Fit Facts: Reach Peak Performance

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Rest for Peak Performance

Tapering, or reducing training workload prior to an athletic event, largely determines your chances of success on race day, reports a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The researchers found the following to be the most effective tapering strategies:
  • Begin tapering eight to 14 days prior to the event
  • Reduce your mileage by 40 to 60 percent. For example, cyclists who bike 200 miles a week may do fewer than 100 to get benefits; runners may drop from more than 50 miles a week to 20
  • Maintain the same workout intensity

Pain-free Knees

It's estimated that one in five runners will suffer from a knee injury over the course of a year. Avoid becoming a statistic by knowing the most common causes of injuries and what you can do to prevent them. 

Cause of knee pain: Lack of strength and flexibility. Not performing strength routines or stretching exercises leaves knees with little backup support and can cause problems including iliotibial band syndrome (a hip disorder relating to injury of the thick band that runs from your hip to the outside of your knee), ACL tears (the anterior cruciate ligament responsible for stabilizing the knee) or even osteoarthritis later in life.

Solution: Perform leg-strengthening exercises regularly.

Cause of knee pain: Mechanical problems. Any repetitive activity can, over time, fatigue muscles and lead to excessive loading of the joints, creating inflammation.

Solution: Schedule rest days into your routine to give your body adequate recovery time.

Cause of knee pain: Improper footwear. Wearing worn-out shoes or those with inadequate cushioning and support puts knees at risk.

Solution: Replace your running shoes every 250 to 500 miles of use.

Get Shoe Smart

Before you purchase your next pair of running shoes, check your arches. Runners with high arches need shoes with good shock absorption, while those with low arches benefit most from shoes with motion control, reports a recent study published in Gait & Posture.

Runners with low arches tend to roll their feet inward, excessively, causing the arch to turn so far it touches the ground. Shoes with motion control help limit this roll by using extra padding in the arch area of the shoe and a stiffer collar from the laces to the sole. In addition, a firm and inflexible "cup" is built into the shoe, which surrounds the heel to limit motion.

Alternatively, runners with high arches hit the ground with greater impact and need shoes that lessen the pounding. If you have a high arch, choose shoes with extra cushioning in the soles and heels to help prevent injuries.

Try This

Side Arm BalanceSide Arm Balance: Start on your hands and knees, placing your knees directly below your hips and hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Lift your knees away from the floor, pushing your sit bones up to the ceiling. Stretch your heels toward the floor.

Roll your weight onto your right foot and right hand. Extend your left arm straight up above you. Look up toward your fingertips. Remember to keep your abdominals firm as you breathe. Hold for 15 seconds to one minute. To release the stretch, place your left hand on the floor and return to your knees. Do not attempt this stretch if you have a shoulder injury.

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