Tag Archives: research

Update on “Have A Beer” Post

Every once in a while I seem to post a blog that peaks people’s interest…the most recent one being: Have A Beer…Or Maybe Not. One of my friends from the SouthFloridaRuns group, Andy, mentioned that when has a beer before a race or run, it’s purely for relaxation. He doesn’t do it to run faster and hit a personal record (PR); he grabs a beer when he just wants to have a good time and not go for time. As he said, “Having the beer before the run ensures that it will be a fun, relaxing run; Obviously I won’t be going for PRs or be super competitive.” I then wondered, if on some of those runs he does actually go faster – because he’s relaxed without any stress. I asked him but he wasn’t sure that he ever hit any PRs post beer consumption.  Another guy in the group, Joey, says he will sometimes consume a few glasses of wine the night before a race. It’s his trademark. I’ll have to follow-up with him as to whether he feels it helps him…

While discussing all of this, Sam (leader of the SouthFloridaRuns crew) mentioned a study he had seen about how drinking alcohol/beer may help women more than men. I had not found the study in my research so once I came home, I immediately located it to share it here. So here it is – straight from Runners World: Beer Run! (Note that this scientific article is about the post run beer not the pre-run beer as I wrote about in my last post.)

Here are some important pull-outs from the article written by Christie Aschwanden.

  • Turns out the research on alcohol and exercise is as herky-jerky as our culture’s attitude toward the bottle. Most early studies investigated alcohol’s potential as a performance enhancer. It seems ridiculous now, but during the 1904 Olympic Marathon, U.S. gold medalist Thomas Hicks was given a mixture of brandy, strychnine, and egg whites in an effort to gain a competitive edge. Many coaches then believed alcohol boosted energy.
  • Being a former scientist, I had my own theories about how drinking and running mix, and I couldn’t resist putting them to the test. The nearby Colorado Mesa University had just opened the Monfort Family Human Performance Research Lab, a state-of-the-art exercise-science facility that seemed like the perfect venue to explore alcohol’s effects on running performance. My friend Gig Leadbetter, Ph.D., coaches the school’s cross-country team and is an exercise scientist at the Monfort Lab. He’s also a home brewer and winemaker and, without any arm-twisting, agreed to put together a study for Runner’s World.
  • We’d recruited five men and five women—myself included—ranging in age from 29 to 43, all moderate drinkers (defined as drinking less than the recommended daily limits of two drinks per day for men, one for women) and who ran at least 35 miles per week…Everyone reconvened the following Friday evening for the first Beer Run. We ran on treadmills for 45 minutes at a pace that felt steady, like tempo, but not overly strenuous. Then we gathered on the patio behind the lab and drank cold beer (or the placebo) and devoured plates of pasta and tomato sauce (carbs!). The next morning, volunteers returned to the lab for the first Exhaustion Run, a task as grueling as it sounds. After we ran at a fast clip for as long as possible, researchers measured our heart rates and metabolic factors, such as oxygen consumption and carbon-dioxide production. Every three minutes, they asked us to rate how hard we were working.
  • Right after the second Exhaustion Run, I sat down with Leadbetter to review a few results. The first shock was personal: I had assumed my second Exhaustion Run was so poor because I had drunk the real beer the night before. Wrong! I had actually been served the placebo the previous evening. Surely my results were a fluke. Leadbetter sent all the data to Bob Pettitt, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist and statistics expert at Minnesota State, Mankato. “The women did better after beer, but the men canceled it out by doing worse,” says Leadbetter. The five women ran an average of 22 percent longer the morning after drinking Fat Tire, while the men ran 21 percent shorter.
Full article here.

Barefoot Running – Yay or Nay?

After my experience with Skechers GOrun shoes yesterday…I was reminded of this article from Dr. David Rudnick’s Chiropractic & Sports Rehabilitation Institute’s August – September 2012 Newsletter. It’s all about barefoot running. I’ve included the article below – but it’s also available in its original format here. (Read more about Dr. David Rudnick in our expert resources section.)

Barefoot Running – Yay or Nay?

“If you want to follow the fad craze these days, just look to companies like Vibram, Merrell and Nike. Vibram is the company that has brought you the soles and treads of many of the shoes you have worn over the years and of course Nike are the people who first brought you the “running shoe” as we know it today. Nike first brought us the waffle bottom trainer, cross trainer, air pockets, “shocks,” Air Jordan, and now its barefoot minimalist series—the Nike Free.”

What initially stymied us when these “barefoot” style shoes first came out was the obvious question: “Why would the same brands that sell us the shoes and offer so many varieties to choose from, now be advocating that we train barefoot, or close to it? “ But are they? The Nike shoes have light-weight, thin, flexible soles and thin vamp top cover material to hold the shoe onto the foot; the Vibram version is more simplistic—a rubber sock with compartments for each individual toe.

So why would Nike and Vibram both go against their own creations and advocate that we begin walking and running barefoot, or at least become “shoe-minimalists” after decades of building shoe and sole lines? There appears to be sound moral reasoning if you delve into the research, but you have to look closely; and if you’d like to try one of the creations, you have to be aware of your personal foot type – but that’s for another day.

