Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Quick Running Tip: Use Minimalist Running Shoes

Before the 1970s, athletic shoes had thin soles, no support, and zero heel drop. (1) Then, Nike popularized running shoes and an industry was born. (2) Dazzled by multi-million dollar advertising campaigns, we've become convinced that our feet need lots of support and cushioning to run effectively. But the belief that the modern running shoe is superior to your own two feet is slowly changing with the popularity of minimalist running shoes.

What is a Minimalist Running Shoe?
What started as a weird fad has exploded into a movement now backed by solid science. (3) As a result of this growing popularity, minimalist running shoes have suddenly been embraced by many everyday runners.

To give you an idea of how popular minimalist running has become, Vibram (the company who created the modern minimalist running shoe) had to ramp up production of their FiveFingers “toe shoes” just to keep up with demand (from 2006 to 2009, their annual minimalist shoe revenue jumped from $430,000 to $11 million dollars!).

The Vibram FiveFingers is an example of a minimalist running shoe.

Because of its rising popularity, other shoe companies are marketing their own minimalist shoes that aren't quite minimalist. To identify a true minimalist shoe, look for the following qualities:
  • Minimal heel-to-toe drop (<=4mm). 
  • Thin sole (3-6mm).
  •  Little to no support for the foot. 
  • Large toe box (or individual boxes for each toe). 
  • Typically light (<7.5 ounces) 
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Increasing Your Push-ups and Sit-ups: Grease the Groove

For some individuals, increasing the number of push-ups and sit-ups they can do seems impossible. But I have stumbled across a simple and relatively easy technique that anyone can use to increase their strength in any exercise: Grease the groove. As for as your PT test is concerned, this technique could allow you to double your reps your push-ups and sit-ups in as little as six weeks! And you can do it at work while in uniform.

What is Grease the Groove?
The grease the groove technique can be simplified by the following formula:

Specificity + Frequency

Specificity refers to the exercise used. If you are trying to improve your push-ups and sit-ups for the PT test, you would specifically do push-ups and sit-ups the way they are supposed to be done on the PT test. Frequency refers to how often you do a given exercise.

Traditionally, if you wanted to improve your push-ups and sit-ups, you did lots and lots of push-ups and sit-ups. You might even be encouraged to do hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups each day trying to build the endurance strength necessary to get max points your PT test. But this approach often exhausts the muscles used in each exercise so much that you have a hard time maintaining perfect form for many of your reps. Consequently, because your form is usually poor, you see very little improvement on your PT test despite weeks of preparation.

Grease the grove, in the other hand, works smarter, requiring that you only do three sets a day per exercise, with each set separated by at least an hour, for five days a week, until you achieve your desired strength. That's it!

The beauty of this approach to building endurance strength is that you never truly exhaust your muscles, allowing your brain to use specificity and frequency to efficiently recruit as many muscle fibers as possible when executing an exercise without exhausting the central nervous system. This very quickly improves your neurological strength, causing you to possibly double your push-ups and sit-ups (or any exercise) in four to six weeks. (1)

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Do You Need PT Help?

As it happens, I have some free time to do research. So, if you have any PT-related questions (e.g., walk test prep, building basic push-up and sit-up strength), send them to my email at rapidpt@hotmail.com. I'll do my best to get an answer ASAP!

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The 30-Day Diet Challenge

On my Mayo's Mind blog I've just completed my 30-day diet challenge, which attempts to help you figure out which foods are hurting your body and causing health problems and which are not. Ultimately, you will be able to create your own personalized food sensitivity list.

Why should you care about food sensitivities? Not all food sensitivity reactions are obvious, such as coughing, hives, or a swollen throat. Some people may have one or more of the following symptoms when problematic foods are eaten:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Constipation
  • Emotional instability
  • Excess body fat
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Heart burn
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Indigestion
  • Irritability
  • Mental depression
  • Mental fog
  • Migraines
  • Muscle weakness
  • Overweight
  • Stomach Ulcers
  • Underweight
  • Weakened immune system

Often, people suffering from these symptoms will not associate them with food sensitivities. Instead, because they cannot find the true cause of their symptoms, they may just suffer in silence, using supplements or drugs to get some temporary relief. This prompted me to put together this 30-Day Diet Challenge.

When it comes to your PT test, diet sensitivities can prevent you from performing as you expect. It can also cause inches to be added to your waist due to chronic stress and bloating. Accordingly, cleaning up your diet can have a HUGE impact on your PT score.

To read more about the 30-day diet challenge go to my Mayo's Mind blog. Then you can take the diet challenge to see how your PT scores improve!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Should We See Obesity as a Disease?

Recently, the American Medical Association (AMA) recognized that obesity is a disease. This decision was actually the exact opposite of the recommendations made by the AMA's own investigating committee. What was the AMA's reasoning? To try and stop the growing epidemic of obesity by changing the way doctors and insurance companies view those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 30.

For sure, obesity is starting to get out of hand. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that obesity affects over 500 million adults and 40 million children under the age 5 worldwide. This represents about 10 percent of the population. The WHO also believes that obesity is now the fifth leading cause of death (globally) and is strongly associated with degenerative diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. (1)

The age-adjusted rate of obesity in the US (in 2008).

Like many other bloggers, I'm happy to hear that the medical community is taking obesity more seriously, but am also conflicted about the decision to see obesity as a disease.

The rest of this post as been moved to my Mayo's Mind blog.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Food Guide Updated

During the process of updating my basic nutrition guide for an upcoming post on my other blog, I also updated my Rapid PT Food Guide. I added and reorganized a few foods, as well as added a notes section to include more information about what each section (Foundational, Optional, Minimal, and Avoid) means.

Click here to view the guide.
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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Quick Running Tip: Try Forefoot Striking

Running injuries are nothing new. In the 1970s, when running injury data was first collected, about 20 percent of runners had injuries, with the top five injuries affecting the knee, Achilles tendon, shins, foot, and ankle. (1) Since the 70s, both the number of runners and their injuries have gone up: Today it is estimated that up to 70 percent of all runners will experience an injury every year (with the top five running injuries found in the foot, Achilles tendon, upper leg, knee, and shins). (2,3) And this increase in injuries is despite of latest running shoes designed to cushion, support, and control runners' feet.

There are lots of possible reasons for all these injuries (e.g., modern shoes, asphalt running surfaces, poor training, popularity), but one surprisingly controversial cause might be how you strike the ground.

A person can initially make contact with the ground while running in one of three different ways: With the hindfoot-, mid-, or forefoot. Hindfoot (or heel) strikers will first land on heel of their foot, while midfoot strikers land with their entire foot. Forefoot strikers will land on the balls of their feet.     
Heel strikers impact the ground with their heel first; midfoot strikers place their whole foot on the ground; and forefoot strikers land on the balls of their feet (and may also lightly make contact with their heel before pushing off).

Although heel striking is popular with today's runners, (4,5) it seems that forefoot striking is a more natural way to contact the ground while jogging and running. You can test this out by trying to run barefoot. No matter what your running style is when you wear shoes, we all run on the balls of our feet when we run barefoot. Heel striking is only possible in modern running shoes.

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