NO MORE HEAVY BREATHING
Researchers at London's Imperial College School of Medicine, working with researchers in the Kyrgyz Republic, are using VIAGRA to alleviate pulmonary hypertension, a factor in high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), the lethal condition in which the lungs fill with fluid as a result of lower oxygen levels at higher elevations. "The assumption is that if you can prevent pulmonary hypertension, you might offset or prevent the chances of edema," says researcher Martin Wilkins. "And Viagra can do that." But how? In addition to the, shall we say, helping hand that Viagra provides for men, the drug also relaxes blood vessels running to and from the lungs that might otherwise constrict in a low-oxygen environment. This doesn't make the pill an altitude-sickness cure-all. When it comes to preventing acute mountain sickness or high-altitude cerebral edema, "Viagra is unlikely to have any effect whatsoever," says Thomas Dietz, a doctor with the International Society for Mountain Medicine. Still, it may be good news for your lungs. And the doctors say mountaineers on Viagra won't have to worry about stretching out their snow pantsunless a particularly attractive female yeti happens by.
Trainging & Recovery
FLEXING FOR POWER
Olympic swimmer Dara Torres won five medals at the 2000 Summer Games after training with stretching guru Bob Cooley for just six months. His secret (detailed in his upcoming book, The Genius of Flexibility: Inside Stretching and Yoga) is RESISTENCE STRETCHING. Put simply, Cooley's method stretches a muscle by engaging it while simultaneously lengthening it, which leads to an overall relaxation of the muscle and a subsequent increase in flexibility. "The moment you make a muscle more flexible," he says, "you access your acceleration speed and power, and that means you are immediately faster." To see for yourself, try Cooley's take on the hamstring stretch, below.
(1) lie on your back, bring your left knee toward your chest, and contract your hamstring by bending your knee and pulling your heel down; while engaging your hamstring, slowly straighten your leg with your arms until (2) it is perpendicular to the floor; repeat ten times, then switch legs. [RECOVERY]
GO AHEAD, BE SORE
That après-weight-lifting traditionpopping a couple of painkillersmay actually undo all your hard work. A 2001 study at the University of Arkansas School for Medical Sciences found that when ibuprofen or acetaminophen blocks the ouch of inflammation, it also SUPPRESSES THE PRODUCTION OF PROSTAGLANDINS. "Prostaglandins stimulate the muscle to synthesize new protein and to grow," says head researcher Todd Trappe, so blocking them could hurt your chances of developing a Hermann Maier-esque physique. But, hey, it won't kill you to take some natural-analgesic initiative: Ease into that new workout slowly and stretch when you're done. That's good medicine.
SUCK IT UP
From the nutraceutical frontier comes a new trick: Kitsune's Extreme Energy Herbal Infusion Lozenges. Company founder and personal trainer Stefan Fox calls his NUTRIENT-DELIVERY METHOD a "time-release or drip system." Instead of flushing the bloodstream with a liquid supplement, each lozenge releases its payload over 20 minutes. Kitsune offers four flavors: one with ginger, ginseng, and a touch of cinnamon; another with more cinnamon than ginger; a caffeine-suffused lozenge with guarana and gotu kola; and finally, one packed with echinacea and mint to ward off illness. For his next trick, Fox, who has trained a slew of Canadian triathletes and pro hockey players, has set his sights on a chewing gum with a twist: Instead of your bad breath, it'll kill your pain, all naturally.
514-484-9606, www.fireballgel.com; $1.35 per packet of six lozenges