Tag Archives: Physical Therapy

Local Motion Physical Therapy

Last year I spent five months in physical therapy being treated for IT Band Syndrome and numbness in my feet when I ran. It was a long and difficult healing process, but it was also a very educational one. I learned a lot from the therapist who worked with me and we kept in touch after my treatments ended.

Meghan recently left UCSF to open her own practice with a friend – Local Motion Physical Therapy!

Local Motion Physical Therapy

Last week they officially opened their doors and had an Open House on Friday. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend with RoadBunner, my fellow BARF (Bay Area Running Friend).

Drinks and kettle bells

Drinks and kettle bells

What I loved about working with Meghan is that she is also a marathon runner herself.

Local Motion Physical Therapy

Over the years, she was the third physical therapist I worked with but the first one who was a runner. I can’t begin to tell you how beneficial this was. She knew exactly what I was experiencing and could advise me on how to proceed with my training. All of the exercises and stretches she prescribed were focused on building strength and form for specifically for running. I placed all of my trust and confidence in her to have me healthy for race day, and she did not disappoint. {In fact, she treated me during my New York Marathon training cycle; a race she ran herself, and offered me many tips how to run the race itself. Too bad the race never happened…}

Local Motion Physical Therapy

Having recently returned to regular Pilates practice, I found that a lot of the PT exercises she prescribed were basic Pilates movements. So I wasn’t surprised to see a Pilates Reformer at her new clinic!

Pilates reformer

Pilates reformer

Another thing that I loved about working with Meghan was her openness to Eastern medicine practices. In fact, it was her suggestion that I try acupuncture treatments, something that I’ve found a lot of success with.

She also introduced me to the Chinese medicine practice of air cupping.

cups for cupping

cups for cupping

I had never even heard of this method of treatment before but had tremendous success with it.

The clinic is located in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.

Local Motion Physical Therapy

Local Motion Physical Therapy

They are definitely experts in sports rehabilitation so if you are a Bay Area athlete seeking treatment for a sports injury, or prevention of one, I highly recommend LomoPT!

How I Overcame My IT Band Injury

Do you know how, when you buy a new car, you suddenly notice all of the other cars on the road of the same make and model? It’s happen to me every time.

I guess the same can be true for injuries. I’ve definitely had my share, the latest being IT Band Syndrome that prevented me from running the Ogden Marathon last Spring.

Ever since then I noticed a lot of other runners having the same problems. It seemed to be more than normal, but again, perhaps since I was experiencing it for the first time I noticed others who had it too.

I spoke with a few of my fellow runners who had the same problem and given them bits and pieces of what I learned from five months of physical therapy. Each time I promised to write a post on it – and now I’m finally getting around to it.

If there’s one thing I took away from my PT treatments, it was the importance of core stability. The core controls everything – movement in the upper and lower areas of the body.

The core is not just your abs. It’s also your back, hips, glutes – pretty much everything in the center of your body. And if one thing goes out of whack, then everything else can too – it’s all related. This is why your core muscles need strength and flexibility to maintain balance. Imbalances can cause misalignment and injury.

In the spirit of “putting myself out there”, here’s a video that my PT took of my running gait:

After filming this, I was asked what I saw. To be honest, I really didn’t know what I was looking for. But then it was pointed out to me that my left foot does all the work while my right foot just kind of drags along. My hips were imbalanced and not stable.

I found a great paragraph in this article (it’s a good one, read the whole thing) that explains what was happening far better than I ever could:

“A great example of this is the effect of weak gluteal muscles on the knee and foot. If gluteus medius and gluteus minimus (our primary hip abductors) are weak, the femur will tend to adduct and internally rotate. If you follow this down the kinetic chain, the knee will fall into a “knock-kneed” position and proper knee tracking will be disturbed, the foot will tend to pronate. The smaller leg muscles are not able to make up for the weakness of the gluteal muscles and a number of injuries (IT band syndrome, Achilles tendionosis, plantar fasciitis, & shin splints) can result along the lower kinetic chain.”

Personally, I never experienced pain in the IT Band itself – the pain manifested itself in my knee. And it was debilitating.

I now do the exercises prescribed by my PT religiously – at least once (sometimes twice if I have time) a day.

