Are You Struggling To Breathe When You Run?

By: Amy Watson ATC,PES
      DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan

Have you ever experienced tightness in your chest at the beginning of your run or when you are running really hard?  Had a cough after you stopped running?  Do you feel like you are struggling with fatigue in your training or having a hard time getting better?  You potentially are struggling with exercise induced asthma, which is also known as exercise induced bronchoconstriction. Running is considered a high risk activity for this condition, as well as swimming, biking, and hiking.

Exercise induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) is not the same as asthma. Asthma is the chronic inflammation of the airways that causes narrowing and decreased airflow. EIB is the narrowing of the airways triggered by exercise.  A person could technically suffer from both conditions.

EIB symptoms typically are at the beginning of the workout and/or shortly after finishing.  Some symptoms can last greater than 24 hours. EIB Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Upset stomach
  • Sore throat
  • Inability to improve
  • Decreased endurance

Symptoms are typically triggered by high or low temps, dry air, humidity, and environmental factors like pollen and air pollution. Having other allergies, like seasonal allergies, can add to the irritation factors. A Finnish study tested 103 runners and found 52% had evidence of EIB and of those 58% also had other allergies as well.

If you are experiencing any of theses symptoms see your primary doctor or an allergy and asthma specialist.  They will take a history and perform spirometry and other testing to help make a diagnosis. Ignoring symptoms over time can potentially  lead to permanent decrease in lung function because of constant irritations. It is very important to be diagnosed to avoid this. If you are diagnosed with EIB you will most likely be placed on a bronchodilator inhaler which you use 15-30 minutes prior to exercise.  You may also need other medication depending on your specific diagnosis.

You can still keep running with a diagnosis of EIB! Keep that inhaler close and don’t forget to use it. Schedule your run around extreme temps or the time of day where there are lower conditions of allergens and air pollution. If it is really cold, cover your mouth to help warm the air on its way in. Breathe through your nose until you are feeling better. A minimum of a five minute warm-up prior to activity has also been shown to help. Start with a slow run with intermittent fast paces for at least 30 seconds. If your ever feeling dizzy or faint  while running make sure you stop, relax, and use the inhaler as needed.  Severe wheezing, coughing, or difficulty breathing that is not improving after using your inhaler is a medical emergency.

I personally deal with many of these symptoms and did have testing done. As long as I use my inhaler and keep my allergies in control, I have minimal issues. Get yourself checked, so you can get back to running and breathing easier!

Amy Watson is a certified athletic trainer and an avid runner with many marathons under her belt. To make an appointment with a physician or therapist that specializes in running injuries at the Detroit Medical Center and Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, call 313-910-9328.


Adding Miles to your Running Routine Safely

By: Amy Watson ATC/PES
DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan

If you are just starting to run you’ve noticed it’s no walk in the park.  Running is hard work, especially in the beginning.  Getting that first mile to be remotely comfortable takes a while, and being able to not have to stop and walk is rough.

So, how do you add on more miles? How do you get to that 5k race?  Well, number one, it’s a lot of work and determination. Next it’s a game plan. Consider  a program for Couch to 5k which is usually about 10-12  weeks of training.

Adding on distance might be small goals at first.  Be competitive with yourself.  As you are getting tired try to make it to that stop sign at the end of the block before you walk.  Next time, make it past that sign.  Wearing a watch helps too.  Set a time you have to make before stopping. Some runners consistently use a run/walk program.  Start with run 3 min/walk 1min. Work up to 5:1.  It also allows for more speed with the ability to recover.  Using a GPS watch is also very helpful.  You can see your distance, time, and pace which shows you exactly what’s going on and what you need to do.

I always tell people that when starting to run, it’s the first 3 miles that are the hardest.  It does take quite awhile to make that comfortable.  Once 3 miles are finally comfortable, adding on miles goes much smoother.

Again, consistency is key. You should be running 3-4 days per week. One of those days in the week should be a longer run.  Try to spread them out a little so that there is some rest and recovery days in between.  As you move on past those 3 miles, add 1-2 on per week onto the long run days.  After a few weeks make some of your mid week miles increase as well.  Keep adding on toward your goal distance.

Remember each run can be different.  The time of day, how busy you’ve been, how much or what you have eaten that day, and the temperature all can affect your run.  It takes a little trial and error to find out what gives you your best run.  Once you find what works for you, stay consistent. That will start to set you up for success. Unfortunately, some days for no known reason, running is just hard. That day will happen, so don’t let it deter you. When starting a running program make sure it’s at your pace. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.  You know your body, and as you get to know it better, you’ll know when you can push harder.  Too much too soon can lead to injuries and disappointment which decreases the desire and enjoyment. Running should be fun!  You are going to have sore muscles, feel tight, and probably achy too.  That means you’re doing something right.  This will decrease the more consistent you are.  Sharp pain however, is different. If it lasts more than 5 days without decreasing and you aren’t able to be active, then get it checked out.

