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Kim Doerksen

Tell-tale signs that you need a day off

By | Training Tips | No Comments

It’s often believed that “more is more” when it comes to training.  Runners get stuck in a mindset that the more they do, the better they become.  This is true to a certain extent, but oftentimes the value of a rest day gets forgotten.  If you have put your body through the wringer with workouts, long runs, and cross training without a day off, chances are you aren’t going to recover enough to reap the benefits of your efforts.  Instead, a cumulative fatigue can set in and leave you overtrained or burnt out.

Here are some tell-tale signs you might be due for a day off:

Altered heart rate:
This is noticeable particularly with individuals who train with a heart rate monitor.  Many of us have an idea of what our resting heart rate is, and if you don’t it’s worth figuring out.  When your resting heart rate is altered, it’s a sign that your metabolic rate is elevated to meet the demands of training.  A lower-than-normal heart rate can also be an indication that you’re overtraining.  When you’re feeling off, take a heart rate check and see if it’s trying to tell you to rest!

Increased irritability:
Overtraining can not only affect your physical state, but your emotional state too.  When you’re starting to burn out, moodiness, depression, and general irritability are common.  While we all know exercise is supposed to make us happier due to the blissful endorphin rush, these stress-fighting chemicals are released alongside cortisol which is a stress hormone.  If cortisol levels remain elevated for an extended period of time, it can negatively affect one’s mental health.  It can get to the point that running/exercising is no longer enjoyable, and anyone/anything can send you spiraling into a bad mood, especially if they ask about how training is going!  If that’s the case, take a day or two to reset and allow your body to relax.  Pop into a low key yoga class to really let your mind settle – just make sure it’s easy.

Extended muscle soreness:
When you’re training hard, it’s common to have delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) for one or two days after a workout.  The issue is when that muscle soreness is prolonged, or just doesn’t go away.   If you’re still sore after 72 hours, it’s worth scheduling a day off.  Working out on sore muscle can hinder any muscle building efforts.  Instead of trying to hammer out another workout session, or even pounding the pavement on an easy run, take that time to roll, stretch, refuel, and hydrate to allow your muscles to rebuild without being broken down again.

Insomnia:
When we’re tired from intense training, it’s usually easy to fall asleep.  However, when we’re extremely fatigued, insomnia can set in.  This is due to an overload on the body’s nervous system and hormonal system.  It’s crucial to sleep during the 10pm to 2am period as your body builds and grows during rest, not during training.  The stress of overtraining can lead to anxiety, impair our judgements, decrease cognitive function, and lower our immunity.  Anyone who has suffered from insomnia knows that it’s a negative cycle: the less you sleep, the more you worry about not sleeping, and the harder it is to sleep.  Taking a few days off and focusing on allowing the body to properly shut down at night could be the winning solution to one’s insomnia.

Unquenchable thirst:
Dehydration can play a huge role in overtraining.  Our body sweats during exercise, and the more you exercise, the more you sweat.  A good indicator of your hydration level is to look at the colour of your urine.  The darker the colour, the more your body is struggling to retain fluids because there isn’t enough circulating the body to properly hydrate you.  The dark urine indicates that the body is retaining as much water as it can while still excreting waste.  Therefore, the more hydrated we are, the more water we have in our urine making it more diluted.  Dehydration can also cause headaches, dizziness, muscle cramps, and irritability.  If these symptoms are present, be sure to add in some electrolytes into your water too.

Running & Beer

By | Elite Athletes, General | No Comments

Beer and running seem to be a match made in heaven.  From infiltrating local running clubs, races, the Beer Mile, and as a reward for any hard workout or race, beer has added yet another social element to the running scene.

Chemically speaking, brewing beer occurs from the fermentation of starch by yeast.  The sugars in the grain are metabolized which creates the alcohol and CO2.  Although beer is 90% water, and typically four to six percent alcohol, it is still considered a diuretic. Beer does contain sugary carbs, nutrients from the hops, starch, and some electrolytes, but the alcohol content puts a damper on these benefits.  So if you plan on having some post-run brews, grab a glass of water and a snack to have before the beer.

