Naperville Chiropractor – Elite Performance Institute http://elite-performance-institute.com Naperville chiropractor Dr. Brian Damhoff DC MS works with a variety of musculoskeletal conditions using Active Release, chiropractic and sports rehabilitation. Thu, 27 Jun 2019 05:00:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 http://elite-performance-institute.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cropped-Logo-Color-Change-32x32.jpg Naperville Chiropractor – Elite Performance Institute http://elite-performance-institute.com 32 32 A Case in Point to Improve Long Jump at Sectionals http://elite-performance-institute.com/2019/05/18/a-case-in-point-to-improve-long-jump-at-sectionals/ http://elite-performance-institute.com/2019/05/18/a-case-in-point-to-improve-long-jump-at-sectionals/#comments Sat, 18 May 2019 19:08:04 +0000 http://elite-performance-institute.com/?p=1499 Let’s face it, hosting a track and field sectional is tough work. From weather to facilities to workers, there are a lot of moving parts to make it a success. But, more importantly than making it successful is giving the kids the best chance to advance to state. This blog is not to hate on Read more about A Case in Point to Improve Long Jump at Sectionals[...]

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Let’s face it, hosting a track and field sectional is tough work. From weather to facilities to workers, there are a lot of moving parts to make it a success. But, more importantly than making it successful is giving the kids the best chance to advance to state. This blog is not to hate on anyone but rather to serve as a case study to hopefully help other sectionals give long jumpers the best chance to qualify for the state meet. There is no shame in hosting a sectional at a school other than yours. In fact, that is the best thing you can do if you don’t have the facilities.

We competed at the 3A Boys Sectional at Ottawa. I thought their coaching staff was very nice and they did a good job of managing the meet. They obviously didn’t read Tony Holler’s blog on how to host an amazing sectional (no live results?) but they had workers at every field event and they ran smoothly. As a jumps coach I always survey the facility. What I noticed right away were 3 things:

1. No long jump boards

2. We had a mild crosswind with a slight tail but because of the condition of the sand on one side, long jump could only go one direction

3. The runway slightly sloped uphill the direction we were going

Long Jump

You may not think it really matters but when you play a game of inches, everything needs to be taken into account. Can you long jump well at a facility like this? Yes. Is it probable? No. In fact out of 29 guys jumping, only 1 guy managed to set a season PR and that jumper happened to be my guy. He placed 3rd place with a jump of 21’1” and missed 2nd place and state by 3 inches. This article isn’t written because I’m bitter that he missed state, I’m not. I’m bitter that 28 guys jumped an average of 17.25 inches below their PR in weather that was perfectly acceptable to jump well in (78 degrees, muggy, light wind). I’m bitter that only 1 guy hit the qualifying standard and our sectional is only sending 2 guys to the state meet.

Let’s compare to some of the other 3A sectionals:

Ottawa 1 out of 29 PR

DGN 9 of 25 PR

SCN 14 of 23 PR

Proviso East 12 of 15 PR

Niles West 5 out of 28 PR

Buffalo Grove 8 out of 24 PR

Bloomington 5 out of 26 PR

Guilford 1 out of 21 PR

Lyons 8 out of 19 PR

Bloom 13 out of 30 PR 190

If you take out the Guilford (I wonder what their jump pits looked like?) and the Ottawa sectional, out of 190 jumpers in 3A (minus the York sectional which hasn’t uploaded results to athletic.net yet), 74 of them set PR’s at their sectionals. That’s 38.9% of all the long jumpers that jumped in 3A that set PR’s. At Ottawa, only 1 out of 29 set a PR. That is significant.

I’m 100% a proponent of giving kids the best chance to advance to state. If you have a sub-par jumps facility, I wouldn’t recommend raising your hand to host the sectional or I would strongly suggest hosting at a great facility. I would read Tony Holler’s blog on how to host an amazing sectional. I would consult other coaches as it’s always good to have a second opinion. Next year, we host the sectional and I can’t wait to put on an amazing sectional and if we don’t, I hope that everyone holds our coaching staff accountable. At the end of the day, we have a responsibility to make track and field as awesome as we can for the athletes. Please keep that in mind.

-Dr. Brian Damhoff

Boys Jumps Coach Plainfield North High School

Twitter @drbriandamhoff

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Feed the Cats for Jumpers http://elite-performance-institute.com/2019/01/30/feed-the-cats-for-jumpers/ http://elite-performance-institute.com/2019/01/30/feed-the-cats-for-jumpers/#comments Wed, 30 Jan 2019 19:54:39 +0000 http://elite-performance-institute.com/?p=1442 Coach Tony Holler coined the term “Feed the Cats” 20 years ago and 5 years ago, I had the opportunity to start coaching alongside Coach Holler as his jumps coach. In those 5 years, my coaching style has been revolutionized. I came to a lot of realizations and my own realizations revitalized my coaching and Read more about Feed the Cats for Jumpers[...]

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Coach Tony Holler coined the term “Feed the Cats” 20 years ago and 5 years ago, I had the opportunity to start coaching alongside Coach Holler as his jumps coach. In those 5 years, my coaching style has been revolutionized. I came to a lot of realizations and my own realizations revitalized my coaching and even my own long jumping career. My style of coaching jumpers co-exists beautifully with Feed the Cats and the results speak for themselves. If Feed the Cats is a new term for you, then please spend a weekend, or two, to read Coach Holler’s blogs which contain a wealth of knowledge that can turn around your program.

When I came to Plainfield North, my coaching style was the same style as I had been coached in high school and college. I loved repeat 200’s/ high volume, lifting weights and working really hard every single day. I had been a hard worker my whole life so naturally, this style of coaching really fit what I loved to do. When I was hired, Coach Holler told me about his program and I immediately thought it needed more volume to be successful. I could not have been more wrong.

