[FoRK] Cardiovascular and Mental Health, Running, OCD

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Sat Mar 6 14:03:01 PST 2010

> On February 20, Charlie, Ray and Kevin touched the Red Sea, just a few 
> hours before sunset. Their quest had lasted 111 days and taken them 
> through 6 countries: Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya, and 
> Egypt. By the team's daily GPS record, they had traveled over 4,300 
> miles (6,920 kilometers). They fought through injury and extreme 
> fatigue to reach their goal, which changed them forever.

That's an average of 38 miles per day.  In the Sahara.


Stephen D. Williams wrote:
> Marty Halvorson wrote:
>> Stephen Williams wrote:
>> "And running tends to protect your joints, not wear them out. Later in
>> life, you are better off (knees, etc.) if you have been and are still
>> running."
>> I have a friend who would disagree with this. He's 84, a retired 
>> university professor, and for most of his entire career he ran every 
>> day. He had knee replacement surgery about 2 years ago. He now limits 
>> himself to between 3.5 and 5 miles a day walking. His doctor told him 
>> he wore his knees out by the constant pounding of running.
>> Peace,
>> Marty Halvorson 
> I knew you'd bite. ;-)
> The doctor's likely wrong, at least for the reason that the problem 
> started. [1] After an injury, yes, overuse wears through the tissue 
> until the point of no return. That's why people need hip replacements 
> as far as I can tell. Running, at least generally, is not why the 
> problem occurs in the first place unless there is a congenital 
> abnormality. There *are* many possible abnormalities with the knee: 
> the kneecap can be in the wrong place, the grooves can be shaped too 
> far from optimal, etc. If you don't ignore injuries, and if you don't 
> have any major congenital issues, running has been found to be better 
> for your joints / bones / etc. than not running. [1]
> That said, you do have to be careful of over training: You have to 
> sense wear / minor damage and give it time to heal. My current runs 
> are triggered mainly when I'm sure that I'm completely recovered from 
> my last run. Muscles can be pushed more than other things in this 
> regard, unless cramping or tearing is involved. For bone surfaces and 
> joint tissue, working out injured is very bad.
> We are endurance running animals. The current thinking is that this is 
> the main reason we outpaced the stronger Neanderthals and were 
> successful hunters in Europe: We humans can out distance most other 
> animals and all previous humanoids. [2] Plus Neanderthals suffered 
> cannibalism by both themselves and humans. [3]
> [1] http://ligemail.lig.net/pipermail/fosdw/2009-October/000057.html
>> A cluster of articles on running that are interesting.
>> Phys Ed: Can Running Actually Help Your Knees?
>> http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/11/phys-ed-can-running-actually-help-your-knees/ 
>> > “We were quite surprised,” says Eliza Chakravarty, an assistant
>> > professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and lead
>> > author of the study. “Our hypothesis going in had been that runners,
>> > because of the repetitive pounding, would develop more frequent and
>> > more severe arthritis.”
>> >
>> > Instead, recent evidence suggests that running may actually shield
>> > somewhat against arthritis, in part because the knee develops a kind
>> > of motion groove. A group of engineers and doctors at Stanford
>> > published a study in the February issue of The Journal of Bone and
>> > Joint Surgery that showed that by moving and loading your knee joint,
>> > as you do when walking or running, you “condition” your cartilage to
>> > the load. It grows accustomed to those particular movements. You can
>> > run for miles, decades, a lifetime, without harming it. But if this
>> > exquisite balance is disturbed, usually by an injury, the loading
>> > mechanisms shift, the moving parts of the knee are no longer in their
>> > accustomed alignment and a “degenerative pathway” seems to open. The
>> > cartilage, like an unbalanced tire, wears away. Pain, tissue
>> > disintegration and, eventually, arthritis can follow.
>> >
>> > So, the best way to ensure that your knees aren’t hurt by running is
>> > not to hurt them in the first place.
> [2] http://www.physorg.com/news95954919.html
>> While more than a million humans run marathons voluntarily each year, 
>> most animals we consider excellent runners — antelopes and cheetahs, 
>> for example — are built for speed, not endurance. Even nature’s best 
>> animal distance runners — such as horses and dogs — will run similar 
>> distances only if forced to do so, and the startling evidence is that 
>> humans are better at it, Lieberman said.
>> Modern humans and their immediate ancestors such as Homo erectus 
>> sport several adaptations that make humans, instead of some 
>> ferocious, furry, or fleet creature, the animal world’s best distance 
>> runners.
>> “Humans are terrible athletes in terms of power and speed, but we’re 
>> phenomenal at slow and steady. We’re the tortoises of the animal 
>> kingdom,” Lieberman said.
>> Specifically, we developed long, springy tendons in our legs and feet 
