Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)

maybe you've read about some famous athlete who touts the benefits of this newfangled medical technique - PRP. before this, you may have heard of athletes touting the benefits of prolotherapy. maybe you've even tried one or both of these out for you chronic, nagging, overuse tendinopathy or what not. if so, let me know how it worked. because research into these methodologies is scant and equivocal, tho at least not so negative as to warrant a health warning. the real question is, do either of these work? and when should you consider trying these needling techniques - before a solid period of rest and rehab, or right before surgery? anyway, read this and think about it. especially if you're a personal trainer, like me, you might want to research it a bit more vigorously than your clients might do so that you can give them the best advice possible. don't look on line for testimonials or other 'articles' about these; look at pubmed.com or webmd.com.

at least, read this: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/26/phys-ed-does-platelet-rich-plasma-therapy-really-work/?ref=health

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sprint to faster and maybe better health

sprinting has been shown to improve all kinds of health and fitness parameters. here's a recent commentary re a study that, again, supports the value of high intensity training: http://www.multibriefs.com/briefs/acsm/active1-25.htm

now, before i go on and explain the pros and cons, let me provide a personal disclaimer: i don't train like i used to but i do intervals (on a stationary bike) at least 3/wk, plus a couple days of long, slow - 30 mins, RPE of 7/10 - rides. while i do not like the sprints, i do like completing the workouts faster, breathing harder, sweating more, and feeling accomplished....even tho i have absolutely no competitive goals. it just works when time doesn't.

so, the pros: more effort, less time, more anaerobic benefits, more strength benefits, similar cardio fitness benefits but no benefits to Q, or cardiac output, which is a measure of HR x stroke volume, or blood pumped per beat. uh oh, you say! well, don't fret it. when your heart beats fast, it does not have as much time to fill up, and therefore cannot pump out as much blood per beat. plus, this study was brief - 6 wks - and not all that intense. so over time, maybe you will get higher Q's. but think of this: the other component of maximal aerobic capacity is arterio-venous difference, or a-vO2, which is that peripheral component mentioned in the study. basically, your body gets better at extracting O2 from the blood to supply the muscles' screaming needs when it starts running short of O2 and long on lactic acid. in other words, the heart gets stronger, and the muscles get more efficient = improved aerobic capacity too.

and don't forget the anthropometric benefits - loss of body fat and waist circumference. in 6 weeks!!!!

now the cons: potentially dangerous if you have a bad heart. but sprints are relative - to your fitness level. so anything higher and harder than what you are accustomed to is a sprint. dangerous, potentially, but like any exercise program, start off slowly, allow about 6-8 wks to acclimate overall with slow, easy efforts, then gradually introduce sprints in short efforts with longer recoveries, as in this study: 30 sec/4 mins.

another con: more muscle soreness, esp if you run or stairmaster. but cycling will leave your muscles tired but not too sore, and the risk of joint injury is slim. (spinning classes, however, differ. the rides are hard and long, and these can make it more dangerous overall, and increase the risk of joint issues.)

another con, the biggest of all as far as i'm concerned, is that you have to psyche up to do them. it may be hard enough to gear up to go to the gym after a hard day at work, then harder still to gear up to do over-85% efforts, but if you do, if you can, the benefits keep rolling in. so, my advice: buck up, start with two days of 5 sprints for 30 seconds with a couple mins rest between, and see if, after a few weeks, they are not as threatening....and maybe even somewhat inviting. why?

because you'll now have more time to lift weights, silly:)

Friday, January 14, 2011

wt loss via newtonian and einsteinian physics

Dear Friends and Family,

I may not have told you in this venue, but I will be teaching a one-evening class called Newton’s Laws of Weight Loss through the University School of Nashville Evening Class program. I'll be taking a look at new science and old in the quest for weight loss to give you a fresh perspective.



