Ankle sprains, AKA rolled ankles, have got to be one of the most common injuries out there. They can happen in the most innocuous situations, like stepping on an uneven surface, or during sports that require cutting and landing. The words “walk it off” are synonymous with ankle sprains. Get up. It’s nothing serious. Back to business.
I get the sense that most people that sustain an ankle sprain do not seek any guidance from a physiotherapist. It might swell up nicely for a day or two, but then you limp around and manage to get on with your life. What you might not appreciate though, is that ankle sprains have a high recurrence rate due to the residual effects of the initial injury. Things like ligament laxity and damage to the neural and musculotendinous tissue around the ankle can inhibit complete recovery. This can present as weakness, poor balance, and slower muscle response to load. You might not notice these deficits when you are walking around, but they do make you susceptible to re-injuring the area. This is why I always advocate for getting any old rolled ankle assessed by a physiotherapist.
Want to know what kind of exercises are appropriate for you? Or have you sprained your ankle before and feel things are not quite right? You can book an appointment with me here!
We’re back again for the latest in my series on strength training for endurance athletes!
I’ve written previously about how and when strength training should be used in a nuanced way- it’s not as simple as ‘strength is always good!’ Check it out: here, here, here and here.
Now, the next question: is there a downside to strength training? Time costs aside, are there risks or detrimental aspects to including strength training in your quest to be a better endurance athlete? That is what I am taking a quick look at in this article.
First and foremost, based on my previous articles, we know the goal of strength training is to improve our running economy without losing any other components of why we run well. However, it’s not as simple as ‘build power, go faster;’ it’s about how you maximize your power-to-weight ratio.
The other consideration is that if you put on muscle mass, the ratio of the density of blood vessels carrying oxygen to the muscles vs. the volume of muscles they supply goes down – once again, hurting endurance performance.
The key with this is that higher rep, lower weight exercises don’t seem to give the same boost in performance that high weight, low rep strength work does. The flip side to this is that low rep exercises are what builds mass – something we don’t necessarily need to be faster. So, what’s the balance?
Welcome back to my series on strength training and endurance sports. My last article looked at strength work and cycling economy- which was way back in June. I have a good excuse though: the birth of my daughter, Adeline Delanghe!
I would like to say “now that her sleep is normalizing blah blah,” but that simply is not the case. Instead, I’m just getting better at squeezing stuff in, which hopefully will result in more science of training articles for you all!
In any case, if you haven’t already, please review the first three articles in this series. The idea is not to give you a cookie-cutter, magical answer on how endurance athletes should utilize strength training. Instead, this is meant to introduce you to some of the nuances in the science, and how to decide if, when, and how much resistance training you should do.
To add to the above, today’s article will take a look at another parameter of endurance performance- lactate threshold.
Strength Training and your Lactate Threshold (LT)
What is your LT? This is essentially the exercise intensity at which lactate accumulates in the blood faster than it can be removed. This is the “breaking point” so to speak between low and high-intensity work.
While V02max is important, having a high lactate threshold is crucial in endurance performance. The higher the lactate threshold is as a % of your V02max, the harder the effort you will be able to sustain for long periods of time. We don’t race at our V02max, but we do spend lots of time in and around our lactate threshold!
While V02max is a popular thing to measure and be proud of, as we have noted before, somebody with the highest V02max doesn’t always win the race, especially in running. As we discussed, this is in large part due to exercise economy. However, this is also seen when somebody has more effectively trained their lactate threshold despite not having the same max oxygen-consuming ability. In other words, having a slightly lower V02max that’s good enough, and a very highly trained LT can allow you to beat a competitor with a higher V02max.
V02max is the ceiling, and we want to max it out, and then get our LT as close to it as possible to be at our best!
In the article on strength training and running economy, I explained how 8-12 weeks of 2-3 sessions/week is required to see any change. Heavy weight, low rep exercises seem to trump plyometrics and high rep exercises. On top of this, masters and female runners are more likely to be responders. I also discussed how simply running more, if you are a low volume runner, should be the first step in trying to get faster (of course there are other benefits to strength training if you are thinking beyond speed).
Now, since there are so many multisport athletes who read this column, I thought I would address how strength training impacts cycling economy specifically. Surprisingly, the relationship isn’t quite as clear!
Intuitively, you’d think it would almost be the opposite in the minds of most- that strength training would be more helpful to cycling than to running. It kind of makes sense to speculate that cycling requires more powerful, larger muscles to smash big gears, while running requires light legs and next-level cardio. Therefore, lifting weights should help cyclists more, right? Wrong!
