Walk your way to a longer, happier Life!

GETTING FIT ONE STEP AT A TIME

Walking, you do it every day. Just putting one foot in front of the other, however, can do more than get you from point A to point B. Done intentionally, walking can transform your obdy and lengthen your life. A brisk 20-minute walk could have significant health benefits. According to the National Institutes of Health, walking may:

  • Lower your risk of health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Help you burn more calories
  • Lift your mood

If you've been sedentary, consider having a gait analysis before you get started. This is especially important if you're in rehab or have any discomfort in walking. The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging has reported that gait velocity, or how fast you walk, correlates to fall risk," says Tina Schmidt MPT, Assistant General "Manager of FYZICAL Palm Beach. "BODYQ by FYZICAL measures gait velocity to see if you are at risk and also assess overall muscular imbalances to determine the best exercises to develop the strength, coordinate and balance to safely return to a walking program."

As an exercise, walking workouts are not meant to be an easy stroll through the park. You could, of course, walk anywhere: park, mall beach or street. That's what makes walking workouts so convenient. But it's how you do it that transforms walking into an effective fitness-building activity.

Walking workouts are brisk and intentional aerobic activities. Thus, your heart rate should rise to a moderate cardiovascular level. A simple way to know if you are in a moderate cardiovascular zone is if you can talk but not sin while walking. Singing requires more cardiovascular effort and more lung capacity. So, your breathing is clue: if you can smoothly sing a tune, you need to amp up your walk.

GET A SHOE THAT FITS

Just as gait analysis can help prevent an injury, the right shoes make all the difference. Trying shoes on at the end of the day is a good strategy because that is when you feet are at their largest. Look for shoes that allow you to wiggle your toes but not slide around inside. The shoes should also provide some cusHioning and light treads on the bottom to prevent slipping while walking. Running shoes could work, but be mindful that the larger treads can be a tripping hazard.

STAYING SAFE AND INJURY FREE

Proper walking form  is important. Keep your chin up and your shoulders slightly back. Let the heel of your foot touch the ground first, and then roll your weight forward. Walk with your toes pointed forward and let your arms swing naturally.
Keep your feet happy by wearing sweat-absorbent socks and keeping your toe nails trim to avoid ingrown toenails. Stretching is vital for your whole body, including your feet. Stretching may help you avoid plantar fasciitis and tightness in the Achilles tendons and shin splints.

"A gentle stretch can help ease next day soreness," says Schmidt. "An easy leg stretch can be done while laying on your back and extending your leg up to the ceiling. Point and flex your foot to stretch out the front and back of the leg."

Avoid talking on a cellphone while workout walking. Just like talking and driving, chatting on the phone while workout walking is a major distraction. Focus on your body and your surroundings instead. It will help keep you safer and reduce your risk of stumbling off a curb or into an opening car or shop door.

If you're going to be walking in the early morning or later at night, a safety vest, which reflects the light of  oncoming cars,m is an inexpensive accessory to wear. Dawn and dusk make it harder for drivers to see you, and while you're smart enough not to be distracted by chatting on a cell phone, the same is not sure of a lot of drivers. If you're going to walk near traffic or on the road, wear reflective clothing.

EASY WAY TO INCREASE INTENSITY

To increase your intensity, you can simply walk faster. But weights can be a great addition to a walking workout program. A pair of light hand weights can help increase your effort and help strengthen your arms, too. You don't need a lot of weight, a couple of 2 or 3 pound dumbbells are enough. Some are made with walking workouts in mind as they are easy to hold and have foam covers for a nonslip grip. Weighted vests are another option. These vests have slots where you can place the amount of weight you'd like.  Weighted vests are quite practical because you can add weight as you walking workouts get easier. In addition, you make just about any workout more intense, for example, doing push-ups or riding your bike becomes more challenging wearing a weighted vest.

Walking sticks are also quite useful especially if you have slight balance issues or are trekking over uneven terrain. The sticks can also make it easier on your knees when you go up and down hills.

