January 23, 2013
By Laura Michelson, DPT
Many runners believe that to run faster all they need to do is run more miles. The little things such as stretching, drills, core exercises, and strength activities are often overlooked, but are the components that make the difference between a good and great athlete. It is time to change the belief that strength training will add unnecessary bulk and slow a runner down. There are a number of benefits to strength training that all runners should be aware of.
Decrease injury risk: Strength training increases joint stability especially in the knee and hip joints. These are two areas that often cause problems for many runners with patellar tendonitis, IT band friction syndrome, and patellar tracking issues. Runners tend to run in a straight line and avoid emphasizing and strengthening their lateral hip stabilizers. Without strength or activation of these important muscles, runners will overstress their knees, calves and feet and end up with repetitive stress injuries.
Increase efficiency: Strength training makes your legs stronger and more muscular. It decreases the amount of oxygen and energy needed to run at a certain speed. It allows you to maintain a certain running pace over an increased period of time with less energy compared to when you did not strength train. Runners who strength train also recover more quickly following a hard effort. This is because they increase their efficiency to convert metabolic waste to energy.
Increase speed: Strength training increases overall power allowing a runner to generate a considerate amount of force when contacting the ground. Strength training increases the amount of type II (fast-twitch) muscle fibers, which are responsible for speed and power. An increased proportion of these muscle fibers in the body will allow a runner to increase his or her speed or final kick at the end of a race, taking down any opponent at the finish line!
1. Start out easy with 1-2 strength training sessions per week and increase to 3
2. Perform 8-12 exercises emphasizing different muscle groups (arms, legs, core)
3. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-20 repetitions and increase when necessary
4. Start with a comfortable weight/resistance and progress as your strength improves and the exercises get easier
5. Train with another runner or friend and keep each other accountable
2-leg deep squats
Single leg squats
Hamstring curls (machine or physioball)
Medicine ball twists
Planks-front and side planks
January 21, 2013
It’s a new year and President Obama is being inaugurated today. As an immigrant citizen, I am really in love with this aspect of American political pageantry. So I am happy to congratulate the President as he begins his second term, wish him well from the Pacific Northwest!
April 12, 2012
March and April means Super League Rugby. Our local side Old Puget Sound Beach is the regional powerhouse. Now that the Beach side is integrated with Seattle Rugby Club, we have three adult teams playing each week. The Seattle Rugby Club men field two teams. In addition, we also have youth rugby to pay attention to with The Eastside Lions. At Sports Reaction Center, we are proud of our commitment to support local rugby, and the players appreciate too. This year we have ramped up our concussion protocols, and now offer a comprehensive return to play protocol that is the most sophisticated in the region. If you have not had the pleasure of seeing competitive rugby, come out and watch a Super League match. Its the best sports ticket in town (and its still free).
Also in the spring, the triathlon season ramps up with the athlete of Team VO2 MultiSport taking to the field of competition. Also, the Track and Field activity is ramping up with road races and track meets. Our partners Club Northwest is the place to find the meets and schedules and a good time if you are looking for a race.
I want to invite all athletes who live in the Seattle/Bellevue/Redmond/Kirkland area to think of us to assess bumps and bruises. We are here for you, and it is our purpose to help you achieve your athletic goal. Feel free to reach out to us for an appointment. We accept payment from most insurance companies.
Have a great Spring!
January 17, 2012
As 2011 draws to a close and for us it ends on a high note. Sports Reaction Center was voted the Best Rehab Center in the Competitor Magazine “Best Of” Awards for 2011. This is high praise coming from the athletes we work with who took the time to express their appreciation for what we do. As a the founder of Sports Reaction Center, I am personally very grateful for the outstanding professional staff I work with every day, and I look forward in 2012 to bigger and better things in collaboration with my amazing colleagues.
We had several highlights this year: I would say for me, the trip to Daegu to support Mike Sayenko in his World Championship bid was the highlight of my career.
One of my favorite moments as a physical therapist came early in the year, when world class hurdler Ginny Powell came to see me after a prolonged injury kept her out, and I was able to help her get back to competitive running expeditiously.
