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Level Renner 10k – Interviews

mcgrane lr10k mason

Courtesy of Scott Mason Photo.

It took a few days to get these videos together, but there seems to be a whole lot more pressure doing them when they are for your own race. We’ve come a long way since we shook the world by posting our first videos back in February of 2012.

With talent like Ruben Sança and Glarius Rop in the field, we knew there was potential there for a couple of fast times. I just don’t think we imagined that they’d run this fast. Incredible.

We were equally excited about the ladies that signed on for the first event. Kyle Feldman was still working her way back into top form after battling an injury, and Lindsay Willard bypassed some much needed rest from her busy racing schedule (while also overcoming an injury) to come duke it out in Brockton:

Lastly, we have Rat Royalty. Peter Wallan is/was the editor and publisher of the glorious Hockomock Swamp Rat.  We actually started up Level Renner to help fill the void left when Wallan retired from publishing his journal.  Here’s what he has to say:

For a full write up of the event,  you’ll have to wait for the next issue of the Level Renner magazine. It’ll hit your inboxes within a matter of days, so make sure you’re on our subscription list so that you get it while it’s fresh (and are eligible for this month’s gear giveaway). And be sure to check out the website for Scott Mason Photo and Krissy Kozlosky; they both continue to contribute high quality work to the Level. They support us, so please consider supporting them.

Courtesy of Krissy Kozlosky

Courtesy of Krissy Kozlosky

The Benefits of Balance Training for Runners

Guest blog by John Davis (RunnersConnect)

balance training runnersThere are a few strength exercises that seem to be staples among runners: leg lifts, clamshells, hamstring stretches, glute bridges, and a few others.  One of these exercises, which you’re sure to see being done by friends and competitors in the running community, is balance training.

Improving your balance or proprioception—your body’s internal sense of the positioning and motion of your joints—is lauded as a good way to treat or prevent injury by physical therapists and athletic trainers.

Today we’ll look into the science behind balance training, including its efficacy at improving your balance and proprioception, as well as its effect on injury risk.

What is balance training

Balance training is a very popular prescription for treating or preventing ankle sprains. While a sprained ankle is not an overuse injury, studies on balance training and ankle sprains can help us better understand how improving balance can affect proprioception, biomechanics, and overall coordination.

Studies on balance training

One such study was published in 2004 by Evert Verhagen and coworkers in the Netherlands. Verhagen et al. followed 116 volleyball players over the course of several months, splitting the players into an experimental group which followed a balance-training routine, and a control group which did no balance exercises.  Much of the balance routine was done on a wobble board for increased difficulty.

At the end of the study, Verhagen et al. found significantly fewer ankle sprains in the experimental group, though curiously, a higher risk of knee injury, but only in players who’d already suffered previous knee injuries.

A similar study on high school athletes, published two years later by Timothy McGuine and James Keene at the University of Wisconsin, also found that a balance training program decreased the risk of ankle sprains in basketball and soccer players.  Like Verhagen et al., McGuine and Keene’s exercises included several variants of single-leg balancing, often with a wobble board.

The authors of both papers hypothesized that the balance training programs worked by increased proprioception.

With better awareness of the ankle’s position relative to the ground and other obstacles, as well as stronger muscles controlling the ankle, subjects were less likely to suffer an ankle sprain.

Balance training vs overuse injuries

The next logical step when considering whether this is relevant to overuse injuries from running is to find out whether these improvements in proprioception translate into better running mechanics or efficiency.

Unfortunately, there are not direct studies on running biomechanics and balance training; the closest the scientific literature gets is a 2005 paper by Gregory Myer and others in Cincinnati which examined, in part, the effects of a balance and coordination training program on the biomechanics of landing and jumping from vertical drops like a plyometric “depth jump.”

While decidedly different from the mechanics involved in running, deficits in knee mechanics in more basic motions like single-leg squats have been linked to poor knee mechanics overall, which would carry over to running.

The studies

Myer et al. evaluated 41 female athletes before and after completing a seven-week balance and coordination program, finding improvements in both landing mechanics in the vertical-drop test and improved strength and coordination.

