05 Dec 2017

A Real Pain in the Back

A Real Pain in the Back

Back pain – it’s surprising it doesn’t happen more often. The complexity of the make-up of our backs really isn’t given enough credit; a structure made up of bones, muscles, joints and nerves.

The spine is made up of a total of 26 bones in the adult body and 33 pre adolescence (there are 9 bones that do not fuse together until adolescence is reached) and supports the weight of the upper body whilst providing posture and making allowances for flexibility and movement – it also protects the delicate spinal cord and meninges.

5 regions of the spine –

Cervical – The Cervical region is made up of the 7 vertebrae in the neck; these vertebrae are extremely thin and delicate, giving the neck great flexibility. Pain and injury to the cervical region is less prevalent than other regions in the back, but pain experienced in this region may extend to the arms and even legs.

There are conditions such as Foraminal Stenosis and Stenosis Myelopathy which require surgical treatments in this region, however Cervical Osteoarthritis and Dengerative Disc Disease can occur as the joint and bones in this region can degenerate. As well as being treated with pain relief, physical therapy and neck exercises can help to strengthen the neck, maintaining the original range of movement and reducing pain.

Spinal discs have a blood supply to their peripheral areas, and therefore have limited means of repairing themselves; early pain in the discs can last for many years.

Thoracic – Is the chest region and is comprised of 12 vertebrae. The thoracic vertebrae are extremely large and strong but less flexible that the cervical vertebrae, it is built for stability. Each vertebrae in the thoracic region forms joints with a pair of ribs to form the ribcage.

The most common ailments in the thoracic region stems from muscle and soft tissue injury; poor posture, prolonged sitting and overuse as well as sudden trauma like a sports injury or fall can cause damage and pain. These issues can present themselves as pain and tenderness in the mid back region, a stiffness in the neck or even pain when coughing or sneezing.

Bad posture put a lot of strain onto the muscles in the region as it unbalances the appropriate distribution of weight; heavy and repetitive exercise such as weight lifting can also cause stress and damage to the muscles and tissues in this region – having the correct form in this type of exercise is crucial. Sprains and other tissue damage in the thoracic region can be treated with massages, acupuncture and strengthening physical therapy as well as taking painkillers or using topical treatments.

Conditions such asymptomatic disc herniation are fairly common as are other degenerative and inflammatory conditions, may need more extensive treatment.

Lumbar –The 5 vertebrae in the lower back form the Lumbar region, even larger and stronger than thoracic vertebrae they are also flexible as they are free of adjoining ribs. The lumbar region is responsible for bearing the full weight of the upper body and is the most common area of the back to experience problems, because the discs and ligaments are inherently weak.

Undue stress from lifting heavy objects, twisting with sports like golf or  a jolting movement can cause the muscles (muscle strain) and ligaments (lumbar sprain) can be overstretched and torn in this region, presenting as pain, inflammation and muscle spasm in the back itself as well as pain in the top of the buttocks.

Exercise is a good remedy for pain in the lumbar region, but it is crucial to visit a physiotherapist to discuss which exercises are going to help the specific cause of your pain and the correct form they should take when being carried out – it is also important to be aware of the exercises that can aggravate the pain.

Spinal manipulation by a chiropractor or osteopath physician applies pressure to the area of the lower back to relax the muscles, releasing endorphins and reducing pain; massage and acupuncture can have the same effect.

Obesity can have a significant impact on the lumbar region, so a focus on losing weight could elevate pain in this instance.

More serious conditions include Lumbar Degnerative Disc Disease and Herniated Disc; if back pain is accompanied by any loss of bladder/bowel control – this could be a sign of a more serious underlying issue.

Sacral – The sacrum is a single bone made up of 5 bones that fuse together in adolescence, it is a triangular shaped, flat bone that sits between the hip bones.

The sacral region is surprisingly easy to injure, and can be done so as the result of serious impact such as a fall or trauma. Those suffering with osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis could developed stress or fatigue fractures in this region.

The damage to the sacrum is prevalent in pregnant women due to the hormone ‘Relaxin’ softening the supporting ligament structures.

Women experiencing concentrated pain on one side of the back that continues down the leg could be experiencing Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction; as the sacrum is shorter and wider in women they are more susceptible to this condition – it is usually treated with anaesthetic injections.

Coccygeal – The coccygeal region contains the coccyx – a single bone that is also made by the fusion of single bones in adolescence, this time usually 4 tiny vertebrae (though it can range between 3 or 5). The Coccyx bears our body weight whilst we are sitting down and is a point of attachment for pelvic and gluteal muscles.