Amy Watson is a certified athletic trainer and an avid runner with many marathons under her belt. To make an appointment with a physician or therapist that specializes in running injuries at the Detroit Medical Center and Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, call 313-910-9328.

A Special Message From CEO Joe Mullany Regarding the Flint Water Crisis

Mullany JosephFORdistribution.jpg The history of the Detroit Medical Center is built on improving the quality of life of every person who comes through our doors and elevating the communities we touch, in both good and bad times. Leading this professional and compassionate team is a source of great pride for me.

As experts in disaster management, our extensive organization, communication and resource coordination is the engine to drive a successful management effort. To that end, our Children’s Hospital of Michigan and the Lead Clinic in collaboration with the Michigan Poison Control Center stand ready to assist where needed. In addition, many DMC employees have directly and indirectly reached out to me seeking ways to help the City of Flint and the surrounding community. Although the DMC is connecting with Michigan and Flint officials, and our healthcare partners throughout mid-Michigan, there remains a desire and commitment to go further.

I challenged our leadership team to ensure additional support from the DMC system must complement federal, state and local efforts already underway. While global outreach has resulted in thousands of bottled water donations, we have determined our teams’ greatest impact will be through financial contributions to support services necessary for the health and well-being of Flint residents now and in the future. In support of this challenge, we have partnered with the DMC Foundation, a supporting organization of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan to provide a means by which our caring DMC employees may collectively make a difference in the lives of children and families affected by the Flint Water Crisis.

Our gifts will be provided to the Flint Child Health & Development Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. This fund was established by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a former Chief Resident at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, who has been at the forefront of the Flint water issue. Our financial support coupled with the previously offered Children’s Hospital of Michigan medical expertise, will ensure that our collective contribution is impactful.

Those wishing to join us in our efforts can do so by making an online donation directly to the Flint Child Health and Development Fund at

Another proud moment for DMC, as Children’s Hospital – Troy opens today

The new Children’s Hospital of Michigan-Troy officially opened today, bringing pediatric experts closer to the children and families of Oakland County. The three-story, 63,000 square-foot iconic structure offers a 24/7 pediatric emergency room, outpatient surgery and multiple pediatric medical and surgical specialties for children, including cancer and infusion therapy, cardiology, neurology, orthopedics, urology, imaging and lab services.

Dominating the landscape at 350 W. Big Beaver Road, this facility, with its vibrant colors and design that includes fun, child-inspired spaces and artwork, and advanced treatment rooms, sends a clear message that this is a special place for children to feel better.

“Having a sick, injured or chronically-ill child is not easy for the child or parents, and may often mean frequent visits for emergency care, outpatient surgery and consultations with pediatric specialists,” said Larry Gold, CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “To have Children’s Hospital of Michigan services like these located closer to home for many of the patients we serve will help make the lives of many families just a bit easier.”

Off season for runners: What you need to know

By: Amy Watson AT, ATC, PES
DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan

“Off season,” it’s not a bad word. I promise it isn’t. It’s definitely dreaded, hated, and really misunderstood by most runners though. But it’s a good thing, and will actually help improve your running!   Perhaps we can refer to it as recovery time, fun time, refocusing time, or even goal making time! Hopefully that makes you feel a little better.

Off season or recovery time, whatever you’d like to call it, is a necessary part of your training period. Most  training cycles use four phases to build you up for your goal race. You begin with building strength and endurance in phase one. This is followed by increasing speed and fine tuning in phase two. Then onto the third phase which is taper and competition time. Then of course it’s all followed up by recovery as phase four. Athletes of almost all sports use this method.

The real reason you need the off season time is to let your body actually recover. This is when your body can heal itself, repair itself, rebuild, and make some gains. This phase actually helps you improve your performance!  Not giving your body the rest it needs can lead to overtraining.  Overtraining can set you backwards, and that can make it difficult to achieve your goals.

How do you know when it’s time to take a break? Typically after your goal race it’s time to take a few weeks to recover. This time frame may vary per runner. A few signs may also let you know it’s time to rest:

  • Sleeping pattern changes
  • Decreased energy level
  • Poor immunity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Dehydration issues
  • Decreased interest or moodiness
  • Increased pains and injuries

If you are beginning to experience more than a few of these, it may be time to take a rest. Again, this is to help  improve your performance.  Even at the peak of your training, this may indicate a need for a day off.

It’s really not as bad as it sounds. Being “Off,” isn’t actually being fully off.  Most runners will decrease their mileage 25-50%. So, calm down, you DO still get to run. It’s also a perfect time to hit the gym and build up some strength again because you maybe didn’t have the time while training. It’s time to increase flexibility, mobility, and core strength.  Cross train by biking or swimming to keep the need for cardio going. Focus on cleaning up the diet as well. This is also definitely the time to care for your injuries.  See a physician or a physical therapist to help your body get back on track.

