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Assuming your troubles stem from something musculoskeletal (bones, muscles, tendons & ligaments), rather than from say, bacterial or viral, these tips should help reduce your discomfort at least a little without spending a fortune on visits to the GP, Physio, Osteo…etc
The main take-away from this article is that if you’ve got a problem, you need to be proactive because no one will find the solution for you!
..you need to be proactive because no one will find the solution for you!
Simple as that, if you’re doing something, and it hurts, stop doing it, unless that something is breathing.
But sometimes it isn’t as simple as that, it may be discomfort that has slowly progressed over time from a niggle, to preventing you from doing simple tasks. Here is a simple flowchart:
Just because you’re in pain, doesn’t mean you should stay in bed all day. It’s likely that certain movements hurt, so avoid them, but don’t avoid EVERYTHING.
For example, it hurts for you to raise your right arm above your head. Don’t do that. It doesn’t mean you can’t go to the gym or go for a walk/ride.
Say you decided to go to the gym, what can you do that doesn’t involve annoying your shoulder? Heaps! Just don’t do any overhead press work or anything else involving the shoulder that feels wrong.
If you want more specific tips on correct bio-mechanical movement, check out these guys on social media:
“If pain persists, see your doctor”.
So you’ve stopped the offending activity, you’ve modified your lifestyle and exercise, but the pain is still there when you move the wrong way. You’re probably frustrated at this point!
Don’t be, the problem is likely to be more complex, requiring holistic intervention, ideally. It may be difficult to decide who to book an appointment with, so I’d recommend an Osteopath.
Avoid medications and non-conservative treatments (surgery), if you can.
I like to compare key chains to the amount of stress, clutter, responsibility or complexity in a person’s life.
Have a look at your keys, do you need ALL of them? I used to have keys for the sake of having keys when I was in my late teens and early 20’s. Keys that were for things that didn’t exist anymore or for doors I never used, or needed to use. I think it somehow made me feel like more of an adult, or more important, which sounds ridiculous now!
Here are my keys at the moment…
If you have an item that isn’t redundant, but just doesn’t really get used, then keep it somewhere else with other important things. Most people have a box or two with things they are attached too but keep it hidden away where it doesn’t clutter living space. Although you don’t want all your storage space cluttered with junk either!
How nice is it coming home to a clean house? How comfy is it getting into a made bed?
A lot of people have adopted a minimalist lifestyle to varying degrees. It could be stripping all unnecessary and superficial things from life (living on the land and making their own clothes for example) to just cutting out a bit of clutter. I don’t know anyone who is less happy after cutting out superficial things, and people, from their life!
We fill our lives with meaningless, superficial things so quickly when we’re unhappy as we scramble for quick hits of happiness. We take on more responsibilities at work and home in an attempt to fill voids. Before long, our ‘key chains’ are burdened with things we don’t need, and don’t make us happy.
Are there some things you can remove from your life that you don’t need and keep only the ‘keys’ that you need?
You’ve probably heard the saying that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit…
In the 1950’s, Plastic surgeon Dr Maxwell Maltz noticed that patients would take 21 days to get used to their new look or for their phantom limb to disappear. This ultimately led him to look further into it and write a book called ‘Psycho-Cybernetics’, which would go on to sell more than 30 million copies and lead to all sorts of self-help / empowerment programs and books.
Research has also shown that the more complicated or difficult the habit is, the longer it may take, but ‘21’ is usually the magic number.
So when you next set a goal, which could be to go for a run ‘x’ times a week, eat a healthier dinner 6 out of 7 nights a week or to just drink more water everyday, you will need to do this consistently for 21 days to make it a habit. Once it’s a habit, you can enjoy the success and amazing benefits of this new habit!
But what about when we go the other way? We’ve formed a healthy habit but now we’re starting to slip. Let’s look at the disadvantages of not being consistent.
Not training for a few days is unlikely to impact your fitness levels, unless you took those days off due to being sick of course.
After about 2 weeks you may notice a decrease in fitness. After about a year, you’ll likely be back at where you started before you started training. The good news is that it’s generally easier to get back to where you were, rather than starting for the first time.
Similar to fitness, if you take 1-2 weeks off, you won’t notice a decrease in muscle mass, the difference is that this recovery time, especially just a week, can be beneficial for your muscles in terms of recovery!
However, after taking 3-4 weeks off, you may start noticing a loss of muscle mass, but don’t get too upset, after this 1 month break, it won’t take long to get back to where you were.
With muscle loss comes a loss in strength, so similarly to muscle loss after 3-4 weeks, strength will also decline
After exercising or training, your body naturally needs a period of recovery to repair and adapt to the stimulus that was applied, which is usually a couple of days or so depending on the intensity. However after a long period of heavy training, you may start feeling abnormally fatigued, at which point you start entering a zone of ‘over-training’, where you are more susceptible to injury and sickness. This is where a week off can be a really good thing!
Try this experiment. Close your eyes and try and touch your index fingers above your head, I’ll wait.