Current research has been conducted showing the following:

  • Plantar (bottom of the foot) sensory feedback plays a central role in safe and effective locomotion;
  • More shoe cushioning can lead to higher impact forces on the joints and risk of injury;
  • Unshod (without shoes) lowers contact time of the foot;
  • There are higher braking and pushing impulses in shod versus unshod running;
  • Unshod running presents a reduction of impact peak force that would reduce the high mechanical stress that occurs during repetitive running; and
  • A bare foot induces a neural-mechanical adaptation which could enhance the storage and restitution of elastic energy at ankle extensor level.
  • These are only some of the more significant findings. These issues will not only support injury management benefits for the barefoot runner but increase speed, force and power output.

“Stepping backwards in time a little…during caveman days things were very different and the foot was left bare from birth until death. As a result the foot both developed and appeared different. The sole of the foot was thicker and callused due to constant contact with rough surfaces; the foot was more muscular; it was probably wider in the forefoot; and the toes were likely slightly separated due to the demands of griping the ground. Overall, the foot simply worked differently; it worked better; and it worked more like the engineering marvel it truly is. However, as time went on, man messed with a good thing and took a foot that was highly sensitive with a significant sensory and motor representation in the brain and he covered it up with a slab of leather and/or rubber. Further, man then flattened and then paved the world and his home with cement, wood, pavement and/or tile and successfully completed the total sensory information deprivation of the foot. Not only did man take away critical adaptive skills from himself, he began the deprivation of critical information from which the central nervous system needs to develop and function effectively.”

As a result, we now affix a shoe to a child’s foot before he or she can walk. When the baby begins to walk, all propriosensory information necessary for the development of critical spinal and central nervous system reflexes is virtually absent. Therefore, is it any wonder why there are so many people in chronic pain from postural disorders related to central core weakness and inhibition? Is it any wonder why so many people have flat, incompetent feet and arches? Man has done it to himself. But thankfully man has proven he can undo what has been done. There is much modern medical research that has uncovered the woes of our ways. And as a result, companies like Nike and Vibram are developing devices that will allow some protection from modern day offenses like glass, plastic and metal, but also allow for the slow, gradual return to caveman days.

There are many shoes available that have potentially serious biomechanical flaws. We are happy to discuss our sound reasoning regarding these shoes and their impact on your condition during a consultation. Shoes need to be specifically chosen for your foot type, activity type, walking and/or running style and muscle weaknesses. The wrong shoe choice can in itself be a cause of pain or problems and lead to abnormal mechanics or physical problems.

Potential Harms of Barefoot Running

  • Suddenly going barefoot or wearing a minimalist shoe can be quite a shock to the foot. But that isn’t the only concern one should have when starting a shoeless workout. Runners and walkers alike should keep the following in mind:
  • Why Fix What Isn’t Broken?
  • If you have no problems, no pain, do you need to change anything?
  • Little Foot Protection
  • Shoes offer a significant amount of protection from road debris such as glass, nails, rocks and thorns. They also offer insulation in cold weather and protect us from frostbite in ice and snow.
  • Achilles Tendinitis and Calf Strain
  • Most of us aren’t used to running barefoot, so a minimalist shoe will be a shock to our feet. Also, our muscles will feel overworked. In some cases, this can lead to injury (e.g. Achilles tendinitis or calf strain).
  • May Increase Plantar Pain
  • The bottom of the feet (plantar surface) for most people is soft and tender. Going without a stiff-soled shoe may initially cause plantar pain, or increase the risk of plantar fasciitis.
  • Get Ready for Blisters
  • Almost everyone who switches to a minimal shoe or starts going shoeless will find themselves battling blisters for the first few weeks until calluses are formed.
  • You Will Look Strange
  • Face it: People will notice and they may stare!

*Parts of this article were from a research paper “Thoughts & Research for the Shoe Minimalist” by Dr. Shawn Allen, Dr. Ivo Waerlop, Chris Korfist.

Study by Harvard University on barefoot running.

Running Can Make You Smarter!

It’s true, running can make you smarter! Us runners have been saying it all along (right?!), but now there is proof! I read this article in this past week’s NY Times and had to share…

Here is the direct link to the article.

And here are some important notes I pulled out of it.

  • Using sophisticated technologies to examine the workings of individual neurons — and the makeup of brain matter itself — scientists in just the past few months have discovered that exercise appears to build a brain that resists physical shrinkage and enhance cognitive flexibility. Exercise, the latest neuroscience suggests, does more to bolster thinking than thinking does.
  • A team of researchers led by Justin S. Rhodes, a psychology professor at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, gathered four groups of mice and set them into four distinct living arrangements. Group 1: sensual and gustatory plenty; Group 2: sensual and gustatory plenty PLUS avenues/vehicles to exercise; Group 3: empty space just standard food, etc.; and Group 4: no sensual and gustatory plenty, but ability/vehicles to exercise. And in the end? It turned out that the toys and tastes, no matter how stimulating, had not improved the animals’ brains. Only one thing mattered: whether they had a running wheel! Now that’s persuasive!
  • And here is why: Exercise though seems to slow or reverse the brain’s physical decay, much as it does with muscles.

I should add the article included much more information about the creation of new brain cells, etc. and whether this is happening…and the debate over they type of exercise needed (walking, jogging, running). Regardless, it’s another reason for us all to lace up those shoes and get out there running!