Extrapolating from this, there might be some benefits in improved knee or ankle mechanics from doing balance training as a runner, although this is far from proven.  In terms of injury prevention, the news is again good for ball-sport players who are likely to suffer traumatic knee or ankle injuries, but less conclusive for runners.

A 2005 study by Carolyn Emery and other researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada found that a six-week home-based balance training program reduced the overall incidence of injuries in high-school aged basketball, soccer, football, hockey, and volleyball players.

Measurements of balance, such as the athletes’ ability to stand on one leg with his or her eyes closed, also improved significantly.  The control group, which did not do balance exercises, did not improve their balance and suffered more injuries (mostly ankle sprains).

And a 2007 paper from Yale University likewise found that athletes, both male and female, with more accurately-tuned proprioceptive abilities in their “core muscles” were less likely to suffer knee injuries than those with poor proprioceptive senses.

Since this could presumably be improved by balance training, this furthers the case for balance training as a way to improve the stability of your joints.

Is balance training worth it?

So, is it worth your time to do balance and proprioception exercises as a runner, if your main concern is overuse injuries?

Balance training requires relatively little in terms of equipment or time invested, so if you want to add on some ancillary strength training to your daily routine, balance work is not a bad way to go, especially if you are a trail runner at risk of turning your ankle or if you play ball sports like basketball or soccer recreationally.

The only group of people who might want to stay away from doing a lot of balance work are athletes who have a history of knee injuries

Verhagen et al. found that balance training was associated with a recurrence of knee problems, but only in those with a history of them.

While Verhagen et al. point out that it’s unlikely that their relatively simple balance training program caused the knee injuries, they nevertheless recommend that athletes currently suffering from overuse injuries to the knee, such as patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee) or patellar tendonitis, refrain from balance training.

All of the studies reviewed in this article used multiple balance exercises, most of them being variants on the common “one-leg stand” exercise.  You might find just balancing on one leg to be challenging early on, but as your balance improves, you can add in dynamic movements with your free-hanging leg, like hip extension, flexion, abduction, and adduction, or make the static balancing more difficult by closing your eyes, using a wobble board, or standing on a foam balance mat.

More advanced variants can involve tossing a basketball or medicine ball against a wall or back and forth with a partner as you remain balanced on one leg.  And as with all single-leg exercises, you should always switch sides after finishing and do the exercises on the other leg!

If you’re interested in adding balance exercises to your training routine to improve your running form and efficiency, checkout our 6-week  Running Form Course that will help you run with proper form by teaching you the science of running biomechanics and provide you with a simple-to-follow, progressive set of exercises, drills and mental cues to help you make lasting changes to your form.

Get more great injury prevention advice from John Davis (plus other great training & maintenance tips from Jeff Gaudette & Co) on the RunnersConnect blog.

In Workout Recovery Time

I once had this teammate in high school who frequently hijacked our workouts. Our coach would prescribe 8x600m at mile race pace and “Steve” would do the first one in all-out 600m race pace. Steve would then skip the 2nd and 3rd intervals before hopping back in for number 4 or 5 and once again dragging us along to inaccurate splits. Turns out, the rest of the team and Steve were doing two separate workouts.

Fast forward to current times…

Whether on Facebook, Twitter, Athleticore, or our personal running logs, we all record the data that we derive from our workouts. For a seasoned runner, the daily ritual of transcribing times from a training run into some type of diary is a part of an extended cooldown. When people post the results of their workouts publically, they often look something like this: 3x800m followed by 3x400m in 2:35, 2:31, 2:28, 69, 68, 68. This is good data and if it’s posted on Facebook, I “like” it. If it’s tweeted, I admire that you summarized your entire workout in 140 characters or fewer.

Reno Stirrat leads a pack that features 2nd place woman Helen Dinan.