>> that function like large elastics, storing energy and releasing it 
>> with each running stride, reducing the amount of energy it takes to 
>> take another step. There are also several adaptations to help keep 
>> our bodies stable as we run, such as the way we counterbalance each 
>> step with an arm swing, our large butt muscles that hold our upper 
>> bodies upright, and an elastic ligament in our neck to help keep our 
>> head steady.
>> Even the human waist, thinner and more flexible than that of our 
>> primate relatives allows us to twist our upper bodies as we run to 
>> counterbalance the slightly-off-center forces exerted as we stride 
>> with each leg.
>> Once humans start running, it only takes a bit more energy for us to 
>> run faster, Lieberman said. Other animals, on the other hand, expend 
>> a lot more energy as they speed up, particularly when they switch 
>> from a trot to a gallop, which most animals cannot maintain over long 
>> distances.
>> Though those adaptations make humans and our immediate ancestors 
>> better runners, it is our ability to run in the heat that Lieberman 
>> said may have made the real difference in our ability to procure game.
>> Humans, he said, have several adaptations that help us dump the 
>> enormous amounts of heat generated by running. These adaptations 
>> include our hairlessness, our ability to sweat, and the fact that we 
>> breathe through our mouths when we run, which not only allows us to 
>> take bigger breaths, but also helps dump heat.
>> “We can run in conditions that no other animal can run in,” Lieberman 
>> said.
>> While animals get rid of excess heat by panting, they can’t pant when 
>> they gallop, Lieberman said. That means that to run a prey animal 
>> into the ground, ancient humans didn’t have to run further than the 
>> animal could trot and didn’t have to run faster than the animal could 
>> gallop. All they had to do is to run faster, for longer periods of 
>> time, than the slowest speed at which the animal started to gallop. 
>> All together, Lieberman said, these adaptations allowed us to 
>> relentlessly pursue game in the hottest part of the day when most 
>> animals rest. Lieberman said humans likely practiced persistence 
>> hunting, chasing a game animal during the heat of the day, making it 
>> run faster than it could maintain, tracking and flushing it if it 
>> tried to rest, and repeating the process until the animal literally 
>> overheated and collapsed.
>> Most animals would develop hyperthermia — heat stroke in humans — 
>> after about 10 to 15 kilometers, he said.
>> By the end of the process, Lieberman said, even humans with their 
>> crude early weapons could have overcome stronger and more dangerous 
>> prey. Adding credence to the theory, Lieberman said, is the fact that 
>> some aboriginal humans still practice persistence hunting today, and 
>> it remains an effective technique. It requires very minimal 
>> technology, has a high success rate, and yields a lot of meat.
> [3] http://home.comcast.net/~stefan_jones/uplift_gateway_characters.html
> "The Uplift War" actually covered well the "transformation" from 
> out-of-shape to in-shape human runner for one of the characters *and* 
> contrasted the ability to dump heat with a much more changeable alien 
> that nevertheless had limited heat dissipation ability. Brin was very 
> clever in this series - I think about the stories often. Here is "The 
> Uplift War":
> http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0553279718?ie=UTF8&tag=sdwst-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0553279718 
> [3] 
> http://www.livescience.com/history/080806-human-evolution-olympics.html
>> The ability to run for long distances changed human athleticism — as 
>> well as history — and came around the 2-million year mark, allowing 
>> human ancestors such as Homo erectus to hunt seriously for the first 
>> time.
>> Early hunters only had sharpened wooden sticks and clubs, which meant 
>> that success in catching and killing prey relied on the difference 
>> between human marathon running and animal sprinting.
>> "Most human sports that we value the most (with exception of power 
>> sports) involve this incredible ability to run or do aerobic 
>> capacity," Lieberman said. "That's really rare. Very few animals 
>> adapted for endurance."
>> Lions can run about twice as fast as the fastest Olympic sprinters 
>> over short distances to catch their prey. Early humans relied instead 
>> upon tiring their prey by running them down to exhaustion, combining 
>> a springy step with sweat glands all over the body that prevented 
>> overheating.
>> Modern Olympic marathoners could take full advantage of their running 
>> to beat early human ancestors such as Australopithecus in a 
>> long-distance race. Even contemporary people who still rely on 
>> persistence hunting without long-range weapons can run with equal 
>> ease, such as the Tarahumara of northern Mexico.
>> "Kids on lunch break will go run ten miles," Lieberman noted. "The 
>> Tarahumara used to run deer down to exhaustion." 
> [4] http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/01/07/tech/main6068619.shtml
> sdw
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