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IT Band Knee Pain In Runners

A common knee pain in runners occurs on the outside of the knee. This is probably IT Band Syndrome.

The IT Band (or Iliotibial Band) is tissue that runs along the outside of the leg to just below the knee joint. The IT band helps to stabilize the knee. This can become irritated basically from overuse.

The overuses that can cause IT Band pain can be from several factors:

1. Overtraining. Some runners when they are training for a specific race, may increase their training (mileage or intensity) without allowing for enough rest in between hard work-outs.

2. Increasing mileage too quickly. This is usually seen in beginning runners. The rule of thumb is to not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10%. More than that can cause injury.

3. Increasing mileage too much, too soon after a layoff. Go back into your training gradually.

But, like Runner's Knee, this can be treated if caught early. First of all, cut down on your mileage. You also may want to avoid major hills, as this will aggravate it.

When you are finished with your run, make sure you ice. You don't need to go out and buy some fancy ice pack. Ice wrapped in a washcloth does a great job.

Another thing you can do to alleviate the pain is to do some leg lift exercises. This will help to strengthen your hips. Also, if you want, visit a massage therapist for some deep massage. (Something I like to do after long runs is to use a leg roller. It can be a little painful at first, but really helps!)

Doing hip exercises and keeping your outer hip muscles strong will help reduce your chance of getting IT Band injuries.

Also, while you are nursing your IT Band, ibuprofen can help the pain and keep any inflammation down. And, don't forget to make sure that you aren't putting too many miles on your shoes. Remember that the rule of thumb is 300-400 miles on a pair of shoes.

You have to be patient with IT Band pain. It will probably take longer to heal than Runner's Knee. Just remember to cut back on your mileage and ice, ice, ice.

As with all running - the important thing is to listen to your body. If it's telling you to cut back for a few days - it's alright. To me, it's better to cut a run short than to risk not being able to run.


Toning Your Muscles Electrically

In a world where we know body image is less about other people's perception and more about your perception, electronic muscle stimulators can have a positive effect to supplement a good diet and regular physical activity. Using tiny electric pulses, an electronic muscle stimulator (EMS) tones and firms your muscles giving them that sculpted look you desire.

Electronic muscle stimulators are not a new technology. Professional athletes looking for a competitive edge and body builders looking for that extra sharpness to their physique have been using them for years. However, an EMS device can be of practical use to everyday people who want to keep up a fit form simply from the comfort of their living room or home gym. In particular, people who are physically disabled, in physiotherapy or who just need results to appear quickly can benefit greatly from what an EMS has to offer.

Electronic muscle stimulators do just what their name suggests: they use electrical pulses to stimulate muscles into flexing many times in a small span of time. While an average workout might be able to flex an individual muscle a couple of dozen times in a half hour workout, an EMS can flex that same muscle a few hundred times in the same time span. Moreover, an EMS is capable of targeting very specific muscles and muscles groups that can be difficult to exercise especially without costly workout equipment. The abdominals, for instance, are extremely stubborn muscles that do not always firm up evenly with regular exercises such as sit-ups. An EMS can ensure the abs get a well rounded and thorough workout without complicated positions or expensive specialized exercise machines.

Electronic muscle stimulators are not a cheat or a new fangled quick-fix. They were developed over forty years ago in England for enhanced athletic performance as well as for everyday functions in beauty salons, health spas, hospitals, and physiotherapy clinics. Their use has been permitted by the International Olympic Committee for athletes since the early seventies. Through an array of soft rubber pads, gentle electronic impulses stimulate muscle groups into relaxing and contracting. Most electronic muscle stimulators come with a chart or a guide to the optimal placement of the pads to work out specific muscle groups.

Electronic muscle stimulators are safe for most users. The only people who ought to avoid an EMS are usually not meant to undertake any sort of intensive exercise program anyways such as pregnant women, those with a pace maker or internal metal plates or pins, or those with diabetes or abnormal blood pressure. On the other hand, an EMS can be ideal for a woman who was recently pregnant and wants to quickly reduce the appearance of being pregnant. Since the benefits of using an EMS are usually quicker to appear and easier to achieve than they are through traditional conventional exercises and since an EMS is lightweight, portable, and can be used just about anywhere, it is ideal for recent mothers.

Electronic muscle stimulators are especially useful for injured people who want to speed their healing by reducing the blood flow to the traumatized area and reducing swelling and soreness. In conjunction with regular physiotherapy, electronic muscle stimulators can help to speed the healing process by strengthening weak muscles without putting any strain on joints or requiring an excess of movement as an EMS is effective even when one is in a prone position. More often than not, improvement is visible after even one session. Like any exercise, frequent use is needed to maintain form and tone of the muscles, but frequent exercise has never been easier or more convenient.


