health and wellness Archives - Catalyst Physical Therapy & Wellness Mission Valley San Diego

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The Runner’s Rulebook: A Guide from Your Running Coach

 

What is the Runner’s Rulebook?  Well, it’s a guide from your running coach, that’s me, Coach BW, that teaches you how to keep running fun and pain-free year after year!

 

First, there’s no doubt that running is one of the world’s most popular sports.  Why?

  • No major equipment is needed to run
  • Running improves both your physical and mental health
  • Through running you build strength, and strong bones, as it’s a weight-bearing exercise
  • The attractiveness of a “high” euphoric feeling that you get running, especially outdoors, as you fall into a balance between your thoughts, effort, and your natural surroundings
  • During times of stress or long workdays, you can turn to running as an outlet.  It can provide you with a ‘reset’ that allows you to become a better version of yourself

 

A Guide Based on Experience

 

As a runner, an endurance coach, and a physical therapist for the past 14+ years, I created the Runner’s Rulebook based on my experience coaching running at all levels.  From beginners in the sport to professional runners. 

In addition, I also assess and treat running injuries on a weekly basis, and teach other physical therapists how to do the same.


Now then, the Running Rulebook does not contain hard lines drawn in the sand.  But, more of a template that can be revisited as your body evolves over time.  Let’s jump into my Top 5 Rules for Runners!

 

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1. Take time each year to understand your body

Taking the time to understand your body as a runner means taking a good look at your physiology and musculoskeletal makeup.  Therefore, a review of medical history, injuries, and, a true assessment of your flexibility and strength in all areas of your body pertinent to running.  

 

For example, have you taken a medication or been forced to wear dress shoes that have led to losing some of your ankle and toe mobility?  Well, we rely heavily on this mobility for running. 

So, a shortening of a person’s ankle dorsiflexion or change in toe extension can be directly linked to foot pain.  This pain typically does not improve unless you have a specialist identify what needs to be done.  Signing up for our run assessment is a great first step- literally! 

 

Running injuries are typically not acute.  But, they gradually evolve over time.  Therefore, the impact and stress applied to your joints needs to be balanced with the right exercise. 

For me, it may mean stretching a little more on one side versus the other.  For you, it could be activating a certain muscle set.  Moving through a strength routine.  Something to help you better control the forces applied when landing on one leg and absorbing shock. 

 

Catalyst run program

 

2. Manage your energy levels to become your best self

Next, proper energy management is essential when choosing what time of day you plan to run to keep it fun and pain-free.  Each run should complement your energy levels, allowing you to feel a sense of achievement and balance. 


As a runner and running coach, when I’ve gone for a run during a time when my energy levels were exhausted, it’s just junk miles.
  Wondering what I mean by this?  Well, there are mixed reviews on what junk miles actually are, and whether they worth having in your running training plan. 
As a running coach, I’d view junk miles as days when your running on empty.  Where each step feels heavier than the last.  Overall, you feel clunky and out of any sense of natural rhythm.


Therefore, understanding where and when you are naturally inclined to harness energy is extremely beneficial for the success of your run training plan.  How do you determine when and where to fit in your run?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you wake up with energy and need to waste a bit to feel productive?
  • Do you get energized throughout the day interacting with people?
  • Are you someone that feels low on energy regardless of the time of day? Do you always need motivation to get outside and run?


running coast Carlsbad

 

3. Understand what style of runner you are

Did you know that your running form or technique matters?  Yes, there are direct links to the mechanics of how you run that influences how long your body will last in the sport.  A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise provides robust evidence that technique explains a substantial proportion of the variance in your ‘running economy’ and performance. 

 

Do you know what type of runner you are?

Ask yourself, do you:

  • Land on the balls of your feet the majority of the time?
  • Have weak ankles or fallen arches?
  • Have a long stride?
  • Land on the heel of your foot every time despite whether you’re going uphill or downhill? 

 

By identifying and addressing some of these issues, you can actually change your running form.  And a change in your running form could actually save you a lot of time and money- helping to avoid medical expenses from injury and the purchase of unnessary equipment (shoes, braces, orthotics). 

