How to Decrease the Likelihood of a Running Injury

Most running injuries are caused by overuse, overtraining, wearing the wrong shoes, and overcompensating for a muscle imbalance or biomechanical problem. Here are some ways you can prevent the likelihood of a running injury.

1. Gradually increase your mileage. Increasing your weekly mileage by no more than 10% will help prevent injury.
2. Wear supportive shoes that are not worn out. It is suggested you replace your running shoes every 300-500 miles or every 6 months. Also, make sure your shoes address any biomechanical issues you may have with your feet and arches. Most running stores provide an analysis of your feet.
3. The best surfaces to run on that provide the least amount of impact is grass and woodland trails. Avoid running on concrete which is the hardest surface you could run on. Asphalt is a little better than concrete. If you run on grass, look for a flat area of grass. While running on a trail, watch out for slippery, muddy areas.
4. Stretch after you run to prevent your muscles from being too tight.
5. Cross train instead of just running. This way you will be strengthening various muscle groups and one particular muscle group will be less likely to be strained.

If you are unsure how to progress running safely to meet your goals, need help creating a stretching program, and or cross training programming, contact Harbor Physical Therapy for an appointment. We also offering running assessments to uncover your specific running stride and provide you specific tailored exercises to help diminish any muscle imbalances.

Do you suffer from morning heel pain?

The most common cause of morning heel pain is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a long ligament in the bottom of your foot. It can become inflamed causing pain on the bottom of your foot and heel.

Symptoms include pain on the bottom of the foot either after not weight-bearing through the foot for a long period of time or after a lot of weight-bearing activity.

Treatment includes:
1. Replace worn out shoes. Make sure you have a pair of good supportive tennis shoes for when you are
on your feet a lot.
2. Stop any excessive exercising or jogging until symptoms subside. If you have recently started a new
exercise program or changed jobs where you are doing a lot of standing or walking, see what you
can do to limit being on your feet a lot.
3. Use heat on the bottom of your foot followed by rolling a tennis ball underneath your foot for a few
minutes for a self massage to the plantar fascia area.
4. Perform calf stretches. Stand on the bottom of a step and drop one heel down until you feel a stretch
in your calf. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat a couple times on each foot.
5. End with some ice on the bottom of your foot. Wrap a bag of frozen peas or corn in a towel and put it
under your foot for about 10 minutes.

Avoiding Back Pain While Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Cooking for long periods of time can take a toll on your back. Here are some tips you can use to safely prepare your Thanksgiving meal without developing back pain.

When lifting the turkey, hold the pan close to your body as you take it to the oven. Bend at your knees, not at your lower back, as you lower it onto the oven rack. When taking the turkey out, bend at your knees and pull the rack out keeping your back straight while lifting the turkey out. Keep the turkey close to you. Pivot your feet without twisting your back, to bring the turkey to the counter top.

While peeling potatoes or slicing vegetables, you can prevent your back from hurting by either sitting down or by opening a lower cabinet door and setting one foot on the shelf. This takes weight off the back and prevents you from leaning forward as you work at the counter.

When you are cleaning up after your meal and putting things into the dishwasher, limit bending forward. Kneel down and have someone hand you the dirty dishes, or bend at the knees and keep your back straight while lowering plates to the bottom rack.

Exercising with a Physioball

Purchasing a Physioball:
The size of the Physioball depends on your height.
– 5’ 4” or shorter- purchase a 55 cm diameter ball.
– 5’4” and 5’10”- purchase a 65 cm ball
– Taller than 5’10”- purchase a 75cm ball.
* When you sit on the ball, your knees should be at a 90 degree angle.

Examples of Physioball exercises:

1. Crunches- Sit on the ball and walk your feet out so the ball is under your mid back. Clasp your hands behind your head and do a partial sit up. You can also come up rotating to each side to work the obliques.

2. Push ups- Lie over the ball with your stomach on the ball and your hands on the
floor. Walk your hands out so the ball is under your thighs to perform a push up. The farther the ball is toward your ankles, the harder it will be to do the push up.

3. Squat- Put the ball behind your back against the wall. Tighten your abdominal muscles and perform a squat holding it for 5 seconds.

4. Russian twist- Sit on the ball and walk your feet out in front of you until the ball is under your shoulder blades. Clasp hands toward the ceiling or hold on to a weight. Rotate your upper torso to the left then the right.

5. Bridge- Lie on the floor and put your feet up on the ball with your knee straight. Raise your bottom up into a bridge and hold for 5 seconds.

Abdominal Crunch Exercise
Abdominal Crunch Exercise

Osteoporosis and Physical Therapy

The most important exercises you can do to decrease bone loss are weight bearing exercises. When you are performing weight bearing exercises, muscles and tendons pull on the bones to stimulate bone cells to produce more bone.