Massage Therapy Training - What Does it Take?

Massage therapy is growing in popularity because of the many health benefits that it contains. However, we the realization of the benefits is not something that is recent. As a matter of fact, massage therapy has been used for approximately 2,400 years. It was actually Hippocrates who noted that friction has certain health benefits. In modern times, massage therapy is being used for treating tired muscles, reducing stress, taking care of painful ailments, and even in physical therapy as a tool to rehabilitate after an injury.

The massage therapist massages the soft tissues of the body in order to improve circulation. This improvement in circulation removes waste from the muscles. Anytime there is any sort of waste product in the muscle, the muscle doesn't work properly. Administering massage therapy does take a special type of training, which is not hard to acquire.

The training

There are almost 2,000 massage therapy programs within the United States today. They exist within post secondary schools and in colleges. There are many career centers that offer massage therapy courses. Students can acquire financial aid to take the classes or they can pay out of their pocket. The cost of the class is usually not as much as your traditional college course. This is because massage therapy programs do not last as long. There are some programs which last as little as 10 months to a year. The focus is just on massage therapy and the curriculum that is required to prepare for it.

The curriculum includes learning anatomy, the organs and tissues, and the physiology of the body. Massage therapists also learn business ethics and they study body mechanics and motion.

Learning massage therapy is also very hands on. In order to properly learn the techniques, the student must practice frequently. This is usually done with their fellow students before taking their newly learned techniques on the road. Many massage therapy schools will take their students to sporting events, such as marathons, to give massages to the marathon runners at the end of the event. This helps speed up muscle repair and makes the runner feel much better.

What does it take?

Now that you know that finding a school is easy and that getting in is fairly easy, you simply have to have a drive to learn. As stated before, the classes do not last that long. This means you have to learn a lot in a short period of time. With the proper motivation, you can do that.

In the end, you do have to take the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. This is an exam given by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and they do have their own criteria that must be met.

There are several areas that are covered by this exam. They are: kinesiology and physiology, pathology, therapeutic massage assessment and application, anatomy, ethics, professional standards, and legal and business practices.

Once this exam is passed, you can run with the world. This is because you can be employed within a chiropractor's office, a fitness club, another type of doctor's office, or you can have your own business. If you can acquire your own massage therapy equipment, then you will make the highest salary by having your own business. This is because people will pay a lot of money for a quality massage.

So if you don't think you have what it takes, know that you are wrong because you do. Find a school, enroll for the class, take the class, take the exam, and then decide what it is you want to do from there. There are many career possibilities, so run with them.


Over-Pronation, Fallen Arches And Flat Feet

Pronation and supination are commonly heard terms, often in association with fallen arches, high arches, flat feet etc. This article explains the meaning of these terms and looks in particular at the problem of over-pronation. You will read about the following:

1) What do the terms Pronation and Supination mean?
2) What exactly is over-pronation?
3) What are the consequences of over-pronation?
4) What can we do to fix the problem of over-pronation

What do the terms 'Pronation' and 'Supination' mean?

To understand the terms 'Pronation' and 'Supination', firstly we need to look at the gait cycle - that is the way we walk, or our 'walking pattern'.

The gait cycle is broken down into 3 different phases:

1) Contact phase: Firstly the outside of your heel hits the ground. This is entirely normal and it's the reason why most people's shoes wear out faster on the outside heel area of the soles. Just after the heel strikes, pronation occurs. I.e. the foot flattens out and the ankle rolls inwards. At the same time, your lower leg rotates inwards from the knee down. The pronated foot is flexible and loose, allowing it to adapt to the ground you've just stepped on. Pronation is your natural 'shock-absorbing mechanism'.

This contact phase continues until the foot is completely flat on the ground.

2) Midstance phase: The foot is flat on the ground and in this part of the gait cylce your body weight passes over your foot as the body comes forward. This is where your foot supports your body weight. The midstance phase is the part of the gait cycle where an abnormally functioning foot such as an over-pronated foot (fallen arches) or an over-supinated foot (high arch foot) will manifest its problems.

This phase ends as your body weight passes forward eventually forcing your heel to rise off the ground. At this stage supination occurs and the opposite to pronation happens: the muscles tighten and the foot becomes a rigid lever for the leg muscles to pull against. Rigidity in the foot should occur as the foot is propelled forward towards the next step. With supination, the foot rolls outwards and the lower leg rotates externally.

