEARN MORE

12 Risk Factors for Low Back Pain

We all work hard exercising and training for the next race, game, and/or competition.  We invest hundreds and thousands of dollars and hours upon hours training for our sport or activity.  We learn everything we can about our sport.  We buy the newest gear and fitness apps.  We invest in the newest and greatest training plans and programs.  Yet, we often fail to address the obvious. The best training plan in the world won’t do us much good if we’re unable to implement that plan due to pain and/or injury.  Many of us just accept occasional episodes of low back pain (LBP) as a normal part of life, but these episodes of LBP can have both devastating monetary and training consequences.

Young woman out jogging suffers a muscle injury

What if you could prevent injury and the loss of training days?  What if you could prevent costly physician visits?  What if you could spend your money on the best fitness and training programs and gear instead of on pain relief gels, oils, and scams?

The following list of potential risk factors for LBP addresses how you can be proactive in maintaining a healthy back.  How many of the following 12 risk factors can you relate to?

12 Risk Factors for Low Back Pain:

  1. Smoking – Smoking is a major risk factor for low back pain (LBP).  The chemicals in cigarette smoke affect both the lung’s ability to exchange oxygen and the body’s normal healing response.  These chemicals alter the blood supply to the discs and other spinal structures which affects nutrient exchange and increases the risk of pain.  Healing time for all medical conditions worsen with smoking.  Although research is forthcoming, it’s likely that vaping also has a negative impact on healing and LBP.  Anything that negatively affects optimal health will increase your risk of LBP and recovery from injury.
  2. Gender – This is an interesting one.  It may relate to certain behaviors more than anatomical differences, but males have a higher risk of LBP.  Females tend to experience more cervical or neck pain.
  3. Pregnancy – Pregnancy increases your risk for LBP due to structural changes as the baby develops and hormones change.  The expectant mother releases relaxin, a hormone which loosens the whole body, to prepare for the baby’s delivery.  Again, a risk worth taking!  Most women can manage the pain by modifying posture and movements while learning techniques for self-management.
  4. Heredity – A family history of low back pain increases your risk.  In some cases, this may be due to actual structural deformities which may be genetically linked.  More commonly, it’s a learned behavior, such as chronic sitting and slouching (poor posture), that can lead to a higher risk of LBP.
  5. Prior Episodes of LBP – Once you have experienced LBP, you are more likely to have re-current episodes.  This is typically due to not addressing the precipitating factors that led to the first episode of LBP.  It’s also likely due to weakness in the deep multifidus muscles that help to support the spine and prevent shearing forces.  This weakness can be addressed with proper physical therapy intervention.  (Please refer to Why You Keep Hurting Your Back.)
  6. Lack of Exercise/Activity – A sedentary lifestyle will increase your risk for LBP.  The spine is designed to work and move.  In order for the spine to remain healthy, it requires exercise and movement.
  7. Too Much Sitting – Sitting for even a moderate amount of time not only affects your general health status in a negative way, but it also increases your risk for LBP.  Sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time can increase your risk.  Worse yet is sitting with poor posture or unsupported.  Sitting on vibrating surfaces such as a heavy equipment operator will increase your risk further.  Please refer to The #1 Way to Extend Your Life Span for the reasons why sitting has such a negative effect on your body.
  8. Poor Posture – In western culture, we spend most of our day sitting slouched or standing hunched over.  This is an excellent way to increase your risk for LBP.  It’s one of the major risk factors for disc herniation and development of spinal stenosis.  Please refer to How to Improve Posture & Eliminate Pain for exercises that can help you to develop better posture and strength to eliminate back pain.
  9. Lack of Warm Up Before Exercise – This is a common mistake which can lead to injury.  A proper warm up prior to an event or exercise session is critical for injury prevention and in order to achieve peak performance.  A poor warm up affects your ability to get the most out of each training session.  A warm up should consist of a cardiovascular component, a spine specific component, and a dynamic stretching routine of the actual exercises you will be performing to insure you’re ready for the movement.  This is pertinent for any training session regardless of sport including weightlifting and running.
  10. Training when Exhausted – Allowing yourself to become over fatigued will increase your risk of all types of injury including LBP.  This is a common problem among CrossFitters and anyone who trains at a very high intense level.  Typically, this results in poor technique which further increases your risk.  Combine poor technique with muscles which can no longer perform the proper movement pattern, and you’re likely to become injured.
  11. Poor Technique – Poor technique often occurs when performing exercises that are too advanced, with too much resistance, and/or when feeling exhausted.  Performing unfamiliar lifting techniques or lifting too much weight will likely result in poor technique.
  12. Training Volume – Overtraining syndrome (OTS) can occur when you train too hard for too long.  Your training plan should include scheduled rest and recovery cycles to allow your body the time to recover between competitions and high volume or intense training cycles. OTS definitely increases your risk of injury.

