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
Running in the wintertime can be a tricky business when weather conditions aren’t in your favor. These four tips will help you safely make the most of your run:
1. Warm-ups and cool downs are vital to all runners. Warm-ups allow the body and the muscles to prepare for repetitive activities and sports such as running. When the body is not provided with a chance to warm up, runners frequently injure themselves, as they essentially ask their muscles to quickly move from a rested, relaxed state to performing a high impact, high energy activity, which can predispose runners to fatigue and injury. Similarly, cool downs provide the body with an opportunity to revert to its natural state. After performing an activity such as running, a cool down allows the muscles to return to their proper length, which helps avoid tightening and subsequent injury to the muscles.
2. When running during the winter, runners may benefit from wearing multiple layers that are easy to add or remove while running. Running during the wintertime comes with the added challenge of regulating body temperature with a cold environment. Generally, runners tend to feel as if they are running at 10-20° warmer than the actual temperature. Try running with layers like long sleeve shirts, quarter zips, jackets, and vests. Shirts that are worn directly on the skin should be made with moisture-wicking technology to help manage sweat. Each runner will develop their own preference for clothing to wear, including running hats and gloves. It is important to keep your face, ears, and hands warm, so you should use any combination of running attire to do so. Additionally, runners should wear warm socks that will not allow any moisture to affect the feet, especially if running in the rain or after a recent snowfall.
3. Handling the cold air can be tricky. In order to avoid exposing too much of their skin to the cold air, some runners like to use a face mask. Others will use products like Vaseline on their skin. Try them out and see which method works best for you!
4. Safety should be the number one priority when running outdoors. If conditions are icy, runners may opt to use that training day to run indoors on a treadmill/track or to perform a cross training activity/other form of cardiovascular exercise. However, if you are keen on running outdoors with icy conditions, make sure that your shoes will provide you with enough security with traction on the icy patches.
At SPEAR, we hold our values close to our hearts—that’s why we prioritize giving back to the community as much as we can. We also love seeing our people exemplifying that same passion, empathy, and impact.
Kara Kaplan, PT, DPT
Recently, one of SPEAR’s awesome therapists, Kara Kaplan, PT, DPT, volunteered her time at a event run by the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes, a program created to help Special Olympics athletes improve their overall health and fitness. Kara was given the opportunity to participate with the Floor Hockey Competition—considered one of the biggest Special Olympic athletic events of the year, the tournament serves the younger Special Olympics community, with participants ranging from Pre-K age to 7 years old, as well as adult athletes. Kara supported the athletes as they competed for the championship goal medal, assisting in scoring the game and keeping track of players, as well as helping them make it safely on and off the court. “I was able to witness first-hand the incredible skill required by each athlete who competes, as well as the hard work and dedication that each player has towards their craft,” Kara says.
While the adult athletes competed in teams for the floor hockey championship, the younger athletes participated in “activity labs”, where they learned the different skills required for floor hockey. All of the fundraising efforts went toward athletic equipment, jerseys, team necessities, and more for all the athletes involved.
We’re so happy to have one of our own participating with such a great organization like the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes, a program that truly aligns with SPEAR’s mission. “I encourage anyone who is interested in volunteering for the Special Olympics to reach out and get involved in this fun opportunity,” Kara says. “There are always numerous positions available that each play their part in assisting these extraordinary athletes achieve their greatest accomplishments!” Thank you, Kara, for your involvement!
Jeremy Bielby, a 30-year-old civil engineer living in NYC, has always led an active lifestyle. He often hops between different job sites across the five boroughs of New York; he loves catching a fitness class at Flywheel and The Workout Factory; and he loves playing different sports, including basketball, golf and soccer. His athletic activities, however, came to a screeching halt during a soccer match, when he suffered a knee cap dislocation, also known as patella subluxation. “I heard a slight tearing sound in my left knee and immediately collapsed to the ground,” Jeremy recalls of the incident. Even worse—the accident occurred just two months before his upcoming wedding date.
After a few orthopedic surgeon appointments, it was deemed that all his major ligaments were intact, but he had some micro tears in the small ligaments in his left knee. It was clear physical therapy would be necessary. Jeremy decided to return to SPEAR—he had previously sought treatment for a fractured vertebra in his neck from Matthew Hosokawa, PT, DPT at our E 56th St location, working together for two months to get him back to life.
