Saturday, March 28, 2015

Why do long distance runners keep on getting injured?

Why do long distance runners keep on getting injured?

by Kathleen Lisson
As a long distance runner, I am learning so much at the Movement Performance Institute 'Evaluation and Treatment of the Injured Runner: A Biomechanical Approach' class taught by Christopher M. Powers from USC. The class is in Los Angeles, so I drove up from my home in San Diego for the weekend.

My top takeaways from day one include:
  • Runners are tough clients - we are Type A, focused on maintaining and improving our conditioning and VO2 Max more than our musculoskeletal system. 
  • Runners injuries are based on the way we run and/or overuse a.k.a. how many steps we are taking. 
  • Runners are all too often focused on the 'quick fix.' We want to keep on running. Just fix it! But - do we treat underlying causes of our running injuries or just want to mask the symptoms so we can keep lacing up our shoes?
  • Runners are always on the line between training and overtraining. When we overtrain too much, we risk injury and totally derailing our training schedule. 

The four issues we face are: 

Shock absorbtion, both passive and active- do we rely too much on passive shock absorption (bones, cartilage & shoes) and our quads to absorb the shock of pounding the pavement? This may lead to injuries like stress fractures, plantar fasciitis and joint pain. 

Limb alignment and stability- do we have excessive hip adduction and internal rotation, how strong is our butt?

Pelvis and trunk stability- is our glute medius weak?

Foot alignment and stability- do we pronate? 

We also learned about the top ten common running injuries, including patellofemoral pain, patella tendonitis, iliotibial band syndrome, trochanteric bursitis, low back pain, achilles tendonitis, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, stress fracturies and hamstring injuries.

I want to use this information to become a better running coach and sports massage therapist for my clients, getting runners out of pain and back to participating in activities they love. 

According to the class overview: "Altered lower quarter mechanics can frequently contribute to various musculoskeletal conditions. Understanding how abnormal limb function can contribute to the mechanisms of specific joint dysfunction is essential for the evaluation and treatment of common orthopaedic disorders. This evidence-based course will review the anatomy and mechanics of the lower kinetic chain, particularly in relation to specific pathologies of the ankle, knee and hip. Emphasis will be placed on current research findings in the areas of gait analysis, lower limb function, and joint biomechanics. Implications for the evaluation and treatment of various musculoskeletal conditions will be addressed."
Learn more about the Movement Performance Institute here:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tips to Reduce the Negative Aspects of Stress for Endurance Runners

Is Stress a Threat or a Challenge? 

by Kathleen Lisson

  • Trying to avoid stress is what causes negative effects of stress in the body
  • Running is a way to 'get good at stress'
  • When stressed, help others to increase Dopamine in the body

According to an article in Outside Magazine, trying to avoid stress and letting fear and anxiety take over are the aspects of stress that cause negative reactions in our body. 

Author Bradley Stulberg states that "the more you push your physical limits, the more you improve your psychological ones." I have seen this in my running training. I become calmer and less reactionary when I run long distances. 

Stulberg quotes health psychologist Kelly McGonigal as saying that, “The most toxic thing about stress is not stress in and of itself, but rather, stress avoidance and the subsequent angst and rumination of always trying to avoid stress.” This was a big a-ha for me. There is truth to the idea that one can 'worry themselves sick' over something, creating more stress for themselves by trying to avoid a stressful situation. When my husband traveled to Nepal last year, the two weeks before he left were more painful for me than when he was actually gone. 

'Don't Worry' is easier said than done, but what if a sizable amount of the negative effects of stress in our lives is inflicted upon ourselves in the form of the worrying and the plotting and the stories we make up about stressful events in the future? A good piece of running advice I try to follow is to only run one mile at a time. Don't focus on trying to run mile 11 if you're only on mile three. Just run mile three.  

Another way to lessen the negative aspects of stress? Helping others. McGonigal states that helping others elicits a dopamine secretion. 

Read 'Endurance Sports Will Make You a Better, Calmer Person' here:

Monday, March 16, 2015

How do you control pre-race anxiety and improve focus?

What do Formula One and Soccer have in common with Endurance Sports?

by Kathleen Lisson

This video 'Grand Prix Starts vs. Penalty Kicks' (though its an ad for data collection) helped me to get a taste of pre-race jitters without being 'in the moment.' The video shares the perspectives of Formula 1 drivers and a soccer player preparing to take a penalty kick.

Watch the video and, as you are drawn into the story, feel in your body the emotions of preparing for a sports performance.

I felt my skin flush, my heart beat faster and my concentration focus on the moment of action.  This is the moment where I could perform, or, as the grand prix driver mentioned, lose all my gains made in training by underperforming at the start.

Now, long distance running isn't usually decided during the first few moments of the half marathon distance, but finding the mindfulness that would allow me to focus and reduce pre-race jitters might enable me to make better decisions throughout the race.

I can collect 'big data' on my reactions to different situations in training runs and prep races in my running shoes, as well as how regularly I am meditating and improving my 'brain game' while I'm out of my running shoes.

The video is here:

Friday, March 6, 2015

Workout tips that work from Consumer Reports ShopSmart magazine

By Kathleen Lisson

I am proud to be featured as one of ShopSmart Magazine's "fitness experts across the country" in their recent article on exercise tips and tricks. I shared tips for creating a 'power shelf' like the one in my refrigerator. 

When a snack attack strikes at my home, my husband and I can open the fridge and instantly see a variety of healthful snacks on the eye-level shelf. Stocking healthful foods on their own shelf makes it easier for me to choose a nutritious snack when I'm running late or too hungry to cook a meal. 

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