What is plantar fasciitis (“PF”)? If you’ve had it, you certainly know it doesn’t feel very good! “Plantar fasciitis” is very broad term commonly applied to any pain on the bottom of the foot. Sometimes the condition is not plantar fasciitis at all, but instead a strained foot muscle or “fat pad syndrome” (more on that diagnosis later). Ultimately, for the patient, the specific diagnosis doesn’t matter too much because the treatment approach will be very similar (assuming we stay in the realm of orthopedics and aren’t dealing with a condition unrelated to muscles, tendons/ligaments or bones).
I call plantar fasciitis an “equal opportunity offender” because you’ll find it in elite athletes who dedicate insane training volumes to their sport but also in sedentary people who walk no further than the bathroom, and of course every type of person in between. In other words, you can get it from doing too much or from not doing enough.
Practically speaking, you’ll find plantar fasciitis manifested in several different ways. First, the classic presentation of plantar fasciitis is isolated tenderness toward the front/middle of the heel, at a landmark called the medial calcaneal tubercle. Although the pain might extend along the entire foot, for this version of plantar fasciitis, the hallmark is localized pain at that specific point on the heel. Additionally, patients with this presentation will often feel pain at its worst in the first step of the morning.
Another similar common presentation is pain further back toward the heel but still on the bottom of the foot over a broader area. This is sometimes called fat pad syndrome if the primary source of pain is the fat pad on the heel rather than the plantar fascia. But again, the causes behind the condition are very similar so the treatment approach should look similar as well.
Plantar fasciitis may also refer to pain in the arch of the foot. Again, this may be a result of true plantar fascia inflammation or it could be referred pain patterns from elsewhere in the body. It could also be a strained muscle, as there are many muscles on the bottom of the foot that perform a variety of functions.
1. CHANGE YOUR CADENCE
Changing to a faster cadence is one way to decrease stress on the foot. Cadence is a more complicated issue than footstrikes-per-minute, but do know that changing to a faster cadence is often accompanied by OTHER changes known to decrease loading, most notably a forward lean and shift to a more forefoot strike. My personal preference is that if you are going to change mechanics, let the mechanical changes emerge as a BYPRODUCT of focusing on cadence rather than flooding your mind with technical cues that may be difficult to implement in real time.
2. FIND SOFT RUNNING SURFACES
This isn’t possible 100pct of the time for everyone, but the sacrifice can be worth it. When I’ve been on the cusp of injury, I’ve done endless loops around a grass soccer field to get the mileage in while minimizing the risk of further injury. There’s precedent for this too at the highest levels of running, as USA Olympians Galen Rupp and Dathan Ritzenheim (both historically injury prone) have been known to do up to 20 miles around a 600m grass loop! As a caveat, there isn’t as much evidence to support this strategy as we might think. That said, anecdotally countless runners report fresh and rejuvenated legs after dedicating the time and effort to run more on grass.
Article: The Benefits of Running on Grass (Triathlete Magazine)
3. TRAIN SMART!
Probably the most important strategy of all. Smart training provides the right amount of stimulus for the body to adapt and become stronger; excess training provides a stimulus too great for the body’s adaptive capabilities. This doesn’t necessarily mean physical breakdown though. Pain could be a warning signal, especially notable given the high density of nerve tissue in the feet. With excess loading, the foot can become more sensitive to pain, meaning it takes less of a stimulus to provoke a higher level of pain than before. All this information returns us to the concept that the first line of defense against plantar fasciitis (or any injury for that matter) is to pick the right training loads.
4. SELF-MASSAGE YOUR FOOT
For self-massage, the simplest would be direct pressure. Just put your finger on a tender spot and hold it there. You can also massage along the foot, finding those “rough” spots or knotted areas and working them out. Though people often report mixed results from self-massage in other areas of the body, the foot tends to respond quite well, perhaps because the foot is so dense with nerve tissue.
