January 6, 2010
Introduction: In this podcast episode: steam rooms versus saunas, barefoot running on treadmills, CLA for fat loss, water running, healthy coffee shop drinks, tightening loose skin, heart rate monitors, fat pads, and Citruvol.
Ben answers: Hey podcast listeners, this is Ben Greenfield coming to you on a beautiful day up here in Washington State. Now I will be coming down to California this weekend, January 8 and 9to speak on a health panel down there El Dorado Hills and that’s going to be on Friday evening and Saturday morning. I believe that’s at the hotel down there in El Dorado Hills. Specifically at the Holiday Inn. Now we have a jampacked Listener Q and A today. I received tons of Listener questions this week and I promise that I will get to them all in this podcast. Remember that our interviews with health experts are on hold until I finish the series of free teleseminars on triathlon training over at www.rockstartriathlete.com where there is a lot of great information being put out for you triathletes out there. so, what I’m going to do is head straight into the Q and A, and remember if you have a question you can email [email protected]. You can all 8772099439 or you can Skype pacificfit. Remember as I answer the questions today that I’m here to give you advice, direction, help you to roadmap a little bit. I’m not about prescribing. I’m a physical therapist or a physician. I’m just here to give you advice to help you get started in the right direction. So here we go.
Remember if you hear something that sounds interesting to you during my answers to this week’s Listener Q and A, remember that I put links up on the Shownotes at www.bengreenfieldfitness.com and I put a bunch of really good information up there for you. I spend quite a bit of time putting Shownotes together for you guys to access. So after you listen, if you want more resources definitely go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com , click on the Shownotes for – this would be podcast episode number 76 and check them out. So my first question is from listener Zo.
Zo asks: Ben, I run in the mornings for a 1/2 hour and then I do quick stretching in the steam room at my gym. After stretching I sit in the sauna for about ten minutes. It occurred to me that I don’t know why I do either, but the rooms must be beneficial or they wouldn’t have them at the gym. Can you explain the benefits of the steam room and the sauna, and also explain to me which one is better for certain things? It seems that I feel better afterwards but don’t know if it is mental or if there is an actual physical benefit.
Ben answers: So the first thing that it appears that you’re asking Zo is whether there’s a difference between a steam room and a sauna. Yeah there is, saunas are those wood paneled rooms that you see typically in the locker room area of a gym and those provide dry heat. Whereas a steam room is actually typically a tiled room also found in the locker room, and that actually provides moist heat that you get from a water filled generator that pumps steam into the room. The sauna can have a little bit of steam in it and this is what you’ll see some people do, they’ll pour water over the hot rocks that provide the dry heat in the sauna but overall, the sauna is going to be dry and the steam room is going to be very, very humid. Whether you’re looking at dry air or moist air, what’s going to happen is either will make you sweat and the idea is that sweating can open the pores on your skin, it can add moistness to your skin. It can temporarily cleanse your outer skin but contrary to popular belief, it’s not necessarily going to remove a lot of toxins from your body. There’s not a lot of research out there that shows that you’re going to detoxify yourself as you sweat. But you can lower your heart rate, you can lower your blood pressure when you cause those blood pressures in your body to dilate and you can also remove salts from your system. When you’re looking at any of that, obviously there’s the risk of dehydration, also because especially the steam room is an ideal breeding condition for a bunch of different microbes. You have to be careful with fungal infections and athlete’s foot and you want to make sure that you wear a towel and flip flops in the steam room or in the sauna. As far as research that shows which one would be better for which types of medical conditions or ailments, there’s not a lot of really good research out there, but the idea behind the benefits is that it basically is purported to provide some relief to people who have asthma and bronchitis and primarily this is the sauna that that type of thing is suggested for, and possibly may benefit some people who have skin conditions like psoriasis. But I would say more importantly, you just need to be careful if you do have an unstable heart condition, cardiovascular disease – that type of thing. That’s where you want to be careful with long periods of time spent in the sauna or in the steam room. I personally use both, it just kind of depends which I feel like going into that day. My gym has this eucalyptus that they somehow infuse in the steam room and so it comes up into the steam room and it really helps kind of clear you out and clean you out and you leave there and it really feels like the skin is a lot more moist. Same with the sauna. But I wouldn’t necessarily put a lot of trust in treating medical conditions or doing some type of big detox to your body through either of these means. It’s primarily just relaxation. And then you have a follow up question.