 

Need help identifying what type of runner you are?  Make an appointment for a run assessment! One of our specialists will identify exactly what style of runner you are, and they can help you identify form issues that could lead to energy leaks costing you efficiency.

 

Why get a run assessment?  Well, having someone assess your natural style will prove extremely beneficial when it comes to becoming a more efficient runner.  What do I mean by that?  Efficiency equals faster speed, fewer impact forces on your body and less energy leaked that limits your performance.

 

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4. Set goals that make sense for what kind of runner you want to be

As a running coach, I see it all the time. Runners pick their races based on the training partners they’ve chosen. While I’m all about having people alongside you to motivate you towards your goal, don’t become a marathoner because your friends do.  Or, because it’s often seen as the pinnacle of the sport.

Think about why you enjoy running.  Then, set at least one or two races on your calendar that are your ‘A’ races.  These races should speak to the very reason you’ve taken up the sport! 

 

How do you determine what kind of runner you want to be?  Ask yourself if you:

  • Crave the hills?
  • Enjoy the environment found on trails or gravel roads?
  • Love pushing the pace on a track?
  • Need just 30 minutes of solitude to feel recharged?
  • Want to achieve a personal best in a 5k/10k? 

 

Based on your answers, you’ll be able to sprinkle in some of the motivating stuff you need each week while training and naturally increase your motivation towards your goal race.  This allows you to keep your eye on the prize!

As a running coach, I call these your soul-feeding workouts.  Fit one into each week to recharge. 

For me, this might be intervals on the track.  For you, it may be a walk/run combo in the woods to re-center and focus.

 

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5. Plan your workouts in advance and have someone hold you accountable

I’m not the most knowledgeable running coach in the world.  However, I see such success with my endurance athletes because I get to know them.  And, I help them to set realistic and fun goals that fuel them as human beings.

So, I love coaching and training runners of all ages and abilities.  In my experience, there are some of you who will need a 5-day adventure running race to feel fulfilled, while others only need a 5k.

 

How to Become Accountable

Bite-sized goal setting coupled with reality checks on performance is what allows a runner to progress.  Then, it all comes down to accountability. 

For you, accountability may come through writing in a journal or reporting progress over the phone to a running coach each week.  Or, it could be logging miles on Strava, GarminConnect, Suunto, or sharing via a social media post to allow friends and family to cheer you along. 

Either way, track what you do week-to-week.  Set goals for the year and constantly evaluate your progress towards meeting those goals.  This will lead to long-term success.

 

 

Final Thoughts from Your Run Coach

Running should never feel as though it’s a chore.  Something that you have to check off the list each day.  Therefore, pay attention to my top 5 rules.  This will allow you to feel fueled and avoid burnout year after year.

It’s a blessing to be able to run!  So, if you place emphasis each year on evolving your body alongside your goals in the sport, you’ll be able to look back with a smile and embrace the infinite amount of small steps it took to get you where you are.

Want to get started with me as your run coach?  Awesome!  The first step is to make an appointment for a run assessment. 


Personally, I want to run into my 90s, and I never lose the euphoria I get while trail running! 
I don’t need the distances to get longer and longer, I just need the views with each route I choose to be worth the challenge.

-Coach BW

 


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Are you a yoga teacher, or a teacher in training and searching for common yoga injuries and how to avoid them?  Both for yourself and your students?  Well, you’ve come to the right place!  We’ve been instructing yoga teachers for a few years now on how to teach so that you help to reduce the potential for injuries in your practice.  

 

Common Yoga Injuries

First, let’s talk about the most common injuries we see at the clinic from yogis and long-time yoga teachers.  Here’s a quick list:

  • Lower back pain
  • Ongoing wrist soreness
  • Tight hips flexors
  • Shoulder strains/rotator cuff injuries
  • Hamstring issues

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Top 5 Reasons Yoga Teachers Develop Injuries

Second, let’s tackle why we see these injuries in the clinic.  Most are not acute injuries by the way. They develop over time from repeating the same postures or poses.

 

1. Lack of Anatomy Knowledge

Anatomy is one of the most important pillars of any movement professional’s journey into teaching.  Now, it’s not necessary to memorize all 650 muscles, 360 joints, and 206 bones.  However, it is important to have a good grasp of the relationships the muscles form when interacting with each other.  And specifically in this context, from one pose to another, to avoid common yoga injuries. 

