Blue Rose Physical Therapy: 5 Healthy Proactive Tips, Tricks and Habits to Remain Injury Free
This blog is about healthy tips, tricks, and habits to remain injury free was written by Logan Dockery, PT, DPT, PhD, Owner of Blue Rose Physical Therapy
HOW DO YOU STAY HEALTHY? DO YOU HAVE HEALTHY HABITS THAT KEEP YOU TRAINING CONSISTENTLY? DO YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW YOU CAN REMAIN PROACTIVE IN YOUR RUNNING HEALTH AND TRAINING?
As stated in the last Blog, approximately 75% of runners will suffer an injury that greatly negatively impacts their training each year. Most injuries are preventable, however often times we as runners are not proactive in our efforts to stay healthy outside of just running (especially as beginners) and we do not create or adopt appropriate habits to keep our feet on the road. This is part of the reason why injury rates are so high and sadly many individuals do not turn running into a passion. It is very hard to have drive and passion in running when you are getting injured all of the time.
Below is a list of 5 healthy proactive tips, tricks and habits that ALL runners should follow to remain on the road. Now, if you are a beginner who is just now about to start running, always contact your Primary Care Physician if you have significant health risks or comorbidities to ensure you can tolerate intensive running training. Please remain healthy by checking the status of your health first and foremost.
Once cleared and given the green light or if you are ready to give your body the best shot at remaining injury free, implement these 5 healthy tips:
- Find the Fit that works best for YOU!
Shoes come by the truckloads now! There has never been a time of more options and for many, this can be extremely overwhelming. However, do not let this deter you! Choosing the best shoe for YOU has never been more important, especially if you live in a city in which concrete sidewalks and asphalt roads are of abundance!
Not only should you find a shoe that is comfortable and stylish, but one that is measured and tailored to your feet. Not one person or foot is the same, so trusting a professional to analyze your foot and gait pattern is VITAL to remain healthy and safe. Professionals may include experts at your local running shoe store, like Fleet Feet in Little Rock, a running coach, or Physical Therapist that specializes in running and biomechanics. Which leads to number 2 on our list……
- Optimize Your Biomechanics
Enhancing your biomechanics and form will not only decrease your risk of injury, but it will also make you more efficient and faster! Physical Therapists at Blue Rose Physical Therapy provide a specialized and individualized full kinematic chain evaluation and an Advanced Running Analysis that of which we assess for any body imbalances, risk factors or asymmetries that may make you more susceptible to injuries or limit your physical performance. While expert Advanced Running Analysis is a great option and provides significant value, there are a few tips and tricks you can start immediately to improve your form and efficiency.
- CADENCE: Increasing your cadence to 160-180 strides per minute. This is easy to implement and there are a lot of gadgets, tools and watches that will calculate this for you, but all you have to do is pick a limb and count how many times that limb strikes the ground in a span of a minute. The increase in step/stride frequency will decrease the amount of force each limb strike creates, thus decreasing the amount of repetitive stress on each limb. This will lead to decrease in injury rates for varies conditions.
- POSTURE: This is easy…. Stand tall and don’t slouch. Fight the temptation of looking down when you are fatigued and throwing your arms around. You will use significantly more energy and your natural strike pattern will greatly change (along with other biomechanics) that will decrease your efficiency and place you at greater risk of an injury. Head up, chest up and keep your feet moving.
- DRILLS: Drills are great for educating your legs and arms how to move naturally. Drills are often performed before running and can be included in your warm up. They are designed to break down particular parts of the running mechanics and you just repeat them over and over and over again. As you continue doing the drills consistently, you begin to have carry over in your actual form thus improving your overall biomechanics. My favorite 3 drills are A-Skips, B-Skips and High Knees. There are more, but those are fast, easy, and helpful! Check out our social media pages (Facebook / Instagram) for more details.
- Strength Training
Strength training is a must! When left out, it usually is a recipe for disaster to a runner’s health. I have seen it more times than I can count both with beginners and elite runners (and everywhere in between). Now, there are always exceptions to the rule, but a majority of runners must strength train to some extent. Visiting with a Physical Therapist is the best option so an individualized exercise program can be provided based on a comprehensive musculoskeletal evaluation. This allows you to have a very specialized plan tailored to your body and your needs. However, just starting on a basic strength training program can greatly improve your chances of remaining injury free (from the start if at all possible). Being proactive in this area is much better than being reactive. If you already suffered an injury, you are behind the 8-ball. Always be more proactive than reactive with your strength training and you will find less pain on your runs and more enjoyment and progress! Based on my clinical experience, the weakest body parts of runners include glutes, hamstrings, calves and core musculature. Look for future posts on specific exercises for each area of the body in relation to certain common injuries- Look out Jane Fonda!
- Nutrition and Hydration
It is NOT one or the other….. its both. You must hydrate and supply yourself with good nutrients. Eating foods high in protein and healthy carbohydrates while staying away from sugar is a great first step. Our food intake drives our energy and aids in our recovery so simple healthy options include: whole grains, vegetables, beans, fruits, eggs, fish, lean meat, nuts, quinoa, brown rice, etc. Not to mention, remaining hydrated, especially during the summer months, is essential! Your cells must be hydrated and this goes behind just water. You must be sure to plenish your electrolytes as well. One option to improve your hydration if you need a little boost are Nuun tablets, as well as Liquid I.V. Hydration. These are only possibilities… please consult with your physician first if you are having difficulty with your hydration or diet.
- RECOVERY RECOVERY RECOVERY
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! For us to improve and rebuild, we must listen, rest and recover. It’s great to be motivated, but motivation can only go so far until you ignore the warning signs and BOOM…. You are plagued by the injury bug.
Overtraining is one of the highest risk factors for causing an injury. One of the best ways to remain healthy is to adequately recover. Now, there are different definitions of recovery. For one, you may have multiple active recovery days where instead of running, you may do a lifting session or cross train with biking or swimming… Or you can run, but at a very slow comfortable pace where you can hold a conversation. You may choose to recover in other ways such as yoga, stretching, massage, or hydrotherapy. All of which will allow your legs and body to recover to where you can then challenge your body again in the coming days.
It is very important to note the Cardinal Rule: do not increase distance, intensity and speed at the same time… This typically is not a good combination… Build your mileage and base first, then you can increase your intensity and speed while maintaining or even dropping your base mileage a little. And in regard to increasing your base mileage, you should increase weekly mileage between 10% to 25% or 30% of your previous weekly mileage safely. This is heavily dependent on your personal mileage, but just a good rule of thumb to follow.
Remember- remaining proactive in your health will ALWAYS be better than being reactive! Try to implement these 5 healthy tips, tricks, and habits to see how they work for you! Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions, concerns, or requestions.
As always, stay happy and stay healthy!
Logan Dockery PT, DPT, PhD