Sunday, November 23, 2014

Running Does Not Wear Out Your Knees

Picture by Cameron Drake on work done by Dr Noah Weiss
How many of you have had friends tell you that you'd better stop running as running causes your knee joints to wear out. I've had my fair share too.

Well, now you can tell all the naysayers that running (at any age) does not increase your risk of osteoarthritis (or wearing out of your joints), in fact they may even prevent the condition. This information was presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

Researchers did a long term study on 2,683 subjects at four stages of their life : 12-18, 19-34, 35-49 and 50 and older. They were classified as a runner at that stage if they listed running as one of their three main activities.

X-rays of the knees were collected as well as subjects' reports of symptomatic pain. The knee x-rays were repeated again two years later. Analyses showed that 22.8 % of the participants who were runners had need osteoarthritis compared to 29.8 % who had never been a runner. And get this, average age of the participants was 64.7 years.

The authors concluded that "non-elite running at any time in life does not appear detrimental and may be protective" in regards to developing knee osteoarthritis.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Air Quality In Your Gym

Last week I wrote about the potential pitfalls of exercising in the haze, but we didn't get any haze thankfully due to all the rain from the northeast monsoon. Guess it worked out pretty well then.

With all that rain, some of you may be tempted to give up your exercise plans or shift your workouts indoors into gyms. All good so far right as you expect there won't be any pollution indoors.  I've written that exercising in polluted air is undesirable and can damage your brain and lungs. But guess what, the air in your gym may not be that clean either.

In the article referenced below, researchers monitored 11 gyms (in Lisbon, Portugal) to measure pollutants during the evening/ late afternoon hours since the gyms will be packed at that time.

Subsequently, additional monitors were placed in three gyms to get more detailed readings. These monitors measured air quality throughout the building and throughout the day.

What the researchers found were alarming.  Levels of carbon dioxide, airborne dust and formaldehyde exceeded national levels.

High concentrations of dust and chemicals like formaldehyde can contribute to asthma and other respiratory problems. Almost all the gyms in the study had levels of these substances that significantly exceeded European standards for healthy indoor air.

The levels of carbon dioxide were especially high during evening aerobics classes. Many people were packed into smaller studios/ rooms stirring up dust, fumes and were panting heavily, producing carbon dioxide with every breath. High concentrations of carbon dioxide can contribute to fatigue and cognitive fogginess, not desirable at all in a high intensity aerobics class.

Elevated levels of carbon dioxide may also indicate a building that is poorly ventilated especially if levels remain elevated (they did in this study). The researchers suggest gym goers sniff the air for chemical smells and stale air (as it differs from unwashed gym clothes odour) and consider talking to the gym manager whether the building has undergone a indoor air quality assessment.

As far as I know, no one formally monitors air quality in our gyms here in Singapore, so gym goers be warned.


Ramos CA et al (2014). Exposure To Indoor Air Pollutants During Physical Activity In Fitness Centers. Building and Environment. 82: 349-360.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Is Exercising In The Haze Worth The Risk?

Hazy Singapore - Picture kindly allowed by Hak Liang from Flickr
I was away for the past 2 weeks and my parents when picking us up from the airport mentioned that the haze was bad over the weekend. However it's been raining a fair bit these past few days, so obviously no sign of any haze that has on occasion engulfed our skies in recent times.

When we exercise outdoors, we obviously breathe deeper and more frequently and hence take in more air pollution. A question often asked in times when the haze is bad is whether you should stop exercising outdoors to minimize exposure to the haze/ pollution.

The best known case I recall about an athlete worried about his health due to air pollution was Haile Gebreselasssie. He was then the world record holder in the marathon, but decided not to race the marathon at the Beijing 2008 Olympics due to concerns about the air quality as he suffered from asthma.

Now, there is much documented proof that regular exercise makes you smarter (a neurotropin - brain-deprived neurotropic factor, BDNF plays a key role).

There is also evidence that exposure to air pollution damages your brain and lungs.

Research suggests that while there may be benefits while exercising in polluted air, some of the positive cognitive effects of exercise may be lost. Consider the following two experiments.

A group of cyclists performed 2 identical cycling tests. One was done in a lab where the air was "clean" while the other test was done riding along a busy road with moderate pollution.

Result? Cylists' BDNF levels rose while performing the test in the lab. Along the busy road, levels did not.

In another study, subjects participated in a 12-week training program. One group trained in a rural environment, the other group an urban area. End result showed that participants in the rural environment performed better in tests involving working memory and problem solving.

The authors suggest exercising in a "green environment", avoiding close proximity to traffic, rush hour traffic, and polluted urban environments. Pollution tends to be less in rainy and windy conditions too.

So there you have it, some suggestions that the benefits you gain from exercise may be negated if the exercise was done in a polluted environment.


Bos I, De Boever P et al (2014). Physical Activity, Air Pollution And the Brain. Sports Medicine. 44(11): 1505-1518.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Kinesio Taping Instructor Recertification (CKTI) In Venice

Kinesio Taping Association International rules are that your licence (as an Kinesio Taping Instructor) to teach is valid only for 3 years and thereafter you have be re-certified to be able to teach again.

