Would you like to remain active, get stronger and heal from injuries without being told that you have to stop running? In this blog article, we will lay out the foundational principles that I like to call the “SPARK Blueprint”, which will bring your running to a new level as we head into the new decade! Do you have big goals for 2020? Maybe you’re just starting out or you’ve been running and you’re striving for a new PR!
Are you a runner who’s been frustrated in the past? That either whenever you try to increase your speed or increase your distance or even just start running consistently, you get injured and you get frustrated and you’re not able to run?
We’re going to share our blueprint that’s going to allow you to remain active and achieve those new 2020 goals! We’re going to go over 5 TIPS to help you develop that healthy lifestyle for yourself so you can continue doing what you love – running!
We’ve talked about these principles before, but we’ve got it packaged in a way that we haven’t done before! This is going to set the foundation for your running goals and then we’re going get more in depth over the next few weeks! We’re going to take each of these topics, each of these tips and break them down piece by piece, and really get in depth into actionable solutions to your problems that you have as a runner.
Talking about those new goals – some people have health goals which is amazing. Focused on getting healthy which is awesome. At SPARK, we love that some people are taking up running for the first time as part of their new year goals. Keeping this in mind, I want to share with you the thing I’ve learned over the years… you don’t want to run to train, but you need to train in order to run.
So, what do I mean by that? These five principles, these five tips that we’re going to be covering need to be performed if you want to remain active. If you want to run that first half marathon in the spring, if you want to run that 1st 26. 2 next fall, you have to follow these tips. Maybe you’re wondering why? Well these principles I’m going be talking to about are very important because I’ve seen many runners in the past train and they’re only running instead of doing other exercises to actually train themselves and then they get injured. So, we’re going to talk about training in order to actually run.
Our tips are going to follow the SPARK method! Spark is five letters so each letter is going to be a tip (see what we did there?)
Okay, here we go!
“S” is going to stand for something that I find is lacking in a lot of runners training, and that is strengthening. As a runner, you need to strengthen your body, your leg muscles, and specifically the muscles you use when you run. When you run, you activate certain muscles that are contracting and enabling you to actually get down the street. There are five specific muscles you want to make sure you’re targeting in your training: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, pirifomis, quadriceps, and the calf muscles. Let’s go from top to bottom to really help explain this.
Starting up top at the hip, we’re going to talk about the glutes. The glute max one of your biggest and most powerful muscles. You need to be working your glutes as a runner. Muscle number two- the gluteus medius. This is your side hip muscle which is super important for you as a runner because those muscles stabilize your pelvis every time you are running on one leg. Next your hip external rotators are muscles deep in your butt area. The piriformis is the biggest hip rotator muscle. This muscle controls your leg going in or out, and therefore controls over-pronation. Next, you have your front thigh muscle, your quadricep muscle. Another important one to strengthen. Then we have our calf muscle. The endurance of the calf muscles are especially important.
So, that is tip number one…to add in strengthening exercises for your running muscles.
What are plyometrics? “Plyometrics” means jump training. Let’s think about when you run. Every step you take as a runner, when your foot lands on the ground, it springs back up. There’s a muscle contraction that kind of slows your foot down, and then it hits the ground and then springs back up. That is an eccentric contraction and then it changes your muscle contraction to a concentric contraction. That’s what we call a plyometric activity! An eccentric contraction to a concentric contraction!
Running in of itself is plyometric in nature. Your foot’s landing and it’s leaving the ground repetitively over and over again, so this is a plyometric activity.
You need to train your muscles, pl0ymetrically, which means you need to add jump training into your training. You can’t just go out there and expect to run, right? You need to actually train those muscles with different plyometric exercises. By doing so, you’ll be able to land, hit the ground and spring back up efficiently so you don’t have all the forces of your body smashing down into the ground, and then transmitted up through your joints. Plyometric training allows you to spring right back up!
