Endurance Athletes: Injury Prevention and Performance Enhancement

Howdy folks!

So, I am giving a talk to a group of runners this week.  Our subject is the role of strength training and cross training and how to avoid injury and improve performance.  Since endurance sports are some the easiest to participate in with busy schedules hampering our ability to join team sports, this is a very important subject for all of us.

When participating in endurance sports, strength and conditioning with cross training is of paramount importance.  With endurance events, motor patterns are performed thousands of times.  Think of your foot strike when running or your stroke when swimming. These highly repetitive motions are going to lead to imbalances of one kind or another.  There are the ways to correct those and keep your body healthy and feeling great for the next event.  Here is the big picture and my major tips to follow for strength and conditioning (without regard to the training of the sport itself):

Stabilization:  Joints need to be in sound stable condition to be able to do the thousands of repetitions that move our bodies over land or water.  The neuromuscular system of the ankle, knee, hip complex along with the shoulder and shoulder girdle should be able to balance and support us in unstable environment in multiple planes of motion for us to perform injury free.

How?  Perform exercises in an unstable environment.  A bosu, single limbed, balance boards, and even cushions and pillows are ways to create this with normal every day strength training exercises such as pushups, lunges, and squats.

Planes of Motion:  The body has three basic planes of motion: sagittal (front/back), frontal (side to side), and transverse (twisting).  In order to move our bodies through space (locomotion), each joint has it’s favorite way to move.  In endurance events, with so much of the same repetitions of movement for the muscles surrounding these joints occurring, the muscles and tendons may become inflamed or neuromuscularly shorten because of this repetition (even if movement is as mechanically optimal as possible).  Doing exercises that move the body in the opposite planes for each of these muscles will give them a fresh stimulus and keep them from having the aforementioned issues.

How?  For all the classic movements, simple do a version that moves a different direction than usual.  Ex, the side lunge or curtsy lunge.  Side to side pushups.  Pulls and throws in different directions for upper.

Core:   “You can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe!”  This is the best quote to exemplify why we need core strength.  The rest of your limbs cannot function optimally if they are pushing off of an unstable body.  The core, as we are going to define it, is made up of the deep muscles that support the spine and the pelvis.

How?  Positions that challenge your body to hold that position are best to isolate these deep muscles.  Planks, leg raises, and standing rotation are all example of exercises that try to force your body to change position while your stabilizers have to work to keep it.  However, the most forceful contractions in these muscles occur in our heavy, full body lifts.  Squats, deadlifts, presses, pulls, and weighted gait movements accomplish this.

Posterior chain:  The posterior chain is made up of the muscles starting at the back of your head and ending at the bottom of your feet.  Since these all work together neurologically for locomotion, I like to think of them as one big muscle.  These muscles are primary in moving us whether running, biking, or swimming.  Heavy low volume work on these muscles will give them strength for pulling you across land or water.

How?  Simple-The hip hinge exercises (deadlifts, stiff legged deadlifts), and pulls with a challenging weight for 5 or less repetitions for 3 or less sets each exercise.

Flexibility:  Last but certainly not least is flexibility.  As muscles move in short ranges of motion with very high repetition, the neuromuscular system begins to think that these muscles need to be short.  Also, the tendons around the muscles can have inflammation as well as wastes from the high level of activity.  Certain muscles, especially the ones most active can become tight and cause mechanical disadvantages leading to injury.

How?  Full body stretching with mindful attention toward the shortened muscles.  Use both static, dynamic, and contract/release techniques as well as myofacial release (foam rolling, massage).

Happy running, biking, and swimming!

Jason Root, CSCS

Eating Paleo

Hey everyone, welcome and happy February!

We’ve heard a lot in the past years about the Paleo Diet.  It is healthy?  What’s the premise behind it?  What are the rules?

Here’s another one from the folks at Precision Nutrition. I very much respect the work at Precision Nutrition and will be using their articles quite a bit in this blog.  The company is run by educated scientist with research based information.  So, this article can help clear some things up.


So again for our summary for those of you who just want the Cliff’s Notes version:

On processed foods, esp w/ flour/sugar: NO

On beans/legumes (which traditional Paleo doesn’t like):  All good

On meat:  Wild/Grass fed

Gluten:  If you don’t have celiac disease and eat whole grain

Dairy:  Small amounts and grass fed

Eat LOTS of fruit, veggies, nuts, and lean meats!