GADGETS GALORE TO TRACK YOUR STEPS AND MORE

To keep yourself motivated and on task, create some goals and chart your progress. Tracking your time, steps and distance area all ways to mark your accomplishments. There are many trackers out on the market. Among the most basic are pedometers, which just track your steps. It's a simple way to ensure you've done at a set amount of steps per day. A pedometer is an inexpensive tracker that can motivate you to go around the block just one more time to complete your daily goal.

On the other side of the scale, are more comprehensive devices that track time, steps, distance and heart rate, offer GPS routs and much more. Of course, they can also cost $150 and up. Many can automatically chart your data through online applications. They also typically offer online communities where you can make virtual friends to support and challenge you.

Finally, i fyou need motivation to get or keep moving, consider signing up for a fundraising walk. there are many charities that have walking events nationwide. What a great way to raise money for your favorite cause and provide you with a reason to keep on moving!

Playing it safe-Reducing the risk of CONCUSSION

Concussions have become a part of the national conversation. Parents are rightfully concerned about keeping their children safe while they play sports. Reducing concussion risk starts with coaches who put safety first as well as parents willing to cry foul when play becomes overly aggressive.

Sports are second only to motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of TBI-Traumatic Brain Injury-among people aged 15 to 24. An estimated 300,000 sport-related concussions occur annually in the U.S. Football, hockey and soccer claim the top spots as the most concussion-prone activities.

“Concussions are referred to as a mild form of a traumatic brain injury but they can be quite serious,” says Nicholas Branch, PT, DPT, NCS. “Though most people recover, concussions are serious. Long-term effects on balance, attention, learning and memory are a possibility, especially if left untreated.

THE RESULT OF IMPACT

It is a common misconception that direct head impact is required for concussions to occur. Concussions can result from any fall or jolt to the body which impacts the head, including whiplash injuries from vehicle collisions, a hard hit or a fall. Anything that forces the brain to bounce or twist inside the skull can create a concussion, which can lead to temporary or permanent brain damage.

Researchers at the New York University Concussion Center recently reviewed studies that involved athletes who sustained a concussion during sports and found that a vision test was highly useful in detecting whether a concussion had occurred. When combines with balance and cognition, the test was able to detect 100 percent of concussions that occurred among athletes.

While on the spot assessment is crucial, it can also take days or weeks after an injury for symptoms to start. There might be headache, neck pain, nausea, ringing in the ears, dizziness or tiredness. More serious concussion symptoms include:

  • Seizures
  • Trouble walking or sleeping
  • Weakness, numbness or decrease coordination
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Slurred Speech

If concussion is suspected, seek medical attention immediately, especially if a person loses consciousness-no matter how briefly. Most people recover fully after a concussion, but it can take some time. Rest ifs very important as it helps the brain to heal, however strict bed rest is no longer recommended; therefore guidance from a medical/health professional specializing in concussion is critical in optimal recovery.

“Physical therapy can help people regain their balance, coordination, as well as reduce headaches or dizziness that may be the result of concussion,” says Dr. Branch.

PREVENTION STRATEGIES TO MINIMIZE CONCUSSION RISK

Studies have found that the risk for a second injury is greatest in the 10 days following an initial concussion. If you suspect that someone has a concussion, make sure they stop the activity they are doing. Their brain dysfunction might cloud thinking, slow reaction times, and affect their balance so they become more likely to have another injury.

Helmets should be worn in specific sports as appropriate and for such leisure activities as bicycling, skateboarding or riding a horse. Homes can also be made safer for everyone by removing tripping hazards such as throw rugs and clutter in walkways, and installing handrails on both sides of the stairs.

For more tips on safe play for specific sports, go to the Centers of Disease Control-

https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_prevention.html

 

Looking to improve your PERFORMANCE? Consider BODYQ?

