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Monthly Archives: December 2009

  1. Woes of Running Downhill

    Running downhill - Not as easy as it looks:


    KT Tape clinicians and athletes love hitting the hills.  We all know that a few decent hills on our running route can be a challenge, depending on how steep the hill and how long the climb.  But running downhill, that's easy, right?  Not necessarily.  As fun as it is to speed down a hill, running down a major decline can sap your energy and leave your quads sore for days afterward.


    "Everyone underestimates downhills, generally because they don't present much of a challenge to negotiate," coach and exercise physiologist Jack Daniels, Ph. D. told Active.Com. "But they can leave your running muscles pretty stressed out."

    But just as you can train for uphill climbs, you can improve your form for downhill runs as well.  And running downhill can improve your overall pace.  According to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, when sprinters trained on both uphills and downhills, their speed and foot turnover improved more than sprinters who trained on uphills or flat surfaces alone.  Here are 6 tips to improve your downhill runs from Active.com.



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  2. Don't Stress--Use Your Head

    BRAINUsing Your Head – Why Your Mind May be the Unlikely Key to Treating and Preventing Injury

    Many KT Tape athletes like Kerri Walsh and Rebecca Rusch will testify that the human mind is the real powerhouse behind success in sports.  As Yogi Berra once famously said (or perhaps misspoke) “Baseball is ninety percent mental; the other half is physical." But your mental state may actually help keep you from getting injured, and get you back on the field faster if you are hurt.  According to Sports Psychologist Dana Blackmer, stress increases your risk of injury in three ways.  It causes you to become physically tense, to narrow your focus and miss potential hazards, and then to lose focus on what you’re doing by concentrating on your anxiety instead.  By learning to relax and cope with stress, athletes can experience significant results:

    “A study with collegiate athletes who were taught relaxation training showed a 52% decrease in injury rates among swimmers and a 33% injury rate decrease among football players.  Additionally, several studies have shown that injured athletes who practiced such mental skills as a goal-setting, relaxation training and positive self-talk experienced increases in attention and decreases in stress, subjective pain and recovery time.” --from ‘Rider Heal Thyself!’ Dana Blackmer, Sports Psychologist

    Controlling your stress is a good way to prevent injury, but once you are injured, Blackmer says that you can speed up your recovery with positive imagery and goal-setting.  His tips on reducing stress and putting your mind to work to help heal the body can be found here on the Commonwealth Sports Medicine website.

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  3. It's All in the Hips

    HIPIt’s all in the Hips:  Why Strong Hip Muscles Could Mean Fewer Leg Injuries for Runners

    KT Tape finds itself treating a lot of running injuries.  Some of the most common problems in running are caused by overuse.   While you'll see KT Tape helping athletes with problems such as runner’s knee, Achilles tendinitis, shin splints and sore feet, the injuries might not originate at the knee or below.  According to a new research review, the problems start much higher, at the hip.

    "The hip muscles are responsible for stabilizing the leg during running.  If these muscles are weak, or become fatigued easily, there is less control of the leg and the risk of injury increases," says Dr. Reed Ferber, University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada via Reuters Health.

    The best way to avoid these problems, according to the study, is to strengthen the hip flexor muscles.  Many athletes saw significant results and a reduction in symptoms and injuries after 6 weeks of training.  A great exercise to strengthen the hip muscles is the Standing Hip Abductor.  It can be done on a machine, as seen in the example or with a resistance band.


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  4. Rebecca's Ecuador Race Saved by KT Tape

    From KT Tape Endurance Athlete Rebecca Rusch:

    -- It’s good to be back after an amazing experience in Ecuador. I had an awesome time! If you ever have a chance to travel to Ecuador – do it!

    I was there with my teammate Greg Martin for a the Vuelta al Cotopaxi, a two-day stage race that circles the Cotopaxi Volcano. It’s the most popular mountain bike race in the country. It usually sells out in less than an hour. Racing in teams of two, a maximum of 200 teams participate in the coed, women’s and men’s divisions all together. Each day is about 65 km of double track and single track racing and the entire race takes place between 3000 meters (9800 ft) and 4300 meters (14,100 ft).

    Last year, Greg and I were hit pretty hard by the altitude and placed 3rd in the coed category. And this year there were some really great mixed teams - including the fastest guy and girl in Ecuador! The high altitude was tough, even though we trained for it. Luckily Greg didn’t get sick this year, so we both rode pretty strong and didn’t have to do any pulling or pushing. Not getting any flats or losing our way helped a lot too.  I have no idea what I did to my shoulder, but I decided to err on the side of caution and taped it up for the race. KT Tape saved me once again!

