Tag: Running

November 30, 2018

Trying to motivate yourself to run throughout the winter months can be a struggle, but trying to stay injury free while you run throughout the winter months can be even more of a challenge! Check out these winter running tips that should help keep you running consistently all year long without pesky injuries slowing you down!

 

Temporarily reduce your weekly mileage with the first snowfall.

When you are running on snow as opposed to a hard, slip free surface you are using stabilizing muscles you haven’t used in a long time. This places you at increased risk of injury. Week 1 run 50% of your normal weekly mileage. Week 2 increase to 75%. By week 3 you should be able to return to your normal weekly mileage.

Avoid switching to the treadmill for 100% of your winter running.

First of all running on a flat uniform surface involves repeating the exact same movement over and over again which increases your risk of repetitive strain injuries like achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.  Second of all when the snow melts and you switch back to running outdoors you will have to drastically decrease your mileage or you’ll risk injury. Running on the treadmill does not mimic running outside! The impact force from running outside is much greater than on the treadmill. Also on the treadmill you are trying to keep up with the track as it glides under your feet, whereas outside you actually have to propel yourself forward. It’s very different therefore your body needs to be allowed the time to adjust!

Make sure your important stabilizing muscles are strong!

Running on the snow and ice demands more muscle effort than running on the treadmill or outdoors on dry pavement. Especially from the glutes and core. (See previous glute strengthening blog!)

Wear the proper footwear!

Yaktrax

Either wear sneakers that are meant for winter running and have soles with studs or spikes, or purchase an ice traction device such as Yaktrax that fit over your sneakers.

Warm up!

Warming up is more important during the cold winter months. If you are standing in a parking lot waiting for others in your group to show and you are shivering and chilly, your muscles are tight and cold as you start to run which can put you at increased risk of injury. Jog on the spot, do high knees or bum kicks, or wait in your car with your heat blasting!

Ignore the pace on your watch!

Focus on effort level as opposed to pace if you are used to running with a running watch. You will run slower in the winter months. If you try to maintain the same pace you did on the clear dry pavement you could end up with an injury. Use the rate of perceived exertion scale. Perceived exertion is how hard you feel your body is working. These feelings are not objective like monitoring your heart rate, but they can give an estimate of your heart rate and your exercise intensity zone.

 

 

 

Try snowshoe running!

It’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the snow covered trails. You have to make some small technique adjustments such as running with a slightly wider stance and lifting your feet higher. This will challenge your hip abductors such as your glute med and min and your hip flexors so make sure you ease into snowshoe running gradually. It is much slower than road/trail running so don’t focus on pace. Again use the rate of perceived exertion scale above! Also, purchasing snowshoes that are designed for running such as the Atlas snowshoes shown below can definitely improve your comfort level and speed while snowshoe running.

 

November 15, 2018

Last week I discussed how much targeting my glutes has helped improve my running performance over the past 2 months. For those of you who have been wondering if your own glutes are up to par, here is a helpful follow up blog!

This is a great test for glute max strength so give it a try at home! You do not need any equipment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  •       Lie on the floor with your arms across your chest and feet shoulder width apart.
  •       Lift your bum off the floor so that you are only balancing on your shoulder blades and heels.
  •       Now try to lift your left leg! Can you do it? How long can you hold it for?
  •       Now try to lift your right leg! Can you do it? How long can you hold it for? Is it easier or harder than when you lifted your left leg?

For runners, asymmetry is not our friend! There are certain sports when muscle strength/flexibility asymmetry is normal and maybe even necessary to perform well (think golf/curling/baseball). But runners should be equally flexible and strong throughout the body. So if you do the above test and you find it more difficult to lift the left leg, your right glute needs some attention! And vice versa for the opposite side.  

Tune in next week for Part 3 where I’ll go over functional strengthening movements for runners!

November 8, 2018

2 months ago my husband and I made a very big move. We sold our home in Labrador, packed up our truck and our camper and hit the dirt road (literally) to move to Ottawa. I worked as a physiotherapist for 9 years at the hospital in Goose Bay, so accepting a job with Whole Therapy was a huge change for me. I was very nervous and excited and obviously was wondering if I had made the right decision.

Fast forward 2 months and I can say with absolute certainty that yes we made the right choice. My husband and I, along with our 14 month old daughter Emily, absolutely love Ottawa. We love to run, hike, cycle, canoe, and camp, so Ottawa has been a fantastic fit for us. But even more important is I love my new job. My coworkers are fantastic and have taught me so much in just a few weeks. I have met a lot of really cool clients and I love working with the team here to help people reach their goals as fast as possible.

