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6 Pain Prevention Tips to Keep You Running

bonnie pfiesterEarlier this year I developed tendonitis in my left ankle. It was so bad, I not only had to stop running, I couldn’t even walk. I went to Total Health Vero Beach for therapy, and slowly but surely it started improving. Well, after something like that gets you down, needless to say, you are a little scared to jump back in your running shoes.
with both feet.

In the last month I have a done a few short “test runs”. So far, so good, although I still had a little twinge in the ankle following the runs so I continue to be cautious – knowing that I could irritate it if I wasn’t careful and be right back where I started.

So you can understand how hard it was to hear that a bunch of peeps from our gym were going to run, what we Veroites call, “the loop” – a 5.6 mile run that goes over both our two bridges (our only real hills in our town) over the waterway to the beach. It’s a great run! It’s scenic, it’s fun, and I didn’t want to miss it! So, I decided I’d just do what I could, and if my ankle started acting up, I’d just turn around, slow down or walk if I needed to.

Team Max

Reebok DMX SkyTo my surprise, I had literally no pain. I was running in my Reebok DMX Sky running shoes which have a ton of cushion and support. I honestly think that helped a lot. I typically wear a minimalist “barely there” shoe that’s pretty flat but, since my injury, I’ve felt I needed more of a lift in my heel, as well as more cushion for a softer impact. So far, I’ve only tested my runs in this shoe and I’ve experienced no pain while running. (below i’ll talk about post-run injury prevention)

sunriseAs we reached our halfway mark, overlooking the pretty water, enjoying the view, I was not just on top of the bridge, but I was on top of the world! I had no pain, I felt great and, I was ready for the next half of the run.

(This was the view at the top of the bridge. The water was like glass – just pure beauty!)

So off we went! I was SO excited! I ran the whole 5.6 mile loop without stopping (except to take these pictures! ha!) WOOOO HOOOO!

Girls running

As finished up our last few steps and approached our cars, I looked at my running app to check my pace, distance and all that jazz, only to find my app quit tracking my run at 2.9 miles! Ughhhhh!! DARN IT!! Since my running app and Jawbone UP app syncs with my LoseIt app, I get super bummed when I miss out on a posting calorie burned or increased activity of any type. It almost gives you that feeling as if you didn’t do it unless you can see it, sync it and share it. lol

funny facebook fitness cartoon

It reminds me of this silly facebook cartoon I’ve seen floating around facebook. I know I’m not the only runner in the world that has these silly technical error moments. However, I’m so thankful for all the fitness toys, and social media, made available today because it holds us accountable, gives us clear goals and makes fitness more fun.

For those of you runners who have had this happen to you, I made this graphic for you! ha 🙂

running app funny

Post Workout Injury Prevention Tips

Sometimes we feel great DURING our workout, but pay for it LATER. Here are a few tips to prevent pain and problems that can slow a runner down.

6 Tips to Fight Injury

Running Injury1. Prevent inflammation. Take anti-inflammatories to prevent inflammation. Once inflammation sets in, it’s much harder to manage. Don’t wait until you have noticeable pain and swelling.

2. Manage swelling. If you feel you are the least bit swollen, ice the area religiously. If you can control the swelling, you can control the pain. The problem is, people HATE to ice. No one likes to be cold – and ice can be downright painful. I use these Hot Socks to keep me cozy. They really helped me endure the ice and make it a lot more comfortable.

3. Stretch. Now that it’s 2 days after my run, I can begin to feel my ankle tightening up due to tight calves and achilles. If I want to prevent issues, I need to keep those muscles and loosey-goosey. This is going to be key for me if I want to run on a regular basis again. Most injuries are due to tight or weak muscles. I am SUPER tight, so this is something I really have to work on. Here is a good video on how stretching can prevent (or help heel) common foot issues. These are the stretches I do that also help my ankle.

4. Listen to your body. Allow your body to recover before you beat it up again. Don’t rush things. It will be tempting to want to jump right back to your old routine, but going slow at first can prevent you from having to stop completely.

5. Don’t stop rehab. Most people quit rehabbing their injury when they quit hurting. The same way we shouldn’t wait until we have a bad injury to stretch or ice, we should continue the steps that helped us to heal as preventive measures too.