A 66-year old woman who loves to golf went to her local FYZICAL Therapy and Balance Center to assess her physical condition. Her goal was to improve her game. Her BODYQ assessment quickly revealed the root of the problem: weak core muscles.

Because BODYQ could quickly assess her exact issue, her fitness expert could design a custom core strengthening program ideal for her needs. The Result? A month later her golf ball soared another 25 yards.

GET FURTHER, FASTER
You might be thinking that any experienced personal trainer could figure out that core strength is crucial to playing golf. While that is true in broad terms, it takes some trial and error to determine which core muscles need what. It’s not just about your abdominals-core muscles include shoulders, back and hips, too. This complex muscular network has to be balanced in strength and flexibility.

BODYQ provides FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers physical thearpists and fitness experts with an unprecedented assessment tool to develop the ultimate customized exercise routines for an individuals’ specific body.

Mike Drumm, MS, CSCS, is a highly experienced exercise physiologist who specialized in strength and conditioning. He’s worked with dozens of clients at the Ft. Meyer’s Florida location. He credits BODYQ for enabling him to more efficiently develop effective exercise programs.

“It’s common for personal trainers with little medical training to need several sessions to figure out a client’s true strengths and weaknesses,” says Drumm. “With BODYQ, we know in about 45 minutes.”

Exercise programs are not only designed around clients’ goals and needs, they are also designed around where they exercise and what exercise equipment they use. For example, fitness experts could design a home-based program using hand weights and flexible tubing or the program can be based around gym equipment. “Ideally, we check BODYQ scores every six months,” explains Drumm. “That way, we can see if the scores went up or down and then further customize the exercise routine as needed.”

INVENTED BY MEDICAL EXPERTS
Several years ago, Jim Abrams, was told he needed knee surgery because of an old sports injury. He went to physical therapy, which corrected muscular imbalances. Not only was he spared from knee surgery; the process relieved decades old back and neck pain.

That experience led Abrams to join a team of inventors who created the BODYQ system.

“A lot of people ignore aches and pains hoping they’ll go away or think it’s just a part of aging,” says Dan Deems MD, PhD, FACS. “With BodyQ we can identify looming musculoskeletal problems, correct balance challenges, and identify ailments that you can reverse so you can live a higher quality of life.”

BODYQ IS A COMPREHENSIVE SCREENING PROGRAM
BODYQ analyzes your muscle strength, endurance, flexibility,k range of motion, vision, hearing and balance in a single testing session. The results and recommendations are immediate–no need to wait for days or weeks.

BODYQ also calculates an all important baseline score. Your score is compared to others of your age and gender. It’s insightful and motivating to know how you rank relative to others.
Cheryl Rapp, a woman in her mid-50’s, has a regular routine of working out five days a week but wanted to take her fitness to the next level. She was amazed by what BODYQ revealed.

I was tripping occasionally and I just blamed it on my flip-flops,” said Cheryl, “The big surprise was that my ankle flexibility was about half of what it should have been.”

Other revelations about strengths and weaknesses inspired a whole new workout routine for Rapp. Another woman in her early 60s was looking to start a fitness program. But BODYQ showed she was a fall risk. So, she was referred to a FYZICAL certified balance therapist with whom she could safely develop her muscles and then transition into a customized excercise program.

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
Many people have determined that preventative care, which includes training with a fitness expert and physical assessment with BODYQ, is ultimately less expensive and more life enhancing than spending money on conventional medical care for preventable health problems. Whether you want to increase your energy levels, recover from injury or illness, run your first 5K, lose 10 pounds or just feel stronger, BODYQ can jump start your efforts.

The Benefits of Exercise: Back to Basics

Posted by Said Lissone on Thursday, 14 August 2014 in Physical Therapy

The Benefits of Exercise: Back to Basics
Participating in regular exercise is the only way to achieve and maintain the health of our precious body, mind, and spirit. Regardless of this, we are often misguided by the supplement and beauty industry into believing that physical exercise is merely an adjunct to the products they are selling to us and profiting from. As a passionate health professional I want to remind you of the reasons why exercise is beneficial to our overall health. Exercise causes long-term physiological adaptation including improvements in heart function, muscle strength, muscle endurance and body composition. These adaptations allow you to better perform the activities of daily life and help to maintain your functional independence as you age.