This interaction needs to happen in a way that allows for healthy movement not overrun with compensation. Meaning, the big guys win and the stabilizers, or the smaller muscle groups, are overpowered. 

Achieving balance within the musculoskeletal system will require an understanding of the common signs of tightness, weakness, and even pain, and how they limit normal fluid movement.

 

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2. Focusing on aesthetics instead of function

What yoga teachers need to always ask themselves is, “What is the purpose of this pose, and how will my class achieve it?”  Far too often, we see yoga teachers disregard function.  Instead, they replace it with beautiful, but challenging poses.  Do they want to show off their uber-flexible selves by bouncing from one difficult pose to the next?  Perhaps ending the sequence with a graceful inversion or arm balance? 

If so, this creates a risk for both the instructor and the student.  You are asking the body to perform difficult transitions and this can lead to the common yoga injuries mentioned above. 


Understanding that the body faces its largest amount of stress in these transitions means that you as the teacher must strive for proper alignment and control.  Especially through the changeover from an eccentric to concentric motion.  More on this principle down below. 

Ignoring the challenging portions of a flow to simply make things look cooler will ultimately lead to injury.  Instead, yoga teachers should pay special attention to developing their ability to provide “bite-sized” cues that allow for safety and success while flowing from one pose to another.   

 

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3. Not Enough Self-Care in Between Teaching Yoga

As a yoga teacher or a teacher-in-training, we bet you have a huge heart and want to give back to people to help them live longer, healthier lives.  However, you also face the pressure of balancing that giving of yourself with the need to make a living. 

As an example, early on in your career, you may be placed in one type of class.  This forces you to flow through the same sequence over and over again.  Every single day, sometimes twice a day!  

Not having the experience or control to vary up your sequences can lead to a beat-up body through repetitive overuse of certain areas.  In particular, we see common yoga injuries in the wrists, shoulders, lower back, and neck.  Although you may want to grind it out, and push yourself to achieve a higher level of performance, these rigorous practice sessions can have long-term negative effects on your body. 

In addition, you may be coming from an athletic background in dance, gymnastics, or acrobatics.  Therefore, you may already be prone to rarely slow down enough to allow for the body to repair.  Pushing yourself year-round, practicing until near perfection is achieved, often does more harm than good.  Self-care baby!

Thus, take the time to unload your body between practices to avoid common yoga injuries.  Yes, we realize you may think yoga is low-impact.  Especially if you also participate in more intense sports like running, cycling, or rock climbing.  However, lack of recovery, coupled with the fact that not all teachers have been shown self-repair techniques, increases the risk of overuse injuries even more.

While stretching and self-massage might not be your main concern, find proper corrective exercise to strengthen weaker areas.  Concentrate bodywork or self-massage on the spots being overused.

 

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4. Flow Speed is Too Quick

The timing established for a flow must match the intention you have for the workout planned.  The goal should always be to provide just enough cues to allow people to draw attention to their breath, balanced with a speed slow enough to allow for safety and controlled motion. 

Controlled motion is achieved when muscle recruitment is at its peak, and the reliance on passive connective tissue, like ligaments, is low.  This keeps the joints and bones from feeling the stresses that ultimately lead to breaking down.  In addition, it allows for coordinated movement.

When it comes to coordination, the different types of muscle actions must achieve synergy.  Muscles are known to face their largest amount of forces as they go from an eccentric (lengthening) position to a concentric (shortening) position. 

So, gaining control of the momentum imposed by gravity during these transitions will never be easy.  Especially for your students in your yoga class.  Or a teacher struggling to race the clock to finish class on time. 

If the speed of the flow increases based on your feelings that you need to perform for your higher-skilled students, then timing becomes the catalyst for some of these yoga injuries. 

 

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5. Unbalanced Sequencing

Do you often struggle when thinking about what poses to demonstrate in a sequence?  Well, think about introducing variation into your “teaching moments”.  By creating variation, you will achieve balance among your muscle groups. 