How did you go? Did fingertip touch fingertip or did you miss? This is proprioception in a nutshell, your body knowing where it is in space (not literally outer space). When you move, sensory nerves tell your brain what is moving and where it’s moving. While this is happening, motor nerves are creating the movement and adjusting depending on where you are at with your movement. This is happening all the time, constantly.
Think of how hard it would be to walk if you didn’t know where your feet were….
Many years ago, I was told that I had an anterior tilt in my pelvis, which basically means the front of my pelvis is lower than the back, which can also cause a more curvature in the low back, which is bad, or can be.
The typical remedy for this that a personal trainer will prescribe stretching and strengthening certain muscles and muscle groups. Don’t get me wrong, this will definitely help, however I didn’t do this as I was too inconsistent and don’t like wasting a lot of time stretching…sssshhh.
Instead, I constantly thought about my posture, specifically my pelvis, and was always focusing on staying neutral when standing, walking or performing other tasks. And now it’s neutral and I have better awareness of my body!
Here are a few examples of common postural dysfunctions and how you can remedy them.
I mentioned anterior tilt above, and you can also have posterior or lateral tilt (left higher than right for example), however anterior is usually more common.
Remedy: Maintain a neutral pelvis as often as you can.
Stop where you are right now and look around (if there are other people around), and see if anyone looks like the picture on the right. This is another common condition where we fall into a bad posture, and a lot of people just can’t sense (proprioception) that they are in a bad position.
Remedy: Shoulders back and down, palms facing forward.
This is also illustrated in the photo above where the head ‘pokes’ forward. We do this all the time, in the car, at work in the office, and lying in bed on your back and you have too many pillows under your head.
Remedy: Double chin, it’s not pleasant so maybe do it when people aren’t around if you’re worried of what they’ll think!
Go for a walk and look at your feet, where do your toes point? Forward? Or do they point out or in? They may even be different to one another. A lot of people walk like a duck and even some like a pigeon. Good news, it’s easy to fix! Unless you have an injury or genetic defect.
Remedy: Point your toes forward when you walk. This was another issue I had which I corrected by just thinking about it.
A lot of people underestimate the power of their mind and what it can do. Here are some simple steps to take control:
Are you aware of the current health status of your spine? You may have back pain or have issues that you aren’t aware of, yet.
There are many beliefs, especially in the ancient practice of yoga, that what is going on with your spine affects the rest of your health. Which makes sense, think about it, it carries the precious spinal cord from your brain out into the body where it then splits up and sends nerve impulse to all facets of your body, controlling things like movement, sensory feedback, digestion, breathing, heart rate…etc. So if you’re spine is restricted and not allowed to move freely, these sensitive nerve fibers may not be performing effectively, which in turn prevents you from performing.
Research conducted by Dr Henry Windsor in 1921 showed that unhealthy spines can contribute to organ disease in many of the organs of the body when he dissected 75 human and 22 cat cadavers, comparing curvature of the spine and the correlation to nerve fibers from that region, to the diseased organs. Medical Times, Nov. 1921, 49, pp. 267-271
Photo Credit: http://clinicalcharts.com/products/autonomic-nervous-system-poster.html
The good news is that a lot can be done to help restore function and mobility back to the spinal column! But if you are aware of the implications and the signs and symptoms you may be experiencing, then you can’t improve it.
If you’re not measuring it, you’re not managing it.
For example, if you want to lose cm’s from around the waist, but you’re not measuring it, how do you know if the exercise and nutrition strategy is working or not?
If you answered YES to any of these or feel like something isn’t quite right, then secondly you need to get your spine (and health) checked!
I offer a free spine health screen which will give you an insight into what is going on with your spine. With the results I can give you advice on how to improve it or for better results, I can continue to see you and coach you through exercises, activation and mobility strategies and techniques.
Are you one of those people who make everyone else cringe by cracking your knuckles, wrist or other areas like your neck? Or maybe you just notice that sometimes when you move or stretch you hear cracks? You may also feel a certain satisfaction after it has happened (hopefully not pain!). But what is going on and why? In this article I’ll attempt to answer the following questions:
It is as described, a ‘cracking’ or ‘popping’ sound within a joint from moving or pulling on a joint, most commonly, the fingers. The most prevalent theory is that the noise is created from a bubble that is formed within the joint when a low pressure area in the synovial fluid is created when a joint is stretched. Another way to think of this is like breaking the seal on a container, you get that initial pop when the seal is broken. Carbon dioxide is believed to come out of the synovial fluid, creating a bubble, which in turn, creates the ‘crack’ or ‘pop’ as all the molecules slam together to create the bubble. Ligament laxity around a joint may allow joints to be more easily cracked than others.
Some other causes may be:
That feeling of satisfaction after cracking a joint could be from pressure relief in a stiff joint, allowing the joint to move a bit freer, while also stimulating nerve endings.