To give you a little of a backstory, I grew up in a very small Midwest town, Fulton, IL. We had one coach for the entire team and we ran A LOT. I can’t remember ever sprinting full speed in practice. A sprint practice consisted of a 800m warm-up followed by static stretching then running lots of repeat 200’s or 300’s or variations of that. After that we would do our technical events. Practicing for long jump consisted of my coach holding a broomstick out and saying jump over it. The training seems so silly now but back then, I thought that was great training. Despite the training, we had a great 4×4 that looked to be the team to beat after running the top time in prelims at the state meet in 2004. That is until we got beat in the state finals by Harrisburg, coached by, you guessed it, Tony Holler. They ran 3:21.37 to take the win after barely squeaking into the finals placing 3rd in their prelim heat. I wonder what Coach Holler said to inspire his guys for finals? I know I’d run my heart out in a 4×4 for Coach Holler.

My high school best in long jump was 18’7″ which on my team at Plainfield North wouldn’t even be top 10. I miraculously was allowed to be a walk-on at a small Division 2 school where I upped my best to 19’11”. College training was a lot harder than high school. It was a lot more structured and I started to get actually long jump technique work for the first time in my life. However, we ran a lot of repeat 200’s and a lot of volume. Which, of course, I loved because I loved working hard. The greatest thing for me about college track and field was that I fell in love with the sport and my passion has never stopped to this day.

I continued to compete post collegiately and have jumped over 19 feet every single year since. If I can jump 19 feet this season, it will be my 15th straight year of long jumping at least 19 feet. I jumped 19’10” at the age of 30. And, last year at the age of 32, I jumped 19’5.5″. My best jump as a sophomore in college was 19’6″ and 13 years later, I was jumping the same. “Old guys” are not supposed to jump this far but Feed the Cats for jumpers works even for old cats like myself.

Feed the Cats for jumpers is super simple. I minimize the amount of jumping we do but increase the focus. Fast guys don’t always jump far but getting faster makes guys jump farther. Here are some general guidelines that I abide by in Feed the Cats for Jumpers:

Jumpers are always sprinters first.

Most coaches are doing too much volume in their jumps work.

You can’t do quality LJ/TJ approach work after a hard workout.

Don’t coach your jumpers like they are Olympians.

Use Freelap data to determine appropriate LJ/TJ marks.

No walk-in starts for LJ/TJ

Use as much video as you can.

Send as much video as you can to your jumpers.

Don’t beat up your triple jumpers.

Simple is better.

Focus on what your jumpers do right.

Don’t let tired jumpers jump.

Create a culture.

Keep records.

My #1 priority is to make my jumpers as fast as they can. Increasing speed increases jumping. If I had to pick between sprinting and jumping for a day, I would 100% pick sprinting. I believe that sprinting fast in training also leads to runway consistency and hence not having to do nearly as many run-throughs as coaches think they need to do. If your jumper has runway inconsistencies, they are probably just not a good sprinter in terms of acceleration and running at top speed. I never let athletes walk-in for an approach because we don’t practice acceleration that way. Instead, all my athletes use a 2-point start which we practice all the time. I see the most inconsistencies in approach work with my young guys who are the least polished sprinters. If you look at their Freelap times, you will see that they have a lot of variation in their times hence their inconsistencies and not a “bad mark” as I have heard coaches say.

Freelap times also help me determine how far a guy should run on their approach for long jump or triple jump. I don’t count steps like some coaches. I’m not saying it is wrong to do, I just don’t care. I know my sprinters speed numbers really well so I give them an appropriate distance in feet to start from when we are first finding a mark. Then, using video, within 2-3 approaches, they are on the board and good to go. Some athletes are really fast accelerators with not as good of top speed. Those athletes don’t need their approach to be 100 feet away or they will decelerate on their approach. Finding the optimal approach distance for the athlete is important. It isn’t an exact science but Freelap data certainly helps so use it to your advantage.

We only jump 1x week for each event. Typically we do long jump and triple jump work on the same day so you would only be jumping 1x for the week. A good day to do approach work would be on a fly day. I will let the jumpers do 2 out of the 3 flies and then they will head over to the runway. As I mentioned earlier, we don’t do any more than 2 or 3 full speed approaches for long jump and triple jump in a practice. If it is just a technique day for long jump or triple jump, I can pair that with any day in Feed the Cats other than our lactate work. I always try to jump early in the week to maximize recovery before a meet. The entire sprint workout and jumps practice takes an hour and 15 minutes. Lactate day is the perfect day to pull my high jumpers out of the workout to do technique work. I find high jumpers to be the laziest cats out of the bunch and with those amazing mats to nap on, it makes sense. Lactate workouts are quick which means if you have space constraints like us, it really opens things up to allow you to get some work in for high jump.

My practices for long jump and triple jump take 15-20 minutes max. I only have my jumpers do 2 drills for each. I think there are lots of great long jump drills but pick ones that focus on the most important things such as takeoff mechanics, posture, penultimate, etc. For long jump, we do what I call the “Mario drill” and a half approach take-off drill. The “Mario drill” is just a simple penultimate drill (first video below). The half approach take-off drill (second video below) is just working on the penultimate and really focusing on take-off mechanics and posture. In triple jump, the 2 drills we do are a standing triple jump and a half approach going through phases without landing. The standing triple jump drill we really focus on pushing out initially and pushing force into the ground through the phases. The half approach drill I look at posture, foot positions, etc. Simple is better. I video nearly everything and make sure that the athletes don’t get tired. My favorite thing to do is have everyone do a drill and then we get together as a group and I let them analyse it. It is a beautiful thing to watch. I very rarely cue any sort of changes to what they do in the air and how they land. I don’t teach hitch kick or hang glide. I focus on the essentials.

With my high jumpers, I do a few more drills than with long jump or triple jump but nothing complicated. I do a lot of 5-step jumps at lower heights because we are forced to jump on a slick gym floor. Every jump is more individualized drill wise for high jump. For some, I may play the numbers game, others may work on knee drive, whatever one error I think is most vital to getting them to jump higher is where we spend our time. I give the most mat time to my best high jumpers but that doesn’t mean my other high jumpers aren’t learning. They are active participants in the video analysis and at meets, if I’m over at long jump, they coach whoever is high jumping. I never let my high jumpers jump tired in practice.