Walking, running, jumping, tennis, basketball, dance, aerobics and other team sports are great ways to increase bone mass. Performing exercises that involve a weight bearing component have been shown in studies to promote increase bone mass. Examples of these include push-ups, squats, and lunges.

If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, Harbor Physical Therapy can create a custom exercise program to help improve your bone mass. This will help decrease the likelihood of fractures and injury. Please contact Harbor Physical Therapy for more information.

Muscle Stiffness

Causes of Muscle Stiffness:
1. muscle strains
2. arthritis
3. vitamin deficiencies
4. injuries
5. poor sleeping posture
6. obesity
7. illness
8. inactivity
9. dehydration

Treatment for Muscle Stiffness:
1. Apply heat
2. Massage
3. Stretching

Harbor Physical Therapy can provide treatment and education on specific exercises to decrease muscle stiffness. Please contact Harbor Physical Therapy for more information.

Core Strengthening

The core muscles include upper abdominal muscle, rectus abdominus , lower abdominal muscle, transverse abdominus, internal and external oblique muscles, and lower back muscles.

Strength and power originate from the center of the body. The core stabilizes the body with arm and leg movement. If the core is weak, you have a greater chance of back injury. If the core muscles are strong, it decreases the likelihood of back injury with pulling, pushing, lifting, bending, and reaching. A strong core improves posture, balance, stability, and endurance during activity.

If you want to learn how to perform core strengthening exercises, contact Harbor Physical Therapy.

Common Running Injuries

1. Shin splints- This can happen from a change of distance/intensity of your run and or lack of foot support. The treatment for shin splints is rest and ice. If it persists, you should see a physical therapist to evaluate your running stride.
2. Knee pain- There are many reasons a runner can develop knee pain. Some reasons include muscle weakness, muscle tightness, and improper shoe wear. The treatment for knee pain is rest and ice. If it persists, you should see a medical professional.
3. Achilles tendonitis- This can occur when you dramatically increase your workout. If you are having pain along the tendon at the back of the ankle, stop running, rest, and apply ice. A tight and or weak calf muscle can both contribute to achilles tendonitis.
4. Hamstring Strain- This can result from the hamstring being weak and shortened. If you experience a hamstring strain, stop running and ice. After a couple days, you can begin to stretch the muscle gently.
5. Plantar fasciitis- An inflammation of the tendon that runs from your heel along the underneath of your foot to your toes. This can result from calf tightness or poor foot support. Use ice on the bottom of your foot to relieve pain.
6. ITB syndrome. Your iliotibial band is a long band that runs down the outside of your thigh from your hip to your knee. With running, this band can cause friction on the thigh bone near your knee. This can cause irritation and pain along the outside of your knee. Treatment includes stretching of the ITB and ice.
7. Stress Fracture- This is caused by cumulative stress on the leg or foot, most commonly in the shin bone, heel or metatarsal bones of the foot. If you are diagnosed with a stress fracture, you will need to take a few months off from running.

Most running injuries are caused by a muscle imbalance. Harbor Physical Therapy provides Running Assessments to determine what you are doing during your running stride to cause and or lead to injury. A running assessment will prevent the likelihood of injury and help a runner to meet their running goals. Please visit Wellness Services at Harbor Physical Therapy for more information.

Benefits of Walking

1. Decreases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

2. Decreases your risk of stroke and strengthens your heart.

3. Decreases your risk of developing dementia by increasing blood flow to the brain.

4. Lowers your LDL (bad cholesterol) and increases your HDL (good cholesterol).

5. Decreases blood pressure.

6. Manages your weight by decreasing body fat.

7. Strengthens bone and decreases risk of developing osteoporosis

8. Helps you sleep at night.

9. Improves your mood.

10. Improves flexibility of joints, balance and co-ordination.

If you need help starting a walking program, contact Harbor Physical Therapy at 443-524-0442.

Morning vs. Evening Exercise

Most sources out there believe that working out in the morning is more beneficial. Listed below is a summary of reasons why this is believed to be true.

1. You are more likely to stick with a routine if it is in the morning. There is less chance of other activities or distractions getting in the way.
2. After a workout, you continue to burn calories for about 30-60 minutes; therefore, if you remain active throughout the day you can burn more calories.
3. If you exercise too close to your bedtime, you could find yourself restless.
4. Exercising increases oxygen to your brain and will increase your mental sharpness for the day. You may find you need less caffeine.
5. Exercising releases endorphins, which can improve your mood for the day.

Working out in the evening can be beneficial to those who are doing more vigorous exercise such as racquetball or weight lifting. Our bodies’ temperature is higher in the evening and muscles are warmer allowing increased flexibility. Weight lifting in the morning is often ineffective because the glycogen levels are lower.