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Sign Up Now For The iRUNpigs 5K 2014

18 Aug

irunpigs 5k, i run pigs 5k, marathons lehigh valley, races allentown

PA Foot and Ankle Associates is proud to once again sponsor the 3rd Annual iRUNpigs 5k and Piglet run September 14th, 2014 at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown. The race is open to runners, walkers and kids under 12 (Piglet run).

Once again this year, PA Foot and Ankle Associates is assembling a team for the race. We’re looking for ten team members, each of whom will receive a complimentary registration, a really cool PA Foot and Ankle Associates tech shirt to wear the day of the race, and all of the swag in the standard registration package from the Lehigh Valley IronPigs: commemorative tech t-shirt, chip timing results via text message, and a free entry in an IronPigs team memorabilia raffle. There will also be prizes for overall male and female winners among age groups.

If you’d like to join our team as a walker or runner, send an email to Heather at PA Foot and Ankle Associates (marketing@pafootdoctors.com)  and let her know that you want to be part of our team. She’ll send you the details. Everybody else can sign up for the iRunPigs 5K here

irunpigs 5k

Our iRunPigs 5k 2013 team (we were known as East Penn Foot and Ankle Associates last year)

The iRUNpigs5k has been redesigned for this year to insure a safer run for everyone. As always, the race will conclude on-field at Coca-Cola Park. Over 1,000 runners and walkers have taken part in the event since its 2012 debut.

Pre-registration and online registration ends on Friday, September 5 at 11:59 p.m. If you miss the deadline, you can sign up at Coca-Cola Park on the day of the event.

100% of the proceeds benefit IronPigs Charities, a non-profit organization striving to provide educational and recreational opportunities for children in the Greater Lehigh Valley area.

Lump On Your Foot or Ankle? It Might Be A Ganglion Cyst

12 Aug

A soft, painful lump has appeared on the top of your foot. Or maybe the side of your foot. Or maybe somewhere around your ankle. The lump changes size with activity. It might be sore, or it might just… be there.

ganglion cyst foot, lump on foot

This ganglion cyst has appeared along the path of the tendons on the side of the foot.

If these symptoms match a lump on your foot or ankle, chances are you have a ganglion cyst, a noncancerous, round or oval lump that develops along a tendon or joint. Most are less than an inch in diameter, although some are so small they can hardly be felt. The size of the cyst can vary however, especially as the joint is used.

Normally, a ganglion cyst is painless and requires no treatment. But if it happens to be pressing on a nerve, it can cause pain, tingling, numbness, muscle weakness, or interfere with joint movement.

What causes a ganglion cyst?

Repeated irritation can weaken the lining of a joint or tendon, causing the tissue to bulge, which is then referred to as a ganglion cyst. Inside the cyst is a thick fluid similar to the lubricating fluid found in joints or around tendons.

People who wear boots, especially women between 20 and 30, are more likely to develop ganglion cysts, as this type of footwear puts stress on the foot and ankle. Bone spurs may also cause ganglion cysts by irritating the joints and tendons, and joints or tendons that have been injured, even long ago, are more likely to develop ganglion cysts.

Treatment for ganglion cysts:

**Because ganglion cysts may be mistaken for tumors, it’s essential to have a complete exam performed by a podiatrist, and if necessary, tests to confirm the diagnosis.

If your ganglion cyst is causing you no pain, your podiatrist may recommend a wait and see approach, as the cyst may go away on its own. If it’s causing you discomfort, she may suggest one of the following treatments:

Aspiration: In an exam room, your podiatrist will use a needle to drain the fluid from the cyst.

Immobilization: If it’s clear that activity is causing the cyst to enlarge, your doctor may recommend an air boot or similar device to immobilize your foot or ankle. As the cyst shrinks, pain and other symptoms may be relieved.

Padding: Soft pads placed around the ganglion cyst to ease pressure and friction.

Medication: If swelling and pain are severe, your podiatrist may recommend prescription medication.

Surgery: In some instances, surgery may be recommended to remove the cysts and its surrounding tissue, which is attached to a joint or tendon.

How To Run Downhill

1 May
We bet you think running downhill is the easiest, most natural thing in the world, right? Well believe it or not, when it comes to training for long races, there’s actual technique involved in running the downslope. And a significant risk of injury.

woman running downhill

Descending while running feels easy – like you have to actually hold back. But each step downhill can produce muscle-damaging contractions in your quadriceps and lower legs, according to Greg Wells, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at the University of Toronto. When running on level ground, these same muscles shorten as they fire, but on declines, they elongate and control your speed, creating micro-tears in the muscle fibers. While these tears ultimately lead to growth in the muscle, they also leave you tired and sore. It’s why the cruel planners of the Boston Marathon torture all of the competitors with a 4-mile downhill opening stretch.

