YouTube Update 5/23/17

Helping the whole world run faster and hurt less.

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Morning, Folks! The beat goes on and we’ve got a great foot and ankle exercise up on our YouTube Channel for those of you looking to improve your running, be it for distance, or a field/court sport. This will be especially useful for you if you’ve been told you have flat feet or need an orthotic insert in your shoes to run, train, play without pain. Remember, your arches are not weight bearing surfaces. If they’re flat, they’re weak. And just like flabby arms, it is within your reach to shape them up.  Get after it and have a great day!

Are You Ready To Run? Part XIII

Crossing the finish line in our series.

The last stop on our journey to transform your body, your routines, and your running performance is here. If you’ve been hard at work to meet the following standards, by now you should have a solid hold on what your actual strengths and weaknesses are.

In cased you missed it, here are the first 11 standards we’ve discussed to date:

The Standards

#1-Neutral Feet

#2-Flat Shoes

#3-A Supple Thoracic Spine

#4-An Efficient Squatting Technique

#5 Hip Flexion

#6 Hip Extension

#7 Ankle Range of Motion

#8 Warming Up and Cooling Down

#9 Compression

#10 No Hot Spots

#11 Hydration

#12 Jumping and Landing

Specifically, can you jump and land with good mechanics? In essence, the running motion is a series of single-leg mini squats each time your foot hits the ground. The ability to maintain good posture and alignment in this instance has direct correlation to the health of your ankles, knees, hips, and low back.

Similar to our Squatting Standard, landing from a jump should demonstrate your ability to create a stable mid-line, produce torque at the hips, and control your foot and knee position as your feet hit the ground. If your feet turn out and your knees collapse in when you land from a jump, it’s a good bet your body does the same thing when you run. And there’s no amount of tape, arch support, or pain medication that will keep you from shredding your patellar tendons and grinding your knee cartilage to dust if you run like a duck (toes out) or a pigeon (toes in). Mastering good jumping and landing mechanics takes a huge injury risk off the table and helps you develop better strength through your posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) as well as your feet and ankles.

Passing the Jumping and Landing Standard is a two part test. First, can you jump and land with both legs, maintaining good foot, knee, and spine position?

Test #1: Jumping Onto A Box

Starting Position:

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Sit back in a quarter squat position, loading your hip and hamstrings, keeping your mid-line engaged and back neutral.

Jumping

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Forcefully extended your knees and hips, pushing off the ground while your arms swing forward and upwards.

Landing

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Good landing position looks exactly like good squat position: your shins are vertical, your back is straight, and your knees are out with your feet pointing straight ahead. From another angle:

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Fault #1 (Knees collapsing inward)

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If you land like this, please stop it, while your ACL’s are still intact.

Fault #2 (Feet turned out)

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If you land like this, not only are you collapsing your arches, but once again you are creating an abnormal amount of torque in your knees that will grind those joints down at an exponential rate.

Test #2: Single Leg Jumps

Our second jumping and landing test will tell you if you’ve got good power in your lower legs and enough strength down there to control how your foot contacts the ground. Additionally, single leg jumping is the perfect antidote for weak feet and ankles, as well as a quality way to warm-up before you run.

Jump from your hips and minimize your knee bend

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Keep neutral position from head to toe

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Land on your forefoot and let your heel kiss the ground before hopping up again. Each landing should be performed with the foot straight and knee in a neutral position

Fault #1

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Arch collapses (foot turns out), valgus knee (inside of foot).

If you are struggling to meet these standards, I suggest two things. First, re-visit your squat form and begin a daily routine of squatting to ingrain good alignment for your lower body and trunk. When you can pass the Tabata squatting protocol we outlined, you should be ready to start training your jumping and landing mechanics.

Second, if you passed this standard, as mentioned above, both of these variations are great exercises to practice on a weekly basis. Maintaining good jumping and landing mechanics is a sure-fire method to help you run your best. And plugging in 30 squats and 30 single-leg jumps for each leg is an awesome way to prime the pump of your lower body muscles before you head out for your next run.


COMMENT RULES: If you are a real person, leave your real name. We are not a clearing house for solicitors so don’t do it here. Criticism and questioning is fine, that’s how we all learn and grow. Personal attacks, name calling, and the like ARE NOT COOL-if we catch you doing it you’re gone. Other than that, have at it folks! We love hearing from followers and newcomers alike and will try to reply to as many comments and questions as we can!

