Winter Running 101

Winter Running 101

We’re now well into the winter season. Temperatures are chillier and there’s even snow on the ground(!). This may leave you settling for the treadmill instead of heading outdoors for your run. If you’re keen to get outside, but intimidated by winter running, read on for some tips and tricks. 

How can I best prepare for running in the cold weather?

Running Attire Considerations

Layers are the key. You want enough layers to keep you warm, but not so many that you overheat. A common running kit could include: running tights or pants, a base layer, long sleeve top and a water-resistant/proof and windproof shell (jacket). On dry days, temperatures can be even cooler. When the temperature drops into the negatives, I usually substitute my shell for a light insulated jacket, which works perfectly! For clothing accessories, I like to wear a thin pair of gloves. If my hands get too warm, I’ll simply take the gloves off and stash them in a pocket. On my head, I prefer wearing a hat with good breathability. Other options are ear warmers or a thin toque.

Footwear

Winter running can be more slippery because of the rain, frost, slush and  snow. Because of this, ideally you are running in shoes with good grip or tread. If your shoes are not waterproof, consider wearing warmer socks. Personally, running socks are one of my essentials for running at any time of the year. Running socks are usually made with a technical fabric that helps wick moisture away from the feet. They also have extra cushioning in areas where blisters are more common. 

Safety

These are dark days of winter…The days are shorter, meaning if you go for your run before or after work, it may be dark. Choose a running route that’s well lit. Make sure you can see where you’re going and others can see you. There’re lots of options for running lights and reflective gear (clothing, arm bands). I invested in a very cool GetVizy light vest last year – I feel safer with it AND the different LED colours make the run more fun!

Warm-up & Cool Down

For your pre-run warm-up, try to incorporate some stretches and full body movements (squats, lunges, jumping jacks) that’re going to loosen up your muscles and get your blood moving. Your pre-run warm-up may take anywhere between 5-10 min. Once you’re ready, you can continue your warm-up into the start of your run. Find a comfortable pace (speed) where your breathing feels controlled. A good way to keep track of this is using the talk test – you should be able to talk without difficulty or be able to hold a conversation if you were with a buddy.

When you finish your run, it can be tempting not to do anything else. Consider a short cool-down. This may include a 5 min walk and/or repeating some of the stretches you started your pre-run warm-up with. This is especially important if you’re new to running, and if you have a history of running-related injuries. 

Hydration

My last tip is hydration. You may not feel much sweating, but you are still losing water. Make sure you’re hydrated before heading out for your run and that you re-hydrate afterwards. You may also consider bringing a source of water – either a bottle in your hand, on a belt or a hydration pack. 

The above information is meant to help inspire all the runners out there – current and aspiring. There are of course individual differences and other factors to consider when creating a running plan, and starting a new activity. Physiotherapists love enabling clients to be physically active. Be sure to ask your physiotherapist about winter running if you want to know more. Want more general running tips? Share your questions with us and you might see another post!

I hope to see more of you out there soon. You can usually find me running the seawall in False Creek wearing a white hat and bright pink running shoes. Feel free to say hello!

By Allison Evers

(Registered Physiotherapist)

Just Keep Swimming – Six Reasons Swimming is Fantastic for Your Health

Just Keep Swimming – Six Reasons Swimming is Fantastic for Your Health

Amidst these scorching summer days here in BC, there’s nothing like a refreshing swim, but swimming has many health benefits besides being a fantastic way to cool off.

One significant aspect of water-based exercises is the hydrostatic effect of water, which has fantastic therapeutic benefits. The pressure can alleviate pain by reducing swelling and calming our sympathetic nervous system. As a result, pool-based exercises and swimming can benefit those in post-recovery (like ankle sprains, knee replacements, etc.) and facilitate a faster recovery.

But the benefits don’t stop there! Other great aspects include:

1. Low-impact exercise:

Unlike many other forms of exercise, swimming is low-impact, which puts less stress on joints. Being low-impact makes swimming an ideal activity for people of all ages, including those with joint pain/sprains, arthritis, or other mobility concerns.

2. Flexibility and balance:

Swimming enhances stability and coordination and helps those who fear falling to practice safe balance drills in waist-height water. It also improves joint flexibility through various strokes and positions.

3. Improved posture:

Swimming helps strengthen the muscles that support the spine, leading to better posture and reduced risk of developing back problems or aches.

