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What Sprinters Teach Distance Runners

Our physical therapists in Bethesda commonly teach sprinting drills to both distance runners and field sport athletes.

Although distance running and field sports are very different activities, sprinting drills help to correct running form within both groups of people and make a positive impact throughout the physical therapy process.

For runners, sprint training teaches the body to move fast. The greater the speed is that a runner is capable of running, the easier it is to run fast for extended periods of time.

For example, if someone wishes to run a marathon in 4 hours or less, this person needs to average 9:09 minutes per mile. Prior to incorporating sprint training into their routine, this person may have been capable of running 14 mph at maximum speed. After sprint training, this person is now capable of running 15 mph at maximum speed. Due to having a faster maximum speed, running a 9:09 minute mile is now less taxing on the body, therefore requiring less energy to sustain this pace.

For distance runners and field sport athletes, sprinting improves running technique by forcing an individual to pick their hips and knees up in front of their body to larger degree. This helps to change the common habit of kicking legs far behind the body, resulting in further compensations that increase the risk for hamstring injuries among many others.

Check out the video below to learn more about how we coach running technique here at Cohen Health in Performance Bethesda!

 

Why Powerlifters Don’t Move Laterally

As most physical therapists will tell you, powerlifters typically do not demonstrate great multidirectional movement skills. Why would they?

Training for any sport is all about specificity.

The goal of a powerlifter is to squat, deadlift or bench press more weight. Their training reflects this and as a result, they become better at those lifts. Any movement qualities that do not contribute to helping perform in these lifts are likely to suffer because they are not useful to the sport.

In fact, any unnecessary movement may be detrimental to their sport because it takes energy away from what is most important.

One way to prevent unnecessary movements from occurring is to reduce the capability of doing so in the first place!

Elite level powerlifters often do not even possess the prerequisite movement capabilities to efficiently move laterally.  That wouldn’t be helpful to their performance!

The highest level of performance in any sport often requires physiological adaptations that set the body up for the greatest level of success in that specific activity. Many times, this means that unrelated movement capabilities will diminish.

While this is helpful for short term performance, when taken too far, a reduction in movement options can increase the risk for injury. A lack of movement capabilities results in a limited number of ways the body can minimize physical stress.

How do we know that the body has lost too many movement options? Overuse injuries begin to accumulate, and signs of discomfort start to present themselves.

The best solution for any athlete looking to improve their performance in particular sport is to visit a professional that can assess their capabilities and personal risk profile. Our team of Doctors of Physical Therapy at Cohen Health and Performance specializes in just that.

Contact us today to learn more!

3 Critical Questions To Ask Your Physical Therapist on the First Visit

Physical therapy (both in person and virtual physical therapy) is most effective when you are actively involved. While the physical therapist is responsible for identifying issues and developing a plan, the patient should be actively involved by asking questions and providing necessary background information. Here are three important questions to ask your physical therapist to get the most out of your session in Chevy Chase or Bethesda.

1. Why did this happen, and how can we ensure it doesn’t happen again?

Solving the underlying issue and resolving any pain or discomfort is essential when working with a physical therapist. But beyond that, you also want to ensure that the problems don’t resurface. By asking about the root cause of the injury or pain, you’re able to better prevent the problem from becoming a long-term issue.

2. What do I need to be doing at home?

Unfortunately, time with a physical therapist is limited. Outside of a few hours a week, most time is spent away from your PT. When meeting with a physical therapist, it’s vital to clarify any exercises you should or shouldn’t be doing at home. A great physical therapist will make sure you have the tools and exercises needed to take control of your health, both inside and outside of the session.

3. How can you be sure I’ll make progress?

If you decide to work with a physical therapist, the intention should be to progress towards your goal. Oftentimes the  healthcare system will establish general objectives, such as reaching a “baseline” or returning to ADLs (active daily activities). Although these standard guidelines are a good starting point, the purpose of physical therapy is to reach your goals, not the goals of the insurance companies! By asking this question directly, you set a clear intention for the results you desire.

Physical therapy works best when there’s an active partnership between you and the PT. The more engaged you are in your health, the more progress you will make. By asking these three essential questions, you’ll set clear intentions for your physical therapy and build a better working relationship as a result.

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!