Another form of self-massage is instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization. This is just a fancy term for using different objects to perform self-massage! There are plenty of commercial products on the market, some designed specifically for the feet. Everyone has their own preferences, from the hardness of a golf ball to the softness of the spikey ball. Of all the implements available the spikey ball seems to be the most well received.
Every is likely aware of the conventional advice to treat shin splints: R.I.C.E., stretching, a switch to softer running surfaces, training plan modifications, maybe a new pair of shoes or a change in running technique. While each of these techniques have merit as treatment approaches, sometimes you need to think a little outside stay on your feet with minimal disruption in training.
Now, before we treat "shin splints" it is important to confirm that shin splits are really what we're dealing with. For purposes of this article, we'll associate the term shin splints the diagnosis of medial tibial stress syndrome ("MTSS"). In the popular lexicon, shin splints are frequently associated with a myriad of diagnoses including anterior compartment syndrome, anterior tibial tendonitis and stress fractures or stress reactions, among others. The shin splints we'll discuss here involve pain along the inside of the shin as shown below.
“Girl push ups.” Such a horrible term. Thankfully, the term is not used so much anymore, giving way to the less derogatory “push ups on knees.” But terminology aside, I would argue that this form of push ups should probably be retired as well no matter what we call it.
If you want to give yourself the best opportunity to achieve one good push up or give yourself the best opportunity to do even more good push ups, then I believe there are much better methods to accomplish the goal, several if which I will cover in this post.
Don’t get me wrong…If someone just wants to crank out the reps and get a good ol chest burn, then have at it! But if the goal is to achieve your maximum physical potential, manipulating other variables is a better approach. The simple reason is that taking the push up down to the knees turns it into a different movement pattern. The push up is not just a chest movement – it also involves control of everything below, and even demands mobility from the feet, ankles and hamstrings.
Check this out: Here’s a group fitness member who some would label as having a “weak core” based on the picture. But would you believe her problem was actually a painful right big toe, which she is understandably hesitant to bend! When we offloaded her lower body with the band, she was able to place more weight into her legs and successfully perform a complete push up movement. Had she gone down to her knees, she would be missing out on all those positive qualities we experience from a regular push up position.
Last year I took on my first full Ironman at Ironman Santa Rosa. Circumstances were not ideal, given that I was fully immersed in an accelerated Doctor of Physical Therapy program. However, with some friends putting together a group trip to the race, I couldn’t pass up a chance to tackle the distance with a good crew.
A “proper” base build was totally out of the question. Rather than pass on the race, I took the attitude of “Do my best given whatever resources I have available.” If time is a limitation, then we make the most of the time we have (note: this doesn’t mean hammer every session…more on that below…)
Long training history and high training age help a lot. I did my first triathlon in 2001. Minimalism probably isn’t for anyone attempting a couch-to-Ironman program. But it can be done with a large fitness, base even if it comes from a single sport. Based more than 15 years of base, finishing this “long training day” was not an issue. It was simply how much can I sneak into the “zone of performance” without a high risk of complete blow up
Although I said not every day should be a hammer session, your training will definitely shift more toward the “quality” end of the quality vs quantity continuum. Let’s start with swimming (in full disclosure my swim was a disaster, but I largely blame that on a poor wetsuit fit rather than fitness). Swim people may be familiar with USRPT, or Ultra Short Race Pace Training. If you want the details of this approach, there are plenty of resources HERE
Sample USRPT workout
Repeat 50s on an interval giving approximately 20 seconds rest. Select a target time for each rep (say 40 seconds for example). Keep swimming until you swim a rep slower than 40 seconds. Once that happens, you sit out the next rep. Continue this pattern until you miss three reps.
Here’s the bottom line for swimming: quality rules. Don’t get sucked into the long slow distance approach that can be effective for bike and running. You don’t have to follow USRPT but you shouldn’t forget that swimming is a strength and technique sport.
That said, and this may sound contradictory, If there’s one thing I wish I would have done differently it is implement one weekly long continuous swim.
