Posts Tagged ‘Edward Tenner’

Allergies and hormesis

Posted 25 Feb 2011 — by Todd
Category Health, Hormesis

Do you have allergies? Are you sensitive to certain foods or chemicals?  If so, you are part of an epidemic explosion in the incidence of allergies and sensitivities in the U.S. and Western societies. The allergy epidemic is frequently blamed on the profusion of pollutants and toxic man-made chemicals in modern industrial society.  And the conventional medical approach to dealing with allergies is to avoid exposure to allergens, and to block allergic reactions by using antihistamines.

But there is an alternative explanation and a more effective treatment, consistent with the theory of hormesis.  The explanation is called the hygiene hypothesis and the treatment is called allergen immunotherapy.  I’ll discuss these both shortly, but first let’s look at what is really behind the outbreak of allergies in the modern world. Read More

The paradox of barefoot running

Posted 28 Mar 2010 — by Todd
Category Fitness, Rehabilitation

Christopher McDougall’s sensational book Born to Run has been credited for an upsurge of interest in barefoot running over the past year, and its publication probably also explains much of the increased sales and visibilty of the once-esoteric and comment-provoking Vibram “Five Finger” running shoes.  Besides being a paean to the joys of running without shoes, McDougall’s book is certainly one of the best written, most entertaining adventure books of recent memory.  It sucks you in with tales of the mysterious hidden tribe of Mexican mountain runners, the Tarahumara, and an unforgettable cast of hardy and eccentric ultramarathoners. The adventure culminates in two exciting and unpredictable ultramarathons through the wilderness — one in the Colorado Rockies, and the other in the Copper Canyon of Mexico — with the protagonists of the book running shoeless over trails and boulder fields for 100 miles. While I’m not a total convert, after reading this book I’ve adopted a habit of alternating my runs between barefoot, Vibrams, and regular shoes. After some initial soreness, stiffness, and development of calluses, I found that my calves were strengthened in a way that significantly benefited my endurance and speed in running.

Other than recommending this book as a great vacation read or a way to rekindle your passion for running, I’d like to concentrate here on one of its central claims about the biomechanics of barefoot running, because it resonates so strongly with the thesis of Hormetism and Edward Tenner’s theories about the “revenge effects” of technology — and because it has implications that extend well beyond the sport of running. McDougall’s seemingly paradoxical assertion is that running without shoes makes one less susceptible to injury than using modern engineered running shoes, with their high-tech cushioning. Says McDougall: “Running shoes may be the most destructive force ever to hit the human foot.” (BTR, p. 168)   …How can this possibly be true?

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