December 2012/January 2013 – A Year-end Potpourri of Miscellaneous Ramblings

John Faith

John is an avid active lifestyle enthusiast who among his accomplishments has completed several Ironmans and now simply enjoys being active!

As I begin this, 2012 is just past.  I hope you all have (had) a beautiful, memorable New Year’s celebration, and look forward to seeing you all in the coming year.

As many of you know, I’ve been struggling with a recalcitrant right upper hamstring injury for several years, and I recently saw a sports medicine specialist who had me get an MRI and diagnosed a significant separation in the connective tissue between the hamstring and the ischial tuberosity.  He went on to prescribe a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection – a procedure in which a small amount of blood is drawn and then centrifuged, with the resulting concentrated plasma solution injected directly into the injured site in order to facilitate healing.  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platelet-rich_plasma.

I returned to my primary care doctor to keep her in the loop, but she felt another procedure, prolotherapy, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prolotherapy, might be a better choice, so referred me to another local sports medicine specialist who was an authority on both procedures, in order that we might come up with the best approach to my situation.  The saga continues, as after reviewing my MRI and a subsequent X-ray, and after a thorough exam, the second specialist became convinced the problem was, in fact, the ongoing issues in my lower back.  So, while I’d hoped to write this month’s article on the miraculous recovery I was enjoying, it wasn’t to be, and this will be a free-association of topics that have come up in discussions with my customers the past few months.

ibuprofenOne very intriguing thing I did learn from the second doctor is that he has a very contrary opinion on the use of anti-inflammatories for injury treatment.  He believes that anti-inflammatories actually hinder the body’s healing response, and can, in fact, cause more damage in the long run.  Popping “Vitamin I” (Ibuprofen) is routine among us “weekend warriors,” but it’s apparent one of the most common treatments for sports injuries may be having the opposite effect.  See http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/fitness/take-a-pass-on-the-advil—swelling-may-help-you-heal/article4268212/ and http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/01/phys-ed-does-ibuprofen-help-or-hurt-during-exercise/?scp=2&sq=ibuprofen&st=cse.

pppfBy now, you’ve all seen the large barrel just inside the front door of the store – usually overflowing with running shoes.  In response to questions from my customers, I explain that for the past several years, we’ve been collecting “gently used” athletic shoes for the Perpetual Prosperity Pumps Foundation, PPPAfrica, which is now MORE, the Modular Organic Regenerative Environment.  See  http://www.pppafrica.org/.  MORE’s recently published brochure states their philosophy is “…a bottom up approach to eradicating poverty one family at a time.”  See http://www.pppafrica.org/images/used-athletic-shoes-brochure.pdf.  To date, we’ve collected thousands of pairs of shoes for MORE, and look forward to “adopting” another family in 2013.  So please, bring in your unneeded running shoes next time you’re in the store, and while there, ask to see the photos and banners from the two families we’ve previously adopted.  The smiles on their faces will warm your heart.

Many of us have labored for years under the (apparently false) impression that when it comes to training, “more is better.”  A number of recently published articles hold the opposite view, however.  For example, The Week, a weekly newsmagazine, recently published a brief story that stated, “While being a runner lowers your risk of early death by nearly 20 percent over not running, running more than 20 miles per week appears to cancel out that benefit.  Jogging slowly decreases mortality risk, whereas running at a pace faster than 8 minutes a mile has been found to put extra stress on the heart.  Studies have shown that more than an hour of intense aerobic activity per day can cause serious heart problems — including scarring, an irregular heartbeat, and clogged arteries.  Many people wrongly assume that ‘if moderate exercise is good, then more is better,’ says study author James H.  O’Keefe.  But beyond an hour, ‘you reach a point of diminishing returns.’”  See http://theweek.com/article/index/238179/the-year-in-health-7-things-experts-told-us-to-avoid.

On the other hand, a recent story in the Washington Post states that studies suggest that on average, Olympic athletes live 2.8 years longer than the rest of us.  It goes on to say that there seems to be no real difference in longevity between Olympic athletes who engage in high-endurance or high-intensity events vs. those who participate in less intense events – suggesting that even those of us who simply exercise regularly and moderately enjoy similar benefits.  See  http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/olympians-live-longer-than-the-rest-of-us/2012/12/24/8cdc1d72-4939-11e2-820e-17eefac2f939_story.html.

The minimalist running technique that’s continuing to ride a wave of popularity is beginning (continuing?) to encounter some serious criticism.  Witness articles such as one published late last month in the Times of India which suggest the minimalist technique, rather than being more efficient than the more “traditional” style, may be less so.  See http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-11-25/fitness/31244358_1_shod-runners-shoes-arch-support.  In addition, no less an authority than Simon Bartold, head of research for ASICS, calls the minimalist running movement “nonsense:” “We (ASICS) are now working on a training shoe that is less structure and lightweight, but still offering stability and holding true to a rearfoot strike pattern design.  I have based this on the premise that, no matter what is being said about technical running footwear, there is no evidence that it really ‘aint broken, so we will tweak, but no need to fix.  The minimalist movement works on the premise that by reducing heel height, i.e. the overall gradient, by maybe 6 mm, it induces a midfoot or even forefoot strike pattern.  I have not been able to identify one single piece of credible evidence to support this..  so..  we will stick to our guns.  Once more the ether is thick with unsupportable nonsense.  Pose, Chi, toning, barefoot, minimalist….when will it end?”  See http://zero-drop.com/?p=2736.  If you check out the last paragraph in the article, you’ll see this is still a very controversial issue, as Bartold has come under intense criticism.

And finally, to end this on a very intriguing note, the New York Times recently published a fascinating story that basically says exercise is one of the reasons human have evolved and that regular exercise is necessary to continue the process of evolution.  “…[A]n emerging view of human evolution…suggests that we are clever today in part because a million years ago, we could outrun and outwalk most other mammals over long distances.  Our brains were shaped and sharpened by movement, the idea goes, and we continue to require regular physical activity in order for our brains to function optimally.”  See http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/26/exercise-and-the-ever-smarter-human-brain/.

Please feel free to email me with suggestions for future ramblings, and if you have any comments, questions, or concerns regarding this article or any others, I can be reached at metrorunwalk.john@gmail.com.

Happy New Year!

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3 Responses to December 2012/January 2013 – A Year-end Potpourri of Miscellaneous Ramblings

  1. Pingback: Even After Retirement It’s Not Too Late to Start Exercising! « Run, Walk, Live in Springfield, Virginia

  2. Hi, John, thanks for an interesting post. Wow 20 miles (32km) really does not seem like much for one week! Good luck with overcoming your injury.

    • You’re right, it doesn’t. Interesting to see how the studies and findings sometimes seem to contradict each other. More than 20 miles at one speed affects morbidity but more than 20 miles at another speed affects longevity. At the end of the day, I think it just comes down to moderation.

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