To the Legion I’m proposing a second layer of data to log: Recovery Time. Of course, these times are subordinate to our interval splits, but if given more than 140 characters, I suggest that we all start keeping track of them. Let’s take the above example. If you run the 3×800, 3×400 workout with 60 seconds between each interval that looks different from doing the workout with 6 minutes recovery between each and that looks different still from taking 2 minutes between the 800s, 45 seconds between the 400s, and 10 minutes between the 800s and 400s. Readily apparent, it becomes, that logging just your splits gives only a peephole glimpse into the training session.

Attentiveness to recovery time is also important because it (along with the pace of the repeat) dictates the energy system stimulated. General rule: lots of reps at moderate intensity with limited recovery in the middle of a training cycle and limited reps at high intensity with lots of recovery at the end of a training cycle.

When we are in the middle stages of a training program, we want to do lots of intervals with limited recovery time (read: approximately 1/3 of the time needed for complete recovery) because this allows us to improve multiple systems, aerobic and VO2 Max capacity, for example. A wide variety of workouts exist to train these energy systems that range from repeat miles (5 or more) with 1-3 minutes of rest to 4-5 sets of 4x200m with under 1 minute of rest between repetitions and 4 -5 minutes between sets. Do these types of workouts well before a goal race. The takeaway: time your recovery during your workouts. Don’t wait until you feel ready for the next one. Don’t start yucking it up with your training partners. You’ll reap an added bonus: the workout is done that much faster.

As a goal race nears, cut the volume of repeats and increase the speed and recovery time. These sessions demand energy recruitment from both aerobic and anaerobic resources. A runner may only do 2 repeats in this session, but they should be all out. Recovery can be upwards of 20-30 minutes between repeats. Sample workouts include: 2x1200m at mile race pace with 25 minutes recovery, 3x1500m at 5000m race pace with 8-15 minutes between each, or doubling at a BU mini-meet Note: recovery should be active and include light jogging, dynamic stretching, trotting to the nearest stall to “go the distance,” etc.

Remember my teammate Steve? He ran every workout like it was the last (in his macrocycle). Not a good approach for the long term and his penchant for low reps and lots of recovery for every session led, in my humble opinion, to unfulfilled potential. And that’s so not on The Level.

Kevin Balance is a USATF Level 1 Certified Coach and information from that curriculum was used in the compilation of this article. This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Level Renner. Next issue comes out in a matter of days. Not a subscriber yet? It’s easy and free, and subscribers are eligible to win sweet gear each month. Sign up now (upper right hand side of the screen).


Guest blog (post card style) from Michael Narcisi, aka BroJN

Greetings LVL Legion, from Golden Colorado! My co-worker Janis and I went away for a week-long class back in mid-July. In the foothills of the Rockies, at altitude, and one week before the Cranmore Hill Climb – 2013 USA & NACAC Championship race, no doubt I would turn this into the perfect training opportunity to one-up EJN before this grueling race.

Over the course of this six-day trip, I was able to squeeze in four solid runs, and in doing so I got to see quite a bit of the surrounding environment. As usual, I’d much rather do my sightseeing by foot as opposed to driving. After class each day, Janis and I found a new place to run, or power walk- whichever one prefers(?), and the backdrop and weather certainly did not disappoint.

On my second run, I decided to get a little adventurous and “took it to the trails” of the William F. Hayden Green Mountain Park—where I just happened to start off on the wrong foot… literally. As I began my stretching routine I managed to embed my right foot directly into a western harvester ant mound. Although not as aggressive as their cousin the fire ant, these little suckers still have a “stinging” bite once provoked, and I believe that accidently wiping out their mound qualifies.

If that encounter wasn’t bad enough, about 2 miles into my 7-mile run while coming down a steep slope, a stick lying across the path, or so I thought, didn’t quite turn out to be as initially expected. That “stick” was a juvenile rattler basking itself, and I had little time to hurdle over it at the last moment. I remember thinking to myself, “I’m not in Chelmsford anymore” as I continued up to the top of Green Mountain (elev. 6,900+/- ft). Don’t worry, the snake didn’t flinch, nor did the ants have time to bite.

