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For many people, winter is the time to take a break from running. Okay, yes there are those of us (myself included) who really like cold weather running. But let’s face it: there are plenty of days when it’s a freezing, slushy mess outside, and doing hill repeats on the ice in Central Park just isn’t going to happen.
The great thing is, there are plenty of awesome workouts to be had indoors in New York City. Whether it’s your off-season, reverse taper to a late winter race or even base building for a spring race, get creative with your cross training over the next few months.
Last month, I was inspired by several of my clients to purchase ClassPass. A number of people told me how they tried a new studio and enjoyed the change, or did a class that they’d never done before and discovered a great new type of workout for them.
I don’t usually go for group fitness classes. I tend to exercise on my own — and without a formal gym membership, I spend most of my time outside running, doing strength work at home or at Finish Line, cycling and practicing yoga. However, I’m well aware of the benefits of doing different types of exercise, not to mention being pushed to work harder by someone else.
So far, ClassPass has been a nice variation! From barre and rowing to different types of yoga, strength training, and pilates, it’s been fun trying out different workouts across the city.
As you plan your workout schedule this holiday season, keep the following principles of exercise and training in mind:
If this is your off season from run training, it’s a great time to focus on those things that fall by the wayside during your regular season. Hips are always tight? Try a few different types of yoga classes and build your own routine to target your tightest areas. Glute strength is your issue? Pick up a new strength training class 2x per week. Balance is terrible? Foot strength and single leg balance are essential for runners; try yoga or barre class and get comfortable kicking off your shoes and really feeling your feet.
Re-Assess your Biomechanics
If you’re not in full training mode, now is a great time to look at your biomechanics and identify areas of asymmetry, tightness and/or weakness. If you’ve been dealing with a chronic injury or other issue, now is the time to get it checked out. Come in to Finish Line for a full evaluation, or take advantage of our free Peak Performance Analysis!
Strength in Variety
The body becomes stronger when it is able to adapt to a large variety of movement situations. Challenging yourself to new workouts is a great way to build strength because it activates your muscles and nervous system in different directions and with different loads.
Keep Running (remember: a little goes a long way)
For some people, all they want to do is run, and it’s hard to taper it down during the off season. For others, they don’t want to look at their running shoes for months after the marathon. Either way, it’s good to keep running even when you’re not in training — but remember: it doesn’t have to be a lot. Running fitness is best maintained when the intensity of your runs remains consistent; frequency and duration can decrease without a significant impact on running fitness. So shoot for a few shorter, faster runs, and don’t worry about keeping up a high weekly mileage.
Enjoy your Exercise
We can all admit that there are points during training when we hate running. This time of year is great to get back to basics and really enjoy your workouts. If there’s something you want to get back to doing, a new activity that you want to try, or if you just want to run without worrying about pace or miles, now’s the time to do it. Have fun with your winter training, and you will benefit the most!
Variety of movement is the best thing for your body. That is why we mobilize, stretch and strengthen in all three planes of motion. That is why a good training program includes a variety of speed/tempo runs, interval training, hill/terrain conditioning, etc. And that is why the best athletes are the most aware and adaptive athletes. They know their strengths and weaknesses, and they use creative training to enhance their performance.
Help me train creatively this holiday season by posting your favorite ClassPass workouts in the comments below!
By Dr. Melva L. Baker, DPM
One of the more common overuse injuries that patients come in for during the fall months when marathon training is in full swing is plantar fasciitis. If you’ve had that nagging pain in your heel that seems to never go away – and is especially painful when you wake up in the morning – then you know what I’m talking about.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the long thick band of tissue (fascia) connecting the heel bone to the toes becomes inflamed, irritated and painful. There is a degenerative process that occurs within this band of tissue due to excessive stretching and overuse. The pain may be substantial, resulting in the alteration of daily activities.
Usually when someone comes into my office with plantar fasciitis, they answer YES to the following questions:
- Are you having pain that affects the bottom of the foot, especially closest to the heel?