3) Propulsion phase: this is where the foot pushes off the ground to propel the body forward. Body weight is picked up by the ball of the foot and lastly the weight is absorbed by the big toe as you push off with that foot.

It is important to understand that both pronation and supination are part of a normal, healthy walking pattern! Pronation (rolling inward) acts as a shock absorbing process and supination (rolling outward) helps to propel our feet forward.

What exactly is over-pronation?

Over-pronation occurs when we pronate too deep and for too long, not giving the foot a chance to 'recover' and supinate. The foot stays flexible at all times. Over-pronators use a lot more energy when walking. Worse, over-pronation causes an imbalance throughtout the entire body, putting excessive strain on the feet, legs, knees and lower back.

Other terms for over-pronation are 'fallen arches', 'dropped arches' or 'collapsed arches'. The term 'flat feet' is also often used. However, a true 'flat foot' is very rare. In fact, less than 5% of the population have completely flat feet (Pes Planus) with no arch present whatsoever. Most of us (90%) have a normal to low arch and only 5% have a high arch. People with a high arch (Pes Cavus) are also called 'over-supinators'. This means that the foot stays rigid at all times and lacks its natural shock-absorbing mechanism.

It's important to appreciate that you don't have to be flat-footed to suffer from over-pronation! In fact, the vast majority of people with a 'normal- to-low arch' suffer from over-pronation. Interestingly, the arches may appear quite normal when sitting (or even standing up-right), but when we start to walk the problem of over-pronation becomes evident...with every step we take the arches collapse and the ankles roll inwards.

Over-pronation can be caused by a number of factors. Weak ankle muscles, being over-weight, pregnancy, age or repetitive pounding on hard surfaces (like pavements and concrete floors) can all lead to over-pronation. Over-pronation is also very common with athletes, especially runners.

What are the consequences of over-pronation?

Whether you have a true flat foot or have a normal-to-low arch and suffer from over-pronation (like 70% of the population), in both cases your poor walking pattern may contribute to a range of different complaints.

Many people over-pronate, however there are no clear symptoms, no aches or pains or complaints - especially in younger people (under 40's).

When people reach 40 or 50, poor foot function will start to show and over-pronation will take its toll. Many years of over-pronation will result in wear and tear in the feet, ankle and knee joints and lower back. People will simply accept these common aches and pains as a sign of ageing. Very few people realise these complaints have a lot to do with their fallen arches!

So what are the most common complaints related to over-pronation?

Plantar Fasciitis is a very common condition caused by over-pronation. As the feet flatten, the Plantar Fascia (fibrous band of ligaments under the foot) is being overly stretched, leading to inflammation in the heel, where the fascia attach to the heel bone. Plantar Fasciitis causes chronic heel pain and sometimes a heel spur develops (bony growth at the heel bone).

With over-pronation the foot continues to roll inwards, when it should be pushing off and outwards. When the foot rolls inwards the lower leg will follow and rotate internally and stay in this position (instead of rotating externally with supination).

This puts a lot of strain on the leg muscles (especially the calf muscles), causing aching legs and shin splints. Also, the twisting of the lower leg displaces the patella (knee cap). The knee is a hinge joint, designed to flex and extend (like a door, if you like). It's not designed to rotate!

Furthermore, when the legs rotate inwards the pelvis is forced to tilt forward. This results in constant strain and stress on the lower back muscles.

What can we do to fix the problem of over-pronation?

There is no real cure as such for over-pronation, however a lot can be done to prevent it. The most effective way to minimise over-pronation and its effects on the body is by wearing orthotics inside the shoes.

An 'orthotic' (orthotic insole, shoe insert or orthosis) is a device placed inside the shoes with the purpose of restoring our normal foot function. Different types of foot orthotics are available, from special custom-made devices (prescribed by a Podiatrist) to so called 'off-the-shelf' orthotics which can be purchased from pharmacies, good quality shoe stores or specialty websites.

Orthotics correct the problem of over-pronation and they re-align the foot and ankle bones to their neutral position, restoring our natural foot function. In turn, this will help alleviate problems not only in the feet, but also in other parts of the body!

In addition to wearing an orthotic, it is recommended to wear supportive shoes with some degree of built-in 'motion control'.

Motion control shoes incorporate support features into the shoe. Shoes with adequate arch support and firm heel counters help control over-pronation and will stabilise the heel and ankle during walking. Some shoes also have side posts for extra lateral support. Firm midsoles reduce pronation and protect the ankles and knees from lateral stress. The inner side of the midsole may be made of a denser material (dual density midsoles) to reduce the amount of pronation. A heavy person who overpronates will need a heavier, more supportive shoe than a light person with the same degree of pronation.