This is an area that’s probably most overlooked! Out of all the runners that I do help, not a lot of people are doing jump training at all, so it kind of makes sense, right? Think about Lebron James. Do you think he just goes out there and plays games, or do you think he actually practices doing free throws in practice? He’s going to practice the specific things he’s going to do in the game. For us as adults runners – we are running, right? That’s our game. So, we need to practice and train our muscles in that specific fashion in order to do that activity, just as Lebron James does.
If you’re curious about my level 1 jump training exercises for runners click HERE!
ANOTHER common thing that I find is not included in a lot of runner’s training is adding in single leg exercises. Every time you run as a runner, you’re always on one leg.
When you’re running, you never, ever have two legs on the ground. At the same time, you’re always on one leg, which means your muscles are contracting with you standing on one. So, wouldn’t it make sense to train those muscles to be efficient and condition those muscles on one leg? Exercises such as single leg squats, lunges, step downs – where you’re standing on one leg are going to be super beneficial and actually train those running specific muscles that you need for your one leg stance.
Let’s say you’re doing strength training. Are you a person who’s just doing the machines in the gym? You know who you are… you do the hip abductor and adductor machines for the inner and outer thighs – or you sit in the machine and kick your leg up for your quad strengthening and sit in the machine next to it in the gym and curl your legs down… Is that how you want to be training to run?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with doing isolation exercises, but in order to translate that muscle conditioning and strengthening that we’re looking to get, as in tip number one, we need to do it in a matter that’s consistent with the activity. As we’re performing running, we’re standing on one leg, which means we should train our muscles on one leg.
To see an example of a great strengthening exercise targeting multiple muscles covered in tip #1, watch the YouTube video below taken straight from the SPARK runner playlist @sparkyourtraining
Principle four is going to focus on routine self-mobility care or soft tissue care. What I mean by this is that when you’re running, you’re using your muscles over and over again. Taking thousands of steps. You’re using those muscles repetitively… What happens if you constantly use your muscles and never stretch? Click the video below to hear the in depth live training I did on this topic.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of stretching. Don’t feel terrible or bad if you haven’t been stretching as much as you should be because stretching is only one component of your training program.
I find that it’s often over utilized, and hence why this was not the first principle that I covered and strengthening was! Strengthening is actually more important to keep you healthy as a runner but stretching is taking care of those soft tissues that allow you run. What happens if you continually contract them and never treat the soft tissue, then your muscles are going to get tighter and your muscle length is going to decrease, which could create problems down the road. For example, your calf muscle gets super tight because you’re using your calves a lot, right? You’re contracting them over and over again and eventually they have a tendency to get tight… Are you that person who’s gotten cramps in your calves, charley horses? Been there, done that. One of those moments where your calf just locks up and you’re seized up and you’re like, what do I DO?!
At this point, you want to do some self -mobility works of soft tissue care! Some things that you can do for yourself include foam rolling or using a lacrosse ball or tennis ball on the specific muscles that are tightening up.
We can do so certain things, such as dry needling to relax the muscle. We can also do what we call instrument assisted soft tissue massage – where we can use stainless steel instruments that loosen up some of those muscles to improve some of their muscle length.
You can click the following links below to learn how to foam roll your running muscles with self mobility exercises!
CLICK HERE for Hamstrings!
CLICK HERE for IT Band/TFL!
CLICK HERE for Piriformis!
Keep consistent with your running and train smart with proper training progression. Perhaps you made some resolutions or you set some goals for the new year. Now I really want to talk about being consistent, which is key and honestly can be applied to anything you want to crush in life!
Being consistent is going to be key. Then the more important thing is to train smart with proper training progression. We will dive down deeper into this topic in a future blog post.
It’s really about training smart, being consistent and not adding in all variables at once, such as increasing your distance or increasing speed work, or adding hill training at the same time because that is a recipe for disaster.
And that is a recipe for you getting injured. Almost all of the running related injuries that I see, usually relate to one of those training errors that puts them in that situation.
There could be some underlying flexibility or strength issues. They might have a weak hip because hip surgery at some point or maybe they had knee surgery and their quads never really got back to how they were pre-surgery. So, maybe there’s some muscle imbalances that can play a role in getting hurt. But, it’s the training error that really brings out those muscle imbalances. Staying consistent and training the proper way will prevent the likelihood of these injuries!