Athletic Shoes: The Sole Purpose6. Consider your footwear. If you started having problems suddenly, think of what changed. Was it new shoes? Is it old shoes, and time for new shoes? For me, I believe it was going from a shoe with a greater drop to a flatter shoe (which I loved, but I don’t think they loved me).  Most running shoes raise the heel 22-24mm off the ground while lifting the front of the shoe only 10-15mm off the ground. They call this ratio the “drop”. This tiny difference was enough to add more stretch in my Achilles, calves and surrounding ankle muscles/tendons with each repetitive step. This doesn’t mean I can’t go back to them, but not until I stretch more and get that area more flexible. Personally, I believe this also has a lot to do with wearing heels all these years – and then going to running practically flat-footed. So, this reinforces my need to stretch.

NOTE: Often times I say that running injuries can be due to shoe choice – but I don’t just mean poor shoes, I mean not the right shoes for YOU. Just because I love a shoe, doesn’t mean you will too. Reebok recommends rotating between 2-3 pair of shoes to avoid damage due to repetitive action. 

CLICK HERE to Learn More About Choosing the Right Show for You 

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Prevention: How to Recognize Signs of Muscle Deterioration

mother and daughterMy mom recently shared something with me that I think many of us can learn from. She was nice enough to let me share her story with you in hopes it could help others – and I’m sure it will.

“Over the past couple of years, I had noticed that my legs seemed weak, and the range that my legs could bend, and still be strong, was diminishing.  For example, getting out of a low car, standing up from the bath tub, and even getting up off the potty was becoming a challenge.  I couldn’t even squat from a standing position!  This was a girl that played softball for years and could once do a split to catch a ball and keep my foot on first base!!!

I realized that I was using my arms to help me push my body up (which I’ve been working out so I had the strength to do it) and not relying on my legs.  I was working legs out too….but not from a complete squat.  It dawned on me that I was ‘giving in’ to old age weakness – and I needed to do something about it.  

Tom and Julianne

The first thing I did was ‘confess’ to Tom (my husband and training partner) that I felt I was losing strength.  I knew this would hold me accountable in doing something about it.  The second thing I did was decrease my weight on my legs workout so I could go much deeper, even if I only pressed the bar or rack, and not weights. After implementing this in the gym, and after only 1 week, I noticed a HUGE difference!   I began making myself use my legs more (getting out of the car, tub, etc), and after only doing this for about a month, I feel like I am 80% better!” 

bathroom handlebar

Strong and Weak
My mom was not weak. She was piling plates on the leg press, but she wasn’t working in a full range of motion. As a result, she was only using the strongest part of her legs, and avoiding movement where she was weakest, like a deep squat. Her strong muscles were getting stronger, but her weak muscles were getting weaker. Finally, it started affecting her daily living. Many people would just give in to the weakness and start catering their life around that weakness, like installing a handicap bar. But my mom was NOT going to go there! Instead, she decided to fix the problem, not mask it.

Cause and Effect
When we squat, or leg press, people may only go to where their knees are at a 90 degree angel. Of course, when we squat down to pick up something, or get up off the ground, we aren’t always starting at a perfect 90 degree angle – but are often starting off well below 90 degrees. Unless you are purposefully strengthening those muscles, they will get weaker as you age.

In my mom’s case, I believe she started avoiding a deeper squats and deep lunges after injuring her knee a few years ago. Instead of reducing weight and increasing range of motion to rehabilitate the knee, she continued lifting the same weight, but just decreased range of motion. However, the best plan of action is to focus on strengthening your body for full range of motion. It really doesn’t matter if you can squat 500lbs if you can’t get up off the toilet. Our quality of life greatly depends on how we move daily, not how we move in a controlled area in the gym.

Daily Living Activities – Then & Now

BABY-SQUAT squatting

When we were young, we would sit in a squatted position for long periods of time  (and look at the great form on this baby! Nice posture kid!). However, as we age, we tend to play on the floor less, and don’t utilize those muscles as much. And, weight gain can make squatting even more challenging. So, as a result, we shift from bending with our legs less, to bending with our back more. If the gentleman in the above photo was younger, he’d likely squat down to pick something up. But, instead, he chose to bend with his back. It’s this type of repetitive behavior that trains the body to work around weaknesses.

bending down

Luckily, my mom is a fighter and recognized the warning signs. I’m sure, at first, it didn’t compute why she would be so weak, when she seemed so strong at the gym. But, after we talked through it, it all made perfect sense.

