The January issue of Outside Magazine has a list of the ” 10 Biggest Fitness Myths”. I don’t know how they go about calculating the “biggest”, but seeing as how popular magazines frequently get these messages so wrong, or the advice in their lists is just plan silly. I think Outside did a good job with most of these, so I am going to address a few of them here:
Myth #1: Stretching prevents injuries and improves performance.
This is absolutely true. The evidence has been piling up for over 10 years. No matter what your gym teacher or personal trainer says, stretching does not prevent injuries. It is a well established fact that stretching BEFORE exercise inhibits maximal voluntary contraction ( strength and power), and there is a growing body of evidence that it may inhibit maximal aerobic work as well. I am not saying here that a warm up does not have its place, or that stretching is not useful in some circumstances. But stretching does not prevent injury, and pre- event stretching can definitely hurt performance.
Myth #2: Running barefoot is better for the body.
I am a cycling coach so this isn’t really my area of expertise, and I usually only run if someone is chasing me.
Myth #3: You need to focus on your core to become a better athlete.
I couldn’t agree more. I am just plain tired of hearing about how important the core is. A few years ago, there was a guy buying adverts on Velonews suggesting that the best way to improve your climbing was to improve your core strength, and I saw recent blog post from a coach that suggested that core muscles are more important than your leg muscles. All of your muscles are important! But you don’t pedal with your abdominals or your obliques. Otherwise all those women that spend hours in pilates classes would be crushing it on the bike. You pedal with the muscles in your legs and your butt. Period. I am not saying that doing a little core work is useless. These workouts have their place. But the importance of a strong core in cycling and many other sports has been grossly overstated. You can only train so many hours a week, and you get faster on your bike by riding your bike, not by doing crunches.
Myth #4: Guzzling water and electrolytes before a race prevents cramps.
Also true. You need to be properly hydrated and you need to take in electrolytes for many reasons, but hyperhydration and taking in large amounts electrolytes isn’t going to stop your cramps. Find a cure for cramps that really works and I promise you you’ll be famous though.
Myth #5: Popping ibuprofen before a hard workout prevents sore muscles afterward.
So many people do this, and it is absolutely the wrong thing to do. Not only do ibuprofen and others NSAIDS fail to reduce post exercise muscle soreness Inflammation an important part of the muscle’s repair process. That means that inflammation is required to recover from training. You are hurting your recovery by taking those things. NSAIDS do have their place, but don’t pop them willy nilly. Save them for when you have a specific pain or inflammation issue that needs to be addressed.
Myth #6: Dehydration hurts race performance.
Outside magazine is wrong here. WTF are they thinking. Maybe they only had 9, but wanted to finish off their list. Dehydration will make you slower, and can be dangerous. Simple as that.
Myth #7: Ice baths speed recovery.
I’m not sure on this one. I personally thing the jury may still be out.
Myth #8: Long and slow is the best way to burn calories.
True. Ride harder and you burn more calories. That isn’t hard to figure out. The only caveat here, is that if you do a really exhausting 1 hour ride, you may not be able to burn as many calories as if you do a 4 hour easier ride.
Myth #9: Fructose is a performance killer.
Fructose is a sugar that is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. It is a great fuel for exercise, and for post exercise recovery. Too much of it, like any carbohydrate will make you fat. So use some common sense here. But if your sports drink has some fructose, even HFCS in it. You are probably getting exactly what you need.
Myth #10: Supplements take performance to the next level.
Most supplements are a waste of time. I hear people say things like ” well, I started taking such and such, and I got much fitter”. I am willing to bet that the same time you started taking that supplement was the same time you started training harder. It was the training. I don’t care if your local hero takes a particular supplement either. Just because ” Joe Fast Guy” takes it doesn’t mean that it improves performance. He would probably be just as fast without it. That being said, there are a few things out there that are helpful. The number one being a simple carb/electrolyte sports drink!
Thats my 2 cents. You can find the list along with Outside Magazines comments here: 10 Biggest Fitness Myths