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Spring Into Running
By Daniel Hounjet, Intern, Core Health
As the snow melts and weather turns people are eager to get outside and start running.Because of the climate we live in many people either choose not to run in the winter or they run indoor on a treadmill. So, for the most part individuals who start running are not taking the necessary steps to prepare their bodies for the increased strain on the body and to prevent chronic injuries that come with an increased volume of running. The most common overuse and altered mechanics injuries that seem to plague runners include low back pain, shin splints, Iliotibial band (IT) syndrome, patellofemoral pain syndrome (runners knee) and plantar fasciitis. I will provide you with a few recommendations to help prevent some of these issues.
The snow has melted, the streets are dry, the trees are blooming and you’re ready to get your running on… But wait, what is the first thing you should do before exercising? Warm up?! You’re absolutely right. A quick 5-minute warm up will go a long way in injury prevention. When we talk about warming up, we don’t want to go and do static stretches. Instead we want to increase blood flow to the body by increasing our heartrate and go through similar motions as when we’re running. Here are a few exercises that will help warm up properly.
-Heel walk/Toe walk
Each exercise should be done for 20-30 feet, 1-2 times. Once we’ve gone through these exercises it’s a good idea to do 2-3 short sprints to really get your HR up. Now that you’re ready to hit the road be sure that your starting with a distance and pace that is significantly below what you ended the previous season. Our bodies are highly adaptable to stresses placed upon it, so it important for injury prevention to slowly build back up to where you where the previous season. By slowly increasing our duration and intensity we are allowing our bodies to adapt to the stresses placed on our body, from the increased strain on our joint, our tendons and even to regain our oxygen capacity.
Our post run recovery is just as important as our preparation and the run itself. That is why there 3 aspects should be incorporated post run. First off, we want to slowly bring out heart-rate down. It may be difficult to do with our busy lives, but having a proper cool down will prevent blood from pooling in our extremities and the unwanted potential for dizziness and or loss of consciousness. Cooling down will also help flush out the metabolite (lactic acid) build up in your legs. Try walking or even a low intensity dynamic stretch will be great to slowly bring that HR back down. Once you’ve cooled down we want to stretch and or roll (foam roller, lacrosse ball etc.) the area that worked the most during the run; calves, lumbar musculature, hip flexors and gluteus maximus and medius. Here are a few stretches to consider.
-standing calf stretch
-Stiff leg good mornings
Remember that these stretches and rolling these areas are for preventative measures and may not be the right stretches if you have altered body mechanics or are injured. If you suspect you have altered mechanics, (loss of mobility of a joint, hypermobility/ instability and/or loss of motor control) a good general tip to know, if there is an underlying issue and the pain or stiffness is only on one side of the body there is likely something that isn’t working the way it should. If you think you may have a compensation or would like to be evaluated consider seeking professional advice from a chiropractor or Physical therapist.
Lastly, we want to ensure we are refueling and replenishing lost nutrients. If you are running long distances with a duration greater than 90 minutes at moderate intensity it’s important to replenish our glycogen stores as they will be depleted after an intense distance run. That being said a balanced refuel is essential, consider 4:2:1 ratio of carbohydrates: protein: fat. We want to consume the carbohydrates to restore glycogen levels (glycogen is the muscles energy source for sustained activity). Protein to repair any damage to the muscle due to the increased intensity and lastly fats, which will slow digestion and allow for less of a blood sugar spike post workout. We also want to replenish any fluid losses. Water and a good electrolyte drink will go a long way in minimizing stiffness and soreness. If you are running for a shorter duration under 90 minutes, you are likely not depleting your glycogen stores. Therefore, rehydration and your regular diet will suffice. Research suggests that it is a myth that we need to consume protein within an hour post exercise, and that a balanced meal prior to activity will carry you through your run and even into your recovery. https://jcdfitness.com/2016/09/should-you-eat-fat-in-your-post-workout-meal/
Blood Flow Restriction Training article by Core Health intern Daniel Hounjet What is blood flow restriction training (BFRT) you ask? BFRT is when you place a cuff similar to a blood pressure cuff around your arm or leg and perform certain exercises. Once the cuff […]
Coming off one of the busiest “busy” seasons of my career, I have been thinking a lot about stress. Stress IS a normal part of life. We all have it in some form and it comes from a variety of sources, external and internal. Typically, our bodies respond to stress by activating our nervous system and outputting hormones. However, there are times when stress is increased or we operate in a stressful environment for a prolonged period. This heightened period of stress can impact our health in an extremely negative way. A prolonged period of high stress can alter our mental state, impair our sleep, cause cravings for certain foods and ultimately directly influence unwanted body changes.
