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How your brain can speed up injury recovery

OCT 19, 2022

Minute 1: Read this list if you’ve got sore knee

For a circus high wire artist, imbalance can be fatal. For runners, a quadriceps imbalance won’t kill you, but it can still lead to a painful condition known as “runner’s knee.” Running tends to develop the outside of your quadriceps muscles. If you probe your legs as you read this, you may notice that the inside of your upper leg feels a little softer than the outside. This imbalance can eventually pull your kneecap out of alignment with the trochlear groove just enough to create chronic pain. If you are waking up in the morning with some knee pain, you should check out this new story: “Waking Up With Knee Pain? Here's What Your Body's Trying to Tell You.” The long term solution for runner’s knee is physical therapy to correct muscular imbalances, but to alleviate short term pain, especially before bed, icing the knee can reduce inflammation and mitigate some of your aches. Your knee pain could be due to other causes, however, like IT band syndrome which stems from muscular overuse and weak hip muscles. Performing stretches and myofascial releases that target the IT band will loosen things up to get you back on track. If you’re looking for some at-home therapy to get the process started, read up on the “9 Best and Worst Yoga Poses for Knee Pain.” Peaceful warrior pose can simultaneously strengthen the calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes while improving hip mobility, which can help reduce existing pain and protect yourself from further complications down the line.

Minute 2: The 2021 Boston Marathon may have a new champion

Barroom experts are debating whether Aaron Judge is the new MLB home run king since the Bonds/Sosa/McGuire records of baseball’s steroid era may not be legit. Endurance sport, of course, often swing and miss when it comes to keeping their competitors clean. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we’ve learned that Diana Kipyokei, winner of the 2021 Boston Marathon, has been suspended for use of a banned substance. Unlike many athletes with implausible denials, members of her management team are straight up admitting her misdeeds: “2021 Boston Marathon champ Diana Kipyokei suspended and her agent doesn’t hold back: ‘Diana is completely guilty. I am sorry.’” Kipyokei tested positive for a substance called triamcinolone acetonide, which is typically used out of competition to reduce inflammation. It can also be used improperly, however, to lose weight, build muscle, and increase endurance. It is typically prohibited during competition, outside of exceptional cases. Kipyokei’s own agent, Gianni Demadonna, expressed his belief that she is guilty, urging people to see this as an isolated incident, not a behavior he tolerates among the other athletes he represents. If the suspension is upheld, Edna Kiplagat will be named the official winner of Boston 2021, and she deserves all the credit in the world. See why in “Edna Kiplagat Is the Queen of Persistence.” There’s an argument to be made that being in the top 10 distance runners in the world for a decade is even more impressive than being #1 for only a year, and Kiplagat fits that description to a T. Consider these stats to see what we mean: 24 marathon starts in 12 years, 6 of which she took first place. 14 of them were podium finishes, and in that time frame, she had 0 DNFs. Read the full article to learn some of Edna’s tips for maintaining speed and endurance. #LongMaySheReign

Minute 3: Answering your vitamin C questions

Some pieces of nutritional advice are so widespread that we rarely stop to ask ourselves for supporting evidence. We suspect just about everyone has been told at some point in their life that vitamin C helps to fight off a cold, but is there any research to support it? According to this new article, the answer is a bit complicated: “Does vitamin C help with colds?” Like most elements of wellness, you can expect diminishing returns on your vitamin C intake. If you’re deficient, your body will struggle to make collagen, which is a key element in skin health and immune function. Our skin is the main barrier between our bodies and harmful particles out in the world, after all. Assuming you’ve got enough vitamin C for normal immune functions to occur, adding extra won’t bring a ton of cold-fighting benefits, most experts believe. That’s not to say vitamin C isn’t useful in other cases. Its antioxidant properties can be especially useful for athletes who’ve recently completed an intense workout. If you’re looking for ways than supplements and pills to get vitamin C into your system, look no further than: “The #1 Best Leafy Green for Your Immune System, Says Dietitian.” The leafy green in question is kale, which contains a ton of vitamins A and C. That’ll help keep your skin healthy and chronic inflammation levels low, says diet expert Lauren Manaker. While we’re on the topic, if you’re looking for a little motivation to eat healthier, the Washington Post just published a story about how dangerous certain foods can be: “At any age, a healthy diet can extend your life.” The article explains that even simple changes, like getting rid of salty processed snacks in exchange for nuts, can have a big impact on your wellbeing and longevity. Sadly for many endurance athletes, sugary drinks, pizza and red meat make the list of no-no’s. Even in middle age, switching to healthy options can add years to your life, according to the study.

Minute 4: Get into a recovery mentality

You’d think that recovering from physical injuries would be all about physical therapy, but some experts disagree. It turns out that your ability to tolerate the difficulties of dealing with and recovering from an injury are more of a mental obstacle according to this new piece from Canadian Running: “Injured runners: heal faster by using your head.” Getting better all by yourself is hard, but reaching out for support can take a lot of weight off your shoulders. You may find solace in talking to a coach or physical therapist. Building yourself a support network can be powerful medicine. Visualizing the future you want to build can also be a positive motivator. Think about the kind of activities you enjoyed before getting injured, and imagine the enjoyment you’ll experience at the end of your recovery journey when you’re able to return. There’s lots of research about the mental effects of becoming injured, and to learn more, you should check out: “Not just a physical thing: The psychology of sports injuries and recovery.” It’s common for athletes to experience some form of anxiety, depression, or eating disorder when they’re sidelined from their favorite activities. Experts advise you to check in on your mental health alongside physical health to ensure a full recovery and a return to normalcy.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • We spend a lot of time helping our readers figure out what the best shoe is for them. Every once in a while, we get a reminder that we all need to kick off whatever shoes we’ve got and get back to basics. There are a lot of reasons to do a bit of barefoot walking, from improved foot strength, to an increased connection with nature, so to learn more about why sometimes barefoot might be best, read “What are the benefits of walking barefoot?

  • Seeking Danish readers who can teach us how to pronounce this word: hygge. We know that it translates roughly to “coziness,” and it's a humble concept with a big impact on our wellbeing. Practicing hygge is all about slowing things down and adding generative, restful elements into your life. It has been shown to add energy and reduce stress, and the cold fall months are the perfect time to get started with a bit of hygge, so take a look at “It's hygge season: How to embrace the Danish lifestyle of rest and coziness.”

  • If you’ve ever read up on probiotics, you probably have a good idea of just how impactful our microbiomes are on our overall health. It should come as no surprise, then, that taking antibiotics can bring some undesirable side effects. Antibiotics can eliminate some of the “good” bacteria of our microbiomes in the process of killing unwanted bacteria, and that has implications for athletes looking to build muscle. If you want to read the latest on the link between our gut bacteria and muscular development, read “There’s New Data on How Antibiotics Affect Your Workout.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

If you look up trail running on your favorite social media platform, you’ll likely be treated to images of beautiful vistas, smiling faces, and speedy ascents up sunlit trails. Well, any veteran of the sport knows that things don’t always go so smoothly and that’s why we appreciate @brooksrunning for giving it to us straight. Whether your gear doesn’t fit quite right, you’re being attacked by bugs and snakes, or you’ve fallen 0.2 miles short of your goal and have to do laps around the parking lot to finish up, things don’t always go according to plan. The Brooks reel below will have you cringing in recognition and laughing out loud about the “real” challenges of trail running.


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