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Archive for the ‘Exercise’ Category

Why do we get muscle cramps while training part 2

As I mentioned in my last post, scientist still don’t know why we get muscle cramps while exercising. The old theory was the electrolyte depletion and the new one is the muscle fatigue. I gave some flaws of the electrolyte theory, but this does not mean that I totally disregard that theory. As there are some people who actually lose salt at a rate five times faster than normal. Salts are essential to hydration despite of that mineral’s reputation for drying you out.  A body short of salts won’t deliver the water efficiently to the muscles. So even if you are drinking bottles and bottles of water, nothing will happen. The thing is that most people don’t lose salt so fast so, in my opinion, most of the exercise muscle cramps come from fatigue. There is also a difference between electrolyte depletion cramps and fatigue cramps. Electrolyte depletion cramps are much more serious, they affect more than one muscle and stretching won’t alleviate the cramp. Fatigue related cramps aren’t that serious, and usually by stopping the activity and stretching the cramp will go away.

So what can we do to try to avoid the muscle fatigue cramps? Go slower, decrease the intensity or train better, let me explain. We often get these cramps in competition and not while training. This is usually because, when we are competing, we are going faster or more intense than during practice due to the adrenaline or to due the mere fact that we are competing to get the best results. If the body is not trained to go at that intensity it will get tired faster, meaning a higher chance of getting a cramp.  And that is what the studies have shown, namely that the increased running speed is what predicts who will get the exercise associated muscle cramps. (1-5)

Hope you liked it.

  1. Schwellnus MP, Drew N, Collins M: Increased running speed and previous cramps rather than dehydration or serum sodium changes predict exercise-associated muscle cramping: a prospective cohort study in 210 Ironman triathletes. Br J Sports Med, 1-7, Dec. 9, 2010
  2. Schwellnus MP, Derman EW, Noakes TD. Aetiology of skeletal muscle cramps during exercise: A novel hypothesis. Journal of Sports Sciences, vol.15, pp 277-85. 1997
  3. Schwellnus MP. Muscle cramping in the marathon:aetiology and risk factors. Sports medicine. Auckland, NZ 2007.
  4. Schwellnus MP. Cause of exercise associated muscle cramps ( EAMC)–altered neuromuscular control, dehydration or electrolte depletion?
  5. Braulick KW, Miller KC, Albrecht JM, Tucker JM, Deal JE. Significan and serious dehydration does not affect skeletal muscle cramp threshold frequency. Br J Sports Med, 1009 Jun:43(6):401-8

The importance of resting.

Most people are quite competitive with themselves and always want to get better at what they do. If it is running, they want to get faster, if it is resistance training, they want to get bigger and stronger Whatever sport it is we usually want to get better. And what do we do to get better? We train, we train harder, we train faster, we train over and over again until we achieve our goal. And that is for the most part correct, We have to train to improve, but it is not the whole equation, an important part and one that people take for granted is REST.

Let us take running for example. Whenever we run high forces are applied that cause damage to our body. If we rest and recover, our bodies heal and adapt, making us stronger in the process. This is known as supercompensation and it can be applied to most sports. Injuries occur when these forces caused by the sports we practice exceed the body´s ability to handle it, either, because the body is too weak or the forces are too great. And most of the time this is due to 2 factors. We train too much and we don´t rest enough.

If you think about it we shouldn´t really be getting injured nowadays when running, I mean, with all the high-tech shoes out there, how is it possible? But the truth of the matter is that we still get hurt on a frustratingly regular basis, just like 30 years ago. Why you ask? Well in my opinion is not the shoes (1-2). The shoes aren´t even that important ( did a blog on it). The two main factors that predict if you are going to get injured are weight and volume. Meaning, the more you weight the more likely you will get injured, and the more you run the higher your chances of getting injured. And volume and rest are connected, as the more you run the less you rest. Rest includes sleeping properly and this is what a lot of people don´take seriously. Just this year a study came out that said ¨ adolescent athletes who slept eight or more hours each night were 68 percent less likely to be injured than athletes who regularly slept less¨(3). Did you guys see that? It said 68% percent less likely, that is a lot, and something we should take into account. So training is important but resting could be even more important as it could prevent a lot of injuries. And remember if you are injured you cannot train, meaning you won´t get better. So in conclusion REST!!!!!

