Rob Wood

Rob's Sports, Fitness & Science Blog

Entries Tagged as 'Sports Medicine'

Just Exercise – With or Without a Mask

February 10th, 2021 · Comments Off on Just Exercise – With or Without a Mask · Fitness, Sports Medicine

It is not easy to exercise while wearing a mask. While the science behind the benefits of wearing a mask for limiting the spread of coronavirus is clear, the act of wearing one has become politicised in some parts of the world. Whatever fence you sit on, to wear a mask or not, I want to encourage you all to keep on exercising.

The benefits of exercise are hopefully very clear and widely accepted. Here are just some of the reasons to exercise. It is good for managing your weight, strengthening muscles and bones, improving heart health, reducing the risk of many diseases, improving quality of sleep, improving mood, and it gets you out of the house. Do you need any more reasons?

Some people have stopped or significantly reduced the amount of exercise they are doing. Some of the restrictions in place make it hard to exercise, with gyms closed, community sports cancelled and curfews in place. However, it is important that people continue to exercise. There are enough people with coronavirus-related health issues in the community, we don’t need to add the effects of lack of exercise. Also, if by chance you catch COVID-19, being fitter and healthier with help your immune system fight the virus.

running-with-masks

So make sure you exercise, and wear a mask if you are asked to by the authorities, and are able to. In some places, it is recommended to wear a mask whenever you are outdoors. Some regulations state that you have to wear them while exercising, while others allow that exception. If you are not wearing a mask, at least practice good social distancing, this works too.

The potential problem of exercising with facemasks is that the face covering could decrease airflow, making it slightly harder to breathe and to get enough oxygen. Also, the mask could trap carbon dioxide and make you feel unwell.

However, a study by Shaw et al. 2020, is one of many which have found that wearing face masks has no effect on athletic performance. Any decrease in airflow and CO2 trapping, while possibly making it uncomfortable, is not going to slow you down.

Individuals may differ in their response, and anyone with asthma or breathing issues should be careful. It is important to take it easy, particularly at first, and take breaks when you need to. Any exercise is better than none at all.

Just make sure you still exercise.

Some References

  • Shaw K, Butcher S, Ko J, Zello GA, Chilibeck PD. Wearing of Cloth or Disposable Surgical Face Masks has no Effect on Vigorous Exercise Performance in Healthy Individuals. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(21):8110.
  • Chandrasekaran B, Fernandes S. “Exercise with facemask; Are we handling a devil’s sword?” – A physiological hypothesis. Med Hypotheses. 2020;144:110002.

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Review of the Dirtiest Race in History

March 25th, 2013 · No Comments · Olympic Games, Sports Medicine, Track & Field

Book: The Dirtiest Race in HistoryThe title of this book (The Dirtiest Race in History, By Richard Moore) refers to the 1988 Olympic Games 100 m sprint final (see a video of the race). This was perhaps the most thrilling sprint in Olympic history, but within 48 hours the gold medalist Ben Johnson had tested positive for anabolic steroids and the scandal and stories had begun. However, the full story did not begin with this race, but many years earlier.

The book follows the development of the two main combatants, Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson, from when they started sprinting; building a deep rivalry between them that fascinated the athletics world, culminating in the infamous race referred to in the title. The author Richard Moore was able to interview Johnson who gave some interesting insights into that period, but unfortunately Lewis was not available.

In the concluding pages of this book, we are given details of each of the competitors in this infamous race. It may be no surprise that ultimately most of them were tainted by drugs at some point in their career, possibly this is the message the book is trying to make. This may be the story about Ben and Carl, but it also defines the period in athletics history where drug use was widespread, and the fledgling anti-doping program had only started the game of catch-up.

More Info

  • The Dirtiest Race in History by Richard Moore.
  • Inside Track: My Professional Life in Amateur Track and Field, by Carl Lewis and Jeffrey Marx.
  • Speed Trap: The Inside Story of Ben Johnson and the Biggest Scandal in Olympic History, by Charlie Francis and Jeff Coplan.

