When to Throw In the Towel

7 09 2013

In the movie Rocky IV, Apollo Creed (who, in case you never saw the films, fights Rocky Balboa in the first two Rocky installments ) decides to fight Russia’s newest boxing sensation, Ivan Drago.  During the big match between Apollo and Ivan, both Rocky and Apollo’s trainer, Duke, know that Apollo is taking a beating and the end result won’t be pretty. Duke begs Rocky to throw in the towel to end the fight, but Rocky, honoring his friend’s request to never stop the match, doesn’t toss the towel. In the end, Apollo takes such a beating that the final blow kills him.

This scene is a great analogy of that human potential trifecta for competitors; body, mind, and spirit. Apollo represents our physical body. Going up against all odds, we push our bodies to the limits. We kep going regardless of the puddles of sweat and painful ache to prove that our muscles can take the constant pounding not only in competition, but also in training. Then there’s the brain represented by Duke’s character. The voice of reason telling us that we should begin to back off or even quit because the result of continuing might be detrimental. Every painful step blasts a signal to our nervous system, letting us know that the body can’t take much more. We think about listening to that voice in our head, but then something else speaks louder. We hear Rocky, our spirit, cry out and tell us not to back down. If we dig down deep enough, we can tell ourselves to forget what the mind is telling us and hold off on throwing in the towel. We are then able to push just a little more, never knowing if the result will be success or utter defeat. We always want to imagine that it’d be the first.

You might have recently seen more articles of runners collapsing during a race in your daily paper or on the news. Headlines warning people of the dangers of long distance running. The stats are in, we do have more people involved in competitions and exercise. There are also reported cases of people getting hurt or evening dying from their participation in long distance races. However, a study by John Hopkins University published in 2012 compared the number of marathon participants and mortality rates between the years of 2000 and 2009 and showed no significant increase in mortality rates compared to the increase in entries.  They also indicated that the data that was collected were from media reports. These findings prove that the death toll of marathon runners are not increasing, but more so, the media attention of these occurences has increased. So why did these individuals have a fatal finish? One possible reason could be related back to our start of this article; the training of our physical abilities or lack there of.

Individuals must know to listen to their bodies when training or competing. It’s also important to have a trainer or coach who also understands your ability level and knows how to progress your training safely. People start to get hurt when they take only the Rocky approach and never tune in to their heads. Undertraining for an event can be as detrimental to your body as overtraining. Those who are getting injured in a competition may be a result of being undertrained and underdeveloped to meet the requirements of the challenging requirements. An article that led to the large research from John Hopkins highlighted a man who passed out during a marathon. Days after, he commented that he was not listening to his body. When training and competing, our state of mind changes and we begin to fight through all the adversaries that come in our way. From the sore muscles, to the dire weather conditions, we tell our bodies that we can persevere. Train smarter and compete smarter, by knowing when to call it quits. Your body, mind, and spirit is a perfect triangle balanced on its point. Knock off one side and the other two will fall also. If your body wasn’t prepared for that last mile hill climb, quitting isn’t failing, but deciding to be wise to come back to it when the complete triad is ready.

As we continue to exercise and train to improve ourselves, it is important to know when the time is to throw in that towel.  Progress your training accordingly and train speifical to your goals. Always modify your exercises if necessary to reduce the wear on your bones and joints. Lastly, ask yourself before running that first marathon, “Have I trained enough and if I come to that point where all is failing, will I know when to stop?”





A Journey to Renew My Mind, Body, Spirit

23 08 2013

Looking back at last month, my mind had been preoccupied with work and the realization that I was leaving the country to explore a place unfamiliar to me. The weeks leading up to my trip to Spain was filled with mixed emotions. Questions that plagued my mind at night included, what should I bring, how will I navigate with only my wife versed in the language, what neat and amazing things will we experience, and how will I keep up with my exercises. I had been so busy with my work that when the month prior to leaving snuck up on me, I was flabbergasted by how quick two years had gone by since my wife and I had started talking about taking this trip. Although, I hadn’t a clue where I was going (I left it up to my wife to choose the itinerary for the whole trip) and I didn’t know what to expect, I knew that I was going to take some time to renew my mind, body, and spirit.