  1. Theisen D, Malisous L, Genin J, Delattre N. Influence of midsole hardness of standard cushioned shoes on running-related injury risk. Br J Sports Med.2013
  2. Richards CE, Margin PJ, Callister R. Is your prescription of distance running shoes evidence-based. Br J Sports Med.2009 Mar;43(3):159-62.
  3. Mileski MD, Skaggs DL, Bishop GA, Pace JL, Ibrahim DA, Wren TA, Barzdukas A. Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes. J Pediatr Orthop 2014 MAr,34(2)129-33.

Cardio or Lifting Weights, what is better for losing weight?

This is a classic question I always get asked and one where people always get surprised when hearing my answer. Which is that for losing weight I put more emphasis on weight training.

Running is great and something I love to do but I do not run to lose weight. I run for other reasons, like to improve my cardiovascular condition, to disconnect  and to prepare myself for future races. Because, like I have stated various times in my blog, the body is the best machine you will ever have. It is designed for efficiency, meaning that if you do the same thing over and over again, the process will become easier. So, this is good if your aim is to try to win a race but it is not good if your goal is to lose fat. For example, did you know marathon runners spend 30% less energy running a marathon than a normal person (1). Even do you are doing the same distance, the marathon runner is still burning or spending 30% less, how can this be? Well, it could be for various reasons like running technique and weight, but the most important one is that the metabolism has become more EFFICIENT.  So if you run everyday for 40 minutes, your body is going to get more efficient and you are going to burn fewer calories. That is why I sometimes tell people who only run to lose fat that, instead of just slogging away to lose 300 calories, they can just eat 300 fewer calories per day and get the same result.

Weight training is different because, first, you are creating muscle. Muscle will elevate your metabolism, remember, most of the calories we burn throughout the day are not thanks to the sports we do but because of our metabolism. Also, every time we do weight training we create mini-micro tears that need to be repaired. This process requires energy, meaning we are burning calories.  And let us not forget that strength training  is considered anaerobic training because it is high in intensity. Exercises high in intensity have been shown to accelerate metabolism for up to 72 hours after the workout due to the effects of excess post exercise oxygen consumption (2).

In conclusion, running is a great activity and something that I usually recommend people to do and of course it can help in losing weight but, if you ask me, weight training is even better for this task.

 

Hope you liked it.

References

  1. Hargrove T. A guide to better movement.  Better movement 2014. p 22-24.
  2. Heden R, Lox C, Rose P, reid S, Kirk EP. One-set resistance training elevates energy expenditure for 72 h similar to three sets. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011 Mar;11 (3):477-84.

Now with weight training

I will explain that later but first I want to explain some terms.

Aerobic –  meaning your body gets its energy through the use of oxygen. When you are in aerobic the body´s prefer source of energy is ¨¨. Basically during the whole day we are in ¨aerobic¨, so we are burning fat the whole day. So, technically it is a myth when you hear people say ¨to burn fat you have to run more than 40 minutes¨, because you are burning fat throught out the day.

Anaerobic- without oxygen

 

Stress

There is a great book out there called ¨Why zebras don´t get ulcers¨ by Robert M. Sapolsky, that I highly recommend everyone to read. This book describes perfectly what stress is and how our body reacts to it. Thanks to this book and it´s well done research I have learned a little bit more about what stress is and how it can affect us.  And I will try to explain this in the following blog.

First, let´s clear up some simple terms.

  • Stressor- is anything in the outside world that knocks you out of homeostatic balance.
  • Stress response- is how your body reacts to the stressor.

So let´s give an example to clarify things: Imagine you are walking down the street and a lion (stressor) comes out of nowhere and starts chasing you, so you decide, if clever, to run.  The body has to react to mobilize energy, so it raises the heart rate, as well as blood pressure and breathing rate.  Arteries are relaxed to let the diverted blood into your muscles (you are going to have to run), veins get more rigid because this causes the blood to return with more force. The body has to halt expensive building projects (you are going to need all the energy possible), so digestion is inhibited. Growth and reproduction are also affected (who cares about the future, you got to take care of the present), and immunity is also inhibited. The body has to mobilize energy so it secretes 2 hormones (it releases more than 2 but for simplicity reasons): GLUCOCORTICOIDS AND GLUCAGON.  These hormones cause triglycerides (where fat is stored) to be broken down into free fatty acids and glycerol, it also causes glycogen to broken into glucose and protein into amino- acids. So, now you got all these simple forms of ¨energy¨ in your bloodstream, so that you can use them to outrun the lion.

