What causes Exercises Induced muscle CRAMPS and how to prevent them!

Exercise induced muscle cramps (EAMC’s) is an extremely common condition affecting between 30% – 90% of the general population. I am one of many people to be affected by EAMC’s and after constant trail and error on myself I have found the cause of my own dilemma. One of the causes is long distance events which has inspired me to research the cause of cramping and how to manage and prevent during exercise.

Why do we cramping during exercise?

The “Sodium” theory

This theory suggests that there is a compelling disruption in the fluid or electrolyte balance, usually due to the reduction in the body’s sodium storage thus creates contractions around the muscle causing a misfire of nerve impulses which leads to EAMC’s.

There was a study in 2005 with the sole purpose to understand (suggested rephrasing – A study in 2005 aimed to investigate…) the influence of hydration and electrolyte supplementation on the incidence (not sure what this means?) and time to onset of exercise associated muscle cramp. It was found that when
there is an electrolyte deficit in the plasma then the body is more likely to cramp.

A further look into the study showed that the experiment took part on 13 healthy men who were put through vigorous activity and found no beneficial difference between the two trials. The only difference showed with 2 of the men, which means the trial was mostly inconclusive to the correlation of hydration to dehydration.

I wouldn’t conclude that this theory has no bearing because the study itself was small and the fitness levels or general lifestyle of the participants previous to the experiment wasn’t taken into account. In addition everyone has their optimum level of hydration and supplementation so this can easily affect how susceptible you are to EAMC’s within this theory. So what I would take from this study is that it would be beneficial to trial certain drinks and see what or how it affects you when you exercise. Taking my own
experience into account I found that when I drank certain energy drinks before and during a spin session, I would not cramp up as much or at all unlike when I trialled other drinks just so I could see the difference in myself.

The Neuromuscular theory

This Theory explains that the muscle overload and neuromuscular fatigue are the root causes of EAMC’s. The rationale is that fatigue supplies an imbalance between the excitatory impulses from the muscle spindle and inhibitory impulses from the Golgi tendon organ. This then results in localized muscle cramp.

To put it simplier, the localized muscle cramps occur when they are overworked and fatigued due to electrical misfiring from the nervous system to the muscular system.

One factor in considering the neuromuscular theory is that stretching and moving the muscle inside and outside of the competitive environment is the universal way to fix cramps. What stretching does is put the muscle on stretch. By achieving this it activates the muscle spindle within each individual muscle fibre and doing so will interfere with the misfiring of the EAMC’s impulses.

How to avoid cramping during exercise

Well at this point in time science cannot provide single answer to the solution of cramps, the best way for you to find your solution is through trial and error.

Suggestions to reduce the chances of getting EAMC’s

Here are some examples I have found helpful when training for my events:

• Train especially for the the event that induces muscle cramps. Make sure you combine the correct amount of volume and intensity to prepare your body for the event

• Pace yourself appropriately if you overload your muscles too much too soon then you will
struggle to improve your muscle condition to prevent cramping.

• Taper to the event – make sure that when its time for you to compete you are fresh, ready and good to go.

• Make sure you are adequately fuelled with a wealth of carbohydrates and during the activity avoid becoming glycogen depleted External strategies

Other strategies that have been used by professional athletes to help them find the solution to their cramps include:

• Sauna
• Sports massage
• Stretching
• Acupuncture
• Warm up (properly)
• Mental relaxation techniques

Albeit the solution to exercise induced cramps are far from complete. I cannot say there is one definite answer but if you try a combination of all of these you will see a difference in your EAMC’s. But I hope the suggestions raised in this blog will help you narrow down the cause of your cramps.

Can you Sleep? 

Sleep Disorders are a common problem for many people and will affect them one time or another in their lives. Causes are usually down to stress, illness, temporary interruptions to your normal routine or travel. If a sleep problem is a regular occurrence and is interfering with your daily lifestyle, you may be suffering with a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders can affect you day and night and can take a serious strain on your mental and physical health. This can lead to weight gain, can affect your energy and mood, as well as even causing memory problems. However, don’t despair; it doesn’t have to become a part of your life in this day and age, as there has been thousands of studies to help you get a good night sleep which will help improve your health.