New Day in Madrid

Landing into Madrid, Spain as the sun rose from behind the mountains.

The trip began with the appreciation of  how quickly the human mind can adapt. Typically, I am a person who needs to know enough about my surroundings to feel competent and confident so I can interact with people.  I’m an extravert and human interaction is necessary. This journey took my out of that comfort zone and thew me into the great unknown. I was a man in a large country that spoke a language that was not familiar to me. Renew my mind might be the incorrect choice of words; more like enlighten my mind. My brain became a sponge and I soaked up as much of the language as I could possible retain in one sitting. My appreciation for the history and culture of the land and people was overwhelming. I became obsessed with the history and culture of the little towns and provinces that my wife and I visited. Each day we would explore a new area of the country and spend hours taking in the beauty and magnitude of our natural surroundings. I would work on the language everywhere we went and slowly was able to speak to someone patient residents. We learned why the villages were erected in specific ways, how the locals ate, and how the landscape had changed over time. We also experienced first hand the slow pace of life when the only form of transportation were your very own two legs.

At the top of Picos de Europa with a mountain goat.

At the top of Picos de Europa with a mountain goat.

The time spent walking and carrying my hiking pack gave me all the exercise I needed for the time I was gone. My body felt well worked by the end of the trip. The people in Spain normally take a siesta during the middle of the day. I don’t know why my wife and I didn’t follow suit, but by the time midnight came around and all the people of Spain came pouring out of their homes and restaurants for their “happy hour,” my wife and I were nicely tucked under our covers in our nice cozy beds. The feeling of fatigue doesn’t usually hit your muscles all at once. No, it enjoys creeping up slowly, toying with your body as to say, “you never know when I’ll put a stop to all your movement.” That came around lunch time one afternoon in Segovia after we had walked all over the village and seen the Alcazar, our bodies had started to let us know that we needed to rest and replenish our nutrients. We happily gave in to this respite at a mom and pop restaurant where I learned more Spanish because the hosts could not speak English and we were able to get all the nutrients that we needed for the next long trek on our journey. Traveling on foot gave us great pleasure in seeing the sites that would have been missed by taking a car or public transportation. (Traveler’s note: If you ever go to Spain, keep hydrated. The dry air and changes in altitude can be deceiving to your perception of thirst.  Plan on buying all your water or bring a couple of water bottles, as we did, and fill them up at the local watering holes.)

Wife getting water at a water hole on the outskirts of the village in Segovia.

My wife testing out a water hole on the outskirts of the village in Segovia.

Many of our stops along the way brought us to magnificent churches, cathedrals, and basilicas. The history of each one and the famous artists who helped create these masterpieces entranced my spirit and gave me much appreciation of life’s great gifts.  The architecture and structures found inside and out were amazing. The commitment found throughout these structures exemplified that nothing spectacular can ever be done quickly. Success is only possible, when one has a plan, support, dedication, and time. In the end, I was blown away by the sheer beauty and awe of everything that I saw, experienced, and learned.

Catedral de Santa María de Regla de León

Catedral de Santa María de Regla de León

As I reflect on the trip, I also reflect on the lessons that were gained from all that I had seen. We as individuals need to step back and take in all the accomplishments that we have made in our lives. Too often we are pushed to get things done as quickly as possible. We are becoming a society where instantaneous gratification is more favorable than the long haul even if the latter is stated to be healthier.  This journey made me realize the importance of taking my time and enjoying life’s every moment. By the end of the trip, I was able to come back to my life’s routine with a refreshed perspective on what I want to achieve and how it will look getting there. Remember that a journey is defined as the act of traveling from one place to another. Don’t lose sight of the end, and always keep your eyes open on the journey.





Listen to the Cookie

7 05 2013

“Finding time to fit a good workout into the day is as hard as the workout,” is a response I get a lot. And to sympathize with these folks is an easier path for many. In a work day, I would say that I get bogged down in my work and find hours slipping by as I loom over my computer to finish a project so that I can cross that off my list. Then I catch my breath and continue to the next project as if on autopilot. Yet, throughout the day there are times when the chance to stop and get in a few minutes of a workout arises and the choice to get up and move is up to me. “I didn’t choose to not workout, my work/time/fill in the blank just didn’t allow me to do it,” a repeated echo rings in my head. “Bunch of bull!” Snuffs out the echo as I am pull myself away from the computer and prepare to exercise.