Now, all this is good if the lion chases you one day, but imagine if the damn¨ lion¨ is chasing you everyday of your life. Your heart would have to work more, blood pressure would increase, veins become more rigid, vessels have to work harder so they build a thicker muscle layer, they also have a greater change of  being damaged and inflamed since blood pressure is going up.  And on top of that you got the amino acids, glucose and free fatty acids flowing through your blood, meaning that if you add all that up you got a greater probability of clogging those veins up (atherosclerosis).

Also, insulin, which promotes storage of energy and stimulates protein synthesis, goes down. Because when faced with a stress we don´t want to store energy, we want to mobilize energy. So all those who want to build muscle and are under lots of stress will have a harder time developing muscle. And let´s not forget that mobilizing all this energy is ¨expensive¨, meaning you are using energy and that could lead to ¨chronic fatigue syndrome¨.

Now all this doesn´t mean that if you have stress you are going to get sick,  in fact, some people are stress all their lifes and never get sick, but it does INCREASE your risk of getting a disease that makes you sick. So what do we do about it?  We will talk about that in my next blog, but before I go, I do want to say that if the  ¨stressor¨ is really a lion, RUN,  as fast as you can :).

Hoped you enjoyed it!

References

Sapolsky M R, Why Zebras Don´t Get Ulcers. Third Edition, St.Martins Griffin, New York 1994.

 

I run and I run but I don´t lose weight!!

 Has this ever happened to you or have you ever heard this from someone? I sure have, I hear it all the time…. ¨I go running everyday 45 minutes and I´m still not losing weight, I must have a slow metabolism¨ (BIGGEST Bullsh%t out there). Well, as always, let me explain.

First, there is no such thing as a slow metabolism, I talked about that in one of my previous posts (https://sports-diet-pain.com/2013/10/17/metabolism-the-myth-behind-slow-and-fast-metabolism/), please watch the video attached to that post as it is GREAT!!

Second, you are probably not losing weight for a couple of reasons:
1. You do the same training over and over. You see, the body adapts and if every time you go running you do the same thing it´s not going to cost you as much as it did at the beginning and you will also be burning fewer calories. So change the training plan!!!
2. The intensity is always the same. When we do finally change the training plan we only change the time, forgetting sometimes that intensity is more important than time (https://sports-diet-pain.com/2013/10/18/high-intensity-interval-training/). The higher the intensity, the more calories you will be burning after the training. Try incorporating series into your trainings plan.
3. Don´t just run, change activity. Go swimming, go bike riding, GO LIFT WEIGHTS. Yes, resistance training is great and not just for bodybuilders but for everyone. A recent study showed that 10 weeks of resistance training may increase lean weight by 1.4 kg, increase resting metabolic rate by 7%, and reduce fat weight by 1.8 kg (1).
4. Rest. Some people don´t know this but sometimes less is better. They body has to recover after a training. When you train everyday for long periods of time the body starts releasing cortisol. Cortisol is the ¨stress¨ hormone and can have negative effects (3-4). Cortisol isn´t always bad and is sometimes necessary but high levels of cortisol usually aren´t that good. A recent study thas shown that endurance athletes have higher levels of cortisol (2). So take a rest, don´t run so much!
5. Overcompensation. People sometimes eat more after exercise because they think they have burned so many calories but, you see, running really doesn´t burn that many calories. For example: 30 minutes of steady pace running will probably burn you in between 300-350 calories. That is not that much….. a simple cheeseburger in McD%& has 300 calories (5). So of course running is good and burns calories but don´t ruin it afterward by not watching what you eat.

So, in conclusion: change your training plan, play with the intensity and time, change sport activity and, most importantly, sometimes more is not better. Keep running!!

