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Running Skills: A Talent Or Ability That Comes From Training And Practice - By AJ Sobrilsky & Jason Lunden 

By AJ Sobrilsky
aj@excelptmt.com

Who’s ever picked up a golf club and tried to knock it stiff from 130 yards out? That’s a tough feat to accomplish; a skill one might say. In fact, I’d argue that consistently hitting a golf ball where you want it to go and how you want it to look is one of the most difficult skills to develop.

That’s probably why most professional golfers, and high caliber athletes across the sports world, spend more time practicing and developing the skills of their specific sport than they do truly competing and playing. In fact, in David Epstein’s book “The Sports Gene,” there is a lot of discussion about practice, talent, and the genetics surrounding athletic performance. This is a highly recommend read or listen to if you’re looking for a good new book and it might help us all understand a little better our true capabilities and athletic realities (He also has a lot of podcasts as well as a Ted talk. Click here to listen

In the running world, there are those few individuals born with a unique physiological make up and a somewhat specific set of anatomical ingredients that lend them performance capabilities. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t specific contributors to performance and skill development that can’t be modified, practiced, and fine-tuned to become your own best version of yourself. Sure the best runners are the ones spending a lot of time running and logging a lot of miles. Which leads a lot of us to come to the conclusion that in order to be our own best we need to run a lot. While increasing volume will improve your economy and times to some degree, it’s ultimately not the best solution. 

The old fallacy of more is better doesn’t hold true, at least not always. We can put time and effort into developing a bigger engine (cardio system, stronger muscles, more resilient mental game), but if we can’t control that engine and the forces it’s willing to produce, it’s useless. For instance, it’d be a bad idea to strap a jet engine onto a paper airplane or try to shoot a cannonball from a canoe. We need the right structure, skillset, and control to put these ingredients and tools to effective use. 

 

What do the best athletes in the world have in common (beyond the best genes)? They train, refine, retool, and practice the skills required for their specific activity. Unlike a lot of other sports, running doesn’t have a whole lot of diverse movements like soccer or climbing. This ultimately confines our exposure to different movements and limits our breadth of exposure and adaptability to forces outside the confines of the running gait. On the other side it also means we have a pretty consistent recipe or set of instructions for developing the best gait pattern and running movement strategy (all relatively dependent on our own unique set of factors). 

 

Jay Dicharry, a leading physical therapist and biomechanics researcher, delivers this message well when he says, “There are a lot of things that all runners of all abilities should be doing outside running to improve their running. If you want to run better, you need to move better”.  Essentially that the winner isn’t always the one who stacks up the most Strava KOM/QOM’s but rather the ones who have put time into developing and practicing the essential movement skills; allowing them to avoid injuries and ultimately providing optimal consistency in training.  

Running is essentially a fluid series of single leg jumps. The ability to produce enough force to drive your leg into the ground and propel yourself up and forward. To then coordinate the appropriate movements in the flight phase (while you’re going from step to step) in preparation for landing. And to then absorb 2-3 times your body’s weight through one leg, restoring that energy, and preparing to do it all over again in less than 0.4 seconds for each and every step throughout the duration of the run.  

 

So yes, running is a skill. What can you do to move better and become a more skilled runner? 

 

Before we dive into the specifics on the ingredients and tools required to address the skills of running, here are a few key essential components to practice during your next few runs:

 