This scenario is a constant hinderance in our daily life and separates those who move backward in their fight to succeed with those who make positive progress.  We will always be required to make a life altering decision as the seconds past way in our lives, but we are always in control of the choices we make. Allowing ourselves to break under the pressure of excuses and blame it on something other than our lack of defiance over status quo keeps us in a vicious cycle that never ends where we want to be.

Cookie Doesn't Lie

The average person makes roughly 3,500 decisions a day. What to eat, where to go, how to dress, pass the car, say hi to that person…. The list goes on and on, and yet, with one choice taken, the other is left behind. So we can say that we didn’t have the opportunity to choose both. This is true and many people lose ground from choosing only one and not the other maybe because of comfort level, external pressures, or priority levels. However, when we make that choice to not do something, we are in control of this decision and internal factors provide the foundation of this choice. Work did not keep me from taking ten minutes to get up and move around so my muscles could stretch out from sitting for 4 hours straight. No, I told my body that it was not allowed to get up because I thought that I would lose precious time to get my project down. I chose to keep working. As the cookie states, we still choose even if we decide not to make a choice. Make every decision count and never blame that fact that you couldn’t choose your future. You are in control of your free will and to wake up half hour earlier to get a workout in is your choice.





Slice Up A Post Workout Meal

5 04 2013

After a tough workout, you deserve to enjoy a slice of pie; pizza pie that is. Try out my fresh spin to this delightfully healthy margarita pizza and tell me what you think.
Doug's Margarita Pizza

Ingredients:
1 bag – fresh pizza dough
1 cup – flour
1 – fresh mozzarella ball, sliced
3 – plum tomatoes, sliced
1 cup – fresh basil leaves, rinsed
1/2 cup – tomato sauce
1 cup – shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbls – extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp – garlic powder (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread flour on counter top. Roll out dough to desired thickness and shape.
2. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese around the pizza. Pour the tomato sauce on top of the cheese and using a ladle, spread sauce to cover the cheese.
3. Lay the basil leaves on top of the sauce  to cover the pizza. Next, arrange the tomatoes to layer the pizza. Finish off the pizza with fresh mozzarella slices.
4. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil and garlic powder together. Then using a brush, brush on oil mixture along the edge of the crust.
5. Place in the oven on a pizza pan or pizza stone for 18 – 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.





Wrong Way? No, Just Different

13 03 2013

Not Always Wrong, Just Different

If you’ve had an experience where you thought you were doing something, like eating a certain food or dressing a certain way, but then saw people doing it another way and thought you were actually doing it wrong, don’t worry, you’re not alone. However, sometimes a different way might not be the wrong way, but exactly the former; just a different way. Who says that a turkey burger can’t be a breakfast item or that everyone should drive a BMW? Societal norms influence us to think that we all have the same needs. On the contrary, we all need to pay attention to our individual needs to maintain good health.

In 2007, Wesley Shultz et al conducted a field experiment testing whether normative messaging (telling people to practice a certain behavior based on what others are doing) would have mixed success rates in behavior change. They saw that when told to use more energy saving products because a specific number of others were doing it, the number of people converting to energy conservatives increased. Yes, energy conservation is ideal and we would all want to promote this type of habit, but the mere fact that it only took one little message stating that more people were practicing one certain behavior to have the minority feel like they were wrong and change their lifestyle is fascinating. A key point to this case is that in order to see a shift in the masses, the group must be  a minority, hence, the difficulty of getting our overweight country to get back down to a healthy weight (69.2% of adults in US overweight/obese). Yet again, why should we be like everyone else?

When dealing with exercise, we must look at performing a task with blinders on. Not one person is alike and thus not one specific regimen will work for everyone.  The National Academy of  Sports Medicine has a training model that is different than that of the American Council on Exercise. Is one of them wrong and the other right? Absolutely not, because both will reach the same result in the end, although both use different pathways. The same goes when I am asked which one is better for getting toned arms, free weights or machines? Both are two different modalities that lead to the right direction to get lean arms.

