Throughout February we have been posting our top tips to get fit and healthy the best way possible in February. Here’s to committing to your workouts after the initial ‘New Year’ rush! Are you ready for our top tips to conquer ‘Fitness February’!? (More to be added soon!)
Protect Your Neck – Tuck your chin in and put your tongue on the roof of your mouth when you do crunches. It will help align your head properly, which helps reduce neck strain.
Don’t exercise when you’re sick – You’re better taking a day off so your body will use its resources to heal itself, not build muscle and endurance.
If you want to exercise before work but aren’t a morning person, try this trick: For a set period, let’s say 4 weeks, force yourself to get up 15 minutes earlier than normal and go outside for a quick walk. Make it so easy that you don’t even have to change into your workout clothes. As you near the end of the 4 weeks, you’ll have a new habit and will then be able to progress to either longer walks or a run in the morning!
Improve your balance – Stand one-legged on a sofa cushion and move a medicine ball (or heavy phone book) from hand to hand, side to side, and behind your head. Once you’ve mastered the move, try it with your eyes closed. This technique will improve your balance, coordination, and body control, all important athletic attributes.
Run Injury-Free – One week out of every six, cut your weekly training mileage and frequency in half. You’ll give your body a better chance to recover, and you’ll avoid permanent, nagging injuries. Find out more in our Running without pain resource.
Run Hills Faster – When running uphill, keep your head up and your eyes focused on the top of the hill. This opens your airways, making it easier to breathe than if your upper body were hunched forward. Find out more in our Training, Injury prevention and recovery resource.
Loosen Your Hips – Keep your heels on the floor when you squat. If you can’t, your hip flexors are too tight and need to be stretched out! Try this stretch: Hold onto the sides of the squat rack and lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold this for 30 seconds. Return to a standing position, then repeat five times
Replace Your Shoes (Not Your Knees) – To avoid injuries, write an “expiration date” on your shoes as soon as you buy them. Shoes last about 500 miles, so simply divide 500 by your average weekly mileage to determine how many weeks your shoes are likely to last.
End Back Pain – For every set of abdominal exercises you perform, do a set of lower-back exercises. Focusing only on your abs can lead to poor posture and lower-back pain.
Little muscle- BIG pain! We wanted to tell you about a classic case that appeared in clinic this week as it may also help you – a lady in her mid 30’s came into clinic with excruciating pain and tingling sensations radiating down the back of her thigh. Good old ‘Dr Google’ had suggested this could be sciatica which had got her really worried.
On examination, we found a nasty little group of what are called “trigger points” (focal areas of hyperirritability within a muscle) in her gluteus minimus muscle, and palpation of these reproduced the exact pain she had been experiencing. But what is this? The referred pain generated from trigger points in the gluteus minimus is notorious for activating other trigger points in the TFL, quadriceps, gastrocnemius, hamstrings, and peroneal muscle groups- in fact, gluteus minimus referred pain is often referred to as “pseudo-sciatica”, as it so closely mimics the symptoms of sciatica.
What commonly causes a glute min trigger point?
– Walking or running on uneven ground
– Sitting on a wallet (hello chaps- we’re talking to you!)
– Limping (from a foot or lower leg injury)
– Driving long distances or sitting for long periods
– Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
Fortunately, with a comprehensive treatment programme which addresses the many components of this problem, this issue can be resolved swiftly and successfully in clinic, helping to relieve what is a literal “pain in the butt“!
Here it is, the oh-so-predictable New Year’s Resolution post about a “New Year, New You.” We’re going to bypass that this year in favour of something far more important. Whilst New Year’s Resolutions which centre around going to the gym, getting fitter or putting more of an emphasis on our health are fantastic, we want you to spare a thought for your joints before you start a new exercise regime. Search online for “getting fit quotes” and the words that pop up most frequently are “pain”, “hurt”, “sore”, “skinny” or “burn”. Whilst some pain is normal and to be expected, this has given rise to a worrying influx in the number of sport-related injuries we’ve seen from athletes “training through the pain”.