Those are five tips!
We’ve got our five principles. This is going to set the stage for you being active, healthy, hitting those 2020 running goals.
You need to train with strengthening exercises. You’re going to be training specific muscles we talked about and then we need to train adding in plyometric or jump training.
Then we want to add single leg exercises into our training. Fourth point is, we need to do some routine self- mobility care or soft tissue care.
So, it’s foam rolling, some lacrosse ball stretching, maybe some active dynamic stretching before your runs; then static, long duration stretching after your runs! Then our fifth and final point is to be consistent, keep being consistent and train smart.
Before we finish up, we have a big announcement. I’m happy to announce the “Healthy Runner Podcast” coming to you available in the iTunes store. We’ll be dropping the podcast because I don’t know about you guys, but I love listening to a podcast during my long runs or my easy runs, either way, it just helps take my mind off the running. I like to learn a lot of information. I’ve learned a ton from podcasts, so I want to be able to help other runners be able to listen during their runs! Keep an eye out for the podcast launch in 2020!
We hope the SPARK Blueprint and those five tips will help you start off and continue into 2020 with the best version of yourself!
The SPARK Physical Therapy Commitment
No long waits or multiple trips to providers’ offices every week. We see you either onsite in a gym setting when it is convenient with your schedule (either before or after work).
One on one for a full hour with your doctor of physical therapy, every visit. We provide you with a customized plan specifically designed for you, based off your unique injury and goals.
Full transparency in what you pay. You will never get a bill from us a couple of months after your visit.
Access and availability to you! Have a question about your pain or exercise program? Get an answer from your therapist directly.
If you’re in the greater Hamden, CT area and are a runner that has been dealing with injuries we can help. We’d love to chat for a few minutes and see if you are a good fit for what we do. Fill in this CONTACT REQUEST LINK and we’ll set up a free 20-minute phone consultation with a doctor of physical therapy.
Thank you for taking the time to read,
– Duane Scotti, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS
A special thanks goes out to Allie Eldridge, SPT for her contributions to this article
Have you been worried about your health or the health of your loved one’s during this whole COVID crisis we are going through? In this episode we are talking about how we cope with this new world we live in during COVID with our Special Guest, Irene Bosco who is a Clinical Social Worker Specialist… View ArticleRead More
What Can I Help You With During These Uncertain Times…? Are you in need of some mental relief (like me) and are looking to get in some exercise during this time of social distancing? Are you a runner who wants to stay healthy now more than ever for the benefits of your immune system while… View ArticleRead More
Do you have pain in the back part of your upper thigh or near your butt right on your “sit bone”? Is this pain preventing you from running? In this article we’re going to discuss ways to stop this pain in its tracks to get you back on the road doing what you love as well as to prevent it from coming back!Read More
Are you new to running and you just go out there as hard as you can each and every run? Are you someone who always gets injured every time you try to train for a race? I know I have been there before running 49 road races and 21 half marathons to date. In this… View ArticleRead More
In this article we’re going to cover 5 tips for healthy running! We’re going to be looking at staying healthy as a runner! So if you’re struggling with pain, unable to run a few miles without pain, unable to speed train like you used to – this is for you! Here is a quick… View ArticleRead More
Have you ever been on a run and wondered…why does the front of my leg hurt when I run? Were you thinking to yourself, should I run through shin pain? This can be common for new runners just starting out or can occur in experienced runners who are really stepping up their training with heavy… View ArticleRead More
What 3 tips did I learn during this past week of being home social distanced from my world? How did I stay active and fit and maintain my sanity?…😧 “I feel so out of control and with all the chaos going on in my house … how do I stay fit without going to the… View ArticleRead More
Are you starting to walk, jog, or run because your gym is closed or your other hobbies and activities are shut down during COVID-19? Are you intimidated by other runners or worried you are too slow to be a runner? During this live interview with Catrina Aniballi, Duane and Catrina answer some common questions and… View ArticleRead More
