What to do if your race gets cancelled due to COVID?

Depressed athlete man sitting head in hands on stadium seats

Rumor: If my race gets cancelled I can’t adapt my running schedule
Truth: No

During this unprecedented time, we are all learning to be adaptable. We are acclimatizing to changes in the workplace, teaching children from home, postponing travel plans, and cancelling scheduled events. Your upcoming race may be one of those cancellations and we know what a disappointment that can be. However, as a runner, you’ve been training for this!

Since you are reading this article, you are probably a runner, which means that you already know the many great physiological benefits of running. While training for your race (whether it’s a 5k, half marathon, marathon, etc.) you are preparing your cardiovascular system, improving your muscular strength, and increasing resiliency of your ligaments and tendons to withstand the duration of the event. All of these things are possible because your musculoskeletal system is adaptable! We must learn to embrace the beauty in adaptability and apply it towards confronting the mental and emotional challenges that come with altering your plans or goals for your upcoming race. 

There are a few options available to you if your race has been cancelled. Are you in the middle of your training program and have your sights set on running on the specific race date? Go for it! Run your race! This will obviously take some strategic planning on your part. Things to consider include planning a race route that is safe and open to the public, but is not densely populated. You will also need to consider hydration and race fuel. There will not be water stands or drinking fountains, so be sure to bring adequate water and race snacks with you. Please comment below if you plan and execute a “self-directed” race. We would love to hear about your experience!

If your race has been rescheduled for a later date, consider the timing of when you plan to ramp up your mileage. You now have more time to train for the race, but you don’t want to get caught overtraining or peaking too early in your program. For races that have been cancelled, now is a great time to reconsider your running goals. Are you running for a time or distance? Now that you have more time before your race, take the opportunity to focus on those things that you tend to “work around” rather than “work though”. This will look different for each individual runner, but may include reflecting on how you run on different surfaces (treadmill vs. track vs. trail), your running speeds, or how you mentally push yourself while training and racing. This is a great time to experiment with varying your running schedule, strength training, and cross-training alternatives. Sidenote: be on the lookout for our next RUNATOMY post featuring strengthening exercises that you can do from home to improve your running form!

Do you have any nagging injuries that you “just deal with” while running? You have been presented with an incredible opportunity to slow down, take a look at your running form, and work on those specific running details. If you are interested in getting professional feedback, our clinics are open and available to you for a Custom Video Running Analysis performed by a Certified RUNATOMY Specialist. We are here to address any questions in order to help you run better, faster, and safer. While we recognize that a race cancellation is not ideal, we hope that you’re able to make the most of this time to learn the beauty in adaptability and safely prepare for the miles and races ahead! 

 

Michelle Rice PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified RUNATOMY Specialist 

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References:
https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/sgr/pdf/chap3.pdf

Have you been running and risking COVID?

Beautiful young blonde athletic female running in daytime sunny surroundings

RUMOR: I should avoid running due to COVID?

TRUTH: No, but it’s complicated

The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has changed daily life, social interactions, and exercise routines for many of us.  As we learned over the past several weeks, the virus can be transmitted by asymptomatic individuals who do not present symptoms.  Your team at GSPORTS Physical Therapy wants to ensure you are exercising safely to help maintain physical, mental, and emotional health. This article aims to provide emerging guidelines regarding best practices for running outdoors. 

Research suggests that COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets.  Social distancing guidelines determine that staying 6 feet away from others greatly reduces risk of infection.  However, this distance may not be enough for running: Belgian researchers found that runners are still at high risk of exposure to respiratory droplets in the slipstream, or the air directly behind a runner. The researchers suggest that avoiding another runner’s slipstream reduces risk of inhaling unwanted respiratory particles.  Their new data suggests that maintaining a distance of at least 10 meters (~33 feet) away is safest when running. While this research is still in the pre-print stage, it does provide some guidelines for best practice at this time. 

There are some steps you can take to avoid putting yourself at risk of contracting COVID-19 while running.  The easiest way to reduce chances of being infected is to run alone and away from other people. If you see another person along the way, start distancing yourself as soon as possible rather than waiting to cross their path.   Lastly, there have been some rumors about contracting COVID-19 through others’ sweat. To date, there has not been any research confirming infection through bodily secretions other than respiratory droplets. Another important factor is to take your own water supply, as opposed to drinking out of a water fountain or using a friend’s water bottle.  These small actions can make a lasting impact in minimizing the spread of the virus during your run.