You might be wondering, why bother swimming if it is by far the shortest portion of the event? In my opinion, swimming has the greatest fitness carryover to other events and is also the one least likely to cause injury.
Another key component of swim training was pulling with paddles/buoy/band. Technically this is not pure USRPT (which forbids the use of “toys”) but because paddles/buoy/band is the most effective way to simulate wetsuit swimming, it deserves a place. Also, if you follow the philosophy of Brett Sutton, which I do to an extent, you’ll also realize the paddles/buoy/band combo is simply a good way to get good at swimming.
Run training. Two to three key runs per week. All other runs 30-60 minutes of easy running. The key runs included:
a) Short fartlek such as 15 x minute hard/minute easy
b) Longer fartlek such as 6 x 3 minutes hard/90 seconds easy
c) Easy to moderate paced long run of 10-12 miles (longest single run of the prep was 12 miles)
Ideally, run your long runs on hilly, soft terrain. This will protect your legs and also build run specific strength
There were times during travel during which I was time crunched. Sometimes the whole workout was 8-10 x 50-100m running sprints at 95% effort. If you can’t get in volume, be sure to get in some quality. But again, quality does not mean thrashing yourself with puke-fest HIIT workouts day after day…
Speaking of strength. I’ve often said that kettlebell swings have been a secret to maintaining bike fitness without actually biking lol.. My strength program was relatively informal, but was a mix of low rep kettlebell lifts (mainly the bent press) along with bodyweight (one arm one leg push up and pull ups). In my opinion, carving out some time for strength can be beneficial for health and injury prevention. The key is to find ways to limit the footprint that strength training has on the overall week.
Unless you live very near a gym, driving any significant distance for strength training during a minimalist Ironman approach is simply a waste of time because there is so much you can accomplish away from the gym
I wouldn’t use strength as a way to replace workouts, other than occasionally on the bike, but that was many weeks before the race. Using the grease-the-groove approach is effective if you have the latitude to make it work. That’s probably the most time and resource efficient way to accomplish what you need without borrowing time from swim/bike/run training. We often use “minimal effective dose” as a worn out cliché, but it really is the best philosophy in this context for strength
Biking was mostly Spinervals videos under one hour. Occasionally for shorter rides I’d pull something on youtube that seemed to fit the session objective (recovery, intensity, etc). Only once did I go over two hours indoors.
One of the keys to indoor riding was also the opportunity to spend time in the aerobars. Watch any Ironman and halfway through the bike, hundreds of athletes are seated up, out of the aerobars (quite the irony whenever you see an athlete on a $8,000 bike riding as unaerodynamically as possible). Despite low mileage, spending such a high percentage of my bike time in the aerobars was an example of “free speed.”
Longest ride outdoors was 75 miles, but done at a moderately intense effort on a bike path with minimal stops. You hear a lot about the magic century ride for Ironman, but how often are these done with traffic stops and even coffee stops, not to mention when in a group where you can’t safely hang out in the aerobars for long stretches.
Nutrition...This is one area where experience is especially valuable. With limited opportunities to truly rehearse race day fueling, you’ll have to rely upon what worked in previous races. This might scare some people but I also believe that many nutrition problems are really pacing problems. In other words, when people say “I didn’t get my nutrition right,” what really happened is they went out too hard on the bike and their stomach couldn’t adequately fuel a pace that was unsustainable from the outset
This part is hard to quantify, but I was especially attentive to fatigue from travel or other life events. Since the volume was low to begin with, there was no need to force anything. I’ve trained myself out of plenty of races over the years and I wasn’t going to make that same mistake for my first Ironman
Overall, it’s really not that complicated. Key points are mindset and expectation management. And then sticking to the race day plan. Having limited training volume simply reduces your margin for error but does not preclude a successful outcome. There’s an old saying that being 10 percent undertrained (and healthy) is better than being 5 percent overtrained. A minimalist Ironman prep is a perfect way to put this concept into practice. You may surprise yourself when you give yourself the chance to arrive at the start line fresh and chomping at the bit to go race.