Most sporting injuries occur from what we call the Terrible Toos- doing too much, too soon. After not working out for months or years, people come in and try to run 5 miles or lift 200 lbs at their first session. Their deconditioned, unprepared muscles can’t cope with the action and so injury occurs. We then have to recover from the injury by which point our motivation for our New Year’s resolution is gone. You won’t become Batman (or Catwoman) in one workout session, so please please please train properly and spare a thought for injury prevention this year.
So how does injury occur?
Injury, particularly sports injury, occurs through direct or indirect trauma to muscles, ligaments, and joint capsules. Injury takes two forms- direct and indirect. Direct trauma or injury occurs through blunt trauma or a sudden overload- so dropping a weight on your foot would be a direct trauma (HINT: Don’t do it!)
Indirect trauma or injury occurs from repeated submaximal loading. (When we refer to joint loading, what we mean is the force that is put on a load-bearing or weight-bearing joint during exercise.) This could be therefore be repetitive injury to your elbows when lifting, or your knee when running. Indirect trauma can therefore occur through repetitive lifting of weights, running, or any activity that “loads” a joint.
Regardless of direct or indirect trauma, the end result is still the same- tissue dysfunction that is characterised through pain, inflammation, and internal tissue stress. This can lead to what is known as “functional disability”, where you’re able to go about your day-to-day life largely without issue, but your training or exercise regime is impaired. Not what you want when you’re motivated to get to the gym!
Why does injury occur?
Whilst some sports injury occurs through direct trauma- such as a rugby tackle, overuse injuries are more common in sports than acute injuries. These are subtle and occur over time, hence why early detection and diagnosis is key. Faulty movement patterns, joint restriction or muscle dysfunction can be detected by your chiropractor which can help to identify those who are at risk of an overuse injury and provide advice on injury prevention, modification of exercises, adaptations to technique or treatment if appropriate.
Researchers have reported that impact forces of up to 550% the normal force load are transmitted to our joints when running, with impact forces between 4 to 8 times higher than those during normal walking. Much as you wouldn’t lift a heavy weight without putting some thought into it first (if you even decided to lift it at all!) we need to put some thought into how well equipped our bodies are to cope with these additional stresses and strains before we hit the gym. This is why launching into a fitness regime without putting some thought into how you’re going to do it and how you’re going to protect yourself whilst doing it can be crucial.
Coping with this degree of stress can be challenging enough even for joints that are well-adapted to this degree of stress, but if you are starting a new exercise regime or perhaps picking up a new activity, your joints need some time to adapt to the new activity. They also need to be ready and able to cope with this degree of stress. This is where chiropractic comes in.
How does chiropractic help?
Chiropractors are primary healthcare professionals who are trained to diagnose, treat, manage and prevent disorders of the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints and muscles), as well as the effects these can have on the nervous system and general health.
Chiropractors are often thought to only “crack backs” and only treat back pain. Much like your GP wouldn’t prescribe the same pill for an ear infection as they would for high blood pressure, so a chiropractor doesn’t just perform spinal manipulation for a bad back. It entirely depends on the nature of the injury, the level of pain, and most importantly, your personal preferences (it all comes down to teamwork!) Chiropractors have a vast array of treatment options they can offer and chiropractic care can be crucial in injury prevention because chiropractic emphasises the correct functioning of all joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments in your body to ensure you are performing at your very best. Whether you are an elite athlete, a gym newbie, or perhaps a keen sportsperson returning from injury, chiropractic can be crucial in identifying dysfunction prior to an injury occurring.
A crucial part of treatment at Acorn Health is helping you to develop a firm understanding of how your body works, how pain and problems can occur and how to prevent it. We work with you to develop a new fitness routine and training programme with appropriate exercises that will enable you to strengthen and stabilise your joints whilst reducing your risk of picking up an injury.
So whilst you’re dusting off your trainers and wrangling your way into your sports kit, spare a thought for your joints, and spare a thought for injury prevention.
If you would like to receive our “Injury for Runners” resource, detailing the most common types of running injuries, the mechanism of injury, preventative measures and more useful information, please complete your details below.
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