A fall, repetitive strain from rowing or cycling and pregnancy can all cause pain in this region. The coccyx can sometimes form bony spurs; it is also possible to experience referred pain, where the pain originated in one region but is felt in another.

Pain can express itself as sharp and pinpointed, as numbness, as well as in the buttocks themselves and diagnosis of the problem usually requires X rays and MRI scans, manual treatments and pain control are the usual course of action.

In conclusion, depending on the region of the back that is experiences, visiting an osteopath, masseuse or physiotherapist can ease, soothe and treat the trauma and pain without having to reach for strong painkillers that often only mask the problem. Here at Total Health Clinics we have a team of experienced staff in all of these areas that will be able to advise you of any further treatment is needed by other professionals or of exercises you can carry out in your own time so maintain a healthy back.

05 Dec 2017

How to Prevent DOMS

How to Prevent DOMS

How to Prevent DOMS

If you work out regularly DOMS may be something you have come across with following a workout, however many can be unsure how to prevent muscle soreness from developing.

Whether you’re confused about what DOMS is or the causes and how to treat it, then read on to find out how to prevent DOMS and reduce your chances of developing it.

What is it?

DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is often confused with regular muscle soreness, however DOMs has a long lasting effect. DOMS is onset and often occurs several days following a workout, often around as long as 3 days post workout.

DOMS is often seen by many, in particular fitness fanatics, as the sign of a good workout. However it’s often a sign that you’ve pushed yourself too far and can be painful and restrictive to future workouts.

Causes of DOMS

DOMS was previously thought to be caused by an excessive buildup of lactic acid, however new research has found that it’s caused by sensitivity in the pain receptors, which become sensitised by the inflammatory response to muscle damage.

There are other factors which can influence your chance of developing DOMS such as your fitness age, muscular and skeletal system, muscle and tendon structure and your inflammatory response system.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for DOMS ranges from nutritional guidance and massage to wearing compression clothing during workouts. Other treatments include, foam rolling and rest following an exercise session.

Increasing your intake of fats, protein and carbohydrates can all have a positive impact on DOMS and have been found to improve structural skeletal muscle damage. Whey protein is cited with helping to reduce the symptoms of DOMS as it accelerates the healing of muscle fibers.

A sports massage will help to alleviate muscle pain and heal micro trauma within the muscles, whilst working to flush out toxins and increase blood circulation around the body. A massage won’t only help to improve you mobility following exercise but can help to rehabilitate soft tissues within your muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Wearing compression clothing during your workout can help to push blood through veins during exercise which results in your body developing symptoms of fatigue much slower than if you were to wear regular clothing.

How to Prevent DOMS

We are all aware of the importance of a warm up before exercise, and a light warm up can help to significantly reduce the chance of DOMS occurring and if it does, it can reduce muscle pain. A warm up of around 5 minutes will allow your body and muscles to warm up gradually and prepare for exercise. Don’t forget to cool down either and stretch out muscles to aid their recovery.

Contrasting temperatures in the shower can also help to prevent DOMS developing, by switching between hot and cold water. This works by alternating vasodilatation and vasoconstriction to the blood supply in your muscles and ensure blood flow nutrients are transported to the muscles. Similarly, a warm bath will also help to loosen up muscles especially if you had in relaxing bath salts.

You may also find that deep heat patches can help to reduce muscle pain following exercise as the cooling agent relax muscles. The science behind topical treatments are that they affect our sense of temperature in our neurons and reduce the brain and pain connection, resulting in muscles which are less sore.

If you do experience DOMS for more than 72 hours then it’s often a sign that you should seek professional advice and have a massage to help relieve excess soreness. Whilst there is no simple cure for beating DOMS you can take steps to prevent and reduce it.

05 Dec 2017

Avoid Injury This Winter

Avoid Injury This Winter

We all do our best to avoid sports related injuries all year round but in winter it’s time to step up the prevention strategy. Winter sports, icy roads and cold conditions can all lead to injuries in winter and whether you’re a newbie or a regular on the exercise scene we can all be affected by injuries in winter.

However by following a combination of warm up and cool down routines, avoiding certain exercises and taking necessary precautions you can avoid injury in winter and still partake in your favourite winter sports.

Warm Up…

Warming up before exercise is one step not to be missed in your exercise routine and is one of the most effective steps you can take to prevent injury. As your body gradually warms ups so do your muscles helping to reduce the chance of injury. Warm muscle contract more forcefully and relax quicker and improve elasticity, helping to reduce the chance of overstretching. The stress on your hear it also lowered as the resistance to blood flow is reduced when the blood vessels dilate.