The key component to preventing reoccurring episodes of LBP is to address your risk factors.  Determine what initially caused your LBP.  If you are looking to finally prevent those reoccurring episodes of LBP that derail your training and/or are currently suffering from LBP, then Treating Low Back Pain (LBP) during Exercise and Athletics is the solution.  This complete guide and system will help you to prevent, treat, and manage LBP so that you don’t have to waste any training days because of ineffective treatment measures.

Treating Low Back Pain during Exercise and Athletics

product-cover-lbp

In this complete self-treatment package, Treating Low Back Pain (LBP) during Exercise and Athletics, I share very specific strategies for LBP prevention among athletes such as sport enthusiasts, CrossFitters, weightlifters, and runners.  These principles are helpful for anyone participating in athletics as well as those implementing a healthy lifestyle.  You’ll learn how to address specific causes of LBP as well as the best practices on how to prevent and self-treat when you experience an episode of LBP.  In this step-by-step LBP rehabilitation guide (complete with photos and detailed exercise descriptions), you will discover how to implement prevention and rehabilitation strategies.

LBP_Video

In this package, you get an in-depth look at treating LBP with a 7-part series of instructional videos in which I address low back pain prevention during exercise; specific warm ups for exercise and activities; what really is the “core” and why it matters; treatment techniques (including how to apply Kinesiological tape); and long term management strategies.  This includes nearly 60 minutes of actionable advice to prevent and treat LBP as it relates to active individuals, sports (such as running), and athletics.

product-cover-ot

In this BONUS eBook, Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome, I show you how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).  You’ll learn how to utilize prevention strategies to help you develop a personal training strategy that will allow you to push past your limits and prior plateau points in order to reach a state of what is known as overreaching (your body’s ability to “supercompensate”).  This will speed up your results, so that you can train harder and more effectively than ever before!  In addition, learn how to use the foam roller (complete with photos and detailed exercise descriptions) as part of a health optimization program, recovery program, rest day or treatment modality.

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Why Low Back Pain almost always Reoccurs

I had waited all year for the City of Trees half marathon.  My goal (as always) was to post a PR (personal record) for the event.  Since it was a fairly flat course, I figured it would be a good opportunity to run fast (at least, fast for me).  As part of my training protocol, I was squatting two days per week and working on general leg strength and cross training (practicing yoga) one day per week.

Group of people running.

My back had been sore off and on for almost five years.  Medical professionals didn’t offer me any specific reasons as to why.  Neither chiropractic nor physical therapy seemed to help much, so I just ignored it.  But not this day!

I had just completed my second work set of squatting at the gym.  At the time, I wasn’t experiencing any notable back pain.  I was on my second repetition and on my third set when my low back gave way.  The weight came down and hit the rack safety rails!  My back hurt, but worse, it felt unstable.  I decided to leave the gym in shame.  I picked up the weights I was using, but the pain began to worsen.

By the time I drove home, I could barely get out of my truck.  I decided I was tough, so I took some ibuprofen and still went to work.  By the time I made it to the office (about 10 minutes), I was in real trouble.  I walked around for a while, and I took some Tylenol before I decided to go home.  I got in my truck, but by then the pain was so bad that I couldn’t push in the clutch or hardly use the brakes.  I really don’t know how I make it home that morning, but I needed help from my wife to get out of my truck.