This is believed to be called the ‘Refractory Period’ where the gases are slowly absorbed back into the synovial fluid, which can last about 20 mins before you can ‘re-crack’ that joint.
People often say to those notorious ‘crackers’ that they should stop or they’ll get arthritis. There is no evidence to support this theory, in fact, it is believed to reduce the chance of arthritis if you regularly crack your joints. Medical doctor Donald Unger won a nobel prize in 2009 when he cracked his knuckles in his left hand for over 60 years, but not his right, with no signs of arthritis in his left hand.
This doesn’t mean that you suddenly youtube how to adjust your own spine, obviously cracking your knuckles is relatively safe, however there are people who forcefully rotate or bend their neck to get a crack. This kind of manipulation of your spine may actually cause severe side-effects. There are also people who ask for assistance to get their back cracked by either picking them up from behind or even standing on their back, which is extremely dangerous. If you feel like you have a restricted spine then please see someone qualified to manipulate it like a chiropractor or osteotherapist.
The cracks you hear within the body from movement are unlikely to be doing any damage if they aren’t accompanied by pain. This excludes a ‘grinding’ noise, often heard in the knee joint, which is most likely doing damage and could lead to pain in the future.
Constant cracking within joints and especially the spine may be due to musculoskeletal imbalances in your body creating uneven forces and higher pressures within joints. In the long term this may lead to pain and joint restriction throughout the body, in which case a full postural and musculoskeletal assessment can pick these up, allowing them to be corrected, resulting in a better quality of life now and later on.
Feel free to shoot me a message if you want to know how you can get assessed for advice on lifestyle changes 🙂
Everyone is encouraged to engage in some form of activity to avoid sedentary lifestyles, one of these activities is walking. Walking is great, it is an extremely important functional movement for quality of life, so it essential to be able to walk, but is it right for you as a sole means of exercise? If walking outdoors is your sole source of exercise then please read on for the pro’s and con’s.
*Walking along flat ground*
Our body is very efficient at walking, it’s one of those things that is designed to conserve energy like back in the day when we were hunters and gatherers, walking for very long distances. It’s basically controlled falling where all you need to do is be able to hold yourself up and maintain some coordinated movement patterns. This is why you shouldn’t use it as a main activity to improve your fitness, strength and mobility, it doesn’t challenge or overload the body like other exercises do.
There are a lot of benefits to walking, there is no doubt, but what is your goal? First things first, have a clearly defined goal and when you want to achieve it by. Secondly, if you don’t know how to achieve it, seek guidance. At the end of the day, it’s still better than doing nothing!
Most exercise enthusiasts have heard of or experienced ‘DOMS’ or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, but what is it exactly?
DOMS in simple terms
That familiar experience after a hard workout that usually presents itself after a day or two where you struggle to put on a shirt or walk up/down stairs is said to be a combination of lactic acid, inflammation, connective tissue damage and muscle spasm. Eccentric muscle loading is the main cause of DOMS, especially in unfamiliar exercises where the muscles aren’t used to the load or stress. Examples of this could be slowly lowering yourself down from a chin up bar or down to the bottom position of a push up. Depending on the person and the recovery strategy, or lack of, DOMS can last from 2 to 5 days before you can successfully operate stairs again.
Common ideas about DOMS
DOMS impacts new exercise enthusiasts more so than experienced athletes due to the low adaptation to exercise. Most people have experienced this when they stop exercising for 6 months or so and then jump back into a hard workout.
This onset of DOMS can make you feel like you have had a great workout but it will reduce over the next couple of sessions. This isn’t necessarily due to poor performance, but to the body adapting to the workout so if you were to change the workout to challenge your body in a new way, you will find that DOMS will return until it adapts again.
Typically if you are a highly motivated person you may want to push through the DOMS and continue training but that can have a negative effect. Your body isn’t quite ready to perform so it can increase the risk of injury and overtraining symptoms. On the other hand you may see it is a reason not to train for a week which can result in a reduction in flexibility and mobility making it difficult to start again! The answer is you should consider some active recovery. In between major workouts where you generally feel sore and fatigued, go for a walk, light jog or swim to keep the blood flowing, and joints moving. If you can’t lift as much in your workouts or run as far as you would normally run, then you are unlikely to be fully recovered.
How can massage influence DOMS?
Massage has been around for thousands of years and was used in ancient Olympics on athletes. In a sporting environment, massage can be applied before an event to warm up the athlete, during or in-between events to keep them warm and mobile or it can applied after an event to promote recovery.
There is little research supporting an increase in performance of athletes who have a massage before an event, however there is research showing that post-event massages can reduce the time needed to fully recover so having a massage soon after a workout could be the difference between a little pain getting out of bed or needing assistance while dressing yourself. A recent study showed that people who had a massage shortly after their exercise helped reduce the feeling of DOMS by 30%. Massage can definitely decrease the severity and duration of DOMS, however once DOMS has set in, and you struggle to lift your drink bottle to your lips, massage and other recovery strategies aren’t as effective.
General Recovery Advice