In part 2 of our Q&A with one of NYC's best physical therapists for runners, NY Custom PT, the pros answer our questions about running injuries. Here's what Paul Nasri, PT, DPT, had to say about playing sports, running obstacle races, exercises to help cure and prevent common running injuries. Read Running Injury Tips - Part 1 and Part 3 for more expert PT running advice.
OnlyAtoms: I’ve been a runner for years but I want to get back into sports that involve lateral movement (tennis, football/soccer, ultimate frisbee, dancing, ice skating etc), - is there a safe way to do this?
NY Custom PT: Most of running motion occurs in what is called the “sagittal plane” whereas sports that involve a lot of lateral motions occur in the “frontal plane.” Hip restrictions need to be addressed when you take on these lateral movement heavy sports. This can be done with hip adductor, abductor and rotator flexibility training. You also need to be sure that the muscles which allow you to shuffle from side to side (the gluteal muscles) are strong and can support the hip and back. Strengthening exercises for the gluteus medius and the gluteus maximus should be incorporated into your routine as you prepare to engage in sports that involve a lot of lateral movement.
OA: Are there any exercises I can do to re-awaken those muscles for lateral movement that I haven’t used in years without hurting myself?
NYCPT: You can stretch the hip adductors with an exercise called the frog stretch! A hip abductor stretch can be done with a stretch strap- you would lift the leg up and pull it across your body. The hip rotators can be stretch with a piriformis stretch, and yoga poses such as the Lizard pose and the pigeon pose. Stretches should typically be held for 30 seconds at a time. Perform 3 sets of each stretch daily to maintain hip mobility. Some great gluteal muscle exercises are donkey kicks, bridges and side stepping with a small squat and a resistance band.
OA: How should I change my running mileage when I’m playing in my local soccer league and doing a lot of sprinting during games?
NYCPT: If you are a runner playing another sport (soccer in this case), then add that to your routine as a “cross training day.” I usually recommend that a patient cross train once per week as they are marathon training. Mostly to break up any feelings of burnout that marathon training can have on your psychological well-being. You don’t really need to alter your mileage if you are playing soccer. However, if you are introducing interval training or hills into your program, you need to be sure to add that warm up, interval and cool down mileage into your total weekly mileage.
OA: How important is stretching before playing other sports?
NYCPT: The literature is all over the place about stretching before and after participation in your respective sport. The most evidence exists for dynamic stretching prior to your sporting event and static stretching afterwards. So, what does that mean? Dynamic stretching involves elongating and shortening the muscle as it moves through its full range of motion. Static stretching involves elongating the muscle and holding it in one position for a set period of time.
OA: Is it safe to do an obstacle course race (like a Ragnar trail run or a Spartan/Tough Mudder -style race) on a whim without training? I can definitely handle the mileage...
NYCPT: Completing an obstacle course race on a whim sounds like it would cause your soreness and pain. Training is necessary, especially upper body strengthening for the runner who does not normally focus on that. I would not recommend it, but if you can handle the mileage, then you can complete the race. The problem is that those Tough Mudders and Spartan Races often include a lot of ascending and descending (gaining and losing elevation). Therefore, if you haven’t trained on trails, hills, and inclines, then this could be a real shock to your system! Proceed with caution!
NOTE: NY Custom PT has a special this October for the NYC Marathon, $75 a session. Check it out here:
Paul Nasri, PT, DPT / NY Custom PT & Performance Staff Physical Therapist & Running Consultant, firstname.lastname@example.org
At NY Custom PT & Performance Center, runners will achieve their running potential and strengthen their bodies. The team of specialized Physical Therapists and Running Specialists will spend one-on-one time to assess biomechanical alignment and fitness goals. They provide hands-on physical therapy care for higher standards and better results. Their staff of physical therapists ("Running Consultants") has the training and experience necessary to help improve running performance. NY Custom PT and Performance center offers Biomechanical CUSTOMFIT Running Analysis, massage, acupunture and more.