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Discover the difference between muscle soreness following exercise activity and pain you should be concerned about in “Do I Have A Problem?”.  Jeff Tirrell gives advice for women on optimizing performance  and Mike O’Hara discusses training priorities for those over forty.

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Very Short Term Running Preparation

I was recently asked by a fitness client to post exercise recommendations that would prepare her for outdoor distance running.  This person was two weeks away from being out on the road, running two or three miles a day.  She is middle aged, has a prior history of lower back pain, and her goal was to lose fifteen pounds and “tone up”.   Given such short notice, these are my recommendations.

Perform soft tissue work on a daily basis.  Foam roll the legs and use a lacrosse ball on the plantar fascia.  The vast majority of overuse injuries in runners happen in the lower legs and feet.  Attempt to unwind the myofascial distress created by 600-700 foot impacts a mile.

Improve your reciprocal hip pattern–one hip goes back and the other goes forward.  Most general fitness clients have glaring deficits on one side.  Perform some split squats, posterior lunges, step ups, and or walking lunges.  If you struggle with these activities, I would reconsider running as a fitness activity.

Wake up your gluteals.  Every day, perform fifty or sixty bridges, hip lifts, or leg curls.  You need super gluteal strength / endurance to run distances and avoid lower extremity injury.  If your butt gets sore from fifty bridges, you need to do them more often.

Running is a skill and most recreational runners need some practice.  Running hills will improve gait mechanics, enhance hip extension, and decrease deceleration forces.  Find a fifty-yard hill.  Run up the hill and walk back down.  Perform five hill runs.

You are always better to run too little than to run too much.   Start with very short runs– no more than half a mile.  Increase your total weekly mileage by no more than five percent a week.

You can’t do this in two weeks, but this is my big recommendation to all future runners.  Lose the extra weight before running.  As a method of fat loss, distance running has a poor track record.  It tends to elevate the hormones that make you hungry, and physiological adaptation to distance running happens fairly quickly.  Extra adipose makes you far more likely to develop a running related injury.  I know the guys and gals you see running miles and miles every day are lean.  Please remember that lean runners are successful with running because they possess the optimal body mass to run long distances.  They did not start heavy and become lean.  Put a fifteen pound weight vest on that guy or gal and everything will change.  Their gait will lose efficiency and become less graceful.  The extra fifteen pounds of load creates the biomechanical overload that makes them much more likely to suffer an injury.

My final recommendation is that you not become disappointed if you develop pain.  A runnersworld.com poll conducted in 2009 revealed that 66% of respondents reported a running related injury that year.  The statistics indicate that one third of the participants at you local 10k fun run will require medical attention for a running related injury over the next year.  Have the good sense to stop when the pain begins.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

My buddy Denna works exclusively with clients who have the primary goal of losing body fat.  She sent me a research article from the journal Obesity*.  It was impressive in that it followed the waist circumference of over 10 thousand men for twelve years.  In the world of research, twelve years and 10 thousand subjects are impressive.

The results of the study are important in that they clearly show that one form of exercise is more effective at preventing the most unhealthy type of fat deposits.  The men who performed resistance training exercise gained far less belly fat than the men who performed cardio-based exercise.  The cardio group gained nearly twice as much abdominal area fat as the weight trainers.

The tape measure is more important than the scale.  A larger waistline is a bigger predictor for premature death than overall body weight.  Higher risk levels kick in for men with a waistline greater than 40 inches and women with a waistline greater than 35 inches.  Researchers have found that even patients who would be considered at normal weight faced far greater risk of death if they had a large waist.

Since the mid 1990’s, we have known that body fat is not just an inert form of stored energy that Mother Nature created to carry us through a famine.  Body fat is an endocrine organ that secretes hormones that turn genes on and off in cells throughout the body.  Visceral fat, the kind stored in and around belly, is the hormonal driver of metabolic syndrome, the precursor to diabetes, elevated blood lipids, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease.  What this study demonstrated is that we can fight back by training to develop the muscle mass that fights off the hormonal effects of fat deposits.

To read the findings, click on the link below:


-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS


Volume 23, Issue 2, pages 461-467, February 2015. Mekary, R. et. al.