One huge benefit to working at Whole Therapy is that the staff here not only work together to help each other’s clients but they also work together to help each other. I have been running competitively since I was in high school. Over the years I have completed 9 half marathons, 2 full marathons and a bunch of 5 and 10km races. Back home in Labrador I was a member of the Trappers’ Running Club Executive where I helped organize the annual Trapline Marathon (it’s a Boston qualifier and a fantastic race if anyone wants to experience a run in the rural north!) I helped organize and lead the running clinics for the Trapline and I offered education sessions on running form, injury prevention, stretching, etc.

So needless to say I am a runner and am very passionate about the sport. After moving to Ottawa I joined Run Ottawa and I immediately started exploring different running routes and trails around the city. I was having some persistent issues that seemed to start while I was running pregnant with my daughter in 2017. These issues particularly occurred during/after tempo runs, interval training or races:

  • Stitches under my ribs during my higher intensity training sessions that were just completely ruining my runs. Everything I did to stop them failed. I tried to eat at least 2-3 hours before running, do a good warm up, breathe deeply through the stitch. Nothing seemed to work.
  • My hamstrings were just destroyed after speed work. They were so tight, sore and stiff.
  • The area around my C-section scar just felt, for lack of a better word, ugly! Very achy and empty if that makes sense.

My first race in Ottawa was the 5km RBC Run for the Kids in the middle of September. I had a great race but again all 3 of the above issues definitely limited my pace. When I came to work that Monday and chatted to my co-workers about how the race went, I became the client instead of the therapist and it was awesome!

Jamie took me into the gym and focused on why my hamstrings were working so hard. Turns out my glute max was extremely weak especially on the left which meant my hamstrings had to work overtime to compensate. He gave me some homework which included single leg bridge reps, step downs and reverse plank on the stability ball with knee extension. He also worked on my breathing technique which he figured was the cause of my frequent running stitches.

Mel got her hands on me to work around my C-section scar. Emily is 14 months old so it has definitely healed, but I learned after that session that it was not so much the scar tissue causing the “ugly” sensation but the very tight hip musculature surrounding it.

My second race in Ottawa was the 10km Ottawa Fall Colors Run. I ran stitch free, I felt my glute max was definitely working harder than it had been a month ago which meant my hamstrings weren’t totally exhausted following, and I didn’t have the ugly C—section scar feeling!

I still have a lot of work to do over the winter months but I can say with confidence that I think I will be able to run some personal best times next year with the help of my fantastic coworkers!

If you are a runner and you want to run as efficiently as possible, the off season is coming up and it’s a great time to book an appointment and be assessed for any muscle imbalances you may have!

Posted in Physiotherapy by Pat Moore | Tags: , , ,
May 26, 2015

I love treating runners.  I love, love, love it.  Not because I’m a runner myself, and not just because runners tend to be concerned for their own health and well-being (although I do love that about them).  Runners are a cohort of people that have an energy all unto themselves, and I love being a part of their journey.

run for the voices2I’ve been a runner now for 13 years.  Prior to 2002, I was an outright non-runner; my running experience was the sum of sprinting to catch buses combined with failed attempts to circle the track in high school.  The first time I attempted to run on purpose for recreation was in the summer of 2001.  I heroically clambered onto the treadmill at work (I was a personal trainer then) and decided to “run a short mile.”  I thereafter decided that running was an evil thing designed to break even the strongest of people, and I didn’t attempt it again for almost a year.

  1. Run for the silence.
Glorious.

Glorious.

Runners often run to get away from problems.  I was not  exception when running finally stuck for me in 2002.  I was in a bad relationship.  I was an overweight personal trainer feeling inept and sorry for myself.  It was almost my 21st birthday.  I needed a kick in the ass.

So I decided to train for a triathlon.

The running was hell, I’m not going to lie.  Swimming and biking were fine, but there was something about running that set off my inner demons like nothing else.  I felt crazy running most of the time, not to mention sweaty, winded, wheezy and inelegant.  My head would fight me the whole time, at first, but soon I noticed moments of silence in my head.  Really, really nice silence.  This kind of silence was different than the awkward moments on the phone with a new boyfriend.  This silence was peaceful, I realized, and I began to crave it more than I hated feeling winded.  So I continued to run.

  1. Run for the voices in your head.

Running makes you realize you’re a little nutty.  Maybe nutty for running in the first place, who knows.

run for the voicesThe voices in my own head reared up immediately and sneered at me, What on earth do you think you’re doing?  This isn’t possible, you know.  You’ll try and fail.  Don’t even bother. Just quit.  And on and on.  I started to run for those voices, though, because you know what?  They’re easily beaten.  And once you beat them off, you win.  They come back, and you beat them again. And you win again.  And eventually you realize that you’re better than your voices.  You realize you’re better than your demons.

And you realize you’re still running.

