From the desk of Sarah J. Rogers, LMT…
As the city begins to teem with runners counting down the miles to the Boston Marathon’s finish line, excitement and energy fill the air! I am always amazed at the inspiration that people can take from one another to improve their own habits, mentality, lives – and hope that you can find some inspiration this year through this series of short blogs focused on finding alternative ways to accomplish movement and exercise. One thing many people find as they spend years going to the gym or even avoiding the gym is that they get bored, stop seeing results etc. Our bodies LOVE variety and respond to ever-changing stimuli. If we do the same thing over and over again, we not only get good at doing that very thing – but we can only get SO good before we plateau and increase our risk of injuries, namely repetitive stress injuries. To inspire you to mix it up, take this series of blogs entitled IMPACT as you will and experiment with new possibilities. Sometimes it will be a new exercise idea, sometimes a new mental tool, cleansing task or stretch. Just take the opportunity to consider TODAY and how you can do something small to mix things up for yourself and enjoy continued variety in your mind-body experience.
Bring your attention to your knees. They bend and unbend – fascinating right? They are so much more than just a hinge joint than provide mobility, however. The importance of the weight-bearing responsibilities of the knees is often overlooked; the provenance of injury rooting back to not knowing what is best or avoiding to acknowledge when we need a break. Bringing our attention back to running, it is no secret that running itself is – for many – the source of knee injuries. Land-based running produces an impact that is absorbed through the foot-knee-hip-back-and all the way up to the head. Deviations in our posture, injuries, gait and overall running form can affect how efficiently our body disperses that impact. There is much debate on the usefulness of heel-strike running versus fore-foot running, highly supportive platform shoes versus barefoot running, but my main interest at the moment is HOW your RUNNING FORM affects your KNEE JOINT. I am of the mind that the less impact the better as – over time – impact adds up in our bodies and potentially compiles into chronic injuries.
There are many ways to lessen the impact on your knees and if you are prone to knee injuries or if you simply want to prevent them, then considering alternatives is a healthy and AWESOME move for your running career. Running on asphalt, which has more spring than the cemented sidewalks is one alternative, however city-dwellers know that you have to take the T out a ways to find a safe running path. Another alternative is running on grass, which has even more give than asphalt. One of the additional benefits to grass running is the unevenness of the surface, which can enhance the activation of synergists around the ankle – strengthening all angles of the ankle joint specifically and of the hip joint (slightly less). For those who really want to run but for whom even grass running feels like an injury waiting to happen, try water running.
There are two general types of water running: touch-down water running and deep water running. They are just what they sound like: touch-down water running includes running along the bottom of a shallow-end pool and deep water running involves wearing a bouyancy belt and running in the deep end. In both instances, you mimic the movement of running by lifting your knees and pumping your arms. If touching-down, you can use the push of your feet to move you forward through the water, while if in the deep end you simply go through the motions. Either way, there does not need to be a focus on a great amount of forward movement. Recent studies have shown that NCAA Division III runners performing VO2 Max (60%) tests while doing deep water running – were able to reach the same or greater “perceived difficulty level” while performing deep water running with a bouyancy belt. Researchers found that a cross country style technique (long, lower knee strides) proved to be better for athletes focused on specificity in training technique while a high-knee technique allowed athletes to focus more on stride rate. The conclusions drawn and insinuated from this and other studies indicate that similar oxygen consumption and physiological benefits can be derived from water running as from dry-land running with a great reduction in joint impact.
So, if your knees are giving you trouble, consider hitting the pool for some water running. It may look easy, but it can be a great challenge to your cardiovascular and muscular systems and can be a wonderful addition to a dry-land based training regimen. Have questions or comments? – email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great run, Sarah
Sarah J. Rogers, LMT
Licensed Massage Therapist
Sarah J. Rogers is a licensed massage therapist who received her training at the Cortiva Institute in Watertown, Massachusetts. Her practice focuses on the mind-body relationship and the usefulness of this connection not only for healing, but also for seeking balance in everyday life. Sarah brings her experience as an athlete and her compassion for mind-body health to her practice, inspiring growth and comfort in her clients. Along with massage, Sarah is now offering Active Isolated Stretching which can be done alone or in tandem with massage therapy. Employing techniques focusing on relaxation, neuromuscular therapy, stretching, myofascial release, and overall balance, Sarah will work with you to develop a treatment style that suits your needs.
“Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul is the work of the soul and good for either is the work of the other.” -Henry David Thoreau.
Book online for any massage service at our Boston location or contact OMBE for additional information.