As an example, you may get used to showing a few key poses in each class.  However, you’re forgetting to include variation in your own sequence throughout the day.  This leads to an imbalance in pressures across your body.  Then, over the course of weeks and months, you’ll see deterioration at the joint level.

In addition, consider that mental and physical stamina levels are generally lower towards the end of a long day of teaching.  So you know it becomes especially difficult to maintain quality and choose a pose that’s healthy for your body over the pose that is simply easy to show.

To combat this, it’s important to plan out YOUR teaching week for YOUR body’s needs, as well as your students.  While the scope of this article is not to teach you how to design a flow that balances out the different muscle groups, it is important to understand where your injury-prone areas are located.

Having a good understanding of your postural needs, movement impairments, general flexibility, and strength will help you to select the smartest, most effective poses to demonstrate throughout your teaching week. 

 

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More Tips to Avoid Common Yoga Injuries

The key to creating a great yoga practice lies in planning ahead.  Use this time to remind yourself what poses you need to demonstrate more and insert them into your practice.  Then, work on walking the room.  Cueing and adjusting the poses you don’t need as much to avoid dangerous repetitive overuse.

Need more help?  Well, then book a Wellness appointment where a physical therapist can identify your postural needs to assess flexibility/strength.  With this information, we can help you build a foundational practice tailored to you

 

Best Practices for Yoga Teachers

The best yoga teachers that go the distance in the profession have all taken time to develop a strong foundation of anatomy, and the proper verbal cueing required for fluid movement.  In addition, the secret to remaining injury-free as a yoga teacher requires a strong understanding of the above 5 principles. 

Furthermore, they understand when to increase the speed of their flows based on the coordination and challenges presented during class.  Finally, they have a good understanding of their own body’s limitations.  So, take the time to put into practice the necessary repair work and corrective exercise required for longevity as a yoga teacher.

It’s our mission to encourage all people, healthy and injured, to develop a clearer picture of their body, and the needs they should address when striving for better physical health.  If you’re interested in learning more about your body, or find yourself battling any of the topics listed above, we strongly encourage you to meet with a physical therapist soon!

 

 


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Are Flip Flops Bad For Your Feet?

Are you searching for bunion pain relief from wearing flip-flops all day?  If so, you are not alone.  Millions of Americans suffer from foot and ankle related issues because of the shoes they’re wearing.  Especially here in San Diego where flip-flops are the norm, we see this often.  Not only can wearing flip flops cause pain, but they can eventually lead to a lack of proper mobility of your feet.


So is wearing flip flops everyday bad for your feet?  The answer is yes, and one of the most common problems we see at Catalyst is bunion growth due to daily flip flop wearing.  In addition, while some of these problems from wearing flip flops all day long require surgery or drugs, many of them can be addressed with less invasive care.  Below we’ll break down the science behind it all, along with at-home tips for how to get your feet back in shape!

 

What Problems Do Flip Flips Create

First, what exactly is a bunion and why does wearing flip flops create one?  A bunion is a condition that is caused by the big toe angling away from your body towards the 2nd toe. The fancy medical term we use for a bunion is hallux valgus, which translates to an “increased toe angle.”

Once the toe starts to angle away from your body, your body enters a protection phase by increasing the production of bone and soft tissue around the joint.  In the early stages, this leads to a purely cosmetic issue around the toe knuckle without pain. In the later stages, patients can complain that the area is painful to touch and even hurts while walking.

 

Bunion Pain Relief

 

What Causes Bunions? 

While the bunion manifests itself in your toe, the actual root of the problem could be higher up in your body.  Wearing flip flops as your daily shoe can create dysfunction in your ankles, knees, and hips.  Therefore, as a result of these dysfunctions, the body compensates for every step you take. 

In the physical therapy world, our fancy term for how you walk is “gait pattern.”  During optimal walking, your big toe is the last part of your foot to leave the ground.  With a perfect gait pattern, your big toe is like a bowstring during these final moments.  Fully taught ready to spring you forward.


However, in people with bunions, the midfoot begins to collapse due to weak hip muscles.  These weak muscles are unable to control the motion of the leg below.  Instead, you push off the inside of your foot like an ice skate, rather than letting your big toe spring you forward.  By taking the recommended 10,000 steps each day, and in shoes that offer little to no support, like flip flops, you can quickly see how your foot structure will change to compensate.