  • Don’t Overstride: A lot of runners make the mistake of overstriding: putting their foot out too far in front of their center of mass. When a runner overstrides or reach, they increase their braking impulse and essentially slow themselves down with each strike. This is an inefficient way to run and significantly increases the amount of impact your body has to absorb. Therefore, overstriding can often lead to injury.  To avoid overstriding, avoid reaching your leg forward and try to strike just in front of your center of mass.
  • Cadence: Cadence is the number of steps you take while running. A slower cadence (or taking fewer steps per run) can be indicative of overstriding. Therefore, working on your cadence can be one way to improve your efficiency and reduce overstriding. Every runner will have a different cadence, but in general efficient runners run with a cadence between 176-188 steps/min. To work on your cadence, use a metronome app or setting on your watch and try and time your foot strikes to the beat of a metronome for 2-3 minutes. Then relax into your run for 2-3 minutes. Repeat 3-5x throughout your run.  Remember this is a drill to improve skill, so use it as a drill and don’t perform with every run or for your entire run.
  • Try not to bounce:  Much like overstriding, a bouncy gait is inefficient and can lead to injury. If you have a bouncy run, you are wasting energy pushing up rather than pushing forward. This also means your mass is landing from a higher height, increasing impact.  To avoid a bouncy gait, drive your leg back pushing you forward and not up. Centering your gaze on a landmark ahead of you and as you run try and keep the landmark as still as possible .
  • Drive from the hip and push from the ankle: The gluteus maximus is the biggest muscle in the human body. This is a big ingredient in the recipe to effectively and efficiently drive us forward with each step.  Sometimes runners rely too much on their calves and quads to propel them. This typically leads to overstriding and the bouncy gait described earlier. Therefore maximize your running efficiency by driving from the hip using the gluteus maximus; making sure not to arch at the lower back. Practice striding by driving/pushing from the glutes while stabilizing through your core to avoid your back from arching.

Here at Excel PT, Our running physical therapist team works with runners every day in our Running Clinic. It’s like a specialized clinic within a clinic. We’re here to help you develop these strategies to help improve your running skills and performance as well as help you prevent injury. 

 

 

excel_faviconAJ Sobrilsky, DPT, OCS is a Physical Therapist and Orthopedic Clinical Specialist in our Bozeman clinic.  AJ specializes in the rehabilitation and prevention of orthopedic sports related injuries with a specific interest in the management of those involving the upper and lower extremities. AJ has been a lifelong athlete, competing in cross-country and track through college and then racing competitively post collegiately. As a result of his personal experiences and passions, AJ has focused his continued education and clinical development around the athletic individual with an emphasis in: running, skiing, and climbing related injuries. AJ has had the opportunity to provide care for an array of athletic populations including youth sports teams, high school and collegiate athletes, and those competing at professional and Olympic levels.

 

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Jason Lunden, DPT, SCS specializes in the rehabilitation and prevention of sports-related injuries, with a particular interest in the biomechanics of sporting activities – running, cycling, skiing, snowboarding and overhead athletics in our Bozeman clinic. Jason is a Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy and serves as a physical therapist for the US Snowboarding and US Freeskiing teams, along with the US Paralympic Nordic Ski Team, and is a local and national presenter on sports rehabilitation and injury prevention topics. Jason is a Certified Clinical BikeFit Pro Fitter and co-owner of Excel Physical Therapy.

 

 

Nikki Kimball's Training At Home Advice

By Nikki Kimball
nikki@excelptmt.com

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Nikki Kimball ‘s PT training at home advice: Don’t forget the core! We are lucky in Bozeman, Montana to have enough space to continue walking, running, biking and skiing, at safe social distances, outside. That said, our ability to perform outdoor sports and activities can always be improved through exercises that can be done at home. Use this time to make a lasting habit of core exercise, sport-specific drills or body maintenance work (think foam rolling).

For runners, Molly Huddle has some great ideas in a recent Runner’s World online article: https://zcu.io/vPQ0

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Nikki Kimball, MSPT is a member of the Excel Physical Therapy running specialist PT team. Click here to learn more about the Excel Running Clinic.

Welcome Nikki Kimball, MSPT to the Excel PT Team!

By Tiffany Coletta
tiffany@excelptmt.com

Excel Physical Therapy team is proud to welcome Nikki Kimball, MSPT to the team. One-on-one specialized physical therapy with the ultra running expert dedicated to helping people.

Nikki Kimball is a Physical Therapist, Runner’s World Health Advisory Board Member, 2008-2016, Professional Runner, and a RRCA Certified Running Coach.

