Cross-training, in reference to running, is when a runner trains by doing another kind of fitness regimen such as swimming, cycling, or resistance training to supplement their running. Cross-training is believed to build strength and flexibility in muscles that runners don’t utilize. Cross-training is known to prevent injury by correcting any muscle imbalances that might be present from prolonged training in one particular sport. The change in movement and activity may also help prevent boredom or burnout.

Running is a physically demanding sport and researchers have estimated that about 37-56% of regularly training runners sustain an injury each year.  Many runners utilize cross-training to introduce other forms of exercise into their routine, allowing them to train at a greater intensity without getting injured. Cross-training can also be utilized once an injury has already occurred, allowing the athlete to maintain or even improve their performance during recovery. Common modes of cross-training include cycling, swimming, yoga, Barre, walking, martial arts, golf, kayaking, rollerblading, and many more.

Cycling can help improve your cardiovascular fitness along with aiding in your recovery if you are injured. It works many of the same leg muscles and substitutes some of the constant pounding and landing pressure while still getting a solid aerobic workout.

Swimming is also a great form of cross-training because it is going to work the same muscle groups and add in an upper body and core component to your workout. Swimming is also a good aerobic workout, again without the pounding forces on your lower extremities, aiding in further recovery.

Yoga and Barre class can also aid in flexibility, strength and conditioning for running. Yoga can help runners achieve increased flexibility for tight or overused muscles and Barre can help aid in strengthening underused muscles and prevent injury.

Walking is one of the simplest ways to cross-train, especially during recovery, because you are utilizing the same muscle groups and it’s usually not as that higher intensity which can help further aid in the healing process.

HIIT training is growing to be one of the most popular workouts, and especially great for those who don’t have much time to squeeze in a workout on a hectic day. High-Intensity Interval Training workouts are designed to achieve an all-out, 100% effort in intense short burst exercises followed by short recovery periods.

Martial arts can help improve strength, balance and focus in long distance runners and golf can actually improve aerobic capacity, if you’re actually the one lugging those 15-25 pounds bags around the course.

Kayaking is shown to help upper body strengthening in runners and helps long distance runners recover quicker due to the mental break and exposure to nature or calming waters.

Rollerblading can help improve cardiovascular fitness and decrease the landing pressure of running, giving your joints a little break from the repetitive pounding of a long distance run.

Whether you’re cycling to improve your cardiovascular endurance or participating in yoga to improve your flexibility and focus, cross-training is a great way to prevent injury or recover from a current injury without keeping you off the road or out of the race for too long.

If you’re struggling with an injury leading up to the marathon, don’t lose hope. We’re here to help get you there.  Visit our website to schedule a FREE Rapid Recovery Injury Assessment today.


Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, or IASTM for short, is a specialized treatment technique used by physical therapists to help treat and prevent persistent soft-tissue restrictions caused by repetitive motion and overuse. The treatments (also referred to as Graston or ASTYM) involve using beveled stainless steel or plastic/composite tools to locate abnormal soft-tissues, usually a tight muscle, scarring or a restricted joint. These areas are where adhesions and scar tissue typically develop and the application of IASTM is used to “scape” or break up this abnormal tissue and create minor inflammation to further promote the proliferation of new cells to create fresh and healthy tissue.

Studies have shown that IASTM to be effective and a great substitute for other, more invasive, treatments for soft tissue and joint problems such as injections. Many soft tissue mobilizations and techniques have been trademarked such as ASTYM, which uses plastic, patented edge tools that requires certification to administer and Graston Technique which uses a more aggressive approach using stainless steel tools with patented edges. All of these techniques are based on the same concept of trying to mobilize tissue, prevent restrictions, and treat chronic and acute injuries.

IASTM can be used specifically on runners in the sense that runners often end up with injuries that restrict normal tissue mobility. Ideally, layers of muscle and fascia should glide over one another as they move through a range of motion or contract. When this doesn’t happen, it is termed a “soft-tissue restriction”. This lack of mobility often causes pain and inability to run with proper form. Common examples include plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, chronic, tight calf muscles, illiotibial band syndrome (ITB), and hamstring strains. The IASTM technique can be used to break up the adhesions between the tissue layers and bring blood flow to the affected area, aiding to recovery time and preventing risk of re-injury in the future. The treatment is often intense at the time of administration but it is usually very quick and very effective if followed by stretching and strengthening in new, more optimal movement patterns. Additionally, and most importantly, activity is encouraged during and between treatments. Therefore, continuing your training is encouraged while undergoing IASTYM treatment.

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapists are heavily involved in the running community and many will be side-by-side with you running this year’s Phoenix-Mesa Marathon. Visit our website to schedule a FREE Rapid Recovery Injury Assessment.

Running as a means of exercise is popular for both recreation and as a sport. However, there is risk of injury. Throughout the course of any year, 65 to 80 percent of runners obtain an injury. Injuries vary, but some common running injuries include exertional lower leg pain, plantar fasciopathy, Achilles tendinopathy, calf pain, medial tibial stress syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome, hamstring injury … and the list goes on. These injuries are often a result of faulty movement patterns and decreased energy efficiency throughout the body, both of which can be identified and addressed by a licensed physical therapist through a process known as gait analysis.

Gait analysis is a technology-based method for identifying biomechanical abnormalities in the gait cycle — in other words, it’s a way of using video to capture and assess the way you walk or run. Gait analysis is typically done in a clinical facility by a licensed physical therapist or trained professional. It involves filming you running from three positions — front, back, and side — and analyzing the video footage in slow motion, using still frames and frame-by-frame motion assessment. The video is analyzed to determine how each joint is moving, how specific muscles are working to control joint movement, how one side compares to the other, and how the values of joint angles at your trunk, hips, knees, and ankles compare to normative values.

Following a gait analysis, your physical therapists will explain any movement faults observed and will recommend running modifications. A trial period will be implemented where three to five strategies will be used to target desired running mechanics modifications. Additionally, two to three verbal, tactile, or visual cues are used to support the new movement pattern. Interval training is added towards the end of the trial period. Clients are asked to run for one- to three-minute periods of time, during which the therapist will correct running until the pattern is learned and naturally integrated.

Gait analysis and subsequent running modification are often coupled with an exercise plan to address weak muscles, stiff joints, and short, stiff, or lengthened muscles. For example, if you have weak gluteal and hip muscles your knees might collapse in and cause pain at the patella or joint line. If this is observed, your therapist will cue you to run with increased space between your knees and also will add gluteal and hip strengthening exercises to your therapy program to address the muscle weakness along with the movement pattern.

Whether you currently have pain with running, would like to improve your running form and energy expenditure, or you’re just starting your training, the licensed physical therapists at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy have been trained to help you reach your goal. Nobody knows the biomechanics of movement and gait analysis like we do. If you would like to know more about gait analysis and how it might help you relieve your current pain or help you reach your running goals, reach out to us and schedule an appointment. We have multiple locations in the Valley and would love to help.