Later on that week, other scenic runs included one through North Dinosaur Park (elev. 6,200+/- ft), where I got to see dinosaur footprints from the side of the road, and my final run on the last day started and finished at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre (elev. 6,400+/- ft; pictured above). On this eight-miler, I eventually found myself winding down scenic Bear Creek Road until I realized I had gone far enough and still had to head back and climb my way to the “upper” lot (no misnomer).

Being a member of the ‘Sea Level Legion’, this was the second time these “sea” legs have run at elevation. Two years ago my first experience was in Santa Fe, which just happens to be the highest state capital at 7,260 ft—according to Wikipedia. Putting this experience into perspective with the first, I noticed that the altitude doesn’t adversely affect my training; rather, I actually find it easier to breath out this way. Not to make it sound like I’m bragging or anything like that, but besides attributing this to my superior fitness and overall good looks, in part I’d also like to attribute it to the less-humid conditions.

Have a training or racing story that you’d like to share? Send it along! Don’t think we give BroJN special treatment just because he’s family. In fact, it’s just the opposite. With him I can be a total hard-ass editor and say things like “You call that a story? Now I regret dropping you on your head on a regular basis when you were a baby.” We’d be much nicer to outside contributors.

Western Mass Distance Project XC Festival

wmdp XC Meet Banner ad 8.8.132nd Annual
WMDP XC Festival

Sunday, September 8th, 2013
Stanley Park, Westfield, MA

Open 5K: 10:00

Women’s 5k: 10:45

Men’s 8K: 11:30


  • Opens at 8:30AM on race day and closes 15 minutes prior to each respective start time.
  • Championship Races: $25 through Friday 9/6 (or mailed by 9/5) and $30 day of
  • Community Open race: $15 through Friday 9/6 (or mailed by 9/5) and $20 day of
  • Register Online @ Runreg.com
  • Mail-in Race application


  • Overall Championship Individuals (Men’s & Women’s): 1st – $150; 2nd – $100; 3rd – $50
  • USATF Team Championship (Men’s & Women’s) 1st – $150; 2nd – $100; 3rd – $50
  • **Meet Records** Bonus $50 for meet records in the Men’s (24:49) and Women’s (17:32) Championships
  • Community 5k age group awards will be awarded.

Contact: [email protected] or (413) 454-5897

Course Description: Both Stanley park races courses are a steady mix of field surfaces and trails. In the 8k the about 2 miles of the course is on a flat field surface and 3 miles of the course is on fairly packed, walking trails. The trails section includes a downhill section (about 300 meters in length) run twice and the resulting uphill section (about 300 meters in length) run twice. The finish is an open 800 meters of field.

In the 8k the about 1 mile of the course is on a flat field surface and 2 miles of the course is on fairly packed, walking trails. The trails section includes a downhill section (about 300 meters in length) run once and the resulting uphill section (about 300 meters in length) run once. The finish is an open 800 meters of field.

Restrooms: WMDP will be providing port-a-potties to supplement limited park restrooms. The Park asks we aim to keep the restrooms open to Park goers and use the port-a-potties provided for the event.

Additional Notes: There is plenty of field space available for teams to set up “camp”. There is room for canopy’s and EZ-ups if a team chooses to bring such items. There are no showers on site. We ask that runners please acknowledge the youth soccer games taking place and avoid warming up and cooling down over the outlined soccer fields.

Past Results:

This is the 2nd race for the 2013 USATF-NE XC Series!!

2013 USATFNE XC Grand Prix Schedule, Scoring, and Rules






Thomas Chamberas 6k

Carlisle MA


WMDP XC Festival 5k/8k

Stanley Park, Westfield MA


Wayland XC Festival 5k

Wayland MA High School


Mayor’s Cup 5k/8k

Franklin Park


USATF-NE XC Champs 6k/10k

Franklin Park


The series offers cash prizes for top athletes in both the open and masters categories in addition to team cash prizes.


The 2013 USATF-NE Grand Prix consists of 5 events, cumulative scoring.

  • Must have 2013 USATF membership.

  • Must run at least 3 races to score in series.