My class is coming up on Thursday, January 20 and I've just gotten word that there are still available spots left. The purpose of donating my time is to raise money for needs-based scholarships at USN, so I'd really like to have a sell-out class.



If you can, please try to grab one of the available spots at www.usneveningclasses.org or forward this email to someone you think would benefit. Come see me do "my thing," have a fun night out, AND support the scholarship program.



Thanks!

Irv

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

running shoe type to fit your foot type

i've reported before on whether or not you should buy a running shoe to fit your foot type. the most recent studies simply do not support this idea.

for one thing, analyzing a foot type, or how it performs when you run, is not as easy as looking at the sole of your shoe. too many variables are at play.

furthermore, just because your shoe wears a certain way, and just because your foot looks a certain way does not mean that the store-bought shoe will alter either the foot's mechanics or the shoe's wear patterns. at least, not without the possibility of creating a new movement pattern that may create new injury risks.

so, in keeping this discussion brief, runners should change shoes frequently based on mileage and running surface; should address the two most common causes of running related injury - doing too much too soon, and the third - on a different surface; and should address any injuries with professionals, either physical therapists or orthopedists AS LONG AS SAID PROS ACTUALLY WORK WITH ATHLETES!!! this is maybe the most important thing to know: not all professionals understand all sportsmen. seek an expert in your area and don't forget - take your old shoes in with you.

http://www.multibriefs.com/briefs/acsm/active1-11.htm

Saturday, January 8, 2011

barefoot and pregnant...with questions

so the debate continues: is running barefoot better for you than running in shoes? here's an easy to read scientific review of the many facets of this issue: http://www.lowerextremityreview.com/cover_story/the-truth-about-barefoot-running-its-complicated#more-4752

in sum, it says that the sudden switch to barefoot running will most likely create a new, different set of orthopedic issues. by the same token, it suggests what i've written before: those who were raised running barefoot are more likely capable of running barefoot without the numerous issues we face running shod in $100 shoes. it also suggests that only some will be able to transition to barefoot running. and it leaves open the million dollar question: should YOU run barefoot?

scientifically speaking, my take is this: if you are having running related problems and have treated them properly with appropriate training, equipment, muscle conditioning, and REST, then, by all means, try running barefoot for brief periods of time on well-groomed golf courses but continue training shod to retain some of your aerobic ability. gradually add distance, time, and then intensity. if you intend to race barefoot, get appropriate foot covering - there are a number of brands available - and try them out on the golf course for a period of time, adding distance, time, and intensity BEFORE venturing out onto the asphalt. if, after what should be several months of training thusly, without negative consequences, go for it. if at any point you experience symptoms similar or other than those you had while running shod, then step back and again, alter your training - perhaps scaling back one of the three variables, or simply change the ratio of shod to unshod training. by whatever method you progress, be willing to chuck it all down the drain and call it quits on behalf of a one-person experiment. you may become one of the few out there running barefoot, or may simply be one of the many running shod, but by all means, keep running.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

alcohol and exercise consumption???

here's an article that stimulates absolutely no thought in my mind: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/05/does-exercising-make-you-drink-more-alcohol/?ref=health

the essence is that exercise seems to stimulate rather than blunt alcohol consumption. humans present one layer of evidence; mice, which we assume do not have social circumstances centered on alcohol consumption, also seem to thrill on alcohol intake if they are exercisers.

scientists are baffled and quickly resort to hypotheses based on brain chemistry. some suggest social aspects - we play then we drink; or we drank so let's go to the gym and work it off. ha ha ha.

why do i not give it any consideration? because of all the things i've seen, experienced, and actually done as a vigorous and regular exerciser from teen years to today, the only link i see to alcohol intake among exercisers is the same i see among non-exercisers: some do, some don't, and most slow down as they age regardless of their exercise habits.