The right answer to improving your health is not to follow the yellow brick road that everyone else has followed, but to lay each stone in front of you and test the ground supporting it to determine if it will work for you. So the next time you’re scratching your head wondering if the person next to you is doing it right and you should follow suit, ask yourself if you are still improving your health with what you’re currently doing. If so, then embrace the difference and continue to tread through the unbeaten path to success.

References: 

American Council on Exercise: IFT Model
CDC Faststats: Overweight and obesity http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm
National Academy of Sports Medicine: OPT Model
Shultz, P. W. et al. The Constructive, Destructive, and Reconstructive Power of Social Norms. Psychological Science, 18(5) 429-434. 2007 





The Bodyweight Challenge

7 03 2013
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

I was eating my lunch a few days ago and  browsed my Facebook account to see who’s baby picture had plastered my News Feed today. I noticed a notification alert and saw that my friend, Nate, had shared a link (see picture on the left) on my timeline with the comment, “Do all of these. I dare you.” I grinned and was intrigued, so I clicked on the video link and watched what he had sent (click here to view video). I was impressed, wondering if all military men and women could do all 44 exercises. Then I saw some individuals in the background looking as impressed as I and dismissed the thought. After finishing the video, I read what my other friend, Beth, wrote, “And post video when you do! LOL”

There are guys who would try any challenge to prove their Darwinistic status on earth and then there are those who do it because they’re the ones who also would touch the wall that warns, “Don’t Touch, Wet Paint!” I would fall into the latter category of individuals and thus, out of sheer curiosity, I want to prove to myself that these would in fact be the 44 best bodyweight exercises (and yes, to know that I can do them). I will keep everyone posted as I work through all 44 exercises. I will post the final video on Youtube to let my friends know that it can be done.

One Arm One Leg Pushup, Check!

One Arm One Leg Pushup, Check!

In the meantime, this challenge has prompted a great bodyweight workout (see below) for those who are always strapped for time, equipment, or just loaded with excuses to not exercising. Follow the routine for a month, performing two to three times a week. If you feel sore the whole week, start off with once a week till you can work your way to two times a week. After a month, add on another set. You will need to refer back to the video if you are unsure of the exercises.

The Bodyweight Challenge
Perform each group of exercises for specified duration, rest 45-60 seconds, then repeat a second set before moving on to the next group.

Group 1
Burpies – 30 seconds
Hindu Pushup – 30 seconds
Archer Pullup – 30 seconds

Group 2
Mountain Climbers – 1 minute
Hanging Knee to Elbow – 30 seconds
Spiderman Pushup – 1 minute

Group 3
Jumping Lunges – 30 seconds
Hanging Leg Raise to Level – 30 seconds
Pike Roll Out – 30 seconds

*****                                                                                                                     *****
Thank You to the men and women who put their lives before ours to serve our country every single day.
*****                                                                                                                     *****





Think Healthy, Think Money

13 02 2013

We all want to be rich. Then there are some of us who would prefer to be wealthy. If you don’t know the difference, I suggest reading “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. But regardless if you want to be rich or wealthy, you must do one of two things; either learn how to earn it if you aren’t there, or learn how to keep it if you are there. Ask both sides and they will tell you that it’s difficult to uphold both ends of the statement if you are not willing to motivate yourself and work hard.

Even though it is hard to save money, many of us are so driven that we do everything we can to grow our bank accounts. We stop purchasing expensive products, we go to fewer movies, we find cheaper alternatives, and we slowly put money into our savings account until we are happy with how much we have in it. We don’t end up with $20,000 in a week, but over a period of time with little investments (depending on how much you invest into the account), we notice the large sum of money that has accumulated and we are thrilled with success.

I use this example because the same can be said with our health and the steps needed to accomplish our wellness goals. However, the majority of us don’t treat our bodies like a savings account. We expect our bodies to work miracles and in the end of the week have a body like the models and stars we see in magazines and in the media. Side note: Most actors and actresses will work with a trainer between three to six months, six to seven days a week, to get their bodies in the shape needed to perform their roles; not to mention hiring a personal chef, and dietitian. The way we stay or become healthy should follow the same plan as how we grow our bank accounts. Place importance on our wealth (health); find out ways to save our wealth (health); and slowly invest our money (time) to see our wealth (health) grow.