Are you a runner who has had your spring race cancelled or delayed and you are struggling to get your running mojo back? In this episode we are talking about how to run and train safely during this COVID-19 crisis with our Special Guest, Steve Carmichael who is founder of Runbuzz Pacebuilders online run coaching… View ArticleRead More
Runners! Do You Have Nagging Injuries? Do you wake up every morning with an achy pain on the bottom of your foot when you get up to go brush your teeth? Or are you a runner who has been feeling knee cap pain during your runs, going up and down stairs, and when you squat? … View ArticleRead More
Have you ever wondered what you should do if you have pain during or after a run? This is a topic we hear about often. Have you ever been in a situation where you’re running and feeling pain and wondering, is this real pain or is this normal soreness? Are you icing after every single… View ArticleRead More
Have you been frustrated in the past that you’ve taken up running or you started a new training cycle and you just get injured and must stop? In today’s blog & podcast episode, we’re going to be talking about how to strengthen your muscles to train, to run. Click the video below to… View ArticleRead More
In this article we will be discussing the one test your doctor must order for you when you are in pain as well as what to expect during your first physical therapy appointment. You could be a runner, dancer, gymnast, or an aerial circus artist who is having pain in your knee, foot, or shoulder. … View ArticleRead More
Would you like to remain active, get stronger and heal from injuries without being told that you have to stop running? In this blog article, we will lay out the foundational principles that I like to call the “SPARK Blueprint”, which will bring your running to a new level as we head into the new… View ArticleRead More
Does adding yoga into your running make you a faster runner? Rachel Pelham Serafino is a yoga instructor at Running Asana, a new kind of yoga studio built by and for runners. In this episode, she dispels common misconceptions about yoga as well as breaks down the physical and mental benefits that you will see… View ArticleRead More
Do you struggle with running at the same level you used to be able to do a couple of years ago? Do you have knee pain when you hit the pavement for your run? In this article we’re going to cover the 5 things you need to know about Iliotibial Band Syndrome! If you… View ArticleRead More
Runners! Have you ever experienced foot pain? Are you frustrated that you are receiving poor advice about your foot pain and your foot pain is not going away? I know I’ve been there. I was ignored and wasn’t taken seriously. I was told I shouldn’t be a runner! Well, that resulted in a total of… View ArticleRead More
Do you get lost in all of the exercise that is shared out there on social media? Do you know you should be doing exercises to make you a better runner, but you’re not sure what you should be doing? We’re here to answer those questions and give you the best exercises to do in… View ArticleRead More
Have you been frustrated that you should be training in order to run, but you’re not sure what exactly you should be doing? We are here to answer your questions about jump training or what we call plyometric training! I’m going to sharing with you something I didn’t even get in PT school…. View ArticleRead More
Are you new to running during the coronavirus crisis or have you been running for years but are not sure if you are in the right shoe, how to properly care for you shoes, or even when you should replace them? I was lucky enough to bring on Matt Santillo, running shoe expert from Woodbridge… View ArticleRead More
For the past 16 years, I have worked with many runners and have been fortunate enough to be able to run for the past 8 years… BUT It hasn’t been all medals and flowers. In this blog post, I am going to answer some of the common questions I get from runners on how… View ArticleRead More
Have you ever felt drained during the last couple of miles during your long run or you can’t keep your pace at mile 10 for a half marathon or mile 20 for a full marathon? In this article, we will be taking a deep dive into how you can fuel for a long run… View ArticleRead More
Do you still need a kick start to getting your running fitness back? Have you been struggling to get your motivation back to be consistent for your runs? Would you like more energy, motivation and finally get rid of your aches & pains for those mental clearing runs? In this Healthy Runner Podcast episode, we… View ArticleRead More
I am taking this COVID-19 social distancing and quarantine situation as a way to take lemons and make a little lemonade! I want this to be an opportunity to serve even more of you! To help you STAY ACTIVE, STAY HEALTHY and improve your immunity (and mental sanity) during this crisis together! Click THIS LINK… View ArticleRead More