Even with the alcohol content, beer has health benefits when consumed in moderation. Moderate consumption means one 12-ounce beer per day for women, and two for men (but don’t think that the days you don’t have a beer can be added to another day and still be considered “moderate consumption”).  In moderation, beer has been seen to lower risks of kidney stones in men compared to other alcoholic beverages; contains multiple B vitamins and chromium; helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol; contains hops that are rich in anti-inflammatory polyphenols; and can decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

While it seems quite normal to have a beer after a run, having beer during the run may seem a little extreme, but that’s exactly what the Beer Mile is. We caught up with some of Canada’s top beer milers to share their running & beer stories:


Jim Finlayson

I was one of the rare ones who didn’t really drink beer. Had my first one 2nd year university, 1992, and didn’t care for it. Felt way too bloated, too, and I couldn’t understand how my roommates could drink more than one. And so their surprise when I ran my 5:09 beer mile world record in 2007.

My first beer mile was in 2005. It was a fundraiser for melanoma, in honour of a local triathlete who had passed away. We had a huge crowd. 75 participants and over 100 spectators. The Times Colonist newspaper was on hand. I only did it to support the cause. At the time the world record was 5:42 and I figured if things went really smoothly I could be 6:20-30. Certainly wasn’t thinking anything faster than that, and so I chose Guinness, which isn’t beer mile legal (only 4.4%, and it needs to be a 5% beer). It was late December, just before Christmas, and we ran it in the rain and dark. I had no idea what my splits were. I just ran as hard as I could. Someone told me after the race I’d run 5:12, which seemed impossible to me, but it was corroborated by the official timers. The mark didn’t count as a record since I drank Guinness, but I knew then I would return the next year with a legal beer, which I did, and ran 5:20 drinking Keepers Stout from a can. The year after that I ran 5:09 with Granville Island Winter ale, which stood as the world record for 6 years.

I didn’t run a single beer mile after that until Flotrack hosted the World Championships in the fall of 2014. By then I was a master, with suspect speed and no chugging practice. I thought I would get dusted by these University kids. Figured I would come last. Nick Symmonds was in the race, Lewis Kent, Corey Gallagher. These boys were big and fast and young. They were brash and controversial. In the media guide all of our fastest chug times were listed and mine was the slowest at 8 seconds. Our mile bests were listed, too, and I was nearly the slowest there, with my personal best from 16 years prior. But for whatever reason my body takes to the beer mile. I ran 5:20 and finished 3rd. A year later I took another serious crack at it on the track, just because my curiosity was intense, and ran 5:01 which still stands as my beer mile best.

This nascent beer mile frenzy… I feel like it’s a bit of a supernova. After that first World Championships and before the first World Classic the beer mile burned pretty brightly, and so when I went to the pub with my mates I would order a beer in whatever bottles they had, Sleeman or Heineken or (preferably) anything from Phillips, and I’d get my friends to time me. They’d pull out their iPhones and set them on the table, and as soon as the waitress put the beer down and turned away, I’d go. The truth is I don’t love beer. I can enjoy it, sure, but I’d rather train than sip at it. I’d rather see if I can get under 4 seconds than nurse one. So the waitress would leave and my boys would be ready, and I’d train there in the pub, getting down to 3.37 seconds once, confirmed by the backup timer. We’d only be there for an hour or 90 mins and I’d drink two beers in that time, and they’d be in my hand for less than 10 seconds. It helped having the stage. I wanted pressure on me. I wanted to have the possibility of being ridiculed if I screwed up and spat it out my nose, and so the pub was ideal. I was preparing for the big races. Never had the urge to run after, though. Not on those nights at the pub.

I don’t really fall on either side of the pro/con argument. Clearly I’m not contra beer and, more generally, drinking, but I don’t drink much. I like the environment mostly for the socials. I know alcohol can interfere with recovery and sleep, but I also know keeping the governor on too tight can have the same detrimental effect.


Corey Gallagher

I’ve always thought of myself being a beer connoisseur. I love trying new beers everywhere I go. One of my favourite winter celebrations is our Winter Beer Mile (we also hold a summer one) here in Manitoba. My first one was in 2006, during my first year of university. Every year after CIS championships the team would host an underground beer mile. This time conveniently fell around by birthday, which is on St. Patty’s Day, so it was a fun way to celebrate with everyone.

The only draw back being, its March in Winnipeg, which means there was also a fair amount of snow to shovel.   We would gather the team on a Friday night, hang out and shovel the track for hours. We would then wake up the next morning a bit rough around the edges, and dreading what we were about to do. My first beer mile were terrible, I ran around 14 minutes and was definitely penalized for not holding down my contents.

I’m happy to say things have greatly improved since then, and I look forward to our Winter Beer Mile every year.  Since my first year of university, our Beer Miles have grown beyond just the team. We get all types of people coming out (family members, friends of friends etc) as it’s a great fun and active way to bring people together over beers.