Many of us experience occasional sleep problems, so how do we know if it is just a minor passing annoyance or a sign of a sleep disorder?

Firstly, we have to eliminate any medical conditions such as;

• Heart burn

• Heart failure

• Diabetes

• Kidney disease

• Nocturne

• Breathing problems

• Mental health disease

• Neurological disorders

The best way to tell if you have a sleep disorder is to take a look into the daytime signs.

• Feeling sleepy or irritable during the day

• Having difficulty staying awake when sitting still, watching a screen or reading

• Falling asleep or feeling tired while driving

• Having difficulty while concentrating

• When others tell you “you look tired”

• Having slow reactions

• Having trouble controlling your emotions

• Feeling like you need a nap almost every day

• Requiring a caffeinated beverage to keep yourself going

If you said ‘yes’ to any of these symptoms on a regular basis, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. The more you have answered ‘yes’, the more likely you have a sleep disorder.

There are many types of sleep disorders. Some of the most common are:

Insomnia

Insomnia is the inability to sleep or sleep well at night. This can be caused by stress, jet lag, health conditions, medication or caffeine. Other causes can be depression or anxiety.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is a sleep disorder that causes an irresistible urge to move your legs (or arms) at night. The urge to move occurs when your resting or lying down and is usually due to uncomfortable creeping, aching, tingling or some sort of sensation.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy involves excessive, uncontrollable day time sleepiness. It is caused by a dysfunction in the mechanics of the brain that control sleeping and waking.

How massage can help you get a restful and restorative sleep?

Massage can help in a number of ways to help you sleep better and should be used in combination with other treatments to help improve your sleep.

Massage can help boost your Serotonin levels, the “feel good” neurotransmitter. Serotonin is usually low in people who struggle to stay asleep and as a result are awake throughout the night.

Massage can also lower your Cortisol levels (Cortisol is also known as a major stress hormone). If you have a high level of Cortisol this can disrupt your sleep patterns in a major way. It can keep you up all night. If you are able to fall asleep it can wake you in the middle of the night and prevent you from falling to sleep.

Massage is commonly used to reduce pain. There are certain types of treatments the LIFESTYLE clinic uses to reduce pain. If pain is what is keeping you up at night then by increasing the blood flow to the muscles, releasing the build up of tension in the muscles and releasing natural pain killers already stored within the body, this is used to help you relax physically and mentally.

 

Tight Hamstrings?

Tight or stiff hamstrings is a common injury I find in my day to day work. Anyone with tight hamstrings can try stretching on a daily basis, but they will find that this has no effect.

The usual way people determine their hamstring flexibility is whether they can bend from the hips and touch their toes. Most professionals will use this in their assessment to get a picture of how the body moves. For those that think that bending by the hips and touching their toes helps the hamstrings, they will find out later in this blog that this isn’t a true representation of hamstring flexibility. This is because far more muscle groups are involved than most think to accomplish this task.

The reason it is beneficial for a professional to observe you touch your toes, is so that they can see exactly how your anterior and posterior chain functions. Simply put, to see how free your spine and hip interact; with this information you can see if the hamstrings relax to a reasonable length.

After we assess the movements of the hip and spine we can then look into the diaphragm, pelvic floor and intercostal muscle, as these too have the ability to impact your toe-touch motion. If there is good motion in the hips, but not much thought the spine, then we expand the assessment to other areas of the body that help forward flexion. It is quite normal to feel very quick changes as a result, which is perceived as hamstring flexibility but actually could be an improvement in the muscles within the posterior chain. Through this, we then begin to see the full range of motion in the hamstring as previous muscles that can inhibit the hamstring flexibility are removed.

If the Spinal movement is good and we can see the hamstring and hip movement is restricted, we will then move onto posterior knee stability.

Posterior knee stability

When you walk or run your hamstrings are used along with your gastrocnemius to stabilise the knee through an isometric contraction. This is to prevent the knee from bending as our foot hits the ground through initial contact. The stiffness in the hamstring is needed to help you absorb the force when the foot hits the ground and ensures the power you are generating in your hips is not wasted, and so, generates forward motion.

