Category: Health

Making it Back into a Running Routine After Physical Therapy

(The following article was contributed by Tim Johns)

I had been exercising on a regular basis, at the local YMCA for five months when a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go on a run with her. I usually did cardio in the gym on a machine, then did weights. I thought “Sure, why not?” She said we would go for a two mile loop. Since I had been doing cardio and weights for those months prior, I though I could surely handle that distance.

Upon returning from our run, she turned to me and said “We actually just did three miles — just so you know.”

I was surprised (that I had actually made it without having to stop to walk!) and excited that I had made it that distance! She told me that I seemed I was doing fine at two miles, so she took me on the longer tour through the neighborhood. I told my friend two things – that she was sneaky, and thank you!

After that day I started running more frequently and enjoying it immensely. I was finally burning off post baby weight (that I’d had for four years), building muscle tone and it seemed like my body was really showing it. I decided to sign up for a 5K race, which I loved. There were thousands of people and the atmosphere was amazing. The feeling of crossing the finish line was awesome. I then did a 10K race, which was harder but amazing as well to complete. The final leg of the series was a 10 mile race which I decided to sign up for. Four days before the race, I injured my knee and was unable to run.

Disappointment. Sadness. Frustration. Even a feeling of relief because I’d never run that distance in its entirety.

Three weeks of physical therapy. Three weeks of not running. Three weeks of not working my entire body to get the results I was striving for. It was still exercise, working my muscles, but it was not the same experience for the two hours that was devoted each session as at the gym.

I noticed that I was still as hungry as I was (more frequently while running) during the three week time frame. I was still eating as much as had been while running and it was hard to eat as healthy as I had been, probably due to feeling a tad depressed. I noticed my pants fitting a bit tighter after week two. I knew I had to begin watching my calorie intake, not snack with the kids as much, and watch my meal portions for the rest of the time I would be waiting to get back into a running routine.

Even after the physical therapy visits ended at the clinic, I was required to maintain the stretching and exercises to keep the healing process going. I could only walk for another two weeks. Then do a half mile of running with walking for a week, gradually building up distance over many weeks.

Patience, patience, patience. It did pay off and I am now back into a running routine. After three months I am still building up my distance and pace, but my knee is functioning properly and I am thankful I did not need surgery. By the way, my pants are fitting nicely (I may even need to shop for a smaller size in a few weeks…).

Running When You Have Ulcerative Colitis

The following is an opinion piece written by Susan Garrick, who has suffered from ulcerative colitis for many years.

When you have ulcerative colitis, there are better ways to exercise than running.

I am a big believer that exercise helps alleviate the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. There are a few exceptions to that belief. I don’t believe that all exercises were created equally when it comes to them benefiting someone with ulcerative colitis.

Here are some of my experiences and advice for running with ulcerative colitis.

In my experience, running is one of the worst exercises that I have ever tried. I think it is because running is a high impact exercise. It seems that when I tried running, I had some serious stomach pain and cramping. I guess it is because running jiggles the intestines and digestive tract.

I tried running on the sidewalks in my neighborhood. I tried running on a rubberized track. I tried running on my treadmill. I tried running on a clay track. None of these options worked in my case. I guess running is running no matter where you run.

I am sure that there are some out there who have ulcerative colitis who are able to enjoy running without problems. Personally, I have not met anyone with ulcerative colitis who enjoys running. Most of the people that I know who have ulcerative colitis enjoy low impact exercises such as walking, swimming, yoga and even weight lifting.

I feel that I must give you a word of caution here. Running is considered an exercise program so, you should check with your health care professional before you start running. In some cases, you will become overheated when you run. With some medications used to treat ulcerative colitis, it is not advisable to become overheated.

It is also important to remember that during a flare up, getting overheated or doing strenuous exercise will inhibit your recovery. It could even make you feel worse. As an ulcerative colitis sufferer myself, I know that feeling worse during a flare up is the last thing that is desired.

I guess that you just have to try things like running and other exercises for yourself to see what actually works for you and your ulcerative colitis. It is like that with most aspects of dealing with this condition. What works for me may not work for you.

Heart Related Causes of Chest Pain While Running

Many people have taken up running in an attempt to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Inexperienced runners may cause their own chest pain through irregular breathing, improper form or even lack of proper breast support.

It can happen to the old and the young alike. There are a wide range of potential triggers. While most are non-serious, chest pain while running should never be ignored. The pain may not be due to a serious cause; however, there are some very serious heart related causes of chest pain that may be experienced while running.

We’ll go over a few of these serious causes.

1. Heart Attack

Heart attack is the most serious of all heart related chest pains experienced while running. A heart attack is most often caused by a blockage of the blood flow through the coronary artery. The coronary artery supplies blood to the heart. The interrupted blood flow can cause damage or death to part or all of the heart.

Symptoms that indicate your chest pain while running may be a heart attack include shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, increased or excessive sweating, unexplained exhaustion, dizziness and pain that radiates to the arm, neck and jaw. If you have any of the above symptoms along with chest pain while running, seek immediate medical attention. While waiting for medical personnel to reach you, sit down and chew some aspirin. It is recommended that heart attack victims chew at least 160mg. This amounts to half of a regular strength aspirin. Aspirin may prevent death or reduce the severity of the heart attack.

2. Angina

Angina is a symptom of a bigger problem, coronary artery disease. The pain from angina is caused by a narrowing of at least one of the coronary arteries. This narrowing causes a reduction in the supply of blood that reaches the heart and its vessels. Angina causes chest pain while running because as you do more physical activity, the heart requires more oxygen. Because angina has caused the pathways through the coronary artery to become narrow, it is more difficult for enough oxygen to get to the heart.

Angina is a relatively common complaint. The symptoms of angina are shortness of breath and severe chest pain. People describe angina as feeling like pressure, heaviness, squeezing, tightness or someone sitting on their chest. Placing nitroglycerin tablets under the tongue is the most common treatment for angina. If symptoms worsen or the nitroglycerin tablets seem to be ineffective, the drug can also be administered through an IV at a hospital. Other medications that may be used to treat angina include aspirin, nitrates, beta blockers, statins, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors or Ranexa.

3. Aortic Dissection

An aortic dissection is what killed actor John Ritter in 2003. Aortic dissection is a tear in the innermost lining of the aorta. The aorta is the main blood vessel branching off the heart. The aorta supplies blood to the major organs of the body including the brain, lungs, kidneys and intestines. Even a small tear in the aorta will cause it to stop working properly. A tear in the aorta causes bleeding into the middle layer of the vessel. This can cause the two layers to dissect, or separate. This interrupts the blood flow to the vital organs of the body. If the dissection ruptures and blood escapes the outer aortic wall, death usually results.

If medications are not given to dilate the arteries before they rupture, internal bleeding can occur. Eventually, the entire body will shut down and die. Symptoms of an aortic dissection include fainting, shortness of breath, pain that spreads to the shoulders and abdominal cramping. The best immediate treatment is to lay the person down flat in an open space. This will help as much oxygen as possible to pass through the body. Prompt medical treatment is imperative for survival.