Blog

22
Nov

Triathlon 2014-5

“I like a challenge”. That would probably be the best way to explain why I have found myself doing Triathlons. That and the inevitable accusations of being in the grip of a perpetual mid-life crisis!

Triathlon keeps me fit and helps me feel good about myself. It helps me understand the needs of athletes and the training methods to stay faster for longer. To be fair I’ve always liked cycling. Mainly mountain biking really as a kid and young adult. I used to be good at cross country at school, until I hit my late teens then got distracted by the bright lights and excitement of going out.

Following a fairly significant car accident I started swimming to strengthen and rehabilitate my injured neck and upper body. Then I just decided it would be good to tie them all together and do a triathlon. A patient of mine talked me into it and so a motley crew, with me being the youngest, headed off to Mallorca for my first attempt. I had my heart set on sub 2hours 30mins for my first one. I finished in less than 30 mins! Lack of preparation and a complete failure to realise that I was in the company of some serious international athletes lead to me running into the fairly rough sea with the top boys who were all there for some pre season training.

I’m not ashamed to say that I was swamped by what seemed like those scenes of wilderbeast crossing a crocodile infested river. Every time I tried to get a breath I was under again. Add in the espresso coffee, tight suit and rough seas and it rapidly went to disaster. Trying to breath a good part of the salty Mediteranean lead to my first and hopefully last ever panic attack type experience. I simply couldn’t breathe. A brief stop on a kayak followed and then on I went. Only to be offered a rescue from a rib. It was too tempting and I abandoned as I wasn’t going to get my time and all rational thought had gone when I couldn’t breath without coughing due to a mild bronchospasm. Not being allowed back in to get my kit from transition meant I had to stand in my revealing Triathlon suit in the middle of a foreign town. That was enough to make me think more carefully about how to achieve a better result.

So having been told I had a talent by one of our fellow competitors ( before nearly drowning ) I thought I’d have to prove him and me right. The following year, with a little more training I started my Olympic triathlon events with a nice hilly one in the Purbecks at Swanage. I got off to a good start coming out of the water in around 23 minutes. Then I was off on my bike and managed to stay ahead of those following who didn’t have Time Trial bikes. Things were going well and I started the run in a good position. However…I hadn’t done enough running. After climbing the big hill at the Obelisk on Ballard Down and stretching out for the descent, Hamstring number one cramped. It was like being shot! A quick stretch from some passing walkers and I was off again…..for 20 yards, bang the other one went!!! Further stretching, lots of swearing and I was off again, albeit slower. People soon were passing and I couldn’t do a thing about it. The end result 2hours 32  minutes, Dammit!!

A month later I got cramp at the second transition and that was after a fast bike where I lost my chain. I then tripped on my kevlar laces and bashed my knee. Bloodied but undeterred I hobbled round the course and finished in 2 hours 30mins and 11 seconds. Gutted. So next stop Portsmouth, flat course and closed roads helped me complete in 2 hours 27 and a few seconds. Not bad.

Next stop half ironman, however Glandular Fever got me last year and I couldn’t compete at all. So now I have the big year of doing two half ironmans and the full monty in Mallorca, plus Portsmouth where I would like to be at least five minutes faster. Hopefully, if I just follow my own advice that can be done, the question is will I keep coming back for more?

2015 Season Update.

Over the winter I struggled to get up in the mornings for a swim but I did manage to get out on the bike several times for long rides, even on icy roads in January. So the base level was good for my first half-ironman in the Brecon Beacons. I expected a cold swim in a lake but it was a balmy 18 C. The swim went OK except the lake was shallow and two laps meant you got a good mouthful of muddy water! Then onto the bike which was pretty chilly initially. The wind was a bit tough and the large 400m hill towards the end had to be hit hard as thats what I like to do on hills. I overtook a lot of guys but paid for it on the run. My old nemesis cramp got me again with only 12.5 miles out of 13 still to run. So I didn’t do a blistering pace but finished the event in a reasonable position.