  • Must run USATFNE XC Championship race to score in series.

  • Higher place at NE Champs is the tiebreaker

  • Mayor’s Cup Championship for open runners

  • Mayor’s Cup 5K for aged 40+ runners

  • Traditional team cross country scoring system

See usatfne.org xc GP Series page for complete rules and results.



If you would like to promote your race or race series with us, contact kevbalance[at]levelrenner[dot]com.



And The Winner Is…

GreaterBostonRunningCo_Logo copy
Daniel Nash is the big winner of our latest contest. Daniel won an ASICS prize pack, courtesy of  ASICS and Greater Boston Running Company – Newton.


For those that need a refresher, this was the gist of the contest:

This month the LEVEL has teamed up with The Greater Boston Running Company and ASICS for a head to toe ASICS prize package including shoes & clothing. All subscribers are entered to win, and more chances to enter will be coming so keep checking in on the Level website and all of our social media channels.

Daniel is new to the Level and just ran the first annual Level Renner 10k. We surprised Daniel with the announcement just after he finished the race. We had no idea what he looked like, only knew that he was number 287. Once he caught his breath, he was able to bask in the glow of victory.

As you can see to the left, Daniel also got himself his very own Scott Mason Photo race pic. That alone is worth celebrating.

This contest was featured in our last monthly subscriber email. If you didn’t win, don’t worry, your next chance is coming up soon. Thanks again to all who came out to support us yesterday at our first event. It was so great to see so many familiar faces and to get know some new faces. We’re already thinking about 2014 and are looking forward to making it a better race.

Here is a brief interview with our latest contest winner:

Sorry for that video quality. Youtube won’t seem to let us upload in HD at the moment. We’ll have to try to fix it later.

#LR10K Coming Your Way

The Level Renner 10k was today, in case you haven’t heard. Yep, we finally ventured into the event arena and the results were spectacular.

LR 10k Mason Lap 1

Ridiculously well done photo courtesy of Scott Mason Photo.

Speaking of results, they are already up in the usual spot. LR 10k results There’s just something about seeing your own results up that gets you all choked up inside… Okay, let’s reign it in here before it gets too emotional. If you weren’t out there or following along on Twitter, then here’s a taste of what’s to come. We had a ‘lone Wolf’ out there helping us out. He had EJN’s phone and was tweeting out our Vine covering (or is it Vining out our tweets?) while EJN was getting the race footage. First up is…the start, obviously:

Next we have the leaders coming through just past the two mile mark:

Finally it’s more of the leaders in the final push to the finish (before The Hill):

Ruben Sança crossed the line in the first ever Level 10k with a blistering 29:54. Lindsay Willard was the women’s champ and impressively broke into the top ten in this competitive field. More to come. Keep it here. Also, be sure to check in (and support) Scott Mason Photo and Krissy Kozlosky, who were out there battling the conditions to get top notch race photos. There are way too many people to thank for this one. For now, we’ll just give one big thank you to all the volunteers, sponsors, friends and family that made it all possible.

Level Renner 10K Prerace Message

lrrr 10k logo We are now just hours away from the Level Renner 10K. The excitement is palpable—or at least mounting! The race starts at 9:00 am sharp on Sunday and number pick-up and post-registration will occur at the pentangle parking lot (finish line area) 100 yards beyond Tower Hill. You should arrive at the registration table before 8:30 am.

Most of the race course will be closed to motorists; however, we cannot guarantee that it will be completely traffic-free. That said, the entrance gate to DW Field Park will close at 8:30. Arriving before then will allow you to park closer to the finish line/registration area. Those who arrive later will have to park outside of the park. Once inside DW Field Park, you can park in 1 of 3 lots at the top of the hill or on the RIGHT side of the road. Volunteers will be there to help guide you. See the map on our race page (ww.levelrenner.com/10k) for more parking details and directions.

For those of you who have preregistered, we have some cool swag for you. You will receive a Skechers drawstring bag, a t-shirt, the coveted LVL oval decal, and a $5 coupon for WIN detergent. Post-registrants will receive these items on a first come first serve basis until we run out.