Tim Winder, pole vault coach at North Central College, gave me some wise advice regarding cueing athletes in practice. I find that a lot of coaches overcue their athletes. I love to observe good coaches in action and I like listening to how they talk to their athletes. Coach Winder told me for a regular athlete, give them no more than one cue, for a good athlete, you can give them two and for a truly elite athlete, you can give them three cues. How many of you have watched one of your guys jump and then told them about 5 things they did wrong? Instead of telling my athletes what they did wrong, I like telling my athletes what they did right, especially in a meet environment. Nothing good comes from making an athlete overthink something.

One of the most important components in Feed the Cats is creating a culture. It’s no different when it comes to the jumps. We call ourselves “Flight Club.” I make Flight Club t-shirts that only the jumpers get. We have a GroupMe jumpers chat which I use to communicate the gameplan, send videos of jumps I see on places like Instagram or Twitter, post what our competition jumps at meets, etc. After every meet, it is mandatory for them to reflect on something positive about their performance in the group chat. Last year, we had the majority of early season outdoor meets get canceled so we put on our own in-house long jump competition. We had a Bluetooth speaker blasting music, everyone got a clap when they jumped and the atmosphere was absolutely electric. We had 11 guys jump over 18 feet, myself included, and 7 guys set new personal records. Flight Club had never had a better day.

Feed the Cats for Jumpers works unbelievably well and I can attest to that in so many ways. It allows your athletes to sprint as fast as possible as often as possible while staying as fresh as possible while still getting in the necessary technical component of the jumps. Stop beating your jumpers up with unnecessary volume and instead take a minimal approach with maximal effort. Use video, give your athletes full recovery and only do what is most important. Your jumpers will be happier, less injured, able to complete all sprint work and they will perform like true cats in the jumps.

Feed the Cats

-Dr. Brian Damhoff DC MS

Jumps Coach Plainfield North High School

Twitter @DrBrianDamhoff

Email: briandamhoff AT gmail.com

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5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Health http://elite-performance-institute.com/2019/01/01/5-easy-ways-to-improve-your-health/ Tue, 01 Jan 2019 14:53:20 +0000 http://elite-performance-institute.com/?p=1426 There has never been a better day than today to improve your health. Healthcare costs continue to rise in the United States with no end in sight. A staggering 88% of American’s are metabolically unhealthy (study) and 50% of American’s are overweight (study). These numbers are not trending in a good direction. American’s are getting Read more about 5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Health[...]

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health

There has never been a better day than today to improve your health. Healthcare costs continue to rise in the United States with no end in sight. A staggering 88% of American’s are metabolically unhealthy (study) and 50% of American’s are overweight (study). These numbers are not trending in a good direction. American’s are getting busier and busier yet more sedentary. It is essential to use your time efficiently as we are being tugged in multiple directions. Here are five easy ways to improve your health that don’t require making lots of extra time in your day.

  1. Listen to Podcasts
  2. Walk When You Usually Stand
  3. Eat in a 10 Hour Window Every Day
  4. Eat More Vegetables
  5. Perform Posture Exercises

Listen to Podcasts

Humans have never had more access to knowledge than in the age we live in now. I don’t even bother listening to the radio when I drive my car anymore. Instead, I listen to podcasts. I’m a huge fan of Joe Rogan’s and Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s podcast. I typically spend about an hour total of my day in my car and it used to be a pretty non-productive hour. Now, it is an hour filled with information. Knowledge is power!

Walk When You Usually Stand

My neighbors probably wonder if I’m crazy but any time that I am cooking in the kitchen, I walk circles. Motion is the lotion for life and the more you can move, the better! I walk during times I would normally just stand such as cooking, talking on the phone, watching videos on YouTube, listening to podcasts, etc. Any opportunity I get, I walk.

Eat In a 10 Hour Window Every Day

Time-restricted feeding shows tremendous promise in a profound amount of ways for your health. And, it isn’t nearly as hard as you think it will be. You should aim to eat in a 10-hour window so if you have breakfast at 8 am, you need to have your last bit of food for the day at 6 pm which is very feasible. As soon as you consume anything other than water, it starts your feeding window. Dr. Rhonda Patrick, who I mentioned above, is a large proponent of time-restricted feeding. She had a recent podcast with Dr. Satchin Panda that covers the topic in-depth. A key study on time-restricted feeding in mice demonstrated:

  • Decreased body fat
  • Decreased glucose intolerance
  • Decreased leptin resistance
  • Decrease liver pathology
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Increased motor control

Eat More Vegetables

We all know that vegetables are good for you. We all don’t eat enough. You don’t need to eat like a rabbit to eat more vegetables, just add them to what you’re already eating. In the ideal world, you cut out processed carbs and replace it with vegetables but I know for most people reading this, that would be a hard thing to do. So add vegetables to your smoothies, mix them in with your regular meals. Try to eat lots of different colors. Try different vegetables and find out what you like and don’t like. You may be like me and not like eating vegetables solo but if I mix them in with other food that I’m eating, I enjoy them. Eat them any way that you can!

Perform Posture Exercises

I can’t emphasize enough how important posture is biomechanically. Our bodies just function much better with good posture. I’m a big fan of doing posture exercises whenever I can. When I brush my teeth, I always do some triplanar dynamic hip flexor stretching. The way I see it is you have 3 minutes 2 times a day where you can do something productive or stare at yourself in the mirror. I’ll also do chin retractions while driving my car. Both of these require adding zero time to your day. I also think that any sort of thoracic mobility exercises are important. You may have to add a minute or two to your day to do these but you’ll get a lot of value from a biomechanics perspective by doing them.

-Dr. Brian Damhoff DC MS

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How to Run With Perfect Running Form http://elite-performance-institute.com/2018/10/30/how-to-run-with-perfect-running-form/ Tue, 30 Oct 2018 15:00:59 +0000 http://elite-performance-institute.com/?p=1399 Want to know how to run with the perfect running form? My advice is simple, don’t! Say what? If you are looking to read another boring article that gives a bunch of running tips that you try to emulate without success then, you are in the wrong place. If you are looking for an article Read more about How to Run With Perfect Running Form[...]