4. Cardiovascular health:

Swimming elevates the heart rate, improves blood circulation, and reduces the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

5. Full-body workout:

Swimming engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, providing comprehensive exercise for the entire body. It strengthens the arms, shoulders, back, core, and legs, improving muscle tone and overall strength.

6. Weight management:

Swimming is a calorie-burning activity that can aid in weight management and loss. It helps burn many calories while providing a fun and refreshing workout.

Conclusion

Before taking a dip or starting any exercise program (like hydrotherapy/pool-based rehab), consult your doctor and physiotherapist, especially if you have any underlying health concerns. Stay safe, and just keep swimming!

Physiotherapist Ania Stojek wrote this article.

Prune and Rake without the Ache – a quick exercise guide for Gardeners!

Prune and Rake without the Ache – a quick exercise guide for Gardeners!

Summertime brings on gardening and yard maintenance. Here is a simple routine that will make your gardening easier by addressing the following three components to happy gardening:

  1. Strength: often you need to move things, dig, lift heavy pots, etc. which requires a certain amount of strength.
  2. Mobility: you’ll need to be able to bend your knees/spine, get into tight spots, and low down to the ground for your gardening tasks.
  3. Balance: to avoid feeling wobbly on your feet, stay safe, and avoid falling while gardening.

1. Strength

As a gardener strength in your legs and back are necessary to perform certain movements safely. The following two exercises help to develop vital leg and back strength for safe gardening:

Sumo Squat:

  • You can hold onto a bucket, watering can, bag with something heavy in it, or no weight at all.
  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart or a little wider with the object you are lifting a little in front of your feet.
  • Bend down like you are sitting in a chair and pick up the object with a nice straight back.
  • Stand back up by straightening knees and squeezing your buttocks.
  • Repeat for a recommended 8-12 repetitions x 3 sets.

Lunge:

  • Hold onto something for support if needed (chair, railing, rake) and take a big step forward.
  • Drop your hips directly down between your two feet.

 2. Mobility

Does your lower back ever get stiff and achy while gardening? Mobility work can help with that stiffness and keep you moving smoothly. Try these 2 exercises for your spinal mobility.

Seated forward fold:

  • Sit tall, with feet hip width apart, and hands on knees.
  • Start by bending your neck looking down, then roll your shoulders forward, then midback, then lower back sliding your arms down your legs as you go.
  • Bending as far down as you comfortably can without pain/discomfort.
  • Reverse it as you come back up.
  • Repeat for a recommended 3-5 slow repetitions 3-5 times.

Standing extension:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with your hands on your hips.
  • Stand up straight and gently arch your back.
  • Only go as far as it is comfortable. Hold for 3-5 seconds repeat 3-5 times.

3. Balance

With balance exercises there can be a variety of levels so find what suits you best. Try to be near a wall, corner, and/or something sturdy to hold onto especially your first few tries to keep you safe.

Tandem balance:

  • Place one foot in front of the other, so that the toes of your back foot are just touching the heel of your front foot and hold this position.
  • To make this easier try holding on to something while you get into position, you can also place the front foot slightly further forward and/or to the side of the back foot.
  • To make it harder you can try turning your head left to right or closing your eyes while you balance.
  • Try to stay balanced as long as you can and practice for 1-3 minutes.

Balance Reach:

  • Place your feet together so they are touching, or as close together as you can get them.
  • Reach out in front of you bending at the hips.
  • You can also practice reaching side to side/ up/ down.
  • To make this easier stand with your feet hip width apart.
  • To make this harder stand in tandem like the previous exercise or on one leg.
  • Try to stay balanced as long as you can and practice for 1-3 minutes.

Conclusion

This is a small sample of exercises that can help improve your gardening but hopefully it is enough to get you started!

It is important to note that these exercises may not be appropriate for everyone, please discuss with your physiotherapist if they are right for you.

Physiotherapist Danielle Carter wrote this article.

Skiers Happy Feet: 5 exercises to keep your feet active and strong during the ski season!

Skiers Happy Feet: 5 exercises to keep your feet active and strong during the ski season!

 

We are well into this year’s ski season! Many of us wait excitedly for November to April in anticipation of getting out on the slopes. But, after a long day of skiing or snowboarding, your feet and calves may feel the burn.  

Exercises targeting below the knee are often neglected when warming up and cooling down from activity, especially the feet. Our ankle and foot muscles are much smaller than our legs, BUT the job they do is important for carving, jumping and doing our best pizza (snow plowing). 

