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6 Reasons to Start Running Today

6 Reasons to Start Running Today

Someone once told me the only way they would run was if a dog was chasing them.  Ironically after more than nine 5K races and two half marathons, they have become a recreational runner.  They started with just walking and then slowly adding short periods of jogging into their walk.  Over some time, they began to enjoy the benefits of running.  You have often seen individuals running in the community seemingly so graceful and with ease.  Somewhere deep down inside, you wish you could do that, but if you’re like many people, it seems almost impossible.

You can do it anywhere.

Unlike lifting weights or basketball or skill related activities, no equipment is needed to take a jog (or even a brisk walk).  Running is an activity that is always accessible.  That means you can start anytime and anyplace with just a regular walking routine.  Over time, you can add short bouts of jogging until the short bouts become longer. The more you do this, the better you will become.  The great thing about this is you can practice anytime and anyplace you choose.

It reduces your blood pressure.

No reasons to fret when you see your physician and they bring the blood pressure cuff out.  You can gain control of your blood pressure with a regular running routine. The top number of your blood pressure (systolic) is typically reduced by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm HG) for those who get regular exercise.  Better yet, regular aerobic exercise can prevent rises in your blood pressure as you get older.  Tired of those blood pressure medications?  Why not have a conversation with your physician to work together towards running those pills away?

It reduces stress.

There are chemicals in the body that are called stress hormones (ex. adrenaline, cortisol), but there are also some that are mood elevators or “feel good” hormones (ex endorphins).  A good run gives that moment of escape, the mental relaxation and the release of endorphins to help reduce your stress.  Very often, the stress relief that you need is not only in finishing the last part of that project or task you are working on, but in taking a break from it, going for that run, and then coming back to it.

It gives you more energy.

The same hormones that reduce your stress also give you more energy.  As you gain the benefits of better sleep from running, you will wake up with more vigor and more focus.  Regular running has multiplying effects.  Every time you use energy to do it, you gain more energy back than you used to do it.  If you feel like you are tired all of the time, why not giving running a try.

You can meet new people.

Runners of all levels often create communities.  This is a great opportunity to meet someone new with an already established common interest.  Companies such as Fleet Feet often have training programs to help people learn to run in small groups.  Even signing up to walk or jog during a local 5K event brings a great opportunity to experience the fun of meeting new people in a pressure free setting.

You live longer and healthier.

The National Institute of Health did a research study that shows that even those who start running at middle age, can reduce future disability and live longer, healthier lives by running.  Running is a great investment in your health.  Whether you start young or old, your body can adapt to the positive changes of running so that you get better and better at it.  There is nothing like maintaining your mobility that makes you feel free as you age.

So give it a try! Start out with a brief walking program that will progress over time to get you on track to be a regular runner.  Of course, it is always advisable to consult your physician or physical therapist when starting a new program.


Thinking About Getting a Dog?  Read This First 1

Thinking About Getting a Dog? Read This First

It turns out our furry friends have more to offer us than companionship and unconditional love.  Multiple studies actually show that dog owners are generally healthier and more likely to meet national fitness benchmarks than non-owners.

How likely? According to the American Heart Association, dog owners are 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity each day.

In general, pet ownership has proven to lead to a number of great health benefits associated with happiness, reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. But dogs are special. Because they need exercise and often demand it from us, they have a persistent way of urging us onto a path toward more exercise and better health.”

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health showed that dog owners take an average of 2,760 more steps per day compared with those who don’t have dogs. This amounts to 23 additional minutes of moderate exercise per day. Another more recent study published in 2017 by BMC Public Health backs these numbers.  I don’t know about you, but my Fitbit loves those added steps.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (i.e., brisk walking) each week. And of course, achieving such benchmarks help individuals improve and maintain long-term health – both physical and mental wellness.

Walking is one of the best physical activities nearly anyone can do, and, taking a dog out for a walk often makes the activity more enjoyable and feel less like exercise – less like a chore.

Approximately 54.4 million U.S. households own at least one dog, based on stats from the Humane Society of the United States.

Pets require lots of love, care and responsibility, and simply having one isn’t going to immediately make you a marathon runner but, if you love animals and could use some added motivation to get outdoors, dogs have a way of pushing you in that direction.


What to Know about Chris Paul's Hamstring Injury (and yours) 2

What to Know about Chris Paul’s Hamstring Injury (and yours)

Everyone is going wild over the competition of the NBA Playoffs.  It’s nice to see some close games in the post season.  Can you even imagine the potential of the NBA finals without Lebron?

As much as we love the post season, it is often a common time for injury.  After all, players have played up to 82 games, not including practice, scrimmage, and workouts.  By the time of the postseason, those small regular season hiccups can build up to eventual injury.

Chris Paul was just officially pulled (no pun intended) from game 6 of the Warriors-Rockets Game due to a right hamstring strain.  The big questions is, will he return if there is a game 7?

Well, here’s what you should know about the hamstrings.  It is a huge muscle.  If you’re being fancy, the hamstrings actually consist of 3 muscles together (the semimembranosus, the semimembranosus, and the biceps femoris) It connects from your hip to your knee and is responsible for stabilizing the hip and the knee.

Without the hamstrings working at full capacity, the ability to bend the knee and extend the hip to stand tall (as when moving from a crouched or defensive position) becomes very difficult or painful.  The same movement is needed for sprinting as well, so you must to have them working to make that fast break on the court.

The big question is “how bad was the strain?” Hamstring strains can be grade 1, grade 2, or grade 3.

Grade 1 strains are mild and usually just a few muscle fibers have been damaged.  With a grade 1 strain the athlete can usually still bend their knee normally and typically are able to walk fine and maintain their normal power and endurance.  They might be sore the day after the injury still.