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Running Form

Want to know how to run with the perfect running form? My advice is simple, don’t! Say what? If you are looking to read another boring article that gives a bunch of running tips that you try to emulate without success then, you are in the wrong place. If you are looking for an article that may change your mind on what you have thought of as far as running mechanics are concerned, then please continue on. As a high school track and field/cross country coach for the past 11 years and working as a chiropractor that sees a large number of runners, I have performed countless running form assessments.

A perfect running form is not necessary. Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest human of all time, has anything but “perfect” running form but his form is perfect for him. Researchers at Southern Methodist University, experts on the biomechanics of sprinting, found something unexpected during video examination of Bolt’s stride: “His right leg appears to strike the track with about 13 percent more peak force than his left leg. And with each stride, his left leg remains on the ground about 14 percent longer than his right leg.” You can read the full NY times article about Bolt’s abnormal stride but it makes you wonder if Bolt had been forced to run “perfect” would he still be the world’s fastest man of all time?

Another example of why you can run without “perfect” running form is a study (pictures below from the study) from the men’s and women’s 2017 USATF 10k. The biggest takeaway from this is that “Performance is not different between footstrike types.” That is a HUGE statement. I’ve heard 1,000’s of times that you need to run on the balls of your feet or you should not overpronate or this or that. That is not to say those cues might be appropriate for a certain athlete. However, I think that giving cues based loosely on a general consensus of what constitutes good running form is a poor way to analyze a runner. Some of the fastest runners in the world overpronate and if they did not, they would not be some of the fastest runners.

Running Form

Running Form

When I perform a running analysis, whether in my office or at the track, there are a lot of things I just flat out do not worry about. There are some things that I do worry about. My disclaimer, as always, is that what is right for one athlete is not always right for another athlete and it is very hard to make broad generalizations on what is right for you without 1-on-1 contact. I think that it is important for a runner to get their form analyzed by someone who knows running. So what do I look at when I do a running analysis? Here are the 5 main things that I look at:

  1. Posture
  2. Overstriding
  3. Crossing Over Midline
  4. Excessive Backside Mechanics
  5. Hip Weakness

Posture

The cue I really like for runners is running tall through your pocket. From a biomechanical perspective, if you do that, it will take care of a lot of the potential issues in the running gait. I also like it because the less an athlete thinks about form when they run, the better. This cue is simple and concise, my favorite type of cue. I find a lot of runners have read to have a forward lean while they run and they try to emulate that by bending at the waist and not staying tall through the pocket. This shortens the hip flexors and can shut off the glutes putting you in a poor position biomechanically. While having a forward lean is a running cue with good intentions, it is a very poor running cue for most runners. Very simply, nothing good comes from poor posture.

Overstriding

Overstriding means that when the foot hits the ground, it hits in front of the hip. Almost everyone who overstrides is a heavy heel striker and as a result, they have extended ground contact times. They will also have a low running cadence. The “optimal” running cadence is 180 but be careful, much like running form, running at the optimal cadence might not be right for you. Overstriders often present clinically with a high hamstring tendinopathy. I always preach that the foot can hit any way that it wants to as long as it is under the hip and the above pictures do a good job of reinforcing that concept. However, if someone is a massive overstrider and changes their gait so they do not overstride at all, they often change too much and become injured.

Crossing Over Midline

When someone has a weak gluteus medius, one of the direct compensations is a running gait where the individual crosses over the midline when they run with their feet. The glute med provides a lot of hip stability when you run. I find that in distance runners that have weak glute meds, as they increase mileage, they become frequently injured. This is the type of patient that presents with IT-band syndrome, lateral knee pain or peroneal tendonitis. They are generally a little bouncy when they run and have a low running cadence. Strengthening up your glute meds will be more useful than a running cue to not cross the midline if you are a runner that crosses the midline.

Excessive Backside Mechanics

As a former excessive backside runner myself, I know how hard it can be to fix or as I would say, better this error. Simply put, frontside is anything that occurs in front of the hip, backside is anything that occurs behind the hip in terms of your legs while running. Excessive backside mechanics are the people who bring the heel towards the butt and elongate the time you spend in backside. Backside people are usually bouncy runners with a low cadence. As you can imagine, bouncy means not efficient and more prone to injuries. Of utmost importance to backside runners are increasing frontside mechanics. Frontside mechanics are very beneficial in terms of efficiency and injury prevention. I like wickets for increasing frontside mechanics.

Hip Weakness

Hip weakness goes hand in hand with several of the above discrepancies that I have described. The more miles you run, the more hip strength you need. Strong hips, specifically glute meds, are one of the best injury prevention tools in the game in my opinion. In terms of hip weakness, you will notice excessive movement in the hips throughout the running gait. This may present with “knee knocking”, side to side motion, upper body rotation or other biomechanical discrepancies as well. Much of these errors can be corrected through specific strength work for the hips.

-Dr. Brian Damhoff DC MS

Dr. Brian Damhoff DC MS is a chiropractic physician and owner of Elite Performance Institute in Naperville, IL. He currently coaches track and field/cross country at Plainfield North High School and works with the Northern Illinois University track and field/cross country program as the team chiropractor.

 

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Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite http://elite-performance-institute.com/2018/08/01/hiking-half-dome-in-yosemite/ Wed, 01 Aug 2018 23:41:30 +0000 http://elite-performance-institute.com/?p=1326 “Half Dome was perfectly inaccessible, being probably the only one of all the prominent points about Yosemite which has never been and will never be trodden by human foot.” – Josiah Whitney, describing Half Dome in 1868 If only Josiah Whitney had been able to experience what I got to experience, hiking Half Dome in Read more about Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite[...]

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“Half Dome was perfectly inaccessible, being probably the only one of all the prominent points about Yosemite which has never been and will never be trodden by human foot.”

– Josiah Whitney, describing Half Dome in 1868

If only Josiah Whitney had been able to experience what I got to experience, hiking Half Dome in all its’ glory. A 16-mile magical journey that traveled through magnificent forests, past waterfalls I could only imagine in movies and climbing 5,000 feet to one of the best views of the valley. Half Dome exceeded every expectation I had, or could have had, coming in.