Wealth for HealthFollowing these simple steps will improve your overall health (and wealth) if you take the time to commit to it. Saving your health can be as easy as saving your money, but know that to do so, you must find the importance of why you’re doing it and become motivated in its returns to be successful.





Grounded and Not a Gym In Sight

6 08 2012

For the past few weeks, my wife and I took a little vacation up north to the Adirondacks in NY. We try to get up there ever year to return to the place where we met. The special place with a 32 mile lake, 800 acres of hiking trials, and a rolling golf course. I was pumped for this trip. Being that I grew up in the North, all my exercise was done using Mother Nature’s gym. Mountains became my stair climber, lakes became my pool, and hauling around a 30 pound backpack became my free weights. I was ready to get out of the flat lands of Florida and become immersed with my natural habitat. Then the worst happened.

We arrived in Tampa for a 2:15 PM departure flight two hours early. This was how excited I was about making it out of Florida. The security check went smoothly without a hitch and I was looking at the plane outside that we would board. As my wife and I chose our seats, I looked at my watch to make sure we would arrive Albany at the stated time of 5:35 PM. “Enough time to make the drive and get in my day’s workout,” I thought to myself. We sat in our seats as we waited for our plane to be taxied out of our terminal but nothing happened. My wife noticed that it had began to rain (bright blue skies followed us to Tampa). I didn’t think much about it, I just wanted the plane to move so we could get above those sad clouds and off towards my destination. That’s when the overhead announce from one of the flight attendants came on and stated, “Sorry folks, but it seems that Traffic Control has noticed a severe thunderstorm has hit areas of Baltimore and the Northeast. We’re going to hold tight on the ground for a little bit while Traffic Control can determine if there’s another route.” Then two minutes later, “Looks like Traffic Control has grounded all flights heading north toward Baltimore and this flight has a new departure time of 6:50 PM or might be cancelled,” informs the attendant. “We’re going to cross our fingers for the delay. However we can’t keep you on board, so we’re going to ask everyone to return to the terminal and wait for further information about your flight.”

So, now I’m in the terminal again and grounded for another five hours. I’m a personal trainer because I love to be active and educate others on the importance of staying active. Knowing that I will be missing my workout up north has made me upset (and the fact that I’m starting off my vacation with this long delay also ticks me off). The other reason why I am in my profession has something to do with the fact that I hate sitting in one place for a long period of time, and this delay has us stuck in this terminal for another 5 hour! With this experience and extra spare time, I designed a workout for anyone else who might need a quick stress reducer due to a flight delayed.

The Traveler’s Workout

Items needed: chair, carry-on luggage/bag, music (optional)
Perform each exercise to fatigue. Then rest for 60 seconds and do a second set before going to the next exercise.

Squat  
Targets: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps
Start in a standing position with feet slightly wider than shoulder width.  Hold carry-on by the handle with two hands. Extend your arms straight down so they are dangling between your legs. Perform a squat, placing the weight into your heels. As you squat back up, push with your heels.

Military Pushup on Chair
Targets: Chest, Triceps
Place your hands on the edge of a chair with your hands aligned with your shoulders. Keep your toes on the ground, back and abs tight. Lower yourself to the chair without bending at the hips, so your whole body descends as one. Let your chest come to the chair and push yourself back up to starting position.

Bent Over Row
Targets: Latissimus Dorsi, Biceps
Place one hand on the chair as your bend forward at the hips. Keep your knees bent and your back straight. Grasp the carry-on with your other hand. Pull the carry-on to the side of your chest as you keep your arm close to your side. Lower the carry-on back down smoothly back to starting position.

Planks
Targets: Abdominals, Lower Back
Place your forearms and toes on the ground. Keep your back straight and even with the rest of your body. Elbows should be under your shoulders. Lift your hips off the ground and bring them aligned with your shoulders and ankles. Hold the position till fatigue.

Standing Side Crunch
Targets: Obliques
Stand with your feet narrower than shoulder width. Hold the carry-on with one hand by your side and hold your other hand by the side of your head. Crunch your body down to the side, opposite of the carry-on. Slowly return back up to start.