LowBackPainIt only got worse from there.  I went to lie on my bed.  Again, another bad plan!  An hour later when I needed to urinate, I realized I couldn’t even get out of bed!  The pain was worse than anything I had ever experienced.  After much struggle and help from my dad (who was called in to help), I was able to get upright, only to break out in a cold sweat, start shaking, and nearly pass out from the pain.  Still having to urinate, I experienced one of the more humbling things I have ever done.  I had to ask for help from my wife to urinate into a plastic bottle because I couldn’t get out of bed.

Long story short, I went to a doctor who diagnosed me with low back pain (LBP) from a lumbar strain and prescribed pain medication and a steroid pack.  After many more days of pain, I was finally upright again.

A month later, I was ready to start back into my training, but frankly, I was nervous!  My back felt weak, and I had no idea how much was too much.  The worst part of it all:  I’m a physical therapist!  Shouldn’t I known what to do?  It sure didn’t feel like it at the time.

The medication did mostly relieve the pain, but I had a chronically sore back that felt weak and unstable.  I was performing physical therapy exercises and stretches.  I was even using heat and electrical muscle stimulation (EMS).

My treatment wasn’t helping me that much.  At least, not to the point that I felt I could get resume my training for my upcoming half marathon.  All I wanted to do was to get back to training, but I was too scared to!

This experience started me down a path of study that changed my life.  I realized how incompetent I had been as a physical therapist who treated others experiencing severe low back pain.  I had new appreciation for those patients who wanted to get back to their sport and activity.  I also realized that my prior physical therapy interventions were not preparing people to get back to sport nor most high level activities.

What do you do when you’re past the worst of the pain and want to resume training, but you don’t feel physically, mentally or emotionally ready?  Your insurance money may be used up.  The pain may have dissipated, but you’re still not sure how to progress through the next steps.  What if it happens again?  Can I train as hard as before?  Am I really better?  I have lost so many days of training, should I even compete in my event?

Often after a severe case of low back pain, you may be too scared to train like you did prior to the injury, and it turns out you should be!  At least until you understand why low back pain almost always reoccurs and what you can do to prevent it. 

The most common treatment strategies for low back pain are too general for most active individuals, weekend warriors, sport enthusiasts, CrossFitters, weightlifters, and runners.  I have spent the past 11 years researching, studying, and refining best practices for treating LBP.  I have combined research with known anatomical and physiological principles in order to develop very specific strategies for LBP prevention among active individuals.  I have designed a complete guide and system to help you to prevent, treat, and manage LBP so that you don’t have to waste any training days because of ineffective treatment measures.

Treating Low Back Pain during Exercise and Athletics

product-cover-lbp

In this complete self-treatment package, Treating Low Back Pain (LBP) during Exercise and Athletics, I share very specific strategies for LBP prevention among athletes such as sport enthusiasts, CrossFitters, weightlifters, and runners.  These principles are helpful for anyone participating in athletics as well as those implementing a healthy lifestyle.  You’ll learn how to address specific causes of LBP as well as the best practices on how to prevent and self-treat when you experience an episode of LBP.  In this step-by-step LBP rehabilitation guide (complete with photos and detailed exercise descriptions), you will discover how to implement prevention and rehabilitation strategies.

LBP_Video

In this package, you get an in-depth look at treating LBP with a 7-part series of instructional videos in which I address low back pain prevention during exercise; specific warm ups for exercise and activities; what really is the “core” and why it matters; treatment techniques (including how to apply Kinesiological tape); and long term management strategies.  This includes nearly 60 minutes of actionable advice to prevent and treat LBP as it relates to active individuals, sports (such as running), and athletics.

product-cover-ot

In this BONUS eBook, Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome, I show you how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).  You’ll learn how to utilize prevention strategies to help you develop a personal training strategy that will allow you to push past your limits and prior plateau points in order to reach a state of what is known as overreaching (your body’s ability to “supercompensate”).  This will speed up your results, so that you can train harder and more effectively than ever before!  In addition, learn how to use the foam roller (complete with photos and detailed exercise descriptions) as part of a health optimization program, recovery program, rest day or treatment modality.

BUY NOW