Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Runner's Prevention Exercises

Guest Post by: Petra Lusche

You're running, everything feels great- the wind is in your hair, you're in your stride, and you're just in the mood to run- when, it hits you. Grinding pain in your knee joint, a common effect of Iliotibial Band Syndrome, or Runners Knee.

Runner's experience a wide-range of aches a pains, more so then other athletes. The main cause of this is due to the fact that recreational runner's are unique in being really the only athlete who doesn't cross train, specifically in the weight room. A misconception is that, since running is a muscle-degenerative exercise, building muscle in other areas can only lessen the stride. This is not so. Strength training can not only generate more force in your stride, but also can prevent common runner's injuries such as runners knee, shin splints, and ankle sprains. Below are a few exercises that can help make runner's less susceptible to these injuries during their run:

Runner's Knee//
Symptoms/     Pain on the outside of the knee , and tightness in the iliotibial band. This pain normally follows running, particularly when one runs downhill. There is also pain during flexion or extension of the knee, made worse by pressing in at the side of the knee over the sore part. Commonly, there is also weakness in the hip- usually not detected-and tender trigger points in the gluteal area.
Exercises/ The Skater, Leg Cable Abduction, Wall Sits with Squeeze

The Skater/
Equipment/ Cable or Resistance Band
Execution/ Attach right foot to the either the cable or resistance band. Stand on the left leg, body pointed toward the machine, with right foot extended behind you. The movement is a smooth one from right extended backward extension, to a right forward bended knee with a hold of 2-3 seconds, then return back to start. For extra balance, hold on to the cable machine, if necessary. Do 10 times each leg.

Leg Cable Abduction/
Equipment/ Cable or Resistance Band
Execution/ Stand so that you are perpendicular to resistance, outside leg attached to the cable/resistance band. Place hands on waist. Allow the hip attached to the cable to be slightly elevated, and move your leg outward to the side, your foot moving directly away from your body. Hold for 2-3 seconds, and return to beginning. Do 10 times each leg.

Wall Sits with Squeeze/
Equipment/ Wall, and either a towel or Bosu Ball between knees
Execution/ Place back against wall, feet directly under hips and hands on wall for balance with ball/towel in hand. Drop down, like your sitting in a chair, and place ball/towel between knees. Pulse your knees, holding the sitting position, for 20-30 seconds, working your way up to 1 minute. Repeat 4 times.

Shin Splint//
Symptoms/  Involves the tearing away of the muscle tissue that attaches to the front of the lower leg.  The runner that resumes training after a long lay off are most susceptible to this injury.  The connective sheath attached to the muscles and bone of the lower leg become irritated, resulting in a razor-sharp pain in the lower leg along the inside of the tibia or shin bone.  Shin splints can be felt anywhere from just below the knee down to the ankle.  The pain may diminish after warming up but then returns a few minutes after the completion of a workout. Happens when running in uneven terrain, bad shoes, and excessive uphill running.
Exercises/ Calf Raises

Calf Raises/
Equipment/ Stairstep
Execution/ Stand on stair step, heels hanging over side, knees below hips, spine straight. Raise legs into an extended position on toes. Hold for 10-12 seconds. Release. Repeat 12 times.

Ankle Sprains/
Symptoms/ Swelling of the ankle. Also, there is a pain in the ankle area, or the nerves are more sensitive. The joints hurt/may throb. The pain can worsen with pressure, or during walking, running, or standing. It is also not uncommon to see a bit of redness in the area.
Exercises/ Ankle Inversion/Eversion

Ankle Inversion/Eversion
Equipment/ chair
Execution/ Sit up straight with your back against a wall and your feet out in front of you with your knees straight. Slowly turn your left foot inward and hold this position for 6 seconds. Reverse the opposite direction, and hold for 6 seconds. Do this exercise, each way, about 8 times. Repeat on other foot.

As always, the best treatment is prevention, so work these into your pre-running workout, and hopefully you will avoid some of these painful injuries associated with running. Remember! Always make sure you warm up, wear proper shoes, and, if the pain persists/is severe, that you talk to your doctor.

About the author: Petra Lusche is a Health Coach/Personal Trainer from Oklahoma City, OK. She has her Personal Training Certification through NASM, and is working toward her Master's in Dietetics. As a major health nut, she has a through knowledge in health, nutrition, and has been an avid runner for years. For more information and tips, visit her website at

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Common Running Injuries: Don't Get Stuck on the Bench!

One of the greatest things about running is that it attracts a wide array of individuals with goals ranging from the Olympics to simply running 2 miles. Some runners simply enjoy running to relieve stress, while others run for causes involving life threatening diseases such as leukemia and cancer. It is important that runners are in top form and not suffering from common running injuries. Unfortunately for runners, there are numerous different issues that can leave them stuck on the bench for days, weeks, or even months. Most common injuries are caused by overuse, over-training, or an error involving running form. By being familiar with the most common injuries, runners can better avoid making mistakes that could lead to forced time off.

