Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Are You Ready to Go Minimal?

Jay Dicharry the author of:

Weighs in on criteria conditions needed to try out minimal shoes using mobility test (with nice fixes to improve), muscle isolation, leg-stance balance, posture alignment.  It's a great 7mins, if you dig his stuff, buy the book for more.

Note... Even after practice, I can NOT stand on one foot with my eyes closed, I tip over as if pushed!  Let me know if you can do it!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

How to Breathe

How to Breathe?  First we talk about 'how to run' which is arguably VERY natural to humans, now how to breathe??

Consider this; a common question at the gym.  People ask 'am I just out of shape or is there a trick to breathing??'.  It is easy to dismiss such questions as 'just work harder, adapt, get fitter' but there are interesting nuances to consider.  Our bodies can recognize that we're working hard (say, during a work out) so let's increase the flow of oxygen!  A simple mechanism is to just breathe faster, but that is not always the best solution to adapt to a serious fitness demand we're placing on our bodies.  For example a measure of fitness is the VO2Max is a measure of when (given a constantly increase in effort-level) does one exhale perfectly good oxygen.  In other words, our trigger to breathe faster usurps our ability to USE the oxygen we are taking in.

Many of us are training their bodies to be fit, but there are also techniques to train our lungs to work better.   Two take ways in my research is to:

a.)breathe deeper
b.)breathe smarter

Deeper is simple to understand, when you feel like you can't get enough air, take a moment to slow your breathe's cadence and increase the depth of breathes.  Try it at as you read this, breathe deep, then try to breathe deep using your mouth.  There are benefits to using those deeper air sacs and like many skills if you consciously do it eventually you'll naturally do it!  Also play with this, experiment when in your 'zone' - how many steps (while running) do you take per breathe?  Doing burps? Give yourself the luxury of a deep breath per rep.  Make a breath what you're heading for, your milestone to reach. Say 'breath breath breath' to yourself when in a high intensity workout!

Breathing smarter is a funny way i like to say - use your breathing muscles the way they were intended.  Use your belly to breathe!  Here is a test, are you a belly or a chest breather:

You can test whether you are a chest breather or stomach breather. Place your right hand on your chest, and your left hand on your stomach and breath normally. If your right hand rise more, you are a chest breather, and if your left hand rises more, you are a stomach breather.  (By Ollie Lawson)

The stomach obviously can expand MUCH further and is therefore a better group of muscles to take in air.  I always joke with my running seminars that my race pics look ridiculous because my stomach is usually distended.  It is worth the unflattering pictures to have enough air.  

Master this, then you have no excuses ;)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Overuse Injuries

Oh how i enjoy taking two sides of an issue to see which explanation is the more supportable (it's a science thing).  Sometimes the counterintuitive explanation is the correct one.  Knowing this, and knowing 'words have meaning' - we enjoy picking apart words, diagnoses, explanations, etc…

We can't help but chuckle when hear the term "overuse injury" used to 'describe' running injuries.  In googling it (in quotes) gives you about 83,500 results.  The top 3 are definitions.  Definition: Chronic pain and injury refers to the sort of physical injury, ... are sometimes referred to as cumulative trauma or overuse injuries.  Overuse injuries, otherwise known as cumulative trauma disorders, are described as tissue damage that results from repetitive demand over the course of time. The term refers to a vast array of diagnoses, including occupational, recreational, and habitual activities. Overuse injury
Sports medicine A sports- or occupation-related injury that involve repetitive submaximal loading of a particular musculoskeletal unit, resulting in changes due to fatigue of tendons or inflammation of surrounding tissues; OIs include tennis elbow and golf elbow. 

From emedicine: "cumulative trauma" sounds more like blows from a hammer than feet landing on the ground doing something as natural as running.  We assumed these definitions might be silly because it is so common to describe running as feet slamming on the ground, or pounding the pavement.  But obviously, some of us realize running has been with humans for millions of years - an adaptation used to survive.  Running is as natural to humans as breathing, or the muscles used to balance or stand; or having a beating heart.  These are muscle contraction too and not likely to hurt or be sore due to 'overuse'.

If you've been running non-stop since childhood with a form that is natural to the variable compliances of the muscles and tendons at your natural cadence with appropriate protection yet proprioception- we DOUBT seriously that you'll have an injury from overuse!!  It's more aptly an issue of underuse.

An explanation or diagnosis of an injury, condition, whatever must have the distinction between proximal cause, ultimate cause, fundamental cause.  There are chains of causes some proximal, some ultimate.  Some medical professionals have fancy terms for things that nothing more than a regurgitation of the symptoms.  " i have pain in my foot arch"  "oh you have plantar fasciitis"   which is what you said to them!  

I am hurt due to an inflammation of a tendon, that's proximate.  The tendon is inflamed because of a muscle imbalance, that's an ultimate cause.  There is a muscle imbalance because of a form issue, biomechanics, leg length discrepancy, neuromuscular disconnect, or simply NO feedback mechanism of your bad form due to your overly cushioned shoes.  
Think about it, and don't settle for lame diagnoses.