Physical Therapy News

Barefoot running, what’s it all about?

Barefoot running, what’s it all about?

Barefoot running has been a hot topic for a few years now, and the trend is steadily gaining momentum. Research has shown both benefits and risks to this style of natural (or minimal) running, and there’s still a lot to be decided. If you’ve been thinking about trying to run barefoot it takes some getting used to. Here’s what you should know before hitting the road.

Getting started
Don’t think you can just take your shoes off and head out for a quick 2 mile jaunt. You use different muscles when you run barefoot, and your feet aren’t used to the rocks, sticks, and other hard debris on the road. You want to make sure you start out slowly. Run indoors, build your foot strength, then build your way up to running in the grass or using a barefoot shoe.

Potential Benefits of Barefoot Running
– Increased strength in muscles, tendons, and ligaments will lead to a more natural gait
– Barefoot running allows you to spread your toes while your foot becomes a stronger and steadier base, thus improving your balance
– When the heel of the shoe is absent it allows your Achilles tendon and calf muscles to stretch, potentially leading to less chances for injury

Potential Risks of Barefoot Running
– No foot protection means you have to be cautious of rocks, broken glass and other debris in the road, as well as cold or freezing temperatures
– You may experience pain or blistering initially, especially if you don’t start out slowly because your muscles and skin aren’t used to the change in padding and foot strike

Benefits vs Risk

So, should you give barefoot running a try, or stick with your padded running shoes? Well, the answer isn’t so black and white. Harvard recently did an extensive study that showed barefoot runners are typically less prone to foot and ankle injuries, but the real reason for less injury may be how we run, as opposed to what we’re running in. Runners in shoes tend to strike the ground with their heels, sending a spike through the ankles, knees, and up through the spine. Heel strikers are nearly two times more likely to injure themselves over people who strike with the middle or front of their foot. 

Barefoot runners tend to land on the middle or front of their foot, utilizing the body’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which create natural shock absorbers, eliminating that spike of force.

So, it’s all about form?
Injury prevention strongly relies on proper form, whether you’re in shoes or not. In fact, incorrect running form can lead to all sorts of issues like knee pain and low back pain. A video Gait Analysis is an ideal way to critique your run patterns and correct any issues. We offer a series of options for runners who would like to have their form and gait checked out. Our Precision Running Workshops are held every few months and every attendee has their run patterns videotaped, plus these workshops are free! In addition, our RunFit 5k training programs have weekly educational topics worked in, including lessons on form and run patterns. If you’d like a more in-depth look, we offer a running gait analysis which is a one-on-one consultation with one of our physical therapists that specializes in sport rehab. They’ll conduct a video gait analysis and look at your run patterns closely to determine potential weaknesses. We also have custom orthotics and foot and ankle specialists in each location.

With better form you can run faster, more efficiently, and with less chance for injury. When it comes to running, Northern has you covered. 

Swim Personal Training :: Now Offered in Grand Rapids

Swim Personal Training :: Now Offered in Grand Rapids

Have you been wishing your triathlon swim times were faster? Looking to take the competition to the next level? Swim Personal Training is just the thing to get you there, and we’re thrilled to offer it at the Northview Fitness Center Pool.

Ideal for triathletes who want to improve their stroke technique and race strategy, competitive swimmers trying to improve their performance or recover from an injury, any athlete wanting an intense workout in a change of scenery, or the person looking for a low impact general fitness program.

Swim Personal Training services can include:
– Detailed stroke technique analysis and revision
– Over and underwater high-def video recording and slow motion analysis
– Triathlon and competitive swimming race strategy counseling
– Deep water lap lane conditioning and stroke drills
– Shallow or deep water strength building exercises

Meet the instructor, Kelsey Wilterink

Kelsey grew up in Rockford, Michigan where she began swimming competitively and playing water polo in 7th grade. By the time she graduated six years later, she had won two state championships on the water polo team, set three swimming school records and earned over a dozen All-American honors for race times in the top 100 across the country. She was also given the Female Athlete of the Year award for Rockford High School. She continued her swimming career at Grand Valley State University on a full ride scholarship, and in three years she set three school records and placed in the top-16 at nationals 12 times. Having battled shoulder injuries throughout her aquatics career, she understands how crucial perfect technique is, as well developing the emotional and mental strength required to overcome obstacles and achieve top performance potential. Since graduating with honors and a B.S. In Clinical Exercise Science and a Spanish minor, she has worked in swim coaching, youth residential rehabilitation, lifeguarding, teaching water safety and swim lessons, physical therapy tech, and personal training. In her free time she enjoys doing triathlons, traveling, cooking, and helping her husband restore their 150 year old farmhouse. 

Program Details
Swim Personal Training sessions are available in 3 packs for $135, or 10 packs for $350. Discounts are available for groups of two. Sessions are available by appointment during fitness center hours. Please note, clients must be able to swim 25 yards and tread water for 30 seconds to participate. Call 616.365.6140 or stop by the Northerview Fitness Center to get signed up.

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Red, White, and Blue Fruit Smoothie

Red, White, and Blue Fruit Smoothie

Looking for a refreshing, but healthy, treat for the holiday weekend? This smoothie tastes great and it’s packed full of fresh fruits. Enjoy!

1/2 banana, cut into pieces and freeze ahead of time
2 large strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons vanilla yogurt
2 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in the blender, blend until smooth

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