Zo asks: Also, I went to iTunes to try to rate you, and I am not very “internet knowing” so can you email me back and walk me through the process?
Ben answers: Well folks, iTunes rankings and iTunes ratings by the listeners are pretty much the most awesome thing on the face of the planet. No, not really. It’s just nice to be able to see people go there and leave feedback. It lets me know that I’m not just sitting here talking to myself, right? So I put a link under Zoe’s question where you can click to go to the iTunes page. Just click on that link and there’s a little button where you can leave feedback on. It’s pretty intuitive once you actually find your way to the Ben Greenfield Fitness section of iTunes.
Just click here to go to our iTunes page and leave feedback.
Matt asks: Ben, is it worth paying the money for the Under Armour mouth guard?
Ben answers: And he has a follow-up question, but let me answer that question really quickly. In podcast episode number 70, I interviewed the CEO and head researcher from Bite Tech Technologies who put out this mouthpiece that was supposed to reduce lactic acid formation when you exercise or reduce cortisol levels and basically really assist with building fitness and enhancing sports performance. Well I went to the dentist and I got fitted for one and it arrived and I have it now. I actually shot a video of it. If you want to see what it looks like, go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com, scroll down below the Shownotes to this podcast episode number 76 and you’ll see me demo-ing that fitness mouthpiece while I do a gym stick workout. But basically the answer to your question Matt is I don’t know. I’m testing it right now for the next 30 days. I’m wearing it while I’m working out, and I will keep you posted. Now I do know that you’re not supposed to chew on the mouthpiece because it will decrease the life of the mouthpiece, and that’s the one thing I have a really hard time not doing – is chewing on the mouthpiece. But I will keep you posted on that question Matt.
Your follow-up question, do you run barefoot on any type of treadmill or does it have to be a specialized one? Folks, you can take off your shoes and run barefoot on any treadmill on the planet. I recommend you leave your socks on so your feet stay protected. Also if you’re running at a gym it can keep you from just stepping in people’s sweat and nasty things that get on the treadmill belt. You are going to find that you make a lot more noise when you take off your shoes and you’re running at that treadmill. You may annoy the people around you, so try and step softly, lean forward. Try and keep the weight on the balls of your feet so you’re actually learning how to run properly while you’re running without your shoes on, but it doesn’t have to be a special treadmill. You can do this. Especially if you’re in a winter climate and you’re not able to run outdoors in your bare feet, you can do it anywhere. So I believe that question may have stemmed also from the fact that I sent out a Twitter post – those of you who follow me on Twitter kind of know that I Twit all day long about meals that I’m preparing and workouts that I do. If you’re not following me on Twitter, and you’re interested in some of the advice I dole out during the day, you can follow me. But recently I went on a barefoot run on a treadmill. About a three mile run, and I Twittered that.
Jeff asks: Hi Ben – Love your podcast. Great information. Thanks. What’s your opinion of CLA? I’ve had great success with this “all-natural” fat burner in conjunction with my running – I run marathons and half marathons. I notice a big difference when I don’t take my daily CLA soft gels. Thanks much and I wish you God’s very best in 2010!
Ben answers: Well CLA stands for conjugated linoleic acid. And the whole idea behind CLA is that there were a bunch of studies that were done back in 2001 that found that CLA supplements could help to speed weight loss, specifically by increasing lean muscle while at the same time decreasing body fat percentage. The studies weren’t huge. They didn’t have thousands of participants but there is some evidence, both anecdotal and clinical, that CLA could help you a little bit in your fat loss effort. It’s not going to come anywhere near a good exercise and nutrition program but it could work a little bit and the whole idea behind the mechanism of action is that conjugated linoleic acid is a naturally occurring fat that you’re going to find in beef, milk, cheese, turkey, lamb. Those are some examples of things that have a high amount of CLA, and the idea behind CLA is that it could enhance your sensitivity to insulin. Which means that you could have a little bit better blood sugar stabilization and lower levels of triglycerides or fats actually circulating in your bloodstream after you eat. So as far as CLA supplementation goes, like you mentioned you get a soft gel, it’s like a capsule and most of these studies were done in the range of 2500 to 4000 mgs per day. Anecdotally again, I’ve heard people say that they see results for about eight weeks and then those results taper off. So it may help you a little bit though if you’re trying to get that little bit of extra advantage in your fat loss efforts.