The reason Ginny came to see me was in part due to our acquisition of the OptoJump. We also used this technology to help northwest runners improve their form, and in particular, supported Club Northwest both the elite athletes in the clinic, and also by being at track practices and the meets. We are very happy to have a good working relationship with Club Northwest.
I also got to test Jenny Simpson, the Daegu World Champion in the 1500 Meters while I was in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center. It was a really amazing moment to see her win the 1500 and I got this great photo of her celebration:
While I was in Colorado, I tested members of the Colorado Rapids MLS team during a demo of OptoJump. This happened right after their game with the Sounders where Steve Zakuani had his leg broken. Colin and I were there for that game. It was really sad to see.
During 2011,I worked with the trainers at the Seattle Mariners to solve a puzzle with one of their pitching prospects. We also had the pleasure of watching our patients compete in the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii and in the highest level of sports all around including Ironman events, Track and Field at the Nationals, where the Club Northwest women took third overall and our rugby squads competed in the Super League as well as in the National 7′s competition.
Our commitment to local Rugby is significant with several teams now being supported by Bethany and my staff. We enjoy the time we spend with the Super League Squad Old Puget Sound Beach and the men of the Seattle Rugby Club in the fall, spring and Summer Sevens seasons.
We also came to work closely with Renew Fitness in Bellevue, and a club we really like and encourage our patients to check out.
During the summer we added Laura Michelson, DPT to our staff. Laura is a competitive runner who is deeply connected to Club Northwest, a club we sponsor and support. Laura brings her bubbly personality to our office and keeps us all in stitches with her lovely sense of humor. We had another staffing change during 2011 with Melanie moving on to PTA school and Allyson coming on board to fill in the gap.
During 2011, we were featured in a fair amount of media, in the newspaper, on TV and in Magazines. We launched a concussion study, and we reached out to multiple teams including Children’s Hospital to support their efforts in the management of concussion.
We also wish to express our heartfelt thanks to our patients for supporting our practice during 2011. Thank you! It was a great year for us on many levels and we look forward to a new year of helping our local athletes get healthy, stay healthy and compete!
December 17, 2011
Taking Concussion Seriously
Today we had a good time. Working closely with the you the rugby club Eastside Lions, we conducted a registration program here at our office, one part of which was the baseline functional and concussion screening we did for the players. Our concussion program is sophisticated. We use a combination of three technologies to secure good baseline data about the players. We execute the BASS (balance assessment) tests, the ImPACT cognitive screen, and we use our OptoJump technology to gather data on gait, rhythm of the body and on dual functions of gait and mechanical as well as numerical mental processing. . . As I noted, we also gather functional screens of the players using the Functional Movement Assessment that illustrates a range of issues for the coaches to pay attention to.
The value of collecting all of this data only really comes into play when a player “gets his bell rung” or possibly sustains a certain concussion. Then we utilize the data we have gathered to manage the player following the concussion, back to play. The secret is to help a player avoid a second concussion before the first one has resolved. Second Impact Syndrome is serious problem, and one that we take very very seriously in our management of injured athletes.
We are actually taking this data that we are collecting and being careful about our protocol so that we can study the protocol. We believe that this is a very important tool in elaborating on the data we already have on concussion, and that the protocol might in fact make a very significant impact and become widely used.
My thanks to the parents and coaches of the Eastside Lions, and my staff who particpated in conducting the testing…Bethany and Beth who organized it and got it all set up, and Sam, Colin, Michelle, Alyson and Kim who with me conducted the tests.
Now lets have a great concussion free season!
November 25, 2011
All of us at Sports Reaction Center are thankful that you are our customer! We appreciate you choosing us for your Sports Physio needs…thank you, and have a great holiday weekend!
Neil (on behalf of the Sports Reaction Center team)
November 14, 2011
An elite distance runner who is qualified for the Olympic Trials recently wrote to me. Her message…”Thanks for analyzing my gait the other day. I have been working on picking up my heels especially when I’m fatigued and it really does feel easier and makes me speed up. I’m glad I had the “before” and “after” so I can see how my form changes with fatigue.”