As the United States makes consistent efforts to flatten the curve via social distancing, it is important to adjust to this new (and hopefully temporary) lifestyle to keep us all safe.  If running gives you pleasure and it is part of your routine, make sure to allocate time to do so—just make sure you are running safely. Think about your running route before you leave.  Are you running in a busy area? Is it a high traffic time of the day? Do you have enough food and water to run self-sufficiently? By asking yourself these questions, you can do your part in helping slow the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring you have a fun and successful run.  

Keep running, and do not hesitate to reach out to your team at GSPORTS Physical Therapy if you have any questions regarding running or physical therapy. We would be happy to help and answer them for you.

Run better, faster, safer!

Justin Jellin, DPT, ART
Program Director
Doctor of Physical Therapy

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References:
https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/modes-of-transmission-of-virus-causing-covid-19-implications-for-ipc-precaution-recommendations

http://gladiator-lab.ru/run-during-coronavirus

 

What is the best food to eat prior to running?

Messy Spaghetti BabyRumor:  Eating lots of carbs like pasta prior to running is best.

Truth:  Only if you run over 90 minutes

Carbohydrates, or carbs, are primarily used to provide energy for the body.  Most-likely you’ve heard, “carbo-load prior to exercise”.  In truth it’s only good to eat complex carbs, like pasta, when you are going to exercise strenuously for over 90 minutes.  Consuming easier forms of energy first is the body’s default and complex carbs are not easy for the body to convert into energy.  So if you are planning a 30 minute or 1 hour run, you will typically not burn lots of complex carbs.  In other words,  the pasta you ate the night before may not give you the boost you’re looking for, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be eating carbs.

Not all carbs are created equal. They are classified into simple or complex.  This distinction is based on the molecular structure of the food as well as how easily the food is absorbed into the body.  Simple carbohydrates include Fructose (fruit), Lactose (dairy), Glucose/Fructose (honey), and Sucrose (candy).  Complex carbohydrates include most starchy foods like pasta, rice, beans, peanuts, potatoes, corn, cereals, and breads.  It is recommended to consume between 40-60% of your daily calories from carbs.  COMPLEX carbohydrates are better for the body than simple ones.  This is because they produce more energy in the long run, often provide vitamins and fiber, in addition to being a great natural energy source for the body. So why wouldn’t we want to carbo-load prior to a run?

Carbo-loading prior to a short run has many risks.  To start, if you are not running a long distance over 90 minutes, you will not use those complex carbs to boost your run.  Second, unused energy from excessive carbs will be converted into fat.   But before you make every run over 90 minutes, remember carbs may not always be your best source of nutrients.  While it is recommended that 40-60% of your diet is carbohydrates, if a high carb meal isn’t part of your typical diet it may disrupt your gastrointestinal system.  Usually it’s best to eat something you typically have and your body has adjusted to for an early morning run.  Lastly, if you carbo-load it can cause a prolonged “full” feeling.  Therefore some runners report they are more prone to side cramps during early morning workouts after carbo-loading.  The best advice is to try and follow a balanced diet.  Don’t eat excessive carbs, but balance your carbs with meat and vegetables, and don’t deviate from your normal patterns too much when prepping for a run. If you would like to learn more information follow the links below which give an in-depth discussion about nutrition, including the federal government’s guidelines.  In the meantime, don’t get pressured into carbo-loading.  Think before you eat!

Justin Jellin, DPT, ART
Program DirectorGSports_RUNatomy_4Color_Lockup_v2_Front (1)

References:
Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. 7th ed. Rockville, MD: United States Department of Health and Human Services and United States Department of Agriculture; 2010.
Farrell JJ. Digestion and absorption of nutrients and vitamins. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 100.

 

Does Myofascial Decompression (Cupping) help runners?

Cupping therapy, woman doctor removes cup from the patient's back

Rumor: Myofascial Decompression helps release scar tissue in runners.

Truth: Yes

Did you watch the Olympics and happen to see Michael Phelps?  Yes those dark round circular bruises were from Myofascial Decompression, commonly confused for Cupping.  Myofascial Decompression (or MFD) is a western medicine procedure (pictured above) involving a pneumatic pump creating negative pressure to release tight scar tissue under the skin and muscles.  It can release tight restricted muscles, tendons, and ligaments in athletes.  So what’s the difference between MFD and cupping?

Cupping has been used for centuries in eastern medicine.  It typically involves glass cups which are warmed by fire and then placed on your skin to improve Qi (“Chi”), also described as energy flow in eastern medicine.  Myofascial decompression works slightly different, using plastic cups in very specific anatomical locations with the most scar tissue.  Negative pressure is induced by a pump, then the practitioner instructs the patient to move, or they will move the device itself.  MFD works by decompressing tissues.  The thought process is to lift the scar tissue off the structures it’s binded to, thus breaking up fibrotic adhesions.  Results usually are felt immediately and the MFD practitioner will commonly give some type of corrective exercise in order to retrain the muscles with released scar tissue.