A common axiom is resistance training strengthens and sculpts our muscles. What is less widely discussed is that the tendons, ligaments and other supporting structures in our body also get stronger when engaging in this type of exercise. Additionally, the density of our capillaries increases to compensate for the increased oxygen demand of our muscles. Changes in our nervous system also occur with resistance training. These include increased neural drive resulting in more forceful muscle contractions and improved communication between our brain, muscles and peripheral sensory systems. This type of neural adaptation is the reason why exercise is so effective in improving the symptoms of central nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s and others.

Physical Therapy Fitness

Cardiovascular exercise also induces specific physiological adaptations. The most apparent adaptation is the increased efficiency of the little engine of life, our heart. On average, the resting heart rate decreases by 10 – 15 beats per minute. Blood pressure decreases in untrained individuals who engage in regular cardiovascular exercise. The reason our heart function improves is because our heart literally increases in volume, what we call healthy cardiac hypertrophy. Invariably our heart also gets stronger. A stronger and bigger heart means that the heart can pump more blood with less effort. In essence, cardiovascular exercise is a drug-free approach to reducing blood pressure and can prevent many dangerous diseases of the cardiovascular system over time.

It is well known that cardiovascular exercise and resistance training is beneficial for people with diabetes. It improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity through a combination of physiological adaptations and changes in body composition. Guidelines on exercise jointly released by the American Diabetes Association and the American College of Sports Medicine say regular exercise can tame Type 2 Diabetes. These guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week spread out at least three days with no more than two days between each exercise session. Considering individual limitations, diabetes should not be an excuse to avoid physical activity.

Exercise is the magic elixir, the fountain of youth, and the panacea. Now that I have reinforced what you already knew, Saïd says, “Exercise, be healthy, and love your life!” FYZICAL Sarasota Main Street offers PT-directed fitness training along with a modern fitness center, complete with a full line of strength and cardio equipment.

Always consult with your physician before starting any exercise program.

Feeling DIZZY?

At some point in life, most people will experience dizziness. There are many causes for dizziness but it’s often due to a problem with the vestibular system, located in the inner ear.

Dizziness can be treated without medication or surgery.
Here are the five main distinctions of inner ear-related dizziness:

1. Vertigo is a sensation of spinning or turning. The most common vertigo is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo where tiny calcium crystals in the inner ear move around causing the sensation of vertigo.

2. Lightheadedness or wooziness is feeling faint, such as what might happen when you stand up quickly. It can often result from an inner ear disorder in a gravity sensor called the otolith organ or be associated with your blood pressure.

3. Motion sickness is a form of dizziness that makes you feel nauseous. It can occur from any kind of movement such as on a boat or sitting in the back seat of a car. It can also result from a concussion or ear infection.

4. Disequilibrium is an unsteady feeling when standing or walking. It’s like getting off a ride at Disney Land and being unable to walk straight. People using canes and walkers often have this form of imbalance.

5. Behavioral dizziness results from feeling anxious or panicked about being dizzy. It’s a psychological reaction to an exitsting issue that causes dizziness symptoms to get worse. This, too, can be treated with physical therapy.

While medications are often prescribed for dizziness, it is possible to reduce or eliminate it through physical therapy. For example, balance and vestibular physical therapy helps you recover the weakened vestibular system and use your other senses such as vision and touch to compensate for the loss of balance. In simple terms, the brain recalibrates and reeducates itself. The balance system is similar to muscles–you can lose it if you don’t use it. Training the balance system takes time, patience and practice. The first few weeks are always challenging but within a month, most patients feel better and experience dramatic improvement. The number of sessions needed varies by person and disorder severity but most people see significant improvement in less than two months.

