Marathon Month SPEARunner: Ilana Epstein

Posted by | Posted in Community, Inspiration, Running, Success Stories, Tips & Favorites | Posted on 14-10-2014

It’s our second annual Marathon Month, a time we get to spotlight our patients who are running this year’s TCS New York City Marathon! In this entry we check in with 16th Street SPEARunner Ilana Epstein, who will be running her second NYC Marathon in November!

Why do you run? I run because of how amazing it makes me feel. It is one of the few things that can make me forget about everything else and just live in the moment. I love being outside and seeing how far I can push myself. Running marathons is something that I never imagined I could do and I love the feeling of accomplishment that it provides.

How long have you been running marathons? I ran my first marathon in 2011. As soon as I finished I couldn’t wait to do another one. I trained to run in 2012, but because of Sandy that didn’t happen so this one will be my second.

Which physical therapist do you see at SPEAR and what treatments have you been doing for training? Kellen is my therapist at SPEAR. I initially came to see him due to a stress fracture. Since then he has been helping me stay strong for this year’s marathon. We have been doing a lot of stretching, balance and strength training. Improving my core strength has played a key part in my treatment as well as some drills to improve my running form.

Do you have any words of wisdom or training tips for anyone thinking about doing their first marathon? If you have that itch to run a marathon you should absolutely go for it. The sense of pride and accomplishment that you feel when you cross the finish line is difficult to even put into words. The longest run I had ever done before I started training in 2011 was maybe 7 miles. If you put your mind to it, you can absolutely do it. Take it slow; don’t build up your miles too quickly. The early morning wake-ups, the aches and pains, are all worth it in the end.

SPEAR’s Kellen Scantlebury Shares Running Tips at JackRabbit Union Square!

Posted by | Posted in Community, Education, Events, Our Therapists, Running, Sports, Tips & Favorites | Posted on 05-09-2014

Whether you’re just starting to run or are training for a marathon, you’ll love physical therapists Laura Muzzatti and Kellen Scantelbury‘s running tips from their fun and informative talk, “Running For Life: How to Keep Doing What You Love, Injury-Free!

Kellen will be sharing his tips and expertise at JackRabbit’s Union Square Location! Make sure to stop by on September 15th at 6:30PM to learn how to stay on your feet, injury-free!

Can’t make it to Kellen’s talk?  Check out his Top 5 Running Tips!

Yoga, Yoga Everywhere! How To Practice Yoga Safely With Tips From SPEAR’s Phaeleau Cunneen!

Posted by | Posted in Education, Tips & Favorites, Yoga | Posted on 14-08-2014

Gisele Bündchen shared this picture of her doing a headstand on Instagram.

“Everybody’s doing it!” says this article on the recent wave of celebrities sharing their Yoga pictures on social media.  It’s no secret that Yoga’s popularity as a fitness and wellness activity has grown exponentially in the United States.  The Huffington Post touted Yoga as a $27 Billion Industry and even former pro-wrestlers are getting in on the Yoga action, with Diamond Dallas Page’s D.D.P. Yoga profiled this month in a NY Times Magazine feature.

But is Yoga a one-size-fits-all activity? In a recent article on Yoga Dork, Brooklyn yoga instructor J. Brown reveals the dangers of being swept up in the pressure to do challenging poses, the headstand and shoulderstand in particular. Mr. Brown experienced a pinched nerve in his neck that went away immediately after he stopped doing headstands. He stopped teaching headstands all together when a student of his injured himself while performing one and never returned to Yoga again.

Mr. Brown’s story is a good reminder to listen to your body’s signals. In this entry, SPEAR’s Phaeleau Cunneen PT, CHT, shares his insights on the Yoga phenomenon along with his tips on how we can all practice Yoga safely!

Mo’ Yoga, Mo’ Problems

1. Yoga has exploded in popularity and with that increase, many new yoga teachers have also come onto the scene, some with more experience than others. The quality of instruction then has been diluted a bit, so make sure you are working with an experienced and highly rated instructor. Don’t be afraid to speak to your instructor and find out more about their training and education.

2. Many yoga classes can be overcrowded, so that the instruction and attention to detail and form you receive is less than ideal. Try to find a yoga class with less students, or enough that you are able to receive some attention to your form as you practice.

You Don’t Have To Be The Valedictorian of Yoga

Hilaria Baldwin practicing a headstand with no hands!

3. We are experiencing the rise of a fitness culture where more and more people want to be pushed beyond their limits by instructors, whether it be through P90X, CrossFit, boot camps, or tough mudders. While it’s admirable to want to push your personal limits, you should understand that safe (and effective) training takes time.

4. Many of us are walking around with slight disc bulges, even disc herniation. They are not always symptomatic, but that doesn’t mean that they are not there. Before practicing Yoga, consult a physical therapist to have your body mechanics evaluated.  This way you can understand your body’s limits and any underlying conditions you may have.  This will not only help your Yoga practice, but will also help you train up to the more challenging poses safely.

