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Healthy You

Advice for the Coachless Athlete

February 5, 2014 12:00 PM with Dr. Adam Bennett

Training for a marathon and want to avoid overuse injuries and stress fractures? In the process of developing a more strenuous workout regimen? Already a weekend warrior and want to keep it that way? Adam Bennett, Sports Medicine at NorthShore, will answer questions on fitness and exercise safety, from changes you may need to make to your diet and information on proper athletic equipment, to avoiding common training mistakes and bouncing back from injury. Submit your questions early.

Brenna (Moderator) - 11:31 AM:
Our chat--Advice for the Coachless Athlete--will begin in approximately 30 minutes. You can submit questions now or at any point during the chat.

  Manahil (Skokie, IL) - 11:57 AM:
I am training for my first Half Marathon. Lately I've been experiencing lowere back and groin pain. What can I do to eliminate or reduce the discomfort? Streches? Running Techniques?
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
The main issue is to determine the cause of the low back and groin pain. If the cause is muscle soreness, then more rest between runs may help. Additionally, some strength training via yoga, pilates, or basic weight lifting may diminish your soreness after running. If your pain persists you may need to seek medical care and get xrays of your lower back and hips. Good luck!

  Susan (Stilwell, KS) - 12:01 PM:
I have struggled with shin splints when I try to walk outside on hills etc instead of on the treadmill. I feel like I get a much better workout walking outside but end up with shin splints. What causes them and what is the best way to deal with them and still be able to exercise? They are so painful. Thank you.
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
First order of business is to make sure that your shin splints are in fact, shin splints. Other causes of shin pain include muscle strains, stress fractures, and tendinitis. "Shin splints" is a painful condition which occurs when the muscle attachments pull on the periosteum of the tibia which leads to inflammation and pain. If you really do have shin splints, then anti-inflammatories, intense stretching, deep tissue massage, gait analysis, shoe wear modification and including rest days in your training program all may help diminish your symptoms. Formal physical therapy is an effective way to implement all of these strategies.

  Izabela (Morton Grove IL) - 12:09 PM:
My husband will have ACL reconstruction, would you suggest allograft or autograft Dr. Bennet. How long the recovery will take after surgery. I know everybody is different. And why Dr. told us to wait for a surgery about 6 weeks from the injury.
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
The decision between allograft and autograft for ACL reconstruction depends on a few variables. These include age, preexisting conditions in the affected knee, level of activity, and surgeon preference. That said, research has shown a slightly higher incidence of re-tear using allograft. After surgery, most people are walking without a brace at 1 month, starting to jog at 3 months, and then are released to full activity after 6-8 months. The reason to wait for surgery is to ensure the knee has full range of motion, no swelling, and adequate muscle tone.

  Mary (Western Springs, IL) - 12:17 PM:
What do you think about sports drinks for high intensity workouts? Recovery drinks post-workout. Are they necessary? Do they help performance? Do they help recovery? Any specific recommendations on brands?
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
Sports drinks are good in that they contain glucose and electrolytes, both of which need to be replenished due to loss while sweating. Sports drinks are probably not essential for exercise lasting 20 minutes or less. For exercise lasting longer than 20 minutes, research shows improved performance utilizing fluids that contain glucose and electrolytes. Research also shows that ingesting carbohydrates and protein within 10 minutes after intense workout improves recovery. My recommendations for brands is not particularly strong but I think replenishing with naturally occurring entities and avoiding things such as high fructose corn syrup is a good idea. Certainly anything with caffeine which might dehydrate the athlete and is a bad idea. Please tell your kids not to drink soda pop after exercise.

  Sandy (Morton Grove, IL) - 12:28 PM:
I have tendonitis in my wrists. How can I do exercises that will strength my arm muscles without stressing my wrists with weights or bands? Thanks so much.
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
This is a tough scenario but there are things you can do. Specifically putting resistance in your mid forearm and keeping your hands and wrists relaxed can allow you to work out the major muscles of your upper body without irritating the tendons in your wrists. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to pull this off try working with a personal trainer a couple of times and have them show you. Good luck!

  Mary (Western Springs) - 12:32 PM:
If you are training for a 1/2 marathon or triathlon; any recommendations for daily diet? Working out 6days/week.
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
My first recommendation is to consider implementing rest days as part of your training. I often suggest athletes work longer and more intensely one day and then complete rest the next day. If that is too much rest for you, consider a 2 days on 1 day off schedule. Rest days allow for replenishment of glycogen stores in the muscle cells and fluid losses to be replaced adequately. As a result, the athlete typically feels better on work out days and can push themselves even harder which ultimately leads to better performance on race day. In terms of a daily diet, avoiding fried foods, caffeine, and alcohol is likely to bring benefit. If you sweat a lot, you may need to add salty foods to your diet. This is especially important if you cramp easily.

  Beth - 12:40 PM:
I've been hearing a lot of good things and bad things about Crossfit. Is crossfit safe? Is it a workout routine you would recommend to people?
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
In general, I think crossfit is a safe activity. In fact, high intensity interval training is likely the most effective way to improve overall fitness. For my patients who are frustrated with their ability to lose weight, I often suggest they incorporate high intensity interval training into their work out routine. Crossfit is one example of this and there are many other ways to do this type of training. Also, many people who teach crossfit suggest following a Paleolithic diet. For many people, following this diet has numerous health benefits.

Brenna (Moderator) - 12:45 PM:
There are 15 minutes left in our chat. This has been a popular topic, so we apologize if we are unable to get through all submitted questions.

  Robert (Evanston, Illinois) - 12:46 PM:
I'm 56 years old and do an upper-body weight-lifting regimen about 3 times a week, 45 minutes per session. I've been doing so for about 15 years and feel great. I tend to max out the weight with lower reps but am concerned about injury as I get older. Am I better off to use lower weight with higher reps? Will I lose muscle mass if I do? Thank You
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
First of all, great job with your workout routine. Most people don't realize the importance of resistance training as it relates to overall health. The only concern I would have about injury is if you had arthritis in any of your upper extremity joints (shoulder, elbow, wrists). If you do have arthritis in these joints, then lighter weights would be preferred. If you continue to lift to the point your muscles become sore the next day, it is unlikely you will lose significant muscle mass. The only suggestion I might throw your way is to vary the weight, repetition, or motion of your regimen so your body won’t adapt as easily. This will ensure maximum benefit from every session. Keep up the great work.

  Natalie (Lincoln Park) - 12:53 PM:
Is it better to consume protein drinks or food sources of protein after a workout for muscle recovery?
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
I’m not sure of any research on that but my guess is that they are about equivalent. The advantage of a drink is that you replenish fluids as well.

Brenna (Moderator) - 1:02 PM:
We apologize that we were unable to get to every question today. To make an appointment, go to Dr. Bennett's Find a Doctor page.

Brenna (Moderator) - 1:03 PM:
Click on Find a Doctor above.

Brenna (Moderator) - 1:03 PM:
A transcript of this chat will be made available shortly.

This chat has ended.

Thank you very much for your participation.