- Are you having foot pain when taking the first few steps after getting out of bed?
- Are you having foot pain after being off your feet for an extended period of time?
- Are you having foot pain that improves by walking for a few minutes?
- Are you having foot pain that develops after exercise, not during?
Plantar fasciitis can be a difficult problem to treat – and if you don’t address it, the condition can become chronic. Fortunately, most patients with this condition eventually have satisfactory outcomes with nonsurgical treatment. About 85% of plantar fasciitis cases resolve spontaneously by or before 12 months; 5% of patients end up undergoing surgery for plantar fascia release, because all conservative measures have failed.
For athletes in particular, the slow resolution of plantar fasciitis can be a highly frustrating problem, and it’s one that doesn’t go away overnight. Particularly for people who have more chronic pain or who continue their regular activities, improvements can often take many weeks or months and require considerable effort to maintain a heel-cord stretching program.
Generally the pain resolves with conservative treatment. For more severe cases in which conservative methods do not work, I usually recommend injection therapy of a steroid anti-inflammatory medication and/or an orthotic device. An injection to the foot can help decrease the inflammation and pain resulting from plantar fasciitis.
In conjunction to these treatments, I refer patients to a physical therapist that is trained to evaluate and treat plantar fasciitis, and who will work with you to develop a program to decrease your symptoms:
- Manual work to the plantar fascia, calves and even up into the hip to improve the flexibility of your ankle and plantar fascia. This work restores foot arch muscle control as well as restores normal calf and leg muscle control.
- Kinesio taping of the foot/ankle/leg to provide short-term relief
- Identifying stiff joints within the foot and ankle complex that can be loosened to help avoid plantar fascia overstress
- Strengthening and stretching exercises to assist joint mobilization/manipulation during the painful phase and prevent a recurrence and improve sporting performance
- Icing the foot to reduce pain and swelling, or adding heat before stretching to increase mobility
Treatment with your podiatrist and physical therapist generally reduces pain and restores the patient’s ability to put weight on their foot again. Make sure to address plantar fasciitis sooner rather than later to avoid changes in weigh-bearing patterns resulting from the foot pain – which in turn may lead to associated secondary injury to the hip and knee joins.
Dr. Melva L. Baker graduated from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine and completed residencies in Podiatric Orthopedics and Podiatric Medicine and Surgery. Dr. Baker has extensive experience in treating a wide variety of podiatric concerns including common skin and nail disorders, sports-related injuries, diabetic and vascular wound care and biomechanical issues.
When I first started triathlon, I jumped right into doing Ironman. I wanted to hear the words, “Andy Fenack, you are an Ironman.” After all, “…you are an Olympic distance triathlon finisher…” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
As this was pre-PT days, I was fairly naïve with my training and nutrition, and I basically just went for it without too much guidance. I actually finished my first Ironman unscathed, then immediately signed up for another the following year. Aaaaaaand … seamless transition to injury and the introduction of physical therapy into my life.
Ever feel the pressure that you need to do one long training weekend after another to complete a marathon or triathlon? Ever feel that your weekdays are spent recovering/preparing for those long training weekends? Yup. That was me.
Leading up to that second Ironman, I felt that I needed ride 100 miles and run as long as I could every weekend. I was overtrained, injured and mentally drained from the “every weekend must be long” philosophy. Luckily, I had the opportunity to work with a highly skilled and inspiring PT who got me to the finish line of that second Ironman.
One day in a pre-race discussion, he said, “We’re JUST GETTING STARTED after you finish this race.” That made so much sense to me. I wouldn’t be coming into his office on Mondays hobbled with my “every weekend must be long” plan, and we could actually get to work on solving the underlying problems that led me there in the first place.
I finished that race, and we just got started in the weeks after that. I didn’t have to experience — errr, suffer — through as many intense soft tissue sessions on my beat-up joints and muscles, and he helped me started moving in ways that increased my mobility and made me stronger.
