Congrats to Elevate Runner Claudia Lane!

Claudia Lane recently won first place in the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championship, completing a 5k run in only 17:04.8! Congratulations on an amazing finish, from the entire Elevate team!

More photos from the race and all of the finishing times are posted on the Foot Locker National Championship website.

Dec 10, 2016; San Diego, California, USA; Claudia Lane (41) crosses the finish line and wins the Girls Milesplit Foot Locker National Finals at Balboa Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-348782 ORIG FILE ID: 20161210_ter_rb5_057.jpg

San Diego, California, USA; Elevate runner Claudia Lane (41) crosses the finish line and wins the Girls Milesplit Foot Locker National Finals at Balboa Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Rethinking Movement: Why You Should See A Physical Therapist Every Year

Screenshot 2015-05-30 22.32.38Why is it that superbly fit athletes can find themselves in as much back, knee, or neck pain as their flabby fans, who sit at desks all day long then watch sports from overstuffed sofas?

“When you do an activity over and over again, your body adapts to that activity,” warns Dr. Shirley Sahrmann, professor emerita of physical therapy at Washington University School of Medicine. “If you play tennis, your arm gets bigger on that side; if you do karate you get adaptations in your hip and leg. Even if you just sit, you lean, you slump, your neck goes forward.” Either your body fails to build up musculature to support itself, or it overbuilds certain muscles and throws off the symmetry your skeleton craves.

That’s why Sahrmann wants to see an annual physical therapy exam become as routine as a dental checkup. “We go to the dentist twice a year and spend thousands to straighten our teeth, and all we do with them is eat and talk. Meanwhile the rest of our body’s just hanging out there.”

People think of PT as something generic their doctor orders after an injury, she says. But by analyzing the way you walk, bend, sit, and carry yourself, physical therapists can prevent injuries and head off future surgeries and chronic pain.

“Kids don’t sit correctly, they slump, so they wind up sitting on the middle of their back,” she says. “We have these little bones on our bottom where we are supposed to sit and keep our spine erect. When you slump, the muscles get stretched out, and they’re not going to function optimally.”

A temporary phase? Maybe. But “bones adapt to the alignment that you keep them in,” Sahrmann points out, “and your spine becomes shaped like that.”

Watching teenagers walk makes her crazy: “They are not using what we consider a normal gait. They walk without bending at the hip and knee and pushing off. They shuffle. And they sway back—their shoulders are behind their hips—so their gluteal muscles don’t work as much as they should. All of these little cultural changes in sitting posture, what’s considered cool—even the clothing.” For a while there, she says, “the new waistline was the gluteal fold! And how do you walk when your legs are strapped together with a belt? Their knees get caught in the crotch of their pants—it’s hysterical. But it’s also not good.”

In years past, there was little appreciation of how lifestyle affected your health. “My family thought they just got diabetes or hypertension; it had nothing to do with the cans of Crisco my grandmother cooked with.” The way we move and align ourselves is just as important as what we eat, she says. “There is complexity to movement, and you can do it right or wrong.”

I bring up ergonomics—surely that’s helped? “It’s not just whether the setup is right,” she points out. “It’s what you bring to that setup and what you do when you’re not there.” We’re designed to keep changing position, not sit frozen in the perfect chair. Even working out requires real knowledge, if you want to lift weights or do aerobic training without compromising the performance of all your other joints.

Sahrmann’s one of the nation’s pioneers in pushing the concept of a movement system, emphasizing the subtle, necessary interconnections of muscles and bones and nerves but also heart, lungs, and the endocrine system. Her career has spanned more than half a century, and its twists and turns led her to see the body whole. She began work at the end of the polio era and spent nine years taking care of patients who’d suffered head injuries or strokes. In order to understand the disordered motor control of patients with central nervous system lesions, she left clinical practice to earn a Ph.D. in neurobiology. Then serendipity sent her a different kind of patient: athletes who had musculoskeletal pain. Screenshot 2015-05-30 22.33.00

“I started teaching them to move differently, and they got better for reasons I didn’t understand,” she says. “I’ve spent a good many years with my colleagues at Wash.U. working to analyze these relationships between movement and musculoskeletal pain.”