If there is no stiffness in the hamstrings and gastrocnemius, then these two muscle groups start to work harder than they need to during low impact work and this then starts to create a feeling of constant tension, with a feeling that it always needs to be stretched.

So, if this is occurring in your hamstrings and you’re trying to stretch, but no matter how long and how many times you do it you feel nothing is working, then most likely it is not your hamstrings at fault. If you treat the symptoms and not the cause, it will be harder for you to reach your desired results.

What is Sport Therapy?

 

(This is a blog I really should of started with)

Sports Therapy is an aspect of health care that is specifically concerned with injury prevention and rehabilitation of your injury. It helps to get you back to full fitness, regardless of functionality, occupation or fitness concerns, whilst keeping in mind your age and ability.

The principles used incorporate sports science and exercises, in addition to physiological and pathological processes and manual therapy to prepare you for training, competition or daily lifestyle.

Some of the benefits of sport massage:

• Increases muscle flexibility and range of movement

• Prevents injuries

• Re-energises and strengthens your body’s own healing

• Speeds up recovery and improves performance

• Stress relief and relaxation

• Relieves muscle tension and soreness

Who is suitable for Sports therapy?

This is the easiest place to say “ITS NOT JUST FOR SPORTS PEOPLE”. Its for everyone.

Sports therapy, although could be named better, is solely based on improving movement and reducing discomfort, so anyone can benefit from it.

You can be of any age engaged in any type of activity. Some of my clients are people in desk type work. So seated for long periods of time. So if you are active or sedentary, I’m here to help!

Fitness and injury prevention

After effects of training, general soreness, the niggle, stiff muscles are all common and are all easily ignored. However, if these feelings are ignored and you continue training, you are likely to cause minor damage which will eventually stop you from training and hinder your physical development. You can also suffer mental effects from this too. This will in turn change your focus on training i.e. you will train what doesn’t hurt and end up either causing another injury or worsening a current injury by creating an imbalance.

Sport massage is an effective way of maintaining muscle flexibility and muscle condition, which prevents muscle strains. It can also help those minor niggles before they grow into an injury.

Also, with a further look into movement patterns identify what area your body needs to be improved to stop injury in its tracks.

Is your Achilles in pain

Almost all sports will have you walking, running or jumping; if it’s not in the activity itself then it’s included in the warm up. This has the potential to turn into an achilles injury. It is not uncommon for people to think that they have an issue with the achilles tendon. However, it could in fact be a result of a different tissue in the area causing the problem such as a toe flexor or another muscle/tendon in the lower leg such as the tibialis posterior, both of which sit just in front of the achilles.

Achilles tendinopathy comes in two different types: mid portion tendinopathy or insertional tendinopathy. The difference between the two are simple. The mid portion tendinopathy sits above the attachment of the tendon. The Insertional tendinopathy sits at the calcaneus.

Tendinopathy can be caused by a number of different factors.

  • Corticosteroids    
  • Hyperthermia
  • Mechanical Stress

If we look at the causes of both types of an achilles injuries from a mechanical stress point of view, we get slightly different results. The research shows that mid portion tendinopathy is related to repetitive loading the weight being applied to the tendon is too much and causes tissue damage. Insertional tendinopathy is related to the compression of the tendon against the Calcaneus – the compression occurs when the foot moves into dorsiflexion.  

There are 3 basic stages of tendinopathy, which are:

  • Reactive
  • Tendon disrepair
  • Degenerative

The movement through these stages is not necessarily straightforward. It can move from reactive to degenerative and back again dependant on the loading placed on the tendon.

In the reactive stage, we see a thickening and stiffening of the tendon in a response to the load in an attempt to cope with it and reduce the stress. In this stage the load has often been increased too quickly for the tendon to deal with. However, with rest and a reduction in the load, healing will allow occur.

The degenerative stage happens with chronic overloading and is usually more common in the older athlete. In this stage we see further breakdown in the structure of the tendon and this is accompanied by cell death. In this state if it is left unresolved, it can result in tendon rupture.
When it comes to managing and treating this type of injury, in all stages it comes down to managing the load placed on the tendon. In the reactive and early disrepair stages we simply want to reduce the stress that is causing the issue, by catching it fast enough and simply allowing it time to calm down.

