FAX: (406) 549-5392

Running – Specific Physical Therapy

John Fiore - running steep terrain

Sapphire Physical Therapy is passionate about being an integral part of keeping Missoula runners healthy and happy. As our therapists know from personal experience, an injured runner is not a happy runner. We know that many running injuries can feel daunting and indomitable. That is why we use out skills, expertise, and experience to tackle the underlying cause of your injury as well as find cross-training options that can keep you fit during times of necessary relative rest.

In addition to getting Missoula runners back on their running feet, we provide seminars and strength training classes for injury prevention and performance enhancement.
Not only do we support the Missoula running community through injury prevention and rehabilitation, but we also sponsor many local running events and races so that we can continue to see runners from all over the country challenge themselves while they enjoy Montana’s amazing roads and trails.

Our Physical Therapists’ Running Injury Expertise Includes

-Plantar Fasciopathy
-Achilles Tendinopathy
-Iliotibial Band Pain
-Anterior Knee Pain
-Shin Splints
-Hamstring, Calf, and Other Muscle Strains
-Tibialis Posterior Tendinopathy
-Chronic Ankle Sprains
-Low Back Pain

High Speed 2D Video Running Analysis
Injuries impact nearly 80% of all runners (Br J Sports Med 2007). While some runners rarely miss a training run or race due to injury, many experience a variety of injuries and/or recurrent injuries. Running analysis setupThe key to effectively treating and preventing running injuries lies in effectively determining the cause of injury rather than treating the effect or symptoms alone.

The strongest predictors of of running injury include a prior history of running injury, running throughout the year without a break, and a rapid increase in running mileage of >10% per week (Br J Sports Med 2007).
Once compensatory movement patterns are addressed through a comprehensive physical therapy evaluation, underlying strength deficits can be effectively addressed.

Running AnalysisSapphire Physical Therapy is now providing real-time 2D running gait analysis in our Missoula location. We are excited to share this informative, interactive, diagnostic technology with the Missoula running community. Colored LED markers on key body landmarks are read by two high-speed cameras which provide real-time feedback for both the runner and the physical therapist. Sapphire Physical Therapy is the first physical therapy clinic in the northwest to offer on-site 2D video running analysis using the Simi Aktisys 2D system. Developed in Germany, the Simi Aktisys software records joint angles along the frontal (anterior and posterior views) and sagittal (side) planes of motion as a person runs. Planes of movement and joint ankles (ankle, knee, hip, trunk) are recorded and observed as a person runs. Running analysis discussionThe software analyses the measured video data and an easy to read, usable PDF report is produced for the runner and physical therapist. Utilizing 2D video running analysis during a physical therapy evaluation takes the guesswork out of determining the underlying cause of movement inefficiency and/or injury.

Once a compensatory movement pattern is recorded, the runner can return to the treadmill and make changes in his or her running mechanics while observing themselves in real-time on the monitor screen. Coupled with a wireless EMG (electromyography) system, runners can then focus on strengthening weak muscles which play a role in their unique running compensation. Walking biomechanics is fairly universal in healthy individuals, but running biomechanics are as diverse and very difficult to accurately assess visually or with a hand-heldRunning analysis results video device. The Sapphire Physical Therapy staff looks forward to helping Missoula runners improve their running efficiency and determining the underlying cause of recurrent injuries.

Cost for a 2D video running analysis is $150. The hour-long appointment includes filming, review of videos, PDF printout, a discussion of compensations impacting biomechanics, and individualized exercise and treatment recommendations. An additional one-hour follow-up visit (to establish and practice isolating key muscles needed to run efficiently and injury-free using EMG biofeedback and/or a follow-up video analysis) will be available for an additional $100. Call Sapphire Physical Therapy (406-549-5283) to schedule your video running analysis or email me (john@sapphirept.com) for additional information or with any questions.

Read Mike Foote’s article on his 2D Running Analysis »

Photo Credit: Votography Images

Runner-stanceFunctional Movement Retraining to Address Underlying Causes of Your Running Injury

One mile of running consists of approximately 750 single leg hops on each leg! If any portion of your gait cycle is impaired with faulty biomechanics, it is only a matter of time (or should we say steps) before your body tissues will not be able to withstand the excessive stress, leading to injury. Improper biomechanical movement patterns can be caused by excessive or insufficient tissue length, strength imbalances, and / or faulty neuromuscular coordination patterns (all of which may be contributing to or resulting from injury) . It is possible to fully regain sufficient mobility and strength to allow for proper running gait mechanics, yet continue to lack the neuromuscular coordination required to functionally use that strength and mobility while you run. For this reason, our physical therapists not only work to help you strengthen the particular muscles that may be contributing to faulty gait mechanics, but then help you learn to use this strength functionally as you run.

running-injury-treatmentRunning Injury Treatment Approaches:

-Individualized exercise prescription
Functional movement retraining
-Specialized taping techniques
Functional dry needling
Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)
-Biomechanical orthotic assessment and fabrication
Manual therapy



“You (John) made me a believer in PT …I don’t wait around hoping injuries will just go away. My treatment included exercises & techniques to prevent injury from re-occurring. You got me through three marathons and I’m shooting for #4 this July!!!”
Bridget J., Spring 2010, at the Big Sur Marathon

“I enjoyed working with you (Anya) and learned a ton. You have been an inspiration and a motivator. The race was pain-free thanks to you! I will recommend you to anyone I know in need of a PT.”
Kelly H., Fall 2014 at Beat the Blerch ½ Marathon