Myofascial Decompression can help runners, just like it helped Michael Phelps win several Olympic Gold Medals this year.  It’s important to note you must have a trained medical practitioner performing this procedure.  It is not uncommon to have some soreness in the affected areas after treatment along with the famous dark purple bruises.  Common injuries runners use MFD for are Lower Back Pain, Hamstring Strains, Plantar Fasciitis, IT Band Syndrome, and Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee).  Often it will take several visits to release the scar tissue.  While MFD is good to release restrictive scar tissue, it’s also important to remember that it may result in a significant change to your running form, due to increased mobility of your tissues. After treatment, many runners notice increased movement in their trunk, hips, knees, and ankles.  

To determine whether MFD may be helpful for you assess your body for restrictive movement.  If you feel that restrictive movement is affecting your running form MFD may be indicated.  If you are unable to determine where the muscular restriction is coming from, ask a trained professional such as a podiatrist, physical therapist, running specialist, or sports medicine physician if it would be helpful.

 

Justin Jellin, DPT, ART
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Program Director

Resources:
14, 2010 PHYS THER. 2010; 90:438-449.
Journal of Biomechanics 39 (2006) 2183–2193
J. Anat. (2009) 214, pp1–18

 

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What surface is best to run on?

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Rumor: Synthetic rubber tracks

Truth:  Yes

Runner’s automatically think, the softer the surface, the better it is to run on.  Really, it’s a combination of many factors.  You most likely have the option to run on different surfaces.  Typically, the best surface to run on is a synthetic rubber track, followed by flat dirt trails, treadmills, sand, asphalt, and lastly concrete.  Running is inherently hard on your body because of the impact.  Thus, picking the best surface to run on for your health and longevity is important.  Yes, most runners will be safest on a synthetic rubber track but everyone is different.  We’ll explain why different surfaces are better for various runners.

While the type of running surface is a major influence to the amount of impact sent through a runner’s body it’s not the only factor when considering a safe running surface.  Remember, different injuries, body types, and even shoe types will cater to different running surfaces.  A runner that is a heel striker will need a softer surface to run on, such as a synthetic rubber track, dirt trails, or even a sand beach.  These surfaces will lessen the impact to their body.  A runner that has plantar fasciitis will have increased pain while running on sand, so these runners will want to try running on a synthetic rubber track or dirt trail.  Forefoot runners can run on asphalt roads and concrete sidewalks with less chance of injury than a heel striker.  Additionally joint stability and muscle strength need to be taken into consideration too.  A runner with weak ankles who often suffers from sprains will not want to run on trails with rocks and tree roots, increasing the risk of injury.  In this case, running on a treadmill, sidewalks, and even the road would be better.  All of these factors are important when it comes to running and choosing the best surface to run on.  Here’s how to implement them into your  weekly running routine.

Remember, think moderation. It is ideal to mix your running surface with hard and soft surfaces so they each make up 50% of your total running each week. Additionally, if you are prone to soft tissue injuries such as muscle strains, ligament sprains, or plantar fasciitis, use a surface such as a treadmill, synthetic track, or even the sidewalk.  If you have issues such as a stress fracture, a bone bruise, runner’s knee, or shin splints try to stay on softer surfaces such a synthetic track, treadmill, or even sand.  Next time you go running, consider these suggestions and you should be able to choose the best surface for your specific running style and body type.

Run better, faster, safer!

Justin Jellin, DPT, ART
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Program Director

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References:
Journal of Sports Sciences, Volume 30, Issue 14, 2012
Research in Sports Medicine: An International Journal, Volume 20, Issue 2, 2012
Br J Sports Med 2010;44:i27

Can supportive shoes fix pronation?

Highlighted foot of woman on treadmill
Rumor: You should buy supportive shoes if you overpronate.

Truth: Maybe…

The amount of times runners ask about overpronation and footwear is staggering. Overpronation, or subtalar joint valgus collapse, is when the foot loses its arch when you’re standing and running on it.   Overpronation is very common in runners.  Most can correct this abnormal movement by changing their running form or using corrective exercises, but others need additional support. These are commonly found as separate products, but are occasionally found in running shoes.  The problem occurs when runners buy the wrong shoes or orthotics when they are truly not needed.  Overpronation doesn’t necessarily mean you need supportive shoes.  It means you need to identify why it’s occurring.