There are a number of good warm up exercises which can be completed, you should ultimately aim to warm up for around 6 minutes.  Marching on the spot is a good starting point, and you can then go on to incorporate other movements such as lifting knees and shoulder rolls to warm up the whole body.

…and Cool Down

The main aim and reason for cooling down is to aid your body in its recovery after your workout. You should aim to give your body a thorough cool down to help stretch out muscles, reduce body temperature and allow your heartrate to return back to its normal pattern. Removing lactic acid from muscles will help to reduce the chance of muscle cramps and injury following exercise.

A cool down routine should take around 5 minutes to complete and combine a mixture of exercises to slow your heart rate and stretch out your muscles. There are many how to stretch guides however following a simple routine of stretching calf’s, thighs and hamstrings should help to reduce the chance of injury.

What to Avoid

You can still take part in your usual exercise routines but it’s important to be wary of winter conditions and adapt your routine accordingly. With the night’s drawing in it’s important to stay safe outside when exercising outdoors as visibility will be poorer and conditions can bet wet and icy. Winter can be a good time to change up your exercise pattern and look to indoor sports such a badminton, swimming or pilates.

Whilst you can still exercise whilst you have a cold, if you have asthma you may want to take extra care to avoid triggering symptoms.  Dress appropriately for the weather to avoid illness by wearing light layers and build them up, look for technical clothing which will help to keep you insulated and dry. Dressing correctly will also help to protect muscles from cold weather.

If you do sustain an injury then remember to follow the PRICEMM method (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Mobility and Management) and if pain is still there after 48 hours then consider visiting a sports therapist who will be able to assess your injuries further.

Whatever exercise you choose to partake in this winter by following these simple steps you’ll help to avoid injury and keep up with your regular fitness routine.

05 Dec 2017

The Benefits of Foam Rolling

The Benefits of Foam Rolling

With many gyms now offering gym goers the opportunity to use foam rolling after their exercise routines have been completed and with many internet and high street retailers stocking foam rollers, many are often left wondering how to incorporate them into their recovery plan.

Foam rolling can greatly benefit you post exercise, but it’s important to understand how to use this recovery technique, where to apply pressure and the benefits it can offer you.

What is Foam Rolling?

Foam rolling is a Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) massage technique which is used to aid and release tightness in muscles and the fascial, the area which surrounds individual and groups of muscles.

Pressure is applied to specific body parts by rolling a large foam tube on areas of pain to assist with recovery. The size of the foam roller varies according to the area where pressure is being applied and pressure required. Those who are new to foam rolling may choose to start with a smaller roller, before increasing in size once they are used to the foam rolling motion.

Tension in muscles is often caused by repetitive movements in joints and muscles such as running or resistance sports which then causes pain to occur. Foam rolling helps muscles to return to their ‘normal state’ and speed up the time it takes to recover post exercise.

Benefits

Foam rolling works to stretch out muscles and increase movement and flexibility throughout your body by releasing trigger points which hold in the tension. Trigger points, which are essential knots in your muscles, are a source of pain which are held in one area of your body and when probed they can then trigger pain elsewhere.

By using foam rollers you can work to your own pain threshold, increasing and decreasing the pressure applied during the process to fit with the treatment you require.  You can add more weight or pressure as your muscles begin to relax and the foam roller becomes more comfortable on your body.

Foam rolling increases the blood flow throughout your body allowing you to enhance your sport performance through a speedier recovery time.

Where to use a Foam Roller

You can use a foam roller on any muscle which you are able to treat through the rolling process, however it is recommended you avoid certain areas such a joints, bones, neck and your lower back. These areas are more sensitied to pain and may require further treatment from a medical professional or sports therapist.

Once you have located the area you are experiencing the most pain, locate the roller on the area and apply your bodyweight to help roll the foam on the muscle. Work on 1 inch per second, rolling slowly, you should start to feel the muscle releasing after around 5-30 second.

You’ll find the most relief from foam rolling in your leg and shoulder muscles. At first you may find it difficult to get into a position where you can roll comfortably, so follow a foam rolling plan to help assist you if you are new to this technique.

Introducing foam rolling into your post workout recovery plan can help to increase your performance for next time and relieve muscle tension throughout your body and is a great way to provide pain relief at home.

05 Dec 2017

What to Expect From Your First Sports Massage?

What to Expect From Your First Sports Massage?