I appreciated the note because most runners really have no idea how they look while running.
Almost every athlete I assessed this past year expressed surprise as I pointed out different strategies to help them improve their efficiencies. Running form is a very interesting conversation. While there is not agreement across the board, there are obvious ways to improve efficiency that seem to resonate regardless of form preference.
When I do a gait analysis, I do so using my OptoJump technology, which allows me to slow the athlete down by milliseconds and to progress the video forward one millisecond at a time. I also have the ability to freeze a moment, and use it to illustrate a point. I can also bring up another instance…either of the same athlete or another athlete, to compare the athlete to at the moment on the same screen.
Naturally, because I use the Optojump for gait analysis, I have in effect, the most sophisticated biomechanics lab in the world right there in my office. As a result, I have data about symmetry, cadence, contact time, step length etc that fills in any gaps in understanding, that is fully integrated with video from two points of view. Having all this data provides me with a really full picture of the athlete, and the tools to help them see what I see.
I recently used the Optojump to determine the correct shoe to wear based on the athletes training pace. The athlete, a pro runner for Brooks Sports, brought in several pairs of shoes and several pairs of orthotics. We looked at her running at various speeds (Long Slow Distance, Training Pace, Tempo Pace and Race Pace) in each shoe with each pair of orthotics. And we identified the specific shoe/orthotic combination that worked best to improve symmetry at different paces. The athlete was thrilled. Now she has a scientific understanding of her gait dynamics, and a shoe strategy based on scientific analysis. Pretty cool!
I am often asked if a gait analysis will help improve racing speed? Well, I can describe one case that illuminates this best: A Masters athlete came to see me after qualifying for the World Championships in the Olympic Distance Triathlon requesting a gait analysis and a movement screen. During his gait analysis I suggested several form improvements, and after his functional movement screen I also instructed him in several flexibility exercises. The result? During the next 6 weeks , he experienced a dramatic improvement in form accompanied by a significant reduction in his 10 K time. Needless to say, he was THRILLED.
Are you a runner? Would you like to know more about your gait form? Would you like to be more efficient so that you can run faster when you race? My 2 cents…if you run, you should get a gait analysis. Period.
September 11, 2011
I am back from Korea. My jet-lag seems to have worn off slowly. It really kicked my behind! Now we are back in the swing of things. This fall, its rugby season, which means Bethany (and I ) will cover the Seattle Rugby Club as they compete in the BC 1 League, and Bethany will be at practice as usual.We are using OptoJump to gather some baseline concussion screening data along with our usual SCAT II. Hopefully we have no concussions to speak of, but if we do, we want to be prepared for care management of those varied and often subtle brain injuries.
The current BIG SPORTING EVENT is of course World Cup Rugby in New Zealand. This 45 day tournament should be great, but its going to be hard to watch the games live since they are often at 1:00 am. TIVO for sure for the big games.
Also on tap this fall for Sports Reaction Center athletes is the Ironman World Championships where 8 of the V02MultiSport athletes we cover are qualified! Congrats. We are going to try to have one of us there for the event. Also in the fall is the Club Northwest XC season. We will try to be at every event there if possible too culminating in the National Championships here in the Seattle area. So it should be a very busy fall for Sports Reaction Center sponsored athletes. And we aim to help all those athletes achieve competitive status at the starting line or the kick off whistle.
September 5, 2011
I am back from a whirlwind experience in Daegu Korea. The World Championships were out of this world as a truly great experience to witness and in some small way, to be a part of. The highlights for me included being in the stadium at key moments in Track and Field history…namely Jenny Simpson winning the 1500, something that has not been done in 28 years, and also seeing Matt Centrowitz collect Bronze in his 1500 meter race…these were truly great moments to be present.
I really enjoyed meeting coaches, agents and athletes from all over the world. To get to know people we see on TV personally even a little bit was special for me. A couple of highlights were meeting Bernard Legat and Mo Farrah and getting to know them personally and then watching them compete with each other in the 5000 made that race so much more meaningful for me. But meeting athletes I might never see again and having them be so generous with their time with me, like the Kenyan Marathon Team or Susana Felter, the Portuguese race walker who befriended me, made the experience special.