Allan Phillips, PT, DPT
Oro Valley Physical Therapist, USA Triathlon Certified Coach
Do you need an elbow brace or strap to help you get through your regular pickleball games? What if I told you there’s a BETTER way to manage your elbow pain AND prevent it from coming back? If you’re willing to devote ten minutes per day to a few exercises and some self-massage techniques, there’s a good chance you can ditch that elbow strap and get back to the court WITHOUT pain and with improved motion in your arm to have you playing at the top of your game?
If you’re having pain on the outside of your elbow, there’s a good chance you could have lateral epicondylitis, or more commonly known as “tennis elbow.” This condition can also occupational, such as with people who turn a wrench for a living or perform any task involving repetitive twisting of the forearm. I even have seen a pastor with this condition, which he attributed to doing some renovations around his church (talk about hands on!) He was actually a pretty decent golfer too (though not playing frequently at the time) which may have irritated the area previously.
Here are four simple do-it-yourself interventions plus one simple treatment that work quite reliably when done consistently. If these approaches don’t resolve your pain AND help you return to the pickleball court, the next step would be to seek help from a rehab professional who has other techniques available and can also look for potential causes such as in shoulder function.
Mobilization with movement – Whether performed on yourself or delivered by a professional, this is the “go-to” technique for persistent tennis elbow. Both options are shown below. Note that you can vary the angle of arm bend to provide different stimuli to the area, as patients can vary in which angle works best for them. Typically the treatment is performed by applying lateral pressure and then having the patient grip and release, though you’ll find different variations on the same theme commonly practiced. The key point here is that PAIN SHOULD REDUCE with this treatment. If pain is getting worse, this likely isn’t the right treatment for you. Which is fine, because there are other options….
One of my all-time favorite movie scenes is from Karate Kid, when after spending countless hours doing “chores” for Mr. Miyagi, Daniel complains one night that he’s been Mr. Miyagi’s “slave” and hasn’t done any karate training to prepare for the All-Valley Karate Tournament. What follows is a profound reminder that EVERYTHING he’s been doing is karate training. (and gotta love Mr. Miyagi’s on-the-spot shoulder joint manipulation haha!)
So what’s the point of sharing this clip, besides an excuse for me to watch some Karate Kid? Everything we do in training has a reason. Quite often that reason connects to important aspects of our life. In athletics, each exercise helps condition the body in some way to improve sport performance. But for daily life, exercise selection can also have far reaching benefits.
Hinge patterns are important for many reasons, but the ability to pick up objects from the ground is a practical one. Many students and patients have regained and even improved their abilities in this area simply by learning proper mechanics. We can take the hinge and turn it into a powerful conditioning exercise with kettlebell swings, or we can simply use the hinge as a teaching and rehabilitation tool. Remember, it’s not just about the exercise, it’s about what the exercise EMPOWERS you to do.
The psychological side of injury is something rarely discussed, and when it is, the discussion occurs in hushed tones or exists on a very superficial level. But it remains, equally if not more important than the physical side. The mind is what gets us to show up every day and put in the work to make the rehab process successful. The mind is what processes the information presented to us and makes a decision on how to respond. Even before we start, we also know that EXPECTATIONS are one of the key predictors of rehab success (if you think you’ll get better, then chances are better that you will!)
First, it is important to understand this topic has immense breadth and depth. This isn’t our time to play amateur psychologist (stay in your lane!) but it is essential to appreciate that a rehab approach is incomplete without considering the mind. In the field we often find ourselves uncomfortable with metaphysical concepts we perceive as being pseudoscience “woo-hoo,” sometimes for good reason, but understanding the mind-body connection is also very pragmatic.