The awards ceremony will offer prizes three deep in 10 divisions. The top 3 will take home a Level Renner Top Finisher pint glass and maybe even another goodie or two. Top 3 overall and masters and top team will take home cold hard cash.

For those not tops in their age group, we have an extensive raffle that will include gift certificates, running apparel, and lots of other cool stuff. The raffle table will have at least 40 items on it! You must be present to win.  And, of course, all participants will receive a free subscription to Level Renner magazine.

To replenish those calories you lost during the race, we will have a post-race feast ranging from hot dogs to bottled water to pretzel crisps to energy bars to ice cream to fresh fruit. It will be a good spread.

Have extra clothing? We will also be holding a clothing drive so feel free to bring your gently used apparel and drop it off in the designated bin.

Can’t run but still want to be part of The Level experience? You can volunteer. All volunteers will meet at 8:00 am behind the registration tables.

Two final things:

  1. Bring a friend to run or spectate!
  2. For those spectating, we would love to provide “live” coverage of the event.  So, if friends are on Instagram, Facebook, Vine, Twitter, etc, please have them include #LR10K and we’ll share it to all of the Level Legion.

Here is a tentative itinerary of the day’s events:

  • 7:15 registration opens
  • 8:30 the gate to the park closes
  • 8:45 participants head to the starting line
  • 9:00 race start
  • 10:20 awards/raffle ceremony

Here is a small list of our many sponsors who we thank for making this possible:


eastern bank logo 5.30.13

walgreens logo 8.1.13

Mix-104.1 ad 5.22.13

charles river running 280x200 ad tile 12.1.12

pretzel crisps logo 8.7.13

NE Running Co logo 300x99

kind logo 8.7.13

McCall Transportation

Greater Boston Running Company

HarborOne Credit Union

and many, many more!

You can contact Kevin or EJN if you have any questions:

We can’t wait to see you at the race! As always…

Race on the ground
Read the underground


Graston & ART: Legitimate Treatment?

Are Graston and Active Release Technique (ART) a Legitimate Treatment For Running Injuries?

Guest blog by John Davis (RunnersConnect)

graston running injuriesSoft tissue injuries are the broadest and most common category of injuries that runners suffer from.  This category encompasses all injuries to the muscles, tendons, and fascia in your lower body.

While they are often easier to treat and less severe than “bony” injuries like stress fractures, soft tissue injuries like Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and muscle strains nevertheless cause huge disruptions in the training of many runners.

As such, any progress on treating these injuries is sure to garner a lot of attention.

Two relatively new treatment protocols, Graston Technique and Active Release Technique (ART), have emerged as popular ways to speed the healing process from muscle, tendon, and fascia injuries, especially in the running and triathlon communities.

But what kind of scientific support do these treatments have, and are they grounded on good medical information?

To answer that, we will have to review some of the scientific literature that has been published on Graston and ART.

Graston and ART: An overview

Before doing that, however, we ought to become familiar with both Graston and Active Release Technique.  Both of these treatments are based on the idea of tissue adhesion and scar tissue—according to proponents of ART and Graston, injured tissue develops abnormalities when it heals, which impair normal function.

To get rid of these abnormalities, ART and Graston both use mechanical force to break them down—ART involves the practitioner using his or her hands to apply pressure to the muscles surrounding the injured area, while flexing and extending the joints they are connected to.

Graston involves using curved metal tools to apply pressure and friction across the injured muscle, fascia, or tendon.  Both are “proprietary” techniques, meaning that a practitioner must pay for special classes to become licensed in them.

This naturally attracts some skepticism from the medical and scientific communities, as the nature of the respective businesses, which oversee ART and Graston is somewhat out-of-step with treatments under serious consideration for rehabbing injuries.  Perhaps because of this, most practitioners of ART and Graston are chiropractors, though some physical therapists are licensed as well.

Are Graston and ART based on legitimate principles?

