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Arches and Running Injuries

Runners with high arches are at increased risk for suffering stress fractures, small cracks in the bones of their feet and lower legs; and those with low arches are at increased risk for knee cap pain (Physician and Sportsmedicine, January, 2005). When you run at six miles per hour, your foot hits the ground with a force greater than three times body weight. The faster you run, the harder your heel strikes the ground. This force can break bones, damage joints and tear muscles. The human body is designed so you never land flatfooted when you run. You land on the outside bottom of your heal and roll inward toward the big toe. This helps to distribute the force of your foot strike throughout your foot and leg and protect you from injury. The further you roll inward, the greater the protection against this force. However, when you roll in too much, your lower leg twists inward excessively, causing your kneecap to rub against the long femur bone behind it and cause pain. This is called Runner’s Knee.

If you have pain behind the knee cap during running or walking, ask your podiatrist to look at your feet. If your arches appear to be flat, you usually will have a normal arch, but you roll inward so far that your arch touches the ground. Your treatment is to place special inserts, called orthotics, in your running shoes and to do special exercise that strengthen your vastus medialis muscle that pulls your knee cap inward.

If you develop pain in the medial side of your lower leg or your feet, your podiatrist will probably order a bone scan to check for stress fractures, small cracks in the bones of your feet. If you have stress fractures and high arched feet, you will need specially padded running shoes and have to learn to try to hit the ground with less force when you run.

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More on High Fructose Corn Syrup
I’ve reported for several years that this common ingredient is contributing to the obesity epidemic and other nutritional problems. My comments about fructose in fruit brought a very interesting response from one reader, too long to reproduce here but WELL WORTH reading. Laszlo Pentek is a professional beekeeper with strong views about HFCS and some fascinating information about honey as well. I’ve posted it at: http://drmirkin.com/nutrition/honey.html

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Please help me convince my sister that she should wear a bicycle helmet, even though it messes up her hair!

Your brain is enclosed in a sac of fluid. When you hit your head, your brain bounces around and is damaged as it bangs against the sides of your skull. With every peck, a woodpecker bangs its head harder than you would if you hit your head in a bicycle accident. But the woodpecker’s brain is protected because its skull allows no movement of its brain inside. A helmet protects your head like a woodpecker’s skull. The helmet should fit tightly around your head and have a strong chin strap that allows no movement. If you can move your helmet when it is fastened, it doesn’t fit.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: I just got a stationary bicycle. Will riding for 30 minutes every day be enough to make me fit?

Even the best athletes don’t take the same workouts every day. To avoid injuries and get the most out of your exercise program, take a hard workout on one day and several easy ones on the days afterward. When you’re first starting out, follow the “background before peaking” rule: pedal at an easy pace until your legs fell heavy or hurt and then stop, even if you can only pedal for a few minutes. Build up gradually, and when you can ride for 30 minutes every other day for several weeks, you are ready to start training. You should probably incorporate into your program one fast, intense day and one longer day each week. The rest of the time, just pedal at a very easy pace as long as you feel comfortable, or take the day off.

You can use Wednesday as your speed day. Warm up for five to ten minutes by pedaling slowly. Then set the resistance on the pedals so you can pedal at around 90 to 100 revolutions per minute comfortably. Pedal at that rate for 30 seconds, followed by pedaling for 30 seconds very slowly, barely moving your pedals. Then pedal fast again for 30 seconds. Alternate the slow and fast 30-second intervals until your legs feel heavy or hurt, and then stop. As these workouts get easier, increase the resistance. On Sunday, pedal for a longer session of an hour or more to build your endurance. On the other days, pedal slowly and get off the bike when you feel any discomfort.

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Recipe of the Week
Celebrate the arrival of local vine-ripened tomatoes!
Tomatoes with Pepper Salsa

Recipe List

June 26th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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