5. Most of us spend most of day with our neck in a forward head position – staring at a computer, looking down at our phone or iPad. The neck is in a flexed position for the majority of our waking hours. The after work we rush to class and go into a shoulder stand! The shoulder stand exerts extreme amount of posterior forces on the cervical spine.

Listen to Your Body

6. If you develop chronic pain from any form of exercise, stop! Don’t “suck it up” or listen to “no pain no gain” chants in your head. Do not continue doing something that is hurting your body because of peer pressure or because everyone else you know does it and it helps them.

7. Serious injuries can occur in any sport from improper form, improper supervision, poor strength and flexibility, and performing a stance or exercise that your body is not ready for.

Phaeleau’s Bottom Line: Although yoga benefits millions, it can lead to injury if you have an unknown preexisting condition, weakness to key stabilizers of the neck and shoulders, poor posture, and or poor flexibility. Listen to your body; it is smarter than you think it is. Chronic pain is often your body trying to tell you something. Your friendly neighborhood physical therapist can help translate!

#Backtolife Exercise: Side-Lying Clam Shells

Posted by | Posted in Back to Life, Education, Running, Tips & Favorites | Posted on 08-08-2014

Recommended by Lisa Yirce PT, DPT to strengthen glutes:

“We use clam shells to increase glute strength for anyone with low back pain, hip pain, and knee pain. It is a great exercise for runners, and any sport really, because your glutes stabilize the pelvis when on one leg, which people do all the time during athletic activities.”

Instructions: While lying on your side with your knees bent and an elastic band wrapped around your knees, draw up the top knee while keeping contact of your feet together as shown.

Do not let your pelvis roll back during the lifting movement.

Top 5 Tips from SPEAR’s “Running For Life: How to Keep Doing What You Love, Injury Free!”

Posted by | Posted in Education, Running, Sports, Tips & Favorites | Posted on 07-08-2014

It is running season in NYC!

Last month, 16th Street‘s Laura Muzzatti PT, DPT and Kellen Scantlebury PT, DPT, CSCS debuted their fun and informative running talk: “Running For Life: How to Keep Doing What You Love, Injury Free!” at Google’s GFIT gym!

Whether you’re a running beginner or an avid runner training for a marathon, Laura and Kellen’s tips will help keep you running safely, happily, and injury-free!

(Editor’s note:  I’ve used these tips myself and have found that the shin splints that plagued me are now gone! In July I ran a total of 47.4 miles, which is unheard of for this desk jockey!)

1. Land in the middle.

While the debate’s still out about what kind of running shoes to wear, Laura and Kellen (and physics) are pretty clear on where your foot you should land when you run: the middle. A mid-foot strike is safer in the long run (see what we did there?) than a heel strike because heel strikes break up your forward momentum.  Each time you land on your heel, you are essentially slamming the brakes on your stride, and depending on how fast or powerfully you’re running, the force on your heel can be tremendous. It’s a nifty (albeit injury-inducing) thing called the “impact transient.”  According to a Harvard study on foot-striking patterns, “this is equivalent to someone hitting you on the heel with a hammer using 1.5 to as much as 3 times your body weight. These impacts add up, since you strike the ground almost 1000 times per mile!”

Here’s what the forces on your foot look like when you land on your heel:


Here’s what the forces on your foot look like when you land mid or fore-foot:


As you can see the impact transient (or force/braking action) on the heel is absent when you’re landing in the middle or the front of your foot.  Running with a mid-foot strike will help you prevent injuries over time!

2. Shorten your stride.

To promote landing on your mid-foot, take shorter strides.  We all want to run with long, graceful strides, however taking longer strides than are appropriate for your body’s dimensions (or over-striding) will promote a heel-strike and will result in injuries over time. Experiment and find the a comfortable stride for you that helps you naturally land on your mid-foot.  Once you do, you’ll likely experience less pain in your shins and knees simply by making this small change.

3. Pay attention to your cadence.

Finding the right cadence, or how many steps you take per minute while running, will also help your running performance and help you prevent injury.  The ideal cadence for runners (regardless of stride length) is about 180 steps per minute. You can train yourself up to 180 steps by using a metronome app, which helps you time your steps.  A fun and not so clinical way to improve your cadence is to run to a song that matches the cadence you’re trying to achieve.  Kellen loves running to “Timber.”

4. When it comes to training, gradually increase intensity.

Increase the number of your shorter runs before you begin increasing the mileage of each run.  This will help to condition your body and help you get fit to run! If you’re training for a race and want to train up your mileage, increase your total weekly mileage by 10-15% per week to prevent overload.

5. Strengthen your core to prevent injury and increase performance.

Kellen recommends adding strength training two times a week to your running routine.  His strength exercises of choice for runners are:  Plank, side planks, dead lifts, clams, squats, and band walks!  For pictures and instructions on how to perform these exercises check out the “Running For Life” presentation on slideshare, and of course, consult your friendly neighborhood SPEAR Physical Therapist!