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Smartphones provide training and injury prevention tips to runners

In today’s day and age, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone without a Smartphone. Statistics from emarketer experts show that by the end of 2014, there will be 1.75 billion smartphone users worldwide. Smartphones are being used for much more than talking and texting, and have emerged into mini computers that have the capacity to do anything, including managing a person’s fitness routine.

The vast array of fitness apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone include the ability to track fitness goals, keep a detailed calorie count, map and monitor running routes, review analytics and/or train for an upcoming goal. The most convenient aspect of using a smartphone as a fitness app is that it’s always with you!

Today’s runners are using a variety of smartphone apps to stay motivated and keep a close watch on their progressive running results. For physical therapists who work with injured runners, a fitness app can be an invaluable tool.

Apps vary in variety and price. Costs can range from free to upwards of $5. Popular free apps include: MyFitnessPal, which calculates your daily calorie count and calories burned during activities, to Strava (running and cycling) and Runkeeper, which tracks your activities through a GPS. Apple has developed an easy-to-read dashboard for health and fitness, called Healthkit. The app, appropriately called, “Health,” gives users of iphone 4s and later models, and the iPod touch (5th generation) the capacity to have on one dashboard data such as heart rate, calories burned, and cholesterol, which allows for easy viewing of recent health and fitness data. It also gives you the ability to create an emergency card that’s accessible from your locked screen. A new version of MyFitnessPal supports Apple’s Health app on iOS 8 and enables users to interface three types of data with Apple’s Health app (meal summaries, weight syncing and workout data from exercises).

Apps can also include a social media component, or offer music, heart rate, and can even create races against other runners who use the same app in order to win prizes. Staying motivated is one of the main attractions for these apps and a runner who is bored with his or her workout, running routine or route, has a variety of options from which to choose.

One of the latest motivating running apps is Zombies, Run! There are two versions: a 5K training ($1.99) or the epic adventure ($3.99) that offers a “zombie chase” with missions, inter-dispersed with music. It’s hard to be bored running when you’re being chased by zombies!

Fitness apps also can assist reaching goals set by physical therapists, by continually reminding and motivating injured runners to follow the proper protocol set for them when rehabbing from an injury. Your physical therapist may find your information on the app to be helpful as your program progresses.

“It’s great to have an added ‘assistant’ to remind our running patients to do their exercises and follow the guidelines we’ve set for them, so that they can get back to running and reach their next milestone as soon as possible,” said Eric Cardin, Executive Director, South County Physical Therapy, Inc. (SCPT) . “I think runners by nature like technology and love the feedback they can get from their smartphone or other gadgets. I use my smartphone for music, tracking my mileage, connecting with my running watch, and for input on what to eat or how much to eat when I am training for something. Sometimes I leave it home for peace and quiet on my run but I always use it to log my run when I get back.”

For more information on SCPT’s treatment plans for runners, call 508-832-2628 or visit www.southcountypt.com.

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