A knee injury is not just about “ouch my knee hurts.” It might keep you out of work, and potentially without any immediate source of income. It also could mean you have to stop running or walking, which may detach you from your social group. An injury could present a loss of identity if you’re an athlete who then feels invisible when relegated to the sidelines. I remember when Tom Brady suffered a serious injury during a game several years ago, that one of the most jarring moments for him was seeing the team run a play as the game continued on without him while he was driven off.
I too experienced this jarring effect as a 12 year old baseball player who was crestfallen upon hearing the news that a knee injury would keep me out of the entire regular season (my way of managing the void was to serve as first base coach on crutches haha). Thanks in part to the resilience of youth, I was able to return for a successful playoff run, albeit while wearing a brace that weighed about as much as me!
You may also experience changes in brain chemistry, as your body has grown accustomed to the “high” of the endorphin release associated with exercise. If an injury takes that away, your entire mental state can feel disoriented. Within elite runners, for example, some unpublished research from the USOC has shown that they NEEDED about 10 miles per day to reach the same mood baseline as non-exercisers. As most active people can attest, the very same thing can be true for amateurs. It reminds me of the old adage, when you’re a runner it usually seems like you’re the only person running, but when you’re injured it seems like the rest of the world is running.
One recent study of regular exercisers (defined as engaging in moderate exercise at least once per week) found that injured exercisers reported more than twice the level of depression than the non-injured control group (Lichtenstein 2018). The injured exercisers also reported high stress levels, impaired daily functioning and were more likely to have over 10 days injury-related work absence (the latter of which we may speculate could connect with social interaction, finances and/or a sense of purpose, among other things).
Fortunately, there are ways to improve these effects. One study of collegiate athletes (Yang 2014) found that injured athletes who were satisfied with the social support received from their athletic training staff were less likely to report symptoms of depression before returning to play compared to those who were dissatisfied with the social support received from the AT staff. Mindfulness training has also been shown to improve mood in patients. There is also evidence from physical therapy research showing that about 40% of patients experiencing depressive symptoms during PT treatment will experience resolution upon successful completion of their PT program.
Another strategy is to focus on what you CAN do rather than what you can’t. I often tell patients that if one leg is injured, you still have three uninjured limbs and a torso that are perfectly healthy for high quality training. In fact, the evidence has shown quite clearly that a “spillover” effect exists, in that if you only train one side of the body, some strength gains may carry over to the untrained side. Additionally, use the injury as an opportunity to address areas where you weren’t as strong as you’d like and that you may not have otherwise emphasized. An injury is nothing more than unplanned down time, as legendary running coach Dr. Jack Daniels used to say. Use it as an opportunity to become a more well-rounded with your movement. I’ve had many patients after surgery, return to their surgeon for a follow up and the surgeon is unable to distinguished the repaired limb from the uninjured one! In sum, rather than dwell on what you’ve missed due to injury, embrace the OPPORTUNITY that the situation presents!
Everyone’s experience will be different. But we understand that your injury is not just about your injury...The IMPACT on your life can reach much further and deeper, and awareness of this fact by both the patient and the clinician can be a vital element of the rehab process.
“You’ll hurt your knees if you run.”
This old yarn has been spun for decades…but is it true??
Conventional thinking has long believed that “running is bad for your knees,” largely based on anecdotal observation and blanket assumptions. Yes, runners are injured a lot (much of it self inflicted through poor training choices, not the inherent act of running). But does high prevalence of overall injury equate to chronic “bad knees”?
A meta-analysis (aka, really big study looking at a bunch of other papers) from 2017 by Alentorn-Geli, et al, examined several studies encompassing over 100,000 runners of all levels and control groups of non-runners to see if any association existed between running and arthritis.
Bottom line up front: Amateur runners (non-professionals) experience LOWER rates of hip and knee OA compared to runners who compete for money or people who don’t run at all. Among the amateur runners, the OA rate was 3.5% whereas more than 10% of the non-runners experienced OA, as did more than 13% of the professionals. (Also of note was that running for less than 15 years was associated with lower OA rates).