Are you Magnesium deficient?

 

 

 

Now, before I start explaining to you about magnesium, with all its good points and why it’s a crucial part of your diet, I first want to first cast your mind back to 500 years ago.Now, as you all know, animals have evolved and changed to what we see today and the same can be said for fruit and veg. What we see, feel and taste is the result of human ingenuity of around 10000 years of genetic modification and selective breeding. We have created the fruit and veg that you see today. For those sceptics who don’t believe that this is possible, take one of the most famous genetic modifications in plants. In 1066 the “The battle of Hastings” or “War of the roses” commenced and in was the red rose Verses the white rose and at the end to show a symbol of peace the roses were combined to show the red and white rose.

Why do you think we altered the fruit and veg? The answer is simple, we wanted crops that were consistent, productive, resistant to pests, gave a good size and a better taste to match their productivity. However, in all these improvements you find that the microelements within our fruit has been changed, so we receive less of the nutrients we need in exchange for fructose.


How does this apply to me?

Magnesium has major elements that can affect every part of our natural lifestyle, from our emotional state to our physical body.

Some examples of the benefits of magnesium is that it allows us to assimilate calcium into our bones, all the while playing a role in activating vitamin D in the kidneys.


Recent studies have shown that high levels of magnesium in the body as a direct effect on insulin sensitivity, so good news for people with diabetes.

Other benefits include:

For the physical wellbeing

  • Reduces headaches
  • Reduces muscle spasms and cramps
  • Decreases Fibromyalgia

Neurological wellbeing

  • Anxiety
  • DepressionAutism and ADD
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
  • Insomnia
  • Tics

More benefits

  • Psoriasis, acne and eczema
  • Blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis

So, if you suffer from any of these conditions and you are unsure of the reason you are feeling this way, just try magnesium and see if your condition improves.

What kills magnesium?

Magnesium in the body turns out to be a very sensitive element. There are 4 substances that actively deplete the amount you consume before it can work any benefits to the body. These are:

  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Tobacco
  • Stress

For every City gower/Hard worker you start to see a pattern in your lifestyle and your dietary needs. I am pretty confident that most people have high levels of one of these four killers. So if you do have  any of the signs and symptoms previously listed and you want to make a change, to understand that it could be related to your environment is your first step.      

 

Foods high in magnesium

Hopefully by now I’ve peaked your interest to try this super ingredient and to improve your lifestyle.

The foods that are high in magnesium are:

Dark leafy greens: i.e spinach

Nuts

Seeds

FishBeans

Whole grain

Avocado

Bananas

Dried fruit

Dark chocolate

Conclusion


I don’t make money or receive any endorsements for writing these articles. I only want to make a change in people’s lives to help them improve and prevent any further discomfort, especially when it can be easily resolved. I have written this because I have heard many stories and seen many people who are suffering. I’m sure that if you search online, you will find people that have come through hard times in themselves, just because they have improved their diet for the better. If you do know or see anyone that has any of the symptoms and have high levels of the killers, then suggest to them to change what they eat. Many studies in diet conduct their tests for a month to see if it makes a difference. It is hard to start off with, but it should become much easier after week 3 if you stick to it.

Good Luck!!!

Your Core Muscle

Core training has become increasingly popular, especially since a connection has been made between the alleviation of lower back pain and the strength of your core. Even after all the developments I still favour the “old school” approach on improving your core strength.

In my experience, excessive sit-ups can lead to a lot of lower back problems, and can even lead to herniated discs. Many hail Plank as the best way to attain that herculean core, however, there is a limit to how much you can improve from this. And naturally there is only so much one exercise can do to relieve the multifaceted strain your core is subjected to on a daily basis.

What is your Core

Often people are of the belief that core strength and powerful abs are synonymous with one another. This is a fallacy. The Core is not just your 6 pack (otherwise known as your Rectus Abdominals) or, in my case, the keg lovingly pats gut. It is also your obliques (side abs); gluteal muscles (butt); deeper lying abdominal muscle groups; and multifidus (back muscles). All of these work together to perform these functions.

