Planning for the future: Preventing muscle deterioration

Ok, so I’m not 70 myself, but it’s still important to have a plan to keep you away from the bridge table. One of my favorite journals, The Journal of Applied Physiology, recently published an article that addresses one of the major concerns of aging, the loss of skeletal muscle mass. After testing a number of different exercise methods on different age groups, the team saw that a combination of low-intensity resistance exercise with blood flow restriction stimulated muscle protein synthesis in men of about 70 years of age.

Subjects were studied identically on two occasions: during BFR exercise {bilateral leg extension exercise at 20% of 1-repetition maximum (1-RM) with pressure cuff placed proximally on both thighs and inflated at 200 mmHg} and during exercise without the pressure cuff (Ctrl). MPS (muscle protein synthesis) and phosphorylation of signaling proteins were determined on successive muscle biopsies by stable isotopic techniques and immunoblotting, respectively. MPS increased 56% from baseline after BFR exercise (P < 0.05), while no change was observed in the Ctrl group (P > 0.05).

Whether you are part of an elderly age group or not, these findings are definitely encouraging for anyone who doesn’t have the patience to sit around in a chair all day.

Fry, C., Glynn, E., Drummond, M., Timmerman, K., Fujita, S., Abe, T., Dhanani, S., Volpi, E., & Rasmussen, B.. (2010). Blood flow restriction exercise stimulates mTORC1 signaling and muscle protein synthesis in older men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 108(5), 1199.


How to survive the Akban fitness program

I’ve been doing the Akban fitness program for years, I like the fact that it’s gradual and allows me to stay fit even now, when I’m a bit older.
As every trainee knows, even in best health there are off days, days when we preform below our standard. Number of studies have discovered, or more accurately, rediscovered the fact that a cup of coffee before exercise or competition can up our performance.
Link to NYT article
Technorati Profile


Push-up Powerpill

Too lazy to go to the dojo? Would you rather stay at home with the air-conditioning on and workout from your couch? Looks like you might be able to in a few years. New research has led to the discovery of 2 drugs that can increase the physical ability of mice without much exercise:

“Researchers at the Salk Institute report they have found two drugs that do wonders for the athletic endurance of couch potato mice. One drug, known as Aicar, increased the mice’s endurance on a treadmill by 44 percent after just four weeks of treatment.

A second drug, GW1516, supercharged the mice to a 75 percent increase in endurance, but had to be combined with exercise to have any effect.”

Such drugs are obviously beneficial. For instance, in cases where patients are incapable of regular movement and must maintain muscle mass. However, I worry about a widespread misuse of such medication simply due to laziness.

These drugs could also add to the long list of physical enhancement drugs such as anabolic steroids that are commonly used to increase muscle mass in a short period of time. I don’t even want to think about what a combination with steroids would yield.

In any case, much easier to find, and only at the cost of some sweat, is the Akban fitness program. Besides, exercise can be fun as long as your training partner washed their gi sometime in the last six months.

Link to the IHT article


First prize for MMA youngsters – Cauliflower ear

One would think that injury treatment in most sports was a vital part of maintaining the athlete’s ability to participate. Lately, a new trend taking hold of aspiring MMA youngsters seems to be defying this rule.

Like the dreaded knuckles that come from years of Karate training on Makiwara, Cauliflower ears – a name given to a deformity of the outer ear – is the latest widespread ailment in the world of contact martial arts.

The condition most commonly appears in practitioners who receive repetitive blows or chaffs to the ear and fail to receive professional medical treatment. Rather than trying to avoid the condition, many youngsters think of having permanently damaged ears as a sign of being tough, and try to attain the deformity by avoiding all medical treatment:

“Unfazed by the prospect of living life as a walking what’s-grosser-than-gross joke, a nationwide corps of professional fighters, amateur enthusiasts and teenagers have taken to leaving their ears untreated or self-treated, wearing their shriveled, hardened waxen auricles as badges of honor.”