I always look forward to enjoying a casual beer once Beer Mile training is done. Nothing beats a nice cold beer after a hard workout or long run. However, during training I don’t allow myself any casual sipping beers, I practice chugging with everything.

Safety Tips for Runners

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Running safety is of the utmost importance, but sometimes it gets pushed out of people’s minds as thinking about the consequences isn’t appealing. Run-ins with bicycles, cars, dogs, or other people are all things that could have a potential risk associated with them. The best way to eliminate any fear or reluctance while out on a run is to be properly prepared. Follow these simple guidelines for best practices in run safety:

  • Know your route.  Make sure you’ve planned ahead according to what time of day you’re running at.  If there’s a route that’s well-lit and more populated, choose that if you’re heading out in the dark.
  • Tell someone where you’re going.  Not only is planning your route good practice for your own benefits, but it makes it easier to share with someone else.  If you’re planning on heading out on a solo run, inform a friend, significant other, or family member of where you’re going and how long you’ll be.  That way, should anything happen they’ll know where to go.
  • Be aware.  It’s easy to zone out while on a run, especially when we get into a good rhythm.  However, it’s important to keep tuned in to your surroundings throughout the entire run and not just when you deem it necessary.
  • Avoid headphones.  While it’s nice to have the company of some good music or an interesting podcast, running with headphones can eliminate the sounds of the things around you.  It can be difficult to hear an approaching bike, car, person, or even a foul ball from a recreational baseball game if you’re plugged in. If you must have your headphones, leave one ear out.
  • Be visible.  Don’t assume because you’re wearing a light coloured jacket that people will see you.  Instead, make the assumption that no one can see you and dress appropriately.  Wear high-vis gear such as reflective vests, headlamps, and other clip on lights so people know exactly where you are.
  • Bring your phone.  It’s always nice to leave your phone at home and take a break from the incessant buzzing of e-mails, texts and other notifications, but sometimes it’s smarter to bring it with you.  You can set it to ‘Do Not Disturb’ so your pocket isn’t constantly making noise, but at least you’ll have it in case of emergencies.
  • Carry ID.  Heaven forbid something does happen during a run, having a piece of identification can help if you’re injured or in a situation where you need someone else’s help.
  • Run with a group.  It can be a local running group, a friend, or your dog. When you run with someone it decreases the chance of being targeted as a victim, and provides a helping hand if you get hurt.
  • Trust your instincts.  Don’t put yourself in a situation where you feel uneasy.  If heading into the trails as the sun is setting doesn’t make you feel confident, stick to a well-lit path.  If there’s a person that doesn’t look trust-worthy, veer away from them or change direction accordingly.
  • Follow the rules.  Face oncoming traffic; look both ways before crossing the road; obey traffic signals; and check around you to avoid bumping into an oncoming or passing runner.
  • Vary your route.  Not only does it keep things fresh for you, mixing up your route can stop recognizable patterns.  Be sure to stay in familiar areas and keep in mind where the nearest open stores/businesses are.
  • Know basic self-defense.  Take some time to learn some basic self-defense moves to properly prepare you for any situation that may occur.

How Important is Sleep for Runners?

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Sleep is probably the most under appreciated tool in a runner’s toolbox as it helps to prevent injury and rebuild muscle.  But in a world where working into the wee hours of the night is considered a badge of honour, it could be negatively impacting your training.  Lack of sleep can affect us in many different ways and these are some of the most crucial effects to be aware of:

  • Brain function: anyone who hasn’t had enough sleep and has to go to work/school can attest to what a struggle it is to be productive.  The foggy-brained feeling can lead to a decrease in creativity, and increases the chance of giving up on a complex problem.
    Not only that, emotions and anxiety run high when we’re sleep deprived.  A lot of problem solving, decisions, and judgements are made while we sleep; if we don’t allow the natural processing of information, it can cause increased stress and lower cognitive functioning.
  • Tired eyes.  Nodding off during a boring lecture, meeting or while working on an assignment is a big indicator that you haven’t had enough sleep.  Having 6 hours or less of sleep triples your risk of being in a motor vehicle accident.
    When we nod off, it’s because we are actually having a “microsleep” where we actually fall asleep for a few seconds at a time.  This occurs especially during monotonous tasks like driving and can be incredibly dangerous.  Not only that, our hand-eye coordination is impaired, which is why a lot of note taking looks rather messy when you’re tired!
  • Altered diets.  When we lack sleep, our body tends to crave food as a of boosting our energy levels.  These cravings are usually for high-carb, calorically dense foods such as dessert, chips, pasta and bread.
    There are two important hormones that are released throughout the day that signal hunger and satiation: leptin signals to our body that we’re full; whereas ghrelin sends signals out that we’re hungry.  Leptin levels increase as the day progresses, and peak at nighttime.

