Our thanks to Alpine Physical Therapy super star and running expert, Kristi Moore, MSPT, for this article.
If you are someone who chooses to run outdoors in the winter instead of on a treadmill there are many differences from running in the other seasons outdoors. This is especially true if you do trail running in the winter months when there can be snow, ice, puddles and significant uneven terrain you are dealing with. You may find that your feet get tired quicker than usual; that your hip muscles tense up more and that you have to slow down to keep yourself upright at times.
It is helpful to have something on your shoes to help with traction, but you will still get some slight slipping if you are on ice or small motions of your feet in the snow. It is a constant balance workout to do this type of running; which requires different muscle recruitment than running on firm dry ground. Our balance reactions start at our foot and ankle, then work up the chain to our knees, then hips.
You can help improve your balance reactions by doing balance type of exercises daily. It can be as simple as standing on one leg while brushing your teeth, maybe even standing on a pillow on one leg while tossing a ball with someone. You can work on the small muscles in your feet with towel scrunches or picking up marbles. You can work on hip strength with side stepping using an exercise band or side shuffles for a warm up, also make sure you stretch your hips good after running (thread the needle/figure 4 stretch).
Running outdoors in the winter can be beautiful and very peaceful when there is a fresh snowfall, but know you will be working your body slightly different, which can be a good thing!
Alpine Physical Therapy, North
2965 Stockyard Rd.
Missoula, MT 59808
Can running on a treadmill take the place of running outside when the smoke is bad? The levels of smoke in the air fluctuate from day to day. If you are training for a specific event it may be hard to decide whether it is better to turn indoors to a treadmill or keep running outside. There is not a single answer to this question, but following are some suggestions.
AirNow.gov recommends that people should not run outside when the visibility is less than five miles due to smoke. If you have heart or lung conditions this may be different. The AirNow website provides air quality information and maps to help you determine if it is ok to be doing a more exertional type of activity outside.
If you have determined to do some of your workouts on a treadmill, the question then arises about how to get a similar running workout on a treadmill as the one you would get outside. There has been research suggesting you can get a similar workout with some adjustments to the treadmill settings. You should know that your running gait will be different, just like it is different when you run on asphalt vs. trail. The treadmill should be set up 1% on incline to mimic running on level ground outdoors. You may also want to vary your speed throughout your run slightly.
When we run outside we are adjusting our pace frequently due to the changes in terrain. On a treadmill you could just set a pace and stay exactly the same throughout. The overall calories burned tends to be less on a treadmill than outdoors due to increased muscle recruitment outdoors (hamstrings and glutes are used to pull you forward, on a treadmill the belt moves your forward). Also in general people tend to run faster, and longer when running outdoors compared to running on a treadmill. So if you want to attain a specific goal with a treadmill workout you may need to run a little longer to get the amount you need.
Good luck in all the future training endeavors. Here’s to clear skies and more smoke-free days that will let us enjoy the great Missoula fall running weather!
Kristi Moore, MSPT
Alpine Physical Therapy, North
Thanks to Kristi Moore, MSPT, our running specialist at Alpine Physical Therapy, for this information rich article.
Recently, I have had many questions about the best form for running. This has been a long term question for many runners and a hot topic over the years with recreational and elite runners. An article in the New York Times (August, 2012) brought up a study where non-runners, who went through a running training program naturally increased their efficiency and improved their form and running pace. The other side of this is that changing a runner’s form can help prevent injury and improve speed. As we find new runners inspired by the Missoula Marathon and other local running events, I thought I could give some insight from a Physical Therapist’s perspective on finding a running form that may help with injury prevention.
If you currently don’t have any injuries, and are beginning to run or train for a specific event, here are some ideas to help you find your form.
To find your ideal pace to maintain for longer distances, you will need to vary your pace during some of your runs. For example: after you warm up try running at a significantly faster pace for a shorter distance to the point it feels difficult, then slow back down to a comfortable pace. Your body will begin to find that “natural pace” it can maintain for longer periods of time. On your longer runs purposely make yourself slow down slightly, adding a few of these “pick-ups”. You will find that as your body gets used to running, your overall pace will naturally increase, but it is still a good idea to vary your pace with different runs to decrease the repetitive stresses which can occur.
Upper body posture should be overall relaxed. Keep your head up and gaze straight ahead to see what is coming up. Keep your shoulders relaxed, arms swinging in forward/back ward motion minimizing across body motion, and keep your hands relaxed. As people first start running, they often notice that their necks and upper back feel tight and tired. Making these slight adjustments can help. Periodically during your runs, shake your arms out down at your side, and check in to make sure you aren’t gripping your hands into tight fists.
Lower body movement is where there is more controversy on what to do. Let your knee have a natural swing. This will create a natural stride. It is not beneficial to try to overstride for longer distances as this will decrease your efficiency and increases impactive forces. The foot plant has the most discussion in the literature. I would recommend first determining if you are a heel striker, mid foot striker, or the rare instance where someone is a forefoot striker. There are pros and cons to all three types of striking. The only one I work to change with people are the heel strikers, especially if they are having pain in their feet, knees, hips, or back. To hit on your heel with the forces involved in running can create stress up the lower extremity chain and into the lower back.