Nikki specializes in the treatment in running injuries and has been treating runners since 1999. She graduated with her MS degree in physical therapy from Arcadia University in 1998 and won the school’s Health Sciences’ Alumni Achievement Award in 2017 for her work integrating professional running, physical therapy and advocacy for people with mental illness. She is certified in ASTYM soft tissue mobilization and in dry needling. She has been an expedition physical therapist for running events in Africa, China and India.

Prior to her professional running career, Nikki was a cross country skier and biathlete. She raced NCAA Division I for Williams College where she won the Alumnae Ski Award two times. In 2018 she won the Distinguished Alumni Award at Holderness School for her using her athletic achievements as a platform to provide service “for the betterment of humankind” in areas of advocacy for health care and gender equity. She is a three-time North American Ultrarunner of the Year and three-time United States Track and Field Association Ultrarunner of the Year. She has won 11 National Championship titles and has been named to 14 US National Teams across three athletic disciplines.

Nikki presents on exercise prescription and physical therapy at psychiatric and adventure sports medicine conferences on the west coast and Rocky Mountain states. She has spoken professionally about running and injury prevention on three continents and at the US Embassy in Beijing, China. She has published articles in major print sports magazines in Asia, Europe and the US, including 13 pieces on injury prevention for Runner’s World. She has appeared in various films including a starring role in the regional Emmy winning feature, Finding Traction

Her treatment philosophy is to combine her physical therapy training and continuing education with decades of practical experience as a high-level competitor and coach to achieve the best possible results, particularly in the realm of complex running injury. When not working or adventuring, Nikki enjoys archery, wire sculpting, and cooking at home with her friends and pets.

Call the Excel Physical Therapy Bozeman office, 406-556-0562 to schedule your physical therapy appointment with Nikki.

 

The Runner’s Arch Nemesis by Megan Kemp, DPT, ATC, CSCS

By Megan Kemp
megank@excelptmt.com

Summer is finally here and with it comes all of the fun outdoor activities we love doing. But what if your best laid intentions to get outside are derailed with sore feet? Did you know that physical therapy is an effective treatment option for foot pain? 

Foot pain is generally multi-faceted. There is rarely one simple cause for the pain, nor is there often a quick fix. However, there are often some common themes that put you at a higher risk for pain. One common cause is reduced mobility at one of the multiple joints of the foot/ankle complex. Decreased mobility at one joint can lead to excessive mobility at other joints throughout the foot. It is common for hyper- or hypomobility to be a pain generator for the foot. Another common cause is decreased strength or motor control of important stabilizing muscles throughout the lower extremity. This can change the way your foot absorbs shock or pushes off, thus putting excess stress on parts of the foot that weren’t designed to take that excess stress. Altered biomechanics of the lower extremity throughout the gait cycle are another common cause of pain. 

Physical therapists are highly trained experts in recognizing faulty biomechanics throughout the body. By recognizing where the faulty mechanics lie, you can then effectively treat the root cause of your pain rather than simply the symptoms. This is helpful in not only reducing your pain, but giving you the tools to treat it in the future should your pain creep back into your life. At Excel Physical Therapy, we also specialize in affordable, semi-custom orthotics that are specially designed to your unique foot structure. Orthotics can help place your foot in it’s optimal biomechanical position to reduce stress and optimize function.

If you have foot pain, the physical therapists at Excel Physical Therapy can help! We provide a specialized approach to physical therapy that provides the most effective manual, orthopedic, and sports therapy treatments, allowing our patients to return to their highest level of function as quickly as possible. We have proudly been serving the Gallatin Valley in both Bozeman and Manhattan since 2001. Call us today to schedule an appointment!

 

excel-LOGO-XMegan Kemp, DPT, ATC, CSCS, a Gallatin Valley native and graduate of Manhattan Christian High School, received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Montana. She graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California and is a board-certified athletic trainer through the National Athletic Trainer’s Association. Megan also completed training from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. She has served as an adjunct faculty member at Point Loma Nazarene University in their Masters of Kinesiology program. Prior to obtaining her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, Megan worked as an athletic trainer at Point Loma Nazarene University. Megan Kemp practices in our Manhattan office.