Are You Ready to Run? Part X

Kick-starting your post-run recovery.

68015_10151199176137739_1161845327_nA quick review to get everyone up to speed in our series:

The Standards

#1-Neutral Feet

#2-Flat Shoes

#3-A Supple Thoracic Spine

#4-An Efficient Squatting Technique

#5 Hip Flexion

#6 Hip Extension

#7 Ankle Range of Motion

#8 Warming Up and Cooling Down

There are a variety of methods involving ice, heat, and water that many people use religiously to treat their bodies after their runs. But what happens when you don’t have time or access to these modalities and you’re facing 8 to 10 hours of commuting and sitting at work? It’s unlikely your boss is going to sign off on that hot tub request you made. Or worse, what do you do after a morning run followed by a transcontinental airline flight to ensure you don’t feel like your legs are unfolding like an accordion when you arrive at your destination?

Enter the ninth standard for our runners and a secret weapon in the recovery game:

Compression

You’re no doubt familiar with the nearly ubiquitous use of compression shorts and shirts by athletes trying to keep their bodies warm and supported during their sporting activities. Lower extremity compression is often times forgotten or relegated to the realms of clinical use for lower extremity circulatory impairments. We’ve known for decades that compression of the feet, ankles, and lower legs allows the body to operate the circulatory and lymphatic systems more efficiently.

What we’ve found in our practice is that the same compression of the feet and lower legs is an incredibly simple and effective tool to help you bounce back faster from your runs.

Here’s the simple application process:

  1. Once you’ve finished your run, properly cooled down, cleaned up, and gotten fired up for the rest of your day, put your compression socks on.
  2. Go on about the rest of your day

That’s it. It’s a simple and cost effective standard to meet.  You can find a good pair of compression socks for $20-$30. Look for socks that provide compression at 20 mmMg for the optimum effect.

If you’re sitting for the majority of your day, the systems that deal with muscle recovery and tissue repair (your circulatory and lymphatic systems) just don’t work effectively enough on their own. Compression keeps blood and fluid from pooling in your lower legs as you sit. Better circulation equals faster recovery.

And compression socks are a lifesaver on a long plane flight. After finishing my most recent Spartan Race last fall, less than a day later I limped onto a plane from New York City to Kansas City (a 3 hour flight), compression socks on and my calves screaming at me after running up and down a mountain for four hours the day before. By the time we landed in KC I actually felt looser than when I walked on the plane in NYC. Despite only being able to get up and move around a handful of times, being intentional about my recovery made the process 10 times easier than it would have been if I had just waited for my body to try to recover from that torture I put it through on my own.

There’s mixed evidence as to whether or not wearing compression socks while you run has any performance benefits. But there’s no argument that compression after a run helps the recovery process along. Yes, the socks can look dorky. No, no one actually cares if you’re wearing them. But your body will notice the difference. Wearing them under your business casual attire will be your secret weapon to help fuel your next hard training run or race, without any extra effort on your part.


COMMENT RULES: If you are a real person, leave your real name. We are not a clearing house for solicitors so don’t do it here. Criticism and questioning is fine, that’s how we all learn and grow. Personal attacks, name calling, and the like ARE NOT COOL-if we catch you doing it you’re gone. Other than that, have at it folks! We love hearing from followers and newcomers alike and will try to reply to as many comments and questions as we can!

Are You Ready to Run? Part VIII

The one where we fix your foot and ankle pain and restore their awesomeness.

How much time do you spend paying attention to your feet and ankles? As a runner, do you look at your feet and ankles like bad dogs that you discipline with arch supports, stability shoes, NSAID’s, pain-killers, and ice? Do you look at ankle and foot pain as the cost of doing business as a runner?

I want you to do better. You can be a better owner of those dogs. You can turn your feet and ankles into steel springs that power you to higher levels of performance. You just need a plan to get there.

Enter Ready to Run Standard #7

The Standards

#1-Neutral Feet

#2-Flat Shoes

#3-A Supple Thoracic Spine

#4-An Efficient Squatting Technique

#5 Hip Flexion

#6 Hip Extension

#7 Ankle Range of Motion

The question today is do you have the requisite ankle range of motion to allow you to run efficiently? In addition to range of motion, we want to see that you have some actual strength in those dogs to actually use that full range of motion.