To start, you need a permit to hike Half Dome. There are 2 ways to accomplish this, the early lottery (which I wasn’t successful in) or a lottery 2 days before (which I was successful in). There are only around 250 permits that are given out per day. I started the hike bright and early at 6:15 am partly to avoid the massive amount of people coming into Yosemite and partly to make sure I had enough time to complete the hike. I boldly predicted I’d complete the 18-mile hike (added on 2 miles to the parked car) by 2 or 3 pm. Little did I know what I was in for!

Half Dome

The start of the journey

I started off on the Mist Trail which began innocently enough with some mild elevation gain on a nice paved trail. The slight elevation gain was enough to get the heart pumping bright and early in the morning. As I proceeded along the trail, I got my first view of a waterfall that for lack of better words didn’t look real. A little further along and I was treated to magnificent up-close views of Vernal Fall’s. I have never been to Ireland or Scotland but I felt like this waterfall belonged there. As you went up the right side of the waterfall, you were greeted with about 1,000 stairs just to get those quads firing. The Mist Trail lived up to its’ name as I was treated to a light cool mist from the waterfall that simply felt amazing on a warm day.

Vernal Falls

Just a little farther along the trail was my favorite waterfall of the whole entire trip, Nevada Falls. Along the way, I met a couple of hikers who had lost the trail and a little hope. I had packed along the trail map just in case and I was able to navigate all of us back onto the correct trail thankfully. There are very few markings on the trail and although it is well traveled, there were a few places that you could have gone the wrong way by accident. Nevada Falls is something that I can’t explain in words no matter how I could try. It was easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve been on this earth and I savored the moment. As you can see from the picture below, the beauty is simply stunning!

Half Dome

My favorite picture of the trip and my favorite waterfall

After the beautiful scenery of back to back waterfalls, the next part of the trail got a little more boring by comparison. I continued to rise in elevation and at this point, I was starting to feel the effects of hiking at elevation in some warm weather. It was about 85 degrees in the sun and about 70 in the shade by the river but this section was almost all the hot portion. I stopped several times to catch my breath as the switchbacks and the rocky terrain became very tedious as I ascended towards the base of Half Dome. I was glad that I had packed along some Nuun tablets to replenish the electrolytes that I was sweating off from the gradual climb.

Half Dome

As I approached the base of Half Dome, I got some preview views of what was to come of the scenic valley which was definitely some great motivation to keep pushing. Finally, I reached the ranger that would grant admission, with proof of our permit, to the restricted Half Dome area. The difficulty of the hike did not disappoint because, after that checkpoint, I reached the toughest part of the climb. It became immensely steep and it was non-stop switchbacks, that would challenge even the most aerobically fit humans, from here to the base of Half Dome. I was breathing pretty hard and had to take frequent breaks at this point but I continued to press forward.

Half Dome

400 feet straight up to the top of Half Dome, intimidating!

Finally, I reached the base of Half Dome! However, getting to the base of Half Dome and looking up at it was the most intimidating aspect of the climb. When I saw it, I immediately second-guessed myself and thought, can I really do this? The trail goes literally almost straight vertical ascending into the sky and you have some cables that look like they are from the 1800’s to hang onto and pull yourself up. However, everyone told me that it was easier going up this portion of the trail then it was on the switchbacks that I had just completed. I took a break and sat down to eat my lunch while watching people ascend the face of Half Dome. As I was sitting, I heard a noise and saw a 32 ounce Nalgene water bottle come tumbling down the Half Dome route like a Plinko chip on the Price is Right. Thankfully, the water bottle fell innocently to the ground but it could have easily injured someone or ripped someone off the Half Dome cables.

Half Dome

Sweatiest hands I’ve ever had taking a picture!

I summoned up my courage and decided it was time. I grabbed ahold of the cables and began my ascent up the side of Half Dome. I was surprised to find that what people had told me was true, it was actually much easier than it looked……..as long as you didn’t look down. You would pull yourself up and then when you got to one of the horizontal boards, you would rest. At one of the resting spots, I decided to do something risky, take a picture. Never had I been more nervous in my life to drop my phone so the few pictures I snapped on the way up didn’t quite do it justice. I was really glad that I had bought some gloves the day before at a hardware store and they definitely helped going up and down the cables.

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On top of Half Dome and feeling like I was on top of the world!

Finally, at 12:30 pm, 6 hours after we started, we made it to the top of Half Dome. The space up top was actually huge. The views were literally out of this world! After a long and tedious hike, I got the glory of seeing the valley in all its beauty from one of the top vantage points in the park. You could see literally forever at the top and I gained a new appreciation in my heart for the beauty of Yosemite National Park. After enjoying the views up top for almost an hour, it was time to do the hard part, go back down.

Half Dome

Thankfully, the way down went much faster than the way up. However, despite bringing a full gallon of water in my pack, I was running short on water and really had to conserve it. I thought a gallon would be more than enough but with the heat and tedious nature of the climb, I went through more water than I expected. I would advise bringing more if you make the hike yourself during the summer. On the hike back, I was able to soak in the beauty of everything the trail had to offer one more time. I certainly enjoyed my time at the beautiful waterfalls a second time. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was how my quads/knees felt like after climbing 5,000 feet in elevation and then coming back down. I ended up making it back to the parking lot around 5:00 pm just missing my estimate of 2-3 pm.

Overall, hiking Half Dome was a once in a lifetime experience. It took just as much mental effort as physical. I saw people from all walks of life, old, young, athletic, overweight, etc make it to the top. Don’t ever feel limited or intimidated that you yourself can’t make this climb as long as you put your mind to it and come prepared. As always, my recommendation is don’t look at pictures on the internet, get out there and do it! Whether that’s Half Dome at Yosemite National Park or going to a local state park, get outside, be active, enjoy life!

Half Dome

-Dr. Brian Damhoff DC MS

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Sleep While You Are Alive http://elite-performance-institute.com/2018/06/07/sleep-while-you-are-alive/ Thu, 07 Jun 2018 12:52:26 +0000 http://elite-performance-institute.com/?p=1300 “Sleep is the greatest legal performance-enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting.” “Humans beings are the only species that deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent reason.” -Matthew Walker The more we learn about sleep, the more we realize that it is one of the most vital things we do as humans. I recently Read more about Sleep While You Are Alive[...]

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sleep

“Sleep is the greatest legal performance-enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting.”