  1. Run for the killer legs

One thing I notice amongst all of my running clients is that they have really strong legs.  It doesn’t matter if the client is young or old, slim or stocky, male or female.  They all have killer, tough legs that don’t quit.  I can spot a runner a mile away now, just by the legs.  It’s great.

run for the stories 1

We all want nice legs, don’t we?  Well, running does that.  And I won’t even mention all the cool running tights that look amazing on toned, lean legs.  Ok I will mention it: running tights come in all sorts of cool patterns now, from swirly galaxy ones to fish-scale ones to ones with all the leg muscles drawn on.  Tights should actually be a reason unto themselves to run.

  1. Run for the hardware

Free shirt, chunky medal, crowds of people cheering you on.  What could be better?  Most of the time I’m not excited about receiving a participation award; in fact, I believe it’s a huge blunder on the part of school systems and recreational sports teams that they grant losing teams awards for just showing up.run for the hardware

Somehow, though, running is the exception to this rule.  Running is a solitary sport.  Everybody can win because everyone is playing against themselves; the only exception is the elite runners, who are actually running against the pack because that’s their job.  For the rest of us: you cross that finish line and you’ve done it.  You deserve that hunk of aluminum, and so does everyone else who fought their demons and pushed on for the last number of minutes and hours.

I remember my first ever medal, for that infamous triathlon I set out to complete in 2002.  I thought the whole time that I was going to drown, fall off my bike, and trip, respectively, but I did none of those things.  Instead, I won against my inner demons and my body’s complaining and I beat back the loser in me.  I was so proud of myself that I cried, and that medal hangs on my wall today to remind me where I’ve come from.

  1. Run for the stories

Whether you’re a solitary or group runner, you amass quite a few stories along the way (and I get to be privy to many of them while massaging people).  I’ve heard stories of tears, of triumph, of hysteria and hardship, and they are all essential pieces of the epic story that makes up Your Running Life.

Yes.

Yes.

Life seems richer when you run regularly; you encounter people (and often their dogs), places (with and without mud puddles), and experiences (closed roads, icy paths, crazy weather and bathroom troubles, to name a few) that you never would encounter otherwise.

The running community is full and diverse, and can provide a contentment and enrichment to life that is unmeasurable.  My mother, who is now a 7-time marathoner, has forged deep friendships with a group of running friends that she calls her Sole Sisters.  Their stories can entertain me for hours; they’ve been lost, got stuck in snowdrifts, tripped by dogs on leashes, and nearly peed their pants laughing multiple times along the running trails.  Friendships and stories like theirs are part of the reason running reaches so many.

Whether you run for the reasons above or for other reasons, running is a pretty great sport.  It’s easy to learn, it can be inexpensive to begin (all you really need are shoes), and it’s benefits, in my opinion, far outweigh its evils.  You can run all the time, or only occasionally, but the road is always there waiting for you, and it never really changes, even when you do.  It’s predictable, grounding, and even though it can be extremely challenging, it can also transform you into the best version of yourself.

 

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

April 8, 2015

shin splints

If you have been reading my blog, my goal was to initially complete a series on needling in the profession of physiotherapy. Don’t worry folks, I still plan on completing that series! It’s just on pause for now. I have chosen to stray from my previous plan and look at a common problem that plagues many runners, because as we all know, April showers bring May flowers, and a boat-load of running injuries! Also, my boss wanted me to do a blog on running. Since she is of course, my BOSS, I figured I should make like a good employee and write about shin splints!

Shin splints is a funny diagnosis. It’s a funny diagnosis because shin splints is typically used as a catch-all term to describe shin pain. In fact, shin splints is defined by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons as “pain along the inner edge of the shinbone (tibia)”. So in a nut shell, shin splints = shin pain. This makes its diagnosis confusing. Imagine this typical made-up conversation:

              Hello doctor, I have pain in the inner, lower portion of my legs after running.

              That is easy! You have shin splints!

              Oh, that answers EVERYTHING. I have shin splints!

But I just told you that shin splints = shin pain. See the problem here? Shin splints doesn’t actually tell me what’s causing your pain! Here are three reasons you may develop shin pain, also known as the notorious shin splints.

1) Medial tibial stress syndrome. This is also known as “too much, too soon” syndrome. MTSS is typically the result of overloading the tibia with biomechanical inefficiencies. This can lead to periostitis, an inflammation of the membrane (a.k.a. periosteum) covering the bone. Ever wonder why it feels like your bone is bruised? Muscular imbalances commonly seen in the tibialis anterior, tibialis posterior and soleus muscle in combination with excessive pronation often puts too much stress on that poor tibia bone. As a result, the tibia bends and bows more than it should. This pulls on the connective tissue attaching to the bone itself. More pulling = more inflammation = more periostitis = more pain. Addressing the biomechanical inefficiencies while decreasing excessive load is key in making sure this bad guy goes away! It usually presents as a dull, diffuse ache along the bone of the tibia.