i did tae kwon do for almost 20 years 6 days/wk for 3-5 hrs a day. i was not a drinker but some of my peers were. i have been a cardio athlete - not fast but consistent - and some fellow runners drank and others didn't, and running or not running did not affect their habits or their quantities. i have been a trainer for over 24 years and none of my clients go drinking because they exercise, nor have they stopped because they exercise; and none that i know of come in to exercise after they've been out drinking any more or less than their usual appointments to exercise would suggest. in fact those who do party more tend to NOT come to their appointments as regularly.

so, while my anecdotal evidence does not quite match that of the studies mentioned in the article, i have a hard time buying into the idea that there's any causal relationship between alcohol consumption and exercise consumption. but if i were a public policy advisor, i'd be promoting the idea that more of us should go have a beer so long as we were going to the gym or track shortly thereafter. not only might it de-stress us but it would also decrease all the other co-morbidities associated with sedentary lifestyles.

drink up!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

obesity, brain chemistry, and choice

the search for clues as to why we americans are getting so fat over the past few decades stops at nothing. the other day i read about mice that were genetically altered to not be able to process certain fats and their brains told them to eat more. they got fat. duh! but the scientists conjecture that maybe some humans have the inability to sense fat availability or something like that and therefore eat too much, and behave slovenly. maybe, but there are many culprits we can look at and point finger at, and still not find a solution. this article posits a correlation bw alcoholism and food addiction, and it's not hard to imagine its validity: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/05/can-you-be-addicted-to-foods/?ref=health

palatability - the ability of a food to taste or feel or even make you feel good. fifty years ago, foods either tasted or felt good on their own. other than a few items - margarine, processed cheese, frozen meals, processed meats like salami and bologna - most foods came in the container from which they were derived - beans came as beans (with some salt added), hamburger came ground up from raw cuts of meat, fruit and veggies came from gardens somewhere nearby. but the food industry, for better and for worse, came up with ways to package and market foods to make them more palatable so that popeye's spinach - once canned - now came....fresh, but already cleaned. well, maybe that's not a good example. but spinach filled cheese burritos sure made a good food more palatable, and saltier and fattier. but mama could brag how her kids now loved spinach. now, that's a good example!

so, this palatability thing - somewhere between the mouth and the esophagus, something must happen to make you want to eat more. taste, smell, texture, etc combine to make foods more desirable. and so begins the quest to make foods more...addictive. and does this addiction stimulate parts of the brain that are stimulated by other known drugs such as alcohol? and if so, does this occur more in people who have some genetic relationship to alcohol and therefore evolve into a greater tendency toward obesity? well, there's now some research to show this may be the case.

but please note, it's also possible that you can, much as with alcohol, break the addiction by making different choices. too may clients complain about their addiction to such foods as chocolates, sweets, fat-laden foods, and then write themselves off as perennially fat. and it's somewhat true - they may always remain fatter than they may wish to be as a result of years of living with these 'addictions'. i'd be reluctant, however, to excuse them their eating behaviors on this account. not all are truly addicted. foods satisfy other parts of our being - comfort foods come to mind - that do not require they be addictive in their make up. as such, once we come to some measure of grips with our emotional attachment to certain foods, we have a better chance of breaking some of the cycle. but only a better chance.

my take is this: eat some of what you like, but not too much. even junkies, tho they keep coming back for more, limit their intake to just what's needed to get the buzz they desire. too much and you die...tho many do take the shorter route to suicide by addiction. most, however, do it slowly, like overeaters. it will take time to die of obesity behaviors. so you have time to alter them. eat some, but not much, but do not deprive yourself. cold turkey takes a very strong incentive and food, unlike drugs and alcohol, cannot be stopped cold turkey; you gotta eat something.

two lady friends follow this mantra: the first bite tastes every bit as good as the 10th bite. have a bite of your favorite food, and treat it like a special event. sit down, savor it, feel it roll inside your mouth, on your tongue, slither down your throat - it's all over. yes, you'd like to do it again, but tomorrow's another day. get your fix, but don't o.d.

obesity, potentially, is a very painful way to die....