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Stretching Does Not Prevent Injuries

A review in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine (March 2005) shows that there is no good evidence that stretching prevents sports injuries. Muscles and tendons tear when the force applied to them is greater than their inherent strength, so anything that makes a muscle stronger helps to prevent injuries. Strengthening muscles helps prevent muscle and tendon tears, but stretching does not make muscles stronger. This review showed that stretching does not prevent shin splints, bone stress fractures, sprains, strains or other arm and leg injuries.

However, stretching can make you a better athlete. Competitive athletes need to stretch to makes muscles and tendons longer and more flexible. A longer muscle can exert a greater torque on a joint to help you run faster, lift heavier, throw further and jump higher. Stretching should always be done after your muscles are warmed up. You are likely to injure yourself if you stretch before you have warmed up or when your muscles are tired. Warming up raises muscle temperature to make them more pliable. Stretch no further than you can hold for a few seconds. Bouncing gives you a longer stretch, but can tear muscles. Only competitive athletes need to stretch further than they can hold for a few seconds. If you're over 50, be extra careful because older muscles are less springy and more likely to tear.

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In this week’s news –

1) A major article in the New York Times Science Section (10/4/05) reports impotence in bicycle riders who use standard seats. The writer recommends the nose-less seats Diana and I have used for the past four years. If you’re still riding in pain, see Report #8733: A Comfortable Bike Seat

2) Dr. Barry Marshall and Dr. Robin Warren won the Nobel Prize for discovering Helicobacter pylori’s link to stomach ulcers and cancers. Thanks to all of you who wrote recalling my radio shows and newsletters in the 80’s and early 90’s, when I went out on a limb telling everyone to follow Dr. Marshall’s treatment recommendations. Here’s a report from 1995 (earlier ones were not archived.)

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If you have a problem opening the links in this week’s issue . . . we’ve been told there’s an Internet-wide problem causing this; please try again in a few days.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: My husband drinks a lot of caffeinated beverages. Should I try to get him to change his habits?

Two recent studies show that there may be a concern. Researchers at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario report that caffeine, in coffee, tea, chocolate, and most colas, raises blood sugar levels in healthy people and diabetics, which cannot be reversed by exercise or weight loss (Diabetes Care, March 2005). When you eat, your blood sugar level rises. If it rises too high, sugar sticks to cells, and once stuck on cells, it is converted to sorbitol which destroys the cell to increase risk for heart attacks, strokes, blindness, deafness, kidney failure and other effects of diabetes. Anything that increases blood sugar levels increases risk for diabetes. So, most doctors recommend restricting refined carbohydrates, in sugar and flour. Exercise and weight loss do not prevent this rise in blood sugar. These studies were done with caffeine pills. Coffee may contain nutrients, such as antioxidants, potassium and magnesium, that may prevent the high rise in blood sugar.

A second study, from the Netherlands shows that drinking coffee can raise blood pressure (Journal of Hypertension, May 2005). High blood pressure markedly increases a person’s chances of suffering a heart attack, stroke and sudden death. The new guidelines state that normal blood pressure should be below 120 when the heart contracts and 80 when it relaxes. That means the almost 91 percent of all North Americans will eventually become hypertensive and suffer increased risk for premature death. The authors reviewed 16 studies on coffee drinking and high blood pressure and found that for most people, drinking coffee does not raise blood pressure, but for some, even one cup of coffee can raise blood pressure. If you drink coffee regularly, it may pay to check your blood pressure twenty minutes after drinking coffee. Your blood pressure is too high if it is above 120 over 80.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Are low-carbohydrate diets safe?

Atkins Nutritionals in the UK announced that it is shutting down operations because of financial problems, and its US counterpart filed for bankruptcy. Perhaps this is an indication that the low-carbohydrate fad has run its course. The Atkins Diet recommends restricting carbohydrates, and substituting protein or fatty foods. Nobody has long-term data to show whether long- term severe carbohydrate restriction is safe. Dr. Atkins did make the public aware that taking in refined carbohydrates, such as high-flour and sugared foods, over many years increases risk for heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. However, early on, he gave the impression that all carbohydrates are unhealthful and that unlimited saturated fat is healthful. In his later years, he corrected these misconceptions. Most scientists feel that only carbohydrates that cause a high rise in blood sugar are harmful, and that unrefined carbohydrates in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds and nuts are healthful.

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Two new recipes for appetizers or snacks from Diana:
Porcupines
Spinach-Artichoke Dip or Dressing

List of Diana's Healthful Recipes

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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