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It’s Official, Lance Cheated

August 24th, 2012 · No Comments · Cycling, Sports Medicine, Tour de France

It is easy to take Lance Armstrong’s decision to not challenge his charges of doping by the USADA as an admission of guilt. Why would he not continue to fight to clear his name, it has significant ramifications. He has declined to enter arbitration, which was his last option – because he said he was “weary”. Maybe it is because he is guilty and he realizes he not able to defend himself against the evidence that has continued to mount. He is going to be known on the history books as a sports cheat. There is no doubt that he cheated death, winning the fight against cancer. Hopefully the great work he continues to do in fundraising for cancer research and awareness will not be overshadowed by his cheating on the road.

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Blade Runner Is Not the First Disabled Athlete at the Olympics

August 2nd, 2012 · No Comments · Olympic Games, Sports Medicine

There is a lot of hype surrounding the South African runner Oscar Pistorius (also known as the ‘Blade Runner’). Pistorius was born without fibulas and with deformities of his feet, and subsequently had both his legs amputated below the knee when he was only 11 months old. He competes with carbon fiber prosthetic legs, and is entered in the 400m and the 4 x 400 m relay races at the 2012 Olympics. This is a great story of achievement, though he has had to overcome a lot more than just his disability to reach the Olympics, having many bureaucratic hurdles to overcome too to get his place on the South African team. Even though he has been hailed by many as the first disabled athlete to compete at the Olympics, he is in fact part of a long history of disabled athletes to do so.

para runner
a disabled runner at the Paralympics

Some media have reported correctly that Pistorius is the first “double” amputee to compete at the Olympic Games. There has been other amputees missing portions of one leg who have competed at the Olympics, and some have even won gold medals. In 1904 American gymnast George Eyser won three gold medals for the vault, parallel bars and rope climbing. Eyser lost a leg when he was a kid in a train accident, and competed wearing a wooden leg. From 1928 to 1936, Hungarian Oliver Halassy won two golds and one silver in water polo. He achieved this despite missing his left leg that had been amputated below the knee following a childhood streetcar accident. Another amputee to compete at the Olympics is South African swimmer Natalie du Toit, who is missing her left leg. She came 16th in the open water 10km swim in 2008.

These are just some examples – there are many more disabled athletes who have participated at the Olympics, including other amputees, those that were blind, paraplegic or affected by polio. See more on Disabled Athletes at the Olympics, and also about the Paralympics.

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The Beep Test Can Kill

January 30th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Fitness, Rugby Union, Sports Medicine

The beep fitness test should not be taken lightly. It is a maximal test, which means the participants are required to go as hard as they can for as long as they can (though they do not always do this).

This was highlighted recently when 27-year-old Welsh man Adam Rumming died while performing the bleep test as part of an army fitness test at the Sandhurst Academy where elite British Army officers are trained.

He is believed to have had an undiagnosed heart problem, which is often the case for sudden death during exercise in seemingly healthy young people.

If you are ever in charge of conducting fitness testing, particularly exhausting tests, you should exclude anyone with a fever or other risky medical condition, or even better get them to complete a PAR-Q (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire).

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A New Drug

October 3rd, 2008 · Comments Off on A New Drug · Olympic Games, Sports Medicine

When any athlete beats their opposition by a large margin at the international level, there are always suspicions that an artificial aid has been used.

I have always thought that when something is too good to be true, it often is. At the Olympic Games, there were two athletes that dominated the opposition and surprised many: Bolt and Phelps. Why have the questions not been asked?

As in many of these cases, time will tell, and then people may be saying ‘why did we not see it? It was right in front of my eyes”.

Related Pages: Doping in Sports, Michael Phelps Profile,

Track race

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Lance Armstrong Returns from the Dead

October 2nd, 2008 · Comments Off on Lance Armstrong Returns from the Dead · Cycling, Sports Medicine, Tour de France

Like Jesus, Lance Armstrong is set to rise again. The champion seven time winner of the Tour de France, he made a comeback from testicular cancer. After he retired from cycling, he tried resurrecting his sporting career as a marathon runner. He completed a few races over the last few years, though not spectacularly. He has now set his comeback on the bike for the Australian Tour Down Under early next year. At 36 years of age, can we expect him to perform as he has shown he can in the past? This is a time that can catch out an athlete, with the pressure to perform in an aging body, he may be drawn back to the world of drug taking to prime his body for the exertions of professional cycling. Don’t slip up Lance, as all the accolades from your successful career can be permanently tainted from a positive doping test.

