Thursday, November 25, 2010

Strategies for Improving 5 K Times for Weekend Warriors

Strategies for Improving 5 K times for Weekend Warriors

Raise your hand if you a) have a job, b) have a spouse, c) have kids, or d) have all three! If you did indeed raise your hand to any of those, chances are you fall into the category of “busy”. With only so many hours in a day, it is nearly impossible for you to find time to work out during the week. Thus, the weekend is your time to train. Sunrise, Saturday, you lace up your shoes and go pound the pavement. Your average mile pace is a little slower than it used to be, but you still love the way running makes you feel, and you still want to go faster. The reality is, “going faster” is a thing of the past. Or is it? The truth is, you’ve still got some speed in you. So if you want to tune up for the Holiday Hustle or a Jingle Jog this holiday season, here’s how to do it….faster!
Just a disclaimer, running, like any other sport, takes practice. Consistency is really the key to success when it comes to running faster and avoiding injury. Rapidly increasing your mileage is not advised and drastically increases your risk of getting hurt. Start low, go slow.
I believe the best way of going about training for a 5k is breaking it down into 3 phases: base, strength, and speed.

Phase 1: Building your base
Consistency is really important in this phase. You need to find a couple times a week to run. Logging a week’s worth of mile on a Saturday morning won’t cut it. Get up a little earlier, run on your lunch hour, or jog around the soccer field while you’re waiting for your son or daughter to finish up practice. The great part about the base mileage is that it’s done at a slow, easy pace. What’s “easy” you ask? You should be able to hold a conversation with someone while you run. (Just a heads up…if you’re running alone, talking out loud to yourself will draw strange looks from passersby.) Try shooting for 4 runs a week (maybe every other day) where the first 3 runs are 3 miles each and the 4th is 4 miles. Continue this series of workouts for 3 weeks adding a mile to each of your runs each additional week. (So you’re increasing your mileage by 4 miles per week for 3 weeks.)

Phase 2: Building your strength
Hill running is a great way to build strength quickly. Find a hill (or a treadmill where you can adjust the incline) that takes you about two minutes to run up. Start off your run with 1 or 2 easy miles before coming up to the hill. Run up the hill at a brisk pace (about 85% of your maximum effort) and focus on driving your knees and pumping your arms a little more than you normally do. Lean into the hill slightly more than you would while running on flat ground, and focus on turnover (quick steps). People make the mistake of over-striding (taking too large of strides) while running up a hill which is a big waste of energy. Jog slowly down the hill and repeat this a total of 4 times. Finish your run by jogging an easy 2 miles after the hill repeats. This workout will replace one of your easy workouts you were doing the past few weeks. Continue this for a total of 2 weeks.

Phase 3: Building your speed
The last phase of your training will involve running short distances, repetitively, at a pace faster than you will on race day. These “speed workouts” are ideally done on a track if you have one near your house, but may also be done on a flat quarter mile stretch ( works great for measuring this). You will replace your hill workouts from phase 2 with workouts in which you run 400 meters fast then 400 meters slow (1 set) and repeat that 4 times for a total of 1 mile worth of speed. To calculate how fast your repeats will be, determine the minutes per mile of your last 5k and divide by 4, then subtract 15. For example, if you ran a 5k averaging 9 minutes per mile, dividing by 4 equals 2 minutes and 15 seconds. Subtract 15 seconds and your repeats will be done at 2 minutes for 400 meters. Finish your workout with a 2 mile cool down. Ideally, one speed workout per week for 3 weeks is best, but even if you get one in before your race you’re better off.

This is the crash course for 5k training. If you would like a more comprehensive training plan, or have other questions about running in general, feel free to subscribe to our blog and simply reply to this post. I also recommend Jack Daniel’s Running Formula as a great resource to help you with your training. We’d love to answer any questions you may have. Remember to consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. Good luck with your next race!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Avoiding Marathon Mayhems

Marathon Mayhem…what to do (and NOT do) the week before a big race!