If you’re planning on running a marathon or even a 5K with significant downhill territory, you should practice running downhill to prepare your legs and the rest of your body to handle these very specific muscle demands. Your overall performance will vastly improve for any race, because the muscle you build from the downhill terrain will help you run faster uphill or on level ground with less effort.

Practice running downhill

You can build your downhill muscle with either focused repeats or by running a hilly route. But choose your hills wisely and don’t go too steep, too soon, or you risk injuring your ankles, knees, and hips.

Start with a medium length gradual slope, not a steep decline. And look for a soft surface like grass or gravel, not a paved surface. If you’re training for a long distance race, ultimately you want to combine both kinds of surfaces.

How you hold your head during the downhill training is crucial. Don’t look at your feet – maintain an upright posture and focus your gaze 15 meters in front of you, eyes straight ahead. You may feel a natural tendency to lean backward and slow down, but resist this. Instead, engage your core muscles, lean slightly forward from your ankles, and align your upper body over your lower body. As you descend, take shorter steps, but quicken your cadence. This way, you’ll take lighter steps and land on your midfoot instead of braking with your heel. Also keep your landing leg slightly bent to avoid letting your knees take all the impact.

Training for the race

If you’re planning to run a race filled with downhills, make sure they’re in your training schedule from the get-go. Start small with one downhill training session every other week. When you find that you easily recover from that workout, increase your schedule to one downhill each week and eventually increase that to 2 downhills per week. But only run that second one when you’re sure you’ve completely recovered from your first – no soreness in the legs, knees, ankles, or hips, and no fatigue at all. As race day draws near, dial back these workouts to avoid over exertion and the risk of injury.

Best New Running Shoes for 2014

11 Apr

For all of you runners, spring means that it’s time to shop for new running shoes.

(a note from our docs: please don’t wear last years’ shoes, as they’re probably too worn down to support your feet correctly.) Here are the best shoes for the money for 2014, courtesy of Runner’s World magazine:

Top 3 new running shoes for Men:

adidassuperglide6mar600x600_0Adidas Supernova Glide 6, $130
Top-of-the-line cushioning designed for the long run.

brookspureflow3mar600x600Brooks Pureflow 3, $100
Excellent cushioning, smooth landing.

uaapollomar600x600Under Armour Speedform Apollo, $100
Exciting new shoe worth a look on race day.

 

Top 3 new running shoes for Women:

womens adidassupernovaglide6fem600x600Adidas Supernova Glide 6, $130
Sturdy trainer with a smooth heel-first landing and springy underfoot.

womens brookspureflow3fem600x600Brooks Pureflow 3, $100
Bargain priced trainer that handles a lot of miles.

uaspeedformapollofem600x600Under Armour Speedform Apollo, $100
Puts your foot close to the ground, but heel cushioning is soft.

That’s right, same shoes for men and women this year.

Remember these tips when choosing a new running shoe

Make sure it fits
The shoe should never slide on your foot – up, down, or sideways. Conversely, it should also not be too tight. It should be “just right” when you put it on.

Are your feet the same as last year?
In other words, do you have any new pain, aches, soreness or fatigue where you weren’t experiencing it before? If so, see your podiatrist for an exam. If you’re developing any problems, they can create a custom orthotic insole for you so that you can keep running.

Remember, it’s best to take simple steps to prevent sports injuries, rather than injuring yourself and sitting out the season.

Here are more tips on choosing the right running shoe.

How to get your diet back on track after the holidays

7 Jan
Do you feel like you’ve blown up as big as a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloon? Us, too.  That period between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day is full of temptation to overeat, especially when it’s unusually cold outdoors. The get-all-the-food-I-can-now primitive part of your brain is in overdrive, attempting to amass as many calories as possible to get you through winter.
overeating holidays diet

Have you ballooned to the size of Kung-Fu Panda?

Unfortunately, our evolutionary instincts haven’t kept pace with the 24/7 availability of food, so our rational mind needs to step in at times to exert some control. And of course, that’s where the plan falls apart for those of us who lack a certain willpower. Christmas cookies just beg to be devoured, as do the specialty meats, stuffing, cheeses, breads, sauces, cakes, eggnog, you name it. Sometimes it seems that your hands and body are acting independently of your mind, and there’s a good reason for that. The sugars and fats in those foods are packed with calories. At one time in our evolutionary history, foods that were calorie dense were very hard to come by, and when our ancestors were able to get their hands on them, they devoured as much as possible in case food became in short supply. That primitive part of the brain is still very active in our decision making.