This is why functional training is so important. We need to perform exercises that closely mirror our normal daily activities, and we need to be sure to move safely in a full range of motion as long as our body will allow it. Although my mom does have some knee issues, she was able to successfully improve her range of motion by simply reducing her weight significantly.

Morale of the story. Mom says,Don’t give in to weakness. It isn’t ok to compensate on the muscle maintenance that we need to have to live a quality life. Listen to your body—it WILL tell you what you need.”

Fast Fix for a Pain in Your Butt

OK, before you get too excited, I can’t help you with your husband or kid, if they are what you consider to be a pain your butt. I’m talking about a literal pain in your backside.

If you’ve ever suffered from a throbbing aching pain in your derriere, that possibly even radiates down your leg, you have experienced Sciatica. Sciatica, literally is a pain in the butt – and it can be fixed pretty easily.

Steve explains what Sciatica is often caused by and how to eliminate the pain. If you’ve been in pain due to Sciatica, you won’t BELIEVE how these simple exercises can change your life!

4 Tips to More Pain Prevention:
1. Maintain good posture
2. Take your wallet out when driving or sitting for long periods of time
3. Do the above stretches often through out the day, holding each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. (no bouncing)
4. Take anti-imflammatories when needed
5. Avoid heat – Icing an injury reduces inflammation, where heat induces an inflammatory response

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Injury Prevention & Recovery – Tips to keep you going

Few people are lucky enough to never experience some type of back pain in their lifetime. I know what back pain can do to someone – and it’s not fun by any means.

A few years ago I suffered from a muscle spasm after a shoulder workout. The spasm was yanking on my discs and throwing me all out of whack. Since I was leaving on vacation the following day, I immediately went running to Dr. Chris Stepanek at Total Health of Vero Beach for help.  This was my first encounter with a Chiropractor and I was impressed to say the least.

I loved that he not only treated my discs but also worked on my actual spasm that was causing my discs to jump out of place. I continued with ice and anti-inflammatories, but it took weeks for me to recover.

When it came time to do shoulders again, it was only natural for me to be a little scared of re-injury. Fear is a natural response, but I knew that if I didn’t stay active I’d only face more problems down the road.

Since injuries tend to be a good excuse to avoid exercise, I asked Dr. Stepanek to share some tips to help people get back in the saddle and prevent future injury. The following advise may surprise you.

1. Keep moving. Don’t avoid the motion that caused the injury to begin with. “If you threw your back out doing squats, the first reaction is to avoid doing squats again” explains Dr. Stepanek. He warns avoiding the same motion that created the problem can only cause more problems down the road.

Many back injuries are due to weak or tight muscles. Avoiding exercises that would strengthen and stretch the area allows your body to become weaker, compounding the problem and making the patient even more fragile. Instead, Dr. Stepanek encourages patients to repeat the same motion that caused the injury at the earliest possible moment.

2. Let joints heal. Although you should get back into motion as soon as you can when it comes to muscle related injuries, injured joints are a different story. Dr. Stepanek says people should avoid strengthening muscles around injured joints too early in the healing process. The joint must be fully functional before you can begin strengthening muscles around it.

This is very difficult for impatient people on a quest to get fit, but it’s best to heal from a minor injury than to ignore it and cause more damage.

3. Ice is best. While bed rest and heat sounds a lot more appealing than applying a Ziploc bag of crushed ice to the middle of your bare back, ice is always a safe bet.  A heating pad is not something you will find at Dr. Stepanek’s office, as heat causes an inflammatory response.

4. Get strong. Even though disc related low back pain is the number one condition treated at Total Health, Dr. Stepanek says it can be prevented and improved. Strengthening the core muscles splints the spine, giving the back more protection and support. Abdominal exercises are very beneficial as well as stretching exercises for the back, hamstrings and hip flexors.

If you have been using pain, or fear of injury, as an excuse to stay out of the gym, it’s time to look for another excuse. Dr. Stepanek says, “ It’s your future, be there healthy.”

Total Health of Vero Beach welcomes walk-ins. Call 778-BACK for more information.

 

 

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