Let us be honest here, a well-executed sports massage is far from the dimly lit pamper session that you would experience at a spa. It will probably be uncomfortable, quite possibly painful but most importantly, it will work.

Designed in its entirety for the physically active, a sports massage incorporates techniques from other massage styles to become an entity that works to provide a deep and rehabilitating process that manipulates the soft tissue to prevent injury, elevate muscle or tendon pain or rid the soft tissue of any stress they are holding on to.  Extremely beneficial to athletes, gym goers or even those that are desk bound between 9-5, a sports massage experience will vary from person to person depending on what their injuries or aggravations are.

Sports Massages can be split into 4 categories;

Pre-Event – Designed to stimulate, this massage will focus on the areas of the body that will be exerted during the activity. Typically given 15-45 minutes before the event.

Post Event – Received within 2 hours of undertaking the activity, it aids the tissues to normalise.

Restorative – Often received regularly whilst training for an event or for those looking to improve their personal bests and train harder. Restorative sports massage works to enable further training by preventing injury.

Rehabilitative – Serves to alleviate pain from an injury and return the affected tissue to normal.

Just like the experience will vary, the reasons that people decide on a sports massage will vary. It may be that they have ongoing conditions such as tight calves from running, or tense shoulders from sitting at a desk or have sustained a recent injury from a sprain or an accident, even those that have recently undergone recent surgery opt for treatment; sports massages are also often by those that suffer from migraines and tension headaches.

Unlike a full body massage, it is likely that the therapist will focus on specific areas of the body once an assessment has been carried out prior to the treatment. A client assessment will include a range of exercises that will allow your therapist to observe your posture & symmetry, flexibility and mobility of the muscles and joints along with your range of movements through passive, resistive and active movements.

Be aware that when the massage starts – that’s when things will get interesting! The therapist is trained to find your pain threshold, and work just below it whilst advising on your breathing techniques to manage any discomfort.

Sports Massage predominantly uses myofascial release techniques to stretch the fascia; a hollow fibrous network of connective tissue made of elastin and collagen that surrounds the organs, bones, muscles and tendons within the body. Poor posture and physical trauma can cause the fascia to become hard and lose elasticity, resulting in a decrease in flexibility; manipulating and stretching it during a sports massage  will relax the fascia and tissue it surrounds to regain the flexibility and motion. Other advanced techniques that will be used include –

Trigger Point Work – trigger points are a natural part of the muscle and can directly cause pain without explanation. By using cycles of isolated pressure and release it is possibilities to get rid of the trigger points.

Muscle Energy – This technique often uses an active contraction of the muscle against a resistive source and is mainly used to stretch, strengthen and relax tight postural muscles.

Soft Tissue release – Designed to stretch localised areas of tendons, fascia and muscles that are tight. The tissue and direction of its fibres will be identified, then the either active, passive or weight bearing technique will be applied.

But this list is not exhaustive and techniques that work in synergy with the nervous system may also be used.

Your body will undergo trauma during a sports massage, and while it’s likely you will feel a bit sore for a few days, you may also feel cold, thirsty and a faint as your body works to metabolize the waste products removed from the soft tissue. Drinking plenty of water and taking a warm bath will aid this process. Those suffering from any viral infection are advised not to receive a sports massage whilst ill. A sports massage will stimulate the circulation and lymphatic system and can cause the virus to spread in the body.

It usually takes 24-48 hours to feel the full effect of a sports massage after which you should feel comfortable, rejuvenated and refreshed.

05 Dec 2017

How to Avoid Common Running Injuries

How to Avoid Common Running Injuries

It’s rather ironic that in our quest to keep fit and healthy this can sometimes result in injury. Knowing when you need to let your body rest and recuperate is crucial, and whilst many runners will experience the odd aches and pains, you should be aware of when a slight niggle becomes a bigger pain to help identify when it’s time to give it a rest.

These running injuries are common complaints for many runners and many can find themselves at risk of developing some of the ailments. We’ve put together some of the most common injuries and how to reduce their impact on your running ability.

Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee or Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, occurs when the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap becomes irritated. Whilst it usually becomes an issue when running it can also become irritated from long periods of sitting, climbing stairs and from weakened muscle areas; including the quads, hips and glutes.

When you feel irritation in your knee, often at the front, around or behind the kneecap, it may be a dull or sharp, severe pain. To prevent further damage you should stop running and allow your body to recover by taking rest days. Reducing the distance you run or introducing swimming into your workout can also help to reduce the pain.

