observations on gear, adventure, and the world

Outside Magazine’s 10 Fitness Myth’s… ReBUNKED

There’s a lot of “conventional wisdom” that sucks in the world, but more than that everyone loves to see a myth get busted. Outside, the more mainstreamy of the outdoor magazines, is no exception. Their 10 Fitness Myths all raise important issues, but don’t really help your everyday self-coached athlete gain anything really usefull. So here they are, the myths and the truths as Outside sees them:

Myth #1: Stretching prevents injuries and improves performance.
-Truth: It could ruin your 10K time
Myth #2: Running barefoot is better for the body.
-Truth: It all depends on body type and discipline
Myth #3: You need to focus on your core to become a better athlete.
-Truth: Core strength is probably overrated, and you risk injury by focusing too specifically on it
Myth #4: Guzzling water and electrolytes before a race prevents cramps.
-Truth: Water and electrolytes have little to do with muscles seizing up
Myth #5: Popping ibuprofen before a hard workout prevents sore muscles afterward.
-Truth: It does more harm than good
Myth #6: Dehydration hurts race performance.
-Truth: Overhydrating is more likely to sabotage your personal record.
Myth #7: Ice baths speed recovery.
-Truth: They’re not worth the chill
Myth #8: Long and slow is the best way to burn calories.
-Truth: You need to pump up the intensity
Myth #9: Fructose is a performance killer.
-Truth: Fructose can be a performance superfuel
Myth #10: Supplements take performance to the next level.
-Truth: There’s no such thing as a magic pill. (At least a legal one.)

Up for Debate: Massage boosts recovery after a tough workout.
Up for Debate: Surgery is the best remedy for an ACL tear.
Up for Debate: Cortisone shots speed healing after an injury.

I see the value in a list like this one. It’s pithy, and the adventure middle class doesn’t have time or money for a coach or a degree in exercise science. I’m all for resources like this that abound in this adventure for the masses genre of magazine. And before any criticism the article spends much more than a blurb on each myth – 500 words and some sciency citation back up each. Problem is most of the myths, truths, and sciency discussion are a confusing and moderately misleading mess of misunderstanding. So, props but I’m gonna have to do some major red penning for this to help anyone.

First off, they didn’t get them all wrong! I totally agree with #9 (check out carborocket my favorite not-normal-food-fuel) and #10 (Supplements are so unregulated and generally scetchy that Taylor Phinney won’t touch them, and in a brilliant oversight they don’t mention that DHEA is the reason Tyler Hamilton has a lifetime… or maybe 8 year ban for doping).

Also their “Up For Debate” sections vary from spot on (Up for Debate: Cortisone shots speed healing after an injury) to “well…you-might-be-missing-the-point” (Up for Debate: Massage boosts recovery after a tough workout), to “I’ll-get-a-second-opinion-but-this-happened-to-my-friend-but-have-some-smart-alecky-things-to-say” (Up for Debate: Surgery is the best remedy for an ACL tear.)

I’ve sketched out some notes on this and I’ll be posting them over the coming week as work and training allow – but it’s a topic I’m pretty stoked to talk about. Also lets make this clear that I’m really not attacking Outside for doing a bad job, I’m just trying to do it better, so as I go through these posts I’ll work to replace their pith with some of my own that you can actually apply to your training.


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