It’s the week before your big race: the fall marathon (or maybe half marathon) you’ve been training for since Memorial Day. You’ve suffered through the scorching summer heat on runs where you thought the soles of your shoes would surely melt. You’ve sacrificed late nights out to the bar with friends so you could get your long run in at 6 a.m. the next morning. You haven’t had a single can of Coke in months, and the word donut is no longer in your vocabulary. All the work has been done, right? Well, in some ways yes and others no. For the last couple months, you’ve been making changes to your body’s physiology that has made it a more finely tuned machine. At this point, there is nothing you can do in regards to running that can help you. Hurt you, yes. Help you, no. The week before the race is just as important, if not more important, as any other week of training, but for different reasons. Here are some tips to help you through the week and get you to the finish line.
1. Don’t change your routine-the week before the race is not the time for experimentation. Maintain the diet you have been on for the last few months. Now is not the time to go try the new Double Bacon Thick Burger at Hardee’s. Continue eating well-balanced meals. Increasing your carbohydrate intake (aka Carb Loading) is okay to do, but 5 rounds of the all-u-can eat pasta at Olive Garden is discouraged. If you’ve been doing morning runs, keep doing morning runs. If you’ve been sleeping 7 hours a night, getting 10 hours of sleep the week leading up to the race may actually make you more tired the morning of the race.
2. Mental preparation takes precedence over physical preparation-Your body is ready for the race. But, what about your mind? You’re getting ready to run 26.2 miles! You’re going to need some mental toughness (especially after mile 20). Practice positive thinking AT ALL TIMES! Repeatedly tell yourself things like “I can do this!”, or “I feel incredible!” Visualize in your mind how you want the race to play out. I always write my goals on a piece of paper, being as specific as possible. Writing down your plan, and showing it to others, holds you accountable for your actions on race day. It’s also something fun to look back on after the race. It’s always good to remember why you’re doing this race, or maybe who you’re doing it for. If it was a goal of yours to lose weight and simply complete the marathon, look at how far you’ve come. If you’re running in memory of a loved one who’s sick or has passed away, remember you’re doing this for him or her.
3. Take care of your feet-What kind of podiatry blog would this be without mentioning the part of your body that will be taking the pounding! Trim your toenails back a little bit to avoid them from cutting the skin of the neighboring toes or hitting the front of your shoe. Black toenails are out of style now that Halloween is over! It may sound like a nice reward for all your hard work to get a nice pedicure before the race. I would recommend holding off until afterwards because you’ll need those calluses for the 26.2. Wear moisture wicking socks for the race. Brands like Wright, Features, Nike, and Asics make synthetic socks that pull moisture away from your feet to prevent blisters. Putting a little bit of foot powder on your feet will also help soak up some extra moisture (But don’t use it if you have any open wounds. Cover those up with a bandage) DO NOT CHANGE YOUR SHOES THE WEEK BEFORE OR THE DAY OF THE MARATHON! Shoes definitely have a break-in period where your feet get used to their new home. Changing shoes can lead to hazardous consequences on race day.
4. Drink water; Drink water; Drink water -Dehydration is probably the number one reason people never get to the finish line. On race day, you are a runner, not a hospital patient! Follow the 8 x 8 rule. 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water a day. If you’ve forgotten to drink an adequate amount of water all week, you cannot make up for lost time by chugging a bunch the night before the race. Be consistent with your fluid intake.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Your Feet with Diabetes

Your Feet with Diabetes - Proceed with Caution

Diabetes affects over 23.6 million Americans with an estimated 1.6 million new cases being diagnosed every year. Diabetes is a systemic disease that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease, and risk of limb amputation. In fact, the majority of non-traumatic amputations result from the complications of diabetes. If you have diabetes, regular visits to your primary care physician, as well as your podiatrist, is the key to preventing irreversible damage to your feet. Here are several tips specific to the patient with diabetes to help you take proper care of your feet:

1. Manage your diabetes-work with your doctors to ensure your blood glucose levels remain at an appropriate level at all times.

2. Examine your feet every day-take time to inspect your feet for blisters, bruises, or any discoloration. Make sure to check all aspects of the foot and use a mirror if necessary.

3. Get active-consult your doctors about appropriate ways to exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial in managing diabetes.

4. Avoid going barefoot-wear socks and shoes to avoid injuries to your feet. Even small cuts and scrapes can go unnoticed in diabetic patients, especially those who have neuropathy.

5. Get fitted for good shoes-several shoe companies offer a variety of styles of diabetic shoes that have seamless linings in them to reduce any irritation to your skin. People (especially women) will often wear shoes that are too small which can lead to a variety of foot-related problems. Our feet change as we age. Make sure to get fitted every time you go to buy a new pair of shoes.

6. Trim your toenail straight across with slightly rounded edges - this will help avoid ingrown toenails and prevent the nail from cutting into your skin which may cause infection.

7. Wash your feet daily-use lukewarm water and soap to wash your feet. Dry your feet off, and apply baby powder to keep the feet dry throughout the day. This will help prevent blisters.

8. See a podiatrist regularly-a podiatrist is a foot and ankle doctor who is specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of all kinds of pathology (diseases) related to the foot. Diabetic foot care is one of the many aspects a podiatrist handles on a regular basis. Regular visits to a podiatrist significantly decreases the risk of foot-related complications in diabetic patients.