A week later it was off to Ironman UK 70.3 in Exmoor. It was bleak weather and blowing a hooly. The swim went well and it was onto the bike. I managed to keep up a good pace for the first lap but slowed a bit on the second. So my pacing was out. The course was tough. Very hilly so as I started the run my legs were already quite tired but I set off at a good pace. Then once again as I started to go downhill my right Hamstring cramped again! It was then the usual story of managing cramp which set off every time I went downhill, and there were a lot of hills! So my target had been sub 6 hours. I was still on for that time until the last lap when my legs just seized. I couldn’t even move for a minute. I managed to gradually nurse the legs back and made it home in 6:02. Disappointing.

So the main problem for me was cramp. I had 3 months before Ironman Mallorca to work out how to stop it. As everyone knows a lack of salt leads to cramp, but how to judge how much to have. Time to bring in some Chiropractic and Nutrition knowledge to banish this demon.

Mallorca Ironman 2015:

Woke up to dry conditions after fitful sleep. Partly due to the awful hotel entertainment keeping me awake. A mistake not to be repeated. The swim was a rolling start so managed to stick with a good pace. No repeat of the previous Mallorca Triathlon this time. I exited the water in 1:06 then remembered to start my Garmin watch! Teething problems again. Transition was relatively smooth and off I went. I was managing to stay ahead of most of the normal bikes but there were some amazing bikes passing which would have helped. Sticking by the rules and not draughting I used my knowledge of the mountain part of the course to good effect but was starting to fatigue towards the end. However this time I was taking the salts on board as well as the home made granola flapjacks. That wasn’t such a good idea. The bag became a big blob of sticky nuts and seeds and eating it slowed me down. I also needed back pockets to keep it in. Not very Aero. So overall an amateurish approach. More lessons learnt. T2 was a slow affair, I didn’t want to forget anything and needed a bit of time. Then it was off on the run in 28 degree heat in the shade. It was hot. I tried to stay in any shade I could find and bouyed on by the support of the crowd who were quite entertaining at times I ran, jogged and then shuffled my way round. There’s a small bridge on the course and by lap 3 and 4 I was walking up and down that. Eventually when you felt you couldn’t take anymore the finish came in sight and I got over the line in 11:40. Not bad and ahead of my target of 12 hours. So I was very pleased and encouraged to keep going.

17
Aug

Inspired By Our Excelling Olympians?

Then Join In On The Fun The Next Time You Watch Sport.

 

In August our amazing Olympic team brought home life time best performances and medals galore. The joy and delight on their faces was moving and something you can share to an extent by joining the para-olympic athletes as they inspire even more through their heroism in the face of adversity.

The common theme from the Rio games is one of inspiring the next generation to compete, but what about the current and former generation? Yes that’s us lot, who have probably been mainly sat on the sofa while watching, possibly with a glass of wine and a few crisps and nibbles. Well, we all need a break from the usual bad news don’t we?

But why not participate yourself next time you settle down to watch some sport. You could do a stretching routine or even some floor exercises and feel the burn with those on the screen. I’ve been doing it for F1 for years as it stops me falling asleep, even on the highlights program!

If that seems a little too much there are exercises you could do while barely leaving the sofa. Here are a few to help you.

Hip Hinge, Hip Hinge 2, hip-mobilityhip-mobility2, Cat-stretches-and-bridges

 

9
Dec

Are your anti-cholesterol drugs compromising your energy levels?

The Technical Bit:

Anti-Cholesterol drugs such as statins reduce your cholesterol by slowing down the production of cholesterol by the liver.  They do this by interfering with the action of a key enzyme, HMG-CoA-Reductase.  Cholesterol production is not fully blocked nor is the production of other substances that are derived from the same pathway, such as steroid hormones and vitamin D.

Close up of a Statin tablet - the controversial cholesterol lowering drug. Shallow d o f

Close up of a Statin tablet – the controversial cholesterol lowering drug.

Because cholesterol synthesis is reduced, the liver takes up more cholesterol carrying LDL particles from the blood. The net result is a reduction in circulating LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol).

Statins also help to stabilise the fatty plaques (fatty deposits or atheroma) within the lining of the arteries. This is why people who are at high risk of heart disease or stroke or who have diabetes, may be prescribed a statin even if they have a normal cholesterol level.

