Archive | October, 2014

Walk Jog Run Sprint!!!

16 Oct

Increasing interest with running marathons, whether full, half 5k or 3k has opened a serious of discussions on technique, training, shoes, injuries etc. There are so many doubts in an avid runner on how to go about it. Most runners are recreational runners / joggers whose objective is to keep fit, healthy and stress free.

Health Fitness & Medical Screening:

This should be the first step any novice runner should embark on before starting the physical activity. If you are a male and above 40 and not used to vigorous form of exercise or activity, it’s

a wise option to undergo the medical screen & clearance with a physician’s consultation.The next step is to meet a Health & Fitness Specialist or a Sports Physiotherapist and get

evaluated on your Cardio vascular fitness, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition. A good posture evaluation to find out if you have any bio mechanical faults (like,

flat foot, knock knees, etc) soft tissue tightness, preexisting injuries, if any  and based on the findings she/he may advice you on a corrective exercise program, which can help you to enhance

performance and prevent injuries. Get your running mechanics evaluated.

Shoes & Terrain:

Investing on a good pair of shoes is of paramount importance. Shoes with good cushioning, toe room and arch support are things to look for in a shoe. It’s also important to pick up the shoe in

the evening when the toes are little expanded. Remember to change your shoes roughly after every 500kms of use.

Hard surfaces give you a push or bounce to run, with more impact, softer surfaces like the lawns, beach sand might offer less impact, but increases the muscle force or activity. So choose

a firm running surface like the running tracks, level grounds or good treadmills to train. Running up hill and downhill , cross country will enhance your fitness, but also will cause

injuries. If you are running out doors, be aware of the environment.

The FIT principle of training:

How often, how long and how intense should you train? It is the frequency, Intensity and the duration principle. If you are doing a less duration (less than 60mins) and low intensity (walk-

jog speed) you need lesser recover time and hence can train 5-6 days a week. If you are training at a high intensity (say running or sprinting) or longer duration (70 minutes

or more) you need longer recovery time and hence 2-3 times a week, not on subsequent days is advisable. You can however cross train those days with swimming, cycling or yoga.

Always start slowly and build gradually, giving time for the tissues to adapt. When you can walk or jog without going out of breath, you can progress to running!

Always warm up before the training, if you are planning to jog, a brisk walk for 5-10minutes would be a good option, followed by stretches of the muscle groups that are going to be in

action, obviously your calf, thighs back and shoulders. Do the same for a cool down.

Types of Training:

There are different types of training, the common ones are continuous training (steady speed through out), interval training ( 3 minutes run and 2 minute walk ), cross country (different

terrains) and fartlek training, which blends the continuous and interval training. If you are someone beginning to jog use the interval training and progress to continuous mode after

gradually increasing your percentage of jog.

Strength & Flexibility:

A 2 to 3 days a week of strength training on non-subsequent days to strengthen the core amd legs with moderate intensity with 8 to 12 repetitions, 2 sets for each major muscle groups

will be ideal.

Flexibility exercises like yoga or sports stretches can be done for 20-30minutes for the major muscle groups with 15 seconds hold for each, without breath holding, 2 sets each will be good.

Add to that the foam roller for glutes, hamstrings, IT band and calf muscles and foot.

Running Injuries & How to handle them!

Injuries happen, if you try and progress too quickly, if your frequency, intensity and duration are high, if you have poor strength and flexibility, improper foot wear, poor running mechanics

and bio mechanics, and other external factors, like fall etc.

Remember RICE; Rest from activities that cause pain, Ice for 15-20mins 3-4 times a day (if not more often), Compression in case of swelling with elastic bandage and elevation above heart

level, in case of swelling.

The common running injuries are mostly because of overuse. Stress fractures of the metatarsals, plantar fasciitis, runners knee, muscle strain,, Achilles tendinitis, groin pulls, low

back ache etc.,

Hydration & Nutrition:

Remember to hydrate well, with water or isotonic solution. There are various ORS drinks available in the market, to prevent cramps and to fuel. Carbs are the fuel for any endurance

activity, so make sure your carbs are not depleted, by vigorous training the previous days. On the day of the run have enough carbs and depending on the distance have a moderate or

low glycemic index fruit or snack 30 minute before the run.

Happy running!!


13 Oct

Sweating is the production of a clear, salty fluid secreted by millions of eccrine or sweat

glands in the skin which are located all over the body. Sweat is comprised mostly of

water, but also contains a tiny amount of electrolytes (e.g., sodium, chloride, potassium,

magnesium) and urea, a colourless nitrogen-containing substance also found in the urine.

Even though people have about the same number of sweat glands, the amount of sweat

differs among individuals. How much sweat released by each gland is determined

by several factors, including age, gender, environmental conditions and a person’s

acclimatization to them, and, pertinent to this discussion, fitness level. Of all the official

rules and guidelines set for prescribing exercise and ensuring a training response, the

principle of perspiration or “sweat” response is hardly ever mentioned. So, it is not

surprising that many exercisers and exercise professionals ignore, take for granted, or

do not recognize the importance of breaking a sweat during exercise sessions. On the

contrary, sweat response should be considered as one of the major training responses to

watch for. Why? The major function of sweating is to keep the body’s core temperature

at a safe level. Exercising turns up your body’s internal heating system. While you pump

your arms and legs, your body temperature rises and millions of those tiny sweat glands

are activated and sweat is released. As your sweat evaporates, it cools you off. Sweating

is your body’s built-in cooling system–it is your body’s way of getting rid of that extra

heat. In general, as a person’s aerobic fitness level increases, so does his/her ability to

sweat. That means, as a person’s exercise capacity improves, sweating begins earlier in

the exercise session and increases in the overall volume of sweat. The body is simply

becoming acclimatized and more efficient at cooling.

During moderate intensity exercise, sweat losses can average up to 2 L of water per hour.

You need to stay hydrated during exercise for this very reason. Without an adequate

supply of water, your body cannot sweat and your internal temperature will be too high

for you to workout normally, putting you at risk of heat exhaustion or worse. Remember

to drink more water when humidity is high—sweat evaporates more slowly on humid

days when the air is already saturated with moisture.

Side note: Usually, sweat from exercise has no odor, but increased nitrogen in sweat can

have a “sour” smell. An increase in nitrogen can be due to

1) ingesting more protein thanis being utilized for building muscle tissue and maintaining important body functions

(usually seen in high-protein diets),

2) fasting or very low calorie diets–the body breaks down its own muscle to supply needed nitrogen to maintain important functions, and

3) muscle-wasting diseases.




So, next time you exercise, make a mental note of when you begin to sweat. If you are

not sweating at all, you need to increase your intensity. Talk to your trainer to work out a

plan to start sweating.


Dr. Sheri Melton, PhD is Professor, Assistant Chair &

Coordinator of Graduate Studies, Exercise Science Division.

Department of Kinesiology, West Chester University,

West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA. She is also an American College of Sports

Medicine (ACSM). Certified Exercise Specialist and a Fulbright-Nehru Scholor.

She is a renowned researcher and scholar in the field of exercise science.