“Humans beings are the only species that deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent reason.”

-Matthew Walker

The more we learn about sleep, the more we realize that it is one of the most vital things we do as humans. I recently listened to a Joe Rogan podcast with sleep expert Matthew Walker, professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California in Berkeley (author of “Why We Sleep” which you can check out here). I was blown away by the amount of awesome data and statistics that he presented. Dr. Walker estimates that 1 out of every 2 in the United States are not getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep. If you want to watch or listen to the full podcast, you can do that here.

Here are some incredible stats relating to athletic performance:

  • If you’re getting 6 hours of sleep or less, your time to physical exhaustion drops by up to 30%
  • Lactic acid builds up quicker the less you sleep
  • The ability of your lungs to expire CO2 and inhale oxygen decreases
  • The less sleep you have the lower your peak muscular strength, lower your vertical jump height, and lower your peak running speed
  • A 60% increase in the probability of injury comparing people who get 9 hours of sleep a night to those who get 5
  • Your stability muscles fail earlier when not getting enough sleep

Not enough to convince you to start sleeping more yet? Here are some more stats:

  • After 20 hours of being awake, you are as physically and cognitively impaired as you would be if you were legally drunk
  • Every 30 seconds, there is a car accident linked to lack of sleep, drowsy driving kills more people on the roads than alcohol or drugs combined
  • One study found that, with one week of 6 hours of sleep per night, 711 genes were distorted in their activity
    • Half of those genes experienced an increase in activity – these were genes related to the promotion of tumors, genes related to chronic inflammation, and genes associated with stress (and therefore cardiovascular disease)
    • Half of these genes were suppressed – many of these were genes related to immune response, so we become immune deficient with a lack of sleep
  • If you’re dieting, but not getting sufficient sleep, 70% of all the weight you lose will come from lean muscle, not fat – our body becomes resistant at giving up fat when it’s underslept
  • Men who sleep 5-6 hours a night will have a level of testosterone 6-10 years their senior
  • With 14 days straight of 6 hours sleep or less, your cognitive performance nosedives, and with no sign of leveling off
  • People sleeping 4-5 hours a night will on average eat 200-300 extra calories each day (70,000 extra calories each year which translates into 10-15 lbs. of body mass)
  • Insufficient sleep is the most significant lifestyle factor for determining whether or not you’ll develop Alzheimer’s Disease
  • One study sleep-deprived individuals for one night (to 4 hours of sleep) – they experienced a 70% reduction in critical anti cancer-fighting cells (natural killer cells)

Here are some debunks for some common sleep myths:

  • We can’t use naps to regain sleep we’ve lost
  • The shorter your sleep on average, the shorter your life
  • The number of people who can survive on 6 hours of sleep or less, rounded to a whole number, and expressed as a percentage of the population is 0
  • You don’t know you’re sleep deprived when you’re sleep deprived
  • Less sleep does not equal more productivity
  • Dr. Walker estimates that if you pull an all-nighter, and then are allowed to sleep as long as you want the next night, you’ll sleep longer but you’ll only get back 3-4 hours of that lost total 8

Why school’s should think strongly about pushing back start times:

  • One school shifted start times from 7:25am to 8:30am, average SAT scores rose 212 points
  • One study documented a school which shifted school start times from 7:35am to 8:55am – this resulted in 70% reduction in car crashes the following year

Stats from Podcast Notes

How much could healthcare costs be cut by having everyone sleep at minimum 8 hours per night? How much better of an athlete or a student could you be if you sleep 8 hours per night? Do you want to live a longer more productive life? I can’t answer these questions but you can. Make sleep a priority in your life and the dividends will be worth it. Sleep while you are alive, not dead.

-Dr. Brian Damhoff DC MS

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Adventuring at Zion National Park http://elite-performance-institute.com/2018/01/02/adventuring-at-zion-national-park/ Tue, 02 Jan 2018 00:46:49 +0000 http://elite-performance-institute.com/?p=1204 After 3.5 years of working without taking more than 1 day off at a time, I decided it was time for a vacation. And, what would a vacation be without an adventure? I eagerly scoped out places of interest when I stumbled upon Zion National Park. Let’s just say it was love at first sight! Read more about Adventuring at Zion National Park[...]

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After 3.5 years of working without taking more than 1 day off at a time, I decided it was time for a vacation. And, what would a vacation be without an adventure? I eagerly scoped out places of interest when I stumbled upon Zion National Park. Let’s just say it was love at first sight! I found a great website that had every bit of information I would need to make my trip a success. After meticulously planning for months, the day finally came!

We started at Zion National Park on a beautiful, brisk morning. When we drove in the previous night, it was dark and we had no clue that we were tucked in a valley of immense beauty. We ate a large breakfast bright and early then traveled into the park. In fact, when we entered the park, we were confused because there wasn’t anyone at the booth to take our money (we came back later for the sunset and happily paid our $30). As the sun came up, we looked around in awe at what we were about to hike, Angel’s Landing.

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Starting on our way up to Angels’ Landing

Angel’s Landing, appropriately named, is a 5 mile round trip hike that features a 1,500 foot elevation change. It’s not for the faint of heart. As we begun to climb on the trail, we couldn’t help but stop every 5 minutes to take a picture of the beautiful scenery. We remarked how quiet and serene it was. It was nice to pause and hear the flow of the Virgin River in the background. It reminded me of listening to one of those relaxation tapes, so calm and peaceful. As we ascended on the initial switchbacks, I think we both realized that we had our work cut out for us. We kept glancing ahead not knowing exactly where the trail would go. That made it even more exhilarating as we climbed upwards into the unknown.

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The serene Virgin River in the canyon floor

The trail flattened out some after a series of switchbacks and we dived into the mountainside only to find more switchbacks! These switchbacks are known as Walter’s Wiggles and feature a 250 feet elevation gain over 21 switchbacks. They definitely got the heart pumping and the calves firing! Once we reached the top, we were thinking that we were at the top of Angel’s Landing. However, this point, known as Scouts Lookout, was just the beginning of the hardest part of the ascent, the last 500 feet.

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Walter’s Wiggles switchbacks, great workout!