Grade 2 strains are moderate in nature and the athlete typically feels pain when the knee has to bend or the hip has to extend against any resistance. This usually makes sprinting pretty difficult.

Grade 3 strains are severe.  This means most of the muscle fibers are ruptured.  I don’t think Chris Paul has to worry about this. If he did, the announcement of the strain would have read, “Chris Paul Out For Remainder of Postseason”

So, what will happen in the short term to get him back on track?  Most likely his rehab team will explore the use of things like massage, ice and or heat, taping, dry needling, cupping, electrical stimulation (maybe a little prayer) to get him back on the court in the case of a game 7.  Don’t be surprised if you see him on a stationary bike courtside to keep his muscles warm when he returns.

Long term in the offseason, he will have to look at a rehab and prevention program that consists of eccentric muscle training (a muscle is holding a contraction while it lengthens) such as is done with Nordic Hamstrings Exercises.   Rehabilitating the entire lower extremity for coordination of his lower extremity muscle groups, balance, and agility will get him ready for the next season.

So, the big question is, can he return to play.  Well that just depends on how bad the strain was.  My bet is that considering the circumstances, his potential impact, and the fact that he was at least able to walk off the floor after the injury, they will figure out a way to get him back in the game.

Remember though, that is just for Chris Paul (you know, NBA star Chris Paul).  If you just suffered a hamstrings strain and a playoff series is not at risk, how about letting it rest just a little before getting back.

#kptwellness #livingwell #kptgreenville


Another Way to Decrease Pain 3

Another Way to Decrease Pain

Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined (American Academy of Pain Medicine).  If you are like most people, you probably want to get rid of it as quickly as possible.  Fortunately, there are many options out there for pain management that can be help without long term use of pain medications.

One of those options include Trigger Point Dry Needling.  Now I know you’re thinking, “a needle!  Oh my!”  No worries. It’s not quite what you think.  Dry needling is a treatment that has been safely provided by physical therapists since the 1920’s that has recently had a resurgence in use.  It involves a very thin monofilament type of needle that the physical therapist pushes through the skin to stimulate trigger points (really tight areas within the tissue) and muscles to help them to relax, to restore motion, and decrease pain.

Many athletes, runners, dancers, use dry needling as a part of their normal rehab routine.  Most people report that they don’t really feel anything with the initial stick until the needle gets into the muscle.  Then there is often a very quick muscle contraction that is more surprising than it is painful.  Afterwards, the client usually demonstrates improved range of motion and reports decreased pain.

After treatment, there might be a muscle soreness similar to what one would feel after exercise but once this is gone, oh the joy of decreased pain!

Now, remember, this is not magic (although it would be really cool if it were).  Dry needling is one of the many tools that physical therapists can use to help restore motion and decrease pain.  Your therapists can perform a thorough evaluation to help determine if you are a good candidate for this as a part of your treatment program to reduce your pain and improve your function.

5 Running Mistakes to Avoid this 5K Season 4

5 Running Mistakes to Avoid this 5K Season

It’s the season for weekend fun runs, charity 5Ks and multi-stage team relays. But as recreation and competitive runners hit the roads and trails to prepare for upcoming events remember that avoiding common early season training mistakes can keep runners healthy and competitive throughout the season.

This is an especially important message considering about 60 to 65 percent of all runners experience an injury during the average year.

Running injuries are common, especially early in the season when people are training and prepping for races by getting their bodies back into shape. Plantar fasciitis, Achilles problems, knee pain, IT band friction syndrome … these are all common running injuries, often caused this time of year by doing too much too soon, and doing so lacking proper strength, muscle timing, flexibility or form.

To help remain on schedule throughout the spring and summer outdoor season remember to avoid the following five running mistakes:

  1. Skipping Warmup and Cooldown: While workout windows can be tight and difficult to secure during a given week, don’t use time constraints as an excuse to avoid properly warming up and cooling down before and after a run. Some walking, light jogging, skipping, high knees and butt kicks prior to running increases heart rate and circulation, loosens up the joints and increases blood flow to the muscles. For your cooldown, do some light walking and stretching to help reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which can lead to stiffness and muscle cramps.
  2. Wearing the Wrong Shoes: How your feet strike the ground will affect muscles and joints throughout your body’s entire kinetic chain, from the feet and ankles, through the knees and hips, and up into your spine and torso. If your shoes don’t fit properly, support your feet correctly or sufficiently absorb the impact of each stride, you’re going to feel it. It’s important to not only wear a good, high-quality shoe, but also one that matches your foot type.
  3. Not Listening to the Body: Don’t subscribe to a “no pain, no gain” model when running. Sure, you’ll want to push your body hard, but if you feel pain or an unnatural level of discomfort or fatigue, stop, assess and seek treatment from a physical therapist or other medical professional, if necessary.
  4. Focusing Only on Cardio Fitness: With running, cardio fitness is certainly important. But when it comes to both injury prevention and performance enhancement, flexibility and strength are equally as vital. Stretch daily and during cooldown periods and build strength in your calves, knees, hips and core through heel drops and body weight squats.
  5. Forgetting to Rest: It’s good to push yourself, but rest and recovery are essential in avoiding injury, burnout and plateauing before you’ve reached your fullest potential. So always work rest into your long-term training regimen. This doesn’t mean just kicking up your feet and relaxing for a day. Sometimes, ‘rest’ can simply mean mixing up your training so you’re not challenging your body the same way every day.

To learn more about proper training, including personalized assessments and the development of training regimens that can enhance your running performance and ensure optimal injury prevention, feel free to contact the physical therapy team at Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness.