Category Archives: Research

Take Care of Your Buds

Circumaural headphones have large pads that su...

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That is your ear buds.

A recent study showed that personal ear bud use may cause permanent hearing loss.  I use a  Sansa E250 2GB MP3 Player as my personal music player of choice. It is quite versatile (including an FM tuner and microphone) and has lasted pretty well, not to mention dirt cheap! I’ve talked about my mp3 use before, especially the safety issues and sharing my personal playlist (which is now a little outdated).

In the back of my head I have thought about the impact that all of this mp3 usage might have on my ears.  But never thought enough about it to worry too much.  I’ve thought more about my safety while running than the impact on my hearing.  I remember as a kid getting yelled at to turn down my Discman or Walkman, with the threat that I’d lose my hearing.

Now a study conducted for the European Union confirms that permanent hearing loss can come from too much and too loud of music being played in your ear drum.  The New York Times reported that

The report said that those who listened for five hours a week at high-volume settings exposed themselves to more noise than permitted in the noisiest factory or work place. Maximum volume on some devices can generate as much noise as an airplane taking off nearby.

That is a lot of noise!

The report issued by the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks, a name which implies they probably don’t use too many iPods, had some more bad news.  We might not feel the effect of our usage for many years. 5-10% of listeners may have hearing loss within 5 years, if they listen to music at a high volume for more than an hour a day. The now famous earbud may make things worse since the overall sound exposure is higher than the older, more traditional models.

A 2006 lawsuit claimed that the Apple iPod can produce music at 115 decibls, while 89 is the border line for safe listening.  It begs the question of why they would produce something at that level.  Well probably the same reason we keep building faster computers or cars with more horsepower.  Bigger, Faster, and Louder means something is BETTER!

SO WHAT! Maybe you want to go deaf or you don’t believe in scientific research, well you can stop reading! For the rest of us they study recommends limiting listening through headphones/earbuds to no more than an hour a day – with the volume set at around 60% of the maximum volume.  Got that? No more two hour long rungs with the ear buds – unless you skip a day somewhere else! This is just a guideline they offer so feel free to disobey – at your own risk and don’t sue me when you lose your hearing.

I guess I won’t be blaring my music anymore so that my training partners can hear the latest MPR program or Phedipidations episode – sorry guys.

[tags] Hearing Loss, mp3, iPod, ear bud [/tags]

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Studying Runners

Two studies are currently underway testing runners in the Twin Cities area.

The first is a study is for any runner who is running either Chicago, Twin Cities, or the Marine Corps Marathon this fall. From the studies site:

We are inviting you to participate in a study on the relationship between marathon performance and satisfaction. The study is being conducted by researchers at The University of Chicago.

The study will take a total of 30 minutes of your life during which you’ll complete 3 different surveys – with the first being 2 months before the marathon and the last will be post-marathon. Anyone is eligible to participate as long as they are training and plan to complete the marathon. There will be random drawings conducted at the end of the study where they will be giving away 14 prizes for each marathon. The prizes include an iPod Nano and a Garmin 305.

Thank you MDRA for pointing out this study – I signed up.

The second study is being conducted locally by the University of Minnesota.  They are looking for 18-45 year-old’s who are participating in a regular running program and are otherwise in good health. The study will involve one outpatient visit for a total of 2 hours.  Participants will get paid $30 for their time. $15 an hour isn’t too bad for most of us working folk!  E-mail for more information. From an e-mail I recieved back from the study:

The reason why we are interested in intramuscular fat is because intramuscular fat levels generally relate to insulin resistance (ie more fat, more insulin resistance). However, this is not the case in endurance athletes and we are studying this apparent paradox.

I submitted a short questionnaire to be considered for the study.

Also the USATF Stretch Study is still going on. Be sure to check that one out too.

[tags] Research, Marathon, Medical Research [/tags]

Summer Flip Flop Pain

With summer officially here now and the warm weather has finally made its appearance in Minnesota – it is time to wear the flip flops 24/7 for many people. But not me, I used to wear my flip flops all the time but slowed the use of them after I started having knee and heel issues that wouldn’t seem to go away.

I think for me it was the lack of cushioning and support (or improper support) that exasperated the existing issues I was experiencing. I could say that after I stopped wearing them all the time all my pain magically disappeared! But that would be inaccurate. I think that switching back to regular shoes and even more cushioned leather sandals helped my knee and heel heal more instead of constantly tugging on them.

I still wear my flip flops around quite often – I just try to limit the amount of time I’m going to be in them and on my feet walking around. For example a few weeks ago we went over to a friend’s house for dinner so I wore my flip flops. After dinner we ended up going for a fairly short walk but in that brief time I could feel the discomfort of wearing my flip flops around.

With my previous experiences it was not suprising then to hear about this recent study:

A new study from the American College of Sports Medicine found flip-flop wearers tend to take smaller strides, and alter the way they walk just to keep the sandals on.

Podiatrist Dr. Richard Green, says your flip-flops could be the cause of leg, knee, hip and back pain.

According to Dr. Green, you can love your flip-flops and feel good too. He says, just choose a pair with these three key elements:

  • arch support
  • thick sole
  • a heel stopper
  • “If it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t a big problem, but I wouldn’t really advise anyone to wear them full time all the time,” says Dr. Green.Flip-flops can cost between two bucks to upwards of 80-dollars a pair.But, price doesn’t necessarily make it a better fit.

    What do you think about this? Do you wear flip-flops a lot?

    [tags] Sandals, Flip Flops, Sports Medicine [/tags]

    Running May Prevent Dementia

    A recent report from the Mayo Clinic suggests that individuals who moderately exercised 1-5 times a week between the ages of 50-65 were much less likely to have severe memory loss.

    Geda [a neuropsychiatrist at Mayo and the researcher issuing the report] said he thinks that the people who were regular exercisers in their 50s and 60s were probably pretty active for most of their lives. The ones who said they exercised only in the previous year showed no benefit.

    The results may be a stretch but Geda is willing to take that stretch and presented his findings to the American Academy of Neurology last week.

    Geda said he doesn’t know why exercise might make a difference, but he has some ideas. Exercise may increase a type of brain chemical that protects neurons. Or it may be that people who exercise are just generally healthier.

    He also warns that any study based on people’s memory could be flawed. One like this that relies on the memories of people with faulty memories could be perceived as especially problematic, he agreed. But MCI affects mostly short term memory, not long term.

    It was enough to convince him.

    ” After I saw this, it really made me not forget so much to go the gym,” he said. “It is kind of motivating.”

    What do you think?

    [tags] Dementia, Mayo Clinic, Running, Health [/tags]

    A Controversy of Stretching

    I recently reported that I signed up to be included in a USATF sponsored Stretch Study, which is looking at a broad cross section of regular runners to determine if stretching before running (and warming up) helps prevent or causes injuries. A recent New York Times article actually looks into some of the current research around athletes and stretching and comes up with a conclusive answer that isn’t very conclusive!

    That doesn’t make any sense does it? Well it seems that the body of current research is very mixed about the importance of stretching and is actually beginning to lean towards the idea that stretching doesn’t actually help an athlete perform better. But when the reporter asked the various researchers if they stretched or not – all of them did!

    It has been bantered about in the running community for awhile and more people are beginning to shy away from so called “static stretching” where you hold a stretch for 10 seconds and leaning towards something called “active or dynamic stretching” where you take you muscles through a range of motion and hold any one position for at most 3 seconds.

    If your goal is to prevent injury, Dr. Gilchrist said, stretching does not seem to be enough. Warming up, though, can help. If you start out by moving through a range of motions that you’ll use during activity, you are less likely to be injured.

    Runners often think that flexibility is important, even to the point of spending hours stretching and doing yoga. One quoted study actually found that…

    …distance runners do not benefit from being flexible, he found. The most efficient runners, those who exerted the least effort to maintain a pace, were the stiffest.

    A private practice orthopediest went so far to say “If stretching was a drug, it would be recalled,” Dr. Kenny said. He claims that stretching actually weakens performance and increases risk of injury.

    So what does all of this really mean? Who knows! I think as with much in this life moderation is the key. If you spend lots of time focusing on stretching – it might be better spent somewhere else. You need to find what works best for your body but the extremes probably don’t work for anyone!

    Do you stretch? When do you stretch? Take the poll (on the right) and let us know!

    [tags] Stretching, Stretch, Training, Research, Running [/tags]

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