There’s no doubt that a healthy lifestyle helps lower cholesterol. The question is whether it can lower your levels enough – and that depends on how high your levels are and what your doctor has set as your goal.
Eating a heart-healthy diet can lower LDL cholesterol at least 10%. If you lose 5% to 10% of your body weight, you can cut LDL cholesterol 15%, and reduce triglycerides 20%. If you exercise at a moderate intensity — meaning you have enough breath to talk but not sing — for at least 2 ½ hours a week, you can further cut triglycerides 20% to 30%. (Exercise can also increase your HDL, the “good” cholesterol.)

That’s a great start, says Michael Miller, MD, director of the Centre for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Centre. “Lifestyle changes certainly are the cornerstone of cholesterol reduction.”

So does taking a statin mean you can sit on the couch and eat bacon all day?

Of course not. Doctors say the best way to protect your heart is to make healthy lifestyle changes while taking a statin. I say the best way is to make healthy lifestyle changes and avoid the statin unless you are diabetic or have recently had an acute cardiac event.

Potential Side Effects

If you look at the medicine supported websites you’ll see the following:

Like many pharmaceutical drugs, statins can have body wide side effects and may also interact with other medicines you take.  potential side effects can include:

  • More common: Headache, GI problems, muscle and joint aches, or rash
  • Less common: Memory loss, mental confusion, high blood sugar, and type 2 diabetes
  • Very rarely: Muscle or liver damage
  • Nevertheless, much is left to be understood and accomplished because approximately 60% of patients treated with statins did not have a beneficial reduction in CV events. 

MY VIEW:

Did I just hear that right? 60% of people on statins get no benefit from reduction in heart attacks! I wonder what the figures are for reduction in heart attacks by adopting a healthier lifestyle. When you consider that 9% of people on statins will get adverse effects on every cell in their bodies. This is due to a reduced ability to release energy from the mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cell) due to the reduction of Co-Enzyme Q10. This is well documented to adversely affect muscle, but it can also lead to fatigue of nerves too. However some studies have found that Statins may help improve dementia. These studies however are not high quality and further research is needed. (3)

When I see data like that and patients who are stiff and ache all over I begin to question if this reliance on statins is worth the loss of quality of life for at best a 40% reduction in CV events. I also wonder why time and time again patients who are on statins don’t get advised to take Co-enzyme Q10 when statins adversely affect your ability to produce energy through the inhibition of Co Q10.

Here’s another little known fact. After a year of taking Atorvastatin any increase in HDL (the good fat) is gone and in fact a reduction in the good fat from the starting baseline is often found. It is also noted that the first dose is the most effective, subsequent increases in dose have a much reduced benefit at 6% reduction in LDL as opposed to around 50% for first intial dose.

If your GP recommends that you go on a statin and you have struggled with commonly associated significant stiffness aches and pains; there are alternatives available. Colesevalam is a statin that works more specifically at a “gut level”, so does not produce side affects of  muscle and joint pain and stiffness. It can for some however cause constipation and flatulence. So neither is perfect but may be a more favourable solution. It is however much more expensive that a generic statin.

Here’s a viewpoint from a GP;

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/18/statins-gp-vested-interests-nice-drug-company-heart-attacks

The important bits: Nice (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has issued guidance that proposes reducing the cardiovascular primary prevention risk threshold – the level of risk at which statins can be prescribed – from 20% to 10%. In other words an increase in prescribing of statins.

In May 2014 a national conference of general practitioners passed a unanimous motion calling for Nice to recommend such changes only on the basis of a full disclosure of trial data. This was followed in June by an unprecedented open letter to Nice (click link to read) from a number of senior doctors and academics expressing four main areas of concern: medicating healthy people; non-disclosed side-effect data; relying on industry-funded statins trials; and conflicts of interest within Nice.

My View;

There needs to be more transparency with respect to statins. Eat a diet high in good fats and lower in bad fats. There is plenty of info out there and we will add some suggestions in the near future.

  1. A viewpoint on statin effects – benefits and problems Thomas F Whayne, Jr, MD PhD FICA Int J Angiol. 2008 Winter; 17(4): 178–180.

  2. Coenzyme Q10 and statin-related myopathy. Drug Ther Bull. 2015 May;53(5):54-6. doi: 10.1136/dtb.2015.5.0325.

  3. Statins and cognition: a systematic review and meta-analysis of short- and long-term cognitive effects.Swiger KJ1, Manalac RJ, Blumenthal RS, Blaha MJ, Martin SS. Mayo Clin Proc. 2013 Nov;88(11):1213-21. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2013.07.013. Epub 2013 Oct 1.

     

 

21
Apr

Is Your Posture Saying Something About Your Brain?

Poor posture can be a sign that there is a weakness in your brain function.

Take a look in a full length mirror at yourself and see if the following applies to you.

A commonly seen aberrant posture in clinic is one where your foot is turned out, the arm on the same side is held slightly flexed at the elbow and is rotated inwards so that you can see more of the back of the hand than the other side when looking face on. The same shoulder will also be held forwards. Typically this is due to weakness of the anti-gravity muscles down one side of the body and is a milder presentation than Pyramidal Weakness found in some typical stroke patients.

The anti-gravity postural muscles hold the shoulder back and rotate the arm outwards. They also lift the leg and foot from the floor. Commonly this pattern of weakness leads to rotator cuff problems, tennis elbow, hip pain, shin splints etc. If you have had any of these problems or get them repeatedly despite having had treatment then you possibly have a functional weakness of a relay area in the brain called the Ponto-Medullary-Reticular-Formation or PMRF for short.

You can have as much Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, Osteopathy or whatever other therapy you like, but if the weakness is established the problem will keep recurring. Why? Because the brain will keep pulling you into the poor posture. If you are exercising and getting stronger you will have less symptoms, but push it hard and you’ll be likely to get your injury again. This is because the area in the brain will fatigue one side faster than the other and your control will diminish. The result, yet another injury. Just think how many sports people have struggled through their careers with hard to treat injuries. The list is endless.

By specifically treating to enhance function in this area we can help to restore normal function. If we combine this with visual exercises we can help to hard wire the pathways to strengthen them. This requires repeated stimulation over a short period to get the nerves to express genes that lead to growth of new connections. It won’t happen without repetition.

So if you’ve ever had a car accident or a whiplash type injury from sports such as horse riding, skiing, boarding and obviously boxing then you may be prone to these problems. If you’ve ever had a concussion or been knocked out the chances of this are significantly increased.

Make sure you find someone who can look at these patterns to help you for the longer term and not just a quick fix.

22
May

Vitamin D3

I asked you what was the most important vitamin for fighting colds what would your answer be? Many people think it’s Vitamin C. It is certainly important in helping to mop up free radicals which cause damage through a process known as oxidative stress, but it’s not the most important. Vitamin D3 has been shown to boost immune function thereby helping you fight the invaders before they get a foot hold. To put it another way, Vitamin C helps you fight the effects of the chemicals released by inflammation, vitamin D3 helps to stop it in  the first place.

What is Vitamin D3?

Vitamin D3 is synthesized in the skin when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D2 is found in plants. Vitamin D has long been known to support the absorption of calcium and formation of bone. A deficiency leads to softening of the bones and Ricketts (bandy legs). This disease is on the increase again, due to people covering up for cultural reasons and lack of sunlight in higher latitudes, especially for those of darker skin.

 What is it’s role?

More recently Vitamin D3′s role in immune function regulation has been studied extensively and new research is confirming it’s importance as a vital supplement. Poor immune function obviously can leave you more susceptible to infections such as the common cold and flu. It can also reduce your ability to recognise and destroy cancerous cells, and can lead to the development of auto-immune disorders where your immune system actually attacks your own body. This process has been implicated in some inflammatory arthritis, multiple scerosis, systemic lupus. A correlation has been found between low levels of Vitamin D3 and all of these disease processes. In addition macular degeneration (blindness), hayfever, chronic rhinitis have all shown signs of being affected by low vitamin D3 levels.

Are you getting enough?

This depends on your location, skin colour, diet and sun exposure. In the UK 90% of the population are below recommended levels. 75% of young adults are deemed deficient. 20-40% of young adults 19-24 years old, care home residents and children of British Asians have been found to have only a third of recommended levels. The amount needed varies according to who you read, the Endocrine Societies Clinical Practice Guidelines state from 400 iu to 800 iu as a daily requirement. With an optimum of 1000 iu to 1500 iu. In cases of deficiency 2000iu to 10000iu. You can read the guideline here. One thing is clear, if you are wrapped up for several months of the year in low sunlight you won’t be getting as much as in the summer. Is this why you are more likely to have “bugs” in the winter? Is it also why cancers such as colo-rectal cancer are more common at higher lattitudes? There is also a possible link between latitude and multiple sclerosis and diabetes. Also have a look at this site which has a good deal more on the topic.