    If you’re staying awake late at night, there is an increased ghrelin release to convince the body that it’s hungry, even when it doesn’t need more food.  This malfunctioning hormone signals put people at risk for weight gain if they’re continually sleep deprived.

  • Heart risks.  Chronic sleep deprivation can put increased stress on your heart and put you at risk of developing hypertension and increased blood pressure.  Sleep is when the most cell regeneration occurs, and as your blood vessels constantly regenerate, they are highly sensitive to any changes in that process.
    If the blood vessels aren’t properly repaired while resting, it can lead to stiffness in the arteries, and reduce your healing efficiency.  Neither of which are good things when you’re placing demands on your heart and vessels during hard interval sessions!
  • Impaired immune system.  Lack of sleep can boost the inflammation in your body.  Not only does that affect your chances of gaining weight, developing diabetes and increased heart risks, it can make you more vulnerable to getting sick.  Getting at least 7 hours of sleep can help ward off the seasonal cold.

Conquer Hill Training with these Four Workouts

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Hill training is one of the pillars of any runner’s workout program.  Through the course of a season, the type of hill training can vary from short, explosive hills, to longer hill repeats, to runs on a hilly course depending on the purpose of the workout.

There are many benefits of including hill training into your running program, with the most obvious being added strength and power.  Running uphill requires increased muscle recruitment from our main movers which improves their muscle endurance and neuromuscular responsiveness.  Not only do hills benefit runners from a physiological standpoint, but they can help to improve form, posture, cadence and efficiency.  It’s difficult to run with poor form on hills as the uphill propulsion requires a runner to be on their toes, with a slight forward lean from the ankles, and a higher cadence to drive you up the hill.  The less time you spend on the ground, the quicker your feet move, and the faster you get up the hill!  Hills provide similar speed and strength benefits as track workouts without too much impact on the body.  This is essentially why a lot of programs have hills as an integral part of any off-season and start-of-season training.  It helps get the body into shape, increases speed and power, without the risk of injury.

So what types of workouts are there and what’s the best way to execute them?

1. Short, explosive sprints:

As these workouts are short and powerful, they are not a primary fitness-building workout, but are a great tool for working on form and efficiency.  There are two main purposes to these workouts.  They work on activating and improving neuromuscular system function which is the main communication between the brain and the muscles. By improving this system, the speed of signaling from the brain to the muscles increase and you’re able to recruit more muscle fibers to create more powerful movements.  Second, these hills enhance the heart’s maximal stroke volume, which is the amount of blood pumped out with every heartbeat.  The more blood pumped out in a single beat will decrease one’s heart rate, resulting in a more efficient heart.

During a workouts, the hills are a maximum of 30 seconds long, with a gradient of 5-15%. Using one’s anaerobic system, the athlete can focus on an efficient running technique with vigorous arm movements, high knee lift, with the hips kept high and forward to utilize our big muscles groups like the glutes, quads and hamstrings.

How to do it: Start with four or five reps of 50–100m (10–30 seconds) up a steep hill, then build up over a few sessions to eight to 12 reps. For recovery, walk back down the hill and wait until 2–3 minutes have passed.

2. Medium hills

Starting to get into hill repeats, medium hills take between 30-90 secs to run up.  They combine the benefits of the short, explosive hills as listed above, as well as stressing one’s muscular endurance and tolerance of lactic acid. Combining the anaerobic system of the short, steep hills, and the aerobic component of a longer duration interval will build up your blood lactate as you go up the hill; aka your legs start to burn and you have to keep going.

How to do it: Choose a grade of hill that still allows you to run near race pace, about 6-10%.  Similar to the short hills, form is key: a good knee drive; hips pushed forward; and the back is upright. Aim to increase the number of reps about 1-2 every time a medium hill workout is on the training schedule.  Using a slow jog to get to the bottom of the hill again is a big part of your recovery between intervals.  When you’re just starting out do about 8-10 repeats, and increase gradually each time you do the workout.