Depending on the cause, physical therapy approaches to dizziness include:

  1. Balance Retraining: For patients whose dizziness is due to disequilibrium, practical solutions to common problems are offered. For example, how to negotiate walking on uneven surfaces such as thick carpet or lawns. Movement coordination and improve participation in everyday activities are high priorities.
  2. Repositioning/Canalith maneuvers: This therapy is specifically for patients with Benign Paroxysmal Positioning Vertigo. Using special hands-on techniques, a physical therapist moves the patient’s head and neck to reposition the calcium crystal debris floating in the inner ear to reduce/eliminate the vertigo.
  3. 3. Strengthening/Endurance Therapy: Patients with disequilibrium or chronic dizziness are often weak and frail from the disorder. Traditional physical therapy using progressive resistant exercise and endurance exercises help patients reduce fall risk and improve overall health and wellness.
  4. Self-directed home programs: Following a one-hour training session, the patient is provided with a set of at-home exercises. Performed for a few minutes several times a day, most patients report relief within just a few months.

While an inner ear dysfunction is the most common cause of dizziness, it can also result from medications, circulatory and neurological conditions. The first step in treating your dizziness is discovering the root cause. Fyzical therapist are specially trained and certified in assessing and treating your dizziness disorder.

You don’t need to live with dizziness. With physical therapy, you can right your world again and return to doing the activities you love!

Falls send 1.6 millions Americans to the ER every year….Are you at risk?

Among older adults, falls are the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury/deaths. People think they are supposed to lose their balance as they age but that not true.  In order to maintain or strength, balance and endurance we have to use it!

Assess Your Risk

According to the National Institutes of Health, a person with balance problems may experience tripping, swaying, stumbling, dizziness, vertigo and falling. Although a person’s “static” balance may be fine when standing still or only perform a single task at a time, “dynamic” balance problems may become apparent with movement and multitasking. For example, you may feel unsteady when walking and turning your head to talk to someone. It’s important to seek help as soon  as balance issues begin. The longer you wait, the worse it can get. People become fearful of falling so they limit their activities which only adds to the problem. Muscles become weaker without exercise, making maintaining balance even more difficult.

Here are some questions to better assess your state of balance:

  1. Have you changed or limited your physical activity because of balance issues?
  2. How often do you experience balance problems?
  3. Do you feel dizzy?
  4. Have you had difficulty walking?
  5. Have you fallen in the past year?

Please share your responses with your doctor!

While losing your balance can be frightening, you can regain it! Physical therapists can help restore balance but not every PT is a balance expert. 1st Choice FYZICAL therapists taske a whole-body approach. They consider whether issues with the spine, hip knee or feet contribute to imbalances, and they provide intensive personal care to help you achieve th egreatest independence posssible. Treatment might include:

  • Gait Training
  • Balance retraining
  • Vestibular rehabilitation
  • Fall prevention

Reduce your fall risk by staying active! Include exercises that build muscle, increase flexibility and help with balance and coordination.  Call 1st Choice FYZICAL for a FREE fall risk assessment today!

Plantar Fasciitis: Will Physical Therapy Help My Foot Pain?