  • Protect and stabilise the spine
  • Control position and movement of trunk
  • To create the optimum production to transfer force to arms and legs

As mentioned earlier, your core straddles an array of dimensions that facilitate movement. These movements are:

  • Flexion and extension of the spine
  • Side flexion
  • Rotation

From improving these movement patterns by way of increasing core strength, you will find your body will have a more stable foundation from which to train your body, and have a higher resilience against sports injuries, becoming a stronger athlete.

What a hint to achieve an all round stronger core? Here’s a start!

Exercise Reps Sets
Ab Wheel Roll Outs 10 3
Dead Lifts 10 3
Side Plank
Off-set Walk Lunges 12 3
Pallof Press 10 3
Supermans 12 3
Hip Thrusts 12 3

Have Fun!!!

Plantar Fasciitis

Lets start at the bottom, where the initial foundation of your posture begins. The Plantar Fascia is a thin ligament that connects your heel to the front of your foot. This ligament supports the arch in your foot. It is apparently crucial to helping you stand and walk.

The cause of a Plantar fasciitis is usually connected to a few changes within a person’s biology or functionality. For example, changes in weight may affect it, so pregnancy can cause bouts of plantar fasciitis – particularly during late pregnancy – or if you suddenly gain weight. It can occur if you are a long distance runner, or if you are on your feet all day due to your occupation. Plantar fasciitis can also be connected to physiological problems, such as high or low arches.

The general consensus on the symptoms of this condition is pain and stiffness at the bottom of the foot. It can get worse in the morning and can also get worse by either standing for long periods of time, or if you’ve sat down for a while and then you stood up. Pain is not usually felt during the activities but once the activity has finished, it sets in. Climbing stairs can be difficult with heel stiffness due to to the stiffness in the Achilles but this is often connected to plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis can affect you in more ways than just your feet. Researchers Cheung and Kai-Nan have demonstrated that increased tension in your plantar fascia can change your posture and how you distribute your body weight. In their work, they explain that it alters the ankle so that weight is distributed more anteriorly and laterally to alleviate pressure on the plantar fascia, which puts the sufferer in a more comfortable position. This in turn change your posture, which then creates difficulties in other places.

So after understanding all this, the question is: is the process reversible? The answer is yes. In fact it’s standard practice for all sports therapists. We know it as the practice of undoing fascial bonds. Here’s how it works. Stand up and grab the bottom of your T-shirt. Twist it round. The T-shirt on your body now feels tight and it’s awkward to move your shoulders. If you’re still standing, your body might want to turn towards the twisted T-shirt. And your fascia woks in exactly the same way – except under the skin. When you return your T-shirt to the right place it feels better. The same can be said for your fascia.

Book in an appointment now to see if your fascia can benefit or we can look at your plantar faciitis.

References and further research

Bird, S. Black, N. Newton, P (1998) Sports Injuries Causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention Tottenham Court Road: Stanley Thornes

Brukner, P & Khan, K (2008) Clinical Sports Medicine [3rd ed] Sydney: McGraw Hill

Cash (2002) Sport & remedial massage therapy London: Ebury press

Cheung. J, Zhang. M, Kai-Nan. A, (2006) Effect of Achilles tendon loading on plantar fascia tendon in the standing foot. Retrieved. February, 2016, from www.sciencedirect.com

Frontera, W. (2003) Rehabilitation of sports injuries Oxford: Blackwell Publishing

Paine .T, (2005) The complete guide sports massage London: A&C Black

5 Myths About Sports Therapy Busted

Where there is science, there is myth

With everything, whether its personal training, nuclear fusion or even running style there is always conflicting information out there. Or rather, differences of opinion between professionals in all fields, regardless of title or education. Sport therapy is no different.

So I wanted to take a look at some of the myths, consider why the misconception might be there and then review available research to see if we can come with a better understanding. The areas we’ll take a look at are:

1. ICE
2. Pain killers
3. Training styles
4. No pain, no gain
5. Stretching

1. Ice

Ice, or cryotherapy to give it its posh technical name, is one part of a broader initial treatment when you first get injured known as RICE:

R – Rest
I – Ice
C – Compress (which has now been replaced by Support)
E – Elevate

So, why ice?

