Welcome to the #LifeCantWait Blog, SPEAR Physical Therapy’s official stream for fitness tips, exercise advice, and healthy lifestyle inspiration. Our articles and features are written by our physical therapists and staff members with your progress in mind. Designed to educate and motivate, SPEAR’s #LifeCantWait Blog exists to share your stories and help you get back to life! Disclaimer
Whether you’re a novice beginner or a seasoned long-distance runner, shopping for running attire can be a daunting task. With so many options, it may be difficult to determine the best options. Have no fear: our resident running expert is here! We sat down with Carley Schleien, PT, DPT, for a quick Q&A session to point you in the right direction during your next shopping trip— save this Quick Tip Guide for reference on-the-go!
What should I look for when choosing a running shoe?
Running shoes can be one of the most difficult and confusing items to purchase. Many types of shoes exist, ranging from neutral ones, to stiffer shoes, to more minimalist pairs. The most important factor to consider is comfort! Overall, running shoes should support the foot and allow the runner’s muscles to naturally engage and activate properly, rather than trying to do the jobs and functions of those muscles.
It is recommended to try on the shoe at the store and walk around; if simply walking around in them is uncomfortable, it is best not to purchase that particular shoe. You should also consider a shoe with a minimal heel drop (6 millimeters or less). Neutral components are most beneficial for runners, as they will allow you to use a more natural running gait pattern.
For a more in-depth recommendation, there are running shoe companies and stores that offer mini analyses to evaluate your running gait. A store associate can then better propose specific shoe types based on your results.
What kind of clothing is best to wear?
There are a wide variety of clothing companies that manufacture running attire, including shirts, sports bras, shorts, leggings, and socks. Runners should attempt to try clothing on prior to running in them to ensure they feel comfortable, which is individualized to each runner. You’ll have the most success when you feel comfortable on your runs!
Are there additional items runners should be wearing at night (for visibility)?
Running shirts and jackets commonly come with reflective gear that is handy to use when running at night. Since the sun sets earlier in the winter, many runners will be running in the dark. It is vital to wear reflective gear when running at night to ensure that drivers and other pedestrians see you. Some runners even run with headlamps or flashlights as additional tools to notify others of their presence.
What can I wear to keep my things safe (keys/wallet/etc)?
Many products exist to help runners keep their valuables safe while running. Runners often choose between wearing a running armband phone sleeve or a running belt around their waist. Both types of products frequently come with pockets and compartments to store your keys, money, etc., and many belts come with sleeves that allow you to hook on your water bottle.
Is a fitness tracker worth utilizing?
Fitness trackers can be especially valuable when preparing and training for a timed or distance race. Runners may benefit from being able to record the length of their runs, their distances, and their pace. Trackers range in sophistication and can include features such as displaying heart rates, altitude/elevation gains, temperature, etc. There are also apps that runners can download on their phones to track pace, distance, and other metrics.
What additional items may be beneficial for runners at different levels?
One of the most important things to focus on while running is hydration. Runners should ensure that they have access to water while running, whether it’s carrying a water bottle or stopping at water fountains spaced throughout their run outdoors. When completing long distance runs, runners should also ensure proper nutrition with gel packs and energy gels in order to ensure proper electrolyte balance throughout the body.
Yoga is a very popular practice, and a growing trend over the past few years. A google search for ‘yoga classes’ in the New York City area alone yields plenty of results, from nearby classes to online tutorials you can follow along with at home. Originating from India, this form of exercise combines a physical and mental practice to bring harmony and stress relief. And with many types of yoga to choose from, including Hatha, Bikram, Astanga and more, it’s no wonder it’s taken off ! While yoga can be super beneficial, it can also cause issues or pain if not done properly. Phaeleau Cunneen, PT, CHT, OCS, shares his professional advice to ensure you’re practicely yoga safely to get the most out of your practice:
Pay Attention to Quality
Yoga has exploded in popularity and with that increase, many new yoga teachers have also come onto the scene, some with more experience than others. The quality of instruction, then, has been diluted a bit, so make sure you are working with an experienced and highly rated instructor. Don’t be afraid to speak to your instructor and find out more about their training and education.
Many yoga classes can be overcrowded, so that the instruction and attention to detail and form you receive is less than ideal. Try to find a yoga class with less students, or enough that you are able to receive some attention to your form as you practice.
You Don’t Have To Be The Valedictorian of Yoga
We are experiencing the rise of a fitness culture where more and more people want to be pushed beyond their limits by instructors, whether it be through P90X, CrossFit, boot camps, or tough mudders. While it’s admirable to want to push your personal limits, you should understand that safe (and effective) training takes time.
