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Meal Frequency and Gaining or Losing Weight

Some folk maintain that the most effective way of losing excess bodyfat is to eat 5-6 smaller, well balanced meals a day? Interestingly, this is precisely what some people advocate as the best way of increasing lean body weight. In other words, it appears

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The Need For Shoes in Sport

Mon, 03 Aug 2009 04:07:00 +0000

Barefoot training is currenlty popular, here is Dr Mel Siff’s take on the topic of should we train with shoes?In view of all the comments on the use of shoes in sport, here are someextracts from our “Supertraining” book (Siff & Verkhoshansky 1999 Ch 8) thatare relevant to the discussion.Later I have provided a collection of websites that will also shed some morelight on this issue.SHOES AND SAFETYShoe manufacturers would have athletes believe that the primary solution tomost athletic injuries is the wearing of expensive footwear. Ailments such asshin splints, iliotibial band syndrome and peripatellar pain are attributedvariously to excessive shock loading of the limbs, pronation or supination.Research, however, reveals that fewer injuries occur among those who wearthin soled shoes and that current athletic footwear may even be injurious(Robbins et al, 1988). The paradoxical observation of a much lower incidenceof running injuries reported in barefoot populations implies that modernrunning shoes may produce injuries that normally would not occur withouttheir use (Robbins & Hanna, 1987). Furthermore, running shoes seem to beassociated with fewer injuries in fitness classes than so-called ‘aerobicsshoes’. Nigg (1986) reports that, on firm shock absorbing mats, thedifference in heel strike force is minimal between bare feet, thick-soledshoes and thin-soled shoes. Nigg also points out that the use of any shoeusually increases the tendency of the foot to pronate, particularly if theimpact forces are smaller.Moreover, several studies have shown that there is no correlation between theamount of shoe cushioning and impact absorption by footwear during locomotion(Robbins et al, 1988; Clarke et al, 1982). Similarly, epidemiologicalstudies have failed to provide evidence that expensive modern athleticfootwear enhances protection from injury to the lower extremities (Caspersenet al, 1984; Powell et al, 1986). Thus, it would appear that safety of thelower extremity is not simply a consequence of suitable footwear, but oflearning how to move the body efficiently while wearing a specific type ofshoe.SHOE DESIGNClearly, the science of athletic shoe design is far from being exact. For instance, the current fo-cus is on foot pronation. Other possible causes ofinjury such as toe, ankle, knee and hip movement in three dimensions arelargely neglected. Moreover, footwear design is based almost exclusively ontheoretical models which postulate that shock loading and the inability ofthe human anatomy to adapt to this loading are the primary causes of runninginjuries. This becomes evident from the claims of manufacturers that theirspecific shoes correct excessive pronation, control the rearfoot, offersuperior arch support or absorb shock effectively. These shoes do not modifythe impact forces during locomotion, a fact which casts severe doubt on thecushioning philosophy that forms the foundation of all current shoe design.Studies by Robbins et al (1988) have shown that the sole of the bare footexhibits a powerful plantar surface protective response which diminishesplantar loading on ground contact, thereby reducing the risk of damage fromoverloading during locomotion. Their work also revealed that this responsewas not apparent among subjects who always wear shoes, especially the highlyshock-absorbing shoes generally worn by runners. They concluded thisprotective response prevents injury by decreasing system rigidity, therebydiminishing the peak force during foot impact. The lack of the protectiveresponse among shoe wearers apparently is due to diminished plantar sensoryfeedback, possibly combined with mechanical interference with arch deflectionby shoe laces, heel counters and arch supports (Robbins et al, 1988). Itwould seem that sufficient regular locomotor activity without footwear shouldbe done daily to maintain the sensitivity of the plantar protective reflexand that less emphasis should be concentrated on designing passiveshock-absorbing or pronation-modifying shoes.Little work has been done on relating lower limb injury to anthrop[...]

Warming Up and the Preparation Phase for Sport

Mon, 03 Aug 2009 04:07:00 +0000

This question from a subscriber broufht some great insight from Dr Siff on prpearation for physical activity; Another way to warm up without expending so much energy is to move each
major joint (shoulder, hip,knee, ankle, wrist, elbow) through its associated
movements. The hip can flex, extend, abduct, adduct, hyperextend, rotate
internally and externally. If you try this with one side and compare it with
the other, the moved side will feel warmer.

The motions warm up the synovial fluid in the joint…warm fluid has more
volume than cold fluid, thus giving the joint more cushioning and easier
range of motion.

*The extremely low viscosity of synovial fluid and relatively low
velocities of movement involved in warming up movements over a few minutes
will not produce any sufficient increase in fluid volume to increase the
cushioning capabilities of the synovial fluid. Moreover, the tissues
containing the synovial fluid will bulge to counter any small effects that
might occur.

Another issue is that any warming up will also increase the temperature of
the soft tissues surrounding and investing the joint, so that they will
become more extensible and will further diminish the value of any increase in
synovial volume which may take place.

The warming effect from exercise related increases in metabolic rate will be
far larger than that produced by gentle movements of the joints.
Interestingly, research has shown that intense iosmetric contractions of
muscle can also significantly increase the temperature of the muscle complex,
so that dynamic movement is not necessarily the only way of wwarming up the
tissues. One could equally well warm up by doing strong isometric or
quasi-isometric contractions at a few well-chosen joint angles in different
directions in free space.


Of course, we do have to consider the neural components of warming up, as
well, so it would be a bit simplistic to choose one limited method of
“pre-action preparation” (I prefer a term like that to “warming up”, because
“warming up” activities involve more than mere temperature raising of the
soft tissues. In some respects, the term “warming up” is an unfortunate,
misleading and simplistic one, because it has led far too many coaches and
athletes to think in terms of the pre-exercise phase as one whose role is
simply to “warm up” the tissues.

Among other tasks, the “pre-action preparatory phase” (PPP) is there to warm
up tissues and to “prime” the nervous system. We are doing the PPP a grave
disservice to think of it only as a “warming up” phase. In the case of
animals stalking their prey or escaping predators, the neural aspect is of far
greater importance and it is high time that athletes were also made more
aware of this vital aspect of the PPP before a given event.
Dr Mel Siff
Author of Supertraining
Author of Facts and Fallacies of Fitness