    Greg and I finished both days about 25 minutes ahead of the next mixed team. So we ended up winning our division by about an hour! And we took 11th place overall.

    So many cool people and unforgettable views. And it’s always nice to win.

    KT Taped-up,

    Reba


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  5. Ski Season Preparation

    Every fall, when the first trace of snow appears, I vow to begin my pre-ski season workouts. This usually means much time spent browsing ski swaps and online gear reviews and a little time at the gym perfecting my squats and lunges.

    But, this year my boyfriend and I made solid efforts in preparation for the first few days on the hill.  And even so, I spent the next day after my first full day ski trip laid up on my couch unable to bend my right knee. My boyfriend didn't fare that well either. Turns out he couldn't turn his neck: whiplash, caused by a nasty fall. Slightly embarrassed by our unpreparedness, we took out our roll of KT Tape and taped each other up. KT Tape not only eased our aches and pains, but enabled us to go out the following weekend with little or no pain in our respective sore spots.  In my misery, I did some research and found out how to properly prepare for ski season.

    According to a recent article in the Vail Daily, Dr. Bill Sterett, the head team physician for the U.S. Women's Alpine Ski Team and a partner at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Vail, said the single most important thing skiers and riders can do the day of skiing is stretching before hitting the slopes.
    Bodies are like rubber bands, when they're cold they can easily snap, but a warmed up rubber band can stretch out a lot farther, he said.
    While being in generally good physical shape is one of the best ways to prevent injury, Sterett said there are two really important tasks to keep in mind while skiing and snowboarding: stay hydrated, with water, not alcohol, and take breaks.
    "As soon as people are skiing more than three hours without a break, the injury rate goes up about five-fold," Sterett said. "Three hours seems to be a big benchmark for skiers."
    Even a 10-minute break to grab a glass of water and use the bathroom is useful, he said.

    In the end, we will keep a roll of KT Tape with us where ever we go in case we find ourselves in a similar unprepared situation.  Thanks KT Tape. Amy

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  6. A Strength-Training Workout Just for Runners

    Go faster, get hurt less – A strength-training workout just for runners

    We've all heard the same advice: runners can reap big benefits from strength training. But adding traditional gym standbys like bench presses and biceps curls won't do you much good when you hit the road.

    Build a Better Body, Adam Campbell, C.S.C.S. Runner's World Magazine has some great advice for runners wanting to add to their weekly mileage routine.

    "Strength training is a smart supplement to a runner's roadwork because it strengthens muscles and joints, which can improve race times and decrease injury risk. 'Running faster is easier if your whole body is working with you,' says Jim Fischer, head coach of men's cross-country and track at the University of Delaware. 'A runner with strong legs but weak arm muscles and weak core muscles will always be slower than a runner with total-body fitness.'

    The trouble is when runners adopt a strength-training program, they tend to do the standard gym-rat routine--that is, bench presses, biceps curls, and leg extensions. While these moves might make you look good, they're virtually useless for making you a better runner. Think about it: How does pushing a weight away from your chest help you run a faster 10-K? It doesn't. In fact, lifting weights the way everyone else does may even increase your injury risk, because typical workouts often lead to strength imbalances between muscle groups and around joints."

    Instead, try this runner-specific training plan from Runner's World that targets the muscle groups that give runners the biggest performance boost, while strengthening the joints and muscles most prone to running injuries. It's a quick workout--just one hour total per week--that won't cut into your mileage. In fact, it may help you run farther and faster than ever before. One more thing to add to your arsenal as you prep for future races, runs or changes in your workout regime:  Don't forget KT Tape whenever you have muscle tension, strain a muscle or need some extra support on the joints.

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  7. Humans Designed For Distance

    Establishing a presence at every major marathon in the country is no easy task. KT Tape has been to at least 52 different marathons just since September, handing out KT Tape samples and taping up thousands of runners before each event.

    According to a recent article in the New York Times, more and more folks are lacing up their running shoes and hitting 26.2 miles of pavement every year. The article says that according to Running USA, 425,000 marathoners crossed the finish line last year, an increase of 20 percent from the beginning of the decade.

    The article goes on to mention that despite the nagging injuries that long-distance runners face, the human body has in fact evolved into a superb long-distance running machine.
    "Most animals can sprint faster than humans, having four legs gives them the advantage. But when it comes to long distances, humans can outrun almost any animal. Because we cool by sweating rather than panting, we can stay cool at speeds and distances that would overheat other animals. On a hot day, the two scientists wrote, a human could even outrun a horse in a 26.2-mile marathon."

