Rebekah GlassRunning is a means to good health for many, it can be a stress reliever for some, or pure enjoyment for those running enthusiasts! As a physical therapist and gait analysis specialist I want to keep runners running healthy and for years to come. However, this population tends to see a high percentage of injuries. So I have a question:

To all the runners out there…Do you strength train?

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A New Way to GO

eliptigoIs pain keeping you from running or walking?  Does riding a bicycle hurt your back or give you ‘saddle sore’? Are you bored on the cardio machines at the gym or at home? Are you looking to improve your time in your next race? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, the ElliptiGO may be the tool for you.

What is it:  Think bicycle plus elliptical machine.  The ElliptiGO was invented in Southern California and came to the market around 2010.  It has the familiar bicycle components (handlebars for steering, hand brakes, gears, two wheels) with a stride similar to the elliptical machine.  The stride is very comfortable and smooth.  It is slightly longer and narrower than the average indoor machine to match your running stride better. The handle bars and stride length can be adjusted to accommodate heights of 5’ 0” to 6'8". 

What the research says:

A recent research study by Rendler and colleagues found that workouts on ElliptiGO improve cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition in line with fitness industry standards and American College of Sports Medicine guidelines.  (You can read the full article here)

ElliptiGO riding expends 33% more energy compared to cycling at the same speed.

ElliptiGO also conducted many case studies with their elite athletes that you can check out.

Who uses it?

The ElliptiGO is a useful tool for all runners and fitness enthusiasts.  Elite runners are using it to supplement their training and achieve their goals.  Former runners who are unable to run due to pain use it to get the ‘runner’s high’ and build fitness without pain.  Injured runners use it in their rehabilitation to keep fit while allowing their injuries to heal.

If you do not have pain, the ElliptiGO can supplement your training to improve your cardiovascular fitness without the impact that running puts on your body.  Recovery is an important part of training.  You can add additional training time without putting excessive stress on your body.  My friend Tina Muir, an elite marathon runner, posted a blog about the benefits of cross training for runners.  You can check it out here.

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Brief 411 on Rest/Recovery

For those of you in an active training cycle and probably gearing up for all of the fun summer races, you may be wondering about how to include rest days. We know exercise is good for you, but the body does have its limits and it is possible to get to a point that you are breaking down more than you are building up. A study completed involving endurance cyclists showed that after only 7 days of increased training intensity with low recovery time there can be detrimental effects. The study showed a “9.3% reduction in maximal heart rate, a 5% reduction in maximal oxygen uptake, and an 8.6% increase in perception of effort.” As athletes we all want to stay at the top of our game, and constantly increasing the intensity is NOT the best way to do that.

Rest/recovery days are important to give your body re-building time. USAT Level 1 coach Maria Simone explains that a rest day “allows for extended recovery, thus permitting the body to adapt more fully to a previous training cycle. Rest days also give the body time to refill glycogen stores, prevent overtraining and avoid mental burnout.” And Runner’s World magazine reports “a day off every 7 to 14 days restocks glycogen stores, builds strength, and reduces fatigue.” If you have been hitting the trail running 7 days a week, it may be time to take a rest. I know that rest may be a 4-letter word to some athletes, but rest does not have to mean sitting on the couch and watching TV for a day straight! Trying a yoga class or other cross training that is performed at a lower intensity may be the best option for you.

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Running Transitions for Spring

 

As the weather gradually warms and the snow begins to melt, runners stray away from their treadmills and flock to the sidewalks and trails. While the fresh air may feel great during your run outdoors, our bodies may not be prepared for the transition. Unfortunately, running on the treadmill does not adequately prepare us for a run outdoors. Here are some facts to be aware of as you begin your outdoor training.

The first difference to be aware of in your transition from the treadmill to the outdoors is the variance in terrain. Obviously, while running on a treadmill, there is little worry of running into obstacles during your run. However, while running outdoors, there are many terrain variances to be aware of including the following:

  • Hills demanding increased exertion
  • Ice and snow patches during the early spring months
  • Uneven ground if running on trails

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The signs of spring are making themselves known. The days are getting longer and the sun is shining a little brighter.  As temperatures rise, so does the number of people lacing up their shoes and running.  Many people are signing up for their favorite spring and summer races and setting their running goals for the upcoming year.  Whether you are a novice or a professional runner, the question remains the same: What is the best way to train for a race?  One key factor to successful running, but too often overlooked, is the importance of strength training.

Studies are showing more and more that running alone is not enough.  Strength training provides a great number of benefits that running alone cannot.  In an era when time is a precious commodity, many runners choose to place their efforts toward running and skip strengthening.  This is also because of the misconception of getting more “bang for your buck” in that cardiovascular exercises burn more calories.  However, coupling workouts with strength training increases weight loss as well the ability to burn more calories throughout the day.  Fat does not burn calories.  Muscle, on the other hand, uses between 4.5 and 7 calories per pound of muscle every day (Runners World, 2009).  The lower the body fat percentage one has, the more calories one will burn each day while at rest. 

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Why Water?

When you think of water exercise, what comes to mind?  Maybe you think of water aerobics classes or high school swimmers.  What you may not know is how water can help someone of any age and any condition.  Because of the buoyancy, when you are standing in chest level in water, you lose approximately 75 percent of your weight.  This decompression on your joints makes exercise more comfortable for persons with back pain, arthritis, joint pain, surgery, chronic pain, and for pregnant women.  Water exercise is a great way to increase strength and range of motion and improve balance. 

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Video gait analysis is found to be very beneficial to runners and sports medicine professionals as it can slow down the running motion over 1000 frames per minute.

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