I’ve combined the many exercises into two sets – one standing, and the other lying:

Standing Exercises

Standing on a step or stool:
1. Single Leg Dips
2. Skateboarders (like you’re riding a skateboard)
3. Reverse Skateboarders
4. Frog Legs (kick the hanging leg out, then raise the hip and bend the knee to bring it back to standing)
* 30-reps on each leg

I do this set of exercises before a run. The key for these exercises is to think about placing your weight on the heel of the foot planted on the step so you engage your glute muscles. You also want to be sure you are not overly dipping your hip. The movements can be very small, but it is still effective. Also, I will lightly place a finger on something to help me stay balanced and not fall over.

Lying Exercises

1. Bridge
2. Clam Shells
3. Leg Extension Side Kicks (lying on your side, extend the top leg behind you and turn your toes out, heel in)
4. Overhead Abdominal Pulls with a medicine ball or bands (focus on engaging your transverse abdominis aka lower abs)
5. 90-degree Clam Shells (knees at 90-degrees)
6. Leg Extension Back Kicks (same position as #3 but you are extending a bent knee back/forth)
7. Elevated Clam Shells (heels together and elevated)
* 30-reps (on each side as needed)

Doing these exercises can be very nauseating, especially at the end of a long day. But after doing these exercises regularly for six months I no longer have knee pain. Both my PT and chiropractor have noticed a significant increase of strength in my hips which has been incentive enough for me to keep it up.

Some other things that have helped me are:
• 3/4 Single-Leg Squats: If you think about, every step you take when you run is a three-quarter single-leg squat. Doing this exercise helps to build knee stability. My goal (that I am still working on) is to do 50 on each leg without any internal knee rotation aka instability.
• Walking up a hill or on a treadmill at an incline and REALLY focus on engaging you glutes.
• Dragging on foot on the treadmill, at a very slow speed (0% incline while the other foot is standing on the edge) and again, think “engage glutes”
• Think about externally rotating your hips during the first min of each mile.

Doing all of these extra exercises, in addition to my regular training takes a lot of time and effort. But it’s paid off. Combined with a few minutes of daily yoga, and periodic acupuncture and chiropractic treatments, I was able to overcome my nagging IT Band Injury. And now I know what to do to ensure it doesn’t reoccur.

How Eastern Medicine Helps Me

When I was little (we’re talking pre-elementary school age), my grandparents were my babysitters. I remember climbing into my Grandpa’s truck and going with them to my Grandpa’s acupuncture appointment. I didn’t understand what “acupuncture” was. When asked I was told that it was “when they stick needles into you.”

The only thing I could comprehend about that explanation was that it was like getting a bunch of shots all over your body. (Still) Being extremely fearful of shots, I shunned the practice.

But after weeks of slow progress with physical therapy, my physical therapist suggested I consider exploring it as a complimenting treatment to PT.

I was at the point where I was willing to try anything to heal faster.

Although I really didn’t know anything about acupuncture other than the aforementioned story, I was all for it.

Last night during my 8th treatment session I finally asked my acupuncturist to explain what the “Qi” and “Meridians” are. (These are terms she frequently referred to, and I also have heard my massage therapist and yoga teachers refer to them.) She laughed and told me that there wasn’t enough hours in the day, but summed it up in a visual analogy:

• “Qi” is the energy that flows through our bodies.
• “Meridians” are channels in which “Qi” flows – like highways.
• When our “Qi” is disrupted it can manifest itself in stress, aches, pains, disease — an imbalance — like an accident or traffic on a highway.
• The acupuncture needles are inserted into specific points along meridians that often are near what western medicine refers to as “trigger points.”
• The needles’ job is to clear up the “traffic” (like CalTrans) and return balance to the Qi.

This is probably a very highly generalized explanation of a centuries old practice but gave me a better understanding of it. But I already knew everything that I needed to know — that IT WORKS.

Ever since I started acupuncture, it has worked beautifully in conjunction with physical therapy.

With each treatment I have experienced less pain in my injured areas (Knee/IT Band and Piriformis), and almost no more foot numbness. My recovery time after runs has shortened considerably.

I have also had additional unexpected benefits.

As part of my treatment I’ve also been taking Chinese herbs that help to regulate digestion, stress, tension, fatigue, anxiety, sleep, etc.

All things that I struggle with, not just during marathon training, but in life in general.

I truly believe that my acupuncture treatments are helping me to manage not just the stress of marathon training but all the curveballs that life seems to be throwing my way lately.

I am really fortunate that my PT, who is trained in Western medicine, was open-minded enough to believe that Eastern medicine could help me, because it sure has. Now I get why my Grandpa thought it was a good thing to get “needles stuck in me.” And like him, now I’m a believer too.