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  8. Don't Be Hamstrung!

    hamstring2Hamstring Injuries – Are Your Quads to Blame?

    KT Tape is great at helping athletes work through hamstring injuries, but it's also important to understand why those injuries happen.

    Hamstring injuries frequently start small, and then grow to agonizing proportions.  They are also notoriously slow to heal, keeping athletes out of the mix for weeks at a time.  Stretching can mitigate the risk, but according to many experts, over training your quadriceps may put extra strain on the hamstring.

    “Hamstring difficulties are common among runners, with strains, "pulls," tendinitis and tears the most common maladies. Why are hamstring issues so common? Most distance runners have developed a situation known as "quad dominance," a situation that occurs when the quad muscles overpower the action of the hamstrings in the movement of the leg during a running stride.
    Logging a lot of miles on the roads can place repetitive functional overload on the quadriceps, making them strong, powerful and dominant. When the quadriceps contract as you land, the opposing muscles, the hamstrings, act as brakes to stop your knee from hyper-extending at the end movement of a stride.”-
    - Sarah Scholl, CrossFit Trainer and Conditioning Coach

    Here are some good exercises to help balance the equation and strengthen your hamstring, and perhaps reduce the risk of injury.

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  9. Foot Pain on the Treadmill

    treadFoot Pain from Treadmill Running

    Since KT Tape is a year-round product, it's a great tool to take with you when the seasons change.  And as you switch your workout routine from fall to winter activities, there are some fitness safety tips you may want to keep in mind.

    With the weather changing to winter many of our favorite trails and running routes are covered in mud or ice, making some of us head inside to run on a treadmill. Many athletes supplement their training routine with time on the treadmill.  From bad weather to wanting a more controlled environment, the reasons for logging your miles in the gym instead of on the road are as varied as the people you see trotting along in place.  But just because you're inside doesn't mean you're immune to injury or pain.  Many runners experience foot pain from treadmill running.  And, as it turns out, there's a long list of causes you may need to tick off before you find relief.  For some, the answer may be to think like a skier:

    "Often, when athletes ski in icy conditions, they find that their entire body gets tense, most of all their feet. They usually find that they are trying to hold on to the slope by gripping the bottom of their ski boots with their toes. Once they feel their toes and feet beginning to ache, they can usually reduce the aching sensation by focusing on good form and doing a relaxation-check. This check is a mental check list with a physical link. Mentally go from head to toe and very consciously remove the tension from each body part, beginning at the forehead, then face, neck, shoulders, upper back and then on down through the feet." --From Solving Foot Pain From Treadmill Running by Gale Bernhardt, 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic Coach

    According to Gale, other causes can include too much speed, too much or not enough incline, and ill-fitting shoes, either at the gym or in your everyday life.  Check out her advice at Active.com on solving these problems, and make your next treadmill run pain-free.

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  10. Turkey Day Taping

    Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the KT Tape team made their way across the country to yet another major marathon, this time in Atlanta for the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Marathon. However, this time, the team received a little help from some students from Life University's Chiropractic School. Life University is based in Marietta, GA and is best known for its Doctor of Chiropractic program. Students from the Life University Sports Chiropractic Council and Student Liaison Leo Kormanik II, volunteered their time to help tape up hundreds of runners.

    The following is an excerpt from Leo Kormanik's experience at the Atlanta Marathon Expo.

    "We had a great time at the KT tape booth. There were three of us from Life University and we were met with John Mackay from KT tape. We got involved with KT tape when we met John at the ACA Sports Chiropractic Symposium in St. Louis a few weekends ago. He was helpful in answering any questions we had regarding the effectiveness of KT tape and encouraged us to use some of the products. At the Atlanta Marathon Expo we had the opportunity to educate runners on injuries as well as exercises they can do to placate some of their significant issues. We also got to tape quite a bit!
    There are a plethora of conservative options available to people who choose not to take medication for pain relief. Pain medication only covers up the symptoms to an underlying problem and for the most part do not offer any healing for the damaged area causing the pain. KT tape can block pain, reduce swelling, and increase muscle activation. All of these factors ameliorate the underlying cause of the pain, making it substantially more effective than medication at correcting the problem. At the Expo, some of the more common injuries were plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, lateral ankle sprain, IT band syndrome, and runner's knee. The students who came to tape were amazed at the efficacy of the product. Personally, I had the pleasure of working the medical tent at the race on Thanksgiving. A lot of the runners that we taped up the previous days stopped by to let me know they loved the product and thanked me for helping them through the race."

    Leo C. Kormanik II
    ACASC Life U. Student Liaison

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