Lisa asks: I was at the gym and one of the trainers suggested taking Glutamine in my water to help tighten loose skin and restore muscle from weight loss. Is this true and if so can you recommend something to use?
Ben answers: Well again, there’s not a lot of evidence that Glutamine could necessarily tighten skin. But what Glutamine’s main job in your body is to keep up collagen levels. So collagen is critical for healthy skin. So we’re going to kind of jump to a conclusion there that if you’re taking something that’s going to help to build and maintain collagen – and if collagen assists you to basically build healthy skin, it could be effective in tightening loose skin. People who are taking Glutamine for this problem typically take it on an empty stomach. About 5 to 10 grams. And they take that about a half hour before they workout and then another 5 to 10 grams after. And some people also take 5 to 10 grams when they wake up and 5 to 10 grams when they go to bed. Now the nice part about Glutamine is that it’s really nice for helping your muscles to recover as well. So it’s a good recovery supplement to take. If you get extra benefit by tightening your skin when you take it, then all the better. There’s not a lot of evidence that Glutamine, when taken in the recommended dosage is going to cause you any harm so it would definitely be worth a try, Lisa. And write in and let me know what you think. It’ll probably be several weeks before you actually notice a change once you start implementing Glutamine which is the case with most supplements.
Chip asks: I am currently training for the Boston Marathon. If I water run for 45 minute periods, what is the approximately mileage equivalent. I’m trying to maintain 50+ miles a week and would like to use water running for some of those miles.
Ben answers: Well Chip, the studies that have been done on water running found that for 4 to 6 weeks, running or aqua jogging could maintain fitness specifically VO2 max or maximum aerobic capacity in runners. The problem with water running is it’s zero impact. So it does not train your hips and your joints for that long period of time you’re going to spend pounding the pavement during the Boston Marathon. What can happen is people who do a lot of non-weight bearing training as a substitute for their running will find that they get to a certain period in the race and their hips tend to lock up and their body just tends to start to break down from the repetitive pounding that it’s not used to. As far as water running goes, there is absolutely no equation that will translate a certain amount of time spent in the water with a certain number of miles covered. I have done a lot of water running when injured and I can tell you that for me, typically about an hour worth of water running makes my body feel like the equivalent of about a half hour run. So let’s say that your pace when you’re running in the water for 45 minutes or your pace when you’re running outdoors is – I’m just going to throw this out here – let’s say it’s a 7 minute mile. Then if you’re running for 42 minutes in the water and you normally would have covered 6 miles outdoors during those 42 minutes, you could consider that you might have covered 3 miles, that equivalent, indoors in the water. And I’m just saying this based off of personal experience, having done a lot of water running myself back when I had a few different injuries. So hopefully that helps you out a little bit, Chip. And if you want to know more about aqua jogging or water running, go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com and type in “aqua jogging” in the search bar there. I wrote a big article on it last year and told you everything you need to know about it.
Eric asks: I train with a Garmin 310XT which, as you know, is pretty big and bulky, but gives you gobs of useful data that you can use. (For those of you listening in, that’s actually a GPS device that also takes your heart rate.) The downside to this watch is that it can feel like you are wearing a brink on your wrist. For that reason, I am not planning on wearing it for any races this year, especially during my Ironman triathlon as I don’t think I would be able to ‘stand’ the weight on my wrist and would likely toss it into my special needs bag half way through race – leaving me no way to monitor my heart rate. My question is this, with so many options out there for watches with heart rate monitors to choose from, what do you recommend? I assume I would need to know “average heart rate ” and not minute by minute. I have a Timex that I use for swimming but that does not have a heart rate monitor. But since I wear it facing into my wrist, I tend to bump the big “lap” button on top as I ride, and when looking at the times with the heart rate monitor, most, if not all, have that big lap button sitting on top, as do many other brands. Any suggestions?