The reason given by some professional practitioners and textbooks is: It reduces pain and inflammation, which, in turn, reduces and improves healing time. The science behind this is that pain reduces when nerve receptors lose sensitivity, which occurs when the temperature reaches below -40 degrees Celsius. In the area of the body that gets cold, the arteries go through what’s known as vasoconstriction, or in other words they get smaller. This is meant to slow the circulation, and has therefore the additional effect of reducing inflammation.

What’s the catch?

Despite its widespread use, that are a number of experiments that have been done that have shown that Ice actually has no effect on the recovery time.

2. Pain Killers

To a certain number of people, pain killers are the first port of call before undergoing sports massage or injury treatment.

However, I don’t believe this is the correct route to go down for sports treatment. In any treatment, there needs to be correct feedback throughout the entire treatment. If painkillers are in the system, then that feedback will be altered and the initial goal of the treatment will not be achieved.

There’s another problem. The sports therapist’s aim is to reach a sufficient depth within a patient’s pain threshold in order to realign muscle tissue and assist the inflammation system. But, with incorrect feedback, this may be by-passed, resulting in too much pressure being applied. Instead of assisting, you are in danger of restarting the inflammation system. If there is bruising, then the body goes back to its original state once the bruising has healed. If the treatment continues, then the sports therapist will inadvertently achieve the title of “Brutus the destroyer,” or the treatment cannot be carried out.

3. Old School Vs New School training styles

Having been in the fitness for 8 years, I have encountered two radically different schools of thought that have entered the arena. Let’s call them “old school” and “new school” training styles.

It’s worth bearing in mind because it means that there is conflicting information in both and meeting the Fitness professionals from the Old world of training and Other fitness professionals from the New world style i feel i need to point out these purist point of views.

Examples

Let’s take some examples of the same techniques to illustrate the difference between them.

First of all, consider the lunge. According to the new school theorists, your knee should not be allowed to go in front of your toes. On the other hand, if you are of the old school persuasion, then your knee must be in front of your toes. Or, another example, the bench press. Old school proponents would insist that you lock out your arms at the top. New school, however, is exactly the opposite, advising that you leave your elbows soft and not locked out at all at the top.

The science behind the theories

So what gives? First of all, old school theorists believe that it is beneficial to reach the end range of motions which you know you can hold with strength. It means, or so the theory goes, you are less likely to become injured because your body can handle fatigue better and this especially comes in handy for competitive situations.

New school theorists, however, believe that this will wear away at ligaments and joints and will make you more, not less, susceptible to injury and your range of motion will suffer as a result in later life.

Who’s right and who’s wrong?

As with so many things in life, there is no easy right or wrong answer. The advice from this, on the other hand, I believe, is simple. It’s about the motive. Every movement or exercise combined with how you do it, why you do it and for how long you do it has to be based on your reason for doing it. In other words, your goal determines your training style. No one move is superior to another – it’s just how you do it, and why. This is the same for fixed versus free weights and body weight: all have a reason for using it but it’s up to you (or your coach or instructor) as to why.

4. No pain, no gain means back to pain

Being a sports therapist, this is always the first question that I get asked by people that are considering their first treatment. It’s often connected to a bad experience, or a friend telling them that they need to withstand pain, or a passage of right or whatever. A good sports therapist is not “Brutus the destroyer”.

The right touch approach

As I mentioned, the pressure that’s applied is dependent on the feedback that the therapist receives. The therapist’s aim is to relax conflicting muscle tissue by applying exactly the right pressure to the area to break down the haphazard formed healing tissue in the area.

If the therapist applies too much force then the muscle will incorrectly contract in an attempt to protect itself. There won’t be the intended physical release and the therapist might hear from the client,”it’s too much”. But the same can happen the other way round – if there’s not enough pressure, then there is no difference in the muscle tissue. I call this “the right touch” approach, and depending on the individual and level of discomfort, as a general rule, the treatment gets easier over time and the release tends to last longer.