How do you top up?

Natural food sources are oily fish, such as salmon and sardines and eggs. It is also in fortified cereals, spreads and powdered milk. The NHS sitestates that most people should have enough, but latest clinical guidelines dispute this. Supplementation should be 1000iu for babies and children (be aware that baby formula milk commonly contains vitamin D, so adjust accordingly). 1500-2000iu for adults 18+ years of age.

Can You Test For It?

Generally because vitamin D deficiency is so widespread in the UK routine measurement is deemed unnecessary. A more cost-effective approach is routine supplementation with sensible sun exposure in the spring summer and autumn. High risk groups should be screened, these include people at high risk of inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis, gastric bypass patients and patients taking medication that effects vitamin D metabolism (anti-seizure meds, glucocorticoids, AIDS meds).

Can You Overdose?

Historically there have been concerns as very high levels can be toxic and cause too high a level of calcium and phosphate in the blood leading to bone conditions. However it is now well established that toxicity is extremely rare. Doses of up to 10,000iu a day have been used for up to 5 months with no adverse effects, suggesting that only long-term over supplementation is an issue. However it is important to stick to the guidelines.

Can’t I just get it from the sun?

If you live in northern latitudes, are inside alot and use sunscreen extensively you won’t get enough from the sun. Especially with our weather!

How can I take it?

There are many products on the market, I would recommend a natural food source variety and not a synthetic one. A quick search online should provide a wealth of information to help you choose.

2
Nov

Longer Term Use Of Cortico-steroids For Tendinopathies Worse Than No Treatment At All.

GPs are being advised to only use short courses of steroid injections to treat tendinopathies, after a systematic review found using them for longer can produce worse results than no treatment.

Instead they are being advised to use other methods of non-steroidal injections for treatment such as botulinum toxin and hyaluronic acid for conditions such as tennis elbow and other tendinopathies.

The extensive review – published in The Lancet – looked at 41 trials involving 2,672 patients and estimated the standardised mean differences between treatments and placebo.

Steroid administration was shown to be consistently effective over the short term but long term the benefit was unclear. For further information the full article can be found here, and the actual paper is here. Read more

“There is a high risk of poor long-term outcomes and higher recurrence rates with corticosteroid injections,” said lead author Bill Vicenzino, chair of sports physiotherapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Queensland.

“Other treatments, including exercise, some specific physiotherapy and possibly some other injections, should be used before corticosteroid injections,” Vicenzino said.

A Role For Medical Acupuncture?

critical review by L.Viola of the literature showed some evidence of increased effectiveness of medical acupuncture over steroid injection, however the study sample quoted was limited and further research is required with larger samples.

 

study by Val Jones published in Shoulder and elbow concluded that Acupuncture is frequently used by Chiropractors, physiotherapists in the management of chronic tennis elbow . However, the very few acupuncture studies to date have failed to prove conclusively that the short term relief in pain seen gives rise to long term functional improvement. No trials to date have assessed, concentrated or commented on the potential adverse effects of this particular form of treatment. The most recentCochrane review concludes there is insufficient evidence to support or refute the use of acupuncture. Further trials utilizing appropriate methodology and adequate sample sizes are needed before firm conclusions can be drawn regarding this treatment modality.

So Can Acupuncture Help?

In my opinion which is based solely on anecdotal cases, there is definitely a role for medical acupuncture in relieving short-term pain over general soft-tissue therapy alone. However it is likely that the combination of supportive taping, clasps, acupuncture, ice and heat therapy plus mobilisation and manipulation is probably the best route of care. This is due to the stimulation of repair, control of inflammation and restoration of accurate controlling reflexes.

From a personal view point just today I have been self administering acupuncture for a strain on my very own Tennis elbow, now I have to be disciplined and not play tennis tonight, pity as I was just starting to perfect my top-spin forehand, (probably wasn’t perfected, hence the injury). Physician heal thyself!!

 

14
Jul

What is Health?

This is a fundamentally important question when considering a “healthy” spine or body.