I was able to develop a strength and conditioning program suitable for an endurance athlete that would balance my training the following year. After all, simply going to the gym and lifting stuff isn’t going to cut it.
I went into the next year stronger and more mobile than I’d been, and I showed up at start lines healthy. Lo and behold, I went faster at all distances than I had previously.
So. Now let’s talk about you. You’ve completed your goal races and hopefully had enough fun to want to race again next year. What does this “off-season” look like for you?
Here are some suggestions to help guide you (from someone who’s learned the hard way):
Give yourself some time off.
Go out with friends, enjoy our great city, sleep in and don’t work out one weekend. And when you do go for a run again, don’t wear a watch. Just go out and run because you want to for as long as you feel like it. My watch broke recently, and I’ve had a blast the past couple of weeks just running for the sake of running.
Continue — or finally start — physical therapy.
If you’ve been coming in to see us before your race, chances are good that the underlying issues that brought you to PT in the first place have not been solved. Discuss your goals and off-season plans with your PT and learn new movement patterns to increase strength and mobility now that you’re not running as much. We will help you develop a program that you can carry forward with you to balance your training for the coming years.
After all, you want to do this for the rest of your life don’t you? Most runners and triathletes move in the same plane of motion over and over again. Humans are built to move in multiple directions, and when we don’t, the result is breakdown and injury. Finish Line physical therapists are the local experts at getting you to move in directions that are out of your norm. Come check it out.
If you want to do long distance races next year, pick ONE or TWO to focus on.
There’s a reason that most professional runners and triathletes don’t race more than two marathons or two Ironman triathlons per year. Many of them would only do one if racing organizations and sponsors didn’t require them to do more than that. And they do this stuff for a living.
So you working professionals who want to do more than a couple of long distance races over the course of the year, beware burn out and injury. You’ve been warned. Make one race — your goal race — special. Focus your energy towards that.
Do something new.
Use the winter months to try a new sport. Cross country skiing, snowshoe running, swimming, boxing, rock climbing — SOMETHING new and different that will challenge you to move in ways you’re not used to moving. After all, a better mover is a better athlete.
If you need a bit of a guide, here’s what an “off-season” week looks like for me.
Overall, I try to be flexible with no specific plan on any one day. The only constant is strength and mobility work 3 to 5 times per week. Yes: 3 to 5 times per week. And I don’t mean stretching or foam rolling. That’s daily. Again, you want to do this the rest of your life, correct?
- Monday: Run to work. Nothing better than a super-cold early-morning run to start the week off, in my opinion. Snowing? Even better! I love running in the snow.
- Tuesday: Strength/mobility.
- Wednesday: Swim or bike and strength/mobility.
- Thursday: Run and strength/mobility.
- Friday: Off or yoga.
- Saturday: My “something new” day. I’ll check the snow reports for cross country skiing, sign up for a class I’ve never done or go throw around the Vipr in ways I haven’t before.
- Sunday: Swim, bike or run and strength/mobility. Or do more of what I did on Saturday.
In the running world, October is a busy month! Fall marathon season is in full swing, and we’ve got people in our community running Wineglass, Steamtown, Chicago, Marine Corps, New York, Philadelphia … to name just a few.
Lots of races … and lots of miles on those already weary marathon legs that have been going strong since the summer.
In order to reach new limits of pace, distance and achievement, it’s important to balance the effort with a recovery plan. Post-workout recovery enables your body to rebuild itself in response to all the stress you place on it during periods of hard effort.
Finish Line Physical Therapy has some great tools that will provide relief after long weeks of training, prepare you to be your best on race day and help you recover faster after you’ve crossed the finish line.
For most people, getting a massage falls into the “nice to have” category. It’s something you might do once or twice a year because mom gave you a gift certificate for your birthday. But when it comes to training for a distance event, consider thinking about soft tissue work as one tool in your toolbox when you look at your overall health and overall training plan.