One out of 10 people in the United States experience persistent pain along the bottom of the foot, a condition known as plantar fasciitis. In this country alone, outpatient clinics receive more than 1 million visits a year from people seeking help for this type of foot pain. In 2014, the Orthopedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association published updated clinical practice guidelines  on the best treatments for patients with plantar fasciitis. The guidelines present evidence that strongly suggests a combination of manual therapy and rehabilitative exercises to help patients with this foot condition. In a more recent study published in the February 2017 issue of JOSPT, researchers reviewed the records of people with plantar fasciitis who were sent to physical therapy to determine whether this treatment lessened their pain.
NEW INSIGHTS
The researchers studied a database of 819 963 patients diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. Only 7.1% of these patients were prescribed physical
therapy. Overall, patients sent to physical therapy received evidence-based treatment. These patients were given manual therapy 87% of the time and supervised rehabilitative exercises 90% of the time. The researchers found that patients who received manual therapy as part of their treatment averaged fewer visits and had a lower cost of care of $340. These results support prior studies that show faster
recovery time for those who receive evidence-based physical therapy for their foot pain. This study shows that despite strong evidence on the
benefits of physical therapy for plantar fasciitis, very few patients were given this treatment. If you have foot pain, evidence suggests that physical therapy will help you recover faster and cost you less than if you do not receive this treatment. This study also indicates that physical therapists are quickly adopting the recommendations in the updated clinical practice guidelines on plantar fasciitis. Therapists’ use of
manual therapy increased from 78% in 2007 to 94% by 2011, while their use of supervised rehabilitative exercises increased from 85% to 91% during this same period. If you have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, physical therapy offers evidence-based treatment options to help you recover from your pain.

EXERCISES AND MANUAL THERAPY TO LESSEN FOOT PAIN. Your physical therapist may offer a combination of manual therapy and exercises, which have been shown to reduce your pain. These treatment options include calf stretches (A), foot stretches (B), and hands-on therapy (C). For calf stretches, while standing with your foot straight ahead, lean forward and keep your heel on the floor until you feel a stretch sensation in your calf. Perform this stretch first with the back leg straight and then repeat it with the back knee bent. For foot stretches, while seated, grab the base of your toes and pull them toward your shin. Your physical therapist can add manual therapy to your treatment, such as the ankle mobilization shown here.

 

Do you have heel pain?  Is the heel pain worse first thing in the morning or after sitting for a while?  Research has supported the use of certain stretches to the foot and calf muscles, foot taping, night splints, use of foot orthoses, and hands-on manual therapy (by a licensed physical therapists) to decrease heel pain.  In addition, application of cold packs and correction of certain hip/knee muscle imbalances and/or joint stiffness may help alleviate heel pain.  Consult with your doctor to see if physical therapy would help alleviate heel pain and make walking more tolerable.–Dr. Alex Kranz

Bunion: Strengthening Foot Muscles to Reduce Pain and Improve Mobility

Foot pain discourages physical activity, and less activity harms overall health. Bunion, extra bone and tissue at the base of the big toe, is a frequent cause of foot pain. More than 64 million Americans have bunions that can lead to painful walking. Bunions affect some 35% of
women over the age of 65. Bunions can be removed by surgery, which can reduce pain and improve your ability to walk and exercise,
but up to 15% of bunions return. Weak muscles may play a role in bunion-related pain and movement problems. In a review
of prior research and commentary on this topic published in the July 2016 issue of JOSPT, the author identifies muscle-strengthening exercises that may help people with bunions.
NEW INSIGHTS
The author of the review and commentary identified 3 key muscles in the foot and 2 muscles in the calf that, when strengthened, have the potential to lessen the pain and improve the movement of patients with bunions. These 5 muscles help support body weight and forward motion. They also stiffen the arch of the foot and help keep it from rolling inward, better supporting the big toe. The author found that
people can effectively reinforce these muscles using 3 simple exercises. The exercises—short foot, toe spread out, and heel raise—are easy to do at home and can strengthen these key foot muscles. Stronger feet may help decrease bunion-related pain and its impact on movement.
After your physical therapist evaluates your feet and how you walk, the therapist may prescribe these 3 exercises, additional hip- and leg-strengthening exercises, and possibly arch supports. The exercises to strengthen your feet are easy to perform. If you have
trouble with them, though, your physical therapist may add electrical stimulation to help you learn which muscles to contract. Your physical therapist can also guide you on proper shoe selection to improve your ability to walk and exercise without discomfort. While they may decrease pain and improve movement, these exercises likely won’t change the look of your bunion. More research is needed to determine whether these exercises can help you avoid surgery. For more information on nonsurgical options for treating bunions, contact your physical therapist specializing in orthopedic and sports-related injuries

