[What I use to swim]
I recently went to the gym, NOT to swim this time but to use their elliptical and incline machines (I am not good at the gym equipment's terminologies - sorry) as a diversion from my usual swim or run routines. I was intending to run at the park after working in the hospital but something happened to me two days ago, this is not worth re-telling but it might benefit others with regards to new shoes, training and fasciitis.
First I decided to replace my old worn-out running shoes. I usually buy Mizuno which I think fit my feet the best. My first mistake was that I assumed certain things. I thought I could just go on with my usual running routine even with new shoes. I did an interval training. Big mistake. My left heel was burning the following morning. I pretty much knew that shoes need 'breaking in' but for some reason I thought having the same brand would not make any difference. Wrong!
Being a PT I knew that off-pounding will be the next step to avoid this from getting full blown. I decided to use these new shoes at work place for now, just to 'break' them in. I might use them for slow jogging until they conform to the contour of my feet. Meanwhile I will stick to the old shoes for speed training.
So my next move was to replace my running with something similar but has less stress on the heels. Well, here comes the elliptical and incline. I deferred my swimming today due to some other issues (that will require another article later). And it worked just fine. The elliptical provided the challenge much similar to running without the extreme impact.
Which brings me to a topic that is not really new and perhaps everybody knows about already: Muscle Specificity versus Muscle Confusion. There are so many terminologies that sports enthusiasts have been coming up with lately that they can get confusing at times. Pacing, Intervals, LSDR, Aerobic, Anaerobic, VMax, Lactic, sub-lactic threshold, cross-training - these are just a few. Lately, every time I turn on the TV, people talk about intervals and muscle confusion. It is claimed that muscles work the best when they are not routinized or in layman's parlance, they are surprised. Some TV gurus claim it to be 'the secret' to maximal work-out benefits.
In PT, we have been working on a similar concept for decades now, it's called PNF. (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) which basically applies the concept of working on all groups of muscles with one stroke called 'pattern' which usually is diagonal in direction. It's really good when you want to 'involve as many muscles as you can given a limited time or session' or if you want to increase 'proprioception' which is basically an 'awareness' of the limb or muscles in terms of position, movement or direction. But there were studies that had concluded it's not much different from the regular active ROM exercises. Perhaps there are current trends in PNF that I am not much familiar with but the main reason I mention it (on account of muscle confusion) is because for me the most important aspect of exercise is exercise itself no matter the form, technique or rationale.
When people ask me what is the best exercise, I say, 'Exercise'. In my years as a PT, what matters is not much about what exercise a person does, but 'how compliant' the person is with his or her exercise. I can give you the best exercise program in the world but if you go home to sit it out and lay on the couch and eat anything you want and get driven wherever you go, really, what's the point of those wonderfully, scientifically proven effective exercises I just handed to you? This is one of the biggest frustrations of PTs like me: Lack of Motivation and Poor Compliance.