Too many shoes these days are using soft materials all-around the shoes and are very 'floppy' giving no support or stability whatsoever. In summer, many people wear open footwear such as sandals and flip-flops which are even worse in biomechanical terms.


How To Choose The Right Men's Basketball Shoe For Your Level Of Play

When you are going to be playing basketball the right type of shoe is very important. When you are choosing basketball shoes ankle support and fit are the two main things when it comes to getting a good pair of basketball shoes. If you don't have the right type of basketball shoes then you could either sprang an ankle or even break it. Even though you can play basketball in any kind of shoes you will be injury prone if you do not get a good pair of shoes.

There are many important things to remember when getting a new pair of basketball shoes to play in. the most important rule when you are buying a new pair of basketball shoes should be ankle support. Support is the main thing you should be looking at when buying a pair of these shoes.

Every player has their own type of shoe they may like every year. Players that play really hard and run up and down the court a lot will need the best ankle support you can buy. The lower top type of shoes is for players that are not very heavy and can run fast.

When you are buying a pair of new basketball shoes you want them to last a long time. You should look for the best brand when it comes to buying a good pair of basketball shoes. It wouldn't be very good if you were playing and your shoe fell apart you would probably hurt yourself and be out a pair of shoes.

After looking for the shoe with durability, be sure to also look for the shoe with the best or most traction. The whole idea of traction is to be able to run fast and stop without sliding. Traction is needed when playing the game of basketball.

When you are buying a new pair of basketball shoes you want a pair that fits and feels good on your feet. Buy a shoe that feels good on your feet and fits firm and feels like you could play really good in them. You also need to have room so your feet can breathe if you feet can't get air they will stink really bad.

When you are buying a new pair of shoes you need to buy a pair that fits the way you dress and your style. When you buy a new pair getting the right shoes is the key to stepping up your game. You need to be careful when choosing the pair of shoes for you. If you choose the wrong pair it could cost you your money and injury to your feet.


If You Have Continual Problems With Your Feet You May Need Orthopedic Shoes

Everyone feels some discomfort from their shoes from time to time, but what if you have foot problems all the time you are wearing shoes? Pain can become a part of everyday life as high heeled shoes create problems in your toes, feet, and ankles. Stiff or cheap dress shoes can cause an unnatural gait that leads to problems that go beyond the feet. Doctors are often pressed to find a solution to problem feet. Orthopedic shoes are one solution.

If you can shed your ill-fitting shoes for pairs that are an appropriate size and shape for your feet, you may not need orthopedic shoes. As long as your shoes are properly sized and constructed, they will protect your feet from damage. Not only will the shoes help you avoid damage from the environment such as sticks or glass on the ground. They will also stop any foot problems that have been starting to happen due to poor shoe choices as long as it is not to late to recover that easily.

For people who just cannot find shoes that are shaped to fit their feet, no amount of breaking in will change the fact that the shoes are not appropriate for their feet. Perhaps, they simply have feet that are not shaped the same way as the feet that average shoes were designed to fit. These and other foot problems can be addressed with a good pair of orthopedic shoes.

Orthopedic shoes are ideal for people who have overly wide feet. Many times, people with feet that are somewhat wide can find shoes in the regular shoe stores that come in wide or extra wide widths. Men's shoes and women's shoes alike can be purchased from catalogues that specialize for people with wide feet. However, you might have feet that are exceptionally wide. It may be a natural state or it may be due to any number of medical conditions. In any case, orthopedic shoes can be made especially for you based on the measurements of your feet.

Arch support is a tricky subject. Many people with flat feet do not like the feeling of wearing anything with arch supports. Yet, proper arch support will make them feel stronger and cut down on the pain they experience as they walk and stand throughout the day. Orthopedic shoes can be fitted to provide just the right arch supports that will not feel unnaturally high to the person with flat feet. At the same time, the arch supports will add strength to the foundation the person stands on. Orthopedic shoes can be fitted to any height of arch from flat to high. Everyone needs good arch support.

If your problems with your feet are very painful, it is best to see a doctor to rule out serious conditions that would require medical treatments or surgeries. If the doctor determines that you need orthopedic shoes, you will be sent to get them. Doctors sometimes go into great detail on a prescription for the orthopedic shoes, and other times, they give a simple note and a referral to an orthopedic shoe store. At that point, it is up to you to follow through and get the orthopedic shoes that you so need.


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