If your 2021 resolutions include chasing down some big running goals, you need to make sure that you recover from workouts and stay healthy. Physical therapy can address your specific recovery needs and help you strengthen your weaknesses.
Here are some physical therapy adjustments you might receive from your therapist to help you reach your running goals in the new year.
A Balanced Approach
Although our bodies are designed to run, our biomechanics imperfections and the stuff we do when we aren't running can cause injuries and inhibit recovery.
- Gait Analysis: A physical therapy session can involve a short run on the treadmill. While you run for a few minutes on the treadmill, your therapist will capture high-resolution video. Once the video is captured, your therapist will use sophisticated biomechanics software to pinpoint inefficiencies in your stride and foot strike. For instance, they might note that your right knee collapses slightly more than your left knee or that your hips are over-rotating. They can then create physical therapy exercises to correct the inefficiencies they note. These physical therapy exercises can be completed during your visits, or before and after you run.
- X-Ray Adjustments: A chiropractor can make precise adjustments to your skeletal system. This process starts with a series of x-rays and 3D imaging to highlight the parts of your skeletal system that are out of balance. For many runners, this often includes imbalanced hips and lower back vertebrae. Once your chiropractor corrects the imbalances, they can show you how to use tools like foam rollers and massage guns to keep your skeletal system balanced between your visits.
An Approach to Balance
Efficient distance running requires optimal mobility and flexibility. Your physical therapist can help you make adjustments to your stretching and warm-up routines, to better prepare your body for exertion.
- Active Release Therapy (ART): Muscles have two types of isometric contractions—eccentric and concentric. Concentric muscle contractions occur when your exerting force (pushing off the ground, lifting your knee, pumping your arms, etc.). During concentric contractions, your muscles are shortened. This means that your muscles and tendons will be less mobile and flexible during concentric contractions. Your physical therapist can show you how to use ART and eccentric muscle contractions to improve your flexibility and mobility. ART sessions involve a stretching rope and a series of movements that involve tensing your muscles and releasing them. For runners, ART can improve recovery and increase balance/coordination.