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Safe Running & Strategies for Preventing Injury

Safe Running & Strategies for Preventing Injury

Every runner is going to suffer an injury, pain, or imbalance at some point, but that doesn’t have to stop you from hitting the pavement. Proper form and strength training can prevent injuries, and  improve your performance, form and control.

We work with runners every single day and we see countless shin splints, ACL issues, stress fractures, pulled muscles, and random aches and pains. While our end goal is to get you feeling great and running your best, with no pain, it’s ideal to avoid these injuries in the first place – and proper planning can help. Every runner, beginner or advanced, should take the following injury-prevention strategies into account.

Safe Running & Strategies for Preventing InjuryStart Right
Warm up with a brisk walk or running drills, and then begin the more rigorous parts of your workout as your muscles begin to feel activated. If you’re just starting a running regimen, your routine should include stretching after running.

Identify Weakness
Every runner has some type of inefficiency in their form. It may be subtle, but finding those issues will uncover opportunities to make the body stronger and ready for more strenuous training. Physical therapists can identify these weak points through a gait analysis. By watching you run on a treadmill and examining your alignment, we can see where you need to strengthen muscles, adjust form, improve your shoe wear, or reduce impact in order to become a more efficient runner. When runners can see a knee drift inward, they can visualize the correction and activate muscles to offset the poor form.
Safe Running & Strategies for Preventing Injury

There are a few areas any non-injured runner can target to run more efficiently. Endurance runners may have underdeveloped hamstrings, so targeting the hamstrings with strengthening exercises may help. In addition, a single-leg balance or single-leg squat is a low impact exercise that pushes the body to build strength, balance, and coordination in the muscle groups most used while running.

Beginner Strategies
Starting a new running regimen? That’s great, but be careful because novice runners will have to adjust to the impact on their joints. A beginner shouldn’t start with 5 to 7 runs each week. Instead, replace several of these runs with biking, swimming, or time on the elliptical. Each of these activities builds cardiovascular endurance and strength without stressing the joints too much too soon.

Safe Running & Strategies for Preventing Injury

Big-Picture Training
Running shouldn’t be the end of your exercise regimen. Strength training can improve your running. Strength in your core and hips, flexibility, and coordination all factor into your performance, so make improving these areas part of training, too. Whether you devote hours each week to running, or run occasionally to maintain a basic level of fitness, a physical therapist can make sure you do so safely.

If you are experiencing shin splints, foot or ankle pain, knee pain, sprains, muscle imbalance, or any other type of pain when running, schedule a free consultation with us so we can take a look at your form and set up a program specifically for you.Safe Running & Strategies for Preventing Injury

Safe Running & Strategies for Preventing Injury

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Five Ways Your Posture is Hurting You

Five Ways Your Posture is Hurting You

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of having poor posture…I’m right there with you. In fact, poor posture habits are something that most of us are guilty of from time to time. Have you ever really stopped to consider the consequences your body suffers as a result? Now that we so often have a smartphone or tablet in our hands, we spend even more time in a hunched position. These postures can have detrimental effects on our spine and the surrounding joints and soft tissues.

When you look at the spine from the side, you’ll see that it’s not straight up and down, it has several curves that create an “S” shape, which is important for absorbing the stress placed on our bodies. When we lose those normal curves due to continued poor posture, it can cause pain. The lower back and the neck have a normal backward curve and the upper back has a forward curve. Postural dysfunction occurs when the normal curves increase or decrease, leading to pain in and around your spine.

A common postural issue we often see in physical therapy is a forward head posture. A forward head posture is seen when the earlobe sits in front of the tip of the shoulder, causing an increased curve in your upper back. Over time, these poor postures can cause the following problems that often lead patients to seek physical therapy:

Five Ways Your Posture is Hurting You1. Headaches
When you lose the normal backward curve of your neck, and your cervical spine straightens or begins to curve forward, ultimately placing stress on the muscles, leading to headaches. Additionally, the nerves and joints in the upper neck can be compressed, causing pain in the neck and into the head as well.

2. Shoulder impingement
When the forward curve of your upper back increases, your shoulder blades sit more forward and higher on your back. When raising your arms overhead, your shoulder blade rotates a certain way to allow full shoulder motion. When the position of your shoulder blade changes, this rotation can decrease and you are now at an increased risk of pinching the tendons in your shoulder when you raise your arm overhead. This is called shoulder impingement and it can lead to pain and the break down of these tendons, increasing your chance of tendon tears.

3. Jaw pain
Pain in and around the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is common with forward head posture due to abnormal stress placed on the mandible (lower jaw bone) and the soft tissues around your TMJ. If you compensate for the loss of your cervical curve with head extension, the muscles that open your mouth are stretched and your mouth will rest in an open position. In order to keep your mouth closed at rest, the muscles that close your mouth will work extra hard which can cause pain in the cheeks, head, and jaw. Additionally, increased stress on the soft tissues around the TMJ can cause pain and clicking or popping.

Five Ways Your Posture is Hurting You4. Neck pain
Loss of the cervical curve will place increased tension on the ligaments along the back of the neck. This increased tension can lead to the formation of bone spurs where these ligaments attach, as well as an increased chance of tears in your discs, leading to herniated discs. Bone spurs and herniated discs can affect the nerves that run from your spinal cord in your neck to your arms, causing pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness.

5. Respiratory dysfunction
In order to take a nice deep breath, the lungs need room to expand. When your posture is hunched forward, your ribs have less ability to move and expand, causing more shallow breathing patterns and excessive use of the accessory breathing muscles in your neck. This type of breathing pattern can further contribute to neck pain and have serious effects for people with underlying respiratory disorders.

We’re here to help
The good news? Physical therapy can help reverse all these issues. We’re trained in manual therapy techniques to stretch and mobilize your tight soft tissues and joints and we can show you exercises designed to strengthen your weak muscles to improve your overall posture and movement. To request an appointment for a free consultation, click here!

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Preventing Golf Injuries

Preventing Golf Injuries

This year we waited way too long for warmer weather to arrive but now that it’s finally here, it’s time to dust the clubs off and get your golf game back into motion. But, there’s nothing worse than starting the season off with an injury or nagging back pain.

We’ve found that golfers of all levels agree that it’s much easier to make a mechanically correct swing when their body is strong and flexible. Getting your body in shape for the season ahead involves three components:
– maintaining and improving flexibility
– improving golf specific strength
– improving postural balance and stability

Preventing Golf InjuriesFlexibility & Strengthening Exercises
Now is the time to begin a stretching and strengthening program for your neck, back and extremities. Increasing joint flexibility can lengthen your swing and increase the club head speed, resulting in longer shots. We work with golfers throughout the season who complain of back pain, tendonitis, and other localized pain in the neck and elbow. The first thing we do is assess their range of motion and create a customized stretching program specifically for the areas that are bothering them.

We’ve listed the most common injuries along with stretching tips to help prevent or reduce pain and/or injuries resulting from the repetitive nature of the golf swing paired with the high velocity forces.

Medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow)
Golfer’s elbow involves increased inflammation and pain on the inside of the elbow.  Try extending and flexing the wrist, and rotating your wrist clockwise and counter-clockwise to strengthen and stretch it.

Preventing Golf Injuries

Shoulder tendonitis, or “rotator cuff tendonitis”
This can be a chronic problem for people who have tightness or weak areas within their shoulders. Start with the cross chest stretch by bringing your injured arm across your body then place your other hand on your elbow and hold the stretch. You can also stand upright and clasp your hands behind your back. Keep your arms straight and slowly lift your hands upwards. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat it 2 to 3 times.

Low back pain
Back pain is the most common issue that we treat when it comes to golfers because the golf swing combines unnatural spinal movements. The following stretch is great for increasing flexibility in the low back. Begin by lying on your left side, bend both knees 90 degrees, resting the right knee on top of the left. Extend both arms straight out from the shoulders, resting the left arm on the floor, right arm on top of the left. Slowly raise your right arm off your left, up and over your body until it is resting on the floor behind you, creating a twist in your upper body. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, and repeat the exercise by lying on your right side.

Neck Pain
The ability to comfortably and fully tuck and rotate your chin is necessary to achieve a good swing position. Limitations in flexibility or range of motion can cause muscle strain or nerve pinching. To help alleviate the stress on the neck, try gently rotating your neck from side to side and front to back, twice per day for twenty seconds.

Preventing Golf Injuries

Being aware of your posture and physically preparing your body are key elements to achieving a pain free golf game. If you have questions concerning golf-related injuries, or would like to schedule a free consultation, feel free to contact the Northern Physical Therapy near you to speak to a physical therapist. We work with golfers, athletes, and people suffering from pain – our goal is to get you back to feeling great and living a pain free life!

Preventing Golf Injuries

Preventing Golf InjuriesPreventing Golf Injuries

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