Reducing Waist Lines By Limiting Sugary Drinks

25 06 2012

Last week, CNN wrote a post indicating that the mayor of Cambridge, MA, Henrietta Davis, took steps to adopt the sugary drink ban that was proposed by New York City’s Mayor, Michael Bloomburg. Not only did Mayor Davis want to prevent oversized drinks sales (greater than 16 oz.), but she took it one step further by proposing to ban free refills on soft drinks at restaurants. “Our environment is full of way too many temptations,” Davis said. “This is one temptation that isn’t really necessary.”

This is a very bold move and some Americans will complain (mainly restaurant owners and those losing their free refills).  However, with obesity rates and diabetes  still on the rise, bold actions must be taken. Amid the studies and warning signs of inactivity and overeating in America, the majority of Americans are unwilling to make the healthy change. An action to restrict people from inflicting harm on themselves should not be looked upon as a governmental takeover, but rather a change to allow us to live longer. When the government decided to ban smoking in restaurants, there was an outcry from smokers complaining that their freedom was being taken away. However, after a few months, those who smoked went outside as usual, very little complaining occurred, and everyone was able to breathe easily again.

America Weighs In


Limiting the amount of soft drinks someone consumes in one sitting may be a good start in fighting obesity and diabetes. However, the other part of the equation is not just quantity, but also quality. How much sugar is in that 12 oz cup? Sugar is the key ingredient in all soft drinks, and is a factor in the epidemic of obesity. The sugar content in drinks can be difficult to estimate, so we need to turn to the nutrition label on a product.

This is where a startling realization hits those who know how to read the label. The amount of calories within many products are not accurately represented! That’s right, those calories are not what they may appear. A search for an answer was prompted when I was explaining to my wife how one calculates the amount of calories in a product. To figure out the total calories in a product, the three macronutrients are summed up by their respective caloric value. In all foods and beverages, calories are calculated by adding the total amount of fats (1 g = 9 kcal), carbohydrates (1 g = 4 kcal), and proteins (1 g = 4 kcal) in the product. Sometimes alcohol is also added (1 g = 7 kcal). An example was presented using a can of Coke (see picture). When we take a look at the three Macronutrients, we see that the only one that has a value is carbohydrates. This made it easy…so I thought.  When we multiply the amount of carbs in the beverage (39 g.) with its corresponding caloric value (4 kcal), we get 39 * 4 = 156 calories. But wait, why does the calories of the can state 140 cal? This is not a rounding issue as you will read below. The  extensive search led me through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (who regulates the food label) to get to the bottom of the fiasco. Scrounging through the FDA guidelines for proper labeling of nutrition facts was daunting. I came across a plethora of jargon and redirections that made it hard even for the product manufacturer to adhere to the guidelines.

The following were some questions relating to the problem, but there was nothing in my search that could explain why Coke was able to misrepresent their caloric value by 16 calories!

N8. Should a value of 47 calories be rounded up to 50 calories or rounded down to 45 calories?
Answer: Calories must be shown as follows:
50 calories or less–Round to nearest 5-calorie increment: Example: Round 47 calories to “45 calories”
Above 50 calories–Round to nearest 10-calorie increment: Example: Round 96 calories to “100 calories”
21 CFR 101.9(c)(1) Also see Appendix H for rounding guidelines.

N18. What is meant by sugars on the Nutrition Facts label?
Answer: To calculate sugars for the Nutrition Facts label, determine the weight in grams of all free monosaccharides and disaccharides in the sample of food. The other nutrients declared on the nutrition label are defined in 21 CFR 101.9(c). 21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)(ii)

N16. How is total carbohydrate calculated?
Answer: Total carbohydrate is calculated by subtracting the weight of crude protein, total fat, moisture, and ash from the total weight (“wet weight”) of the sample of food. 21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)

When I was able to find the section on carbohydrates and caloric measurement requirements (see references), there was nothing that mentioned how accurate the manufacturer had to be when producing a number. They did state that a certified chemical testing company had to weigh all amounts of nutrients before producing the label. So my question is, what scientist doesn’t know how to do basic arithmetic? Before banning the extra-large cups and refills, we might want to figure out how much sugar we really are consuming.