If you have any questions or concerns about your feet, please do not hesitate to contact our InStride Family Foot Care at 704-786-4482 or visit our website at


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Take Steps for Heel Pain

Take Steps to Overcome Heel Pain
Heel pain can halt our ability to exercise, and may sometimes keep us from going about our daily activities. While our awareness of the pain is usually an annoyance, it also serves as a warning sign that something is wrong with a part of our body, and that if we continue to perform a certain activity, further damage may occur. Pain is most often associated with some type of injury to a tendon, muscle, ligament, or soft tissue. Today, we will be focusing on heel pain. A recent survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association found that over 40% of Americans have experienced at least one episode of heel pain in the past year. While there are many conditions which cause heel pain, we’ll focus our discussion of one of the most common causes: plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of a fibrous band of connective tissue that runs along the sole (or plantar surface) of the foot. This fibrous band (the fascia) flexes with every step taken, and serves to support the natural arch of the foot. Sometimes, the band can be over-stretched, causing microscopic tears which leads to inflammation and pain. One of the most common symptoms people complain of is a sharp stabbing pain on the bottom of the heel right after getting up off the bed. A heel spur is usually a byproduct of plantar fasciitis and not the actual cause of the pain. The pain associated with the inflammation is further aggravated by prolonged ambulation, walking barefoot, or by shoes that do not properly support the foot. If left untreated, the problem can become chronic and may lead to tearing of the fascia and the formation of scar tissue.
What to do: Avoid walking barefoot for long distances whenever possible. Use supportive shoes with a stiff heel counter that does not flex when you grab both ends of the shoe and try to twist. Avoid old shoes that have excessive wear on the soles. Click here for more information on how to choose a good shoe. Always warm up properly before exercising. Know your limits when exercising and avoid over-exerting yourself. Fatigue during exercise may lead to improper form which can lead to injury. If you are too short for your weight, losing weight can take unneeded stress off of your feet. Over the counter orthotics (inserts that are placed in the bottom of your shoes) are sold at specialty shoe stores and may help relieve the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Using a tennis ball or a frozen water bottle to massage and stretch the bottom of your foot can help control inflammation and relieve pain. Over the counter anti inflammatory medications may also be helpful.
If your heel pain lasts for longer than a month, it is recommended that you visit a podiatrist. Your podiatrist is specifically trained to diagnose and treat all conditions related to the foot and ankle. Sometimes, a cortisone injection is given in the bottom of the foot to rapidly decrease the inflammation. Your podiatrist can also prescribe custom made orthotics for your shoes to help you heal and prevent the condition from returning. For more information on plantar fasciitis and how to treat it, visit

Monday, September 6, 2010

Achilles tendonitis - Enemy of the Weekend Warrior

Avoiding Injuries this Fall: Prevention and Treatment of Achilles Tendonitis

With Labor Day weekend now behind us, the transition from the scorching heat of summer to the cool of autumn means that going outside for a workout is more tolerable. September is a great month to start increasing your exercise activities. If our legs are going to take us longer than we’ve gone over the past several months then we also become more prone to running-related injuries. With flag football games popping up around the neighborhood, now is not the time to be laid up on the couch covered in ice packs and popping pain pills. Here are some tips to both prevent and treat one of the most common running injuries: Achilles tendonitis.

Achilles Tendonitis:

What is it?
An inflammation of the Achilles tendon (heel cord) that often presents itself as a recurring, localized, and sometimes debilitating pain on the back of the heel. Hill running and tight calf muscles make runners especially susceptible to this injury. Achilles tendonitis is thought to account for 11% of all running injuries.

How can I prevent it?
Stretch! Dynamic/active stretching (stretching that involves movement) before a run, and static stretching (holding a stretch for a certain length of time) after a run have been shown to reduce many types of running injuries. One of the simplest ways to stretch the Achilles is to find a set of steps, place the balls of your feet on the steps leaving your ankles hanging of the steps. Holding onto a railing or putting your hand on a wall as a guide, allow your weight to drop your heels below the level of the stairs, and then slowly raise yourself back up. Repeat this exercise 10 to 12 times for a complete set, and then add sets of 10 to 12 as you feel comfortable. I normally do 3 sets of these after my runs to keep my calves from getting too tight.
Another way to prevent Achilles tendonitis is simply a matter of maintaining a consistent training schedule. Weekend warriors (the runners you only see on a Saturday morning working off a week’s worth of doughnuts) are much more prone to injuries because their bodies are not used to the routine of running. Running, like any other sport, takes practice, and the people that incorporate it into their daily routine have fewer injuries.

