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HAND-CRAFTED PHYSICAL THERAPY IN MIAMI
Bruce R. Wilk, P.T., O.C.S. Director
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The Private Practitioner’s Guide to Doing Business

Joining Forces
Outrace the competition by partnering your practice with a running specialty store.
BY BRUCE R. WILK, PT, OCS, SOKUNTHEA NAU, DPT, AND LEO D. RIVAS, PTA

Running continues to be one of the most popular forms of leisure activity in America. It’s estimated that 30 million people take
part in this growing national obsession. Of these participants, 10 million run more than 100 days per year, and 1 million enter competitive races per year.

It’s easy to see why people get hooked on the “runner’s high.” The benefits of running include improved health, relaxation, pleasure, stress reduction and pride in performance. Because of the sport’s numerous benefits, many runners seek advice when they get injured to minimize recovery time. But the initial reaction of most runners isn’t to seek medical advice. Rather, they visit a running specialty store in hopes of finding a quick fix to their injury.

Most running injuries are musculoskeletal overuse injuries. Since physical therapists are musculoskeletal experts, you’re in a prime position to market yourself to the running community. A running specialty store can be the center of the running universe. Many specialty stores sponsor races, print newsletters, and have their own running clubs and specialty training programs.

There are many benefits of associating your clinical practice with a running specialty store. But it’s important to understand the risk factors, common injury sites, and appropriate treatment and prevention strategies for running injuries.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

Before creating a running subspecialty niche in your practice, you must understand how to effectively treat running injuries. This unique knowledge sets you apart from other practices, and gives you a competitive marketing edge in the running community.
Most running injuries are musculoskeletal overuse syndromes related to cumulative overload of the lower extremities. Of the most common running injury sites, 70 percent to 80 percent occur at the knees and below. The knees are the most common site of injury accounting for approximately 25 percent to 33 percent of running-related problems. Different patterns emerge from various types of runners. Hamstring strains and tendinitis are more common in sprinters.

Back aches and hip problems are more prevalent among middle-distance runners. And foot problems often afflict long-distance and marathon runners.

Risk factors for sustaining a running injury can be separated into intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors include flexibility, prior injury, misalignment and poor form. Extrinsic factors include training errors (velocity, frequency, duration), improper running surfaces and inappropriate running shoes.

Shoes are a commonly overlooked risk factor to prevent and correct a running injury. Poor shock absorption and stability cause increased force to travel the kinetic chain from heel strike. Running shoes with adequate cushioning provide shock absorption and adequate stability to prevent excess pronation. This balance is individualized, and shoe selection varies by body type and running style.

Proper posture, form, coaching and equipment are necessary to prevent injury and improve performance. But when a running injury occurs, treatment should focus on specific strength training techniques that mimic the running action. Appropriate interventions are implemented during various stages of healing. Patients may not complete all stages, or they may progress at varying rates. However, with proper interventions and training, it’s possible for a patient to recover and be stronger, more efficient and injury resistant.
Consider the four stages of rehabilitation and their interventions.

Stage 1: Stage one includes rest, ice, compression, elevation, and passive and active range of motion.

Stage 2: In stage two, focus on the flexibility of muscles associated with running. These muscles include the hip flexors, hip extensors, hip rotators, quadriceps, calve core muscles. Introduce postural drills to increase proprioception and neuromuscular connection. Developing this connection promotes efficient running form.

Stage 3: Stage three is the strength phase. Focus on closed kinetic chain act where the distal aspect of the extremity to a stationary or moving object, because more functional form of strengthening. Closed chain kinetic exercises use the linking c of rigid overlapping segments connected series of moveable joints, which mimics running action.

Stage 4: Stage four focuses on returning to running and effective running strategies. Plyometrics aid efficiency, improve power in running muscles and increase reactivity of the nervous system. Proper running form and gait deviations can be evaluated in real time and slow motion using gait analysis that c of a treadmill, video camera and TV.

MARKETING STRATEGIES

The next step to marketing yourself through a running specialty store is to get family the store. Spend time there and get to know owner and staff. A well-trained, knowledgeable staff is important for successful integration. The staff must know how to equip a runner on individual needs and body types.

Once you get to know the staff, market your abilities by offering to treat their running injuries. Word of mouth can be a valuable way to advertise your services. You can also refer your patients to the store for proper running equip- Went. Knowing the store’s offerings and return policy can guide this process.

Use the store’s connections with the running community. Many running stores set up booths at races and expos. This is a good opportunity to hand out pamphlets, flyers and business cards, and help aid stations that treat injured runners during races. If the running store is associated with a running club, get involved with local runs and get to know other runners in your community.

Many running stores also offer programs such as a marathon training or performance training. If you have a desire to run, this is a perfect opportunity to understand what your potential clientele experiences. Providing an in-clinic session about treating other musculoskeletal dysfunctions, such as low back pain or arthritis, is another way to market your services. If the store has a newsletter or e-mail list, you can announce upcoming events and include your contact information.

Runners have a large market of physical therapy clinics vying for their business, and it’s important to separate yourself from the crowd. You have to market yourself as a musculoskeletal expert that has a unique knowledge of what runners need. And partnering your practice with a running specialty store is a great way to advertise your services.

By managing running injuries effectively and interacting with the local running community, your private practice can gain a competitive edge in the market.


For a list of references, go to www.advanceweb.com/rehab and click on the references toolbar.
Bonce R. Wilk, FE OCS, Sokunthea Nau, DPT, and Leo D.
Rivas, PTA, are staff dinicians at Orthopedic Rehabilitation
Specialists in Miami, Fla.