Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Steps to prevent muscle cramps

“About a quarter-mile from the finish, I started to sprint. I could feel muscle twitches in my quads, and my quads were burning. I had to slow down as I felt the cramp coming on. Then wham! Like a sledgehammer to my leg, the cramp hit and I had to stop and rub it out. What could I have done to prevent that muscle cramp?”

This is a common question among athletes. Muscle cramps are involuntary, intensely painful muscle contractions that nearly every athlete has experienced at some point. Some people experience them often and simply seem to be prone to muscle cramps.

What Can You Do?

Cramps usually hit at the end of intense workouts or during endurance events because fatigued muscles are more likely to cramp. Novice athletes are more likely to have cramps as they fatigue more quickly than seasoned exercisers. If you carefully progress your workouts, you will avoid unnecessary cramps. Heat, and not being used to the heat, increases the frequency of cramps. When the season changes and summer arrives, ease into workouts in the heat.

Additionally, carefully plan your fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrate intake to help avoid or delay muscle cramps.

Are You Drinking Enough?

Studies on fluids and cramps have produced mixed results. Some studies find no associations, while other show that consuming fluids and electrolytes to avoid dehydration will prevent, or at least delay, muscle cramps. The benefits of avoiding dehydration are widespread, so even if it’s not 100 percent guaranteed that you won’t cramp, consuming adequate fluids during exercise will still improve performance.

How would dehydration cause muscle cramps? Fluids in the body are either inside the cell or outside of the cell. When we become dehydrated, the fluid outside of the cells decreases. Reductions in fluids cause nerve endings to be squished together, overexcited, and spontaneously discharge. That spontaneous discharge is a muscle twitch, which can lead to a muscle cramp. By maintaining proper hydration, you can prevent dramatic shifts in fluids that contribute to abnormal muscle contractions.

To prevent dehydration, start by drinking fluids according to your thirst. Weigh yourself before and immediately after exercise, preferably au natural. Any change in your weight is a change in fluid balance. Weight loss greater than 2 to 3 percent of your body weight increases your risk for muscle cramps. If drinking based on thirst prevents fluctuations in your weight during exercise, then you can rely on thirst to be your hydration guide. Otherwise, you need a hydration schedule to meet your fluid needs.

The Need for Salt

Fluids aren’t alone in the task of maintaining your body’s fluid balance. Electrolytes control the shift of fluids in and out of cells. The electrolyte of most concern during exercise is sodium. Found as sodium chloride in table salt. We lose more sodium in sweat than the other electrolytes. Both water and sodium are lost in sweat. Replacement of water without sodium can lead to dangerously low blood sodium levels, called hyponatremia. Hyponatremia will also occur if you are sweating a lot and simply losing a lot of sodium in sweat. This is most likely to occur during endurance exercise or with repeated sweating throughout the day. Muscle cramps may occur when the concentration of sodium in the blood decreases; cramps can progress to a serious medical emergency when hyponatremia is not treated.

To prevent hyponatremia and the muscle cramps it may cause, sodium should be consumed with fluids. This is particularly useful for cramp-prone individuals. High sodium sports drinks can delay muscle cramps in those who cramp often. Sodium may be consumed from salty foods (such as pretzels) or through sports products.

Don't Be Afraid of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrate depletion will also lead to muscle cramps. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel used during exercise. There is a finite amount of carbohydrate stored as glycogen in our muscles to provide the energy to exercise. Once that store of glycogen has been exhausted, we are at high risk for muscle cramps. The muscle requires carbohydrate (or energy) to contract; it also needs energy to relax. When there isn’t adequate fuel circulating yet we continue to exercise and contract our muscles, muscle relaxation is impaired, and the cramp occurs.

It takes about 60 to 90 minutes of exercise to deplete glycogen stores. Therefore, it is appropriate to consume carbohydrate during any activity that will last longer than 60 to 90 minutes. Even very intense exercise lasting only 45 minutes may deplete glycogen stores. Be sure to eat a carbohydrate-rich meal or snack prior to endurance or intense exercise. Plus, you will need to consume carbohydrates through food or sports products during longer duration exercise. Consuming carbohydrates appropriately is well-worth it to prevent a muscle cramp.

Follow these five steps to prevent muscle cramps:

1.Train appropriately.
2.Acclimate yourself to the environment.
3.Consume the right amount of fluids for your body to prevent dehydration.
4.Choose salty foods or sodium rich sports products before, during and after exercise.
5.Prevent carbohydrate depletion by consuming carbohydrates before your workout and during your workout if it is longer than 60-90 minutes.

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mount Ophir @ Mount Ledang

15 of July 2012, I planning to climb Mount Ophir together with Meor and other members. I still recuperating from recent URTI.i stopped my exercise last week because of these. Homely by next week it will better. Training wise , I don't know . Maybe yes or not. After these small expedition, we will try to make it bigger for the rest of members. Got message from my old friend asking whether I interested going to Kilimanjaro. Somewhere in feb or march 2013. Will think about it in term of cost and duration. Will think..................

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hillary ten steps

Hillary’s 10 Steps to the Summit of the World
1. Nothing ventured; nothing gained
2. Challenge = uncertainty = excitement
3. Fear makes you focus
4. Passion gives you confidence
5. Fun makes for a great team
6. Make sure you have more than one thing to live for
7. Resist the “flock factor”
8. “You are all you have”
9. Great challenges result in powerful experiences
10. A View from the new horizons

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Checklist for organizing and leading a climb

Before the climb
1) Research the route
- review guidebook and maps
- talk with others who have done the route
- determine the technical level and any special problems of the route
- check weather forecast and/or avalanche condition
- determine whether wilderness permits or reservation are required, and obtain these if necessary.

2) Form the party
- estimate the level of climbing skill and physical condition required
- determine party size

3) Determine equipment needs an make arrangements for sharing as needed
- personal equipment
- shared equipment

4) Research the approach
- driving route : check to be sure backcountry roads are open.
- hiking route : check trail condition
- not to forget air or sea approach

5) Develop a trip itinerary
- estimate miles/ hours of traveling ( road, sea, air)
- estimate miles/hours of hiking to high camp, summit and back to car
- leave trip itinerary with a responsible person.

On the day
-Make a final check
-Register with park or forest agencies if required

At the trailhead
Check equipment and discuss plan
- Personal equipment : make sure everyone has enough food, clothing, and essential equipment. Inadequately equipped climbers should not continue
- Shared equipment : make an inventory of tents, stoves,ropes and hardware
- Redistribute group equipment , if necessary to equalize loads
- Discuss the plan: route, campsite, time schedule, expected hazards

On the approach
-Keep the team members together. Agree to regroup at specified times or places- especially at trail junction.
-Decide on formation of rope team

On the climb
-Establish a turnaround time. Continuously evaluate , and adjust the turnaround time based on actual conditions encountered, if appropriate.
-Keep rope team close enough to be in communication with each others.

On the way out
-Assign a trail sweep
-Regroup periodically
-Be sure that no one leaves the trailhead until everyone is out an all cars have been started.

Quote from Mountaineering the freedom of hill

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Monday, January 16, 2012

7 Best Foods for Sustaining Energy on the Trail

When you’re out hiking or skiing or climbing, it’s important to make sure you’ve got enough fuel in your tank to get you there and back. But when you’re out on the trail for a few hours and don’t have much room in your pack, your usual double cheeseburger, slice of pizza, or cup of yogurt isn’t going to make it. You need foods that can not only boost and sustain your energy during exercise, but are also portable enough to make the trip.

So to find out what foods would fit the bill, I spoke to two experts on the subject: Joy Dubost, PhD, a registered dietitian, certified specialist in sports dietetics, and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (soon to become the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), and Donna-Lee Smith, a registered dietitian and former fitness competitor who specializes in nutrition and cardiac health at Hamilton General Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario.

The key thing to keep in mind, they told me, is not just nutrition, but you also have to make sure any foods you bring are “shelf stable.” The danger zone for bacteria is 40 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. That means it’s important to choose foods that can be in that temperature range without causing illness from bacteria. Most foods that require refrigeration can be at room temp for about 2 hours before hitting that zone and spoiling. If the outside temp is above 90 degrees? Then that time is reduced to 1 hour. If you’re only going out for an hour or so, you can bring anything and be OK. Longer? You’re going to have to pack wisely.

So here are their picks for the 7 Best Foods for Sustaining Energy on the Trail, along with some additional tips to make sure you’re maintaining proper nutritional balance, so you don’t run out of gas before you make it back home:

1. Nuts
According to Dubost, “Nuts are a powerhouse of nutrition. They’re an excellent source of protein and also pack some carbs.” And you don’t have to stick with peanuts (which are actually a legume and not a nut). Cashews, hazelnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, all provide essential nutrients like potassium, an electrolyte that you lose when you sweat. They also have B Vitamins that support energy by helping your body change the food you’re eating into energy.

On an ounce basis, most nuts are under 200 calories, with almonds carrying the lowest, and macadamia the highest.

2. Trail Mix
Maybe you want to add a little more power to your peanuts. Dubost suggests adding dried fruit, like raisins which are a good source of iron, helping to provide much-needed oxygen to your blood cells, making you feel energized. But she warns to read your dried fruit labels, and choose one without a lot of sugar. Smith also advises you drink more water if you’re eating a lot of dried fruit to help absorption.

If you want more than just GORP (good ol’ raisins and peanuts), you can also add seeds, like pumpkin or sunflower. They are good sources of important healthy fats, poly- and mono- unsaturated fats, that can be protective of the heart and help reduce low-grade inflammation in the body which can lead to certain diseases like cardiovascular disease. And all of these ingredients will provide you with antioxidants. If you like a little sweetness in the mix, Dubost says you can add in bits of a good quality dark chocolate (it’s got antioxidant powers too), but keep in mind it may melt depending on temps you’ll encounter.

3. Dry Cereal
Dubost says, “Some cereals make good snacks, because they are easy to grab and go, fit in ziplock bags, and contain whole grains.” And those whole grains are important for your diet, supplying carbs for sustained energy. Make sure to look on the label for the word “whole” like “whole wheat” and amount of whole grains it contains. Or better yet, look for the Whole Grains Council seal. Bonus: Many cereals also contain essential vitamins and minerals like B Vitamins and iron.

4. Granola Bars / Cereal Bars
Like your cereal in bar form, rather than digging in out of a plastic bag? Grab a cereal bar, granola bar or whole grain oatmeal square. They’ll deliver the nutrition more conveniently. Look for ones with fruits, nuts and whole grains. “Just make sure to watch the sugar content,” says Dubost. They can be high in some of these snacks.

5. Peanut Butter or Other Nut Butters
This can be spread on whole grain crackers or bread. And 5-6 whole grain crackers would give you a day’s serving of whole grains. So you’re not only gettng same benefit as you do from the nuts, but also the added benefit of the whole grains. Many stores now sell nut butters in convenient packets as well, making them even easier to pack.

6. Portable Fruit
Portable means it’s easy to grab and go, and is ready to eat no matter where you are. Fruits like bananas, apples, oranges, and pears. While these are not a good source of protein, they do provide essential nutrients, fiber, and antioxidents. For example, citrus fruits and apples and pears have Vitamin C, and bananas have potassium and fiber.

And while fruits have carbs, these carbs won’t give you sustained energy. Your body reacts differently to different carbs, and these are fructose, which give you quick energy, but not sustained. “So if you’re going for a pretty lengthy hike,” says Dubost, “you can have fruit within the first hour, then go for the cereal or trail mix into the second hour for more sustained energy.”

7. Beef Jerky
My personal favorite, beef jerky was on Smith’s list of favorites too, (along with canned tuna and crackers). High in protein, low in fat, and very shelf stable for long term packing, like for a weekend of camping, Dubost warns some jerky can be high in sodium. And while that can be bad for the average person, an athlete, or someone working up a good sweat during a several-hour hike or a day of skiing, needs sodium because we lose it when we sweat.

And Never Forget Your Fluids
While not considered a “food,” many people seem to forget to pack enough fluid to keep hydrated. And being hydrated is essential, especially on long hikes or during prolonged outdoor exercise. Dehydration can make you feel tired and lethargic, two things you don’t want to be out on the trails.

If you’re going to be out an hour or so, only water is required. But of you’re going to be out longer, or working up a sweat, or will be in high temps, think sports drink. These will replenish the electrolytes you’ll be losing. Smith advises you read the sports drink labels before choosing one. “Look for a 4%-8% carb load,” she told me. “Anything higher may cause gastrointestinal distress, especially if you are a first-timer or have stomach issues.”

Dubost recommends drinking not only during exercise, but before as well. To keep your body “primed.” Because you need to be drinking before you get thirsty. Thirst is a sign you are already getting dehydrated, and anything more than a 1% fluid loss is considered dehydration.

The ADA and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommend 6-12 oz of fluid every 20 mins, depending on your tolerance and how much you’re sweating.

Additional Advice and Tips
Going for an Hour? Prepare for Two
“Always prepare and pack food for longer than you think you’ll be out,” advises Smith, “just in case something should happen.”

Balance is Key
Both Smith and Dubost say it’s important to make sure whatever foods you bring provide you with a good balance of protein, carbs and good fats.

What You Eat Before is Just as Important
Smith says you should eat an easily digestible meal at least one hour before going out. “This should include a complex carbohydrate and an easily digestible protein and fat,” she says, “like peanut butter, or any other nut butter, on a bagel and hearty cereal or oatmeal with milk.”

Now Isn’t the Time to Calorie Count
“For events that include more than one hour of intense exercise,” says Smith, “your aim should be to try to eat 100-150 calories per hour to maintain proper glycemic and calorie balance.

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