Sock Doc’s “Weekly Tip” Archive

Health & Fitness Tips (Most recent at top)

  • Do you get dizzy when you stand up or change positions? That very well could mean your adrenal glands are run down. Read more about adrenal glands here.
  • The shoulder girdle is perhaps the most overlooked and undertreated area in an athlete’s body. For any pain, any place in the body, (particularly the hips), check out your shoulder area.
  • Agave is no better than high fructose corn syrup. Stevia is a refined concentrated sweetener. And “no carb” sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, maltitol, and xylitol, create digestive and insulin problems in many people. Beware of all these found easily at any health food store.
  • If you crave chocolate it may be because it’s a natural source of a compound called phenylethylamine (PEA) which helps to increase dopamine in the brain. Dopamine provides pleasure and motivation. If you’re pushing your body too hard (too much stress) and losing interest in the things you once enjoyed, then best to resolve that before it goes further rather than eat more chocolate.
  • Fitness trends are meant to make some people a lot of money, not to make you a faster, stronger, more efficient athlete. So if you’re confused as to who you should listen to, you should be, because almost everyone has their own best interest at heart.
  • If stretching is your only form of exercise then having a bowel movement is probably your only form of movement.
  • You should always be “training” even if you don’t have a race planned. Just because your 10-12 week training program hasn’t started yet doesn’t mean you get to sit on your ass and wither away.
  • Cracking of the skin on the heels of your feet is most often a sign of an under-functioning thyroid. You might not have a lab test to support hypothyroidism, but your thyroid gland isn’t up to snuff.
  • PMS might be common, but it is never normal. PMS is almost always associated with high levels of estrogen, which can also impair your body to repair connective tissue such as tendons and ligaments, resulting in injuries and the inability to heal effectively.
  • If you can’t go even one day without some form of caffeine, you’re using it just like any other drug to give you a false sense of energy while neglecting the problem.
  • You can tell a lot by looking at your fingernails. White spots = zinc deficiency. Vertical or horizontal ridges = calcium deficiency or low thyroid. Dark nail beds = B12 deficiency. Hangnails = adrenal stress. Soft nails = inadequate protein.
  • Ever wake up in a pillow of your own drool (hopefully not someone else’s)? Often that can be from depleted levels of phosphorus which occur from too much hard training. So if you’re a drooler, back off on the anaerobic.
  • If you wake up at night with painful “Charley Horse” type calf cramps, it’s most likely because you’re either lacking calcium or essential fats in your diet which help drive calcium into your soft tissues (ie: muscles). Calf cramps while running are more often due to improper footwear, hormonal stress, or sodium/potassium imbalances.
  • If you’re craving sugar after you eat a meal, it’s a sure sign that your body is inefficient at burning fat for energy and is relying on glucose for fuel. A healthy and efficient athlete runs primarily off fat, not sugar.
  • Read Waterlogged  by Dr. Tim Noakes. This new book provides great information about the problem with endurance athletes drinking too much water and other fluids.
  • Just because a race offers a short option and a long option doesn’t mean that you should run the long. Most people don’t have the health, fitness, or time to train for an ultra, marathon, or even a half-marathon. So until you’re able to build up fitness and not break down – choose that 10K, or even the 5K, and stop wrecking your body.
  • If you really think you’re that special “exception” and truly need orthotics then maybe you’ll benefit from a wheelchair one day too when more of your body breaks down.
  • Your thigh bone isn’t just connected to your hip bone but it’s also connected to your foot bones, your rib bones, your skull bones, and even your hand bones. If you, your doc, or therapist doesn’t realize this then you’ll never heal your injury and perform to your best ability.
  • Hamstring injuries might be one of the most commonly injured muscles in athletes, but it’s also the injury I see to need the least amount of treatment. The hammies are often strained due to calf and glute max weakness – causing them to work too hard resulting in a “pull.” So assess & treat the glutes and calves – not the hamstrings.
  • A fun health & fitness tip for you humans and pets by my Little Sock Doc Kid: The Animals With Shoes
  • If you have knee pain when you go up stairs or climb  hills then consider more glutes or calves involvement. If it’s worse going down stairs or hills then think more quads or ITB.
  • Winter isn’t the time to gain weight and lose fitness, it’s the time to build your aerobic base, improve conditioning, and prepare to expand your fitness next year.
  • If your doctor says your injury is because of lack of foot strength and wants to put you in orthotics, inquire how pushing up on any arch results in strength and get the hell out of there fast.
  • If you deplete your glycogen (stored sugar) levels either from a poor diet or training too hard, you’re looking at 48 hours to replenish those levels. That’s 48 hrs if you eat well and recover well, not if you continue to train wrong, eat wrong, and skip meals.
  • The only part of “old” in your inability to achieve a certain level of health & fitness is the constant reminder you give yourself that you are just that. Don’t use age as an excuse for poor health & fitness.
  • Treating only the injured area will not only ineffectively treat the injury, it won’t prevent future problems. You’ve got to look at the whole picture of your health and fitness to break the root cause of the injury down, so you can repair and rebuild stronger than before.
  • If you’re interested in improving your fitness and health, especially your aerobic system, use a heart rate monitor. It’s the best investment you can make. Short on cash? Don’t buy shoes. Wear out what you’ve got and start going barefoot more.
  • Protein Power: Endurance athletes should consume a minimum of 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. High intensity and long duration training often require over 2g per kg. So a 165 pound athlete should shoot for 115-150g of protein per day. Eggs, meats, and whey protein top the list.
  • You might think compression socks look cool (I don’t), but they’re best left for recovery after a race, a hard training session, or as part of injury treatment. If you always have to wear them during a workout because of pain then you’re missing the reason behind that pain.
  • Your training is dependent on intensity and duration, (and in some instances complexity ie: trail vs. road). Intensity is measured via perceived exertion, closely related to your heart rate. Duration should be measured by time – NOT miles. Train for time, not for distance.
  • Using ice to treat an injury will dampen the natural inflammatory response necessary to repair and heal your tissues. Sure it will block pain, but it will delay recovery.
  • If you feel any improvement from taking any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) then it’s a sure bet that you have an imbalance of fats in your body – too many unhealthy trans fats or refined vegetable oils and not enough healthy fats.
  • If you’re doing high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts because you’re pressed for time and you haven’t developed your aerobic base, you should be prepared to soon spend some time dealing with an injury.
  • Use coconut milk and heavy [whipping] cream rather than skim milk or even whole milk. The saturated fats are necessary for tissue repair, hormone production, and a healthy nervous system. Plus they taste so damn good.
  • Before you apply ice to that injury consider that you may be delaying a normal and natural inflammatory process occurring as your body is trying to heal your injury.
  • Sunglasses are cool and great for protection but if you always need some shades, especially on overcast days, consider your body stressed out. Eyes that are so sensitive means your pupils aren’t normally constricting from the exposed light and it’s a sure sign of a sympathetic dominant nervous system. Are you training too hard, too stressed out, not resting fully, eating poorly – or all of the above?
  • If your eyelids ever flutter or a limb (hand/arm or leg) jerks involuntarily while you’re dozing off to sleep, it’s a sign that you’re under too much stress and pushing your body too hard. Back-off before it’s too late because you’re overreaching and soon will be overtraining and possibly ill or injured.
  • Unless you became injured from some type of trauma (accident), consider that you most likely have a health-fitness imbalance if your injury “just came out of nowhere.” Diet, training, and lifestyle factors all have major impacts on your musculoskeletal system and whether you get injured or not.
  • Want to burn fat and improve your health? Exercise aerobically for 45 minutes every morning on a fasted state (before eating anything).
  • The ideal warm-up for ANY activity is a mixture of light aerobic activity (low HR) combined with dynamic, natural movements. Shoot for 10 minutes of walking/light running with some squats and body mobility drills mixed in – NOT stretching.
  • It’s better to go into a race 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained.
  • Chocolate, (80% or higher cocoa content), is a great snack that’s loaded with antioxidants and healthy fats. You can also buy cacao butter to put in your smoothie to add some beneficial saturated fat calories. Yummy.

Comments

  1. Your statement on twitching as you fall asleep; Could that stress be the result of diet versus over training? I’m using an application called ithlete to track HRV as per that data and how I feel I don’t think I’m over training as I’m still aerobic only training as my times are still coming down. What I wonder about though is that through the TWT I did learn I’m carbohydrate intolerant and lately I’ve fallen off the wagon.

  2. Dr. G- Just saw this article from Business Insider

    http://www.businessinsider.com/12-things-killer-employees-do-before-noon-2012-8

    Seems a couple points you list, exercise int he morning, eat breakfast, etc are supported by this article.

    Just thought it was interesting.

  3. You mention training in a fasted state for improved fat burning. I was curious if you have every heard of Intermittent Fasting. Pretty common with body builders, it is basically not eating any calories for a ~16 hour window followed by a 8 hour feeding window (eg. Eat, Stop, Eat). Claims are that eating this way will lower cortisol levels, gives your digestive system a “break”, body burns mostly fat during fasted state, reduced inflammation, reduced insulin levels, etc.

    I was wondering your take on fasting from an endurance perspective.

    • Yes I have heard of IF and I think the science behind it is very valid. Of course there are many ways to approach it, the most common being as you mention. I’ve seen people really do well with the program in regards to strength conditioning as well as body fat loss for the “average”, but healthy, person. I have not seen it used in regards to endurance. Now personally I’ve done it a few times but I have altered it because as you know ideally the idea is to train right at the end of the fast (or have some protein or BCAAs right at the end of the fast prior to the workout), and this is fine if you’re doing an aerobic (not long duration) workout but I don’t think you’d want to do some HIIT endurance during this period or long aerobic training either (over one hour perhaps). Definitely something to investigate more though.

  4. Hi
    I’ve been enjoying much of your advice in the last couple years, and still finding more.
    Could you give more info on the fasted state morning run?
    I do this most work days: get up 4:50 am, spend 20 min with bathroom, drink cup water, make green tea for later; go for 15 min warm up; 15-20 min easy run (below max aerobic level); 15 min cool down; immediately eat nice paleo breakfast; shower; drink tea in car to work.
    It’s a lot to get done, and I often wonder if more time awake is needed before starting. But thats even earlier and makes getting to bed on time more difficult. Also, I sometimes eat part of breakfast (protein & fruit) just before leaving for run. Either with or without the little snack I occasionally feel a little shaky during cool down. This is relieved by breakfast.
    I would consider that I’m still building aerobic base, and have overtrained, done too much anaerobic etc previously. Should I eat more fruit before run for a while? Can I even make use of the sugars when it’s so close to the run? Should I shorten run for a while? Should I go still lower than 120-130 bpm (I’m 44) during run?
    I would prefer to continue with morning run so that I can spend more time with my kids, and on having a nice dinner, but the logistics of the morning run have been tough, and if something’s off (like interrupted sleep) I skip it.

    • Thanks Dino. It’s all about what works for you. If you’re seeing progress in these runs (you’re getting faster, more efficient, and maybe even leaner), then that’s good. If you’re not seeing progress and especially if you’re feeling a sugar low then they clearly are not and you either have to adjust them or not do them. We don’t do workouts just to “log them in.” That’s un-smart training. If you have to eat the fruit before you run and the run is truly aerobic (and it sounds like it is) then something is blocking your ability to use fat for energy. Yes you’ll use those sugars you eat right before you run, but that’s not the purpose here – you’re not teaching your body to burn fat.

      My hunch is that you’re not eating right (what’s right for you) the day before – maybe the prior day lunch and dinner. If you’re consuming a lot of fat & protein at those meals then you should be able to wake up and run well over an hour at that HR with no problems. So I got a feeling it’s your diet and not the HR. What do you think?

  5. Hi Dr.Sock. I’m new to your web site , I have a question I do wear orthotics my right foot really pronates in it even looks funny.If I start going barefoot a little at a time like you recommend and start getting healthier ,will the pronation get corrected. Are there pressure points to use also? Thank you for your time.I am a 66 yer old women.take no medication except synthroid .

    Cheryl

  6. Jane Hennessy says:

    I have very flat feet, and at age 66 my left ankle which is severely pronated began to cause extreme pain to where I could hardly bear to walk. My right ankle is pronated also but not to the same degree. My ankle was stabilized with a boot and gradually the tendon healed. Then I was fitted with orthodics. My ankle pain has gone away but now I am having right hip pain. I was very careful about not overdoing it but it has been six months and I am starting to wonder if I have exchanged one problem for another. In reading your column, do you recommend that I not wear my orthodics and only support the ankle when it becomes strained? I cannot even wear regular orthodic shoes, they have to be boot like as I seem to have less pain then. I am confused about how to proceed before my right hip becomes worse.

  7. Chris Young says:

    I’ve been learning from your advice and slowly making changes over the last year. The orthotics are gone, I no longer stretch and I have been injury free for over 6 months. The last piece of the puzzle was the switch to a paleo diet about 3 months ago.

    So first of all thank you – between you and the “Latest in Paleo” podcast I am now healthier, fitter & happier than ever and will probably live longer because of it!

    All in all I feel better than ever and my abs have even made an appearance for the first time in my life.

    The only question I have is that I get quite sore calves after a hard session (usual a hard brick session or a race) that can take up to a week to subside. Is there anything I can do to alleviate this or am I just pushing too hard too soon in the season?

    • This is great to hear. Thanks for sharing!

      You can get sore calves if you’re training above your capacity. If that’s not it then think about footwear. And if not that then I’d look to something still causing some stress in your life.

  8. Just a thought, I’ve been struggling with what I believe is an IT band issue early thus season so far (snow has just melted in MN). During the off-season I did very little lower body workouts (just basic non-weighted squats) but did a lot of upper body (push ups, pull ups, dips). Wondering if an imbalance might exist between my upper and lower body that could explain my IT band pain? Now that I’ve had some TIME (hours not miles) “running” (143 BPM=3.7 MPH) over the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed that the pain has reduced dramatically. Also, I’ve lost 80-lbs in the last year. Thoughts?
    LOVE YOUR STUFF! THANKS!

  9. I’ve been slowly going minimal and barefoot. I started August of 2012 . I haven’t started back running yet. My feet get really sore when I sit for a minute or after I wake up. I just don’t know what else to do. Thanks,

  10. I’ve seen a podiatrist for plantar fasciitis and been in an orthotic for over 10 years and after about 12 months of flare up, with PT, the evil night brace, steroids, it finally calmed down. I’ve faithfully worn my custom fit and very expensive orthotic nearly ALL the time, and in fact wear an arch supported sandal when inside rather than barefoot. After 10 years of near ease it’s flarred back up again and is raging painful, with my ankle even sore and weak and my shin screaming. I’ve switched health plans and now waiting for an appt with a new doc, and in the meantime doing some web search found your site. Your info is so contrary to everything: don’t go barefoot/go barefoot; ice/don’t ice; stretch the calf muscle therefore stretching the plantar fascia/don’t stretch it. One side of me is willing to try something different while waiting for an appointment and the other is….well, the orthotics worked for 10 years after the initial PF was under control. I’m not an athlete…I hate to run….but have started going regularly to a gym and working with a trainer. My aerobic work is walking on treadmill or eliptical machines. None of the aerobic or training is high impact/stress. I’m semi-retired….lower stress. I eat low fat and healthy. I’m trying to figure out what changed to cause the flare up and why it worked for so long. In the meantime….I’m going to give some of your methods a try.
    Karen

  11. I slowly transitioned into minimal footwear–Vibrams Bikala then Vibram El-X. I love the barefoot style of running. I am now almost a year in my Vibrams (of which the last 4 months have been in my El-X). I just completed my first marathon.
    I didn’t transition to barefoot style of running because of injuries. Pre-minimalist running, runners knee was the worst thing that used to pop up but I discovered cross-training (namely biking) solved this issue. If something isn’t broke I usually don’t try to change it but minimalist running sounded better overall for my body to live in a healthy way. Over the last 4 months I have adapted Maffetones method and changed my diet as well. Overall I have not felt better.