When you overpronate, your arch collapses, rolling the ankle inward, causing excessive stress on your joints.  There are many reasons for this impairment which can make it hard for you to quickly pin-point the cause.  It’s important to note that over-pronation can occur due to excessive movement at the foot, ankle, knee, hip, or even back.  The most common reason for overpronation is due to flat feet (pes planus) and weak hip muscles (pelvic drop). Other causes for overpronation include the knee moving inward (genu valgum), the foot turning outward (forefoot external rotation), excessive foot mobility (hypermobility), and scoliosis.  Thus, when determining the cause of overpronation you must look at the entire anatomy of the runner.

As you can imagine, arch support isn’t always going to solve overpronation.  However, since many runners want to correct their impairment with a particular shoe type, here are some recommendations.  If you suspect yourself as an overpronator try a more supportive shoe with a firmer heel cup and higher arch.  Make note of whether it helps.  It’s good to know that low arches require a smaller (not larger) arch support while higher arches require a larger arch support.  Additionally, get your running form checked or test your hip strength to make sure these are not the primary reasons your foot is collapsing.  This is a good starting point to take care of yourself, but if the problem persists, seek professional advice with a podiatrist, physical therapist or get a custom video running analysis.

Run better, faster, safer!

 

Justin Jellin, DPT, ART
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Program Director

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References:
Br J Sports Med 2012;46:110-111 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2011-090804
Sports Health. 2009 May; 1(3): 242–246.
Sports Health. 2012 Nov; 4(6): 485–495.

What is the perfect running cadence?

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RUMOR: 182 steps per minute 

TRUTH: Not always…

Understanding running cadence, or how many steps a runner takes a minute, is commonly an issue of confusion. Here are some truths to rumors runners often hear.  Running cadence is a calculation of the number of times a runner’s feet contact the ground in one minute, or steps per minute (spm).  Typically, many patients have questions regarding a suitable cadence considering running speed, form, and anatomy. It’s important to note there isn’t a perfect running cadence for everyone and each individual needs to consider the correct cadence specific to their running.

Typically most elite endurance athletes keep their cadence around 182 spm.  This number can vary from anywhere in the 140 up to 200+ spm.  Cadence should not be a fixed number, it is not true that 182 spm is suitable for every runner.  However, many different factors go into calculating appropriate cadence.  Some factors to determine correct cadence include, leg length, running speed, running form, footwear, and surface type.  Speed is the most prevalent factor for variations in cadence.  If a runner has a pace of 4.5 mph they will typically find themselves close to 145 spm while if they run around 7.5 mph they will more likely be closer to the 182 spm.  It’s important to note that just because a runner is slower or faster, doesn’t mean they automatically are classified into a slower or faster cadence.  There are many other factors and this is where most runners get confused.

The most common reason to change cadence is to improve your speed and reduce potential injury.  Slow running speed and increased injuries are often associated with incorrect running form.  The most prevalent cases of incorrect form is heel striking and overstriding.  For those of you that are unsure what overstriding is, feel free to reference our blog post from March, 2nd, 2016.  In summary, overstriding is when a runner’s foot lands too far in front of their hip.  With overstriding and heel striking, runners have a low cadence due to long stride lengths.  If you notice you run very slow or you have pain, check to see if your foot strikes the ground in front of your hip. Try taking several calculations of your own cadence when you run at various speeds.  Once you have calculated them, compare the cadence from the times you are running faster to those you are slower and see if one cadence feels easier.  Then use a metronome or music that matches the more beneficial cadence.  Hopefully you’ve learned something about running cadence.  Our goal here at RUNATOMY is for everyone to run better, faster, safer!

Justin Jellin, DPT, ART
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Program DirectorGSports_RUNatomy_4Color_Lockup_v2_Front (1)References:

Heiderscheit BC, et al. Proceedings of CSM 2010, San Diego, CA, USA, 2010
Bood RJ, Nijssen M, van der Kamp J, Roerdink M. The power of auditory-motor synchronization in sports: enhancing running performance by coupling cadence with the right beats. Plos One. 2013; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070758 [PMC free article] [PubMed]
Morin, J.B., P. Samozino, K. Zameziati, and A. Belli. Effects of altered stride frequency and contact time on leg-spring behavior in human running. J Biomech. 40:3341-3348, 2007.
Hunter, I., and G.A. Smith. Preferred and optimal stride frequency, stiffness and economy: changes with fatigue during a 1-h high-intensity run. Eur.J.Appl.Physiol. 100:653, 2007.