Intimidating. That’s the word I would describe the trail from Scouts Lookout to the top of Angel’s Landing. Make a false move and it’s a 1000+ foot plunge (I googled this before the trip and found out this has happened on 5 occasions in the past, yikes!). Thankfully they have a chain for you to help pull yourself up as you climb up the adverse and steep terrain. We caught up to a group and quickly became friends. It’s amazing how friendly people are when climbing! We stopped several times on the final ascent, one to take pictures and two to catch our breath as it was anything but easy.

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Intimidating to say the least, the last stretch of Angel’s Landing!

Finally after a long and treacherous hike, we reached the top of Angel’s Landing. I don’t think I can properly describe the beauty in mere words. Hopefully my pictures will do it partial justice. Surprisingly at the top, I looked at my phone and it had cell phone service after not having service all day. So, I sat on the edge of Angel’s Landing basking in the beauty and called my mother. I know it meant the world to her and I’m glad I got to call her. We relaxed for awhile at the top and soaked it all in. It was just unbelievable!

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The views on top of Angel’s Landing were out of this world!

Hard to believe but that was our first of 4 hikes for the day! After a short break to recharge after our descent, we went on to tackle the Emerald Pools Trail. The Emerald Pools are basically pools surrounded by some of the world’s greatest scenery. The trail was a lot less strenuous, especially in terms of elevation changes, which helped our tired legs. There’s an upper, middle and lower pool and all are distinct and uniquely beautiful. My favorite was the middle Emerald Pool because it featured awesome waterfalls! The trail was a little slick because of the water so you had to watch your footing. But, I would say the pools would be a relatively easy hike for anyone who visits Zion.

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Emerald Pool’s

When we were on top of Angel’s Landing. Our group of friends we had made told us that we had to check out the Weeping Rock. We recharged a little bit and headed that way next. We were expecting something really awesome but perhaps we were just spoiled by the beauty from earlier. When we reached Weeping Rock, we weren’t blown away like we were at the previous two destinations. Don’t get me wrong, it was still beautiful! Weeping Rock was essentially a free shower by nature where a flowing stream travels over an area of rock that is cut out like a bowl. It made for a cool picture!

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Weeping Rock

After that, it was time for our last hike of Zion National Park, the Canyon Overlook Trail. This short hike led to one of the best views at Zion, especially with the sun setting. There was a large group of people out here all trying to do the same thing we were trying to do; get some beautiful shots of the setting sun casting light on the canyon! I got a little adventurous here and went off the trail. However, I came scampering back to the trail area after a couple of swift canyon gusts made me chilled to the bone. It was really awesome and a little bit scary at the same time to hear the wind swirling through the canyon. The wind sounded like it was out of a movie! As the sunset, I reflected on my magical day at Zion National Park and was full of gratitude for the opportunity life presented to me.

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Canyon Overlook Trail, what an awesome place to sit and enjoy!

I truly hope that this post inspires you to live out your adventurous side. We have become so wrapped up in our technologically advanced world that we forget, reading this blog and looking at these pictures, is nothing compared to the real thing. Nature was made to be admired. Whatever it is you aspire to do, do it, don’t wait or the opportunity may be lost. I can’t wait till my next adventure! Any ideas?

Zion12

 

-Dr. Brian Damhoff DC MS

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Easy Tips to Eat Healthier http://elite-performance-institute.com/2017/06/20/easy-tips-eat-healthier/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 00:40:29 +0000 http://elite-performance-institute.com/?p=1135 Do you want to eat healthier? You’re not alone. On my new patient intake forms, one of the questions that I ask is what are your health goals. By far and away, the most common goal I see listed is to eat healthier and lose weight. I hear all sorts of reasons for why people Read more about Easy Tips to Eat Healthier[...]

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Do you want to eat healthier? You’re not alone. On my new patient intake forms, one of the questions that I ask is what are your health goals. By far and away, the most common goal I see listed is to eat healthier and lose weight. I hear all sorts of reasons for why people aren’t eating healthier: it costs too much, I don’t have time, I’m not sure what to eat, it’s not convenient for my lifestyle, etc. Maybe you’re reading this right now and have your own excuse in your head. So I’m going to do my best to give you some easy tips to eat healthier that you can incorporate into your lifestyle right now!

Make Better Breakfast Choices

To me, there’s no better breakfast, and more convenient, than to make a healthy smoothie in the morning. For those who aren’t a big fan of vegetables, a smoothie in the morning is an easy way to sneak in some undetected vegetables. Breakfast can be tricky because of marketing tactics but don’t be fooled, there’s no such thing as a “healthy” cereal. There are plenty of other healthy options but when I make my smoothie in the morning, it takes me less than 3 minutes and I can take it out the door with me and drink it as I drive to work. I change up what I put into my smoothie but generally the format follows:

eat healthier smoothie

6 oz Water

Banana

Spinach (very generous handful)

Berries

Hemp Protein

Scoop of Peanut Butter

That particular smoothie keeps me full from 6am until I eat lunch around 11:30am and it tastes great to me. You can switch up what you want in the smoothie but always make sure you include some veggies!

Avoid Eating After Dinner

The most common time of day for people to eat crap (technical term there) that they shouldn’t is after dinner. Are you a chronic post dinner chocolate eater? Let me guess you have good intentions of only eating part of the chocolate bar and then you end up eating the whole thing. Do you sit in bed eating cookies binge watching Netflix before you go to bed? There are many bad choices you can make. Don’t be an offender, cut out the crap after dinner and you will definitely be a healthier eater.

Don’t Use Busy as an Excuse

I often hear I’m too busy to eat healthy. It takes me about 8 minutes to prepare a quick and easy healthy dinner. I put whatever meat my heart desires along with a bunch of vegetables into a pan and 8 minutes later, I have a piping hot, healthy meal. Yet all these people who don’t have time, stop at a drivethru after work, and end up spending just about the same amount of time as it takes me to prepare a healthy meal while spending 2-3x more than it would to eat at home. Eating healthy is too expensive you say?