The most important factor in form is to listen to your body. Running can and should be a natural activity for individuals. If you are having pain during your runs or afterward, you can try to make some of the adjustments mentioned above. However, if you still cannot find a comfortable form with running that does not create pain, you may benefit from a Runner’s Clinic or formal physical therapy to address your specific issues. These services are both offered at Alpine Physical Therapy, as are free consults for Run Wild Missoula members if you aren’t sure what would help in finding your running form.
Kristi Moore, MSPT
Alpine Physical Therapy -North
Thanks to our running specialist, Kristi Moore, MSPT, for this informative post for runners.
As we are getting closer to the Missoula Marathon and many other long distance races in Montana, there are likely to be an increase in aches and pains with the increase in mileage. This can be especially true for beginning runners, but also for experienced runners after a long winter with decreased weekly mileage.
This month I felt it would be beneficial to talk about some ways to help decrease the aches and pains, as well as when you should seek professional advice.
It is normal to have soreness, usually in your legs or feet with longer runs. This is true especially the first time you run a particular distance. This is the result of your muscles tightening up after a longer fatiguing effort, but not related to a specific trauma or injury. These aches and pains are often described as soreness, stiffness, or tightness. This type of leg pain is usually felt in the quads, hamstrings, glutes (buttocks), or hip flexors (front of hip).
Why do we get this soreness? It is a result of the repetition of running, and the less experience you have with longer distance running the more you may feel it. Even with experience you may feel this type of soreness, but it will go away quicker. For inexperienced runners it may take a few days to dissipate, for experienced runners it is usually gone in a day or so.
What can you do to help decrease this type of normal soreness?
When should you be concerned about the aches and pains you feel with running longer distances?
If you are experiencing this type of pain, it could be a sign you have an injury that needs specific attention. If you aren’t sure what type of pain you are having, set up a consult with a Physical Therapist who will be able to help you determine if you need treatment or if there are things you can try on your own. Remember, Run Wild Missoula members can schedule free 15 minute consultations at Alpine Physical Therapy, so let us help you keep running!
For more information on our services at Alpine Physical Therapy for runners, visit our running webpage by clicking here, or call Kristi Moore at our north clinic at 406-541-2606.
5/19/2013 0 Comments
Although strange in name, Fartlek training is a Swedish term meaning ‘speed play’! Typically integrated into running, Fartlek training consists of fast, medium, and slow running over a variety of distances. More recently, Fartlek training has been integrated into swimming, cycling, and hiking/walking. We also have a few creative twists to the traditional Fartlek workout to make it even more fun!
The basic Fartlek (Speed): After a steady warm-up, simply pick a landmark –for example a tree, lamp-post, or phone box — and run to it hard, then jog/peddle/speed-walk until you’ve recovered. Then pick another landmark, run hard to that, recover and so on.
Fartlek with a twist (Play): Instead of just changing speed, if you are running or hiking, change your footwork. For example, do a karaoke, side step, or run backwards to a landmark. You can try some high knees or some heel kicks, just get creative. If you are cycling, push with just one leg for a short time or hop off your bike and run it uphill for a stretch. Fartlek intervals can be even more fun with a partner as you take turns calling out the next task and endpoint.
By changing your pace, you change your stride and the muscles you use. You are able to get away from the monotony of a workout that can quickly cause overuse injuries. Varying footwork drills in the midst of your workout also helps add extra muscle activation to your workout, thus building more balanced strength which can help minimize injury.
The best part of a Fartlek is that you get to call the shots, and you don’t need any fancy equipment. There doesn’t need to be a set structure to the workout and it is entirely up to you how hard or easy you make the session. Unlike track intervals, Fartlek doesn’t require you to set a distance to run or a time to recover. A watch isn’t necessary. So get out there and have some Fartlek fun!
For more information on Running and other sports tips, visit our sports performance section of our website by clicking here.
5/15/2013 0 Comments
Thanks to Alpine’s running specialist, Kristi Moore, MSPT, for this informative article. Runner’s take note! Drills can take your running to new levels.
If you want to improve as a runner and prevent injury, you need to do more than just run. Running drills can be a great way to help you do both. Running drills provide dynamic flexibility, strength training specific to running, and will help to improve your running form. What does this mean? You become a more efficient runner with less risk of injury. As a Physical Therapist I use drills as a way to assess how a runner moves, to see imbalances within movement, and as a way to rehabilitate runners from injury.
Dynamic flexibility is moving joints and muscles to gain active mobility, which helps you to loosen up effectively before running. Drills often take you through a larger range of the motions you would normally do in running. Using bigger range of motion for repetitions warms up your muscles to get ready for running.
Drills work specific muscle groups utilized in running by exaggerating motions used in running. This leads to improved recruitment of these muscles when we need them during running. Drills are often quick and/or powerful movements, which will train muscles to respond quickly when running and may even help to push you quicker to a finish line.
