Friday, May 30, 2014

Interval Training

Interval training is a type of workout that alternates between high and low intensities.  Interval training is working as hard as you possibly can and then relaxing as a short recovery before the next working segment.  During these high and low intensities often times there are alternating activities and exercises being performed.  There are two kinds of interval training: fitness and performance interval training.  Fitness interval training is recommended for general fitness goals.  Performance interval training is recommended for athletes.  Interval training can be done in many different ways.   Below are a few different types of interval training.
Types of Interval Training:
    1.    Tabata: Tabata is a type of interval training that requires 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest, for 4 minutes.  The 20 seconds of work is meant to be an all-out workout.  If at the end of the 20 seconds you are not tired, you are not working yourself hard enough.  Tabatas are often done in one group.  Between each Tabata a 1 minute rest is normally recommended.
Example of a Tabata:
Squat Jumps (20 seconds)
REST (10 seconds)
Mountain Climbers (20 seconds)
REST (10 seconds)
Squat Jumps (20 seconds)
REST (10 seconds)
Mountain Climbers (20 seconds)
REST (10 seconds)
Squat Jumps (20 seconds)
REST (10 seconds)
Mountain Climbers (20 seconds)
REST (10 seconds)
Squat Jumps (20 seconds)
REST (10 seconds)
Mountain Climbers (20 seconds)
REST (10 seconds)

    2.    Sprint: Sprint training is a fluctuation in running speed over a prolonged period of time.  First, you begin with choosing how long you want to run for (can be time or miles).  Second, you choose the type of interval you will use (time or distance).  The amount of time or distance can be varied every time you work out.  As you become more comfortable with the sprinting you can increase the amount you are sprinting.  Also, if you are doing intervals on the treadmill you can add an incline for something different.
Example of a Sprint:
            Jog comfortable speed for 3 minutes
            20 minute workout:
            Sprint 30 seconds
            Walk 1 minute
            Continue this alternating sequence for 20 minutes

    3.    HIIT: HIIT workouts are not the same as all other interval training.  HIIT stands for high intensity interval training.  This is done by working at your maximal intensity for a short period of time.  You work at 100% of what you are capable of during that short period of time, you do not hold back.

Example of HIIT:
            400 meter low intensity jog
            HIIT workout:
            100 meter sprint at 80%
            200 meter low in intensity jog
            200 meter sprint at 75%
            200 meter low intensity jog
            Repeat for a designated number of rounds

Look for more to come in the weeks to follow from our healthcare experts at Saint Vincent!


Jen Territo
Saint Vincent Wellness Coordinator
Certified AFAA Group Fitness Instructor
Saint Vincent Hospital

Friday, May 23, 2014

Your Achilles Heel: Dealing with Achilles pain

Overuse injuries are the “Nature of the Beast” when it comes to training for something like the Barber Beast on the Bay.  One of the most common overuse injuries in runners is Achilles Tendonitis or Achilles Tendinopathy. Tendinopathy is a descriptive term for clinical conditions arising from tendon injury and overuse both within and around tendons.1 Several years of research on overuse injuries have shown that the term “tendonitis” is a misnomer in most people with tendon pain, because the suffix “-itis” implies an active inflammatory process. We know now that most tendon pain lacks the presence of inflammatory cells,2 and the treatment surrounding tendon injuries has changed dramatically in recent times.
Previous “old school” treatment for Achilles “tendonitis” included: rest, ice, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, iontophoresis with Dexamethasone, stretching, night splints, heel lifts, shoe orthotics, immobilization, etc.  In cases where frank inflammation is present, treatments are effective in relieving symptoms, and these treatments are still recommended at the early onset of Achilles pain. However, when symptoms persist to a chronic stage, or when these treatments have failed, a fairly new exercise regimen has been shown to be effective in 90% of people with pain in the mid-tendon and 30% of those with pain at the insertion of the tendon (at the heel).3-5
This newer regimen involves eccentric loading of the Achilles tendon.  Eccentric exercises are those where a muscle is lengthening while it is contracting.  For example, with a bicep curl, the eccentric portion of the exercise is when you’re lowering the weight back down toward the resting position.  In the case of the Achilles tendon, eccentric exercises are known as heel drops. Hakan Alfredson, an orthopaedic surgeon in Sweden, found that the eccentric regimen can take up to 12 weeks to completely resolve the symptoms, especially when the symptoms have been present for several months. He points out the “need for patients to complete the exercise protocol despite pain in the tendon. If patients experience no tendon pain doing the program, the load should be increased until the exercises provoke pain.  This idea sounds counter intuitive; however, Alfredson discovered this as an effective exercise when he was experiencing Achilles pain himself.  He had asked one of his colleagues to perform surgery on him, and they refused.  He attempted to rupture his tendon (so that surgery was necessary) using the most difficult contraction that a tendon must perform (eccentric), and found his symptoms improving. This lead to several studies on the effects of eccentric exercise on tendinopathy, particularly, Achilles tendinopathy. Of course, stretching prior to and after each run is still recommended to prevent the onset of Achilles tendinopathy. 

The symptomatic Achilles in this picture is the right.  A. Rise up onto the non-symptomatic side to avoid concentric (shortening) contraction of the symptomatic Achilles. B. Then place symptomatic foot onto step with toes pointing down. C. Finally, lower all of your body weight, eccentrically (lengthening) with the symptomatic foot, so that heel drops below the step.

If you’re experiencing Achilles tendon pain with your Beast on the Bay training, and rest, ice, and stretching have been ineffective in relieving your pain, you may benefit from eccentric loading of the tendon. It is imperative that other conditions are ruled out, such as Achilles tendon tears, posterior impingement, os trigonum, and osteoarthritis prior to starting an eccentric loading regimen. Contact the experts at Saint Vincent Rehab Solutions prior to beginning an eccentric loading regimen.


  1. Mobasheri A, Shakibaei M. Is tendinitis an inflammatory disease initiated and driven by pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin 1╬▓? Histol Histopathol 2013; 8:955-64.

  2. Maffulli N1, Khan KM, Puddu G. Overuse tendon conditions: time to change a confusing terminology.  Arthroscopy 1998; 14(8):840-3.

  3. Alfredson H, Pietila T, Jonsson P, et al. Heavy-load eccentric calf muscle training for the treatment of chronic Achilles tendinosis. Am J Sports Med 1998; 26:360-6.

  4. Fahlstr├Âm M, Jonsson P, Lorentzon R, et al. Chronic Achilles tendon pain treated with eccentric calf muscle training. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 2003;11:327-33.

     5. Roos E, Engstrom M, Lagerquist A, et al. Clinical improvement after 6 weeks of eccentric exercise in patients with mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy: a randomized trial with 1-year follow-up. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2004; 14:286-95. 


Jason Dudzic, PT, MSPT, OCS, Cert. MDT
Board Certified Orthopaedic Physical Therapist
Saint Vincent Rehab Solutions