In the midst of my tax busy season I found as I continued to push harder and say yes to more and more my mental state deteriorated. I became more irritable and at times abnormally emotional. My sleep was profoundly impacted. I would often feel pure exhaustion but have a complete inability to either fall or remain asleep. My weight crept uncomfortably up, my muscles were not recovering and I continued to become more stressed and overwhelmed. I knew I had to make a change but I also felt a desperate need to keep the wheels of the bus in motion. I feared if I took my foot off the gas pedal everything would fall apart.
It may not be the exact same story for everyone but I can imagine we have all experienced a period of heightened stress. Chances are there was little we could do to avoid the stress. We have jobs and responsibilities and commitments to many people and situations. It is likely that at times our lives are busier than normal. While we cannot just shut down and decide we no longer want to show up to work or keep our other commitments, it is important to manage our lives so we do not reach the point of burnout.
Once I came out of my busy season fog I made a promise to myself that I was not going to allow the overwhelming feelings to happen again by prescribing to the following:
- Sleep before everything else. If I cannot fit in something without sacrificing sleep then I need to re-examine my commitments. I am no good to others OR myself and my body without 7-8 of rest each night.
- I can say no and it is ok. Less really is more.
- Walking and low impact moving is sometimes more important for our body than a high impact workout.
- Meal planning and feeding my body whole, well-rounded meals is good for my brain. Relying on sugar-laden foods makes me feel sluggish.
- Caffeine can be a bandage if we begin to rely on it to get us through the day. Limiting my intake allows me to function on a more balanced plane.
- Recognizing the impact stress was having on my body allowed me to begin to undo the negative impact. I had to be kind to myself to start the recovery process.
The weight has started to come back off, I am sleeping through the nights and my emotional and mental well-being are operating at my normal levels. I am much happier which really the ultimate goal is. We all will have stress on a daily basis, how we manage it will impact our nutrition and wellness infinitely.
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In the constant pursuit of the fad of the week we find ourselves chasing a mythical magic pill, the path of least resistance, one that will give you the desired aesthetic and performance that we see on Instagram, T.V., or in magazines. Or maybe you’re pursuing fitness because you love the way it makes you feel, you remember a time when you felt more alive and are desperate to get back there.
Sometimes this sparks something inside you, drives you to want to do more, achieve more, be the best version of yourself, you find your groove and don’t look back. Other times the promises of your well intentioned endeavor falls short and it’s back to the drawing board.
Fitness is a journey, one that is never mastered nor completed. It is an evolving part of your internal fabric driven by variables that change with the world around you. The worst thing you can do is give up on yourself and fill your subconscious with doubt on whether or not you’ll ever find something that suits you.
Sit down and define your ‘why’. Without an intrinsic drive to push you past the points of resistance you leave yourself vulnerable to failure. It has to come from you and it has to hold value with your current set of priorities, without that it is simply another short term solution to a long term dilemma. Align your drive with the intended stimulus and outcome of the given fitness program, if it initially makes you uncomfortable- good! Comfortable is what got you where you’re at, you have to trust yourself and your intuitive nature to what you know you want. Keep putting yourself out there and know that you can achieve what you may think just isn’t meant for you.
Once you’ve set yourself on this path be prepared to work hard and commit to the process as there is always work to do and areas of your fitness you can continue to improve upon. Be ready to reevaluate your ‘why’ as your circumstances and priorities change and adjust your approach accordingly.
Most of all remember to enjoy it. To steal a commonly used quote on happiness, fitness is the journey-not the destination.
Photo by Alex Tubbs of Tubbs Photos
Personalized nutrition and macro counting One of the latest trends in the health and fitness industry is to manage food intake by keeping track of macronutrients, i.e. the amounts of protein, carbohydrate and fats that are consumed in a day. While there are many benefits […]