3. Long hills

The longest hill intervals are between 90 sec to 3 minutes long.  These sessions are best for people wanting to improve their hill running skills and improve their aerobic fitness and muscle strength.  Compared to strength training in the gym, hills are a functional way to increase the muscles capacity to withstand intensity while working the muscles necessary for running fast: muscles surround the hips, glutes and quads.  Most of your energy comes from aerobic sources, but there will still be a bit of lactic acid buildup in the legs, but it’ll feel more like muscle fatigue compared to the burning muscles the shorter intervals provide!

How to do it: Due to the broad spectrum of duration for these longer intervals, note that the further you’re going, the less intensity you can apply.  When starting out aim for 6-8 hill repeats lasting over 1 minute each, and build in a few more reps every time you repeat this workout.  It’s a great simulation of longer track intervals without the pounding.

4. Rolling hills

While hill intervals won’t necessarily make you a better runner on a hilly course, incorporating a hilly route for long runs/tempos will be useful.  Knowing what kind of course your goal race is going to be on will help you determine just how hilly your runs needs to be.  Doing longer efforts on a rolling course will allow you to maintain your pace while going up and down hills, as well as on a flat surface.  If you attack a hill too hard early into the race, you could tax your legs and suffer during the race before you expected.

How to do it: Try to maintain the same effort going up and down hills; you’ll naturally go faster on the downhill without increasing your effort. Not only that, but running downhill at a decent effort is great practice too. Hilly routes will work your muscles in both concentric and eccentric contractions and will prepare the body for the pounding of running downhill.

Feature Friday – Sports Practitioners

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We’ll be talking with various local Sports Practitioners over the next few weeks for our #FeatureFridays. This week, we’re talking to Chris Napier at Restore Physiotherapy – check it out!


PHYSIOTHERAPY FOR RUNNERS

Physiotherapists are highly qualified health professionals whose main goal is to help people get better and stay well. Using advanced techniques and evidence-based care, physiotherapists assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent a wide range of health conditions and movement disorders. Physiotherapy helps repair damage, reduce stiffness and pain, increase mobility and improve quality of life. Physiotherapy extends from health promotion to injury prevention, acute care to rehabilitation. Physiotherapists, put simply, are the experts when it comes to assessing and teaching movement.

At Restore Physiotherapy, we believe in one-on-one treatment time with plenty of time dedicated to assessing the injury to get to the root cause. This is followed by a comprehensive treatment program utilizing exercise, manual therapy, and movement re-education to improve symptoms and prevent re-injury. As a running specialist, I take a detailed history of the problem as the runner presents it (location/type of pain, duration, aggravating factors, etc.) paying careful attention to details about changes in training, footwear, surface, and other variables. Since most (or arguably all) running injuries are a case of “too much, too soon” any sudden change in one of these variables can present an opportunity for injury to develop.

A gait analysis on a treadmill is also an important part of the assessment of the runner to determine if biomechanical factors are involved in the manifestation of the injury. These risk factors may not be evident on a simple physical examination so a gait analysis is not to be left out. Running injuries often develop when tissues break down due to poor form or maladaptation to the stresses placed on them. While careful progression of training volume and intensity can prevent most injuries from occurring, runners are known to push themselves and train through early signs of injury. Poor biomechanics exacerbated by a state of fatigue can result in typical overuse injuries such as Achilles tendinopathy, patellofemoral pain syndrome, iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome, and medial tibial stress syndrome (“shin splints”).

When assessing a runner on the treadmill, I look for biomechanical risk factors ranging from a slow cadence and increased vertical impact force to poor geometry in the lower extremities at foot strike. Treatment may consist of correcting faulty mechanics (only if they are determined to be involved in the injury), changing stride characteristics like cadence or stride length, and strengthening the appropriate tissues to withstand the repeated forces of running. Throughout the treatment process, the gradual overload principle must be followed, being sure to increase overall workload by approximately 10% per week. Too much and the runner may break down; too little and the body will fail to adapt to greater loads.

Here are some tips on how to prevent the most common running injuries:

  • Identify any recent changes in your training (volume, intensity, surface, footwear, etc.) as most injuries are a result of “too much, too soon”
  • In the initial stages of injury, stop running if the pain changes your running gait or increases as you run. If you are able to run with mild pain, and without changes to your mechanics, it may be ok to continue running through the injury—consult your physiotherapist
  • Running is a one-legged sport: focus on exercises that improve eccentric control of the body over the stance limb (single leg, weight-bearing, dynamic, plyometric)
  • Have a gait analysis performed and correct any significant gait abnormalities with gait retraining if considered to be clinically relevant
  • If you’re starting to feel burned out—mentally or physically—take a week or two of easy running before a forced break due to injury occurs

Chris Napier
Sport Physiotherapist, Restore Physiotherapy
PhD Candidate (Biomechanics), University of British Columbia
Athletics Canada Physiotherapist


My decision to accept the opportunity to serve as the Director of Chiropractic Services in early 2013 for Fortius Sport & Health was an easy one.  Working as part of a team in a state of the art facility, where collaboration, integration, and innovation are the fundamental pillars is any sports practitioners dream.