Achilles Tendon

The Achilles tendon connects the two major calf muscles to your heel at the back of the ankle, and if you’re a regular runner it can cause the area to become stressed and tightened over time. Pain or swelling in this area is a sign that your Achilles tendon is in need of some attention.

Stop running to avoid a big flare up and introduce ice and massage to help calm the area, when treated promptly you can avoid prolonged symptoms. You could also work on strengthening the area by introducing heel drops to help keep calves strong.

Hamstring

Hamstring issues arise when muscles are weakened or imbalanced, for example when your quadriceps overpower your hamstrings. Pain can often feel sudden and come on almost immediately.

Ice and rest are both key to your recovery from a hamstring injury, and it can take anything from a week to 6 months to heal properly. A foam roller can help to alleviate the tightness in the muscle, with compression tights improving the blood flow.

Plantar Fasciitis

The Plantar Fasciitis affects the bottom of the foot and occurs from the shock of running, as the bottom of the foot absorbs the impact. Small tears and inflammation of the tendons and ligaments can occur in the bottom of the foot from heel to toe.

The pain often feels like a dull ache and those with extremely low or high arches can be more prone to developing plantar fasciitis. Like many other injuries, running through the pain can delay healing so taking a break from running is advised.

Shin Splints

Small tears in the muscles surrounding the tibia lead shin splints to become a problem for runners. Shin splints are prevalent in new runners or those returning to running after a break, and can be a sign of doing too much, too quick.

Increasing your speed and mileage slowly can reduce your risk of shin splints and keeping a comfortable pace when you do run is advised. Wearing the wrong shoe can also impact shin splints, and getting your training shoes fitted at a reputable retailer can greatly reduce your risk of developing shin splints and other running injuries.

Whether you’re new to running or a seasoned runner, it’s important you recognise the warning signals of these running injuries and are prepared to put your running shoes to rest whilst you recover. You should always include a good warm up and cool down before and after your run to help your muscles adjust more easily.

05 Dec 2017

How a Chiropractor Can Give your Business a Boost

How a Chiropractor Can Give your Business a Boost

When the clock strikes 9am we can all be guilty of feeling like we’re chained to our desks, watching the hours tick away until 5pm when we are released back into the outside world. Whilst we do have breaks and we are of course allowed to leave our desks, the pressures we put on ourselves when it comes to our work life means that we aren’t always living the healthiest of lifestyles during our 9 to 5.

But, over the past few years more and more businesses have been changing their approach to workplace wellness, and whilst wellbeing options help employees to reduce their stress, they impact business productivity in a positive way too.

In 2014/2015 9.9 million days of work were lost due to stress, depression or anxiety equating to 23 days lost per case. Whilst it would be naïve to think that all of these cases were due to workplace issues, it would be more naïve to think that the office didn’t impact our stress levels and contribute to these lost hours.

Stress isn’t just confined to one industry either, with public service industries fairing the worst; education, health and social care, public administration and defense all affected by stress related cases the most.

Stress Affects both Physical and Mental Wellbeing

Our physical health is intrinsically linked to our mental wellbeing, and one of the first places tension begins to show in our bodies is in our back and necks. You may have a chair which you think supports your back and neck sufficiently at work, but even sitting at your desk for long periods of time can cause problems. It’s recommended you get up around every 30 minutes, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes to avoid damaging your health.

But back and neck problems aren’t just limited to office jobs either. In fact, they are more commonly linked with jobs which involve manual work and heavy lifting, and whilst proper training is often given, it doesn’t stop problems for arising.

Tearing staff away from their tasks can prove tricky, and how do you tread the line between encouraging staff wellbeing and adding to the pressures what is expected at work by introducing a wellness program?

What you include in your wellbeing program depends on what kind of business you run, your industry and most importantly what you want employees and the business to get out of the program. Do you want staff to feel less stressed? Do you want to improve productivity rates? Or perhaps you want to improve the package you offer employees?

Whilst one of the above may be your initial soul focus, wellbeing impacts all of those areas whether you intend it to or not and putting employees first will help your business to succeed and staff to feel more valued. And the stats add up too, with 60% of staff saying they would feel more motivated if their employee supported their mental wellbeing.

Why Choose a Chiropractor?

A chiropractor focuses on the neuro-musculo-skeletal system, which can help to provide back and neck pain relief, by realigning the spinal column and increasing the range of movement a person has.

Our spinal column affects how we move, bend and twist throughout the day, it feels and aids every movement so if this is affected it can greatly affect our ability to complete even the most simple of tasks such as reaching for a pen, typing on a keyboard, or lifting a box.