Shin Splints:
Commonly referred to as "shin splints", this injury is caused by swelling of the sheath surrounding the tibia bone. Symptoms of shin splints often include: pain over foot when toes are pointed downward, swelling, pain on inside bottom half of shin bone, and increasing pain after use. The best way to treat shin splints is through rest, icing, and using properly fitted running shoes.

Runner's Knee:
Runner's knee can either be caused by reduced strength in the quadricep muscles or improperly fitted shoes. As a result, wearing away on the back of the kneecap occurs. Runner's knee is typically treated with strengthening exercises. It's best to see a doctor when deciding how to best treat runner's knee.

Pulled Muscles:
Another common injury for runners is pulled muscles.  They are extremely painful and can take ages to heal. Most muscle tears are essentially small muscle tears that could have been prevented with proper warm-up and or not overdoing a workout. When treating a pulled muscle, it's best to take anti-inflammatory medications and icing the area frequently.

Although it sounds extremely minor, a blister can be excruciatingly painful for runners. Most of the time, blisters are caused by the combination of moisture and friction. To help prevent blisters, use a synthetic sock to stop moisture.

The best way to prevent common running issues is to warm up properly, stretch and do not over-train. Good luck and remember to take care of yourself!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ahh I Just Want To Run!

Sorry for the hopefully short vent session, but I have to share this. I went to the gym last night around 6:30 p.m., which I do almost every night. However, last night turned into a 2 1/2 hour cocktail party. I felt like I had walked into a bar for my 10 year high school reunion. Talk about ANNOYING!

After a stressful day, all I wanted to do was get lost in my music and run, run, run. Except that did not happen. In all seriousness 7 people came up to me and talked to me for a minimum of 25 minutes apiece. Want to hear the best part?? I was minding my own business trying to fit some sort of workout in before hearing my name screamed across the gym again. Well, Ms. Obliques it looks like you will have to stay flabby for yet another day. A random trainer came up to me and tried telling ME what to do. I played dumb and let him give me a tutorial on how to use the machine. By this time I had just given up!

It was now almost 8 o'clock and I had accomplished nothing, unless you count hearing about my friends recent engagement, or a business meeting on Tuesday, or the text I never responded to, OR OR just goes on and on.

I made the decision that I will not be going to the gym during the times of 5:30 and 8 p.m. I almost walked out last night and signed up for a new gym. Once I finally gained my composure I realized that was a bit harsh and decided to change my workout times. From now on, in which today was day one, I will attend the gym around 6:30 every morning.

I cannot even describe how amazing it was to run without any interruptions. If I am completely honest there was one, but I was stopped right in the beginning of my run. Today I already notice the difference in my anxiety levels. I feel great! Running in the morning will not only help to keep me sane, but gives my metabolism that early morning boost to burn calories throughout the day. I guess my annoyance turned into something productive.

All right, I am done venting. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Saying No to Food is Hard Sometimes

Getting a Handle on Emotional Eating
By: Jackie Clark

Experts say that diet and exercise go hand-in-hand when you're trying to lose weight, and they couldn't be more right. In order to effectively drop pounds for the long-term, you have to pair a physical activity program that works your body with a new pattern of eating that helps fuel your body while improving its health and overall well-being.

For some of us, getting up off the couch and moving around is the easy part. It's the food that gets us down, mostly thanks to emotional eating. You know, "eating your feelings," or otherwise turning to food as a comfort when times get tough.

Millions of Americans likely suffer from this problem. Food has become a comfort for so many people, like myself, that it's easier to open a package of chips or dig into a tub of ice cream to make life better than it is to really dig down deep and think about what is wrong. For people like me, weight loss hinges on getting control of the feelings I try to push down by eating cake, pie and cookies.

For years I continued using Italian food, desserts and extra helpings at every meal as a crutch to keep me "sane" while my personal life was falling apart. I ate when I was happy, sad, mad or anxious - which was really all the time. It wasn't until I was out on my own for a while that it got to be too much. When the size 16 jeans I'd worn for years got too tight, I finally thought, "Enough is enough."

I joined a gym and started working out, but wasn't seeing the results I wanted. When a trainer at the gym questioned me - and I mean REALLY questioned me - about my eating habits, I faced up to the fact that all the exercise in the world wasn't helping when dinner each night consisted of enough food to feed a competitive weight lifter.

Through hard work and self-examination, I've come to realize that I am very much an emotional eater. It's taken years, tears and some therapy sessions, but I've worked through some issues and am well on the path to losing weight. There are days when I slip back into old patterns, but all in all my habits have improved, and my weight loss efforts are more successful because of it.