As chiropractors, we not only evaluate and treat sites of injury but look at the individual as a whole.  We observe overall posture and alignment, as well as the quality of movement through sports specific actions to identify areas of dysfunction and get athletes back into the activity they love.

 CHIROPRACTIC CARE FOR RUNNERS

All sports expose participants to repetitive stresses due to the repetition of similar movement patterns over and over.  Running is certainly no exception.  Every step, depending on how fast one is moving, will impart forces of 2 to 5 times body weight into your structure.

Every runner will attest to the common aches and pains or injuries such as plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinitis, hamstring strains, or the ever present tight glutes. Helping you manage the forces associated with running is where chiropractic comes in.

Using manual therapy, we provide detailed treatment to involve myofascial soft tissue structures and joints in combination with traditional chiropractic manipulation, when necessary, to improve mobility and musculoskeletal function. In this manner we not only assist in resolving current injury but also look to improve performance and reduce future injury occurrence.

SELF-CARE FOR RUNNERS

When we work to optimize posture, ensure muscle tone is well maintained, and joints are moving well, the body can more efficiently manage the repeated stresses associated with running.  Adding daily self-care (which includes strengthening and mobilization of the major muscle groups and joints) to your chiropractic care will help to keep you injury free and enjoying your runs.

There are a number of areas to address in our daily routines, and below are a couple of my favourite stretches (downloadable PDFs).

INTEGRATED ATHLETE DEVELOPMENT AT FORTIUS

Fortius SportFortius Sport & Health is an integrated athlete development centre strengthened through philanthropy and focused on optimizing athlete performance for life. Situated just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, it is home to a state-of-the-art training facility as well an integrated team of sport medicine and science practitioners.

At Fortius, chiropractors work with sport medicine physicians, physiatrists, physiotherapists, kinesiologists (hydrotherapy), massage therapists, optometrists, biomechanists, physiologists, strength and conditioning coaches and dietitians to deliver precise, customized treatment and training plans for athletes of all ages and abilities.

Our chiropractors collectively have provided performance and injury care across multiple sports, including NCAA Swimming, Olympic/World Championship level Track and Field, CFL and NFL Football, Ironman Triathlon and International level soccer.

Whether you’re a professional training toward a World Championship, your first 10km, or simply wanting to walk for health, we would be honoured by the opportunity to be part of your care team, assisting you in accomplishing your athletic goals.

Visit www.fortiussport.com to learn more or to book an appointment today.


Feature Friday – March 3, 2017

Although Massage Therapy is a well embraced form of rehabilitation, its progression over the years from spa and relaxation work, to specialized therapies such as pre-natal or athletics, to being included in preventative medicine such as injury prevention, is an important awareness to have.

Many seek out an RMT when a problem arises, and of course, this is an appropriate time to get soft tissue work. Massage Therapy, however, can be used as a means to help prepare an athlete for competition, as a tool to enhance athletic performance, as a treatment approach to help the athlete recover after exercise or competition, and as a manual intervention for sport related musculoskeletal injuries (such as promoting tissue and system health before breakdown begins).

Getting injured is every active persons worst nightmare – it impairs performance, delays training and conditioning schedules during recovery, and they also hurt!. Many injuries, however, can be prevented altogether with the right rehabilitative care (in combination with a proper training program, nutrition and water intake, sleep, and equipment) and Massage Therapy can play an invaluable role! Soft tissue work such as Massage monitors muscle tone, helps to eliminate scar tissue, increases mobility, increases range of motion, reduces muscle hypertonicity, and promotes relaxation (that one is cliché but surprisingly valuable!). RMTs involved with athletics are also often competent with sport related taping, or have specialties such as Graston Technique or ART, which have traditionally been done by Physiotherapy or Chiropractic.

If you use your body on any kind of regular basis for sport, Massage and soft tissue work should be an integral part of your life, whether it be to take care of the big and small issues that get in the way of efficient and pain free movement, or to help you prevent those issues from happening in the first place.