Based on these findings from a large set of data, running actually could be good GOOD for your joints, when done below the professional level. This makes physiological sense when viewed through the lens of Wolff’s Law, which states that bone will remodel in response to the forces or demands placed upon it. If you expose bone to repeated stressors of running it will grow stronger along the lines of forces applied. But we also know that with any stressor applied to the body, any excess force beyond the body’s ability to adapt can lead to undesirable changes, such as injury or chronic strain.
A subsequent 2018 study by Ponzio et al (thus not included in the 2017 meta analysis) on marathon runners of all levels found that age, family history and surgical history were predictive of hip or knee OA, but there was also NO significant risk associated with running duration, intensity, mileage, or the number of marathons completed. Additionally United States marathon runners in this sample experienced significantly lower OA rates (8.8%) as compared to the US average (17.9%).
Do runners get hip and knee OA? Yes, of course. But so do people who don’t run at all…and those people seem to get MORE OA than amateur runners by a notable margin.
Take home point: ALL types of people develop knee problems through the normal course of aging. Some happen to be runners, some don’t run. While intense training levels from the professional level seem to be related with increased OA signs, if we are to infer any causation from evidence, it would be that modest amounts of running could be protective against OA. Regardless, it would seem there’s enough evidence to cast significant doubt on the old suspicion that “running is bad for your knees.”
Let me tell you about our patient Ashley…
Ashley came to see me just weeks after starting an exercise program. Having turned 30 the previous August, she felt a sense of urgency in her life. Single and childless, the proverbial biological clock loomed in her consciousness. Professionally, life was great in her teaching job. But she knew she needed to make changes to her lifestyle.
Having been a casual smoker for years, the first step was to give up smoking and began exercising. Pizza and donuts also gave way to smoothies and salads. So firm was her commitment to change that she began this transformation in December, before the traditional “New Year’s Resolution” crowd. She found a welcoming home at the local Orange Theory and hired a personal trainer. She started craving the endorphin rush of the HIIT training and seeing the progress in her physique.
But one day in January she felt an unwelcome twinge beneath her knee. A trip to the doctor confirmed it was a stress fracture, and she was “sentenced” to at least six weeks of limited weight bearing on her injured leg and an even longer time in a knee brace. Over the next several weeks, she was diligently committed to the plan, as an active participant in manual therapy to control pain and swelling, while incorporating strength and mobility training to recover the function she had lost in the weeks of wearing a brace and guarding against pain.
But more important than recovering her function was recovering her confidence. Before each session on the treadmill, she required gentle reassurance of what she had already accomplished with ease in prior sessions. With each successful progression, her confidence and trust in her leg grew more robust. Thanks to quick healing, she was soon ready to return to Orange Theory. We had several talks about communicating with the coaches to find alternatives for jumping and running, which eased many of her concerns.
Then before her first class back, I received a text from her sitting in the parking lot..”I’m scared :(“ And who in her situation wouldn’t be? If anything, I was proud of her for recognizing her fear and pausing before entering a situation where she didn’t feel comfortable. Fortunately, she only needed a couple reminders of the physical and mental strategies that had worked for her in the clinic. Within minutes, she made a successful return to class and was back on course to living the new life she had envisioned for herself.
What can we learn from Ashley? Rehab is not just the physical. Strengthening the body is important, but callousing the mind is vital. Ashley regained her healthy lifestyle by confronting her fears and gaining strength through the daily victories she experienced both inside and outside of the clinic.
If you need help reclaiming the active lifestyle that pain and injury have robbed from you, please reach out to Ventana Physiotherapy for a 30 minute Discovery Visit to discuss how we can best serve you.
Dr. Allan Phillips
Owner, Ventana Physiotherapy
The Happiest Place on Earth. Or so they say. Who knew that having a full day of fun could be so much work? One of the oft unspoken aspects of any Disney Park experience is the physical fatigue from 10 or more hours of play. You’ll spend a lot of time on your feet, walk long distances…and sometimes do it for close to a week! With this in mind, one way to maximize your enjoyment of your Parks experiences is to arrive your best physical condition possible. You don’t need to be in marathon shape (and it wouldn’t be a complete form of preparation, because the physical demands are different), but you don’t want your body to hold you back.