Ben answers: That’s actually… it’s a conundrum because I have a few different brands of heart rate monitors. You’ve got the Garmins which tend to be really big and bulky, unless you get what’s called the 405, which is the brand new Garmin model. That’s a little bit smaller, rounder interface. I use the Timex. The problem with the Timex is it’s got a button in a place that’s easy to bump when you’re exercising and so let’s say you have a clock set to start and you’re going to be exercising for an hour – if you bump it, you might look down at your watch and find that it hasn’t been recording for who knows how long and you don’t know how long you’ve been exercising. And then some of them just have really small numbers that are tough to see. So, what I use typically when I’m racing – and what I found to be a pretty good solution is the Polar brand. I typically use a fairly inexpensive polar brand. As a matter of fact, for my Ironman and half Ironman, I use a Polar F6 heart rate monitor and what I do is I’ve got two of them, and I use one for the bike and one for the run. I program the one for the bike to start beeping when I exceed the heart rate that I don’t want to exceed on the bike and then I’ve got another one that starts beeping the same on the run, and I just switch from my bike heart rate monitor to my run heart rate monitor, and that’s the little trick that I use. It’s just like an extra two seconds to grab a different heart rate monitor. So your strap stays on. If you haven’t used a heart rate monitor before, you wear a chest strap. So that chest strap stays on. It doesn’t matter. It’ll talk to both watches but you just switch watches halfway through. So, that’s what I’ve used. A Polar F6, and it works pretty well.
Steve asks: Your Triathlon Dominator plan has the strength workouts listed first but the plan in training peaks has the bike listed as the first workout. Does it matter what workout you do first? What is ideal?
Ben answers: In an ideal world Steve – even though this isn’t practical for some people – is to get the most important stuff done first and for triathletes, that’s swimming, cycling and running and then any weightlifting should be done second. So the advantage to that is that you’re able to devote fresh muscles to swimming, cycling and running and it also kind of warms you up for a strength workout. In that scenario, if you’re doing one and then the other back to back, you should eat after the cardio before you move on to the strength, so you’re not breaking down lean muscle while you do the strength. Then your follow-up question…
Steve asks: Bought the Thermal Factor and Lean Factor. Which is the best way to take these?
Ben answers: I’ve talked about these before in the show. These are the two types of fat burners that I recommend to any of my clients who are pursuing weight loss. You need to have these in your blood stream when you’re eating. Best case scenario is you take one of each an hour before lunch and one of each an hour before dinner, Steve. And that will help a lot with stabilizing blood glucose levels, decreasing carbohydrate cravings and increasing the activity of fat burning enzymes. So the Thermal Factor and the Lean Factor, definitely an hour before lunch and an hour before dinner.
Chuck asks: You mentioned how you recorded this at your desk drinking your cup of coffee. Could you talk a little bit about coffee drinks. Which are good and which would be bad for health. I would assume black coffee would be good, but a vanilla latte from Starbucks would not be. But what about just a straight latte with skim milk–would that be healthy? Thanks!