Impulse Sport Therapeutics is a multi-disciplinary clinic with locations in West Vancouver, North Vancouver and Port Moody.

The 5 Worst Habits of Runners

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Runners are guilty for developing poor habits that they believe will enhance their training, but can actually negatively affect training and increase their risk of injury.  Here are some of the ones we see most often, and what you can do to prevent them:

  • Running too much.  More isn’t always better.  Runners make the mistake of ramping up their mileage too quickly before they allow their bodies to adapt to the training.  Overuse injuries are caused primarily from running more than the body can withstand.  Abiding by the “10% Rule” is the safest way to increase mileage; if you’re running 30km per week and want to do more, do 33km the following week and so on.
  • Hip/core work isn’t a part of the training program.  Another way of preventing injury is by incorporating a simple core and hip strengthening routine.  When injuries occur it’s typically from muscle weaknesses and imbalances that cause runners to compensate.  By adding hip and core exercises into your weekly routine, it helps to stabilize the leg with every stride, and helps to maintain good posture while running.
  • Running on the same route/surfaces.  Changing the variability of your running routes and surfaces can help to keep injuries at bay.  If you always run the same flat course on the road, it might be time to hit the trails.  Mixing up the surface you run on can help to strengthen stabilizer muscles in your legs and feet, and avoid overloading any other muscles.  Using softer surfaces like trails and rubberized tracks will reduce the impact on running on your body which is best when you’re tired, or needing a recovery day.
  • Skipping rest days.  Overtraining can lead to a multitude of problems from injury, increased risk of sickness, and loss of motivation.  Rest days are a crucial part of any training program as it allows the body to absorb all the work it’s done throughout the week.  If that day is skipped your body doesn’t have the time to rest and will continually breakdown until the point of injury.  Listening to your body is key to realize.  If it’s feeling unusually fatigued or if there’s any nagging pain, it’s probably time to take a day off.
  • Not wearing the best shoes for your feet.  Shoes are the most important tool any runner has.  If they are worn out, or have an improper fit, that can increase the risk of injury.  Shoes are typically good for about 300-500 miles, but after that the cushioning and stability starts to wear out.  If you’re unsure of what shoes are the best for you, head to the nearest run specialty store and have the experts help you figure out what you should be wearing.  They’ll provide a wealth of knowledge.
Training Partners

The Benefits of Training Partners

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Running, long distance running in particular, is the epitome of individual pursuit.  It provides a mental break from the hustle and bustle of the work day, a chance to tune in to what’s going on with one’s body, and has the flexibility of being done whenever one decides to lace up and go.  However, on the days where it’s hard to get out of bed, or find the motivation to workout, a training partner or group may be exactly what you need!

Running partners/groups help create a tight-knit community in a very individual sport. While it may not be possible to train with others all the time, when the opportunity presents itself to meet up with others to run, take it!  There are so many benefits to running with others:

  1. Accountability: It can be hard to find the self-discipline get out of bed for a 6am run, especially on cold, dark mornings.  The temptation of hitting the snooze button and going back to sleep in the lovely warmth of a blanket cocoon can be too enticing. Setting plans to meet a running buddy or group will ensure you get out of bed in time.  The accountability will reduce the chances of skipping a run, slacking during a workout, or cutting the run short.
  2. Diversion: When you’re running with a friend, it allows for mindless conversation.  The act of running side by side without the intimidation of eye contact, creates an environment where it’s easier to talk freely and openly.  Some of our closest friendships arise from spending hours pounding the pavement alongside, talking about our life concerns, daily happenings and experiences.  Not only do these conversations clear our minds of clutter, they also help the miles fly by.
  3. Variation: Running with a buddy can provide a wealth of knowledge.  Everyone has their favourite running routes and more often than not, they’ll be different than yours.  Not only can you learn new running routes, but they may have different variations of workouts that could enhance your training.  Providing insight to new recovery modalities, articles, recipes, problem solving techniques, support in personal anecdotes, and cool upcoming events are a few of the benefits of a training partner.
  4. Performance: When running alongside someone, it’s an instant motivator.  Training with someone who is slightly faster pushes you to work harder to keep up, which can improve your performance.  Be careful to choose a comrade who isn’t too much faster so you aren’t pushing too hard and putting yourself at risk of injury.  An even-paced partner is ideal as it’s easier to work off of each other.  Not every day is going to be a good day for both of you, so on the days you’re feeling sluggish, they’ll be there to help pull you through and vice versa.  Plus, they won’t let you slack during a workout when they know you should be there stride for stride.  Everyone loves a wingman.
  5. Safety:  Like the old saying goes, there’s safety in numbers.  This is especially true for runners.  On dark morning and evening runs, it’s always better to have someone with you.  There are too many times where runners go out by themselves with their headphones in and are completely oblivious to those around them, and the potential safety risks.  Stick to familiar routes during the times where there aren’t many people around and plan to run with someone. Also, if you fall or get injured, someone will be there to help you get back home safely.

