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March 26th, 2010
07:15 PM ET

In triathlon training, seek consistency above all

By Ian Murray
Host of Triathlon Training Series
Triathlon Coach to Rickey Williams, CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge Participant

When Rickey and I began our coach-athlete relationship, one thing radiated from him above all others: his commitment to triathlon. Here at TTS we see that desire in many triathletes and we all have to be careful not to translate that passion into going too hard too soon. An injury is the worst thing that can happen to a triathlete in training and it’s critical to measure out the duration of the workouts, the frequency of exercise and the intensity of each effort. Rickey’s greatest gains will come from consistency, and to sustain that we have to avoid all injuries. Here’s how you can join Rickey and me on our injury-free triathlon training program.

Job One: Progress slowly: Muscles can build a bit faster than the tendons that anchor them to bones. By increasing your training in a slow and progressive manner you can welcome the body to the sport with ease.  The swim distance for the race might be long but start by swimming in small pieces, even a single length of the pool, stop, rest, repeat.  Rather than a 20-minute run, make it a 20-minute “walk/jog.” 2 minutes walking, 2 minutes running. 5 rounds of that will give you a safe and effective 20-minute starting run.  Cycling on flat roads or trainer/spin bike with light resistance will allow for the skill of fluid circles to begin gently rather than mashing up long or steep climbs.

Do it perfectly! Let technique in your training be the top priority.  Triathlon is an endurance sport, and efficiency is key. Good form is most efficient.

Invest in a lesson from a professional to make sure your swim/bike/run are on target.  Give every workout a technical focus point so that you are mentally present for each effort.   Watch videos of excellence, visualize and then reproduce those movements. There are some great DVDs out there and one that is specifically designed as an educational tool for new triathletes is http://triathlontrainingseries.com/

Body maintenance: The key areas to stretch are calves, quads, hamstring, and the iliotibial band (ITB).  These get used in both biking and running and deserve frequent attention.  Triathlon is all about moving forward in the same plane – that means hip stabilizers; lateral movers can be dangerously weak. Keep ‘em in balance with inner and outer thigh work.  Freestyle swim puts a lot of emphasis on the front of the body; strengthen the rear shoulder area with rear deltoid raises to maintain balance and a healthy, happy shoulder.  Core, core and more core – this isn’t just the “six pack ab” fetish that launched a thousand infomercials; this includes lower back, twisting movements and deeper core muscles. Mix it up.  Massage, and not just any massage; make calls and find a sports-minded healer who can untangle knots in their earliest stages of development.

Know you're not alone. The three steps set out above are right for any beginner but they are also common threads that carry through to triathletes at all levels. No matter the stage of your athletic career, these are the keys to success.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


Filed under: 2010 Fit Nation Challenge • Exercise

March 26th, 2010
02:42 PM ET

Young kids at high risk for traumatic brain injury

By Caitlin Hagan
CNN Medical Associate Producer

Spring is here and the nice weather means plenty of time for kids to play outside. But watch out for those falls on the playground: A new CDC report says children up to age 4 are part of the high at-risk population for traumatic brain injury (TBI). Teenagers 15 to 19 and senior citizens older than 75 also make the list.

When someone has a traumatic brain injury, normal brain function is interrupted. It can be caused by any sudden blow or jolt to the brain. TBI claims nearly a third of the injury-related deaths in the U.S. every year. In teenagers 15-19 the injury is usually caused by car accidents. Falling is the chief cause of TBIs in senior citizens and young children.

Babies and toddlers are still developing their sense of balance, which is why they often they take a tumble. But as any parent will tell you, falling is a normal part of childhood. Most falls don't cause anything nearly as serious as a traumatic brain injury but being around stairs or furniture with hard edges, or walking up an incline, could increase the chances of it happening.

So why should parents be concerned?

Speed is essential when treating traumatic brain injury. Most neurologists agree that there's a 60- to 90-minute window from the time the injury was suffered to the point where treatment must begin. But most TBIs are not obvious immediately after developing. And that makes detecting them very difficult, especially in a young child.

"With a younger child, one who is preverbal or just learning the language, it's hard to tell what they're feeling. It's hard for them to explain, " says Dr. Lisa McGuire of the CDC's Injury Center.

Dr. McGuire says whenever a child suffers a blow to the head, regardless of its cause, parents should watch for any of the following: sudden drowsiness or inability to be alert, difficulty recognizing familiar people or places, sudden whining or irritability, loss of interest in favorite toys, numbness of one side of the body, vomiting, or neck pain.

Every second counts when someone has a traumatic brain injury. Consult a doctor immediately if you notice your child has any of these symptoms.

"The main thing to always remember is that TBI is a major health problem," says Dr. McGuire. "And those who have TBI who do not die are the ones who go to the emergency room."

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


March 26th, 2010
12:07 PM ET

Tougher controls urged for tanning beds

By Val Willingham
CNN Medical Producer

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Thursday recommended tougher controls on tanning beds and suggested that more restrictions, including a possible ban on the devices for teens under the age of 18, be implemented. The committee, which heard from numerous experts, learned that tanning beds are particularly dangerous for young people. According to doctors, the devices, unlike sunlight, concentrate ultraviolet radiation directly to the skin, so people develop skin cancers at an earlier age. Skin cancer is being diagnosed more in young people and tanning bed advertising is geared towards the young.

Along with a possible ban for teens, the panel also advised that visible warning labels should be placed either on the machines or in the tanning salons to warn tanners of the dangers. And the committee decided that tighter regulations and classifications were necessary in order to make the machines safer. The machines currently are categorized as low-risk devices. If the FDA were to change their classification to Class II, as recommended by the panel, the federal agency could limit the levels of radiation the machines emit. The agency could also make changes in their design if needed.

Although the agency does not have to follow the advice of the panel, it traditionally does. The FDA will take the next few months to go over the recommendations before releasing any changes.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and according to the American Cancer Society, and will account for about 68,720 cases of skin cancer in 2009 and most (about 8,650) of the 11,590 deaths due to skin cancer each year.

The World Health Organization recently announced that it has moved ultraviolet tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category, along with arsenic and cigarettes. Those on Capitol Hill have found the issue so important that they incorporated a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning salons into the recently passed health care bill. And although the Indoor Tanning Association, which looks to protect the freedom of those who want to tan through artificial methods, says, "The protective benefits of UV radiation are undeniable," and the warnings "exaggerated," the FDA believes changes are necessary.

Dermatologists recommend if you are desperate to get a tan before the summer months, there are plenty of products on the market that can give you a gradual tan without the dangers of being exposed to ultraviolet rays.

Lindy Royce-Bartlett, contributed to this report

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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