Ben answers: We’ve talked a lot on the show about coffee and some of the benefits when you take it in moderation, enhancing the fat burning effect and increasing central nervous system stimulation, focus. In moderation, again. You don’t want to over-stimulate your adrenal glands and cause yourself to have high levels of cortisol all day long. Black coffee would be from a caloric perspective the best choice at a Starbucks from an overall health perspective. Tea would be even better, and Starbucks does have a lot of different choices of tea as do most coffee shops. If you want to go for something that’s more than just an herb or a coffee mixed in water, I would recommend that you try something like an Americano, either decaf or regular, with a small splash or soy or rice milk. I tend to stay away from the dairy at any of the major coffee shops because A, it’s usually not organic and B, even if it is, there’s a lot of different synthetic derivatives that can sneak in to even something like organic milk and a non-organic milk – there’s just a lot of problems with it. It was designed to make calves grow into cows and that’s one of the few things that I will encourage clients who come to me for fat loss to immediately cut out of their diet, and we instantly see a plummet in weight just by cutting out milk. Even skim milk has some issues, especially in terms of the hormones and the antibiotics. It can also cause food allergy problems with a lot of people. And people don’t know it. Anyways though, so I recommend an Americano with a little splash of soy milk or a little splash of rice milk. Same thing with tea. What do I usually get at a coffee shop? Typically black coffee with a little splash of soy milk or rice milk and if I’ve already had a cup of coffee that day, I will have a tea with a little bit of soy milk or rice milk. I probably do not need to tell you, the listener to the show, that the majority of drinks that you can get off the Starbucks menu can be in excess of 400 calories. And most of those are empty calories full of sugar. So you definitely want to go minimalist at the coffee shop if it’s health or weight loss that you’re pursuing. Great question, Chuck.
Patrick asks: Hey Ben, I’ve got a question for you. I recently turned 24 and got kicked off my parents’ health insurance policy. Now that I have it in my own name, I figure the next step would be finding a doctor. I read an article in Triathlete Magazine that said to find a doctor with a knowledge of bike fit and swimming, biking and running biomechanics to maximize the likelihood of correct diagnosis when nagging overuse injuries spring up. What should one look for when shopping for a doctor? What should an endurance athlete know to stay away from? Second question. Same thing for a good sports massage therapist. I’d like to incorporate semi-regular massage to promote recovery and am equally lost on what to look for.
Ben answers: Well you’d be surprised at how often I get this question, Patrick. Both with doctors, also I get this question about chiropractics and also about massage. I train clients from all over the planet and a lot of times I’m trying to help them find people in their community who we can trust, who they can go to for some of these needs. And the best recommendation – the number one tip that I can give you that I’ve discovered over the past few years is that if you can go out and find out by asking people or by simply calling the organization in your area which doctors, which chiropractic physicians and which massage therapists currently work with your local professional or semi-professional sports teams – those are typically going to be the people to go to. A, they’ve seen every injury under the planet. B, they’re typically not… I guess the best way I can describe it is kind of kooky, especially with some of the alternative practitioners who tend to not understand an athlete’s body and have a very… I hope some of you can understand what I’m talking about here… kind of like a soft touch. Not understand that people are out running and biking and swimming, especially triathletes, and beating up their body and sometimes need a little bit more than just the tender hands healing with the soft music in the background. That has a time and a place, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes you need some targeted muscle massage therapy or targeted chiropractic work and a lot of times those types of settings aren’t the fix for an athlete. So look for somebody who’s worked with athletes, who understands working with an athlete’s body is different than working with a sedentary individual’s body who doesn’t have the same type of muscle tone. When you are looking for these people, probably the last advantage I can tell you is that they will understand that you want to get back into sports. And an answer for you is not take six weeks off and let this injury heal. You want to go to a doctor that says, okay. We are going to start you into physical therapy right away. We’re going to put off any type of cortisol injection unless we absolutely has to, and I’d like you to look into the elliptical and aqua jogging as an alternative for your running for a week and a half and, you know, take ibuprofen and if the pain is really bad, but stay away because it can inhibit healing. Yadda yadda yadda. Stuff that a lot of people who work with athletes quite a bit are going to know. But look at a semi-pro or the pro professionals in your area. The people who work with those teams and those organizations.
Chuck asks: Is there a difference between a long workout and a brick workout? If that matters at all. For example, would me doing a tough spin class at the gym and then getting on the treadmill for 4 or 5 miles be considered one, or is there more to a brick than that?
Ben answers: All a brick means is it’s a bike workout and that’s followed by a run. I think it’s called a brick because you feel like you’ve got two bricks attacked to your shoes when you actually transition from the bike onto the run. Write in and set me straight if that’s not the case, if you actually know the historical definition of a brick. But I believe that’s what it’s called. So all that a brick is, is a bike and a run. Length varies depending on what you’re preparing for. He has a follow up question.