Related Pages: Tour de France, cycling, Lance Armstrong profile

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Marion Jones – Catch me if you can

October 7th, 2007 · Comments Off on Marion Jones – Catch me if you can · Olympic Games, Sports Medicine, Track & Field

Marion Jones has found out that no matter how fast you are, you cannot run away from the truth.

In hardly a surprise for many people, USA Sprinter Marion Jones admitted yesterday that she was a drug cheat. She had taken the designer steroid THG, which was also known as “the clear” by the BALCO laboratory.

She had vehemently denied any wrongdoing for a long time, under mounting evidence. I don’t know how she had remained clear for so long. Even the head of Balco, Victor Conte, who has repeatedly and publicly accused Jones of using drugs, was her personal “nutritionist” at the Sydney Olympics.

Now and rightly so her reputation is in tatters, and she is apparently broke. She will lose many of her records and the medals she won at the Sydney Olympic Games. I have no sympathy for her. It makes me angry that I have to give these athletes the benefit of the doubt, when all the anecdotal evidence and rumours paint a dirty picture, but unfortunately, the drug tests have failed to find any evidence, and they deny all the allegations.

sprint start race

It makes me think of the saying that “When something is too good to be true, it probably is”. When I watched her sprint away from the rest of the field in the 2000 Sydney Olympics 100 metre sprint, my first thought was that in such a competitive event that someone cannot be that much better than the next best sprinter in the world. And now it is shown that no one was, naturally.

Even the second placegetter in that race has subsequently been done for drugs, and who knows which other athletes in that field also had artificial enhancement. As I have said before, it is hard to enjoy watching some sports when my first thought is always whether the winner had taken drugs to get there. This applies at the least to cycling, track and field, and weight-lifting.

Related Pages: Doping in Sports, Track & Field, Marion Jones profile, 2000 Olympic Games

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Drug Tests for Golfers

August 10th, 2007 · Comments Off on Drug Tests for Golfers · Golf, Sports Medicine

Can golfers benefit from taking illicit drugs? One the surface many people would not believe that it could make much difference. Golf is a game of skill, and by the look of many golfers physical fitness is not a great factor. However, Tiger Woods, the best golfer at the moment and maybe the best ever, has led the way with his high level of fitness. Many young players may see that by artificially increasing their own fitness some of the riches of golf may be available to them.

There are a few areas in which some artificial enhancement could have an effect. Anabolic steroids can provide an advantage by increasing muscle strength. The stronger you are, the more acceleration you can generate in your swing and the further you can hit the ball. When you reach the putting green, another substance could be of assistance. Beta blockers can help the player relax or reduce tremors, and enable more control with your putting.

There has been talk of instigating drug testing for elite golfers. They should stop talking about it and do it now, as most major sports of the world already do. There does not need to be a major scandal for them to take action, which will only harm the sport. Putting a testing procedure in place will show the world that they are serious about the problem of drugs in sport, and show that all sports not immune to it.

Related Pages: golf, doping in sports, Tiger Woods profile

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Was Thorpe drug assisted?

March 30th, 2007 · 5 Comments · Sports Medicine, Swimming

Ian ThorpeAustralian swimmer Ian Thorpe is arguably one of the greatest swimmers the world has ever seen. In November last year, he announced his retirement from swimming after 10 years on the Australian team, citing that he has lost the desire. Today the news is that just prior to his announcement he may have tested positive for testosterone, and this has made people think that it may be related.

French newspaper L’Equipe has reported that he showed abnormally high readings for testosterone and luteinizing hormone in 2006, and international swimming body FINA has appealed for a fresh investigation into that test. This could be a big reality check for swimming fans who think that the sport is clean. Everyone is human, and even “squeaky clean” Ian Thorpe could possibly succumb to the pressures to perform. We are yet to hear all the details, but hopefully, such reports will keep both the drug testers and drug cheats on their toes and continue the cleaning up of drug use in sports.

Related Pages: Ian Thorpe, Swimming

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