Getting rid of the winter weight

When we’re carrying 5, 10, or 15 additional pounds of “winter weight”, the fastest way to drop it and get your diet back on track is to swing as far as possible in the opposite direction. Load your plate with fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, and whole grains, and take a pass on foods which contain refined sugar and unhealthy fats. For protein, instead of meat, substitute low fat, PLAIN yogurt or a handful of walnuts or almonds.

Be careful on your choice of yogurt. Read the label, as many manufacturers have added so many fillers, corn syrups, and other sugars to their “yogurt” offerings, that there’s little in the way of actual yogurt in the product. Also beware of the “natural” label, as there are no government standards regulating what exactly “natural” means, food-wise. The safest bet is always to buy plain yogurt and add fresh fruit to sweeten it up.

As far as nuts are concerned, there are those who shy away because of the fear of calories. But you’re wiser to think in terms of healthy/unhealthy calories instead of obsessing over the number. Walnuts and almonds are jam-packed with nutrition, including fiber and Omega-3’s. A handful of unsalted, unsweetened nuts at 200 calories is better than a diet cookie at 150.

The bottom line is, it’s difficult to eat too much salad. That is, as long as you don’t load it with fat-heavy dressings. This is another pet peeve of ours, as food manufacturers continue to push the limits in this area  – what is perceived as a healthful food is in some cases as loaded with fat calories as a triple burger from a drive-through (seriously).You’re always best off drizzling a little Extra Virgin olive oil and organic vinegar on your salad – healthful fat and no fillers.

And speaking of triple burgers at drive-throughs, avoid fast food like the plague. Giving in to that gotta-eat-now urge will unwind a few days’ worth of healthful meals. It just isn’t worth it.

Here then are a few menu ideas to lose weight in the new year without starving yourself. Pounds will drop even faster with regular, moderate exercise like walking.

All meals: Drink a full glass of water sweetened with fresh squeezed lemon before eating. The water fills you up and flushes your cells. The lemon stimulates your liver to dispose of toxic elements. This will also prevent you from overeating, as thirst/hunger can sometimes feel identical.

You’ll also notice that grains in the form of bread are missing. Bread was once called “the staff of life”, but white bread in a bag was not what was meant. Breads baked from grains which lack fiber are absolutely terrible for your body and blood sugar levels. If you include bread, choose fresh-baked from a bakery and choose whole grains or sourdough only. But even here, eat just 1 thin slice until you hit your body weight target, as the bread packs a considerable carb load, and it takes time to burn off those calories and blood sugar.

Breakfast:

Water, Unsweetened coffee or tea

Whole oats cooked on stove or microwave (sweeten with 1 tsp brown sugar, if necessary)

1/4 cup of walnuts

1 cup of fresh fruit

This is one of the most satisfying breakfasts. The fiber in the oats and fruit fills you up and the protein in the nuts keeps you satisfied until lunch.

Lunch:

Water, Unsweetened coffee or tea

Egg white omelet with vegetable stuffing (no cheese, sorry)

Fresh fruit

We normally aren’t against including egg yolks in your omelette, but if you’re trying to drop weight, bypassing the yolks will reduce the fat and calorie load.

Dinner:

Mixed green salad with broccoli, asparagus, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and/or fresh green beans (as much as you like and in any combination you like)

Extra Virgin olive oil with organic red wine vinegar (no store-bought dressing)

1/4 cup almonds

As we said earlier, you can’t eat too much fresh salad, where your health is concerned. No one ever got heart disease from spinach.

Stick with meals like those above, and your extra weight should be off by Valentine’s Day. Happy eating!

Should you stretch before or after you run?

22 Oct

The field of Exercise Science is relatively new, and its research is turning much of what we accepted as standard advice on its head.

stretching runningYears ago, it was always thought that a runner should warm up with stretching exercises to loosen the muscles, followed by a short walk to get the rest of the body working. Then launch into your run workout. Studies have shown that may not be the best way to protect your body and maximize performance.

The purpose of stretching is to lengthen and relax the long muscles, specifically those called into action when you run. Stretching also improves the range of motion in your joints, reduces soreness after a run, improves circulation, and reduces lower back pain. This is much different than warming up before a run. We now use the term “warming up” very literally – to elevate heart rate and breathing rate, get the blood flowing, and kick the nervous system into gear. Basically getting the body ready for physical exertion.

The latest research in exercise science suggests that a warm-up which mimics at a low rate the actual high intensity workout, is most effective at getting all of the required organs, muscles, bones, and ligaments working together. This allows them to be ready to perform when the more intense exercise begins. For runners, you’ll begin by walking for a few minutes, then light jogging, then running, all the time swinging your arms.

So where does that leave pre-run stretching?