Massage that emphasizes functional soft tissue therapy helps to release the soft tissue restrictions that often cause pain and inhibit movement. In tandem with regular stretching, foam rolling and mobility work, massage can promote better blood flow to help reverse the repetitive movements and daily stresses of training. Be nice to your body so it will be nice to you on race day!
Prepare your body for race-day by scheduling a massage 5-7 days before the race. Or help expedite your body’s recovery with a post-race massage 2-3 days after you cross the finish line. Call the office today to schedule an appointment with Sara Hunninghake, our staff LMT!
NormaTec Compression Sleeves
We may or may not have started calling these the “magic sleeves” around the office. The NormaTec compression sleeves are one of the best tools for increasing circulation, decreasing inflammation and speeding up recovery. Particularly beneficial after a long run, intense workout or a RACE, the sleeves use a unique massage pattern to provide dynamic compression to the limbs, thereby enhancing the movement of fluids. Even spending as little as 20 minutes can help an athlete recover faster than waiting for the body to recover on its own.
[Read more about the science behind NormaTec recovery.]
Finish Line PT patients are welcome to use the sleeves for free as part of their rehab. We welcome non-patients to use them for a nominal fee. Call the office today to schedule an appointment, and let the sleeves work their magic!
110% Play Harder
Finish Line PT is partnering with 110% Play Harder to provide quality products that help our patients reach their individual finish lines.
110% Play Harder creates products that allow you to transition from high performance to active recovery in one step. The combination of compression plus ice or heat therapy helps to speed recovery, enhance performance and decrease chance of injury. 110% zoned, gradient compression helps to reduce swelling and increase circulation while you’re working out. 110% compression plus ice/heat provides you with a mobile post-recovery tool that is both convenient and simple to use.
Gone are the days of trying to awkwardly wrap a bag of ice around your knee or use saran wrap to ice your ankle (plus, is it ever tight enough?). 110% products allow for targeted placement of reusable inserts that can be frozen or heated up in the microwave to prevent swelling and reduce inflammation.
To view the complete product line, check out the 110% online store. We’ve got samples of all their products in the office in case you want to check them out before ordering.
We are excited to announce that Finish Line Physical Therapy has expanded!
Starting November 3, we began seeing patients at “Finish Line East,” our new location inside of Halevy Life at 212 East 57th Street (at 3rd Avenue). Conveniently located near major subways on the east side, our second location is in a stunning, spacious, marble-floored former art gallery.
The main Finish Line location in Chelsea continues to serve as the hub for all scheduling, insurance inquiries and general questions.
Other than a different address (and for our east-side patients, less travel time!), we hope everything about Finish Line East feels familiar. The hours are also 6:45 a.m. to 8:15 p.m., and treatments are 45 minutes one-on-one with the PT.
We remain committed to the highest quality of care, service and personal attention that you have come to expect at Finish Line. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: our goal is for our patients to receive “five-star service” in an environment that inspires, supports and challenges you to be your best.
We couldn’t have asked for better partners in achieving that goal than Halevy Life, an industry-leading private gym that offers a service-based – not usage-based – membership model. Halevy Life “Raises the Bar” by training every client as if she or he is a professional athlete – and by delivering intelligently designed, systematic, scientific and progressive programming from top-tier coaches.
After running my 3rd marathon, I needed some serious help. I spoke to tons of people I knew from various running groups and on Twitter and they all said the same thing - go to Finish Line. Back there now proactively as I prepare for my next marathon after my hip and knee started bothering me. Feeling fantastic and more ready than ever. — Ben W.
Finish line is awesome. A few years back I started experiencing knee pain while running. They were super helpful identifying the issue (IT band tightness), and working with me with deep tissue massages, foam rollers, and strength building exercise to get me back up and running quickly. — Jonathan W.
I like the environment too; it feels more like a gym than the sterile environments I'm used to seeing at standard clinics. Everyone around the place is in a general good mood -- none of that grumpy New York customer service crap. They all seem to be athletes too. They worked with my insurance as well to get the price reasonable. — Vincent D.