Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuning In

Ever wonder why all commercial gyms seem to be blasting music all the time? Well, studies have confirmed what most gym users already know. Listening to your favorite tunes can boost your capacity for exercise.

The researcher that has done work in the area of music and exercise for over 20 years is Dr Costas Karageorghis from Brunel University in Great Britain.

He recommends exercising to songs with a beat of 120 to 140 beats/minute and says his subjects have improved performance by up to 15 percent while listening to songs such as: "I Like the Way You Move" by Bodyrockers, and "Mercy", by Duffy.
Those who like music from the 80's did better listening to: "The Heat is On" by Glenn Frey, "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen, or "Dancing Queen" by Abba.

In addition, moderate exercisers said that while listening to their favorite songs reduced their perception of hard work - although for those exercising at a higher intensities, this was not the case (notice that all the elite runners at races never race with music).

Now you realize why lots of runners listen to music while running these days.

I've even seen some tune-in during races, though that's discouraged by many events and running organizations. The reason being that you may not be aware of other runners in the race causing you or them to fall. Please be careful if you do run with music. You need to be aware of traffic if you're running outdoors and other runners around you.

Karageorghis, C et al (2008). Psychological Effects of Music Tempo during Exercise
Int J Sports Med 29: 613-619

Sunday, July 19, 2009

No Need For A Long Warm Up In The Heat

Consider the following scenario. Current temperature is 35 degrees celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and 95% humidity just before the start of the race. You see many people warming up by running ahead of the start line, some doing striding while others are mentally rehearsing for the race. Being nervous, you proceed to do the same, running to warm up as well. Then you notice someone just chilling by the side waiting for the announcer to ask the starter to give the go ahead for the race to begin. When the call comes, this guy just stands up, takes his place and starts with the rest when the gun goes. Later you find out this same guy wins the race easily and you go - hey wait a minute, this guy didn't even warm up, he just showed and ran and won the race. Am I doing something wrong here, Did I warm up too much?

Research actually shows that too much warm up before your race can hurt your performance especially so in hot and humid conditions. Consider the following study. The subjects in the study performed the test after no warm up, 10-min or 20-min warm up in hot conditions (35 deg celsius). Plasma lactate (lactic acid levels) was significantly higher after active warm up. The longer active warm up resulted in a greater increase in temperature and was associated with a decrease in performance in the heat. The researchers showed that a long warm up in hot weather is more likely to diminish performance than improve it.

Ever encountered similar weather conditions while racing? This is very common in Singapore, especially the humidity. And this is the problem, it's not the heat, it's the humidity. Moist air slows down your body's ability to cool itself through sweat, so even though you sweat a lot, it is not evaporated since the air is too moist.

Well, now you know there's no need for a long warm up in the heat. It's nice when there is research to back up your common-sense feelings. So it's okay to chill.


Bishop, D and Maxwell, NS (2009). Effects of Active Warm up on Thermoregulation and Intermittent-sprint Performance in Hot Conditions.J Sci Med Sport Jan;12(1):196-204.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


This is what one of my patients who had DOMS did with his pain (cupping), hope you didn't do the same.

DOMS or delayed onset of muscle soreness is a condition where you have muscle pain, soreness or stiffness that is usually worse 2-3 days after exercise, hence the word delayed, and the pain usually subsides over the following few days.

Certain activities are more likely to cause DOMS. Those that require your muscles to forcefully contract while lengthening (eccentric contractions) seem to cause the most soreness. Ever took part in a race where there were lots of running downhill? Then you should know the feeling in your legs a couple of days later. Other examples of eccentric contractions are going down stairs or lowering your barbell slowly during weights. 

I've also seen patients/ athletes who had DOMS at the beginning of a new an exercise program (especially a new gym/ weight program), after a change in sports activities, or after prolonged or higher than usual intensity efforts.

DOMS is different from the muscle pain or fatigue you experience during exercise. The onset of pain from DOMS always occurs 2-3 days after the cessation of exercise. This helps differentiate it from more acute injuries such as a muscle rupture or sprain.

The soreness will go away on its own after a few days. There are a few things you can do to help. Icing or contrast baths (hot/cold) seems to help although no clear evidence proves they are effective. I had severe DOMS in my legs after my first half marathon race about 12 years ago and tried contrast baths and they didn't seem to help much. Gentle stretching of the affected muscles has also been recommended although there is again no real published evidence found.

There is some evidence that massage seems to help alleviate DOMS by about 30%, but it had no effects on muscle function.

Wanna know what seems to work? My personal experience suggest that performing reduced intensity and low volume exercise will increase blood flow to the affected muscles and often reduce pain. Pedaling at low resistance on a stationary bike is ideal as you don't have to worry about traffic (if you ride on the roads). An easy swim or just walking in waist or chest height water works well too. Wearing compression garments will help reduce it as well. These above mentioned strategies do have some support in the research.

Can you prevent it? Szymanski (2003) suggests the repeated-bout effect as a way of reducing DOMS. This is a progressive adaptation to eccentric exercise. If you perform repeated bouts of lower intensity eccentric exercise 1-6 weeks before your key event,it will help reduce DOMS and exercise induced muscle damage. Thus, a gradual introduction of eccentric exercise, over a period of weeks, is encouraged.


Herbert,RD and De Noronha, M. (2007). Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Issue 4. The Cochrane Collaboration.

Szymanski, D. (2003). Recommendations for the avoidance of delayed-onset muscle soreness. Strength and Conditioning Journal 23(4): 7–13.

Zainuddin, Z et al (2005).Effects of massage on delayed-onset muscle soreness, swelling and recovery of muscle function.Journal of Athletic Training.Jul-Sep;40(3):174-80.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Oakley Jawbone

Yes this is the latest Oakley sunglasses to reach our shores. I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to try them out before they are released officially in Singapore.

You may wonder why Oakley's latest release is named Jawbone but once you have a pair in your hands you'll understand why. This is due to its new, unique way of enabling the user to change lenses.

Unlike most other Oakley models which require you to first "yank" the lens out before snapping in another. For the Jawbone, you just flip out the hinged nose piece, open the lower "jaw", remove the lens and it's done. Real simple and no less secure. I may have mastered changing lenses for my Pro M and Radar models, but I always had trouble changing lenses with the Flak Jacket and Half Jacket models, just ask the staff at Oakley Singapore, they'll be able to confirm this.

So how do it go? Well, here's the verdict. The ear stem is slightly shorter than the Radar model, but still maintained a good grip around the head. This also means it will not get in the way of your helmet straps while riding. The vented lenses were great due to it's hydrophobic coating which true to its word prevented fingerprints, sweat, road grime and water from leaving marks or streaks behind which can hinder vision.

This particular color was a little loud for me, but other than that I have no complaints whatsoever especially with its superb lens clarity.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Can't Post Pictures

Have written up a couple of posts, but can't seem to attached the pictures. Have been trying since last saturday. It seems every one else is having the same problem on blogspot as well. Will put post up as soon as problem is resolved.