10 Strategies for Avoiding Injury

http://marathontrainingacademy.com/avoid-injury

Marathon Training Academy

May 16, 2017

In this guest post for Marathon Training Academy, you will learn which strategies to implement in order to reduce your risk of injury while taking your training and exercise program to the next level.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. –Benjamin Franklin

As a physical therapist, I help people who have suffered from an injury through the process of rehabilitation. Yes, accidents will happen, but being proactive can help you to avoid and limit the chance of an injury.

Nothing derails a perfectly designed training program like an injury. One key to being a Resilient Runner is to optimize your health and lessen your risk of injury by being proactive upfront. Continue Reading

The Injury Episode!

With Special Guest Dr. Ben Shatto

http://marathontrainingacademy.com/injury-episode

Marathon Training Academy

May 11, 2017

In this podcast interview with Angie Spencer (RN and Certified Running Coach) and Trevor Spencer (co-host of the Marathon Training Academy Podcast), we discuss the prevalence of running injuries, the top mistakes we see runners make, and answer injury related questions from runners.

In this episode we talk injury prevention with our friend and physical therapy doctor Ben Shatto. Plus we answer injury related questions from real everyday runners like you. Glutes, calves, hamstrings, IT Band, foot and knee pain . . . we cover it all! Listen to the podcast

Disclaimer: This blog post and podcast are not meant to replace the advice of your doctor/health care provider, or speak to the condition of one particular person but rather give general advice.

The Truth About Running Injuries

http://marathontrainingacademy.com/truth-running-injuries

Marathon Training Academy

May 3, 2017

In this guest post for Marathon Training Academy, you will learn how to identify the risk factors and potential causes of overuse running injuries so that you can avoid training errors which can result in lost training days, missed races, and unmet goals.

Running is one of the most popular sports and hobbies in recent times.  In the U.S. alone, there are more than 500,000 annual marathon finishers and up to 40 million people who run regularly.

Of those 40 million people, more than 10 million are running at least 100 days a year!

Running can be enjoyed by almost anyone despite age.  Not only is running fun, but it has many health benefits including (although not limited to) the following:  Continue Reading

How to Avoid Overtraining Syndrome (OTS)

http://marathontrainingacademy.com/overtraining-syndrome

Marathon Training Academy

April 28, 2017

Don’t let an injury or overtraining syndrome (OTS) derail your running plans or affect your performance.  In this guest post for Marathon Training Academy, you will learn which strategies to implement as you self-treat and manage any potential injury safely and quickly.

Nothing can derail your best laid training plans and goals like an injury or suffering from Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).  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.  Many common running injuries are directly associated with OTS.  It’s always best to prevent OTS rather than attempt to recover from it.  Continue Reading

Preventing Knee Pain

There isn’t a shortage of promising lotions, braces, taping techniques, exercises, and electric modalities when treating knee pain.  Many of these fancy options may or may not work to prevent and/or reduce pain.  There are many potential reasons for experiencing knee pain.  However, an often overlooked cause is the lack of a normal range of motion and tightness in the quadriceps and/or hamstrings.  Getting back to the basics can be an integral component to successfully treating knee pain or preventing further injury.

Potential Risk Factors for Knee Pain:

  • Poor quadriceps strength (particularly, the inner/medial quadriceps).
  • Poor hip abductor and/or hip external rotator strength.
  • Prior knee injury.
  • Over use.
  • Obesity.
  • Poor foot biomechanics including overpronation (when the feet excessively roll inward, which causes the knee to roll inward during each step).
  • A larger “Q-angle” which is the associated angle between the hip and knee.
  • Even anomalies in the shape of one of the bones that make up the knee joint could predispose you to knee pain.

The most obvious (yet rarely talked about) reason for experiencing knee pain directly relates to your range of motion (ROM).  In its simplest form, the knee is a hinge joint.  It bends and straightens (flexes and extends).  If your knee isn’t able to fully bend or straighten because of either excessive quadriceps tightness and/or hamstring tightness, then you’re at an elevated risk for many common knee pain diagnoses including Patellar Femoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) and Patellar Tendinitis.