Physical Therapy as a Means for Prevention 

By Matt Schumacher, DPT, MTC, CAFS, CSCS
matts@excelptmt.com

What do you think of when you hear physical therapy? Most individuals may have experienced or know of someone who experienced physical therapy with a past injury or surgery. This is the bread and butter of what we do as physical therapists through rehabilitating individuals back to what they love to do; however, most people do not know the benefits of seeing a physical therapist for “prehabilitation” or wellness checkups prior to a possible or potential injury from occurring.  

Just as one goes to the dentist for a biannual checkup for prevention of possible future dental issues, physical therapy has and can be an option for the public in addressing possible musculoskeletal impairments, muscle strength deficits, and range of motion deficits in the body. As most of us all know, exercise has been suggested to aid in multiple health benefits such as preventing chronic disease, boosting mental health, increasing overall longevity, reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, and improving bone health –  just to name a few. As orthopedic physical therapists, we are trained and knowledgeable in rehabilitation and appropriate exercise prescription following injury and/or surgery, but we are also trained in injury prevention by providing patients and clients resources for reducing their chance of an injury. 

As spring is approaching and we are gearing up for the beautiful Montana summer, physical therapy may be of benefit to you or someone you know to increase your chances of a healthy, active, and injury-free year. It is typically easier to address these possible impairments before an injury may emerge versus after an injury has occurred. Most everyone, including you, may benefit from a “biannual checkup” with physical therapy! 

 

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Matt Schumacher, DPT, MTC, CAFS, CSCS received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND where he was recognized as a nominee for Outstanding Student Award in his physical therapy class demonstrating excellence in academics, volunteering, and servant leadership. Following graduation, he received training from Gray Institute with a Certification in Applied Functional Science (CAFS). Matt also completed a rigorous year-long program with Evidence in Motion (EIM) achieving his Manual Therapy Certification (MTC) gaining advanced training in mobilization and manipulation techniques for common diagnoses of the spine and extremities. Matt specializes in assisting individuals following post-operative rehabilitation, sports medicine rehabilitation, and orthopedic injuries/ailments of the spine and extremities utilizing advanced knowledge and skill with manual therapy and appropriate exercise prescription. 

Running Experts Forum 2019 • April 17th @ 6:30pm

By Tiffany Coletta
tiffany@excelptmt.com

Community Education Series – free and open to all 

 

Running Experts Forum

 

Join us for an interactive, moderated panel discussion with Bozeman’s running experts about ALL things running. Door Prizes!

 

Wednesday, April, 17, 2019

6:30-7:30pm

Bozeman Public Library Community Room

Follow this event on Facebook!

 

Panel discussion topics to include: 

Injury Prevention • Running mechanics • Training tips & techniques • Shoe selection • Foot strike pattern • Staying motivated • Answering your questions! 

 

Panel Guests:

  • Our first panel guest is a Montana State University distance coach! Hear a coach’s perspective on training, technique, and injury prevention.

  • James Becker, PhD is an assistant professor at MSU in the Health and Human Development program. His research interests include biomechanical aspects of human performance and biomechanical factors contributing to orthopedic injuries and he has published numerous articles on running mechanics and running related injuries.  

  • Erika Rauk is a registered dietician and also has a masters degree in exercise physiology and sports nutrition. 

  • Nikki Kimball is an elite ultramarathon runner with numerous national titles, physical therapist and a longstanding member of the “Runners World” magazine advisory board. 

  • Jason Lunden, Sports Clinical Specialist, Physical Therapist and co-owner of Excel Physical Therapy 

  • Moderated by Megan Peach, Physical Therapist & Orthopedic Clinical Specialist at Excel Physical Therapy

Do you have a running question you’d like the panel to answer at the forum? Post your question on our Facebook event page. While you’re there, check out the Relax & Run Giveaway contest on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Post a question, like/follow us and enter to win a free 60-minute Excel Massage!

Seating is limited to 100 attendees. For more information, contact Megan Peach, DPT, OCS, CSCS at 406.556.0562 or megan@excelptmt.com.