So really, this “off season” is a good thing. Training cycles can get to be like a job. Everyone loves a little vacation from their job. Use it to refocus and rejuvenate that love of running. Make that new race schedule and get excited about new goals!  Enjoy your time off!

Amy Watson is a certified athletic trainer and an avid runner with many marathons under her belt. To make an appointment with a physician or therapist that specializes in running injuries at the Detroit Medical Center and Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, call 313-910-9328.

Celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. whose contributions to equality and diversity have greatly influenced our nation.

One of DMC’s strengths is the diversity of our colleagues across the system, their backgrounds, ethnicities, language, religions and other characteristics that make our employees unique. It is the blending of our uniqueness, mix of cultures, values and beliefs that provides diversity of thought and innovative ideas which enriches and strengthens our system and our communities.

As we reflect today on Dr. King’s life works, let us remember his acts of bravery and selflessness. Let us also continue to exemplify his dream of equality for every person who comes through our doors.

Joe Mullany, CEO Detroit Medical Center

Don’t Be A Fair Weather Runner: Tips for Running During the Winter

By: Amy Watson ATC,PES
DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan

You don’t have to be crazy to be a winter runner! Keeping your fitness level up during the winter months is very beneficial. It helps maintain a base level that makes spring events so much easier and helps to avoid overtraining problems for the main season. There are many things you can do to be comfortable and safe in order to make winter running part of your training.

But its just so cold!

Get over it by doing it right! The most important bit of advice to make your run comfortable is dressing correctly. As a rule of thumb, always remember you will feel 20 degrees hotter while running than what the thermometer says.

You must wear layers, and most importantly wear a wicking/tech type material. Cotton will hold moisture from sweat making you wet and cold. Your inner layer should be a wicking material, your second layer can be the same weight or a thicker material on colder days, and the outer most layer should be a windproof nylon/Gortex type material. Also, don’t forget about those undies! They should also be of wicking material. For those extra cold days also keep in mind the undergarments should be insulated, especially for men.  Frostbite can occur!

Clothing Guideline

40-60º -1 layer shirt/shorts or pants

30-40º – 2 layers shirt/shorts or pants

10-30º – 3 layers shirt/pants and/or tights

10-0º   – 3 layers shirt/coat and tights/windproof pants

Don’t forget we lose approximately 30% of our body heat through our hands and feet. Always wear gloves or mittens and shed them if you have to. Use hand warmers inside them as needed. Keep feet warm and dry by wearing thicker and taller socks. Wool running socks work great by keeping feet warm and dry.   Headgear is also vital as 40% of our body heat is lost from our head. Wear a hat or headband to keep those ears warm!

Staying safe in the winter is key.

First, make sure you have your Doctor’s approval if you have any underlying medical conditions. The cold, dry air can trigger chest pain and asthma. Bring your Albuterol with you, and keep your mouth covered to warm up the incoming air to avoid bronchospasm. Another essential piece of winter gear is a  balaclava, It can help keep mouth covered as well as face, neck, and ears.

You do have to consider some training changes during the winter months. There is less daylight, so your usual time of day may have to change. Take extra precaution by wearing bright clothing and reflectors/lights. You may want to use a head lamp to see and be seen. The wind is also a bigger factor this time of year. Consider running into the wind first, that way when you are fatigued the battle is less and you can stay warmer on your way home. The wind will also cool your sweat and can be quite uncomfortable.

There is slightly more risk for muscle strains this time of year. Because it is colder, it takes longer for those muscles to warm up. Spend a few extra minutes with your warm-up routine and start your run at a slightly slower pace. Keep in mind your usual pace will decrease in the winter. Your miles can decrease to about 50% of normal, but you should try to continue running at least 3 times per week.  This will help maintain fitness level.

Don’t let the snow keep you in either. There are several types of cleats to slip onto your shoes  that give great traction. Due North and Yaktrax are common brands. They help only a little on icy surfaces, so still take extra caution. Always look ahead and take shorter and wider strides on bad terrain.

Hydration is still very important. Colder air has a drying effect which increases dehydration. You are also still sweating and will lose fluid from that as well. Bring your water with you as if it were any other time of year.

After using all these tips you don’t have to be a fair weather runner! Cold weather running can be enjoyable, invigorating, and rewarding!

Free Running App

Whether you’re taking a jog or running a marathon our RUN with DMC app is the perfect training companion. Brought to you by the experts at DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, the app contains:

  • Running Log to record all the details of your run
  • Expert advice and videos; from shoe selection, warm-up exercises and stretching to help enhancing your running performance.
  • Causes, symptoms and treatments for common running injuries.


Give it a try – just search for “Run With DMC” in your smartphone’s marketplace!