She’s written two books and talked herself hoarse, urging people to see the body’s movement as systemic. Now that approach is finally catching hold, not just here but nationally and internationally. But she’ll know she’s really succeeded when PT evaluations are annual, and there are formal diagnoses based on movement patterns that consistently cause pain: flexion syndrome, when the back bows out; extension syndrome when it bows in and hunches you over; tibiofemoral rotation that can lead to knee problems.

“We all move differently,” she says. “I’ve seen patients whose feet are so callused I don’t know how they put their shoes on, and I’ve seen marathon runners with no calluses at all.

“You need to have an exam by a body expert at least once a year,” she finishes crisply. “Even if insurance doesn’t cover it, the cost is no more than you’d pay a personal trainer. I think we could substantially reduce the number of injuries and slow the process of osteoarthritis as people age.” She’s not saying arthritis can be eliminated altogether—but it can be delayed and its effects minimized. “There’s evidence that if a joint is lax, or you have injury, or your muscles are weak, you can get these arthritic changes.” Move right, and you lower the chance of injury—whether you’re an Olympian or a couch potato.

By Jeannette Cooperman May 11, 2015 / St. Louis Magazine


Parent Confessions… I Hurt My Little Leaguer’s Arm

Little League baseball season is in full ‘swing’. Look out for overuse injuries in your child, and check this out from of one parent’s account of his child’s overuse and need for Tommy John surgery… he thought it could never happen to his child. If your baseball player is experiencing elbow pain, come in for a PT evaluation, see your pediatrician, orthopedist, or sports medicine doctor. We’re reaching epidemic proportions in the number of youth players requiring this surgery. Be aware, and prevent it from happening to your child.

Screenshot 2015-04-19 22.12.33Parent Confessions… I Hurt My Little Leaguer’s Arm

I remember the day my wife gave me an article about kids having Tommy John surgery. I read it, and kind of blew it off. Not my kid I thought. He’ll just take it easy once in a while. He’ll be fine. Well, it ended up being my kid. All that talent… gone. I blamed others. My wife blamed me. She was right.

As an 11-year-old, my son didn’t lose a game on the mound. He pitched two no-hitters. Even the high-school coach came to see him pitch. “Lots of talent, AND he’s a lefty!” he said after a game. I kept picturing my son sitting at a table, signing a Division 1 Letter of Intent.

We started practicing for his final year of Little League the very next day after his last game as an 11-year-old. I convinced him basketball was taking up too much time, and that if he concentrated only on baseball, he might get a free ride somewhere. I know now that was a mistake.

Throughout the fall and winter, he worked with a pitching coach, and he continued with his travel ball team. We live in North Carolina, so we play pretty much year round. He was the ace on the travel ball team. The manager pitched him… A LOT. My son won… A LOT.

We concluded a travel ball tournament on a Friday night. He pitched five innings. Got the W. The next day was “Opening Day” for Little League. My son was so excited. His coach came up to me before the game, and asked if my son had been pitching a lot on his travel ball team. “Nah,” I said. He kind of just looked at me. “I don’t want to risk injuring his arm,” he said. “You need to tell me if he’s pitching too much on the other team.” “He’s fine,” I told him. “Opening day, Coach. Gotta go with your number one, right?” He did. We won. Me and my son’s Little League coach had the same type of conversation one more time during the year. He had those talks with my son, too. My son, like me, said his arm was fine. Like most kids, he wasn’t going to say if he felt something a little weird in his elbow.

My son was 3-0. He was scheduled to start against the best team in the league. He was excited. I was excited, until that is, another kid took the mound in his place. I poked my head in the dugout. “I’m shutting him down,” said the manager. I asked why. “His arm is dead! I told you to tell if he’s pitching a lot with other teams!”

I ended up resting him a little. That season, he only pitched one more time for his Little League team. I rested him some more. He played 50/70, and continued travel ball. His travel ball coach pitched him. I shouldn’t have let him. His arm felt good one day, tired the next. We rested, iced it, and heated it. Sometimes he threw like his old self. Most times, he didn’t. At 14, we went to the doctor. And at only 15, my son had Tommy John. He will never be the same, and that Letter of Intent that I was so intent on will never come.