5. Stretching in training

Well, now here’s a complicated subject. It reminds me of my early days, when I was experimenting with it at university. The methods, theories and developments of stretches are manifold. One of the debates is around the notion and use of static stretching versus dynamic stretching. As explained in an article on Competitor.com: Dynamic stretches involve a repetitive and challenging motion, pushing the body part further with each repeat; while static stretching is a sustained, less challenging stretch, that is held.

Do the right stretches at the right time

Some of the problems seen with static stretches before training include inhibiting the effectiveness of the muscle during training. Conversely, dynamic stretches will help warm up your body, and help prepare you physically and mentally for what awaits you. This will also help you in your injury prevention and, unlike static stretching, won’t inhibit your strength.

So next time you exercise, why not try some dynamic stretches before you exercise and some static stretches afterwards. As I mentioned in my previous blog, all too often, people skip stretching altogether. People always tend to do the minimum amount of static stretching, if any, after their training session. The only benefit for me is a selfish one: I get paid more this way.

Have fun with your training and let me know your experiences.

Further reading

Bruckner, P. & Khan, K. (2008) Clinical Sports Medicine [3rd ed], Sydney: McGraw Hill

Bird, S. Black, N. Newton, P (1998) Sports Injuries Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention, Tottenham Court Road: Stanley Thrones

Sources for this article

Happy New Year

Time to think about those resolutions

It’s the start to the new year. Which means… it’s that cliché time when you decide to improve your health. Whether it is to lose weight, gain mass or get stronger.

Now, what do you need to consider?  First is, how are you going to improve your fitness the way you want to. Here are a few choices to think about to get you started:
  • Simple and free – cycle, walk or run to work.
  • Free – start running or cycling for fun
  • Commitment – Join a gym
  • Social – Join a sports group

The list could go on!

Get the Balance right

But when you start your regime if you rush it or push too hard too soon you are most likely to get a strain or a sprain but don’t despair there are simple ways to get around it.

Warm up properly make sure your heart rate is slightly higher and your breathing a little faster and dynamic stretches to mobilise your joints. Ease yourself into the workout.

If you balance your program properly you can avoid injuries such as tendonitis or the dreaded shin splints.

Keeping up the Motivation

Of course, once an injury sets in, it’s much harder to keep going. So why does this happen so much?

I think one reason is that people tend to overlook the full picture. They evaluate how to achieve certain goals,such as losing weight or gaining muscle, considering how to do it; how much weight they need to press; how many reps and sets they need to do; how far they need to run; and for how long. Short term results can be measured with a quick step onto the bathroom scales.

Nothing wrong with that. But it misses the value of having an all-round program. This means that mistakes are made – and one of the most common is that when time gets pressured, people decide to save time by removing or ignoring adequate stretching. This is most likely because the primary objective is to achieve your set goal – and the exercises will help you achieve your goal, while the stretches won’t, per se.

The Importance of Maintenance

The motto for 2016, then: stretching, stretching and more stretching. Here, in sports terms, we’re talking about ‘maintenance’ rather than ‘conditioning.’ You wouldn’t expect a car to just keep on going if you only put petrol in it. It needs some TLC, some oil, maybe, to stop the engine from ceasing. The body is exactly the same.

So how does maintenance (in this instance stretching) work as far as the body is concerned? Put simply, every time you physically exert yourself, it forces muscles to change and, as they do so, this causes micro tears. When the muscles heal, they heal in a haphazard state that, in turn, forces the muscle to contract resulting in a shorter range of motion that creates pain and restricts movement over a increasing periods of time.

The Benefits of Stretching

Like oil in a car, stretching can help maintain your normal range of motion as well as help you keep smooth fluid movement in the joints and muscles.

This is why professional athletes take their maintenance training very seriously indeed. They are trying to prevent any “scar tissue.” For instance, in any event a contraction through scar tissue can make you that 100th of a second slower and this could mean the difference between first and second.

Good luck

So if you are doing something new or have a new years resolution to improve yourself allow me to suggest you with one thing. Don’t just think about your goal, consider it a lifestyle change that always makes time for maintenance training. You could even try classes or exercises specifically aimed at stretching, or look for certain types of massage.

Good luck and don’t forget I am so proud of you for improving yourself and your lifestyle and am with you all the way.

Happy new year!!!