What can I do to treat it? If you acquire Achilles tendonitis, taking a day or three of rest at first will be the most beneficial. Trying to run through the pain can turn the injury from something acute to chronic, and greatly increases your risk of rupturing your Achilles tendon (you do not want to go there!). A lift in your shoe will decrease the pull of the tendon during ambulation and an immobilizing wrap can also calm down the inflammation. Consider using over the counter non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (Ibuprofen, Aleve, etc.). These drugs are sometimes useful in relieving the pain/swelling associated with injury. Icing the tendon for 15 minutes 2 times per day will also help with the inflammation. Cross training on an elliptical machine, a bike, or in a swimming pool can help you maintain your current level of fitness without putting strain on the injured tendon. Many elite athletes have been able to cross train through injuries and have been able to perform exceptionally well at world-class competitions. If your injury persists for longer than a couple weeks, seeking out the advice of a podiatrist (foot and ankle doctor) is helpful. A podiatrist can offer treatments, such as ultrasound or cold laser, as well as prescribe stronger anti-inflammatory medications that might be needed to help heal your injury. Sometimes, prescription orthotics might be suggested by the podiatrist to correct any biomechanical issues that might be leading to recurring Achilles tendon injuries.

Friday, August 27, 2010

APMA Updates their Seal of Acceptance Shoes

The American Podiatric Medical Association has just updated their website for shoes that have been awarded the prestigious APMA Seal of Acceptance. Click here to check out their shoe list.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back to School Shoes Blues

The ABC’s of Back to School Shoe Shopping for your Kids

Back to school shopping is in full swing, and on the list of things to buy to get your kids started on the right foot this school year are…! Although there may seem to be an endless amount of choices in regards to what your kids can wear on their feet, there are several things to watch out for when selecting a pair of quality, comfortable shoes your kids enjoy wearing.

• ABC, easy as 1,2,3…there are 3 things to look for when buying a shoe for your child. First, squeeze the heel of the shoe to make sure that it does not collapse. A stiff heel provides proper rear foot support. Second, grab the front of the shoe and bend it backwards to ensure that the shoe bends where your child’s foot naturally flexes while walking or running. Third, grab the shoe at both ends and twist it in opposite directions. The middle of the shoe should not twist in order to provide good midfoot support. A shoe should pass all 3 of these tests to be proven worthy of buying.

• APMA’s Seal of Acceptance is a gold standard. The American Podiatric Medical Association has given their Seal of Acceptance to products that promote proper foot health. These shoes have been tested by foot and ankle doctors who understand the complex nature of how the foot works while in motion. You can check out the APMA’s list of products on their website or look for the seal on the manufacturer’s product packaging or website.

• Avoid hand me downs. Passing down old footwear from an older sibling can spread fungus such as athlete’s foot. Also, every person’s gait is unique, and over time, the shoe develops wear patterns specific to that person that may cause harm to another person wearing them. Always take your child with you when you are buying shoes for them to ensure a proper fit in both length and width. (Yes, some shoe companies make wide shoes for children!)

• Breaking in shoes is a myth. Shoes should be comfortable the first time your child tries them on in the store. Any sign of discomfort noticed in the store is an indicator that the shoes will continue to give them problems in the future.

• Use shoe size as a guide. Your children’s feet should be measured each time you are buying them a new pair of shoes. Most retail sales associates can help you determine the right size of shoe for your child. However, just because your child measures a 7, does not necessarily mean he or she must wear a size 7 shoe. The shoe must past the 1,2,3 test mentioned above and the length and width must also feel comfortable to the child. Buying a slightly larger shoe is okay in most cases and preferable to buying a shoe that will too small in short order.

• Have your child’s feet checked regularly. Taking your child to see a podiatrist can help prevent foot problems that may occur later on in life. Podiatrists can analyze the way your child walks and stands, as well as look at his or her shoes for certain wear patterns, to prescribe therapies to promote proper foot health for a lifetime.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

10 Things to Know about Laser Nail Treatments

Laser Treatment for Toenail Fungus: 10 Things you should know!

It has been estimated that nail fungus affects approximately 50% of people over the age of 60. Nearly 40 million Americans have toenail fungus alone. With a rather insidious onset, nail fungus is a medical problem that should be brought to your physician’s attention if you notice any changes in the appearance of your nails (such as discoloration or thickening). Earlier diagnoses have proven to have better success rates for the complete eradication of the fungus. For years, doctors and scientists have worked tirelessly to produce an effective cure for toenail fungus, or onychomycosis. Treatments range from topical solutions and lacquers to oral antifungal medications. In 2008, doctors started using a laser technology that had been around for years prior (the same laser used to treat cataracts) for the treatment of toenail fungus. Here are 10 questions to help better educate you on what toenail fungus is, and what laser treatment of toenail fungus is all about.