Chuck asks: Is a swim workout comparable to a weightlifting workout? I know they are different in terms of endurance versus strength but aren’t they essentially using larger muscle groups?
Ben answers: Way, way, way different. Swimming – if you noticed, you don’t really get too sore afterwards. There’s not a lot of muscle tearing that goes on. There’s not a lot of what’s called an eccentric or a deceleration movement, whereas weightlifting has a lot of that. So weightlifting will result in you building bigger muscles or adding more muscle fibers. It will result in you being more sore. It has a higher hormonal response because tearing does occur. It typically requires more recovery and typically has a higher injury risk but actually gives you more bang for your buck in terms of strength compared to swimming. So not a big difference between swimming and weightlifting. So the people who swim and say it’s going to increase bone density in their upper body – it’s not going to happen. You have to actually have a weight bearing load on your body and typically be decelerating it in order to get those specific effects.
Jeff asks: Awesome blog with great information concerning fitness and supplements. I am not one of your usual listeners. I’m not a triathlete, runner or athlete of any type, just a 55 year old winemaker from Northern California (Believe it or not Jeff, a lot of people listening to this show are not necessarily athletes) struggling with sarcopenia, belly fat and other maladies of middle age. I’ve recently developed a chronic condition common to older runners and am hoping you can give me some advice.
Four years ago I was obese and suffered from a long list of health issues that included high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, ulcers and angina. I started a self-directed program of healthy eating and exercise with some interaction with a personal trainer. My transformation was slow and steady, but after about 14 months I went from about 32% body fat and a 40 inch waist to about 12% body fat and a 31 inch waist and regained the body that I had in my early twenties. (Congratulations Jeff.) I can happily say that all my health issues were resolved without pharmaceuticals and I’ve been able to successfully maintain my weight loss for over 2 1/2 years.
Six months ago I started developing chronic metatarsalgia in my right foot. I went to a doctor and went through a thorough check for stress fractures, arthritis, and neurological problems but everything came out negative. His only explanation was that I’m getting older, stuff happens, and I should learn to live with it. My treatment consists of shoe inserts and analgesics.
To compensate for a slight gait change because of the pain in the ball of my foot, I’ve noticed that my quads and hamstrings become over worked and fatigued. I deal with the upper leg muscle strain with yoga exercises from the book “The athlete’s guide to Yoga” that you recommended on an earlier podcast and a monthly session with a certified massage therapist.
I spoke informally with a chiropractor who specializes in sports injuries. He suggested that the metatarsalgia is due to atrophy of the plantar fat pad partly from age and partly from my diet and exercise regime. He thought that 10-12% body fat on a 55 year old male is too low. What are your thoughts and suggestions? What do you advise senior runners and clients with chronic foot pain? It may sound silly, but will the fat pad plump up if I eat more and exercise less?”
Ben answers: Well basically, Jeff, let’s say that your doctor’s diagnosis is correct and you have this fat pad – it’s basically what you can think of as an atrophy of your metatarsal fat pad. It sounds like you’re already got inserts and you’re already on pain killers. The first thing I would suggest is make yourself a new fat pad so that you can temporarily relieve the pain. There are tons of gels out there that go into your shoe, under the ball of your foot. Those are different than an insert. Those are actual gel pads and they’re going to stimulate a lot of what that fat pad is doing for you. But that of course would just be a temporary fix. The other temporary fix would be taping. The same type of taping protocol that can be used for planter fasciitis can help quite a bit with this fat pad syndrome that you’re having. Go to Google and type in “fat pad syndrome taping” and you’ll be able to find a nice little taping mechanism that can help support that cushion. But ultimately the fat pad is made out of fatty tissue and it’s designed to act as a cushion in that food. What they’ve observed in studies that look at weight loss, studies that look at fat burning supplements and things of that nature is that one of the effects of dieting, fat burning, weight loss is a decrease in the size and thickness of the fat pad. And this happens in humans and mice and cats and whatever they studied, the fat pad decreasing in size – any number of fat pads decreasing in size can actually occur. So, I’m going to just draw a line here for you. But if going on a diet can decrease the size of the fat pad then it is possible that a lack of proper nutrition or a lack of enough calories could be contributing to the atrophy of that fat pad. Now everybody’s fat pads are going to get thinner and weaker as they age, okay? It’s just a function of age but if you’re severely restricting calories or if you are on an ultra-low fat diet, then yeah, it’s possible that you could be experiencing injury from that diet. I would recommend that you try for about six to eight weeks to increase your caloric consumption and especially increase your intake of healthy fats from things like cold water fish, olives, olive oil, almonds, avocadoes – healthy fats that could potentially help you out with that issue. Again there’s not a lot of research that shows whether or not it would, but anecdotally it could help, okay?
