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Bethesda, Maryland 20814

Do your running shoes pass the test?

You don’t need performance physical therapists like us to tell you that footwear makes a large impact on running performance. The correct running shoe can reduce your race times and lower your injury risk.

When walking into any running store in Bethesda or Chevy Chase, you will find many different shoe brands and several different models of shoes within each brand. Among this wide array of shoes, how do we determine which is best for you?

The answer is different for each person and is dependent on a multitude of different factors. However, any running shoe must meet a few requirements to be considered and these are the first things we look for when assessing any running shoe in physical therapy for runners.

The first is that it must have a firm and snug heel cup. Your heel sits at the base of the shoe, in a place called the heel cup. The heels cup should fit snugly around your heel and should not be much wider than your heel itself. This prevents your heel from sliding around within the shoe, which would negatively impact foot mechanics.

Next, the shoe must have a toe break that folds where your toes bend.  Place your shoe on the ground and hold it there. Pull the front of your shoe upwards from underneath. The folding point of the shoe should be located where your toes bend. If your shoe prefers to fold at another location, your foot is being encouraged to bend somewhere else. This alters foot mechanics and can lead to breakdown within the structure of the foot itself.

Finally, you should be able to feel the entirety of both feet on the ground as you are standing still in your shoes. People are often unable to feel their arches, which results in more stress on the areas that are receiving better ground contact.

There are 26 bones and 30 joints within the human foot. This results in a large number of ways that our foot can compensate, and therefore, a large number of factors that we need to be mindful of when choosing the correct running shoe.

The 3 factors outlined above are a good place to start when choosing the right shoe, however there are many other factors that may also need to be considered.

Please contact us for help assessing your foot and determining the best running shoe for you!

 

3 Home Exercises to Help with Your Back Pain

Did you know that according to research, over 70% of Americans will experience back pain during their lives?

Surprisingly, this statistic remains high among active people. Sometimes their training even contributes to it!

One of the things you can do to help reverse this trend is to implement Pilates into your training. Dr. Ciara is a physical therapist and certified Pilates instructor. She has taught us how to incorporate Pilates into the treatment of physical therapy patients right here in Bethesda and Chevy Chase. These principles can also be used in performance training.

The good news is that Pilates doesn’t require you to go to a Pilates studio. Many Pilates exercises can be done from home and performed within your training regimen.

Begin with the 3 exercises below.

  1. Roll like a ball into Zen Teaser (C-Curve)
  2. Single Leg Stretch
  3. Curtsy Reach

The goal of these activities are to teach you how to control your body using your deep abdominals and glutes. Therefore, it is essential to focus on quality of movement, rather than the quantity performed. There are no heros with these exercises!

To learn more about Pilates, check out last weeks article below!

What Actually is Pilates?

What actually is Pilates?

Has anyone ever suggested that you try Pilates, however you really don’t know what Pilates is? If you don’t really know what it is, how could you know if Pilates will help you?

The newest member of the CHP team, Dr. Ciara Petry, is a certified Pilates Instructor and specializes in helping, in addition to being a physical therapist. She utilizes Pilates in her physical therapy practice and within her performance training services for her clients in Bethesda and Chevy Chase.  She even uses Pilates during her virtual physical therapy sessions! We are so grateful that she was kind enough to share this information with us.

Pilates is can be described as a conscious way back into our bodies, better connecting the mind and body. Pilates focuses on body alignment, controlled movement, and breathing. Joseph H. Pilates developed this movement system with the goal of improving the ability of the deep muscles of the body to guide and control movement.

Classic Pilates does not require any fancy equipment can be easily be performed on a mat. The focus of a typical session will be on quality of movement versus quantity (number of reps, amount of weight, etc.). Spinal movements, a properly engaged core, shoulder and pelvic stability, breathing, and working with oppositional energy are all key to Pilates work.

Contrary to popular belief, Pilates is very different from Yoga and it is important to understand these differences so that you can choose the right activity for you and your goals.

Yoga was founded as a sacred tradition over 5,000+ years ago with a focus on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Yoga is a meditative practice, where Pilates is not, and follows a sequence of poses that are often held for long periods of time to increase short-term flexibility.

Pilates was founded in the 1920’s with a focus on strengthening of the core, improvement of posture, stabilization and elongation of the spine, and development of balance and overall strength. Movements are shorts with an increased focus on control, precision and long-term mobility.

For these reasons Pilates is incredibly useful for anyone suffering from back, knee, or hip pain. Furthermore, it serves as a great alternative or adjunct to weight training or running.

Next week will be discussing how you can use Pilates to help overcome injury and improve your performance in a variety of settings!