1. How does laser treatment for toenail fungus work?
Currently, there are 2 types of laser treatments for toenail fungus only one of which is in use by physicians. The company Patholase, has developed the PinPointe laser that produces high energy UV radiation to eliminate fungus under the nail bed of the toe. Results with this method have proven effective in many podiatrists’ offices around the country but is still considered an “off-label” use for the laser as it is used for other medical purposes. The other laser treatment method was produced by the company Nomir Medical Technologies called the Neovon Laser which uses two different wavelengths of near infrared light. The Neovon laser is currently in clinical trials and is projected to produce better outcomes than the Pinpointe laser. Both lasers work by producing beams from a pen-like device held by the doctor over the nail that sends penetrating beams through the nail to the fungus.

2. Will I see instant results with laser treatment for my toenail fungus?
While the laser treatment does kill the fungus instantly, the results of the treatment are typically seen approximately 9 months after the treatment when the infected nail has been replaced by newly grown, healthy nail.

3. Are there other options besides laser treatment for toenail fungus?
Topical creams are still prescribed by doctors as well as oral antifungal medications. The topical creams have proven effective in only 8% of cases. Oral anti-fungals, such as Lamisil are often more effective than topical treatments, but can be harmful to the liver over prolonged usage and blood draws are typical to prevent toxicity.

4. Is laser treatment for toenail fungus safe?
Laser treatment is safe as well as painless. The laser penetrates the nail bed to the level at which the fungus lives and reproduces.

5. Is laser treatment for toenail fungus covered under insurance?
Currently, insurance does not cover laser treatment for nail fungus as it is considered a cosmetic procedure.

6. Can I walk after the treatment?
Yes, the painless procedure allows patients to walk out of the office immediately after treatment.

7. How much does the laser treatment cost?
Depending on the doctor and the location, laser nail treatments average about $750 to $1200.

8. What are the side effects of laser treatment for toenail fungus?
There are no known side effects to laser nail treatment.

9. What are the risk factors for toenail fungus?
Risk factors for toenail fungus include increasing age, family history, diabetes, poor health, communal bathing, trauma, and depressed immunity (HIV, drug induced).

10. What can I do to prevent toenail fungus?
Keep nails dry, clean, and short. Wear moisture-wicking socks. Use antifungal medications. Avoid going barefoot in public places. Wash your hands after touching an infected nail.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

FitFlop Sandals….Do They Really Work?

Designed and tested at the Centre for Human Performance in London, the FitFlop sandal has become increasingly popular among consumers seeking the same benefits as the Skechers ShapeUps and MBT shoes. The company has designed a broad range of styles from sporty to trendy to accommodate almost every situation imaginable.
The premise behind the FitFlop technology centers around the company’s trademarked Micowobbleboard technology that is designed to increase the amount of time the wearer’s leg muscles are engaged while walking. By creating an unstable platform, the body must put forth more effort to remain balanced. The midsole material is comprised of a high density heel for shock absorption, a low density midfoot portion for instability, and a mid density forefoot which helps maintain pace while walking. The company claims that the sandals can reduce back and ankle stress, realign force through the body while walking, and activates leg muscles by up to 30% more than regular shoes. These claims come from user perceptions as well as research conducted by the company itself on 15 women. Currently, the UK government has given a 2 year grant to FitFlop Footwear to continue research on the benefits of the FitFlop and the Microwobbleboard technology. To read current research the company has performed, click here.
User reviews are positive among consumers in regards to overall comfort and cushion of the flip flops, affordability, and overall aesthetic appeal. Many consumer review sites have claims that the flip flops really do engage the leg as well as core muscles. Most negative reviews are that they simply can’t find the footwear or that stores are sold out! The FitFlop Footwear company has an extensive FAQ site that answers many questions from general to medical about the FitFlops.
FitFlops have received the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) which is awarded to companies whose products have been shown to promote foot health. There are currently no third party research articles specific to the FitFlop. In regards to whether or not the product really works, the best answer is probably. People with foot problems should consult a podiatrist before purchasing a pair of FitFlops. (A claim the company makes on its website.) Also remember that buying new (proper) footwear in general can lead us to become more motivated to exercise more often than usual and live a healthier lifestyle. No piece of footwear can help you lose weight and gain strength without the wearer actually putting them on and doing some work. So if a new pair of kicks is what helps you become more active, then make a trip to a local shoe store or FitFlop retailer and get fitted! For even more information on selecting proper footwear, click here, then click on "shoes" on the right side of your screen.