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Get Moving: Physical Therapy Benefits for Long Distance Runners

Updated: Jan 30, 2023



Do you find yourself pushing the limits when it comes to running? Whether it's competing in 5Ks or tackling marathon distances, running is great for your body and mind. But all that pounding on the pavement can take its toll over time — which is why physical therapy may be a beneficial addition to your training routine. From injury prevention to performance optimization, by incorporating physical therapy into your regimen you can maximize both short-term and long-term success as an athlete. In this blog post we'll look at why runners should consider adding physical therapy to their fitness regime!


Why physical therapy is beneficial for runners


Physical therapy can be an incredibly beneficial tool for runners. It allows them to improve their performance and reduce the risk of injury. With the help of a physical therapist, athletes can gain insight into their running form, strength, and flexibility issues, as well as address any muscular imbalances that may be causing pain or limiting performance. Through a combination of stretching, strengthening exercises, and manual therapies like massage, ultrasound, and joint mobilization, physical therapists can help runners increase range of motion and flexibility. This will not only reduce the likelihood of injury but also assist with improving running speed and endurance.


Stretching plays an important role in helping to lengthen muscles that are often tight because of repetitive running motions. By doing regular stretches throughout the week after runs or during specific training sessions recommended by a physical therapist based on individual needs, runners can improve their flexibility which is essential for efficient movement patterns while running. Along with stretching, strengthening exercises are also important for runners as it helps support their joints and muscles during repetitive motions associated with running. Working with a physical therapist can help identify weak areas within muscle groups used for running which need additional work so that they become more balanced and less prone to fatigue-related injuries.

In addition to stretching and exercises, many physical therapists use manual therapies such as massage or joint mobilization to help alleviate pain associated with overuse injuries due to increased stress on certain muscles or joints related to running motion patterns. Massage techniques can be used to reduce inflammation in soft tissue structures or decrease tension in tight muscles which helps reduce pain while allowing those structures to move better while running; this includes techniques such as neuromuscular therapy (NMT), myofascial release (MFR), positional release therapy (PRT) among others. Joint mobilizations are also helpful in increasing range of motion at joints when they have become stiff after excessive use without proper warm up/stretching before every activity; this technique uses gentle manipulation along with traction forces applied at each joint in order to increase available range of motion at those joints over time with repeated treatments from the physical therapist.

Overall, working with a physical therapist is an excellent way for runners who want to improve their performance while reducing the risk of injury from repetitive movements associated with running activities. Physical therapists use various methods such as stretching routines specific for each individual’s needs combined with strengthening exercises tailored towards weak areas associated with poor posture or movement compensation strategies due to pain caused by muscle imbalances and tightness; along with other manual therapies like massage or joint mobilizations which aim at increasing range of motion at stiff joints while decreasing inflammation in soft tissue structures throughout the body contributing towards improved performance and decreased risk of injury aimed at all levels of competitive runner from beginner recreational joggers up until competitive athletes training for marathons!


Anatomy of Running: How running affects the body and why physical therapy can help mitigate long-term damage



Running is a popular form of exercise that can benefit overall health and fitness. However, it is important to understand the anatomy of running and how it affects the body. Running is a weight-bearing activity that involves repetitive motions which can lead to strain on the muscles, bones, joints, and ligaments. Overuse injuries are one of the most common types of running injuries due to this strain; these include shin splints, runner’s knee, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures. Learning proper form and understanding the body's limitations are key to avoiding or minimizing overuse injuries.


Good form when running is essential for reducing injury risk and improving performance. This includes having a tall posture with shoulders back while keeping a relaxed stride without excess bouncing or leaning forward from the waist. Additionally, land lightly on the balls of your feet while keeping your heel down followed by pushing off from your toes. Making sure you don't overstride can also be beneficial as it minimizes excessive impact on the hip joint and lower back muscles. It's also important to strengthen core muscles as well as those in your legs since these are used for stability during running motion.

Physical therapy plays an important role in helping runners manage their aches and pains before they become more serious issues. A physical therapist can help identify any mechanical imbalances within the body which may be causing pain or discomfort during running. They can also teach proper stretching techniques to improve flexibility and provide guidance on strengthening exercises targeted at specific muscle groups used during running motions. Finally, they can work with athletes to develop individualized plans focused on increasing range of motion while reducing pain levels over time. With routine physical therapy visits, many runners are able to minimize their risk of long-term damage caused by repetitive motions associated with their sport.


Injury Prevention: Strategies for avoiding injury through proper strength training, stretching, and cross-training exercises


Injury prevention is something that all athletes should take seriously. By following a few simple steps and developing strong habits, you can help prevent the risk of injury while still pushing yourself to improve your performance. A comprehensive injury prevention plan should include proper strength training, stretching, and cross-training exercises.

Strength training is an important part of any athletic program. It helps build muscle mass and strength, which in turn aids in stability and provides support to protect joints from injury. Strength training can be done with free weights, weight machines, elastic bands or body weight exercises such as pushups or pull-ups. It’s important to warm up before beginning any strength routine and progress gradually to heavier weights as muscle mass increases over time. Strength training should also focus on strengthening both stabilizing muscles as well as prime movers – the larger muscles used in a given exercise or sport – to ensure balanced development throughout the body.