Many of us are walking around with slight disc bulges, even disc herniation. They are not always symptomatic, but that doesn’t mean that they are not there. Before practicing Yoga, consult a physical therapist to have your body mechanics evaluated. This way you can understand your body’s limits and any underlying conditions you may have. This will not only help your Yoga practice, but will also help you train up to the more challenging poses safely.
Most of us spend most of day with our neck in a forward head position – staring at a computer, looking down at our phone or iPad. The neck is in a flexed position for the majority of our waking hours. The after work we rush to class and go into a shoulder stand! The shoulder stand exerts extreme amount of posterior forces on the cervical spine.
Listen to Your Body
If you develop chronic pain from any form of exercise, stop! Don’t “suck it up” or listen to “no pain no gain” chants in your head. Do not continue doing something that is hurting your body because of peer pressure or because everyone else you know does it and it helps them.
Serious injuries can occur in any sport from improper form, improper supervision, poor strength and flexibility, and performing a stance or exercise that your body is not ready for.
Phaeleau’s Bottom Line: Although yoga benefits millions, it can lead to injury if you have an unknown preexisting condition, weakness to key stabilizers of the neck and shoulders, poor posture, and or poor flexibility. Listen to your body; it is smarter than you think it is. Chronic pain is often your body trying to tell you something. Your friendly neighborhood physical therapist can help translate!
Have you been experiencing pelvic pain lately? It may be due to stress! Pelvic Floor certified physical therapist Emma Codman, PT, DPT, wrote this informative post to help you identify triggers and treatment options:
Pelvic pain is a common condition affecting men and women. Pelvic pain can present itself in many ways, including but not limited to:
· Urinary– pain or burning in the bladder and pelvic region with urination
· Gastrointestinal– abdominal bloating, constipation, IBS
· Sexual– pain with intercourse
· Orthopedic– back or hip pain stemming from pelvic floor or hip muscle tension
Many different factors can impact prevalence and intensity of pain including stress. The body’s nervous system has 2 responses: rest and digest, which allows your body to perform life maintaining activities such as digestion, sleep, and using the bathroom, and fight or flight in response to stress which inhibits all “unnecessary” functions including digestion and urinary/bowel movements.
Skeletal muscles including pelvic floor muscles also respond to these cues from the nervous system by becoming tense with stress and relaxed with rest. This fight or flight state was once productive for our protection and survival in early years of evolution, however, in modern times with new stressors presenting themselves more often, the body can be in a state of fight or flight for a prolonged period of time. In this case, muscles might not be able to relax fully which can contribute to pelvic pain.
A pelvic floor physical therapist can perform an evaluation of the pelvic floor muscles and help release and stretch tight muscles to improve pain and muscle tension. They will also create a tailored stretching, mindfulness, and mobility program to help maintain and facilitate pelvic floor relaxation.
Techniques for calming the nervous system and relaxing the pelvic floor on your own:
3, 4, 5 Breaths
Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 5 seconds
This type of breathing helps calm the nervous system and improve overall stress over time.
There’s an app for that: try the Breathe app which uses music and sound to cue the breath for varying periods of time.
Focus on breathing in and out of the abdomen. When you inhale the belly should grow and when you exhale the belly will fall.
When you inhale into your belly, the air helps push the pelvic floor out and away from you which facilitates relaxation. When you exhale, your pelvic floor will passively retract into a neutral position.
Guided meditation involving paying attention to sensations throughout the body in a gradual sequence from head to toe. This facilitates total body awareness.
One of the most important ways to prevent injury is to make sure that you are allowing your body to adapt to the amount of running that you are doing, and take care of your body to prevent injury.
Here are 3 things runners can do to take care of their bodies & prevent injury:
Warm Up Dynamically Before You Run!
Most of us don’t like to warm up before we run. However, research has shown that a dynamic warm up is most effective in improving quadriceps strength, hamstring flexibility, and even vertical jumping ability.What is a dynamic warm up? It is series of sports specific movements that prepare the muscles for performance. Here are some ideas for what you can do on the streets of Manhattan before you run.
Click above to watch our Warm Up and Cool Down stretching video!
Stretch After You Run!
Stretching is important. It increases muscle flexibility and range of motion, signals your body to relax, and just feels really good. When you don’t stretch, your muscles can tighten up, stress your joints and change the way you move. Now, you shouldn’t stretch right before you run, but you should stretch daily! Most of us know some easy hamstring and quadriceps stretches to do, but here are a couple of other stretches that can be helpful in keeping you loose.
It is always important to vary the type of exercise you do. Any single type of exercise will overuse some muscles, and underuse others. To ensure that those differences don’t lead to injury, it is a good idea to supplement your main type of exercise. That could mean anything from playing basketball, doing pilates or yoga, or weightlifting. Here are a couple exercises that you can do to help supplement your running.