Wednesday, January 27, 2010

No Pain, More Gain?

Before you carry on reading, I'll like to get this straight right from the start. If you choose to take high doses of pain medication before your races, there may be a potential risk of higher injury as pain may be an important warning of impending muscle or joint damage. Large doses of pain medication taken often, too may have harmful effects on your liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal (stomach) tract & lining.

I am saying that I do not recommend the chronic & frequent use of analgesics (pain medication) to help enhance your athletic performance. So if you insist, don't say I didn't warn you.

Now you're ready to read what this is all about. A group of British scientists have found a novel way of for elite endurance athletes to go even faster. Since the "pain" of high intensity exercise affects our performance (meaning if racing hard & fast is too painful, we slow down), one way to improve performance is to then lower our pain levels to enable us to go faster.

In their randomized double-blind study(meaning both participants & researchers don't know which cyclist gets the meds or a placebo), they gave the elite cyclists a dose of 1.5 grams of acetaminophen (the active ingredient found in Tylenol) or a dummy tablet before a 16km time trial - (distance like a prologue stage of the Tour de France).

The results were astonishing to say the least. Cyclists were 2% (or 30seconds over 16km) faster while on the pain medication while recording a higher heart rate and producing more lactate (meaning they were able to push themselves harder) and rode faster while rating the effort easier. What's more, the authors also hinted that this actaminophen effect could be even more dramatic in longer duration events.

Before all of you run out to get hold of some even stronger pain medication (I shan't tell you what) than acetaminophen (as acetaminophen is actually quite mild, which makes the research even more remarkable) similar research has been done with stronger pain medication. The subjects in that study felt super and went out too hard in the first half of the time trial and slowed down big time in the second half. Now you wouldn't want that in your race would you. Please see this. Previous studies using aspirin or ibuprofen returned conflicting results.

Now I can hear some of my readers and patients asking me already, so what did I take while I was still racing. I didn't take anything in the "small" races, I only took them in my goal races. What did I take and what was the dosage? Come speak to me and I will reveal all.

Mauger AR, Jones AM & Williams CA. (2010). Influence of Acetaminophen on Performance during Time Trial Cycling. J Appl Physiol Jan 108(1): 98-104.

*Picture from Flickr

Sunday, January 24, 2010

How To Fight Fat The Fun Way

Have a look at today's Sunday Times (241010) and you will see Sports Solutions quoted in the Lifestyle section on page 10.

I've just been told that if we (Physio and Sports Solutions) use their headlines or their photos (Singapore Press Holdings) we have to pay them a yearly fee so I've taken out the photos and changed the title so you'll have to look for it in the papers.

We've even been slapped with an "investigation fee" if we refused to pay a yearly fee for each article.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Let's Go Green This New Year

Cycling is among the most environmentally friendly activity out there. If you ride your bike to work, you contribute to the green movement that is steadily growing.

By riding your bike to work, you will get more benefits than your employer will offer. You lose weight, save money, help the environment, feel less stress and happier and also get fitter in the process. The fitter and faster you get, the more fun you have. Better still, after a while what feels easy to you feels hard to people who don't ride that often.

Besides the numerous physical benefits, you get to feel the sheer joy of feeling the wind in your face - well this is what I call the poor man's version of driving a convertible.

Choose the safest route not necessarily the shortest. Get a bike that fits and suits you. You don't need the latest, most colorful or expensive bike.

We may have a long while to wait (or never) before we get bike lanes in Singapore, or even just having parking stations on the side walk would be a good start.

Until we do, ride safe and see you on the roads.

*Picture above - My colleague does this sometimes (if he doesn't ride from home to the clinic on his road bike), he rides his foldable bike from his home to the MRT, wheels it on the MRT, gets off and rides to the clinic. Surely almost everyone can start like this.