 

Flip Flops and Foot Pain

Still not quite certain that flip-flops could be causing these bunions?  Here’s more research to prove it:

 

Six Steps To Prevent Foot Pain and Provide Pain Relief

Here are a few quick things you can change right now to help prevent a bunion from occurring or for bunion pain relief:

 

1.  Stop Wearing Flip flops All Day Long! 

Instead of flip flops, buy some fun slip-on sneakers. The wider toe box allows your foot to splay on the ground the way it was meant to.  If you’re still not certain if flip flops are bad to wear all day, even after reading the research, try swapping them out for sneakers on your walks.  Heading to the beach?  Wear sneakers and toss your flip flops in your bag!

 

2.  Maintain a healthy weight

Staying in that healthy weight range for your age not only helps you with bunion pain relief, it also reduces your risk of heart attack and high blood pressure.  Plus, it will make you feel good and give you more energy!

 

3.  Exercise regularly

Get into the habit of exercising and adding more movement to your daily routine.  Even if its just 30 minutes a day of brisk walking.  Remember, walk in your sneakers and not your flip flops.

 

4.  Get fitted for orthotics

Orthotics can be helpful to not only support your feet properly but also keep them in the proper alignment when running, walking, or hiking.  In addition, our foot care department at Catalyst PT & Wellness can provide custom orthotic prescriptions!

Fill out our request form now, or call us at 619-501-2195 for an appointment.

 

5.  Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is one of the oldest medical practices still around today.  We’ve adapted this Eastern medicine into our routine care and offer several types of massage- sports, deep tissue, neuromuscular, prenatal, and even chair massages.  In addition, many of our massage therapists see patients that suffer from foot pain due to wearing flip flops all day.

Read more on the styles of massages we offer, what the additional benefits of massage are, and how to become one of our Monthly Massage Members!

 

6.  Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation

As with most common injuries, the tried and true method of R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) will help alleviate foot and ankle pain due to wearing flip flops.  As an example, a warm soak with Epsom salts or an ice pack in the evening will bring foot pain relief.

 

Bunion Pain Relief

Additional Treatments For Flip Flop Wearers

Bunion Surgery

The quick fix for a bunion as a result of wearing flip flops is a surgery known as a bunionectomy.  During the surgical procedure, the bone and soft tissue on the big toe is cut out and the big toe is reset into position.  Besides dealing with post-surgical pain, recovery can last anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months.

Unfortunately, the success rate of these surgeries is mixed.  The bunion is not the actual problem, but rather the area in the body that is compensating for the problem.  If you’re still wearing flip flops post-surgery, your feet will continue to work in the same way.  Therefore, we have seen bunions re-develop after surgery.   The cause of the foot pain or bunion is never addressed and you end up back where you started.

 

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy treatment involves assessing your walking mechanics.  First, we identify the contributors altering your foot and ankle mechanics.  We watch you walk in your shoes or flip flops.  Often we find imbalances in muscles and joints of your hip, knees, ankles, and even your core muscles! 

Second, we teach you about strengthening and stretching techniques.  Third, we have you move in functional patterns.  This allows your body to incorporate your new strength and range of motion into daily life.

 

Not sure if flip flops are causing your injury? Or if your foot pain can be treated with physical therapy?  This is why we offer free injury screenings.  An injury screen is a quick, 15-minute video or in-person chat that can allow a doctor of physical therapy to assess your signs/symptoms.   

If your therapist determines your symptoms stem from an orthopedic issue like wearing those flip flops all day, together you can discuss which course of action will work best for you.  Whether it’s telehealth or in-person PT appointments, we can help you get your body back in action.  Fill out our request form, or call us at 619-501-2195 to book an appointment.

 

Bunion Pain Relief

Summary

If we haven’t convinced you yet, wearing flip flops all day long is bad for your feet.  The constant pain you develop as a result is not only uncomfortable, but it can also make it harder to do the things you love- run, jump, play with your little ones.  Spend a little time taking care of your feet now, and you’ll be pain-free for years to come.

 

Looking for more information about foot and ankle health?  Check out our Foot and Ankle Guide. 

 


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