By improving the joint motion and movement in our back, our posture, function and performance all improve. Ultimately leading us to be less stressed and without discomfort, through joint manipulation which helps to relieve muscle tension.

A Better Business

Happy employees equal a happier, more productive business. It’s simple math. Valuing your employees not only for their work, but their contribution to the business as people too, can help to endear you to them and in turn motivate them to strive for the best.

Your workforce isn’t just how the job gets done, they are the very core of your business and valuing their wellbeing should be a high priority for many. Not only does a relaxed employee feel more valued, but concentration will improve and creativity will be boosted.

Stress is a common work related illnesses and lower back pain is the most common work related back problem so failing to look at how these impact your business, and the steps a chiropractor can take to help alleviate these problems will mean you are failing your business.

05 Dec 2017

Why You Should Be Including Yoga in Your Workout

Why You Should Be Including Yoga in Your Workout

Originating in India over 5,000 years ago, yoga is designed to focus on breathing, strength and flexibility. Whilst for many it is a practice and routine in its own right, it can also be incorporated into other exercise routines and workouts to aid training and improve our physical health and mental wellbeing.

Yoga doesn’t just impact our physical appearance either, in fact, one of the biggest components of yoga is the calm and clarity it brings to our minds with many using yoga to alleviate stress and depression too.

If you still aren’t convinced to join the yoga bunnies, then here’s why yoga is your workouts new best friend.

What is Yoga?

Essentially, yoga improves core strength, increases flexibility, and provides inner calm by enabling you to focus on your breathing. Postures are created by completing a range of movements, all with a different purpose to them; from helping your arms, back, stomach, heart and even your bladder – there’s a yoga pose to help every ailment.

Health Benefits

Flexibility – it’s the most obvious benefit of yoga, and whilst during your first class you may struggle to touch your toes it does become easier with regular practice.

Starting slowly, you’ll soon increase the range of poses you can complete without feeling too much of a burn as your flexibility increases. Regular aches will soon start to be a thing of the past, as your body begins to loosen up tight muscles will increase their flexibility.

Strength – strengthening our muscles, yoga helps to balance out increased flexibility by strengthening muscles to control the range of movement you have when you complete yoga poses.

Strong muscles can help to reduce our chances of back pain and prevent conditions from arthritis developing. Strength in yoga is built by using your own body weight to support and resist movements, which in turn increases strength.

Posture – yoga is all about focusing on your core, and when you stand tall you should imagine an invisible piece of string pulling you up through the top of your head to ensure your posture is strong, lean and tall.

Your head should ideally be balanced directly over your spine, to avoid straining your back and neck muscles. Slouching is a big no-no too, as your body slumps forward you flatten the inward curve of the neck and lower back which in turn causes pain.

Injury Prevention – yoga is also great at prevent injuries and aiding recovery time, so incorporating yoga into your usual exercise program can not only help you to heal better, but also perform better too.

Through increasing your strength and flexibility, yoga helps to highlight areas of your body which may be underworked in your other workouts. By allowing you to focus your time on developing unattended muscles, they will soon function to the best of their ability.

What else? – Well, yoga has also been proven to improve immunity, eases migraines, helps you to sleep better and fights food cravings in some studies.

Adding it to Workouts

The practice of yoga is primarily based on stretching and poses, making it a great exercise to incorporate into workout routines. With a range of poses which benefit different parts of your body you can ensure each muscle group is stretched before you begin your workout or during your cool down.

Bridge (Bandha Sarvangasana) – opening up your hips, the bridge pose strengthens your spine whilst improving flexibility and relieving your body from stress and anxiety.

Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) – lengthening your spine, the downward dog pose also stretches your hamstrings and strengthen your arm. Known as an inverted position where you head is below your heart, you’ll be given a boost of energy and your blood circulation will also be improved.

Child Pose (Balasana) – with your knees tucked beneath you and your arms stretched over the top of your body, the child pose can help to relieve everyday stress often built up in your neck, back and hips.

Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana) – Warrior poses are designed to strengthen legs and open up our chest and shoulders. Through a combination or stretch and strengthening benefits the warrior pose is consisted of movements and poses we wouldn’t usually use in our daily motion range.

Tree Pose (Vrksasana) – Another of the most iconic yoga poses, distributing your weight equally through your body with one leg ben underneath and hands in front of your chest, the tree pose helps to improve balance and strengthen the core.

Keeping fit should consist of a well-rounded exercise regime and incorporating yoga into your workouts will help to keep your whole body fit and healthy for many years to come. Our new yoga studio at our Peterborough clinic will give you the opportunity to experience yoga and just how beneficial it is for the body and soul.

