Saturday, May 1, 2010

Taming the jiggle

Written by Michelle Kempton
Published in Canadian Running Magazine

Rapid weight loss results can be the greatest reward that overweight people discover about running - aside from the adrenaline rush, of course. If you’re overweight and just starting to run, you’ll be ecstatic when you see how quickly your flab will be replaced by lean muscle.

The day I first attempted to run, I weighed 250 lbs. I’m not even 5′4″, so I pretty much was almost as wide as I was tall. I’m sure it wasn’t a pretty sight for bystanders witnessing my first attempt at running, because there definitely was no grace or glide in my step. At times I wondered if people were watching my fat jiggle as I attempted to move my morbidly obese body at a pace barely faster than a slow walk.

Now that I’ve lost 85 lbs. from running, I’m more confident and less preoccupied about the jiggle as I cruise through the running trails. I hold my shoulders back, my chin up high, my core is engaged and I’m no longer gasping for air (well, most of the time, anyway). I now feel more confident that my body looks athletic rather than the shape and size of a small planet.

Massive weight loss leads to some new challenges, like loose skin. Unfortunately, skin doesn’t shrink at the same pace as fat burns. The lean muscle created from running also takes up a lot less space than the abundance of fatty tissue that once existed. It also seems like, no matter how much you run, there is also the issue of “problem areas” that never seem to tone up. I’m shocked that after thousands of kilometres of running, my inner thighs still jiggle like Jell-O.

Don’t despair, there is scientifically designed running gear available to compress excess skin and reduce the embarrassment of the jiggle from fatty areas.

Dr. Richard Bendor-Samuel, a Halifax plastic surgeon and triathlete, has a wealth of knowledge from recommending compression garments to his patients in addition to his own experiences training for Ironman races. Dr. Bendor-Samuel says compression garments can serve two primary purposes for overweight runners: controlling soft tissue movement and improving athletic performance. They can also be used for travel on long flights and recovery after long runs, he says.

Compression Control - Tips from Dr. Richard Bendor-Samuel

    1. The most important factor is getting the correct amount of compression. Too little compression will have little effect on controlling the jiggle and on the other end of the spectrum too much compression can restrict circulation.

    2. Most manufacturers will base their compression on a series of measurements of the limb being compressed. It is important to have more compression at the narrowest end (foot and wrist) than the larger end in order to prevent the constriction that can result in decreased performance and, of course, discomfort.

    3. Matching your measurements to the manufacturers’ recommendations will take a little work, but it’s time well spent to get the correct fit. Most manufactures offer tables of measurements on their websites and this can be very helpful in assisting you in buying the correct compression garment.

Without a doubt, compression garments are on my list of must-haves for running - right behind water and good music.

Michelle Kempton is a runner in Cow Bay, N.S. Read her blog, Uncovering Me, at