So here I am doing my Kinesio Instructor Recertification course in Venice over the next few days.

The man himself - Dr Kenso Kase
Some updates, Dr Kase taught us the EDF (dermis, epidermis and fascia) taping 3 years ago in Albuquerque, he spent more time on that today. Latest news is that EDF taping will be a critical component in all upcoming Kinesio Taping courses. Yes, they are looking a fairly big overhaul at teaching future KT 1,2 and 3 courses.

EDF taping
3 years ago with Trish Martin in Albuquerque
Also went through the Jellyfish concept for KT 3 courses.

Jellyfish cut
Another look at the Jellyfish
With Da Man himself

Saturday, October 25, 2014

How To Taper For Your Next Marathon

Finishing stretch at the Singapore marathon from Flickr
Are you getting ready for your next marathon? Ever wondered how elite runners do their taper? Well, here's a sneak peak at what elite British middle and long distance distance runners did when they were preparing to compete at the 2012 London Olympics. (800 m to marathon runners were included in this study, but this post will discuss marathon tapering strategies only).

Average best male time for the marathon were 2:15:46 while the women had an average of 2:31:54 hours.

During normal training, he marathoners averaged 100 miles a week over 12 runs. Majority of the runs (94 miles or about 150 km) were of various distances at slow to moderate pace. The runners did one real quick interval session of 6 miles (or 10 km) such as 6 x 1600 m.

During their 2 week pre marathon taper, these runners did just 7 runs a week, totaling about 53 miles (or 85 km), reducing their mileage by almost 50%. They still did one interval session of about 4 miles (6.4 km), i.e. reducing interval mileage by about 33 %. This suggests they needed to maintain their speed while cutting excess mileage to rest.

During normal training, regular runs were 16 % slower than their marathon pace while intervals were done 10 % quicker.

While tapering, their intervals done slightly quicker than marathon pace while maintaining the pace of their other runs. The authors suggested that their intervals was not done at any greater efforts compared to normal training as their legs recovered as they ran less. This helped to increase their confidence for the race too.

Kate Spilsbury, the lead author referred these faster taper runs as the "priming effect" and suggested that pace should "feel easier as the runners reduce volume and become fresher."

Also have a read here.


Spilsbury KL, Fudge BW et al (2014). Tapering Strategies In Elite British Endurance Runners. E J Sp Sci. 5: 1-7.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Keeping Fit Helps You Sleep Better As You Age

Singapore Track greats - C Kunalan and Glory Barnabas by richseow
I don't know about you, I've been a terrible sleeper for as long as I can remember. Even when I was training a lot more when I was still racing. In fact I found that when I trained too hard, I found it harder to fall asleep. I still am a very light sleeper and once I get up (even in the middle of the night), I usually can't fall back to sleep.

What I read though keeps me going at maintaining whatever fitness I have left. This is in hope that I can sleep better as I get older as more than 8000 adults tracked over a 35-year period showed that those who maintained their cardiovascular fitness as they grew older slept better.

Researchers noted that as one passes 50 years of age, their cardiovascular fitness can decline quickly.

Previous other studies and anecdotal evidence have suggested that exercise helps you sleep better. Most studies used a questionnaire to find out about subjects' sleep patterns. This particular study used a treadmill test as an objective measure rather than just relying on subjects' self reporting.

Every minute decline on the treadmill test endurance led to a 1.7% increase in sleep complaints. No surprises, the researchers concluded that those who kept fit (cardiovascular fitness) during middle age help protect against the onset of sleep complaints made to the doctor.

Well, more reason for you (and I) to keep exercising.


Dishman RK, Sui XM et al (2014). Decline In Cardiovascular Fitness And Odds Of Incident Sleep Complaints. Med Sci Sp Ex. DOI: 1249/MSS.00000000000000506.

*Picture by Spyros Papaspyropoulos from Flickr

Surely you don't wanna sleep like this

Friday, October 10, 2014

Original Kinesio Tex Tapes Maker Threaten Sport Laboratory Over Name Dispute

The real slim shady
The original Kinesio Tex tapes maker, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico has sent a letter to Kinesio Sport Lab (KSL) an exercise physiology/ testing laboratory based in Nova Scotia, Canada to stop using the name Kinesio or face legal action.

'KINESIO' is a proprietary trademark registered in over 50 countries.

KSL was asked to "discontinue and permanently refrain from all use of the words KINESIO SPORT LAB, KINESIO, and any other confusingly similar marks and names in any manner."

Kinesio owns 13 active trademark registration in the United States involving the term "KINESIO. These registration cover a a broad range of goods and services as well.

KSL does not make or sell similar therapeutic tapes, although it does offer services in a related field of exercise testing, nutrition consulting and endurance coaching etc.

According to lawyers interviewed, infringement may occur even though trademarks are not identical, goods and services are not overlapping.

Infringements occur when a consumer may be likely to think that the goods or services associated with the allegedly infringing business are made, sold, leased, hired or performed by the same person or company that has prior rights in the similar trademark.

Well, you use the original Kinesio Tex tapes because it is superior to other copycat/ imitation tapes, but remember don't name your company Kinesio.