I made great business contacts. I met coaches and agents from all over the world, including the USA that were and will be outstanding connections professionally. This includes the US medical staff. I am very grateful to have made their acquaintance.
The Korean people could not be any sweeter, or kinder or more friendly. This made traveling in a country where very little to no English was spoken (at least in Daegu) much easier and more comfortable. I enjoyed the food experience (although I found myself craving good old American cuisine by the time I left). I enjoyed the efficiency of Korea. The cleanliness of the underground, the efficiency of the high speed rail (man do we need this in the USA), the commitment to technology from little things, like the 3-D cell phone, to the super airport with an ice skating rink, the Koreans seem to have a love affair with technology. Although it drove me a bit crazy, the Koreans commitment to lighted signs everywhere was, well, interesting at best. The Koreans put on one hell of a good competition. I chatted with one of the IAAF officials at one point, and he agreed that outside of one or two early glitches, the competition went off very well.
Although the weather was sweltering, and humid to the point of ridiculous at times, it was really great to be in a sunny place for a week considering the extended winter we had in Seattle this year. Seattle is fully 10 degrees cooler, and although it feels great, I really liked the hot weather.
Working with Mike was wonderful. He is such a good guy, with such a good heart and a very level head on his shoulders. And he is one hell of an athlete. I was truly honored to be invited in the first place and to have him place his trust in me to be his PT at the event. It is an honor to be invited to run in an event of this magnitude, and Mike was smart about taking it all in. He and I had a blast together, and I am delighted to have spent time with him there sharing experiences together. The one regret I have is that I could not stay for the after-party. I would like to have had a beer or two with Mike to toast him for a job well done. Mike closed the race as well as he could, and although he didn’t tun his PR, nobody did. I remain very proud of Mike.
I thank my staff at the office for keeping the office running while I was gone. It is a wonderful thing to be able to go away and know that behind you things are being done properly. And of course I missed my wife Melissa, and my daughter Mia while I was away. It was a tough week for them because Quinn went to DC, I went to Korea and Josh went to South Africa all at the same time. The house pretty much emptied out. Luckily Sam, the oldest brother, moved in while he is looking for a place. This softened the blow of the boys leaving for Melissa and Mia.
I’m really glad today was Labor Day. I needed the extra day to overcome jet lag. This is also the day we arrived in the USA in 1977, so I had lunch with my mom and Mia to celebrate. And now, its back to work! We have a lot to do.
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My alarm woke me at 5:00 am. I was rummy, but I managed to get up and throw on some clothes and head immediately to the train station. My morning routine included me filling my water bottle, adding my NUUN flavor and then taking my JP on the way to the train station…but this morning, I just ran out the door to get to the Athletes Village on time. The team decided to leave early by taking the first bus to the event..that meant I had to get there by 6:20 for a 6:25 departure.
I got to the Metro, and went downstairs to find myself alone, save one or two others. It was early Sunday morning after all. 10 minutes passed and no train. I was starting to panic a little bit. One other fellow there, deep into his ebook, looked scholarly, so I asked if he spoke English…”A little” he said, and told me that the first train would be 6:47. OK, I thought, this should be enough time.
Arriving at the Village train station, I was disappointed to find no bikes present. So I walked (as quickly as I could) to the Village, hoping that they didn’t leave early. I arrived to see the medical team loading up the bus and the athletes arrived soon after. They seemed relaxed. The bus ride was mostly quiet with the athletes listening to their headphones. It was as if we had our own team bus…none of the other teams went out that early. In addition to the athletes, there were 5 members of the medical team as well as the Environmental Specialist with his ice jackets.
