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Aug 31

Is One Running Surface Better Than the Other?

Asphalt, grass, trails, treadmills or track—runners have a variety of options when it comes to running surfaces, but is one really better than the other? The truth is, variety is much more important than choosing one “best” surface. Varying hardness, level of unevenness and incline all can help with speed, strength and efficiency, as well as help work different muscles in the leg lowering the chance of injury.  

Roads—while readily available—put a lot of strain on your knees, shins, and feet. Hard surfaces force our bodies into repetitive movements, putting strain on the same joints and muscles over and over increasing the chance for overuse injuries. However running on hard surfaces is important for practicing racing rhythm and working on speed. Softer surfaces like grass and trails are easier on the joints and help develop stabilizer muscles in the leg. Because more muscles are engaged while running on uneven surfaces the chance of overuse injury is decreased. On the other hand, soft surfaces do have their drawbacks. The chances of rolling an ankle or other injuries related to unpredictable terrain are much higher.

There is no “right” or “best” option for running surfaces. Just like your diet, variety and balance is key. So next time you head out for your daily run try switching things up, your muscles and joints will greatly appreciate it. 

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 

Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.

 


Aug 22

Is 10,000 Steps a Day Enough?

It has become almost common knowledge that the average person should take 10,000 steps a day thanks to the influx of tracking devices on the market. The default goal for most tracking devices is 10,000 steps, but where did that number come from? Is there a medical reason to embrace that number or is an arbitrary goal that just has been accepted?

The history of 10,000 steps actually goes back to Japan in the 1960s. The 1964 Olympics were taking place in Tokyo, which caused the locals to take a deeper concern for their health. Soon after the first pedometer named the man-po-kei was created. Man-po-kei stands for man=10,000, po=step and kei=meter or gauge. It turns out 10,000 is a very favorable number in the Japanese culture and no real medical science informed the number. 

Today, 10,000 steps has become adopted globally partly because it is a nice round number and because generally walking 10,000 steps burns 2,000-3,500 extra calories every week.  Typically a pound of body fat equals 3,500, therefore walking 10,000 steps, in theory, would help you lose a pound a week. The problem is 10,000 is just too simplistic of a figure and only works on paper. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. While 10,000 steps is a good goal, especially since the average person only gets about 3,000 steps a day, it does not guarantee good health and weight loss. You cannot out-walk an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle.  

Without a doubt, there are great health benefits to increasing your activity through walking and other low-intensity activities, even if they don’t lead to weight loss. But it is important to understand, although 10,000 steps is an easy number to remember and is a great goal to get people moving, it is the not the magic number to being fit and healthy. An overall healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet is the best way to ensure good health. 


Aug 17

The Danger of Specializing in Sports Too Soon

An increase in sports specialization in young athletes has led to the drastic rise of injuries in youth sports. The pressure on athletes from parents, coaches and the athletes themselves to reach the pro ranks is pigeonholing kids as young as 10 years old into a single sport. Camps, travel teams and off-season practices are packing on the hours for young athletes whose bodies are not ready to be practicing all-year-round like the professional athletes they look up to. Kids are not just playing one sport for a few months anymore, rather they play that same sports for over 3/4 of the year. Injuries that were once only seen in elite athletes are now becoming common among many young athletes such as ACL tears.

The facts: 

  • A study at Loyola University found that young athletes who specialize in one sport are 70%-93% more likely to be injured compared to those who play a variety of sports. 
  • Ohio State University found that young athletes who specialize too soon are more likely to burn out and quit as well as have a higher rate of adult physical inactivity.
  • The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia reported they treated 400% more ACL injuries in 2012 than they did in1999. ACL injuries used to be a fairly uncommon injury in young athletes, but they are now one of the most prevalent. 
  • Dr. Micheli, the Director of Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston, reported that nearly 25 years ago only 10% of youth sports injuries he treated were overuse youth injuries. Today however, overuse injuries represent 70% of all youth injury cases he sees.

Recommendations for young athletes:

  • Athletes should take a 2-3 month break from their sport. The break could be spread throughout the year (i.e. 1 month break 2-3 times a year) or take place all at once.
  • Athletes should avoid specializing in one sport before they reach puberty.
  • 1-2 days off per week is necessary to help prevent injury and allow time for muscle recovery.
  • Unstructured free play is important for young athletes throughout the year.
  • A variety in activity is key as the athlete stays active all year.

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 
Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.


Aug 10

Blow-By-Blow: The Facts Behind Concussions [Infographic]

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 
Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.


Aug 09

Dynamic or Static Stretching, Which Is Better?

