This Luxurious Yarn Is Made From Bones, Ligaments and Tendons

It’s people!  They really should name the product “soylent wool” 😀

Wendelin Stark would like a new sweater. It’s cold in Zürich, where he lives, so he’d like a really warm one. Preferably one as cozy as cashmere.

Before long, Stark may be wearing one of his own invention, crafted with an ultra-soft wool-like yarn spun from all the stuff that’s left after an animal’s been slaughtered and processed. His team at the Functional Materials Laboratory at ETH Zürich, where he’s a professor, has spent four years creating such a fabric, and recently created a working prototype—of a mitten.

Source: Luxury Wool Made From … Leftover Animal Parts?

My preferred use for animal by-products is petroleum production.  There was news years ago about someone who’d pioneered a contraption to produce petroleum/oil from chicken carcasses, wanting to employ them near chicken farms.  I doubt it would be enough volume to fuel vehicles, but given the hurdles that the gelatin wool still has to address – petroleum production for textiles that already work would be a better use of resources to me.  We are more dependent on petroleum products than we’d like to admit.

The Genetics of Being Injury-Prone

Injury is a fact of life for most athletes, but some professionals—and some weekend warriors, for that matter—just seem more injury-prone than others. But what is it about their bodies that makes the bones, tendons, and ligaments so much more likely to tear or strain—bad luck, or just poor preparation?

A growing body of research suggests another answer: that genetic makeup may play an important role in injury risk.

…the largest market for sports-injury genetic testing may be the general public. A growing number of companies like 23andMe, Pathway Genomics, DNAFit, and Stanford Sports Genetics offer genetic tests that can tell the average consumer about his or her risk for sports injuries, including ACL ruptures, stress fractures, osteoarthritis, and spinal-disc degeneration.

Source: The Genetics of Being Injury-Prone

On some levels, it’s no different than testing your VO2 max.  But there’s also the potential that genetic testing can be used against, like medical/health insurance.

At the end of the day, should the knowledge that your ligaments and tendons are more susceptible to injury than others?  I think not.

Vitamin C helps the body produce and repair collagen.  Oranges are high in vitamin C, and low in vitamin K.  Grapefruit is not recommended for medications in general – the “grapefruit effect” is well known.

​”Heel Striking” When You Run May Not Be So Bad After All

The debate continues!  Heel striking isn’t a new thing, and doesn’t owe its existence to modern running shoes.

Even though 95 percent of runners instinctively strike the ground with their heels, there is a growing trend among running experts to have lifelong heel strikers convert to a more forward contact point. The switch to a mid and/or forefoot strike pattern is supposed to reduce impact loads and en­hance the storage and return of energy in our tendons (making us faster and more efficient, as demonstrated in the illustration above). The theory is that because we’ve had our feet protected by shoes for so long, we’ve recklessly started landing on our heels because we could no longer sense the dangerous impact forces associated with heel striking. By reverting to a more natural midfoot strike, we will avoid injury and run more efficiently.

Source: Is It Harmful To Heel Strike When Running?

Intuitively, it makes sense that a heel strike would act as a braking force more than a forefoot/midfoot strike would. But surprisingly, the opposite is actually true. Force platform data from natural heel strikers and natural FF/MF strikers consistently showed zero forward braking force on heel strike, but a large forward braking force on FF/MF strike.

Upon further analysis of joint motion, they discovered why: with a heel strike, the ankle is plantarflexing (toes coming down relative to the shin). This allows the ankle joint itself (and therefore the rest of the body) to continue moving forward relative to the ground as the foot comes down to the ground. With toe strike, the ankle is dorsiflexing (toes coming up towards the shin) upon strike. This causes the ankle joint to move backwards relative to the ground, producing a large momentary braking force and presumably a large bending moment through the tibia and fibula.

Try those two movements yourself and you can replicate Dr. Michaud’s findings. First, pull your toes all the way back and plant your heel on the ground. Now let your toes come down. Your leg will be a few centimeters further forward than when you started. This is because of the combined effect of the radius of the heel itself and the lever arm from your heel to your ankle. Now do the opposite. Point your toes down all the way, then place the ball/toes on the ground. Now let the heel come down. Your leg will now be a few centimeters back from its starting position. Cool, huh?

Now there is a situation where both heel strike and FF/MF strike will cause braking, and this is overstride. If you throw your leg too far out in front of you before touching down, any strike type will cause a jarring braking force (but FF/MF will always be more). This is a really common error among runners and can lead to all kinds of injuries.

If you’re considering switching, what advice will help depends on what is wrong and it could be any of a million things. I would suggest finding a coach or trainer who can figure out what the problem is and recommend a plan to fix it. Sometimes you can find running groups that offer coaching and group runs for all levels; try asking at your local running shop if they can point you to one.  And if it ain’t broke…

Sports Massage Doesn’t Flush Toxins, but May Help You Recover

There is good reason massage therapists are part of an elite runner’s entourage. And why the lines for a postrace massage seemingly extend for miles. A rubdown—even a deep, intense one—feels great. Runners report that massages help lessen muscle tension and improve range of motion, while also making them feel relaxed and rewarded for their hard efforts.

Yet despite massage’s popularity and positive reputation, there’s been little scientific evidence to support why athletes feel so good when they hop off the table. “It can be hard to merge basic science with alternative medicine,” says Justin Crane, Ph.D., a McMaster University researcher who conducted some of the first objective studies on massage in 2012. Practitioners say massage relieves muscle soreness, promotes circulation, flushes toxins and lactic acid from the body, and eases joint strain—claims supported by centuries of anecdotal evidence from China, Sweden, and around the globe. But science hadn’t confirmed just what massage actually achieves—until now. Recent research has sorted out what’s true and what’s not.

Source: The Pros and Cons of Massages for Runners

Massage do not flush lactic acid, or other “toxins” from your muscles. Lactic acid is produced during exercise, and though you might associate it with a burning feeling during hard work – it’s not a problem, isn’t responsible for next-day soreness, and doesn’t need help to be removed from the muscles.  Plenty of studies show that massage has no effect on blood flow to the muscles.

Massage does help to relax muscles, though, which can help to relieve tight muscles. The same action can break up adhesions, a type of scar tissue that sometimes forms in muscle.  Massage promotes recovery.