Stretching is vital for injury prevention because it helps keep muscles limber, reducing the chances of strains and tears caused by overly tight muscles. Stretching may also help reduce joint pain by improving range of motion around sensitive areas such as the shoulder or knee that are commonly injured during physical activity. Before stretching, it’s important to warm up with light aerobic activity such as walking or jogging for about five minutes to prepare your body for flexibility work. Whether you’re doing static (holding stretches) or dynamic (moving through stretches) movements, pay attention to how your body feels and adjust accordingly if anything hurts too much.

Finally, cross-training exercises are a great way to prevent injuries while still challenging different muscle groups within a workout session or week of workouts. Cross-training activities can include anything from swimming and cycling to Pilates and yoga; just make sure each activity uses different parts of your body than what you usually do in your main sport/exercise program so that you’re giving those same muscles a break from time to time. Cross-training gives athletes an opportunity to experience new sports without completely changing their regular routine; it's also an important tool for preventing overuse injuries from occurring due to repetitive motions often found in specific sports like running or tennis.

By incorporating all three elements — strength training, stretching, and cross-training exercises — into their fitness regimen, athletes can help prevent injuries while still improving upon their performance goals!


Performance Enhancement: Techniques for improving performance with the help of a physical therapist



Physical therapy is an invaluable tool for performance enhancement. It can help athletes of all levels and backgrounds maximize their potential, get back to the playing field quickly after an injury, reduce pain, and improve overall wellness. By incorporating physical therapy into a training program, athletes can benefit from improved flexibility and strength, leading to better performance.

Physical therapists use a variety of techniques to enhance performance. These include strengthening exercises that not only build muscle but also target specific muscles used in a sport or activity. With increased strength and stability, athletes can become more powerful and move with greater ease. Therapists may also incorporate balance training which helps strengthen core muscles and increase balance, coordination, and agility. Mobility training is another popular form of physical therapy that focuses on improving joint range of motion and increasing the ability of muscle groups to work together in harmony. This approach helps create a stronger base for movement that can be applied to sports activities as well as everyday activities.


In addition to these common treatments, physical therapists use advanced treatments like dry needling or cupping depending on the individual's needs. Dry needling uses thin needles placed strategically along points in the body's muscles to stimulate healing, while cupping is a type of massage manipulation where cups are placed over certain parts of the body to stretch tight muscles or relieve pain. Both are effective ways of relieving muscle tension, reducing inflammation, improving blood flow, enhancing flexibility, strengthening weak areas in the body that may be hindering performance, and helping patients heal faster after an injury or surgery.


Overall, physical therapy provides numerous benefits for athletes looking to gain an edge with their performance. The varied techniques used by physical therapists enable them to customize treatment plans based on individual needs so athletes can achieve their goals safely and efficiently while minimizing chances for injury or other impairments during competition.


Making it Work: Practical tips for fitting physical therapy into a runner’s schedule



When it comes to adding physical therapy into a runner's schedule, it can be tricky. Not only do you need to find the time to fit it in, but also make sure it is beneficial and not taking away from other important aspects of training. However, with some thought and planning, it is possible to make physical therapy work for you as a runner. Here are some practical tips for fitting physical therapy into a runner's schedule:

First, set realistic goals and expectations for yourself when incorporating physical therapy into your routine. It takes time for physical therapy exercises to produce results—it may take several weeks or months before you start feeling the benefits of your new routine. So don't expect overnight success and give yourself the space and time necessary to build up your strength and mobility gradually.

Second, if possible, try to include physical therapy activities within your existing running schedule. This may mean adding extra stretching or strengthening exercises before or after a run, or even doing them during your rest days. Doing this will help ensure that you're still able to fit all of your regular runs in without sacrificing any quality of training.


Third, take advantage of online resources like videos and tutorials so that you can do physical therapy activities at home without having to go out or attend sessions with a professional therapist. This is especially helpful if you live in an area where there are few (or no) qualified therapists available to consult with on a regular basis.


Fourth, if possible, try to find an experienced therapist who specializes in working with runners specifically—this could be either through referrals from friends/family members or through research online forums and websites dedicated to running-related topics like Runner's World magazine. Working with someone who understands how running affects the body can help make sure that your physical therapy activities are tailored specifically for what you need as a runner—and not just generic exercises that might not actually benefit you in any way.


Finally, don’t forget about rest! Make sure that you're listening to your body and allowing yourself enough down time between runs so that whatever physical therapy activities you’re doing can have their desired effects on improving strength and mobility while simultaneously avoiding injury or burnout from too much stress on the joints or muscles.


By following these tips and making thoughtful decisions about how best to incorporate physical therapy into your running schedule, you'll soon be reaping all the wonderful benefits of increased mobility and flexibility!


Physical therapy can offer a lot of benefits for runners, from preventing injuries to enhancing performance. If you’re a runner who wants to improve your game, consider incorporating physical therapy into your training plan. Don’t let the thought of pain discourage you – research has shown that regular visits to a physical therapist can actually help lessen discomfort in the long run. And if you’re worried about finding time to fit PT into your schedule, don’t fret! There are plenty of ways to work around obstacles and make it work for you. Check out our tips here on how to get started. We our we have Seattle Physical Therapists and Renton Physical Therapists that specialize in treating endurance athletes. Come see us today to keep your running on track for 2023!



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