Though I’ve spent the better part of a decade now in the world of physical therapy, it never ceases to amaze me how much pain and suffering that folks will put up with in their feet and ankles before they ask for help. Heroism is not what running should be all about. Suffering should come in the form of pushing yourself to run farther and faster, not in an attempt to see how far you go until you break, but to challenge your beliefs about your own capacities to perform.

There are untapped reservoirs of strength, power, and endurance in your lower legs and feet. You will not access these overnight, but if you make the commitment to take better care of your body, you will be shocked to observe how much better your feet and ankles and feet can feel with just a small dose of regular care. How long will it take? It depends on your situation. At a minimum you’ll need 10 minutes a day for 90 days. I’ve had clients where the timeline is closer to six months, and some that take closer to 1 year. While this seems a lengthy commitment, is 10 minutes a day for a year that huge of a time-suck if your goal is to be able to run for the entirety of your life?

We prioritize full foot and ankle mobility and motor control because the lack of capacity in this area predisposes you to further orthopedic issues at the knee, hip, and lumbar spine. If you run like a duck with your feet turned out, as your heel strikes at impact your entire lower body collapses inward to create stability. The most likely outcomes of such mechanics are medial (the inner half) knee pain, hip impingement (a pinching feeling in the front of your hip or groin), and the smoldering fire of a low back ache as you collapse on your lumbar vertebrae in an attempt to find stability through your pelvis and low back. This is a recipe to flip your physical status from “runner” into “former-runner”.

How do you know if you’ve got full ankle capacity? With the two tests below:

The Pistol Squat Test

The Pistol is the bane of folks with hip flexion and ankle dorsiflexion (foot pulled up towards the shin) limitations. Not only will it illuminate your restrictions in both areas, it will tell you how capable your body is of maintaining good position under end-range load.

Here’s the scoop on how to test yourself:

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Get in a braced position in standing, with your feet together.

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Lower yourself into a squat position. Because we are just testing your ability to get into end-range ankle dorsiflexion and hip flexion, don’t worry if your back rounds in the bottom of your squat.

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Bien! Bien!

Shift your weight to your right leg and extend your left leg out in front of you. Your right knee should be driving outside your right foot and your arch should be stable. If you’ve got those positions, you pass.

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No bueno.

If you’re knee has drifted inside your foot, your foot turns out and your arch collapses towards the floor, and your can’t correct those positions, you’ve got a new homework assignment.

The Plantarflexion Test

This one is simple: can you sit on the tops of your feet with your butt resting on top of your heels?

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If you can’t reach this position, can’t tolerate holding this position for 60 seconds, or have pain in your hips, knees, ankles or feet, again, you’ve got some homework to attend to.

We’ve posted quite a bit of content already on restoring the normal capacity of your lower legs and feet. There’s the one we did here, and another one we did here, and then that other one we did over here.

The rewards for restoring your normal foot and ankle range of motion and strength are tremendous: decrease likelihood of injury, increased performance, optimized lower body mechanics, and less wear and tear on all of the joints of your lower body. It will take some work to reach this standard. Dig in! The things in life that are worth having are worth working towards.


COMMENT RULES: If you are a real person, leave your real name. We are not a clearing house for solicitors so don’t do it here. Criticism and questioning is fine, that’s how we all learn and grow. Personal attacks, name calling, and the like ARE NOT COOL-if we catch you doing it you’re gone. Other than that, have at it folks! We love hearing from followers and newcomers alike and will try to reply to as many comments and questions as we can!

 

Mobility Prescription for R2R Standard #4

Hey Folks!  Hope everyone’s keeping warm. If you haven’t tried our squat assessment we posted here last weekend, check it out. If you find yourself lacking in the ability to squat well once or multiple times over the course of 4 minutes, we’ve got some help on our YouTube channel today. Click here for your squat mobility prescription.

Are You Ready to Run? Part V

Today we’re tackling one of the running community’s most feared movements and exercises: The Squat. Continue reading “Are You Ready to Run? Part V”

Are You Ready To Run? Part III

Turkey and pie coma in the rear-view mirror now, it’s time to get back to work and get you Ready to Run. If you missed Part I and Part II of the series, you can click on the links to catch up.

Continue reading “Are You Ready To Run? Part III”

Are You Ready to Run? Part II

Today starts our 12-point systems check of your physical and lifestyle practices as we ensure you, dear reader, are actually Ready to Run.

Continue reading “Are You Ready to Run? Part II”