According to Susan Paul, an exercise physiologist and program director for the Orlando Track Shack Foundation,  “Recent research indicates that stretching before running may not be the best time because muscles are cold and therefore, not as elastic and may be more prone to injury… For a short time after stretching… muscle contraction and reaction time can be measurably longer and this temporarily weakens the muscle. Stretching after your run, when muscles and connective tissue are warm, appears to be the better time to include static stretching in your routine.” 

In fact, the New York Times reported in April of this year that research done in Europe showed that all kinds of athletes who performed static stretching before a workout (with no additional warm-up) “reduced strength in the stretched muscles by almost 5.5 percent, with the impact increasing in people who hold individual stretches for 90 seconds or more, [and] that muscle power generally falls by about 2 percent after stretching”.

The explanation for this may be that the muscles are doing exactly what we’re asking them to do – stretch, just like that elastic waistband in your sweats. And when they’re stretched without an accompanying rise in bloodflow and other activity, they stay loose and and take longer to respond to your body’s demands.

So how does this change your warm-up and cool-down? Pre-run stretches are okay, as long as they aren’t performed in isolation and are accompanied by a complete body warm-up. However, stretching is critical immediately after you run, to loosen muscles that have tightened up during your workout and to keep your back flexible, which takes considerable punishment when running. See the list of cool-down stretches at marathontraining.com.

It onlytakes a second to injure yourself and be sidelined for the season. Take the time to warm-up and cool down properly, and you’ll avoid the most common sports injuries.

iRUNpigs 5k Wrap Up, 2013

19 Sep

We’d like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the 2013 iRUNPigs 5k this past Sunday (September 15) at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown. It was an amazing day, just perfect weather for a race.

iRUNpigs 5k team

EPFAA’s 2013 iRUNpigs 5K team. Click for larger image

Our 2013 team deserves a big thanks, too:

  • Angela Smith, Breinigsville
  • Heather Mastropieri, Whitehall (2012 member)
  • Katherine Kressler, Emmaus
  • Jackie Hollan, Laurys Station (2012 member)
  • Whitney Roe, Northampton
  • James Rissmiller, Breinigsville
  • Roxy Fatzinger, Emmaus
  • Kevin Dolan, Nazareth (2012 member)
  • Mary Ellen Rudoi (2012 member)
  • Michelle Halwick, Allentown

We love the fact that all of those team members who ran with us in 2012, ran faster this year! Could it be they’ve been reading our blog posts on training?

To see more pictures from the iRUNpigs 5k 2013 race, visit our facebook page.

And here’s a littlle video we put together of the race day. We even managed to get most of our team members crossing the finish line!

Q and A: Do I Have Shin Splints?

11 Sep

Question:

I’ve been a runner for about 30 years.  I average about 20 miles each week. I compete in about 3 marathons each year, usually two halfs and one full. I guess you could say I’m lucky because I’ve had no real injuries. Just the basic sore toes and stuff.  About four weeks ago, I started developing pain in my right shin, and I think it may be shin splints, because the pain goes halfway up the bone, but is not over the bone. I tried backing off during my workouts, but the pain eventually got so bad that I had to stop completely. I’m on day 15 now without running, and I can still feel pain when I walk. How long will the pain last and when can I start running again?

– Rob, Macungie, PA

Answer:

shin splints runningRob: Shin splints are one of the worst nightmares for a runner, and it sure sounds like that’s the problem. The pain from shin splints is due to overuse and occurs because the muscle and tissues around your tibia bone are working too hard. And we know from personal experience how excruciating it can be – there’s no pain quite like it.

But if you’ve been running for most of your life, it’s unusual that shin splints would suddenly appear unless you’ve changed your workout in some way, or started wearing athletic shoes which don’t fit or have no padding (we’re sure the latter isn’t the case). The real cause of the pain is overworked leg muscles, which can be caused by a stress fracture, collapsing arches, or something else which is causing you to unconsciously change the way you run. Or perhaps you’ve recently intensified your workout or started running on a hard surface?

You’re going to have to sit on the sidelines until the pain completely (and we men completely) subsides. Use ice for 20-30 minutes when needed, and mange the pain with over the counter pain meds like advil or aleve. Light stretching exercises will help to work the muscles in your legs which will speed healing.

When you get back on the road, make sure you’re doing proper warmups before training and increase your training very slowly to re-introduce your leg muscles to the routine. It’s helpful to run or walk on soft surfaces during this time. And by all means, make sure you’re wearing running shoes which fit properly and have plenty of padding where it counts. If the pain starts up again, make an appointment with our office for an exam, because you might need custom orthotics to properly align your foot, ankle, and leg. Good luck, Rob.

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