  

Exercise Induced Muscle Cramps: Kind of a Big Dill

By Megan Peach, DPT, OCS, CSCS
megan@excelptmt.com

You know the feeling. You can see the finish line but you can’t get there because of a sudden onset of a muscle cramp in your calf that is demanding you stop. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance were originally thought to be the cause of muscle cramping; the current theory is one of central regulation. In other words, muscle fatigue or stress create an imbalance in signals from the muscle to the central nervous system. As a result, the central nervous system alters motor neuron control and signals the muscle to continue to contract resulting in a cramp. Factors thought to be related to exercise induced muscle cramps include prolonged activity, muscle fatigue, increased exercise intensity, high levels of static stretching prior to exercise, and multiple high intensity workout days prior to competition. Muscle cramps often resolve as spontaneously as they occur, and usually within a few seconds to a couple of minutes. Suggested treatment of a muscle cramp includes rest, prolonged stretching with the muscle at full length, and pickle juice! You might think that pickle juice is related to electrolyte imbalance, but a new theory suggests that certain molecules in pickle juice (or other pungent foods) attach to receptors in the mouth and upper GI tract that are directly connected with the central nervous system. These receptors help the central nervous system to reduce the signal to the cramping muscle, therefore diminishing the cramp and your discomfort. So the next time the end is in sight but a muscle cramp is holding you back, grab your pickle juice. Because finishing a race is an accomplishment – it’s kind of a big dill.

Murray B. How curiosity killed the cramp: emerging science on the cause and prevention of exercise-associated muscle cramps. AMAA Journal 2016; Fall/Winter: 5-7.

 

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Megan Peach, DPT, OCS, CSCS specializes in manual treatment of spinal dysfunction, as well as knee and shoulder pain and is a member of the Excel Physical Therapy running specialist PT team. Megan’s philosophy for physical therapy treatment embraces educating patients about the tools they need for enhancement of proper body movements during work and play to promote a pain and injury free active lifestyle. 

Sharing Running Training Principles from The Excel PT Running Camp

By Megan Peach, DPT, OCS, CSCS
megan@excelptmt.com

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Excel Physical Therapy recently hosted our biennial Running Camp that reviewed the mechanics of running, training principles, and footwear to help you stay injury free during your summer running program. As it turns out, errors in training are responsible for up to 70% of running injuries.  In case you missed it, here’s a re-cap of the training principles we discussed to help reduce the risk of injury: 

  • Avoid year-long training 
  • Avoid running more than 40 miles per week 
  • Train two or more but less than 5 days per week Rest days are important! 
  • Increase mileage by no more than 10% every 2-weeks 
  • Stretch daily to ensure normal joint mobility 
  • Do strength training exercises for your core 2-3 days per week 

As runners, up to 90% of us will sustain an injury over the course of our running careers that temporarily prevents us from running. Proper training principles will help to reduce the risk of injury and improve your chances of a successful running program. 

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Megan Peach, DPT, OCS, CSCS specializes in manual treatment of spinal dysfunction, as well as knee and shoulder pain and is a member of the Excel Physical Therapy running specialist PT team. Megan’s philosophy for physical therapy treatment embraces educating patients about the tools they need for enhancement of proper body movements during work and play to promote a pain and injury free active lifestyle. 

BSD7 Running Camp Workshop helps raise funds for Bozeman Schools Foundation

By Tiffany Coletta
tiffany@excelptmt.com

Megan Peach and Jason Lunden were honored to offer a private Running Injury Prevention Workshop for Bozeman School District employees this month in our Bozeman office. We hosted this 2 hour workshop for a nominal fee and raised $186. The Excel Physical Therapy leadership team chose to donate this total amount, paid by district employees, to the Bozeman School Foundation in honor of the inspiring and dedicated teachers and staff of Bozeman School District. 

Giving back to our community is important to the entire Excel Physical Therapy team and a key part of our mission and core values. Learn more how we support our community in other ways here: https://excelptmt.com/our-team/community/

"I thought everybody was great. Danell is very helpful and friendly (in the front office). Jason really tried to help with the nerve damage in my leg." --B.G., Bozeman Patient

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