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What is the Running Gait Cycle?

Running Gait Cycle

Running requires balance, strength, and range of motion. Your joints and muscles work together to drive you forward. Your body cycles through a running gait cycle, which describes the repetitive pattern of one foot and then the other contacting the ground. Understanding your gait helps reduce running-related injuries and maintain top performance. 

Phases of the Running Gait Cycle

There are two phases in the gait cycle—stance and swing. The stance phase is when a foot is on the ground. Most people make initial contact with the ground with their heel, but some people make contact with the ground with their midfoot, forefoot, or toes. Then, in the mid-stance, the foot is flat. The heel lifts and then takes off, propelling the runner forward. The swing phase starts when the toes leave the ground. Your foot swings forward, ready for the next foot strike.

Biomechanics of the Running Gait Cycle

A runner’s joints and muscles move in unison with each gait cycle. Runners need strong glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core to rebound into the take-off phase. During this propulsion, the pelvis tilts forward while the foot, ankle, knee, and hip extend. 

Running Rotation 

Perfecting your running gait includes paying attention to rotation. During each stride, the pelvis rotates opposite the trunk, counterbalancing each other. Faster runners tend to have higher rotation. However, this is limited by the mobility of the joints and muscles in the hips. A physical therapist can work with you on exercises to improve rotation and mobility. 

How do I know what my running gait is?

A biomechanical analysis lets runners measure their gait. For example, you can record a run to study your gait pattern. Likewise, physical therapists offer evaluations and treadmill observations. There’s even diagnostic software that analyzes running patterns.

A Unique Footprint

A biomechanical analysis lets runners measure their gait. For example, you can record a run to study your gait pattern. Likewise, physical therapists offer evaluations and treadmill observations. There’s even diagnostic software that analyzes running patterns.

The Impact of Nutrition in Sports Performance

Nutrition in Sports Performance

What you eat impacts how well you perform. A balanced diet is an essential part of nutrition in sports performance. Your body can’t function without energy–it needs fuel to recover and keep up with training. For example, elite athletes need a higher caloric intake than average. Finding the right balance of macros, vitamins, minerals, and fluids is essential. 

Macronutrients 

The right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat can give athletes a competitive edge. For example, carbs give your body readily available calories to burn. So, those in endurance sports need lots of carbs. Likewise, fat serves as an energy source for sustained activity. In addition, building strength and muscle mass require a higher-than-average protein intake.

Micronutrients 

Athletes need diets rich in micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. A lack of iron can lead to anemia and fatigue. Calcium and vitamin D strengthen bones and reduce the risk of fractures. In addition, your body needs zinc and magnesium for metabolism and immune health. Some athletes use vitamin and mineral supplements if their diet is deficient in specific micronutrients.  

Fluids and Electrolytes

The body needs fluid and electrolytes to circulate blood. Water breaks down and transports nutrients. Electrolytes like sodium and potassium carry electrical signals your body requires to function. But, when we exercise, we lose these through sweat. So, athletes need to pay extra attention to hydration when training.

What are the nutritional habits of elite athletes?

There is no superfood that boosts sports performance. The secret is to form healthy habits by eating a balanced diet of whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean protein, and healthy fats. Elite athletes also need to maintain their hydration and electrolytes.

Nutrition in Sports Performance

Eating for peak performance can give you an edge over the competition. But unfortunately, demanding schedules and bad dietary habits are barriers to maintaining a healthy diet. So, build healthy patterns to maintain proper nutrition in sports performance and develop healthy habits. 

At Churchill Orthopedic Rehabilitation, we understand the ultra-competitive world of sports. Our Elite Athlete Performance Plan puts you on track to achieve your goals. Schedule a consultation online today.

Running During Pregnancy and Postpartum and Positive Health Outcomes

Running During Pregnancy and Postpartum

Running during pregnancy and postpartum is a safe and easily accessible exercise that improves health outcomes. Unfortunately, many patients are unsure how to safely continue jogging during and after pregnancy. Some fear physical activity may hurt themselves or their baby. For others, nausea and fatigue lead them to avoid exercise. 

Benefits of Running During Pregnancy and Postpartum

Regular exercise during and after pregnancy offers a host of beneficial health effects for the mother and baby. For example, physical activity improves cardiovascular fitness and emotional well-being. Likewise, women who jog during pregnancy show a decreased risk of complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and cesarean section. And they tend to have quicker recovery postpartum. 

Support for Pregnant Runners

Physical activity is vital during and after pregnancy. The CDC recommends pregnant and postpartum women get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. For example, five days a week for 30 minutes. However, physical discomfort can discourage exercise. Prenatal advice from a healthcare provider increases the likelihood of women continuing to run safely. Nurses, midwives, and doctors can ensure patients that running can be a safe and healthy part of pregnancy.