Many of the drills highlight one or more aspect of proper running form and are accentuated through repetitive motions, thus helping you to insert it into your typical running mechanics. A runner needs to have proper form as well as the appropriate strength and flexibility to allow their body to run without risking injury. Each individual has specific areas to work on with strengthening and stretching exercises, but drills take it to the next level.
One example of how a drill can address these three areas is high knee skipping. This drill is a dynamic stretch for hip extensors, a strengthening exercise for calf muscles and quadriceps, and it improves your form by having you push off your foot closer to the mid/fore foot instead of striking with your heel. There are similar benefits to the majority of running drills.
To learn more about drills come to Alpine Physical Therapy’s Free Drills session on Saturday May 18th at 8:30 am at the dirt track off the Kim Williams trail. We will demonstrate correct form with drills, explain their purpose and have you go through some beneficial drills that will improve your running. The first 25 people to arrive will also get a free stainless steel water bottle.
If you have any questions please call our north clinic at (406) 541-2606.
Runners, it might be trendy to run out (literally) and buy a pair of minimalist “shoes” like Vibram’s FiveFinger Shoes. Yet it’s only fair that you go armed with new information published by American Journal of Sports Medicine, which compared before and after MRI scans of 19 runners who donned FiveFinger shoes and transitioned over 10 weeks from traditional to minimalist footwear.
Here’s the sole truth of what they found: Ten of the 19 runners showed either increased bone marrow edema or bone bruising, leading researchers to recommend taking it slowly as you transition to the minimalist approach. Another idea is to avoid bone injuries all together by opting for a pair of good old fashion running shoes. Barefoot running is not appropriate for every runner or every foot type.
Here’s a brief write up about the article from MSN.com’s Science & Technology section, written by Michelle McGuinness of MSN News.
‘Barefoot’ runners should think about their bones instead of performanceA study found that runners using minimalist shoes like Vibram FiveFingers experienced more bone bruising than runners in traditional shoes.
Switching from traditional running shoes to increasingly popular minimalist ones? You may want to take it slow and give your bones a rest.
For the rest of this informative article, click here.
Need some guidance on choosing footwear? Contact Kristi Moore, MSPT, Alpine Physical Therapy’s running specialist by calling 406-541-2606. And be sure to visit our Runner’s page by clicking here.
2/24/2013 0 Comments
By Diane Cummins, 800m Olympic Champion 2012 Women’s Age 35 – 39 and 10x Canadian National Champion
I am a runner, and I love CoreAlign. As an Olympic athlete it may be hard to believe that CoreAlign has taught me more about how to run and about my athletic strengths and weaknesses than any other form of exercise I have done to date. The exciting aspect of CoreAlign is that you can’t cheat. You can’t hide from your weaknesses, and you can’t fake your strengths or lack thereof I soon found out.
Through CoreAlign, I learned what is needed to get to the finish line stronger and faster without having to “try harder”.
CoreAlign is a set of hundreds of exercises incorporating every day functional movements that require the recruitment of the appropriate muscles in sequence to perform the task efficiently and correctly. Through what appears to be some basic exercises, I have built a foundation of strength, balance, and flexibility, all of which were previously lacking in my training program. This addition to my training program has a strong correlation with improved running performance and decreased running related injuries.
The principles and theory behind CoreAlign directly relate to running and running form. I have found them to be extremely beneficial in the following ways:
The exercises in CoreAlign have helped me become a more efficient, stronger runner with fewer injuries, which in the end, has been a far more enjoyable overall experience.
I have definitely gained a lot from CoreAlign by making it a part of my training schedule on a regular basis. I encourage you try it out and discover a deeper understanding of running, and of the running potential you never thought possible.
For more information on CoreAlign, visit or Core Studio website by clicking here.
Join us next time for CoreAlign from the Perspective of an Expert Physical Therapist, Angela Listug-Vap, DPT, FAAOMPT.
2/10/2013 0 Comments
If you’re planning to run in this year’s Missoula Marathon, you are invited to a free seminar at the Good Food Store on February 11th at 7 PM.
Our topic is titled “How to Prevent Injury While Training for the Missoula Marathon” and will be presented by our two top physical therapy running specialists at Alpine Physical Therapy, Kristi Moore and Angela Listug-Vap.
This is a free event and is chalk full of ideas on how to train while preventing injuries. Get there early to get a seat, as it is well attended every year. The information is appropriate for runners, walkers, and run-walkers.
For more information on the services we provide to area runners, then be sure to check out our Runner’s Clinic at Alpine by clicking here.
Special thanks for this informative blog post by Kristi Moore, MSPT, Alpine Physical Therapy’s key leader in all aspects of performance and injury prevention for area runners.
Running in the winter months can be fun, beautiful, and a great work out. Here are some important tips to help you prevent an injury while enjoying running at this time of year.
Winter time running can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors, so grab a friend and have fun!
You can contact Kristi by calling Alpine Physical Therapy North at 406-541-2606. For more information on Kristi and the services we offer, click here.
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