Those who choose to treat the injury often attempt to do so themselves, without professional consultation:

“The role of machismo extends to treatment, or lack thereof. Once the condition develops, some fighters seem willing to try anything as long as it does not involve a doctor. Many young men cannot afford medical care, but there is also a do-it-yourself ethic at work.”

Whatever the reasons behind this urge, it is obvious that a do-it-yourself approach when it comes to treating injuries is extremely dangerous. Here’s a youtube clip that shows how to “drain your cauliflower ear”.

I do not recommend it; anyone with a cauliflower ear should seek medical drainage as soon as possible. The hardened tissue in the ear is highly susceptible to infection, and instead of a “badge of honor”, an acute infection of the outer part of the ear could lead to getting a “no ear at all”.

We here in Akban started MMA-ing in the begining of the 1990’s and soon discovered that the best way to deal with it is using an ear protector.
image This is why so many of our veterans look like they are communicating with aliens. Well, who could tell what goes on in the mind of someone finishing 24 hours of sparring – maybe these contraptions are alien gear after all.

link to the IHT article

See also:
Head injuries in martial arts
Better to rest after a head injury


Better to rest after a concussion

Recent research discovered that it may be better to refrain from sports and “high-intensity activities” in the period after a concussion.

Tara Parker-Pope writes:

“The researchers tracked the medical records and activity levels of 95 student athletes, including 15 girls, who had suffered concussions in school sports. The students were evaluated using cognitive tests immediately after the concussion and in follow-up visits. The data showed that athletes who engaged in the highest level of activity soon after the initial injury tended to demonstrate the worst neurocognitive scores and slowest reaction times. Students fared better if they didn’t return immediately to their sport but instead simply engaged in normal school and home activities.”

Head injuries are common-place in contact martial arts, no matter how many safeguards are put in place.

Link to the NYTimes blog article

The original report


Challenges of triathlon training

An interesting article in the Herald Tribune deals with the problematic nature of triathlon training.

Apart from the obvious level of physical ability required, most amateur athletes who compete in triathlon find that excelling equally in all three aspects of the race a difficult task.

“Anne Gordon, 51-year-old triathlete and a partner at Dubilier & Company, a private investment group, has never gotten a personal record in each leg of a triathlon on the same day. “I find it is possible to peak in two out of the three sports, but no matter how hard I try the third eludes me,” she said.”



The 19th century gym


If you were wondering “what the hell is that thing?” you may be surprised to hear that it is in fact the forefather of today’s gym. This is one of many bizarre contraptions made by the Swedish physician Gustav Zander.

Cabinet magazine report:

“His mechanical horse was an early version of the Stairmaster, a contraption for cardiovascular fitness designed to imitate a “natural” activity. His stomach-punching apparatus evokes contemporary “ab-crunching” machines.”

Moony writes about it in the hebrew blog


Exercise and mental health

A recent study found that as little as 20 minutes of physical activity a week can boost your mood. The more intensive the activity, the greater the effect.

Associating sports and physical activity with well being is hardly a new way of thinking, but the effect on mental health has so far never been measured.

“For the new study, almost 20,000 men and women participating in the 1995, 1998 and 2003 Scottish Health Surveys answered questionnaires about physical activity and “psychological distress.”

Daily physical activity of any kind — including housework, gardening, walking, and sports — was associated with a 41 percent lower risk of psychological distress. But sports reduced the risk of mood lows the most — by 33 percent.”

Twenty minutes a week translates into just under three minutes a day, a good starting point for a daily exercise routine.



Research shows an unsteady diet may reduce lifespan

Recent research by Glasgow University may draw a connection between “crash dieting” (a term given to an unsteady diet with large fluctuations in daily food intake) and a lesser lifespan. During the research, scientists

“observed that fish given a “binge then diet” food regime had a reduced lifespan of up to 25%.”

This ties in with the simple rule that dieting alone cannot be a substitute for exercise. A weight loss regime that does not include exercise can force us into abnormal eating patterns, such as a “binge then diet” pattern, while not doing much to help us lose weight.