In the Western World health care is concerned mainly with getting you painfree, and unfortunately in general only lip service is paid to the preventative side of therapy. The commonest way of doing this is with medication until the pain goes, then you are healthy! This is fundamentally wrong and short-sighted.

Health is NOT an absence of symptoms, health is good function, everything working correctly, in a good environment, efficiently. Just focusing on being painfree will not result in good health.

In modern times we are all (well most of us) leading very busy lives, we are having to work harder, for longer, many of us travel ever increasing distances to work. We are under more pressure due to the cost of living, we have less time for ….

 

family and friends. There is an increase in the number of people being labeled as having behavioural disorders, ADHD, ADD etc and this is just a symptom of the environment that children are now being exposed to as a result of social changes that have taken place over the last 20 years.

All around the western world increasingly  children are babysat with computer games or television, many complain of being bored in the holidays as many have reduced ability to partake in imaginative play.

There is a reason for this neurologically that relates to musculo-skeletal health, more on that in the next issue.

So what does western culture do about this growing epidemic? It gives it a name and medicalises what is essentially behavioural problems due to poor central nervous system stimulation. It prescribes drugs such as Prozac to make you “feel” better, but these drugs don’t make you better. Do you know that in the USA there is now a disease called shyness!! The cure? Prozac, but under a different name, how crazy is that?

Many of the serial killing gun sprees in America have been perpetrated by children who have been prescribed Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors SSRI’s. These affect the way the brain processes information and enhance the formation of repetitive patterns of activity, hence the multiple events. Consider also the relatively recent phenomenon of Fibromyalgia, how many people have you heard of that have been diagnosed with this condition. In my opinion this diagnosis should not be made as it labels individuals with a negative outlook that has detrimental effects on that persons prognosis, I’ll explain more on this subject in the next few entries.

I’m sorry if this is getting too morbid, but we really do have a health crisis on our hands if we don’t take steps to encourage children to explore imaginative play, exercise, challenging balance, eating well, communicating with friends and family, the same goes for adults too, although I’m not expecting you to get out the figurines from the attic if they are still there!

These are all positive feedback tasks that enhance and stimulate the central nervous system and lead to a sense of well-being.

Before I finish for now, ask yourself how you can make gentle, progressive and positive changes to your lifestyle that can help you feel better in general and also help you stay free of pain, both physical and emotional.

I’ll be covering the research on these subjects in the next few updates so do have a look soon. If you have children or are thinking of having them, this is information that you really should look at as a matter of utmost concern.

Until the next time.

18
Oct

Is Functional Weakness Dragging You Down?

Are You Firing On All Cylinders?

In order for your body to move well with minimal effort and maximum control you need a nervous system that detects and modifies muscle tone accurately.

If there is poor detection of movement, the nerves fail to fire correctly or at the correct time, so the muscles cannot be  contracted to protect your joints. Most of the time this will hardly be noticed, but you may feel a bit lethargic. If you play sport you may find you are a bit slower round the court or less accurate on the driving range.

Think of your body as a V10 Ferrari engine, now take off one of the HT leads (loss of spark to one cylinder), now slightly time another one wrong. The result a poorly engine that sounds bad and if pushed could get badly damaged.  Fundamentally there’s nothing wrong with the engine but if it’s spark (nervous system) is not firing or out of time the result can be serious.

If you are feeling sluggish, or you’ve lost form in your sport you need to think about getting your muscles (engine) tested to get the timing back.

Chiropractic uses muscle testing to identify weaknesses and can use provocative challenges to accurately re-tune you. The result is you have increased power, work more efficiently and therefore have more stamina and also more accuracy. In short you could end up feeling great, when was the last time you felt great? Not after a bowl of Frosties I’m sure!!

Now if you then add in exercises that groove normal movement patterns, and build that up into strengthening and stamina building exercises which enhance the correct movement pattern, you have the recipe for a healthy musculo-skeletal system that is energy efficient.

In short you’ll be firing on all cylinders with a turbo-charger bolted on for good measure!

All the best

Steve

5
Oct

Preventative Care For The Low Back

The Basics Of Back Pain Prevention

When you get low back pain it can be excruciating, it can also be quite frightening for the uninitiated. Most of the time the damage caused is actually slight and the body’s reaction is disproportionate to the damage present. The reason for this is due to the high sensitivity to pain, of the structures of the back. These are the facet joints and the capsule and ligaments that hold the vertebrae together.