Quadriceps Tightness

Poor range of motion in the quadriceps can be associated with a higher risk for developing knee pain.  One potential reason for this is that the quadriceps muscle blends into the quadriceps tendon.  Eventually it attaches to the patella (kneecap) before becoming the patellar tendon where it attaches to the tibial tubercle on the tibial bone (the main lower leg bone).

Excessive tightness will cause alterations in force and tracking of the patella.  This can lead to inflammation and ultimately, pain in or around the structures of the knee (including the patella, quadriceps tendon, patellar tendon, the patellar femoral joint or the infrapatellar fat pad).  The following four muscles make up the quadriceps:  vastus lateralis; vastus medialis; rectus femoris; and the vastus medialis.  The rectus femoris is most likely to be tight as it crosses two joints–both the hip joint and the knee joint.  The other muscles only cross one joint–the knee joint.

Normal range of motion in the quadriceps will vary from person to person (especially, the older you get or if you have a history of injury).  For most healthy and younger to middle aged people, normal range of motion could be defined as the ability to touch your heel to your buttocks with your hip and low back in a neutral (not flexed or extended) position (as demonstrated below).

Regular static stretching and mobilization will help you to improve your range of motion in the quadriceps and ultimately, avoid knee pain. 

Static Stretch

Static stretching is best performed post workouts.  (Static stretching prior to a work out or activity has been shown to decrease performance.)  Hold the following stretch for at least 60 seconds, and perform two to three repetitions.

Quadriceps “Tack and Floss” Mobilization

You can use a foam roller to help mobilize the quadriceps while working on your range of motion.  Position your upper thigh onto the foam roller.  Roll around until you locate a particularly tight and/or restricted area, and then very slowly bend your knee back and forth.  If this is painful, do not exceed more than a mild to moderate amount of pain.  Perform 1-2 minutes on each leg once per day.

Hamstring Tightness

Hamstring tightness can often restrict full knee extension (particularly, during functional activities).  The most common reason for poor hamstring mobility is chronic poor posture while sitting and standing.  Most of us sit for a good portion of the day.  This results in tight hamstrings and increases your risk for experiencing knee pain as well as low back pain.

Poor range of motion can also be a contributing factor to muscle imbalances.  A hamstring that is either too long (over stretched) or a hamstring that is too short and contracted will not generate as much force and strength as a hamstring within its optimal length.  The ability for a muscle to contract optimally is dependent on it being at an optimal length.  This is known as the length tension relationship.

Many people (women in particular) struggle with adequate hamstring strength in relationship to quadriceps strength.  This muscle imbalance can lead to pain and is a major risk factor in suffering an ACL tear.  Therefore, one way to insure proper hamstring strength is to insure proper hamstring length. 

Hamstring Stretch in Doorway 

Static stretching is best performed post workouts.  (Static stretching prior to a work out or activity has been shown to decrease performance.)  Find a doorway and place one leg on the frame and stretch the opposite leg through the doorway.  Try to keep your back with a neutral arch.  As your hamstring relaxes, slowly move closer to the wall or doorframe.  Hold for at least 1 minute per side, and preferably two repetitions per side. 

Hamstring Mobilization Using the Foam Roller 

Place your leg on the foam roller.  Roll your hamstring back and forth on the foam roll.  Move slowly and spend extra time on the more painful areas.  Be sure to mobilize the entire hamstring and feel free to work on other areas of the leg that feel tight or restricted.  If this is painful, do not exceed more than a mild to moderate amount of pain.  Perform for 1-2 minutes per leg.

Don’t forget the basics when it comes to self-treating knee pain.  Lack of range of motion could be the most simple and obvious reason for why you’re experiencing knee pain.  Implement my recommended exercises in order to address any tightness in the quadriceps and/or hamstrings.  Getting back to the basics can be an integral component to successfully treating your knee pain and preventing further injury.

If you’re experiencing knee pain, do you think either poor range of motion and/or tightness in your quadriceps and/or hamstrings are causing it?  Which strategy can you implement to alleviate your pain and prevent injury?  Please share 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!

My Top 5 Most Popular Posts of 2016!