05 Dec 2017

The Best Exercises for Bad Knees

The Best Exercises for Bad Knees

Our knees are involved in nearly all physical activities we complete, so it’s no wonder they are often one of the first signs of injury our bodies display. Constant movement in and around the knee joint can lead to chronic knee pain. But if you don’t want to give up exercising and keeping mobilised is recommended, finding an exercise which helps but doesn’t hurt can be tough to find.

Whilst there are a number of recommended exercises you can take up, it’s always best to know the benefits of each beforehand. So let’s take a look at some of the knee exercises which will keep you healthy and not damage your knee in the process.

Swimming

Swimming is one of the best exercises for bad knees as it works out the whole body at relatively low impact. Through working all major muscle groups in the body – abdominals, chest muscles, glutes etc – knees aren’t the only area being impacted, allowing for a great full body workout.

By allowing you to place less pressure on the knee joint, swimming still enables the knee to be involved in the workout. In order to receive the full benefits of swimming it is recommended that you aim for around 150 minutes per week. The best swimming strokes for bad knees are front crawl, backstroke and butterfly, but be careful swimming breast stroke as the kicking action could damage knees more in this stroke.

Cross Trainer

If running has left your knees in a state of despair, but you can’t bear to give up hitting the tarmac, then a cross trainer could be the perfect solution. Ensuring your feet don’t leave the pedals, the impact on knees and other areas such as your back, neck and hips are impacted far less, leaving you with little pain and everything to gain.

Cross trainers are good at working out the whole body, as your feet move in a swinging motion on the pedals, you also have the option to use handles which work in conjunction with the foot pedals. Building up the intensity of your workout and increasing the resistance, cross trainers allow you to work to what your body can handle and increase the impact of your workout accordingly. In order to really see the benefits which are comparable to running it’s likely you’ll need to work slightly harder, but by swapping running for the cross trainers your knees will certainly thank you for it.

Step Ups

Exercising doesn’t always mean you need the gym, the latest high tech equipment or a routine to rival even the best athletes to get a good workout. Using a step on the stairs or even buying a low cost aerobic step, place one foot on top of the step and bring the other up to join it, lower and repeat the movement.

For best practice your knee should be directly over your ankle and by repeating the step movement equally on each leg you’ll improve explosive leg power and strengthen knee joints. Step ups also help to lessen the impact on your lower back and improve symmetry and balance, both of which help to improve overall posture and give you better lower body strength.

Stationary Bike

Even if your knees are playing up, it doesn’t mean you should stop exercising altogether and one of the best things you can do when you have bad knees is work to strengthen your lower body. Biking can help to improve flexibility in your knee joint and strength.

Whilst you could get on an outdoor bike and tackle the pavements it’s best to stick to a flat even surface and use a stationary bike. When adjusting the settings on the bike make sure you’re seated properly to avoid straining the knee to reach the pedal or being too hunched up that the movement is limited.

Leg Raises

Incorporate leg raises into your exercise routine to help strengthen the area surrounding your knee called your quadriceps. This exercise is best to start your journey to better knees as it will allow you to start slowly and build up as the condition of your knee improves.

Lie on your back and bend one knee with your foot flat on the floor, with the other leg laid out stretched. Raise the leg to the same height as your opposite knee and repeat the movement for 10 times and around 3 sets before starting on the other leg.

Knee pain can leave you feeling like there are no other options out there, but by incorporating these simple exercises into your routine you won’t miss out on your workout. For more on how knee pain is caused then take a look at our rundown of some common knee ailments.

05 Dec 2017

10 Most Common Exercise Mistakes

10 Most Common Exercise Mistakes

We all know we should be exercising to make ourselves fitter, stronger and healthier, but entering into a workout routine or the gym and blundering through without considering the impact on your body can lead you to do more bad than good, despite your best intentions.

Whether you’re a newbie or think you know the ropes, ignoring the advice of the fitness professionals can lead to injury, fitness woes, and your health goals being further away than you imagined.

Mistakes are easy to make when it comes to fitness, so take a look at some of the common mishaps which could happen everywhere from the treadmill to the swimming pool.

Not Warming Up

You may be eager to start your workout, or skip this vital step out of sheer laziness, but avoid warming up properly and your body will certainly not thank you for it. Warming up your muscles before you begin exercising is one of the best ways to prevent injuries.

Warming up should take around 6 minutes and should include every part of your body, focusing on the areas you’ll be working out in particular. Marching on the spot, rolling each body joint individually can all help to make your workout more effective and get the blood pumping round your body.