Think of it this way: At Disney, time is money and money is time. If you need to take lengthy breaks, you are paying for time doing nothing! Yes breaks are essential to maximize the quality of your experience but there’s a balance between just right and too much. Now, I’m going by the assumption that you are going to Disney to DO stuff as there are far better destinations for relaxed idleness. My PERSONAL preference is to cover lots of ground, but yours might not be. And that’s fine. The main point is that your physical readiness should be sufficient to support YOUR desired activity level!
Footwear – Quality athletic shoes that fit are paramount. You could walk up to ten miles in a day. Socks are also overlooked and are not something to skimp on. Your regular socks that do the job for routine walking at home might not withstand the heat and moisture of long days, especially in Florida. In the military, sock changes are built into our road march routine. You can have the strongest lungs and legs in the world, but the pain of an open blister can turn your day into complete misery. Also consider investing in Bodyglide, which is a sports lubricant without any residue (I have no affiliation with them, but have used it for close to twenty years).
Walking – You don’t need to walk ten miles a day to prepare but you do need to be ready for walking a lot. Other things to consider..stair climbing is also helpful because there are some attractions involving stairs (Swiss Family Robinson, Sleeping Beauty Castle, Main Street Train Station), though generally the parks are flat. Additionally, sometimes the challenge isn’t only from the walking but also from being on your feet for so long during the day. If you’re used to sitting for 8-10 hours per day, spend time building yourself up to where you can comfortably spend prolonged periods on your feet.
Carrying Stuff – You may find yourself carrying a bag or even little people! Prepare accordingly but don’t go crazy and put yourself at risk for injury. Some things to consider: will you be carrying a double strapped backpack? Or something like a purse that hangs on one shoulder. If you are carrying kids will you be carrying them on your back, on your shoulder or in front? How much do the kids weigh?
Stroller? This is a simple one. Get out the baby jogger and start pushing those sleds, especially if you choose to load up the stroller with your supplies for the day or if you choose to rent a stroller from the Parks that is heavier than what you’re accustomed to at home! If you’re at Disneyland, you know you’ll face a small climb back to the center of the park if you visit Winnie the Pooh.
Food – I’m hardly a diet guru but I would offer some pragmatic advice. Be a little extra “good” before going if you’re worried about over-indulging. But don’t be so restrictive that the Disney influx of sugar sends your gut into a frenzy. Bottom line, give yourself months in advance of quality eating, but enough small indulgences sprinkled in to help develop the gut adaptability for the wide variety of tastes you may encounter in the Parks!
Intra-trip recovery – a restorative massage is always a good option if staying at one of the Disney resorts offering spa services. However, there are some free options available as well. Getting in the pool and kicking your legs around can help encourage quality circulation and facilitate the recovery process. Your resort gym may also have self-massage tools such as foam rollers. Better yet, invest in your own and bring it with you!
Exercise – For most of us, the fitness routine is not the main priority during a Disney visit. That said, if staying at a resort onsite, the exercise options are serviceable. Some will offer morning yoga or other group classes on certain days (though it could mean forgoing Magic Morning Hours). The fitness centers are generally decently equipped, at least enough to accomplish something (which is better than nothing!). Another way to go into a trip is to schedule a hard block of training immediately beforehand so you can use the vacation as a time to “recover” from your normal activities at home. The trip won’t be complete recovery, but it will serve as a break from the normal routine.
Like many things, it all comes down to thinking ahead and preparation. I have simply provided some options and suggestions here, but other strategies may work for you. The main point is to recognize the key areas and have a plan for your trip...just as you have a plan on how you are going to navigate the Parks!
Allan Phillips, PT, DPT is owner of Ventana Physiotherapy