When we look at studies like THIS ONE, we see that cycling economy isn’t something that’s nearly as difficult to develop as running economy. As studies like this one show, runners with no cycling training tend to have pretty good cycling economy, while cyclists have horrible running economy. Cycling economy isn’t hard to train, but running economy is!
That’s also why we see that V02max is a great predictor of longer cycling event performance, while V02max does not do a great job of predicting running performance.
So when we look at the studies on strength work and cycling economy, we get mixed answers.
Welcome back to my series on strength training for endurance athletes. Last article took a look at the role (or lack there of) of strength training and our ability to consume oxygen.
That being said, we still know that strength training does have a positive impact on performance in endurance athletes. The caveat: it has to be the right type of athlete, with the right type of deficiency conducting it at the right time in training.
So how do we decide how and when to implement strength training? Learning the science of how it impacts us helps to guide these decisions in the best possible way. This series most definitely is not a clear-cut, quick-fix answer, nor is it remotely all inclusive. The more you learn, the more you will realize there is to learn! Heck, I went to school for 8 years after high school in human-physiology related fields followed by 10 years in working and coaching in the field- and I definitely still feel like the more I learn, the more confusing it can become at times!
That being said, the more information you arm yourself with, the more you will be able to start to tell the difference between pseudoscientific advice and real, efficient and effective performance-boosting advice. Our next step toward this direction: How it impacts our exercise economy…
It’s been a while! Life has been insanely busy the past couple months. You might have noticed on my social media feeds that I have moved my physiotherapy practice to join forces with Delanghe Chiropractic & Health/Health & Performance. Pumped for what this opportunity will bring!
So what’s on the agenda today? In honour of a few patients I have seen recently for a variety of running related injuries, we will be addressing the question: do injured runners run differently?
I will be drawing from an article by Christopher Bramah published in 2018 that looks at this very issue. He compared healthy runners (no reported injury in over 18 months) to injured runners to see if there were any run gait characteristics that were predictive of current injury. He specifically looked at the four most commonly cited soft tissue injuries in the running population: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, Achilles Tendinitis.
You might not have heard of these conditions before, but you have probably experienced them. Here is a quick breakdown of what each of these injuries involve in the simplest of terms:
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS): pain around the patella, aka the knee cap at the front of the knee
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS): pain at the outside of the knee
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS): AKA Shin Splints (the bane of my existence for many years), pain around the inner part of the bottom 1/3 of the shin.
Achilles Tendinitis (AT): pain at the Achilles tendon.
I have to say, it’s always pretty neat when the findings of a study are similar to what you experience clinically. After analyzing the running biomechanics of the injured and non-injured study participants, Bramah’s team found that the injured runners presented with:
These are pretty important to note because they can actually exacerbate your injury by adding stress to the already injured tissues. Talk about adding insult to injury!
I do have to acknowledge that not every runner is the same. There are some runners that are FAST, have a wicked hip drop, and are totally functional. But as a physiotherapist, it is good for me to keep in mind that these running traits are often present with an injured runner.
What are the implications?
If you are a runner dealing with any type of injury, come in and get assessed. The weather is warming up and nothing is more of a bummer than not being able to get out there and enjoy it.
I do not believe that all runners should run the same way. However, I am not opposed to tweaking your run form to help iron out some of these movements patterns. Gait assessments are a great way to get a second set of eyes on your run form and see if there is anything we can adjust with cueing.
On top of running tips, I always give some homework to help you move better. I typically assign a short list of exercises that are targeted to your concerns – all business, no filler.
Don’t let nagging injuries keep you on the couch! Let’s work together to get you back out there! Click here to book now
How long until we officially race again? I would say probably at least a few weeks, wouldn’t you? While I’m sure many of you miss toeing the line, there are some positives. For instance, one of the best ways to take advantage of this extended offseason is to work on weaknesses that are normally tough to address.
Constantly acting in A-race mode, followed by tapering, followed by recovering can definitely result in short term spikes in performance. But often the long term, gradual development is sacrificed.
A great way to take a swing at improving your baseline ability to perform is a full strength program. However, it is not as logical to include when in close proximity to an A-race. If you’re anything like me, you’ve thought of introducing more strength work throughout the pandemic. If you’re not like me, you’ve actually done it- good for you, you jerk!
The questions that I get fromthe team on this topic are endless. I have written about the topic in short before such as here. However, I thought it was finally time to take a deep dive into strength training for endurance athletes.