It's hard to ignore the siren call of a recent study by the French Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology, which suggests that resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, may dramatically improve performance in novice endurance athletes. But there are three things to consider before you pop the cork. First, the study was conducted on mice (the critters were able to run twice as far on a treadmill after consuming resveratrol). Second, to get the equivalent dose from wine, you'd have to drink a thousand bottles. And third, resveratrol can also be found in red-grape and cranberry juices. "If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is," says Gidus.
Serious climbers, runners, hikers and bikers may need more antioxidants than most: "High-level athletes produce free radicals that can attack the cells; antioxidants denature those radicals," says Gidus. The best way to get the all-important enzymes?
A June 2006 review in Current Sports Medicine Reports recommends "multinutrient preparations"--research-speak for varying your diet--and avoiding "megadoses," i.e., overeating. So don't settle for a cabinet full of supplements. Diversify by eating blueberries, grapes, raspberries, strawberries, and a variety of vegetables and whole grains.
For years creatine lured millions with a simple promise: Take this and you'll train harder and recover faster. But then something (or, really, nothing) happened. "People just got bored with it," says Roberta Anding, sports dietitian for the Houston Texans. Athletes looking for the next big thing recently discovered beta-alanine, an amino acid supplement that may reduce acid buildup in muscles--a boon to endurance athletes. Jeffrey Stout, Ph.D., professor of exercise physiology at the University of Oklahoma, has concluded that the powder is 61 percent more effective than creatine at delaying fatigue.
Ask Dr. Exreme: Travel-health and trip advice from an expedition M.D.
What's the best formula for a trail-ready splint? Wilderness splinting requires a little understanding and a lot of creativity. First, forget the old adage, "If you can move it, it's not broken." If the victim heard a snap, feels a grating sensation, or has a limb that's at a crazy angle, suspect a break and splint it. Here's how to do it right, from a turned ankle to a fractured skull.
- Move the victim as little as possible before splinting unless you're in imminent danger.
- Splint the body part in its normal anatomical position, except if there's a bone protruding or a loss of sensation below the injury.
- If you need to restore alignment, do it gently, but stop if you provoke increased numbness or if you encounter mechanical resistance.
- Apply the splint, extending it to at least one joint above and below the injury. I like SAM splints (www.sammedical.com)--padded, moldable aluminum strips.
- If you don't have a splint, get creative. Use what you do have: a ski pole, foam pad, Therm-a-Rest or rolled-up newspaper. Once, in the Peruvian Andes, I splinted an accident victim by breaking off a slat of wood from his overturned truck. Tie the splint in place with a broad wrap to keep the pressure evenly distributed. An Ace wrap, bandanna or cloth strips are more comfortable than ropes or belts.
- Every 15 minutes or so, check for compromised circulation (swelling, pallor) or nerve function (numbness, loss of motion).