As 2016 comes to a close, more and more people are realizing the value of taking control of their health care and personal well-being.  In today’s health care environment, we all need to learn how to treat common aches and pains proactively instead of reactively.  We must get to the root of the issue instead of placing a Band-Aid over it.  Our present health care system in America is not designed to help you optimize your health–that is your job!

2016 marks the first time that the media started to wake up to America’s prescription opioid addiction.  The news and many research articles discussed America’s opioid addiction including their disastrous consequences on one’s health and the nation’s health care system in general.  Not to mention, how poorly opioids actually are in managing long term pain.

The purpose of The Physical Therapy Advisor is to help people like you to take control of your health and to save money by learning how to safely self-treat and manage common musculoskeletal, neurological, and mobility related conditions safely and effectively without opioid use.

My Top 5 Most Popular Posts of 2016:

  1. How to Use Shoulder Pulleys to Regain Shoulder Motion – Maintaining adequate shoulder mobility is critical after surgery and/or avoiding osteoarthritis of the shoulders.  The shoulder pulley is often one of the first exercises initiated after surgery or injury. However, it’s often performed incorrectly.  In this video, I demonstrate the proper way to utilize a shoulder pulley.
  2. Exercise as Medicine – Too often, people look towards pharmaceuticals in order to help manage medical conditions.  Exercise is a highly effective and often underutilized method to treat many common, yet serious, medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.  Exercise is medicine when prescribed and performed correctly.
  3. 3 Simple Exercises to Help You Age Well – Maintaining functional mobility as we age is critical.  First, you need to maintain the ability to stand up.  This insures that you can get up from a chair or a commode/toilet.  Second, you need to maintain your ability to ambulate to insure that you can perform the other needed activities of daily living more easily.  Lastly, you need the balance to safely perform these tasks.  Walking, squatting, and improving your balance will help you to age well.
  4. 5 Strategies to Train Smarter for your next Obstacle Course Race – Obstacle course racing (OCR) is one of the hottest new sports around for all fitness levels (including the novice to expert thrill seekers).  This post highlights the five lessons I learned from my training seminar on OCR races with Ben Greenfield from www.Bengreenfieldfitness.com and Michael Caron from www.Getburly.com.
  5. Got Text Neck? – Have you noticed that wherever you go nowadays that you constantly see people walking and looking down at their cell phones?  No wonder that the term “text neck” is now being used to describe chronically poor posture!  This post explores the role of poor posture related to neck and headache pain along with tips for prevention and treatment.

2016 has been a wonderful year!  I successfully launched my first eBook and video 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.  This eBook addresses the specific causes of LBP as well as the best practices on how to prevent and self-treat when you experience an episode of LBP.  A 7-part series of instructional videos is also available and includes nearly 60 minutes of actionable advice to prevent and treat LBP.

CLICK TO LEARN MORE!

In addition to my new eBook, I have continued to feature reader submitted Q & A’s as well as many exercise and training posts including posts written for the Marathon Training Academy.

This past fall, I featured a six part series on headache pain which includes prevention and treatment tips.  An important focus continues to be on longevity and healthy aging.  This includes ongoing guest posts on healthy senior living for the Seniors Blue Book.  (Check out my top 3 recommended daily fall prevention exercises as featured in the latest Seniors Blue Book!)

Looking toward 2017, I will continue to offer free self-treatment advice to help YOU manage common musculoskeletal, neurological, and mobility related conditions in a timely manner.  Together, we can all learn to age well and reach our optimal health!

Don’t forget subscribe to my e-mail newsletter!  I will send you my blog posts on how to maximize your health, self-treat those annoying orthopaedic injuries, and gracefully age.  To thank you for subscribing, you will automatically gain access to my FREE resources, including a FREE CHAPTER from my eBook, Treating Low Back Pain During Exercise and Athletics.

Thank you for supporting The Physical Therapy Advisor! I look forward to serving you in 2017!  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!

How to Recover Quickly from a Quadriceps Strain

mta_quadstrain

http://marathontrainingacademy.com/quadriceps-strain

Marathon Training Academy

November 15, 2016

After straining your quadriceps, you remain at a higher risk of injury. In this guest post for Marathon Training Academy, you will learn which strategies to implement as you work through your rehabilitation and your return to activity.