Looking for groups to run with? Check out of Q & A sessions with of some of the Vancouver Run Crews for an idea of which group might be a good fit. RunGuides.com also has a great list.

The Benefits of “Pre-Hab”

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Physiotherapists, massage therapists, and chiropractors are often associated with injury and rehabilitation. However they also have an important role in prehabilitation: the process of enhancing the functional capacity of the individual to enable him or her to withstand the stresses of training and reducing the chance of injury.

Prehabilitation or “pre-hab” can be many different things. Preventative physio, massage or chiropractic treatments; strength training; cross training; and stretching all fall under the umbrella of pre-hab.

Physiotherapists can provide a screening of the body in order to see how it’s functioning. Assessing an individual’s flexibility, mobility, core strength, running mechanics, shoe wear and posture can give light into where potential injuries may occur, and why certain injuries have manifested in the past. After determining where any instabilities and weaknesses are located, the physio can offer suggestions on how to improve these areas and what exercises would be beneficial to implement into one’s training regime.

Massage therapists are often an integral part of the team behind many high level athletes and as such should be incorporated into any runner’s maintenance regime. While personal therapy like foam rolling is great for keeping injuries at bay, the expertise and knowledge of a registered massage therapist (RMT) is better for treating nagging niggles. While sport focused massage may not be as relaxing as a massage at the spa, it’s far more beneficial. RMTs work with a variety of techniques to reduce scar tissue, muscle knots/adhesions, and increase muscle function. They are an excellent way to ensure your muscles and tendons are working as efficiently as possible, as well as a multitude of other benefits.

Chiropractors offer a manual approach to conditions relating to the neurological, muscular, and skeletal systems of the body. Through different treatment modalities and spinal manipulations, chiros can help alleviate pain, muscle imbalance, or joint restriction. By aligning the spine and releasing any restrictions in the joints or muscles, it decreases the likelihood of developing compensation patterns or muscle imbalances.

Utilizing these resources, especially if you have extended medical coverage, is totally worth doing. Not only will it help to reduce your risk of injury, it will provide a better understanding for the way your body moves and functions.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we add advice from local practitioners to help you develop your pre-hab plans!

Why Runners Participate in Event Fundraising

By | Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Scotiabank Vancouver Half | No Comments

The Scotiabank Charity Challenge supports over 80 different charities each year through the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k. Each charity has a unique story and background for how they were founded and came to be a part of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. The Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation is just one of these stories and they have been a huge part of this event for many years as they fundraise for the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), largely in part to the Van Marrewyk family.

The Van Marrewyk family experienced incredible care for almost two months at the Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH) NICU after the birth of their triplet daughters. Their appreciation led to the establishment of an annual 5k Christmas-time walkathon for friends and family in support of the NICU at RCH that raised over $110,000. Wanting to further their fundraising efforts, the Van Marrewyk’s and the RCH Foundation saw the advantage of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge and decided to take part. The RCH Foundation has raised over $125,000 since 2013 with the focus being on supporting neonatal care.

Making every step count is more than just participating in the event. The Charity Challenge program allows participants to run for the sake of others. Runners and walkers are given a unique opportunity to band together and fundraise for local charities of personal significance, creating a more meaningful race experience. The social aspect of a race is greatly enhanced with the camaraderie between friends, family, coworkers, and like-minded people as they work towards supporting their chosen charity. Helping the greater good is incredibly motivating, especially when individuals set personal goals for both their own race and their fundraising targets through their support both physically and financially.

In the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Scotiabank covers all of the fees associated with online fundraising, allowing 100% of the funds that have been raised to go directly to the charity of your choice. Over $50 million has been raised nationally through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge from thousands of people running or walking in honour of loved ones, or to simply raise awareness and give back to their community.

No matter what distance you take part in or what amount you raise, your contribution makes every step count for charities in our community.

To take part in the Charity Challenge, sign up as part of a charity team when you register for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon & 5k today! A list of current charities is available here with more being added every week.