When theses structures are stressed beyond their normal range due to poorly functioning muscles, excessive force or lax ligaments they send pain signals that cause a reflex contraction of muscle to splint and protect the joint from further damage. For further information click here.

When we don’t have back pain we tend to get lazy and take route one to pick things up etc. When you have back pain you don’t because the body won’t let you. This is the type of movement pattern that you should be striving for when you don’t have back pain.

So What Is That Movement Pattern?

Very simply it is using your body’s muscles to form a corset around the lumbar spine, or neck for that matter that gives stability and control to help protect the spine from any excessive motion. This co-contraction of the trunk flexors and extensors (stomach and back muscles) stabilises the spine and gives it support. This photo shows bracing of lower back and abdominal muscles to provide stability when sitting.

Correct bracing of lower back and abdominal muscles

Correct bracing of lower back and abdominal muscles

How Do You Do It?

The easiest thing to do is tense your back muscles so that you hollow your back, then tense the abdominal (stomach) muscles as if you were avoiding someone poking you in the stomach. Then to bend, you have to flex from the hips and not the low back. If you have good Hamstring length you’ll only be able to get about 40 degrees of flexion, which means you’ll struggle to reach your knees!

Great, not very practical really is it? So you have to bend the knees if you want to get lower, but unless you were in the circus you still will struggle to reach the floor if you keep the back locked out. Especially if your hips are a little stiff. If you want to reach the floor you’ll probably have to flex the lower spine, but by this time your lower back will be supported a little by the thighs. To minimise stress further keep one leg flexed and kneel on the other, ie for tying up laces.

 

 

By the way can you spot what he is doing wrong? He is letting his head move forwards too far, he should be bracing his deep neck flexors as well. Click here to find out how to do this.

If you need to pick something up off the floor you can balance on one leg, lean forward from the hip and let your other leg counter balance you. Always a good idea to do this where you have a lot of space, or you could damage someone or something. Use a support for your free hand if there is one, like a golfer using his club to rest on when getting a ball out of the hole, but as I couldn’t find a photo of that here’s a close example of what I mean.

 

 

22
Sep

Wall Angel Part 2

Building Resistance

You’ve Should Have The Flexibility Now It’s Time To Go For Strength And Stamina. Only complete this part if you can comfortably get your arms flat to the wall and keep them there as you lower them on the Wall Angel. Make sure you read this first if this is the first you’ve heard of Wall Angel.

You Need Equipment For This!!

What? Equipment? I hear you say. Never fear this is where the wonderful world of exercise bands come in to play. These are relatively inexpensive but highly versatile rubber bands, the beauty of these is that they improve your control of joint movement while under resistance. As the rubber is constantly working against you you have to work harder to control the bounce back so to speak. They come in a variety of resistances that are colour coded.

The other great thing about them is that they fold away and you won’t stubb your toes on them like a set of dumbells just hidden out of sight beneath the bed!

How To Add Stamina And Strength.

Take a two metre length of band and fold it over, start with a resistance that is comfortable. Remember no pain no gain is frankly a stupid way to train, so if you are struggling after just a few reps, get an easier band.

  • THIS IS ABOUT STAMINA PRIMARILY NOT POWER.

It’s great to be able to do a huge lift, but after one go you’re bust, what practical use is that in every day life?

Take the band as shown below between the hands and make sure you have some tension, then lower the arms and the band will stretch. Hold for a few secs, SLOWLY raise the arms back up, pause for a few seconds and repeat until you feel that you are starting to lose good form or begining to tire between the shoulders. Remember if you are getting pain, reduce the resistance, if it continues to give pain STOP, go back to unloaded exercise, i.e. no band.

Start position (arms are actually not bent enough!)

Start position (arms are actually not bent enough!)

Ladies, a little advice…don’t do this before going out, it can do strange things to the hair on the back of your head and you may end up looking like this.

Aim to do the exercise once or twice a day with a rest break of 2 days in the week. If you require more assistance you can contact me through the clinic website.

Have Fun

Steve Oldale BSc, DC

www.backinform.co.uk