Muscle injury. Man with sprain thigh muscles

A quadriceps strain, also known as a quad pull or thigh strain, is a relatively common running injury.

Strains can range from a mild discomfort to a full blown tear of most of the muscle which can result in severe pain and the inability to run or walk. The injury typically happens when one or more of the quadriceps muscles become overloaded.

In this pose you will discover the factors that increase your risk of straining your quadriceps, and learn specific strategies to implement during your rehabilitation and return to activity. Continue Reading

How to Self-Treat IT Band Pain with a Mini Plunger

Pain in the lateral (outside) leg or knee is commonly associated with a condition known as Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS).  (Iliotibial Band Syndrome is also known as IT Band Syndrome, ITB Syndrome, or IT Band Friction Syndrome.)  Pain can range from the lateral side of the leg up toward the hip area to just below the lateral side of the knee joint (where the head of the fibula bone begins).  The pain can be very debilitating to the point that running or hiking activities have to be stopped.  Even walking can be difficult.

Although ITBS can be very painful, it can be easily self-treated if you handle your pain and symptoms quickly.  For many years, I have taught people how to use a mini plunger as a method to provide a suction force for self-treatment.  In this video, I demonstrate how to utilize a mini plunger as a “cupping” technique to self-treat IT Band Syndrome.

Cupping is a method or technique to massage and mobilize tissues such as muscles, skin, fascia, and tendons.  The exact treatment effect is unclear, but presently the research indicates that it helps to reset neural pain receptors and stretch receptors.  Thus, reducing pain and allowing for improved movement.

Cupping has been around as a treatment technique for thousands of years.  The research on cupping is interesting and for the most part, concludes that cupping is helpful in pain management.  There are some indications that the “suction” may lead to improved blood flow to an injured area which could speed up healing times.  Other health claims of the benefits of cupping haven’t been adequately proven in current research.

Traditionally, cupping has been performed with glass cups by using a flammable paper to quickly “burn” the oxygen in the cup which causes a suction force.  There are now many types of plastic or silicon cups that can easily be purchased online.  CupEDGE Massage Tools are what I use and recommend.  Fancy cups are not necessary.  The cups can be more convenient, but even a small sink plunger will do.

Have you tried cupping to treat ITBS?  If so, what was your experience like?  Additional discussion can help others to manage this condition more effectively.  Please leave your comments below.

For more information on how to self-treat ITBS, please refer to the following:

Looking for that exercise or book I mentioned in a post?  Forgot the name of a product or supplement that you’re interested in?  It’s all listed in the Resource Guide.  Check it out today!

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!

Cupping, Should Runners Try it Too?

mta_cupping

http://marathontrainingacademy.com/cupping

Marathon Training Academy

October 17, 2016

In this guest post for Marathon Training Academy, you will discover what cupping actually is and how to use it to massage and mobilize tissues in order to reduce pain and improve movement.

calfactivemobilizationusingacup

The 2016 Rio Olympics brought new light to an old treatment–cupping.  The world stared as athletes like Michael Phelps proudly displayed his petechia for the world to see.

Petechia is the medical term for the purplish bruise that can form with certain types of cupping techniques.

After seeing so many Olympic athletes with bruises this year, the rest of us were left wondering about this trend of using cupping as a medical treatment or sports enhancement treatment.  Does cupping really work?  Can I utilize cupping as a self-treatment method for common running related pains?  Continue Reading

When to Return to Running after Experiencing Low Back Pain

mta_returntorunning

http://marathontrainingacademy.com/return-running-experiencing-low-back-pain

Marathon Training Academy

September 13, 2016

In this guest post for Marathon Training Academy, you will learn why initial activity and exercise are critical when treating low back pain (LBP) and how to determine if you are ready to return to running after experiencing an episode of LBP.

WomanWithLowBackPain

Low back pain (LBP) can be so severe and debilitating that it can completely derailing your training. It’s hard to run if your back, buttocks or leg hurts. You either won’t try to do it or you try to suffer through it only to be rewarded with worsening symptoms later on. However, initial activity and exercise are critical when treating LBP. Continue Reading