JOSPT bunion (3)

EXERCISES TO STRENGTHEN FOOT MUSCLES. (A) Short-foot exercise: shorten your foot while keeping your heel and the front of your foot on the ground. Do not curl your toes. (B) Toe-spread-out exercise: lift and spread your toes while keeping your heel and the front of your foot on the ground. While your toes are spread out, push your little toe down and out to the floor. Then, push your big toe down toward the inside of the foot. (C) Heel-raise exercise: stand with your knees bent. Elevate your arch while keeping your heel turned in. Then, raise your heel off the floor while keeping pressure on your big toe. Perform all exercises barefoot. Hold each repetition for 5 seconds. Repeat each exercise until you feel the muscles becoming tired. Exercises are progressed from sitting, to standing on both feet, to performing the exercises
standing on just 1 leg. Perform exercises daily.

Bunions can be a nagging and lingering source of inner foot/toe pain during gait/walking.  Certain medical treatments and foot exercises have been shown to decrease these painful symptoms.  Should you need surgery to correct the bunion deformity, physical therapy (including manual therapy and therapeutic exercises) can be helpful to improve range of motion, strength, balance, and walking ability following surgery.  Consult with your doctor if physical therapy would be appropriate for you.–Dr. Alex Kranz

Running: Improving Form to Reduce Injuries

JOSPT 2015 running

Running is often perceived as a good option for “getting into shape,” with little thought given to the form, or mechanics, of running. Most people assume that running is something natural that we simply know how to do. However, as many as 79% of all runners will sustain a running-related injury during any given year. If you are a runner—casual or serious—you should be aware that poor running mechanics may contribute to these injuries. A study published in the August 2015 issue of JOSPT reviewed the existing research to determine whether running mechanics could be improved, specifically with the help of real-time visual or audio feedback. The ability to improve running form could be important in treating running-related injuries and helping injured runners return to pain-free running. NEW INSIGHTS Researchers reviewed 974 published studies and identified 10 high- and medium-quality studies that examined the effectiveness of visual and audio feedback for improving running mechanics. Overall, the evidence supported the use of real-time feedback. Using feedback tools, physical therapists were able to help runners (1) decrease the force with which their feet hit the ground during running, and (2) improve running form at the hips, knees, and ankles. For visual feedback, runners watched themselves run in a mirror or viewed a video of their running while a physical therapist coached them on how to improve their form. Audio feedback consisted of verbal coaching from the physical therapist, or the use of simple tools such as a metronome, to improve running cadence. Research shows that runners can improve their running mechanics using visual and/or audio feedback training while being coached by a physical therapist. As a result of improved running form, runners may reduce their risk of injury. In addition, evaluation and correction of running form may benefit those who have knee or leg pain when running. If you already have a running-related injury or want to reduce your risk of sustaining one in the future, this kind of supervised feedback can help. For more information on improving your running form, as well as other strategies to reduce your risk of injury during running, contact your physical therapist specializing in orthopedic and sports-related injuries.

BENEFITS OF VISUAL AND AUDIO FEEDBACK. Evidence supports the use of real-time visual and audio feedback to improve running form. (A) The runner on the treadmill exhibits poor running form. (B) Visual feedback on the screen and audio cues from the physical therapist are used to provide the runner with the necessary feedback to improve her running mechanics. 

Do you have pain or a lingering muscle or joint issue when you run?  Would you like to run more efficiently?  There is new evidence showing supervised feedback from physical therapists allow people to run with better mechanics and efficiency.  Sometimes the issue can be fixed with correction of a weak muscle group, muscle imbalance, or muscle/joint tightness.  With the warmer weather of Summer upon us,  if you are having a lingering muscle or joint issue impairing your ability to run efficiently, ask your doctor if physical therapy would be appropriate.–Dr. Alex Kranz