Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Weird Things Running Does To Your Body

A recent study at Duke University Medical Center says that jogging beats weight training for getting rid of belly fat. But running has its downsides. Besides taking its toll on your knees and joints, recent reports tie things like "runner's face" and "dead butt syndrome" to running.
Here are a list of bizarre ways running transforms your body:
  • Self-healing heart. New research suggests that heart-friendly exercise may actually do temporary damage to the right ventricle. In a study of 40 elite runners who were training for endurance competitions, researchers found damage right after the race- the heart was enlarged and function to the right ventricle had decreased. But scientists haven't found any evidence that running isn't healthy and athlete's hearts were able to completely heal within one week. 
  • Runner's face. New Jersey cosmetic surgeon Brian S. Glatt, MD made news lately when he said that some runners have literally run their faces off, creating a "Skeletor"-esque appearance. He called it "runner's face" and it affects both men and women over the age of 40 and older who burn off too much fat under their facial skin. "The marked loss of fatty tissue results in loss of volume, which leads to a prominent appearance of the bones, accelerated development of skin laxity, and deepening of wrinkles. Though you may look like a 20 year old from the neck down, your face will easily give away your age," Glatt said. But Kevin Burns, licensed fitness instructor and American Council on Exercise spokesperson says calling it "runner's face" is a misnomer. He says the loss of fatty tissue in the face is usually caused by a strict diet or rigorous exercise. Burns agrees that this can lead to an angular appearance of the face in older runners, but you shouldn't have to stop running. "Comments like Glatt's aren't doing very good things for the running community or for physical activity at large," said Burns.
  • Crackling knees. Patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as runner's knee, is a common overuse injury among runners. If you have pain around or behind your kneecap, especially after long periods of sitting with bent knees, running, squatting, or climbing descending stairs you probably have runner's knee. But don't try to change your running stride- you can do more damage doing this. The best treatment- take a few days off from running, then ease back into running with plenty of warm-up exercises and supplemental exercises (maybe with last week's yoga stretches!). 
  • Dead butt syndrome. "There's been a lot of hype lately about running being a literal 'pain in the butt'," says Burns. Dead butt syndrome was formerly called gluteus medius tendinosis, which is an inflammation of the tendons in the rear. This doesn't strike just runners though- any rigorous activity can trigger it. Overuse is certainly a factor, along with pulled muscles, muscle strains, and hip and pelvis misalignment. The pain will start in the glutes and go down the back of the leg and will worsen over time if you don't take care of it. Burns recommends doing the same treatment you would for a knee injury- rest, ibuprofen, and ice. If the pain doesn't subside after a week, see your doctor.
  • Black toenails. Black toenails are something we see a lot in our practice from our running community. Black toenails are caused by bleeding underneath the toenail and are usually the result of poorly fitting and too small shoes. "Two of the most important pieces of equipment I own are my shoes," Burns said. "The correct shoe can make all the difference." This has an easy remedy though- purchase larger shoes. 
  • Chafing. The sports industry has realized the need for women to have sports bras that protect and support the breast during physical activity. Just because men don't normally wear bras doesn't mean they don't need protection as well. Men's nipples can be sensitive too and those who do long distance running will have bruised or bloody chests after a race. Burns advises men to use petroleum jelly and bandages before a race to prevent chafing. Female runners also experience chafing in the bikini area, especially if they are wearing thong underwear. This ropelike fabric irritates the skin and excess sweat makes the problem worse. Stay away from this type of underwear when running and look for underwear made of fabrics with natural wicking properties, like nylon or mesh.
  • Runny Nose. When you run, does your nose too? A 2006 study in the Journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology found that 56 percent of people have runny noses when they are outside running. This is called exercise-induced rhinitis, and is caused by the increased air flow that you inhale as your breathing rate increases, which causes the sinus into mucus overdrive. Cool and dry air have been found to increase nasal mucus production. Try taking an antihistamine before your workout to dry out your nasal passages before you go running and tuck tissues in your pockets. 
  • Overactive bladder. Ut oh. You're out in the middle of your run and suddenly you have to go to the bathroom. Increased blood flow from the cardiovascular workout can speed up your other body systems, including your kidneys' production of urine. However, if your body is dehydrated, your body will create a sensation similar to when you have to urinate. If you get this frequently, make sure you are hydrating properly. Talk to your doctor if this becomes a continuing problem. 
  • Runner's high.  Running isn't all about the aches and pains you get from this type of exercise- you will likely also get what's known as "runner's high." "The psychological benefits of running are enormous- runner's euphoria is a real, proven benefit," says Burns. According to a study by the journal Cerebral Cortex, running does produce the feel-good endorphins in the areas of the brain associated with emotion. The study found that the time and length of runner's high depends on the length of the run and the individual runner, but in general people are more relaxed during and after runs. The same endorphins that create runner's high also relieve stress and boost mood. 
Even though some of these can be serious issues, none are enough to stop you from enjoying your run!
If you are a runner and have a foot problem, call our Newington, Kensington, or Middletown office to make an appointment.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Medicine Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington
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