Other Additional Tips

-Eat more vegetables, please

-There isn’t a 100% right or wrong way to eat for anyone

-There are no magic supplements to make you lose weight

-Don’t get burned out on a particular diet

-The less ingredients something has the better

-Try not to eat out of boxes or cans

-You can’t eat healthy out of the microwave

-It’s ok to have a cheat meal, just don’t turn it into a cheat week

-Make sure you’re exercising on a regular basis

-Dr. Brian Damhoff DC MS

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Strategies For Sitting http://elite-performance-institute.com/2017/05/09/strategies-for-sitting/ Tue, 09 May 2017 18:54:00 +0000 http://elite-performance-institute.com/?p=1116 Let’s face it, we all know that sitting is not good for us. However, the majority of people living in the United States work jobs that require you to sit for most of the day. I have a lot of patients who work these types of jobs that come in for low back pain, neck Read more about Strategies For Sitting[...]

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Let’s face it, we all know that sitting is not good for us. However, the majority of people living in the United States work jobs that require you to sit for most of the day. I have a lot of patients who work these types of jobs that come in for low back pain, neck pain, shoulder issues, etc. Although I can see clearly that sitting is affecting their biomechanics and a cause of their pain, I can’t say just stop sitting. So if you do work a job that requires a lot of sitting, what can you do? Here’s some tips for you:

sitting

Maximize Your Workstation Biomechanics

Is your computer monitor set up so you don’t have to look up or down at it? Does your chair have good lumbar support? I recommend a McKenzie lumbar roll if your chair doesn’t have good lumbar support. Do you have proper support for your elbows? Do you have a headset for the phone? Do you sit on your wallet? That’s a big no no! There’s lots of little things that you can do that will make a big difference biomechanically.

Sit With Good Posture

The key here is to sit with good posture as much as you can. If anyone tells you that it’s possible to sit all day long with perfect posture, they’re a liar. When you add in the stressors and pressure of working various desk jobs, it’s impossible to sit with good posture. The most common things I see are anterior head carriage where your head is forward too much, forward rolled shoulders and too much lumbar flexion. So do your best to sit with good posture for as long as you can throughout the day!

Move When You Can

Take the long way to the bathroom or printer. Take a walk on lunch even if it’s only for 10 minutes. Have a phone meeting? How about walking around your office while you talk! Find a reason to get up every hour or more frequently and just move. A new thing I’ve seen is the standing desks but even with a standing desk, sedentary is sedentary. The more you sit in the same position, the more you put chronic tension on your tissues leading to injuries.

Do “Anti-Sitting” Exercises

Whenever I have someone that works a desk job, I give them what I call anti-sitting exercises to help counter the effects of sitting. These include exercises to promote thoracic extension and mobility, open up the chest, open up the hip flexors, turn on the glutes, etc. I recommend doing these exercises every single day. The way injuries from sitting occur is that it’s not a single incident that causes the pain. Instead, it’s an accumulation of microtrauma that causes the injury. I’ve created a playlist on my YouTube channel that has videos of some of the anti-sitting exercises I give to my patients, check that out here.

-Dr. Brian Damhoff DC MS

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5 Tips to Improve Your Running http://elite-performance-institute.com/2017/03/06/5-tips-to-improve-your-running/ Mon, 06 Mar 2017 10:00:42 +0000 http://elite-performance-institute.com/?p=1003 Who doesn’t want to improve their running? I’m in a unique position of being a high school track and field/cross country coach and a chiropractor so needless to say, I see runners all day for a variety of issues. I’m often asked by my patients and my athletes I coach, what can I do to become Read more about 5 Tips to Improve Your Running[...]

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Who doesn’t want to improve their running? I’m in a unique position of being a high school track and field/cross country coach and a chiropractor so needless to say, I see runners all day for a variety of issues. I’m often asked by my patients and my athletes I coach, what can I do to become a better runner? Here are my top 5 tips to improve your running.

  1. Running Tall
  2. Recover Better
  3. Get Your Form Checked
  4. Don’t Let Little Things Become Big Things
  5. Just Breathe

Running

Running Tall

I wrote a previous blog about this one. Simply put, the best running cue I could ever give someone is to run tall. A lot of poor biomechanics and habits can be fixed by this simple cue. If you run with poor posture, it can shut off a lot of the correct muscles and lead to not only injuries but poor running economy.

Recover Better

Sometimes we forget that rest is as important if not more important than the work. Are you sleeping at least 8 hours a night? Do you eat the correct nutrition? Are you recovering on your recovery days and running an appropriate pace? Nick Symmonds runs 8 minute miles on his recovery days and has a PR in the 800m of 1:42.95. I see a lot of people who sleep 5 hours a night and live on coffee, if that’s you, you’re not adequately recovering. Do you think you can eat whatever you want because you’ll just run it off? If so, then you’re not recovering properly.

Get Your Form Checked

As a coach, I find a lot of athletes aren’t even aware of their poor form. Perhaps you have a bad mechanic or two and don’t even realize that. Over time, bad mechanics lead to injuries not to mention you will run slower than you’re capable of. Luckily for you, a lot of the local shoe running stores have running form clinics that could be very useful. A lot of coaches are very good about checking form as well so it may be worth investing a little money to get your foam analyzed. I offer running analysis at my office and I send you the videos and analysis afterwards so you’ll always have it.

Don’t Let Little Things Become Big Things

I often see individuals that come into my office and say, well it started months ago and it just kept getting worse and I just kept running on it, but now it’s gotten to a point where I can’t run at all. There are a lot of little things that can ultimately become big things and set you back. Consistency is one of the most important factors to improving running but if you’re consistently injured, you can’t progress. Half of my job as a high school coach is to make sure little things don’t become big things. We do lots of foam rolling and self myofascial work for the little injuries that seem to pop up. We also do a lot of strength work and corrective exercises.

Just Breathe

Learn how to breathe, seriously! If you don’t breathe with your diaphragm, the way we were designed to breathe, you’re not able to get as much oxygen in your lungs. And, last time I checked, that’s kind of important in running! Your diaphragm also integrates directly into your core. Think of your core as a box, the diaphragm is the lid for that box. A strong, functional core will go a long ways towards improving your ability to run and staying injury free.

-Dr. Brian Damhoff DC MS

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