Or Cooling Down

Post-workout we all probably want to scarper, but if you want your body to recover then incorporating a cool down into your routine can help to reduce the chance of aches and pain developing in the body.

Getting your heartrate back to normal, stretching out muscles and reducing body temperature are what you should be aiming for. A 5 minute cool down should consist of stretching out the muscles worked to remove lactic acid focusing on calves, thighs, hamstrings and shoulders.

Being Strict on Time

Exercise guidelines are constantly changing when it comes to the amount of time we should be exercising per day, so knowing how long or short we should be keeping our workouts too can leave us feeling as though we never know if we are doing too much or too little to keep ourselves fit.

The NHS recommends doing around 150 minutes of exercise per day, which equates to around 30 minutes a day 5 days per week. When you break this down it’s actually a pretty manageable amount, and working out for hours on end a day isn’t necessary or actually doing your body much good.

Repeating the Same Routine

Creature of habit or training for a specific event, once we find something we love and most importantly enjoy doing then it becomes hard to break from the usual routine, but rinsing and repeating the same old workout can lead your body to adapt to your regime and prevent you from reaping the physiological benefits.

The aim of working out is often to keep us healthy and in shape, but by doing the same exercise weekly your body will simply plateau rather than improve. Plus, when you do the same routine you’re only working out the same areas of your body rather than working out the whole body, which is going to leave areas weaker than others which can ultimately lead to injury.

Weight Lifting Myths

Many think if they lift weights they’ll become too bulky, and instead avoid lifting altogether, but if your aim is to look toned then lifting weights can help to remove the fat that covers muscles resulting in a leaner appearance.

Strengthening your body to cope with your workouts should be a priority, stronger muscles help to support body alignment and protect bones, joints and muscles when impacted by exercise. Strength training can help to eliminate weaker areas in your body, so that when completing activities your overall body is strong and imbalances are evened out.

Doing Too Much

If you’re a workout novice or have been taking a break, rushing into exercise can leave your body in a state of distress rather than feeling the positive impacts of a workout. Doing too much too soon will leave your muscles fatigued and could even leave you resting up for a few days or a week.

Build up your stamina and strength slowly. If everyone else in the class is going full pelt it doesn’t mean you have to as well, many fitness instructors ask if anyone is new or has injuries and offer easier solutions if needs be. Don’t feel embarrassed that you can’t do something, just take your time and you’ll soon be top of the class.

Ignoring Fitness Professionals

If you join the gym it’s likely you’ll be offered an induction appointment which will go through how to use the machines and provide exercise recommendations, but whilst many of us brush these aside ignoring the advice of the experts can leave you gambling with your workout.

Devising a fitness routine which benefits your body and your goals is essential, diving in head first without a clue how to use a machine or what part of your body you’re actually training can leave your body vulnerable.

And Ignoring Technique

As with most things, take a shortcut and you’ll notice that you’ve taken the quick route and set yourself up for failure, but do things properly and you’ll reap the benefits. With all exercises and in particular with weight training, doing the exercises correctly will help to prevent injuries from occurring.

Poor posture and core, stepping or twisting the wrong way during a move can all lead your body to become out of step and sync with the move you are trying to complete.  If you don’t have the advice of a professional at hand, always do you research before you try a new move and take it slowly.

Not Adjusting Workouts

We’re all unique in both our approach to fitness and our fitness levels, so it’s natural that workouts should be adjusted and tailored to each individual too. The same goes for adjusting gym equipment too, being lazy and leaving it on the settings of the previous user can leave you over or under reaching which can cause injury.

You could be putting different parts of your body under unnecessary stress, so always make sure that you adjust le-extension machines to sit comfortably within reach and arm machines too. Even if you aren’t using a machine, you can still put yourself at risk of injury. For example, when you lunge or squat your knee shouldn’t extend beyond your toes or you could put stress on the knee joint.

Not Listening to Your Body

Our bodies are incredibly intelligent and if an injury occurs, whether you can physically see it or not, it’s likely you’ll feel the effects. If your body hurts then listen to it and don’t push yourself further in vain or the ‘no pain, no gain’ mantra.

Overusing certain parts of the body and excessive, repetitive action can lead the body to breakdown in pain. Investing in a sports massage can help your body to recover quicker and improve performance, by alleviating muscle stress through muscle moblisation and manipulation.

Staying fit and healthy is different for everyone, but by avoiding these exercise pitfalls you should be on your way to fitness success.