What are the risks of running too soon after giving birth?

Returning to running postpartum comes with some risks. For cesarean deliveries, the fascia needs time to heal correctly. Perineal lacerations and episiotomies need recovery time as well. So, it’s often advisable to wait before returning to running. Still, everyone’s situation is different, so discuss plans with your healthcare provider first.

Running During Pregnancy and Postpartum

Prenatal and postpartum running advice help patients continue jogging during pregnancy and safely return after giving birth. In addition, medical professionals can offer clinical guidelines to help women. We offer advice and guidance on Running During Pregnancy and Postpartum at Churchill Orthopedic Rehabilitation. Call our office to refer patients at 201-833-1333.

The Four S’s of Sports Performance: Strength, Stability, Speed, and Skill

Sports performance is based on an athlete’s technical skills and physical capabilities. Elite athletes want to push their bodies to become faster and stronger. You can hone technical abilities and optimize fitness with targeted conditioning and training. A complete training program includes the following elements of sports performance: strength, stability, speed, and skill.

Strength 

The adage “use it or lose it” applies to muscular strength. Muscle mass naturally decreases over time, so athletes must consistently work on all major muscle groups throughout the week. Plus, strength training does more than bulk you up. It is also important for building stronger bones, managing weight, and decreasing the risk of injury.

Stability 

Stability refers to the body’s ability to rebound from a disturbance in equilibrium. In the most basic sense, it’s about shifting your center of gravity. For example, you can reposition your center of gravity when knocked off balance. In sports training, a lot of emphasis is put on core stability. While core stability is crucial, athletes also need joint stability, balance, and posture. 

Speed 

Going fast requires many body systems working together. First, your sensory system perceives and processes the environment. Then, fast twitch muscles give a sudden burst of energy to accelerate. However, maintaining maximum speed results in the build-up of lactic acid. So, speed endurance training is important in order for an athlete to be able to maintain max speed for as long as possible while increasing their lactate threshold.

Skill 

Each sport has specific skill sets, such as breath control, flip turns in swimming, or passing and shooting in basketball. Better technique means increased physical efficiency. You can do more with less energy over extended periods as your skills improve. Significantly, proper skill technique also reduces the risk of injury.

Which sports need strength, stability, speed, and skill?

Fast-paced athletics need a combination of technical ability and physical fitness. So, improving strength, speed, and skills helps in any sport. Activities that need optimal physical performance include: 
Basketball
Football
Soccer
Track and field 
Swimming
Skating and hockey
Martial arts
Cycling

Sports Performance: Strength, Stability, Speed, and Skill

Successful elite athletes train these components of sports performance: strength, stability, speed, and skill. The first step is identifying your current level in each area and developing a growth plan. Next, we’ll work with you through our Elite Athlete Performance Plan to identify specific goals and design an individual training program. Schedule a consultation online today.

Six Situations Treated with Women’s Health Physical Therapy

Many women think only a doctor can treat their pelvic problems. However, women’s health physical therapy offers specialized treatment for various disorders such as prolapse, diastasis recti, and more. Likewise, a therapist trained in pelvic floor physical therapy can help women and men with incontinence, pelvic pain, and sexual dysfunction. 

1. Urinary Incontinence 

Urinary incontinence (UI) can impact women of all ages, from teens to post-menopausal women. For example, adolescent female athletes in high-impact sports, such as gymnastics and track, have a higher prevalence of incontinence. UI also occurs later in life. So, many women experience urinary leakage following childbirth and after menopause. Fortunately, you can counteract UI with pelvic floor physical therapy.

2. Organ Prolapse 

The pelvic floor muscles support pelvic organs such as the bladder and uterus. If these muscles become weak, or there is laxity in the supporting structures, the organs can drop down, bulge, or prolapse. Fortunately, prolapse is very treatable. A PT can teach you exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. Early treatment can prevent invasive surgery down the road. 

3. Pelvic and Vaginal Pain 

Women can have many different types of pelvic pain. Some discomfort is associated with menstruation, infections, or pregnancy. However, other causes are musculoskeletal. For example, vaginal muscle spasms can lead to painful penetration. Pelvic floor physical therapy offers individualized treatment plans designed to help reduce pelvic pain. 

4. Diastasis Recti Abdominis

Many women experience stretching of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy. This stretching may lead to what is called diastasis recti abdominis: the separation of the external abdominal (stomach) muscles. This is because the connective tissue between them stretches. Fortunately, strengthening and stabilizing your core muscles before, during, and after pregnancy can help! 