I hope we have given some great info and helped you out a little today.  Don’t forget to mix in some chocolate on Valentine’s Day!

Jason Root, CSCS

Picking Healthcare and Preventative Healthcare Practitioners

Happy Thursday!

So, I ran across this cool TED video.  Dr. Leana Wen points out some things that are very wrong in medicine and have some needed fixes…specifically what you should know about your doctor (or any practitioner).

Now, of course, I am on the preventative health/human performance side of the fence.  But, the concepts are the same all around.  Before picking a kinesiologist, physical therapist, PCP, specialist, psychologist, dentist, chiropractor, osteopath or any other person who’s going to work on your health, check out this video and ask these questions and for transparency.



Jason Root, CSCS

Vibration Therapy

Hey everyone!

Today’s blog is on vibration training.  What is vibration training?  Some of you may have been in a gym or rehabilitation facility and seen a large platform that people stood on and did exercises.  These platforms vibrate at varying frequencies and amplitudes for varying goals and varied persons.  They vibrated very fast and in multiple directions.

By vibrating very fast, when a person’s weight is on the platform, the muscles surrounding the joint with the most load (or tension) will experience the vibration.  The cells within the muscle are rubbed together by the vibration stimulating all these cells.

So, what are they used for?  What are the benefits?  Vibration plates are excellent for low level non-impact exercises for a variety of reasons.  Reasons one may use one of these are as follows:  DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)/Recovery, neuromuscular stimulation, building/maintaining bone density, balance/stabilization, decreased spasticity in those with neuromuscular disorders.

Who should use them?  Anyone recovering after an exercise bout, anyone trying to gain the benefits of low level weight training in less time and effort, anyone wanting to increase their balance, those wanting to increase/maintain bone density, those with neuromuscular disorders.

Who should not?  Those with bone damage (breaks, compressions) before full healing or osteoporosis.  In cases of osteopenia, caution should be used.

Here is some good research if you are interested in more detail on this:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=vibration+therapy

Have a great week!

Jason Root, CSCS


Hey everyone!

So, lately I’ve had a few questions from patients with cardiac problems regarding salt intake.  Doctors will recommend low sodium.  But, most doctors don’t know “how” to do this.  Where is the sodium?  Do I have to stop using table salt?  What should I avoid?  Well, here’s an article put out by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) on this topic:    http://www.cdc.gov/salt/food.htm

Summary:  Most of our salt intake is from restaurant food, packaged food (for flavor and preservatives).  Curbing added salt from table salt will make some difference if trying to avoid the problems of having too much sodium (high blood pressure, CV disease, systemic low pH balance): http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/sodium-health-risks-and-disease/

But, it’s the processed foods and additives that hit us the hardest.  Also, add Mg and K to your diet to balance our electrolytes for better heart health.

Thanks!  Have a healthy Wed!

Jason Root, CSCS

Tactical Strength and Conditioning

Tactical Strength and Conditioning is one of the programs we have that help the community the most.  We train policeman, fireman, military personnel, and martial artists in how to have the most functional strength for those occupations so that they can keep all of us safe.

The training is a mixture of body weight, traditional strength, non-traditional strength*, high heart rate cardio-respiratory training, with balance and stability all structured for less injury and optimal results.

Here’s my demo for an example and some fun!


Usually using awkward weighted equipment (ie. sandbags, tire flips)


Low carb controversy!

Hey everyone.  So, there’s a lot of bad info out there on low carb.  I very much respect the work at Precision Nutrition and will be using their articles quite a bit in this blog.  The company is run by educated scientist with research based information.  So, this article can help clear some things up.

Here’s the article: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/low-carb-diets

Summary.  Low carb  in itself is not needed.  However, much of our carbohydrate sources are from processed sugars and flours which does have an inflammatory and fat storage effect.  So, whole food sources of carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, potatoes, whole grain rice, nuts, etc) are important to include in our eating while cereals*, breads*, pasta, pies, cakes, and other goods with refined flour and sugars will have a negative effect.  Also, eat enough protein! (.7g/lb of lean body mass/day is a good baseline).

*variable depending on ingredients

Hope this was informative!

Jason Root, CSCS

Sports Make You Happy!

Most of you know that I like the site the Chive.  It represents positivity, fun, well being, and gratuity.

If any of you have ever heard me say, “Recreation is more important than workouts.” here is why.

It’s not exactly a journal entry or scientific study.  But, it’s fun and supports our cause.