Often times stretching is seen as an option before a workout, something we are supposed to do but is not necessarily essential. A quick little routine of touching your toes for a few seconds or pulling your arm across your chest, and you are good to go right? Unfortunately not, your stretching routine can actually make or break your workout.

Dangers of static stretching
Stretching is essential before a workout, but holding static stretching poses is not going to help you achieve your fitness goals. Research suggests static stretching hurts athletic performance. Strength, power, and explosive muscular performance all are affected negatively with a static stretching session before a workout or training session. Even if your muscles feel loose after static stretching, they will actually be less elastic and powerful.

Static stretching puts you at a higher risk of injury. Holding a stretch for several seconds will not raise your heart rate or body temperature, keeping your muscles cold and possibly leading to injury. 

Why dynamic stretching is the better pre-workout option
Some people shy away from dynamic stretching because it seems like a mini-workout session before the actual workout, but it truly is the best way to prevent injury and boost performance. Dynamic stretching means your body is continually moving while stretching. It prepares your joints and muscles through continual repetitive motion, with each repetition stretching the muscle further. Because you are constantly moving, your body temperature will rise, warming up your muscles and lowering the risk of injury. 

Another benefit to dynamic stretching is that it can be individualized for specific sports. Unlike static stretches that have no relevance to the actual activity about to be performed, dynamic stretching prepares you for the specific movements that will be performed. For example, dynamic stretches for a long run versus a basketball game will be very different due to the different movements needed for each activity. 

The bottom line is take the extra 5-10 minutes before your workout for a dynamic stretching session, your muscles will thank you. 

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 
Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.


Jul 27

Self-myofascial Release: Does It Actually Help?

Self-myofascial release (SMR) sounds complex, but it is actually just a fancy term for a self-massage that helps release muscle tightness by using a tool such as a foam roller, lacrosse ball or your hands. SMR has grown from a technique only used by elite athletes and physical therapists, to something widely used among all individuals. 

How does SMR work?
SMR works by rolling a foam roller, lacrosse ball or other tools to apply pressure to a trigger point. A trigger point or “knot” is a group of tight shortened bands of muscle tissue which often cause pain in various parts of the body. These trigger points can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as bad posture, repetitive stress and injury. When deactivating a trigger point or releasing the tension of a shortened muscle by applying deep compression, it helps restore the muscle to normal function. SMR allows for healthy blood flow, restores healthy tissue, increases mobility and improves muscle imbalances. 

Should it hurt?
It is uncomfortable, yes. If you have ever had a deep tissue massage it is easier to understand the pain associated with it. The muscles are tight and knotted up so some pain is inevitable when trying to break up the tension. If it becomes too painful, try applying pressure to the surrounding areas. 

When should SMR be done, before or after a workout?
Ideally SMR should be done before and after a workout. Using SMR in a dynamic-warmup is a great way to get the muscles ready for a workout by increasing blood flow and reducing muscle tightness. Using SMR in a cool down helps begin the healing process and reduce soreness.  

How to SMR using a foam roller.
It is important to roll slowly. Find those trigger points and slowly roll back and forth for 30 to 60 seconds on the trigger point. You will slowly begin to feel the muscles release some of the tension. 

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 
Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.


Jul 21

Should You Change Your Downhill Running Style?

As many runners know running downhill can take a toll on your knees because of the immense amount of stress it puts on them. To better understand why they hurt, it is important to know the difference in body position when running downhill versus running uphill or on flat terrain. When running uphill or on flat terrain you land with a flexed knee and on the middle of your foot, which takes some of the pressure off the knee. However, when running downhill your knee is fairly straight and most of your weight lands on your heel, putting tremendous strain on your knees (fig. 1). 

So how do you reduce knee pain running downhill? Your instinct is to lean backward, which is ok in cases of steep hills because it is necessary to slow you down. However, when running on a hilly course the lean backward body position puts more strain on your knees (fig. 1). Next time you are running downhill try leaning forward slightly, using your hips not your shoulders, this will help distribute the weight of your body more equally and put less stress on your knee (fig. 2). It is also important to continually engage your core to keep your body in control when running downhill and ensure proper body alignment. 

Figure 1. 

Figure 2. 

 


Jul 18

Beat The Heat: Improve Performance with Heat Acclimatization

How to Acclimatize to the Heat

Getting used to the heat is a process and should be gradual. Every athlete is different, but it usually takes about two weeks of consistent training in hot conditions in order to acclimatize fully. Start with lower intensity and shorter duration workouts, as you become more adjusted to the heat, begin to increase the intensity and length. The first benefit you will notice will be a decreased heart rate, which typically happens in the first week while more regulated sweating can take several weeks. Remember, heat acclimatization does not last forever. Without consistent training in the heat, acclimatization is usually lost in about 2 weeks. 