2) Compartment syndrome. Compartment syndrome is the compression of nerves, blood vessels, and muscles inside a closed space, or compartment, surrounded by a sheet of fascia. There are four different compartments in the lower leg. In order to understand compartment syndrome, you need to understand the role of fascia. Fascia is connective tissue, which attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. It is literally EVERYWHERE in the body. It also does not like to expand very much. As a result, if a compartment in the lower leg swells beyond the stretching capability of the fascia, pressure inside the compartment can increase and increase, and INCREASE. This is serious and can cause tissue death due to the compression of blood vessels (lack of oxygen). If you are experiencing extreme tightness, burning, pins and needles and/or temporary paralysis with running, PLEASE STOP and seek a medical opinion!

3) Tibial stress fracture. A stress fracture is exactly what it sounds like, a fracture or crack in the bone. It is the consequence of the tibia failing mechanically due to repetitive submaximal stress. It is also known as “too much, too soon, too late” syndrome. But Bailey, I’m only running. This is a submaximal stress! How can I get a fracture?! Well, repetitive submaximal stress can cause an imbalance in your body’s ability to resorb bone and form bone. In this case, there is more bone resorption then formation. So even the smallest, most microscopic crack in a bone can progress and worsen under repetitive, submaximal stress. With tibial stress fractures, a runner will experience very localized tenderness directly on the bone. You may even feel a bony anomaly under your finger. Unlike MTSS, you will probably experience pain immediately when you start running in a very point-specific spot. If you suspect a fracture, PLEASE STOP and seek a medical opinion!

Bailey Gresham is a registered physiotherapist for Whole Therapy. She specializes in manual therapy and movement-based therapy. She likes bridging the gap between rehabilitation and performance training.  More about Bailey here.

Bailey

 

 

 

April 8, 2015
lovin' the new kicks.

lovin’ the new kicks.

Last night, I laced up my new sneakers and went for my first run of the season.  Here’s a snippet of my inner monologue:

Oh wow. Amazing. These shoes feel so comfy; I can’t wait to tackle this run!

Ugh. Definitely not moving as well as I did the last time I ran. It’s ok. Keep on trucking. It’ll improve.

Ok I have a cramp. It’s probably time to take a br- what? It’s only been 3 minutes?  Gah…

The cramp is gone but I can feel my belly shaking. This is both motivating and extremely depressing.  Go away, flab! Go away!  I’ll bet my butt is jiggling too…

Oh I love running.  It’s been 12 minutes and I’m starting to settle in. I’m getting that good running feeling! I can still feel that cramp.  Shut up, head, enjoy this. Oh I love running!

…and on it went for 30 minutes until I was a sweaty, happy, smiling mess.

Although it may not seem like it from my inner monologue, running has been my mental health savior these past few years.  I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can  remember, and when I discovered running, I opened the door to a remedy that could never be found in a pill bottle.

As a kid and teenager I was a total running failure. I would be the one walking around the track as the others sprinted effortlessly.  I would hide behind the portables on track and field day.  I avoided team sports and gym.  I wasn’t built to be a runner: at 5’ tall and 25 lbs overweight, I was stocky, pear-shaped, and completely unsuited to the activity.

Fast-forward a few years. I’m about to turn 21, living on my own for the first time, in a sucky relationship, and have a new job as a Personal Trainer. I’m still overweight (although strong and generally healthy), and I’m feeling self-conscious about being unable to run in my current position as a health role-model.

I decided to train for a sprint triathlon.

While the odds were against me, I toiled and sweated and inner-monologued myself to the edge over three months of intense training.  I learned that running was a place to sort out my problems.  I learned about my body’s language, and began to appreciate how my body worked for me when I fed it running fuel and stretched after my runs.

I lost weight. The months leading up to that initial triathlon saw me drop 10 % body fat.  I no longer felt like a fat Personal Trainer. I felt like a good, healthy role model for my clients.

My first triathlon.  I did it!

My first triathlon. I did it!

Fast forward another few years.  Running has given rise to peace from anxiety attacks, quality time for self-reflection, and accomplishment from achievements.  I started with 5k and progressed to half marathons.  I got my Mum involved in running, too (she now puts me to shame and runs at least two full marathons a year).

I use running to both escape and connect.  When I had a miscarriage a few years ago, running helped me get through it.  Running has allowed me to evolve as a businesswoman and make better, more solid decisions for my team.

I will lace up my sneakers again tomorrow, and venture out again.  Eventually, I know that my inner monologue will quiet down and let me enjoy a peaceful silence in my mind.

Until then, I’m embracing the journey.

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen