Muscle memory, protein and muscles & strong hips make happy knees

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original Blogs.

Wow, did I get to read a lot of great things this past week! So many, in fact, that my Thursday post may be a second installment of this type of post. Here are four of my favorites on three very interesting topics.

Muscle memory

For many years, I’ve believed it’s always easier to get back to a level of fitness once you’ve been there than it is to get there the first time. I remember talking about this idea with teammates in high school and college.

Now, we know at least part of why that may be physiologically.

As far as the muscles go, there are structural changes within your muscles (more nuclei) that occur as a result of training and do not seem to be lost when not training. This gives the formerly fit a head start on those who have never been fit.

This study was specifically about muscle strength. While muscle strength does give a runner an advantage, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if similar things happen in relation to aerobic conditioning. No research I’m aware of on that idea yet, though.

Protein and muscles

Two very interesting reads on this topic this week:

First, from Alex Hutchinson at the Runner’s World Sweat Science blog, a post on the basics of protein and muscle.

Second, from Science Daily, a full serving of protein at each meal is better for muscles than the typical American diet of a small amount of protein at breakfast, a moderately small amount at lunch, then a massive amount at dinner.

I actually read the Science Daily article first and, as I was reading it, I recalled something from a long time ago that I wanted to look up. Then the Sweat Science blog post covered it. Thanks for coordinating so well!

What I wanted to look up was the largest useful dose of protein. Hutchinson states this is 20-25 grams for a typical healthy adult, up to 40 grams for older adults.

In this case, it makes perfect sense that aiming for 30 grams per meal will be better for the muscles than 10 at breakfast, 15 at lunch and 65 at dinner. After all, depending on the individual, somewhere around half of those 65 grams at dinner are wasted and likely converted into fat.

The moral of the story: balance your protein intake. That probably means increase it at breakfast and lunch and drastically reduce it at dinner.

Strong hips make happy knees

This was a review of research on treating Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (aka Runner’s Knee).

I’ve found myself often saying recently, when something hurts, look up for the root cause. If your ankle or foot hurts, look toward the calf. If your IT band hurts, look toward the hips. Well, if your knee hurts, look toward the hips also. Including hip strengthening exercises in a treatment regimen for Runner’s Knee appears to make the regimen much more successful.

I consider this another reminder that we need to look at our bodies not as a series of individual, unconnected parts. Instead, we need to look at them as the interconnected, interdependent linkages they are. If one body part hurts, it often means a strength imbalance or lack of flexibility somewhere else. Treat the symptoms but also find and deal with the root cause or you’ll be facing a constant battle.

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