By Zuzana Rogers
As we near the end of the cross-country ski season and the last issue of the Nordic Skier newsletter, I want to thank you all for your kind comments throughout the season. I am glad I had the opportunity to guide you and hopefully help you navigating through aches and pains throughout the season. [...]
As we near the end of the cross-country ski season and the last issue of the Nordic Skier newsletter, I want to thank you all for your kind comments throughout the season. I am glad I had the opportunity to guide you and hopefully help you navigating through aches and pains throughout the season.
In this issue, I want to answer some ‘frequently asked questions’ that I encounter as a clinical physical therapist working primarily with active population.
I am a skier who will be starting track and field season soon. How do I get ready? Make sure you ‘pre-condition’ your body. Your tendons, ligaments, muscles, joints, and your body as a whole need to be conditioned to become resilient to the load of running and jumping. Start with light outside runs on level surface and progress to hills. Gradually add plyometrics. You should be able to jump rope and/or hill bound without soreness before the track season starts.
Do I need to strength train? YES! YES! Cross-training and strength training will make you a stronger, healthier and less injury prone runner. Low and non-impact sports like cycling and swimming will help you build supporting muscles used in running and skiing, but you have to build strength to make your body more resilient! If you primarily run and bike during the summer, try to add 2 days of strength training per week.
When should I replace running shoes? The rule states that you should replace running shoes every 400-500 miles. However, pay attention to the wear pattern as well - if the shoe is showing uneven wear (heel, toe, outside or inside surface), replace them. Buy a new pair and rotate them for a while. Don’t wait until your only pair is trashed.
** this is too much wear!!
How do I select my running shoes? Select shoes based on fit comfort, your foot shape, and the activity/terrain you will be using them in. The best shoe for you is the one that fits well. Minimalist shoes tend to shift load towards your ankle, Achilles, and foot, while maximalist shoes (such as HOKAs) shift the load to the knees, hips, and low back. If your forefoot is wide, opt for wide toe box shoes such as Altra, New Balance (come in several widths) and similar. If your calves run tight and/or you are dealing with Achilles issues, opt for raised heel (higher drop shoes). But the most importantly, make sure you are properly fitted with your shoes - visit your local running store that can do that for you.
I have Achilles pain - how long should I rest it? Complete rest for Achilles tendopathy does not work that great. First of all, try to figure out why your Achilles is talking to you – did you increase your training too much? Started running hills? Changes shoes? If the condition is acute, especially if you feel swelling, it is OK to use ice, but only temporarily (2 days max). To protect you Achilles while it recovers, try temporarily adding a slight heel lift to your shoe. Don’t stretch, but you can foam roll your calf. But best of all – talk to your PT! A skilled Physical Therapist will be able to help you navigate through your recovery.
My feet pronate - should I use arch supports? It depends! I am generally opposed to a rigid arch support unless the foot needs to be mechanically corrected. More often, overpronation can happen due to specific weakness and muscle imbalance. It can also be genetic. Pronation is not bad - there is some degree of pronation that needs to happen for optimal foot function during walking and running. A great remedy for pronated feet is foot strength! Allow your feet to work for you the way they were designed.
How should I increase my running mileage to minimize injury risk? The rule of thumb is to increase your load (mileage, change of terrain) by about 10% per week. However, if you are starting from low mileage and doing OK with it, you can increase by more that 10% per week. Conversely, if your mileage is already high, add less that 10% per week and focus on recovery to get better.
Should I exercise through pain? Generally, some discomfort is OK. If the discomfort resolves within 24 hours, you can continue to train. If it lasts more than 24 hours, back off. The pain may be due to too much load too soon.
I am wishing you safe and enjoyable end of ski season and beginning of running season! Feel free to contact me with questions. Otherwise, see you on the trails!
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