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Running Transitions for Spring

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As the weather gradually warms and the snow begins to melt, runners stray away from their treadmills and flock to the sidewalks and trails. While the fresh air may feel great during your run outdoors, our bodies may not be prepared for the transition. Unfortunately, running on the treadmill does not adequately prepare us for a run outdoors. Here are some facts to be aware of as you begin your outdoor training.

The first difference to be aware of in your transition from the treadmill to the outdoors is the variance in terrain. Obviously, while running on a treadmill, there is little worry of running into obstacles during your run. However, while running outdoors, there are many terrain variances to be aware of including the following:

  • Hills demanding increased exertion
  • Ice and snow patches during the early spring months
  • Uneven ground if running on trails

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Sudden Deaths In Athletes

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While sudden cardiac death in athletes has become a popular topic in the news, it is not the only cause for sudden death in athletes.  Sudden cardiac deaths in NCAA athletes account for 16% of deaths, which is a small number in reality.  Due to the uncertainty and the nature of sudden cardiac deaths, we are left with a lot of unanswered questions.  This is why when a death caused by a sudden cardiac event occurs; the media tends to be quick to report about it.

The most common causes of sudden cardiac death include genetic/congenital anomaly, myocarditis, commotio cordis, and coronary artery disease.  The most prevalent cardiac condition in the United States is reported to be Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.  Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) affects 1/500 people and is the thickening of the myocardium causing stiffness in the left ventricle, mitral valve changes and cellular disorganization.  Signs and symptoms of HCM include chest pain with activity, shortness of breath, fatigue with exertion, syncope (fainting), chest palpitations and sudden death.

kneeTwo orthopedic surgeons at the Belgian University Hospitals Leuven have announced that they have found a new knee ligament. Dr. Steven Claes and Dr. Johann Bellemans and their associates have worked diligently to give a full anatomical depiction of the new ligament that they term the anterolateral ligament (ALL).

Due to its origin and insertion points, they propose that the ALL controls rotation of the tibia; therefore, when someone
sustains an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear, they are most likely damaging the ALL as well. In spite of a successful ACL repair and rehabilitation, some patients still experience the so-called “pivot shift” or episodes of the knee “giving out” during activity. Researchers are in the process of concluding that those sensations are due to injuring the ALL.

After researching for the last 4 years as to why some ACL repairs were still getting the “buckling” or “giving out” sensation, these specialists gathered 41 knee joints from human cadavers and began dissecting them. Results concluded that this fibrous band originates on the outside (lateral) aspect of the femur and inserts at the lateral aspect of the tibia, which leads specialists to agree that this ligament must stabilize the outer part of the knee, preventing it from collapsing inward. All but one of the knees dissected had the presence of the ALL. They suspect that the knee with the missing ALL, possibly ruptured and withered at some point.

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You Have to Move to Improve

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You have to move to improve. For some people, especially those having chronic or persistent pain, this is easier said than done. Sometimes a person has so much pain they are unable to participate in everyday activities. There are, however, some techniques out there to help these people. Immersion in warm water as well as breathing, relaxation, meditation, laughter and music may help to calm the central nervous system allowing people with persistent pain to improve their quality of life.

Pain is a warning system designed to protect us and to make us react to danger or potential danger.  When nerves are stimulated, chemicals are released and transmitted to the spinal cord and brain. Pain only exists when the brain concludes the body is in danger and action is required. All pain is generated by the brain. All pain is real. In people who have persistent pain, it is the potential for tissue damage that the brain is concerned with.  The result is an over sensitive central nervous system. Pain then becomes restrictive, not protective.

The good news is that a hyper sensitive, over-responsive pain alarm system can be retrained with relaxation, breathing techniques and exercise. Laughter can also be a great tool in breaking through some of the restrictions that pain can create. A lesser known fact is that laughter promotes healthier blood vessels. Artery diameter increases by 22% during laughter and is decreased by 35% during mental stress. Also, by performing exercise in warm water a person with persistent pain may be able to help calm this overactive central nervous system. Here are some of the benefits of warm water exercise.

  • Gravity is reduced /eliminated depending on the depth of the water
  • When movement stops, the workload immediately stops
  • Pain, stiffness and muscle guarding are reduced
  • The touch, temperature and pressure of the water will compete with the pain signals going to the brain
  • Repetitive and comfortable movement helps to normalize input to the brain
  • Balance, core strength, stability and gait can be comfortably retrained using the water as an external support

According to the American Chronic Pain Association, chronic pain is the #1 cause of adult disability and affects 50 million people in the United States. If you are one of these people you may want to try some of the techniques listed above to help you deal with your pain and improve your quality of life.

Aquatic Therapy Rehab Institute Chronic Pain Specialty Course

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