Are you a parent who is feeling like you are juggling 3 jobs right now? Employee, mom, and teacher 24/7? Are you struggling to keep your children active right now?…😩 Are you wondering what the best practices are to motivate your children to stay active during this coronavirus isolation? I know this is going on… View ArticleRead More
Does the heat and humidity prevent you from running? Do your race goals suffer if you have a hot weather day? In this article we’re going to be covering 7 tips to help beat the heat and actually go for your run even when the weather is hot and humid! In excessively hot weather,… View ArticleRead More
Do you get tightness in your muscles or feel aches and pains during your running? Do you know you should be doing stretching exercises to make you a better runner but you are not sure what you should be doing…😩? We’re here to answer those questions and give you the best exercises to do in… View ArticleRead More
Don’t Let Achilles Pain Let You Down At Your Next Race! In this article I will outline 3 simple steps that will allow you to stop achilles pain in it’s tracks before it even begins. These tips are based on years of experience working with runners who suffer from this condition and I want to arm you with the tools to prevent it in order for you to add those summer miles and hit your PR’s!Read More
What Happens When You Train For 13.1? Do You Have A 2020 Goal To Run A Half Marathon? 13.1 is within reach and we have the race for you! The Cheshire Half Marathon on April 26th! VERY EXCITED TO SHARE THIS NEWS… ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ More than excited to be teaming up with Clay Tebbetts in… View ArticleRead More
Did you struggle to stay fit in April? Get your SPARK back as you rise up from this downturn! Dropped some serious fire last night on Monday Night SPARK Live! This video outlines the 3 benefits of having structured workouts. If you missed it above CLICK THIS LINK to take you to… View ArticleRead More
Are you a runner trying to stay healthy but can’t train because pain is stopping you from meeting your running goals? For me, there is no better feeling than starting my day off on the right foot hitting the pavement with a nice run. Running helps put me in the proper mindset to tackle the… View ArticleRead More
Have you Been Told To Stop Running? In today’s article we’re going to talk about something that we hear all too common. If you’re a runner and you’re going to other medical professionals, no matter who it is, whether it’s a physical therapist, chiropractor, orthopaedic surgeon – we’ve heard this story a lot…. View ArticleRead More
“I went to see Duane early into my marathon training with hamstring pain. At that time, I was barely able to run 3 miles and was in pain. After a thorough exam and analysis of my running, he was able to diagnose and start treatment that day. Duane provided me with exercises to strengthen my hamstring and surrounding running muscles, all while slowly building my mileage back up. He was honest with me about setting realistic goals for my race and helped me to meet those goals. With his help, I was able to run the New York City Marathon.”
“I first went to Duane prior to training for my first full marathon because I had some aches and pains from running that I wanted to sort out. Duane was able to diagnose the problems immediately and I went home pain free. The exercises he prescribed were personalized to my needs and within a few weeks, I felt stronger and pain free while running so I could get to healthy training! It’s great to have a physical therapist who understands athletes and encourages people to continue to stay active. I highly recommend Duane to any person who is looking to stay healthy while maintaining an active lifestyle!”
SPARK Physical Therapy was instrumental in my recovery of from achilles tendinitis. I visited a podiatrist who said I would need surgery to shave down a bone spur and Haglund’s Deformity. The recovery would be at least 8 weeks and at the time I was 24 weeks from running the NYC Marathon. Duane evaluated me and said I needed to work on my calf muscle and flexibility. We started treatment with dry needling and specific exercises that I could do on my own. The pain subsided and even after some long runs everything was starting to feel better. I will tell you that I ran and finished the NYC Marathon without pain or issues from my achilles. Had I not met Duane about a week after my podiatrist appointment I would have needed to defer my marathon and probably would still be recovering from the surgery. I was able to run through my injury safely and achieve my goal. The refreshing thing about SPARK Physical Therapy is they do not push for ton of session. I met my running goals in 10 sessions spread out over 3-4 months. Big Thank you to Duane and I highly recommend seeing him for any running injury you may have!
Just fill in your info below and we will send these to you right away!