References
  1. Westcott WL. Resitance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Curr Sports Med Rep 2012 Jul-Aug;11(4):209-16.
  2. Skoluda N. Dettenborn L, Stalder T, Kirschbaum C. Elevated hair cortisol concentrations in endurance athletes. Phsychoneuroendocrinology, 2012 May;37(5):611-7.
  3. Kanaley JA, Weltman JY, Pieper KS, Weltman A, Hartman ML. Cortisol and growth hormone responses to exercise at different times of day. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2001 Jun;86(6):2881-9.
  4. Heitkamp HC, Schulz H, Rocker K, DickHuth HH. Endurance training in females: changes in beta-endorphin and ACTH. Int Sports Med.1198 May;19(4):260-4.
  5. http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/getnutrition/nutritionfacts.pdf

Running shoes – are they really that important?

Running shoes can make a simple person go crazy. I went to buy some the other day, thinking it would be an easy task and, boy, was I wrong. First, they asked me if I was a pronator or supinator, I answered that I was more of terminator. Then they asked me about stability, I´ve always been afraid of that issue so I decided not to answer. After that scare, they put me on a treadmill and asked me to walk and run and when that was over they told me they had the perfect shoe for me, it was called the SUPERAXICS BALANCE NEUTRAL STABILITY POWER 1000  and it only costed 165€. I almost had a heart attack!!

Obviously, I exaggerated a little but I wanted to get the point across, buying running shoes can sometimes be a nightmare. But, does it have to be? Is pronation-supination really that important? Do you really have to buy expensive shoes to prevent an injury? What about those new stability shoes, do they really work? Let´s find out….

Running shoes were invented around 40-50 years ago, before that there were only normal shoes or something to cover your feet with and way before that we didn´t even have shoes, but we were still able to run.  And that´s what the book Born to Run talks about. It says that we were meant to run barefoot and that the invention of the shoes has altered our footstrike. You see, when you run barefoot you land with the forefoot because if you landed with your heel it would hurt. However, when you run with running shoes you tend to land with the heel, that´s why running shoes tend to have a lot of cushion in the back.  So now you see a lot of people running with these minimalist shoes, like the five fingers. And you may ask yourself what´s better? In my opinion, the best thing is to buy a normal shoe and alter your footstrike, meaning sometimes you land with the forefoot and sometimes with the barefoot. You see, in his book, Born to Run, the author states that humans were meant to run barefoot and I agree with that, but we were not meant to run MARATHONS or SEMI-MARATHONS. We ran to catch our food and that was it!! I know a lot of people who are running marathons and semi-marathons with minimalist shoes, heck I have a friend who just last month ran the MALAGA MARATHON in SANDALS, yes sandals (here is the picture to proof it). And he is perfectly fine, still runs with the sandals and loves them. He is also a trainer and a great physical therapist.

chema

Still, I wouldn´t recommend people to run marathons with minimalistic shoes, 5-10km yes (that´s probably what we ran to catch our food), but 41km, hell no.  And do minimalistic shoes prevent more injuries than ¨normal¨ running shoes? Well, according to a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, they don´t (1). They found no difference in injury rates between runners who wore soft-soled shoes and those who wore firm-soled shoes. But, you can also read this the other way – RUNNING SHOES DO NOT PREVENT MORE INJURIES THAN MINIMALISTIC SHOES.

So with all this said, you can imagine that running shoes are really not that important and various studies have demonstrated that. For example, researchers have NOT found a strong link between pronation and injury, that is why stability shoes don´t seem to help people who have been diagnosed as ¨over pronators¨. Another paper in 2009 concluded that ¨prescribing cushioned, motion-controlled shoes to distance runners was not evidence-based (2).

So what do we do……. well, I guess each person is different and has to find their shoe in which they are comfortable.  But the point I´m trying to get across, is that we really don´t need expensive shoes to run, heck, we don´t even need shoes to run.

chema2

(My friend Chema again, but this time WITHOUT SANDALS)

And I also wouldn´t bother too much about pronation, supination and stability, I don´t think the sandals my friend ran with had any of those features. So, until next time keep running!!!