What Happens to Your Body When Acclimated

Your Heart Will Thank You
With acclimatization, your heart rate will decrease and blood flow will improve. You will also produce more plasma, which means there is more blood to help your hard working muscles and help cool down the skin’s surface. These adaptations put less stress on your heart, allowing you to more easily pump blood through the body.

You Will Become a Sweating Champion
As you get used to hot conditions, your body will be able to regulate heat better. This means you will be sweating sooner in your workout as well as sweating more and at a quicker rate. Your sweat will also be less salty. Less sodium in your sweat allows you to stay more hydrated while training. Because sweating helps keep your internal temperature cool, you are able to train longer without fatiguing. It is essential to keep your body hydrated while training in the heat to keep these functions working properly. 

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 
Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.


Jun 23

Gluteal Amnesia: Wake Up Your Glutes

Gluteal Amnesia, though sounds silly, affects a large percent of the American population. If you suffer from back, hip, knee or shoulder pain you could be one of the many who lack proper gluteal activation. 

Why does gluteal amnesia occur

Gluteal Amnesia is when your body forgets how to activate the gluteal muscles properly. The average adult is sedentary for 64% of the time they are awake due to the overwhelming majority of adults working a desk job that require almost no physical activity. Because of this sedentary lifestyle, our muscles are not working as much as they should be, in particular our gluteal muscles. This is detrimental to the whole body because the glutes are the strongest and largest muscle in the body. Excessive sitting lengthens the gluteal muscles and tightens the hip flexors which leads to decreased stabilizing function and overall gluteal weakness. Beyond excessive sitting, gluteal amnesia can also occur because of the overworking of your quadriceps, a previous injury, poor core strength, improper body mechanics and poor posture such as an anterior pelvic tilt.

How gluteal amnesia contributes to injury

There are a number of injuries that are caused by weak gluteal muscles, here are the three most common:

Hamstring strains: The over activation of the hamstring occurs because the glute is not firing properly during hip extension. This puts too much pressure on the hamstring causing a strain. 

Low back pain: The gluteus maximus plays a crucial role in the stabilization of the pelvis and spine. Weak glutes cause your lower back muscles to pick up the slack. Because your glutes are not doing some of the work, your back will suffer. 

Knee pain: Glute weakness creates excessive rotation of the femur which puts too much pressure on the knee. Knee injury examples due to weak glutes: Iliotibial band syndrome and ACL injuries

Symptoms of gluteal amnesia

  • Tight hamstrings after a exercise that predominately uses your glutes
  • Frequent low back, hip and knee injuries
  • Turned in knee and turned out feet in a squatting position 
  • Tight hip flexors

Correcting gluteal amnesia

In order to correct gluteal amnesia, you need to retrain your gluteal muscles to activate properly. One way to reverse gluteal amnesia is to warm up your glutes prior to your workout. Before your workout do 5-10 minutes of glute specific exercise such as gluteal bridges, clamshell exercise and donkey kicks. This will activate and wake up your glutes so they are ready to be used during your workout.  Self-myofasical release can also help with gluteal activation. Use a lacrosse ball or foam roller to help loosen your over activated muscles i.e. hamstrings, hip flexors and lower back muscles. This will allow for your glutes to activate more easily.  

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 
Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.


Jun 15

Marathon Tapering: How Rest Increases Fitness

Rest is an essential part of training, but can sometimes be the hardest part in your running journey. Many athletes do not realize that rest and recovery actually improves performance, which is why tapering is an important part of training for a marathon or any type of competition. 

Tapering can be a challenge for many athletes. After weeks of hard training, slowing down before a race is a mental game. Reducing the miles and adding more rest time builds glycogen stores which helps the muscles heal. Tapering also reduces damage to the muscles, increases strength and even improves the nervous system which leads to more efficient running. 

Some athletes make the mistake of thinking since they are reducing the miles, they need to increase the intensity of those shorter runs. This is harmful because your muscles are not used to short high intensity workouts and it will fatigue your muscles. It is also important to remember that you may not feel great during the beginning of your taper. Many athletes feel sluggish and winded on workouts they thought should be easy, some also feel phantom pains. This is a common part of tapering and resisting the temptation to resume regular workouts can be a challenge. This feeling does not last forever though, most athletes begin to feel back to normal one or two days before the race.

It is important to find a balance that works for you because everyone’s tapering length is different. Some runners taper only a week before a race and others taper 3 weeks before. Experiment to find what works for you, and your body will thank you.

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 
Please consult your health care provider, or contact Viverant for an appointment before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Viverant shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.


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