HEALTH & FITNESS

Runners: tips for preventing injuries
Dr Ravi K. Gupta
Running is an exercise that reduces the threat of some chronic diseases. Unfortunately, the benefits are offset by overuse injuries. This leads to 65 per cent of the runners seeking treatment. The medical treatment usually relieves the symptoms but does not always address the root cause.

How to fight depression in women
Dr R. Vatsyayan
H
AVING the potential of adversely affecting the physical and mental well-being of a patient, depression is a serious and complex disorder. About twice as many women as men suffer from it, and in many ways depression can impact the social and family life of a patient.

EYESIGHT
Good eyesight for everyone
Dr Mahipal Sachdev
Anyone who needs glasses to see clearly is hassled about the regular eye checkups. At certain times the facility of trained opticians or eye specialists is not available or the patient is not in a position to afford it!

Health Notes

  • Indian sorrel’s juice can keep your heart healthy

  • New heart disease drugs for fatal muscular disorder

  • Your ‘gut feeling’ may lead to best decisions

  • Black women with uterine cancer at greater death risk





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Runners: tips for preventing injuries
Dr Ravi K. Gupta

Running is an exercise that reduces the threat of some chronic diseases. Unfortunately, the benefits are offset by overuse injuries. This leads to 65 per cent of the runners seeking treatment. The medical treatment usually relieves the symptoms but does not always address the root cause. Some of the important risk factors causing overuse injuries and their prevention are:

1. Muscle strength and flexibility: Strong and flexible muscle acts as a shock absorber and prevents overuse injuries. Thus, training for the strength of muscles and stretching exercises to enhance the flexibility and aerobics should go on simultaneously.

2. Body weight: The forces during running thought to cause knee injuries in runners have been estimated to be 10 to 14 times of the body weight of the runner (BW) in the lower leg and four-seven times of the body weight in the knee. Thus, an increase in the body weight exponentially increases the risk of overuse injury.

3. Arches of the feet: A high arch of the feet (cavus feet) is associated with anterior knee pain and a low arch of the feet (Flat feet) are known to cause stress fractures. The arches should be normal. Weekly mileage: The distance should be gradually increased over a period of time. Sudden long distant sprint at regular intervals can result in overuse injury.

4. Running surface: Although grassy and sandy tracks are softer than the pavement, they can cause more sprains, strains and even tendonitis from running on uneven and inconsistent surfaces. The track should be smooth and reasonably firm. A firm track proves an elastic resistance to the striking feet and leads to better performance of the muscles. Whether running on a concrete surface results in more overuse injuries has not been scientifically proved. It is basically a wrong running technique and not the hardness of the surface that usually results in injuries.

5. Technique of running: Widely spread shin splints are related with running on a hard surface with an active landing on the ground. It means that the foot hits the ground with some downward velocity instead of zero one or even a negative vertical velocity of the landing foot. If we add to this some “commonly accepted” running elements such as landing on the heel, then we get a standard worst case scenario - landing ahead of the body (braking) with downward acceleration.

6. Previous overuse injury: The runners having suffered an injury in the past are prone to injury again. They should be more cautious.

7. Stride length: A sudden increase in stride length can also be a cause for overuse injuries. Thus, the runners should not attempt to suddenly increase the stride length.

8. Footwear: A wrong footwear is an important cause of overuse injuries. Footwear altering the normal geometry of the foot can result in overuse injuries in an otherwise normal runner.

Some tips to select shoes:

  • If you wear an orthotic, bring it along.
  • Know your foot type, and look for shoes that offer appropriate support. Athletes with very high arches have very stiff feet, and need shoes with additional cushioning. Individuals who have flat feet tend to have excessive lateral motion so that they benefit from a more rigid shoe that controls motion.
  • Look for shoes with cushioning for shock absorption, and make sure that they bend at the ball of the foot.
  • Shop in the afternoon when the feet are slightly swollen.
  • Wear your sport socks when trying on shoes.
  • Make sure that the heel is snug and does not slide.
  • You should have a thumb’s width between the longest toe and the tip of the toe box.
  • Always try on both shoes and lace them as you would for activity.
  • Walk (or jog) around the store.