References:

Code of Federal regulations. Title 21 – Food and Drugs: Section 101.9 Nutrition Labeling of food

CNN: Mass. Mayor Suggests Ban on Large Drinks, Free Refills

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Appendix H: Rounding the Values According to FDA Round Rules

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Nutrition Labeling; Questions G1 through P8





The Bare Necessities: From Shoes to Barefoot

11 06 2012

Try this: go outside and run around the block (ok, just jog). Most of you probably would have donned a pair of cushioned, foot correcting sneakers before walking out of your house. This is typical for many 21st century humans who want to make sure they don’t get injured while braving the pavement. Shoe stores are filled with hundreds of brands and models specifically designed to combat some kind of foot problem when you’re running. However, current studies have indicated that the ideal thing to wear for running might not be a pair of arch supported or ankle stabilizing sneaker anymore. Why it took researchers so long to run down the stats on how our bones, muscles, and ligaments adapt to the different surfaces when we walk or run and how that changes our whole body’s physiology is probably because they were wearing the wrong shoes too. Barefoot running, and even walking, can be traced back to our great Paleolithic ancestors and now companies like Vibram, Newton, Saucony, and Nike have flooded the markets with their shoes that claim to resemble running barefoot, without the scrapes and bruises.

Through advanced technology, shoe manufacturers have been able to design sophisticated footwear to prevent our feet from over pronating (stability control), pounding the ground with too much force (shock absorbers like air sacs, springs, and more cushion), and dropping our arches (arch support). These new methods for controlling our feet’s movement are more of a “crutch” than a treatment. In the last decade, studies on barefoot running have sent many health and sports magazines to track down experiences of this phenomenon. The leading magazines for running enthusiasts, Runners World and Running Times, have both printed a number of articles on the benefits of minimalist shod and barefoot running. A study conducted by Dr. Daniel E. Liberman, professor on Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, pointed out the natural adaptations of the body as a person runs barefoot compared to a shod runner. When a runner has the ability to allow his or her foot to move freely when making contact with a surface, the proprioceptors within the foot muscles respond and adapt to the surface, thereby recruiting the correct set of muscles to prevent injury from occurring. With foot correcting sneakers, the foot has little awareness of the surface with which it is making contact, causing a incorrect running style, and therefore, the recruitment of different muscles are needed, resulting in common running injuries.

Here’s an experiment for you to try. Go to your local high school track, or if you have a clean section of road nearby, run ten yards down the track or road. Then take off your shoes and repeat. If you compare the two running styles next to each other (shoes and barefoot), one would see that our running style quickly changes when our foot hits the ground. When we run with shoes, because of the cushion in the heel, we’re more prone to have our heel strike first. Yet once our shoes come off, our body shifts to the mid or front part of our foot where our legs can suddenly work together like a spring and propel our bodies forward. This also prevents our heel from stabbing the ground and hurting the bony surface. “The amount of reaction force generated in the foot and leg also decreases, explains Dr. Liberman. A look at his figure (Fig. 1) shows that there is much less reaction force when someone uses a front foot strike with a short stride, which is common when running barefoot compared to a rear foot strike (heel to toe style).

This is not to say that everyone should go out today, ditching those old cross-trainers and run freely. Running barefoot takes time, as is common in any form of muscle training. Muscles, when stressed, need time to recover and adapt. Also, unlike the humans of 100,000 years ago who didn’t grow up with something on their feet from birth, have paved roads, and broken glass shards, the 21st century human must train our feet longer for the conditions of today’s environmental surfaces. Vibram’s FiveFingers, Nike’s Free Run, Saucony’s Kinvara 2 are minimalist shoes that allow your feet the freedom to move like being barefoot but with a little added protection between your feet and the pavement. If you want to be true to your natural instincts, train your body to run sans shoes. Start on grass or sand before transitioning over to tougher surfaces. Don’t run too long if you’re inexperienced because the muscles in your foot will quickly fatigue. Running a couple times a week barefoot will make your feet adapt to the surface and overtime, you’ll have the ability to run away without any injuries.

References:

Liberman, D.E. (2012). What we can learn about running from barefoot running: an evolutionary medical perspective. Exerc. Sport Sci. Rev., Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 63Y72

http://www.runnersworld.com

http://www.runningtimes.com








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 41 other followers