Below are a few simple exercises with no equipment you can do at home to help strengthen your ankles and feet. 

NOTE:

I would be remiss not to mention the tight-fitting and rigid boots required for skiing! Getting your boots properly fitted is essential, and have your boots checked at a ski/snowboard store. 

 If your boots still aren’t quite right, here are a few tips to increase comfort:  

  • Add a supportive or cushioned insole. 
  • Invest in ski socks. These are thin yet warm and padded at the shin and toes to protect you from boot pressure points. 
  • Ask your ski/snowboard store about punching out your boots. A good boot tech can help with hot spots where the shell of the boot rubs against your foot. This is accomplished by heating up the boot’s plastic and stretching it out in that area. This is especially helpful for individuals with a Tailor’s bunion (6th toe), wide forefoot, ankle pressure, navicular pressure, and heel spurs.

Exercises: 

Toe raises 

Big toe only – Stand with your feet flat on the floor. Lift only your big toe, then slowly lower. Try to keep your other toes relaxed. 

Tip: If you notice your big toe drifting towards your other toes, loop an elastic band around both your big toes to keep them pointing straight. This is especially helpful for individuals with Hallux Valgus (like me!) 

Everything but the big toe – Stand flat on the floor. Lift all of your toes up except the big toe, then lower. 

Arch raises

Stand with your feet flat on the floor. Lift the arch of your foot up towards the ceiling, keeping your toes touching the floor, then lower. 

Tip: Your longitudinal arch runs from your heel to your toes along the foot’s inner border. Picture a string at the top of the arch. Pull the string up towards the ceiling to lift the arch higher.

Rockers

Standing with your feet flat on the floor. Alternate between rising up on the balls of your feet (plantar flexion) and pulling up the front of your foot (dorsiflexion). 

Tip: To make this exercise more functional, stand in a squat stance with bent knees, similar to your posture when skiing or snowboarding.  

Straight Knee Version

 

Bent Knee Version

Calf stretch 

Stand in tandem (i.e. one foot forward, one foot back). Bend the front knee and keep your back leg straight. You should feel a stretch in your calf at the back of the straight leg. 

Tip: Bend both knees to stretch your deeper calf muscles. 

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the slopes! Consult your physiotherapist if you experience pain or want to work on conditioning for the ski and snowboard season. 

Written by: Allison Evers

Four Benefits of Exercise for Individuals with Cancer

Four Benefits of Exercise for Individuals with Cancer

 

Exercise can be a safe and effective way to help manage the side effects of cancer and its treatments. The great thing about exercise is that it can be used before, during and after all types of treatment and for any cancer. Here are four benefits of exercise for individuals with cancer:

1. Combat Fatigue

Cancer-related fatigue is one of the main side effects that patients deal with, no matter the type of cancer or treatment they receive. Research supports exercise as a first-line treatment for fatigue. The key is to start small and work your way up. Introduce activity into every day, make your goal to start at a minimum of 10 minutes of daily light walking, even on days when you feel incredibly fatigued, then eventually work up to the moderate intensity exercise.

2. Improve Overall Function

Muscular strength and endurance, as well as heart function and efficiency, can be affected by cancer and its treatments. To maintain the ability to be independent and perform basic activities of daily living, we need our bodies to be strong.  Regular exercise can help enhance function and is recommended for the best health.

3. Decrease Treatment Side Effects

Regular exercise has been shown to help improve recovery from surgery and decrease and manage the side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. The key is to start moving and add regular exercise into your daily life. Loss in muscle mass, weight gain, loss of range of motion, neuropathy and many other side effects can be managed with specific exercises, be sure to consult a trained exercise professional for specific exercises.

4. Feel Better

Regular exercise has been shown to improve many things that will make you feel better when it’s normal not to feel at your best. Exercise can improve mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. Additionally, it can help maintain strength, improve quality of life and manage other chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Exercise is an energy booster, and a mix of resistance and aerobic training is recommended to give you the best results.

 

At Treloar, our cancer recovery program offers individualized one-on-one sessions and group classes. Suppose sessions are booked with Ayesha Koome, a Certified Athletic Therapist. In that case, you may get coverage through extended medical providers such as Great West Life, Sunlife, Manulife and Greenshield. 

If you have any questions about this article or more information about what we offer in our Cancer Recovery Program, contact Ayesha Koome at ayeshakoome@treloarphysio.com or visit our website HERE.