Structural changes in tissues affected by chronic overuse injuries are well-documented: The collagen fibers of the Achilles tendon, for example, which appear like wavy, parallel lines when healthy, rupture, snarl, and degenerate into a mess that looks like a plate of spaghetti in athletes with chronic Achilles problems.  And the formation of scar tissue in muscle injuries is well-documented, as well.

Additionally, successful treatment of tendon injury through well-vetted rehab programs, such as eccentric heel drops for Achilles tendonitis, is connected with a return to normal tendon structure, at least as measured by ultrasound imaging.

Unfortunately, there’s no good evidence yet that ART or Graston (or any soft-tissue manipulation therapy) can influence the microscopic structure of a healing tendon or muscle in an athlete.

Two studies using different manual techniques found some changes in the structure of rat tendons and ligaments, but this is not nearly enough to declare the theoretical foundations of ART and Graston to be sound.

The best science on these therapies so far is limited to case studies and pilot studies.  A case study is the scientific equivalent of an anecdote—they describe how a doctor or therapist treated one particular patient with an injury.  Pilot studies are generally conducted with only a few subjects and no control group.

In one example, 20 men took a sit-and-reach test for hamstring flexibility, then had ART administered and underwent another sit-and-reach test, which showed an improvement in hamstring flexibility. In another study, five subjects with carpal tunnel syndrome were treated with ART over a period of two weeks and all demonstrated improvement.

Not all pilot studies found success, though—one study of nine athletes with “anterior knee pain” (likely patellofemoral pain syndrome or ‘runner’s knee‘) found that administering one treatment of ART did not result in better knee function.

All peer-reviewed studies on Graston technique to date are limited to case studies, describing individual patients being treated for everything from trigger finger to low back pain.

Breaking the barrier

The biggest barrier to ART and Graston being accepted as legitimate treatments for injury is the lack of well-designed studies on their usefulness.  Control groups, which are administered a fake treatment, are absolutely necessary to establish the scientific worth of any injury rehab protocol.  Otherwise, factors like the placebo effect and simple healing over time make determining the use of a treatment near-impossible.

While having a scientific basis for treatments is important, the old adage that “any medicine that works is good medicine” holds up.

Today, most insurance companies will pay for chiropractic adjustments for low back pain, not because chiropractic is necessarily based on solid science, but because well-designed placebo-controlled studies have demonstrated that it is a legitimately beneficial treatment for back pain.

While popular among athletes, the usefulness of ART and Graston is still questionable from a scientific perspective.  If you think you might benefit from them, feel free to try it out, but do realize that you are taking a gamble on an uncertain treatment.  If you are skeptical, you may want to wait until better-designed studies are published on the benefits of soft-tissue manipulation.

Get more great injury prevention advice from John Davis (plus other great training & maintenance tips from Jeff Gaudette & Co) on the RunnersConnect blog.

Firefighter 5 Mile: Rich, Manfred Victorious

We went old school for this race coverage. Well, maybe old school isn’t the right way to put it. We didn’t have our usual camera equipment so we went back to our roots and got it done with the iPhone. Before the race went off, we spotted Pat Rich in the registration area and thought we’d get ahead in the game by doing a quick Instagram video of him with a pre-race prediction. Well, the cell phone service out there is pretty abysmal and the video clip went out into the ether, never to be seen again. We tried.

Technical difficulties aside, Pat Rich cruised to victory in 26:24. Matthew Manfred finished 2nd in 28:36, but the loss shouldn’t have stung too much for the coach from Altoona, PA; his wife Heidi was the top woman and only two spots behind him. For their efforts, they both got to cash in on some gear over at the New England Running Company in Beverly, MA. The husband and wife duo both coach cross country at Penn State Altoona, and were in town visiting family and hoping to run Falmouth. Falmouth’s loss was Hamilton’s gain.

firefighter 5 mile

Kaitlyn (L) and Lindsay (R) Domoracki bask in the glow of their triumphs.

The top firefighter on the day was Kevin Phipps of Lynn, and his Lynn Fire Department team upset the Hamilton team on their home course. Big road victory for Lynn! Kevin ran a 36:10 for the 5 mile course.

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