The writer is Associate Professor and Sports Medicine Specialist, Department of Orthopaedics, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh

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How to fight depression in women
Dr R. Vatsyayan

HAVING the potential of adversely affecting the physical and mental well-being of a patient, depression is a serious and complex disorder. About twice as many women as men suffer from it, and in many ways depression can impact the social and family life of a patient. Though most of the causes of depression in women can be the same as found in men, certain biological causes like premenstrual problems, pregnancy or infertility, post-delivery conditions and the menopausal syndrome are found hanging around the females cutting across racial, ethnic and economic divides.

Women also go through the stress and strain of varied but ever demanding roles in life. Many times sexual and physical abuse and relationship upheavals compounded by real or imaginary sense of insecurity also produce depressive illness in women. Researchers have found that family history of mood disorders, nurturing negative feelings like hatred and jealousy, bereavements and use of certain medicines and hormones can additionally trigger depressive illness in susceptible females.

Most of the women at the onset of depression complain of low moods with loss of interest in activities they previously used to enjoy. Difficulty in concentrating, withdrawal from social life, daily routine and responsibilities, feeling less energetic and fatigued, change in the sleep pattern, body-aches, increased or diminished appetite and weight changes are some other important features of depression. Other symptoms like bouts of anger and irritability, feeling of guilt without any reason, sense of worthlessness, crying and complaining and suicidal thoughts are also found in women suffering from this disease.

Depressive women get the same type of treatment as men who suffer from it, but in their case the role of psychotherapy and other lifestyle modifying measures is more pronounced. Seeking help of her husband and some family member or friend and sharing with them the treatment and other modalities regarding her care often provides the patient the much-needed moral support.

Since hormone fluctuations related to the reproductive cycle have a significant effect on a woman’s moods, the treatment plan should be evolved after carefully studying the case history of a patient. Regular exercise is a known stress buster, and the patient should be convinced to adopt a proper workout plan. A suitable change in diet and restricting the intake of caffeine, alcohol and fatty foods is always helpful. Relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation are nowadays increasingly seen to be very effective remedies which not only allay anxiety and depression but also provide excellent physical fitness.

Patients suffering from depression usually have the tendency to stop the treatment once they notice slight improvement, which only worsens the disease. Early detection of depression and getting full and proper treatment was always better. Many times depression is just an attitude problem and ayurveda always advises to develop a positive and progressive way of thinking in life. It is generally seen that women having a forget-and-forgive approach sail through better in turbulent times.

The writer is a Ludhiana-based senior ayurvedic physician.
E mail- yourhealth@rediffmail.com

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EYESIGHT
Good eyesight for everyone
Dr Mahipal Sachdev

Anyone who needs glasses to see clearly is hassled about the regular eye checkups. At certain times the facility of trained opticians or eye specialists is not available or the patient is not in a position to afford it!

A British inventor says he’s developed a pair of wearer-adjustable glasses that he hopes will be a boon to the world’s poor, The Daily Telegraph reported. The idea came to him in the 1980s, when he was talking with a colleague about optic lenses and the development took two decades.

In the developed countries, almost 60-70 per cent people wear glasses to see clearly. While in many developing countries, only about 5-10 per cent have glasses because many people have little or no access to eye professionals. Even if they could visit an eye doctor, they practically cannot afford the cost of glasses. This means that many schoolchildren cannot see the blackboard and others can’t do certain jobs because of poor vision.

Joshua Silver, a retired Oxford University physics professor, said his adaptive glasses allow the wearer to tune them without the need for a prescription or a visit to the doctor.

Silver’s specs are adjusted by injecting or removing tiny amounts of fluid from sacs in the centre of the lens. The glasses are equipped with small syringes attached to each earpiece and have a dial for the wearer to adjust. Once adjusted, the syringes are removed and the glasses can be worn, Silver said. Current model is crude with thick frames with round lenses.

The glasses are in a trial project supported by the British Department for International Development, and thousands of pairs have been distributed to Third World countries. The invention would help people in poorer parts of the world — where very few eye doctors are available — get glasses for the first time, the newspaper said.

Silver said he was preparing to distribute 1 million pairs of the spectacles in India in a year. His goal was to reach 100 million people annually, with helping 1 billion by 2020.

It works on the principle that more the liquid pumped into the thin sac in the plastic lenses, the stronger the correction. He has distributed about 30,000 spectacles. The United States Department of Defense brought 20,000 pairs to give away to poor people in Africa and Eastern Europe. The World Bank and the British government have also helped fund his work.

These glasses correct nearsightedness and farsightedness but not the astigmatism. Silver stated that they did not replace the need for the people to go to an eye professional who can diagnose health problems such as glaucoma, diabetic eye problems and macular degeneration. Meanwhile, he will continue to help people see.

“It’s about education, economics and quality of life”, Silver said, as reported by The Sunday Express. These glasses will definitely be a boon to the poor people, as it will change the quality of life for them. It will open up the option of learning to children who were unable to see clearly, different job options to the people who had restricted job opportunities because they could not afford the glasses to see clearly.

The writer is Chairman and Medical Director, Centre for Sight, New Delhi. Email: drmahipal@gmail.com

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Health Notes

Indian sorrel’s juice can keep your heart healthy

London: A drink based on a flower called Indian sorrel can prevent high blood pressure and maintain a healthy heart, according to a new study.

Also known as Florida cranberry, the hibiscus sabdariffa flower drink contains powerful antioxidants that can help mop up chemicals in the body known as free radicals, which are linked to cancer and heart disease.

The American Heart Association conducted the study and found that just two cups a day of hibiscus juice provides the best natural remedy yet for high blood pressure sufferers.

“Hibiscus is now the most promising herb for treating blood pressure,” Daily Express quoted Dr Andrew Weil, an alternative medicine expert, as saying. — ANI

New heart disease drugs for fatal muscular disorder

London: Researchers at Columbia University Medical Centre say that a new class of experimental drugs for heart failure may be effective against fatal muscular disorder.

During a study, the research team identified a “leak” that weakens skeletal muscle in Duchenne, a disorder that affects boys usually before the age of 6, destroying their muscle cells and cardiac muscle in heart failure.

This leak allows the calcium to slowly seep into the skeletal muscle cells and excess calcium ultimately cause damage.

Similarly in heart failure patients, the calcium leak weakens the force produced by the heart, and turns on a protein-digesting enzyme that damages its muscle fibres. — ANI

Your ‘gut feeling’ may lead to best decisions

Washington: It’s time that people gave due importance to the words “I have a gut feeling”, for a brain-reading study from Northwestern University suggests that intuitions may actually help solve all sorts of problems one faces in everyday life.

Researchers behind the study say that it offers precise electrophysiological evidence that such decisions may sometimes not be guesswork after all.

They have revealed that guesses made by the participants during the study turned out to be as accurate or more accurate than when they thought they consciously remembered.

“We may actually know more than we think we know in everyday situations, too,” Nature magazine quoted Ken Paller, professor of psychology at Northwestern, as saying. — ANI

Black women with uterine cancer at greater death risk

Washington: A new study suggests that the risk of mortality among black women with uterine cancer may be higher than that in their white counterparts.

The researchers found that black women were 60 per cent more likely to die from their tumours than white women, and relatively little progress has been made over the past two decades to narrow this racial difference.

During the study, the team led by Dr Jason Wright, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, analysed the clinical data of 80,915 patients.

Seven per cent of the patients were black, who were documented to have uterine cancer between 1988 and 2004. — ANI

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