Arriving at the venue, we wandered into the warm up tent where there were treatment tables set up, and mats for stretching as well as baskets for the athletes to leave their gear during the race. One by one the teams started to arrive: Ethiopia, Kenya, Australia, Great Brittan, China, Romania, Japan…and on and on. It was pretty awe inspiring. The Kenyan runners I hung out with at the track greeted me warmly with a hand shake and a hug. I went searching the venue for coffee…none. Mike wanted coffee, so I persisted…but it was a Sunday morning and so there was nothing open. Too bad.
Back in the tent, the athletes were putting on their numbers, and getting their ice vests one. The ice vest strategy was to wear three vests. One to cool down, one while on warm up run and one while waiting for the start. Correctly managed, the protocol allows the core temperature to come down by 1 to 2 degrees even while the legs and arms are warming up. The coach indicated that the reporting from the athletes throughout the week was generally positive for the use of the vests. Plus Mike and the other runners seemed to like them.
Mike got a little bit of a run down, he said his foot felt good, and the guys went out for a warm up run in the warm up area. Mike and the other runners went to get a final check on their numbers and then went out to the start area.
There were 66 athletes registered for the marathon, Mike was hoping for a top 30 finish.
I stationed myself a short distance from the start, and with Mike’s long camera lens, I positioned myself for the race. The gun went off and the athletes surged forward as a group. After snapping several pictures, I left the start and made my way to the 10K mark. The runners were still bunched by then, but there were people starting to fall back a bit. Mike came through as the 5th American, 2 minutes behind the group. He looked uncomfortable. I was a bit worried for him at that point. I went back to the start area around 40K so I could watch the Big Screen TV’s.
The runners had thinned out considerably by this time. The front three had separated and the runners came by one by one. Mike had picked off Sergio, one of the American runners by this time. As an aside, Sergio runs about 140 miles a week, week in and week out! Mike looked good as he ran by. I yelled out his place number to him (about 47th at the time), and he looked up in recognition.
I worked my way to the area before the finish, and went into the coaches area so I could have access to the street. If you look to the side, you can see me taking pictures on the left side (black shirt, light shorts), I was taking photos of each runner as they came through and counting….The first American, Mike Morgan, came through close to 30th place and collapsed two meters before the line…He staggered up and made it across the line. A few runners later, Mike came in looking strong. He had picked off about 10 runners the last 10K! He finished on 2:22.49, still his seasons best run even though about 10 minutes slower than his PR. The conditions were very difficult. The results show that almost every runner was slower than his PR.
I made my way to the press area to see Mike after the race. He was being interviewed by the FlowTrack reporter.
Mike came over and we chatted about the race. We said our goodbyes, and I made my way to get out of the race area. It was a bit of a race against the clock for me to make it back to my hotel, pack, get to the train station and then to Seoul, to Incheon and then home.
The train was crowded but I made it back. Took a shower and packed up and hoofed off to the train station. I made it with enough time for one last meal. There was great little Korean restaurant in the train station where they made BiBimBap, which I enjoyed as my last meal in Korea.
I went down to the platform and sat watching the Koreans as they came and went until my train arrived. I took the KTX High Speed Rail to Seoul at 300 kilometers per hour! It was a really smooth ride. When I arrived at Seoul, I followed signs to the Airport Train and found myself talking to a Chinese woman who looked as bewildered as I did. We eventually figured out which train to get and we were both a bit worried about making our flight. Nevertheless, we chatted about life and our observations about Korea (she said that she couldn’t understand Korean either, and that Koreans all look the same to her!). We arrived at Seoul and it was strangely not well sign posted. The airport is HUGE, it even has a skating rink! We asked around and eventually figured out where to go to check in, and I literally had to run because my flight was only one hour later. I arrived at the Delta area to be told to go to the Korean Air area. I ran over there and arrived to find that there were 1000 people in line ahead of me! AARG! So I asked about getting to the head of the line, but the agent told me my flight was delayed so I had time to stand in line. Phew!
I went to the gate and arrived there in time to board. We flew back on a 777, a huge plane. I recommend that if you fly Korean Air, you choose the Korean grub.
I slept most of the way home and arrived at my 4:00 am…. I went through customs, picked up my bags and met Melissa on the curb. It was nice to be home after my great adventure!