I leave you with a nice article that talks about pronation and a video that talks about ¨Born to run¨.

http://www.runnersworld.com/running-shoes/does-pronation-matter

References:

Theisen D, Malisous L, Genin J, Delattre N. Influence of midsole hardness of standard cushioned shoes on running-related injury risk. Br J Sports Med.2013

Richards CE, Margin PJ, Callister R. Is your prescription of distance running shoes evidence-based. Br J Sports Med.2009 Mar;43(3):159-62.

 
 

The magic pill

Imagine I had something that could make a lot of your daily problems go away. Would you take it?  I think most of us would. I surely would, but guess what? That ¨pill¨ is already out there and it´s easy to get.

I´ll admit it. I have experimented with that ¨pill¨ and let me tell you something, it´s some gooodd shit, if you know what I´m talking about. This ¨pill¨ is so good it relaxes me, it makes me feel happier, it takes stress and anxiety(1,2) away from me, it makes me feel less tired and it makes me remember things better (well, that has to be a side effect).

Truth be told, sometimes I don´t feel like taking that pill, but when I do, I feel so good  that afterwards I ask myself why the hell was I even doubting to take it. But, the days that I really don´t feel like taking it, I just read the prescription. And that usually does it for me. I mean, come on, this pill has been DEMONSTRATED  to be effective against low back pain, cardiovascular disease, arterial hipertension, osteoporosis, colon cancer, breast cancer, managing your weight, knee arthritis, heart attacks, prostate cancer, hip fractures for menopausal women, depression, and most importantly ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION (not that I have any problems with that, but I´m just saying, you know, in case one of you does)(1-9). And the list goes on.

But it gets even better, this pill is not racist or sexist. Doesn´t matter if you are rich or poor, or where you live, because this¨pill¨ is free and you can take it whenever you want. If you take this ¨pill¨you will live longer and yet some people don´t take it. They complain they are too tired, or have no time, or that their knee or back hurts, not knowing that the ¨pill¨improves all those symptoms.

By now you have probably guess that the ¨pill¨ I´m talking about is called EXERCISE. I highlighted the word because a lot of people don´t know what it is, to be exact 5,3 million people, that´s the number of people that will die in 2014 from inactivity (https://sports-diet-pain.com/2013/10/18/international-chair-on-cardiometabolic-risk/). So let´s try to move a little bit more in 2014!!

This will be my last blog of the year,hopefully you have enjoyed it.  I wish you all happy holidays and a happy new year!

P.S. To all my spanish followers, here is a facebook page for all those that love sport and want to keep up with the latest information. It´s in spanish  https://www.facebook.com/#!/saludando

 

 

 

References:

  1. Martines EW. Physical activity in the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression. Nord J Psychiatry,2008;62 Suppl 47:25-9.
  2. Hammer M, Endrighi R, Poole L. Physical activity, stress reduction, and mood: insight into immunological mechanism. Methods Mol Bio, 2012;934:89-102.
  3. Warburton DE, Nicol CW, Bredin SS. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. CMAJ, 2006 Mar 14;174(6):801-9.
  4. Penedo FJ, Dahn JR. Exercise and well-being: a review of mental and physical health benefits associated with physical activity. Curr Opin Psychiatry,2005 Mar;18(2):189-93.
  5. Haskell WL, Lee IM, Pate RR, Powell KE, Blair SN, Franklin BA, Macera CA, Health GW, Thompson PD, Bauman A. Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2007 Aug:39(8):1423-34.
  6. Blair SN, ChenY, Holder JS. Is physical activity or physical fitness more important in defining health benefits? Med Sci Sports Exerc,2001 Jun;33(6Suppl): S379-99.
  7. Sculco AD, Paup DC, Fenhall B, Sculco MJ. Effects of aerobic exercise on low back pain patients in treatment. Spine J,2001 Mar-Apr;1(2):95-101.
  8. Cooper R, Kuh D, Hardy R; Mortality Review Group; FALCon and HALCyon Study Teams. Objectively measured physical capability levels and mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ, 2010 Sep 9;341.
  9. Pohjantähti-Maaroos H, Palomäki A, Hartikainen J. Erectile dysfunction, physical activity and metabolic syndrome: differences in markers of atherosclerosis. BMC Cardiovasc Disord,2001 Jun 27;11:36.

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