5. Lower Back Pain

Pregnancy puts a lot of strain on the lower back. Before childbirth, the hormone relaxin softens the joints and ligaments. Additional weight may also aggravate the joints. Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction causes pain in the lower back and buttocks. Physical therapy treatment can help strengthen the surrounding muscles and support the SI joint.

6. Postpartum Scar Restrictions  

Cesarean and vaginal deliveries can leave behind scars. Following a c-section, some people experience discomfort along the scar tissue. Likewise, many women have tenderness from scar tissue left by episiotomies or natural tears. Therapy for postpartum scars involves soft tissue massage, scar mobilization, stretching, and strengthening of the surrounding muscles.

What does a women’s health physical therapist do?

PTs use evidence-based treatment for musculoskeletal disorders. They can help you reduce pain and return to your everyday quality of life. Treatment usually involves muscle exercises, manual therapy, and patient education.

Getting Treatment

Women’s health physical therapy is the first-line treatment for these conditions and is far less invasive than surgery. Our women’s health expert, Dr. Rachel Feldman, has extensive experience treating female-specific dysfunctions. Don’t live with pain and discomfort. Schedule an appointment online today.

How to Start Running: A PT’s Guide for Beginners

How to Start Running

Running is an excellent exercise for maintaining health and well-being. Whether you have marathon ambitions or want to improve your health, knowing how to start running gets you on the right foot. Keep in mind that every runner is unique. We all have our own goals, skills, and fitness levels. So, be kind to yourself when just starting — don’t hold yourself to someone else’s standards. 

How do I start running if I’m a new runner?

Consistency and planning are critical for new runners. When you decide to start, create a training plan you can stick with. Bear in mind that your body needs time to adjust to any new activity. So, build planned rest days into your schedule. Many people benefit from using a walk/run program that eases them into running. There are many pre-designed programs and apps that can help you start running. If you have any cardiac history, check with your primary care doctor and/or cardiologist to make sure that running is a safe exercise for you.

Training Frequency and Intensity 

When creating a personalized running regimen, consider the frequency and intensity that feels right for your fitness level. Frequency is how often you exercise, and intensity is how hard you run. For example, beginners may benefit from a walk/run program that can also incorporate jogging into their training program. In addition, it’s vital to build cross-training into your schedule. For example, you can always work on strength training and conditioning on days you’re not running. 

Injury Prevention

New runners unfortunately tend to get injured more easily, and we see a lot of preventable running injuries in the clinic. So, injury prevention is crucial to a successful running career. One straightforward injury prevention technique is to start slow. Increase your weekly distance slowly because pushing yourself too hard could quickly end your running journey. Likewise, listen to your body. If aches and pains hinder progress, it’s okay to return to your previous mileage. In addition, repetition can lead to injury, so strive for variety in your training. For example, change up your daily distance or run on various surfaces. Make sure that you include another form of exercise in your weekly exercise regimens, such as yoga, biking, swimming, or strength training. Running is a great exercise, but only using running as exercise can increase your risk of injury.

Importance of Individualization 

No two runners are the same. What works for one person may not work for you. If you decide to use a pre-designed running program, you can modify the plan to fit your needs. If you’re wondering how to start running, we suggest creating an individualized program tailored to your specific goals and needs. 

The COR Running Program offers a personalized consultation with a physical therapist to put you on the path to success. Our unique biomechanical analysis process gives invaluable insight into your gait and cadence. Running is a fun way to exercise and stay healthy. So, we’d love to help you get started on your running journey. Schedule a consultation online today

The Dangers of Overtraining are Real

Dangers of Overtraining

Dedicated athletes train hard and push their limits. But there’s a fine line between a strenuous training load and an overreaching one. So, it’s important to understand the symptoms and dangers of overtraining syndrome. Amature and elite athletes alike run the risk of health complications and injury from overtraining. In addition, if you don’t get enough rest and recovery, you can see a decline in performance.

What is Overtraining Syndrome?

Essentially, overtraining syndrome is your body’s response to excessive physical activity without proper rest and recovery. As a result, a combination of neurological, hormonal, and biological factors leads to fatigue and lower sports performance. The loss of performance could last for several weeks or months.  

Symptoms of Overtraining 

The main symptom of overtraining syndrome is performance loss. Athletes may notice a decrease in strength and conditioning despite increasing their training regimen. Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Disrupted sleep 
  • Mood swings
  • Behavior changes
  • Decreased urination
  • Increased infection risk

Overtraining Factors 

Numerous factors can trigger overtraining, and no single element is the sole cause. For example, we know that athletes who neglect their nutrition, sleep, and recovery are at risk for overtraining syndrome. In addition, there is a long list of behavioral, external, and internal factors, but experts lack a clear understanding of the root cause.