    That is the backdrop to my question. Back in May I went on about a 2 month test in which I didn’t do any cross-training (biking) to see how my knees would hold out. I had no issues. About a month after the end of that test period, about 2 months ago, after I had a month of marathon training behind me and I had already worked up to alternating 20 and 15 milers every other weekend, I started to develop knee pain that was most tender walking down the stairs. At first it lasted only 24 hours then, after three weeks, it would only ease down to just noticeable throughout most of the week, never really going away. I didn’t feel any pain when running, though. Despite my biking (1 hour 2x per week) and doing easy quad strengthening exercises, it would come back and make me limp down the stairs after every long run. Then when I began tapering down it eased up and went away. I expected it to come back after the marathon but it didn’t (only my quads and calves were sore). Now as I have been easing back into running, an easy aerobic 5 mile run caused my knee to ache a little. This ache doesn’t make me limp down the stairs but is exactly how the pain felt after several days from a long run before my marathon taper.
    I’ve worked hard to implement the barefoot style of running and am nervous now that I’m having knee issues despite biking (again, this wasn’t ever an issue when I mixed biking with my regular running before I transitioned to minimalist running.)
    My marathon was on Sep 2, 2013. My legs were not soar or tender by Sep 6th so I did a 26 mile bike ride keeping my heart rate at or below 145 on Sep 7th. I did an hour treadmill uphill work out staying at a heart rate of 145 bpm on Sep 9th, I did the row machine for 30 minutes on Sep 10th and a 5 mile (the route was a little hilly) at 145bpm on Sep 11th.

    What suggestions can you make that may help me avoid the knee pain issue coming back full force?
    Thank you for your time.
    Chad

  12. I am a nurse working nights. I would love to get the benefit of the 45 minute workout fasting but now sure how that would work with my schedule. I basically eat dinner, go to work, have coffee, eat breakfast @ 0700 and sleep until approximately 3pm. I don’t workout immediately after work because I am worried that I could overstress my adrenals. Any advice, tips with my schedule? Thanks!

    • I see nurses with a similar schedule. It’s a tough job/situation you’re in. The best thing I’ve had them do for the (adrenal) stress is to eat more protein. Don’t go through your 12-hour shift with little to no food or only coffee. A good 25-35g of protein (whey smoothie) can help a lot.

  13. angie cormier says:

    what are your thoughts on the Graston technique? for achilles tendonitis. I`ve had it for over 4 months with no improvement.

  14. Hi new to your website find it interesting with lots of valuable information thank you but I do have a question recently I was prescribed orthotics I was told I have metatarsagia in both feet (excuse me if the spelling is off) but ever time I had to wear them my ankles , knees and hip lower back just ached.
    also was told that I have an athritic big toe bunion on foot and the wearing of the orthotics would stop the these same problems on my other foot. I do have RA.

  15. If the body is using glucose for fuel instead of burning fat, how do you suggest making the body burn fat for fuel?

  16. Dear Sock Doc,

    Thank you for your last Weekly Tip about the high levels of estrogen. I suspect it might be my case, so my question is: what can be done to lower the levels of estrogen?

    Thanks again!

    • That’s a bit complicated but if you search “estrogen” on the site you can find some info regarding this under some other posts and also do the same at my other site – drgangemi.com. Thanks! :)

  17. What´s better for a marathon trainning: 3x of 60 minutes or 5x of 45minutes plus a long trainning on the weekend?

  18. Just discovered your website and am reading with interest about balance and trigger points. Wanted to know if you’re familiar with the Alexander Method and if so, what are your thoughts?

  19. Sheryl McCool says:

    My feet are very small and have super high arches, I have to wear arch support, or I can barely move. When barefoot the achilles tendon hurts, so I have to wear a shoe with a lifted heel, on right foot, due to right leg is slightly shorter than left leg. I use a Spenco insole with Dr. Scholls gel hidden arches and through exercise like towel scrunches, foam rolling calves, rolling arch with tennis ball, I have gotten rid of plantars fasciitis pain, and achilles tendon pain. When I go barefoot its way too painful. With a high arch, I just don’t believe its the same as someone with a slight arch or no arch. But I have experienced the twitching of eyes, and dizziness. Recently took a hormone assessment saliva test. It revealed low adrenal function, low cortisol and hormones. Was given a cocktail of bioidentical hormones, but they are so expensive I can’t even afford to fix this problem. It does make me feel tired and sick at times. Just wanted to share.

Speak Your Mind

*