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Exercise and Pregnancy


“What are your opinions about running and pregnancy. Does it affect it does it hurt the baby in the beginning trimester? Does it affect trying to get pregnant? There are so many myths out there. I have been training for a half marathon for the past year and have a good base of ten miles and have run 3 half marathons, everyone tells me to stop if I want to get pregnant, but I feel like I already have a good base so its not like I am overworking myself to the point of exhaustion. Any tips you have I’d love them.”


As a rule, pregnant women are encouraged to engage in regular, moderate intensity physical activity. You are correct, however, in that there are many myths surrounding exercise and pregnancy. This is partly due to the scarcity of data on the subject and the ever changing positions from the American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecology over the years. Some of the original concerns were theoretical. These included a fear that rising a woman’s body temperature, as occurs with exercise, can cause birth defects in the developing baby particularly in the first 3 months (first trimester). This concern was based on studies done in mice in which increases in body temperature resulted in deformed or miscarried babies. This has never been proven in humans although, as you can imagine, such a study would be difficult to find volunteers. Body temperatures between 102 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit can be reached in normal modest to intense exercise under normal conditions without harm to a developing baby. Another myth associated with exercise was the fear that active muscles demand increased blood flow, blood flow that could be taken away from or stolen from the baby and placenta. This also has never been proven under typical exercise conditions. Lastly, is the fear that the excess jostling that occurs with exercise could be harmful to the baby. This may be true for situations in which the mother is exposed to major trauma e.g. motor vehicle accidents or falls, but is not true for typical non-contact exercise in an otherwise normal and uncomplicated pregnancy.

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by on Aug.17, 2011, under Training

Do I have a mild form of asthma?

Expert Panel Question???

“When I run my chest burns like crazy. After a while I start to get light headed and dizzy. Do I have a mild form of asthma?”

(ask your questions to the UtahRunning.com Experts here)


In addressing chest symptoms whether related to activity or not it is helpful to think of the 4 body areas in the chest that these symptoms may be coming from: the heart, the lungs, the esophagus or the chest wall. Of these four, a problem with the heart raises the most concern and should be addressed first (for obvious reasons). This is followed by the lungs, the esophagus and then the chest wall.

Any chest symptom associated with activity and especially those that include light headedness and dizziness as the run continues necessitates at least a basic cardiac evaluation i.e. a thorough history including family history, a listen to the heart with a stethoscope and an office EKG (electrocardiogram). If there is any concern based on these tests, additional tests may be needed. Once you are reassured that your heart is ok we move on to evaluating the lungs.

Exercise induced asthma (formally known as exercise induced bronchospam or EIB) is not uncommon in runners – up to 30% in some studies – and could explain your symptoms. EIB is defined as a reduction of 15% in your normal lung function at rest compared to after you exercise. People with exercise induced asthma may or may not have underlying asthma but people with asthma almost always have exercise induced symptoms.

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Calf Pain

Expert Panel Question???

“What could be the cause of medial calf pain? I strained my left foot about a year ago and when I started running again my right calf hurt. It went away in about a month; now it is back. Is there something I can do to ease the pain and make it go away?”


Calf pain is not an uncommon problem in runners because the muscles included in the calf are key to propelling us forward. The calf actually comprises 5 muscles with 2 of these in one “compartment” (a compartment is a bundle containing one or more different muscles) and 3 in another. It is important to know which specific muscle or muscles are injured in order to determine the best treatment options.

The most commonly injured muscles are the two in the compartment closest to the surface – the gastrocnemius and its deeper partner the soleus. These are the “foot to the accelerator” muscles. They are the main muscles working when a runner gets up on his or her toes to push off, run up hills or sprint. As a result, they are most commonly injured during interval, hill or faster paced workouts. The typical injury involves a tear (known as a strain) of the muscle. Strains are often graded on a scale of 1-3 with a 1 being a severe stretch of the muscle fibers, a 2 being a partial tear and a 3 a complete tear.

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Runner’s Knee

Expert Panel Question???

“After a run my knee begins to hurt fairly badly. It hurts a little during the run but mainly after. Is there a certain type of shoe that would help with my knees or is the only solution not to run?”


Knee pain is probably the most common injury complaint in runners and has a variety of causes. The most common, Patellofemoral Syndrome, actually also goes by the lay name “Runner’s Knee”. It is more common in women but can occur in men too. It is characterized by pain in the front of the knee, is worse going up and down stairs, during squats or lunges and often results in a deep ache in the knee after a prolonged knee-bent position (such as sitting in a class, movie, car or on a plane). The fact that your knee pain is not so bad during your runs but afterward makes this the most likely problem although it can get bad enough to become an issue during runs too. It is thought to be an injury that occurs to the under surface of the knee cap (the patella) when the knee cap and the bone below it (the femur) are not in alignment.

The under side of the patella has a small ridge running vertically through the middle of it and the femur below has a corresponding groove. These two should remain lined up as the knee bends and straightens. A misalignment between the patella and the femur can be due to genetic factors, biomechanical problems or the result of muscle imbalances. Since we can’t do much to change our genetics, the focus is on the muscle imbalances and biomechanics. As a one directional sport i.e. straight ahead, even elite runners are notorious for developing muscle imbalances.

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Steve Scharmann, MD – Utah Running Expert

Steve Scharmann       MD, Sports Medicine, Family Practice

Competitive Runner/Triathlete

Dr. Scharmann practices Sports Medicine and Family Practice in Ogden, Utah.  He has a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry/Math from Weber State University.  He attended graduate school at Rice University and medical school at the University of California in San Francisco.  He completed his residency/fellowship in San Francisco and Santa Rosa California.  In addition to being an MD, Dr. Scharmann is also Board Certified through the American Board of Family Medicine and has received a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Sports Medicine.  Dr Scharmann, through his service, has earned a reputation as a highly qualified physician who sincerely cares about those he works with.

Career Highlights:

Assistant Residency Director, McKay-Dee Family Medicine Residency Program

Primary Care Sports Medicine, Calton-Harrison Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Clinic

Team Physician – Weber State University, Ogden Raptors, Australian National Ski Jumping Team,  Ben Lomond High School

Medical Director, Department of Athletic Training, Weber State University

Medical Director, Ogden Marathon

Venue Medical Officer, 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics – Curling

Medical Director Utah-Moscow Youth Games, Moscow, Russia – 2003

Dr. Scharmann uses his extensive medical background and his personal experiences in sports to advise people of all ages.  He had a successful running career while attending Weber State University and continues to compete competitively in both running races and triathlons.

Athletic Accomplishments:

Member 1973 & 1977 WSU Big Sky Conference Cross-Country Championship Teams

Big Sky Conference Scholar Athlete Award – 1977

WSU Track & Field/Cross-Country (1973, 1976, 1977): 3 mile – 14:06; 10,000m – 31:00

Utah Short Course Triathlon Series Champion – 1989

Ironman World Triathlon Championships, Kona, Hawaii – 2000 (finisher)

National Age-group Triathlon Championships, 4th place – 2002

USA Triathlon Age-group All-American – 2008

Dr. Scharmann and his wife Dana, who is also a former WSU Track & Field/Cross-Country athlete, currently reside in Ogden, Utah with their four children.

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by on Jan.01, 2010, under Utah Running Experts

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