For his knee injury, Jeremy began working with Sebastian Altomarino, PT, DPT. With a very time-dependent recovery process up ahead of him, he had plenty of work to do. Jeremy had three major goals in mind: 1) to walk down the aisle and stand at the altar to see his wife on their wedding day; 2) to dance the night away at his reception with friends and family; and 3) to be able to enjoy their upcoming honeymoon in South Africa to the fullest. Sebastian and Jeremy worked together on a treatment program that would work with his plans—Jeremy had THREE upcoming weddings for friends to attend, and he wanted to be fully present at them all, dancing included!
“Every day Sebastian was always in a great mood and happy to see my progress throughout this journey. He knew how to keep me motivated.”
After each wedding Jeremy attended (and all that dancing), the two would touch base to see how Jeremy was feeling and determine if his treatment needed to be adjusted. He continued to push himself daily with the at-home exercises Sebastian recommended to him, recognizing consistency as the key to his success. The true test came during a trip Jeremy had planned with friends months before: an intense white water rafting adventure in Maine. They were both relieved when he returned from his trip having experienced no major setbacks!
Jeremy and his new bride exchanging their wedding vows
A knee injury couldn’t stop Jeremy from getting to Table Mountain in Cape Town!
Jeremy continued his sessions with Sebastian until a week before the wedding. Not only was he able to get back to his former lifestyle—he was able to accomplish all of the goals he set for himself! He joined his wife up on the altar on their wedding day; he danced the night away at his friends’ weddings and his own; and he visited South Africa for his honeymoon, even hiking up Table Mountain overlooking the capital city of Cape Town. “I gave 110% for all my exercises,” Jeremy says, “—and the results showed.”
Now, Jeremy is feeling great overall, though still easing into playing group sports. Jeremy’s story is a great example to follow: putting in the necessary hard work doesn’t mean having to give up the momentous occasions in life. “I’m hoping that I really don’t have to come back in an ideal world,” Jeremy says, “—but you never know.” We hope not either, Jeremy—but we’re always here with open arms if need be!
Physical therapists Jamie Bredahl (left) and Martin del Prado (right) are ready for the games to begin!
Each year, Squash enthusiasts and fans turn to watch some of the world’s greatest Squash players compete at J.P.Morgan’s Tournament of Champions. This year, once again SPEAR was honored to be the official physical therapy providers of the event! The tournament ran from Jan 9th-17th at world-famous Grand Central Terminal here in New York City, an ideal location for an event with such buzzing energy!
Treating physical therapists Michelle Rooney and Ryan Coye
An active and intense sport, Squash requires plenty of focus, skill, and athletic ability. Physical therapy not only promotes exceptional performance, but also keeps the body in tip-top shape by helping to prevent injury. Our team was more than eager to help out these incredible athletes. Many of our physical therapists offered their time and services to standby in the sidelines, setting up stations to administer treatment to players as needed. The program was led by Dave Endres, Physical Therapist, Co-founder of SPEAR, and Squash enthusiast and player himself! Dave has played numerous professional squash tournaments throughout the Northeast, and even worked as a teaching pro in NYC. Physical therapist Greg Moy also provided valuable insight on injury prevention for Squash players of all levels with a take-home guide of helpful tips, featured in the tournament’s program.
Dave Endres, PT, MS, and SPEAR Co-founder, preps youth Squash athletes prior to the start of the screening
Young athletes putting in the work during a guided warm-up!
The pro athletes weren’t the only ones benefiting from physical therapy that day: SPEAR hosted a screening for youth squash players as well! We partnered with two incredible organizations: CitySquash, a not-for-profit organization based in the Bronx and Brooklyn helping motivate young people from economically disadvantaged households fulfill their academic, athletic and personal potential; and StreetSquash, an organization providing consistent and reliable support to the children, families and schools in Harlem and Newark. At the screening, the youth athletes learned best practices from our PTs for proper preparation before playing, with specific warm-ups and exercises to do at home. Hosting the screening during such a momentous tournament was extra special for these promising young athletes, serving as a reminder that they, too, could one day be out on the court, competing for world titles and accolades. We’re honored to play a part in their developing journey in achieving greatness, and doing so in a safe manner!
We love partnering with this championship because we truly believe in the sport and what it represents: dedication and hard work are the foundational building blocks of success. Not to mention, it’s incredibly fun to play! We look forward to participating in future Squash events and tournaments to come!
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.