Avril asks: I have just come back from seeing the Physio, who is trying to sort out my kneecap problem. She said spinning, squats and lunges were the cause, and perhaps for the future I should not do spinning, squats and lunges. I am mad on my fitness, and feel quite depressed at this news; although I don’t believe her to be the sports minded person. She is older and overweight, although that could be wrong of me to judge. I have had arthroscopy on my knee five years ago, and it has been fine with running until now. In your experience, is there any reason why a person cannot get there kneecap back to full working order? Apparently my kneecap is going slightly off to the side. If you can reply, that would be great.
Ben answers: You know, the last teleseminar that we did over at the Rock Star Triathlete Academy, we had a listener write in with the same question about the tracking of the kneecap and knee pain. We actually had two different recommendations for that individual and I would have the same two recommendations for you. The first would be to enhance the strength of your hip and your butt muscles. Specifically your gluteus medius up in your hips. So go to Google or go to YouTube and type in “gluteus medius exercises.” Single leg stance type of squats, kicks, things of that nature will help out quite a bit with the gluteus medius. More importantly because your knee cap actually tracks in what’s called a femoral groove of which is the bone coming down the hip – the big bone coming down your hip – if the muscles that keep that kneecap tracking in proper motion – if those muscles are weak then you could experience some pretty bad tracking issues and subsequent knee pain from bone on bone rubbing or bone on cartilage rubbing. One of the muscles that you really need to focus on strengthening – if this is the case – is a muscle called the VMO or vastus medialis. It’s the one on the inside of your quadriceps and you can strengthen that with straight leg raises, straight leg kicks or leg extensions on a leg extension machine. Go to my personal training Web site, and that Web site is www.pacificfit.net. That’s pacific like the ocean, fit like fitness.net. I have a lot of free resources there, one of which includes a pretty vast exercise photo and video library in which I demonstrate a bunch of different exercises. Go there and check out straight leg kicks – or actually over there it’s called cable kick forwards. Check out that exercise. I used to have the same kneecap tracking problem because I kind of neglected my VMO, and this was the single exercise that I used to get that thing back in great shape. Cable kick forwards. So check that out over at www.pacificfit.net.
Eric asks: In the Triathlon Dominator (for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a comprehensive triathlon package that I put together for people who want to do half Ironman and Ironman triathlon without a huge time commitment. So he says…) In the Triathlon Dominator, you review several supplements – one of which is Citruvol XS, but you do not say if you recommend taking these daily or only before races. What do you recommend for your athletes, and what dosage?
Ben answers: Citruvol is made by a company called Millennium Sports and it’s a precursor to something called nitric oxide. That’s the same active ingredient as what’s in Viagra, but what it does is it acts across your muscles to make the blood vessels bigger and increase the blood sugar uptake and also increase the oxygen uptake. When I was studying at the University of Idaho, I did part of my Master’s degree study in nitric oxide and it works pretty effectively. Citruvol is one of the ways you could get it. That’s actually just a citrulin substance and citralin is converted into something called alanine in your body and that kicks off a nitric oxide molecule. Nitric oxide can be expensive and from a budgeting perspective I recommend that you actually only take something like that during your racing season or during periods of heavy, intense training. So I hope that answers your question Eric. As far as dosage goes, follow the exact recommendations that are on that bottle from Millennium Sports. Those are the ideal dosages for an endurance athlete. So I hope that helps you out.
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