Behavioral Factors

  • Poor nutrition
  • Bad sleeping habits
  • Inadequate rest and recovery
  • Prolonged or monotonous exercise
  • Increased training load

External Factors

  • Life stressors
  • High Altitude
  • Distrusted sleep
  • Too many competitions
  • Heat-related injury

Internal Factors

  • Previous illness
  • Overworked muscles
  • Low muscle glycogen
  • Reduced glutamine 
  • Increased oxidative stress 
  • Hormonal changes
  • Decreased serotonin levels
  • Low sympathetic nervous activation

When should I rest from sports training? 

Sometimes athletes can push themselves too hard. Depending on your level of training, take a rest day every three to five days. Or more frequently if you’re starting. Likewise, it’s vital to rest at least 6 hours between workouts and limit each bout to under 2 hours. You should also rest from exercise following illness or injury, after heat stroke, and during stressful life events. 

Avoiding the Dangers of Overtraining  

They say prevention is the best medicine. Athletes who maintain balanced nutrition, rest, and exercise will likely prevent complications from overtraining. For example, an experienced runner knows to taper before a marathon. Essential prevention tips are:

  • Adjust volume and intensity 
  • Eat enough calories 
  • Drink enough water
  • Get enough sleep
  • Rest and recover

These tips represent a holistic approach to their overall health, including balanced nutrition, sleep, and recovery. With proper guidance and direction, you can avoid the dangers of overtraining. 

At Churchill Orthopedic Rehabilitation, we work with athletes to develop goal-driven plans that achieve optimal results. Schedule a free consultation today.

Experiencing Pelvic Pain? Try Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

pelvic floor physical therapy

Despite all the tests and scans, many women can’t pinpoint the cause of their pelvic pain. Sometimes it’s misdiagnosed as various gynecological conditions or dismissed as “unexplained pain.” Problems with the pelvic floor muscles, called myofascial pelvic pain, are associated with around 20% of chronic pelvic pain and more than 75% of bladder pain syndrome. Unfortunately, this cause often goes unidentified. Gynecologists often focus on organs, not muscles when diagnosing pelvic issues. Physical therapists can help address the underlying problems using pelvic floor physical therapy.

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is a set of muscles that run from the pubic bone to the tailbone. This “hammock” supports the bladder, bowel, rectum, and uterus. These muscles are essential to elimination control and sexual functioning.

What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?

Throughout the lifespan, women can experience pelvic floor dysfunction in the form of symptoms such as urgency, frequency, leaking/incontinence, sexual symptoms such as pain with sex, thinning of vaginal tissue during and post menopause, and bowel symptoms such as constipation, urgency, rectal pain, and incontinence. The musculoskeletal components of these dysfunctions can be addressed by a pelvic health PT specialist.

If you are experiencing pelvic pain, a specially trained PT can design individualized treatment for myofascial pelvic pain. The therapy involves internal and external manipulation of the pelvic floor muscle. While some women may find these methods awkward, a well-trained PT creates a trusting rapport and relaxing atmosphere to help clients feel at ease. 

What to Expect

The first step is learning about the client’s history. The PT and client will have a conversation about medical issues, medications, and sexual/gynecological history. Next, the PT will do an orthopedic evaluation to look at the lumbar, hips, gait, and posture to look for joint issues that could impact the pelvic muscles. An internal pelvic exam can also help determine the best course of action. However, PTs are always sensitive to individual needs and won’t start internal techniques until the client is ready. Each treatment plan is designed to meet the client’s specific goals, such as reconditioning the muscles, improving sexual function, and alleviating pain. Treatments may include:

  • Manual internal and external manipulation
  • Exercises for conditioning, stretching, and relaxation
  • Biofeedback for muscle strengthening 
  • Education in self-management
  • Ice, heat, or electrical stimulation

When to Ask for Help

Chronic pelvic pain is when discomfort below the navel and between the hips persists for six months or longer. The pain may be severe or dull, steady or intermittent. Women may experience sharp cramps or deep pressure. Other times, women have pain during intercourse, while using the toilet, or after sitting or standing for a long time. It may be challenging to know when to seek medical attention. Contact your doctor if the pain lasts six months or longer, disrupts daily life or seems to be getting worse. A medical professional can help diagnose the problem and work with the patient to develop treatments, including medications and pelvic floor physical therapy. 

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy at COR

At Churchill Orthopedic Rehabilitation, we care strongly about women’s health conditions. Our doctorate-level female PTs are here to help with issues such as diastasis recti, urinary incontinence and urgency, pregnancy, post-partum, c-section scar restrictions, and painful penetration. If you are suffering from chronic pelvic floor pain or any other women’s health condition, schedule an appointment online today.