Thursday, 7 December 2017

Training at Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful, fun filled, tiring, stressful, boozy, intense, noisy, sugary, fabulous, difficult time of year!

So, how to keep your mind and body health? Can you keep up with your training over the Christmas period?

It's helpful to have a plan, I find. Knowing when your Christmas parties are, knowing when you have to be at work, and when you are catching up with friends and family, and planning your training around this. You aren't going to have a fun or productive training session the day after the Christmas party!

Have a think about why you run too, and this will help you get the most out of your running in December. Do you like to run for your own space and thinking time? You'll probably need it more at this time of year, so make sure you make time for runs even when things get busy. Get your energy from spending time with others? What about a family visit to parkrun?

There are many things that impact training, recovery and how you feel when you run;
- the food you've eaten
- hydration levels
- how much sleep you've had
- how much caffeine and alcohol you've drunk
- stress levels

The build up to Christmas will change all of these factors, so go easy on yourself when training runs don't go quite to their usual levels.

If you can't get out to run, try to fit in some time outdoors; ideally in a park, in the woods, or somewhere with some greenery. It's been proven that nature has a positive and stress-relieving impact on the brain.

I hope you have a great Christmas!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Kinesiology Taping

I've recently been doing more taping with my Sports Massage clients and I thought I'd explain a little more about this technique and how it works.

Taping for injuries and swelling

Taping is definitely not going to help with an acute injury, for that you need RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). However once you've gone through initial recovery supportive taping can help an injury to get back to normal. Taping can help an ankle you've sprained, for example, to be or taping to be better support. You can also relieve swelling and help fluid drainage from the area with taping in smaller strips.

Taping to relax a muscle

You can use certain taping technique to relax a muscle to help it become less tight and overactive. The tape acts as a reminder to the nervous system that it's supported and can switch off and the muscle gets to relax more - win win!

Taping to activate a muscle

You can also use cross taping or taping with more stretch to activate a muscle more, to switch it on and remind it that it needs to work harder. Again this works by stimulating the nervous system, and ensuring the practitioner applies the right level of stretch to the muscle and to the tape when applying it.

Taping as a reminder

You can tape to remind a joint or your spine where it should be. This can be used to remind you when your posture slips or you slump forwards, because the tap stretches and pulls your skin slightly, encouraging you to sit well. Shoulders particularly can roll forwards when you work at a desk or drive a lot, you can tape them in a similar way to remind the shoulder to remain in the right position.

Taping to support joints

Taping can act as a muscular and fascial reminder for joint position, and for smaller joints physically hold them in the right position.

Taping for scars

You can also tape to help scar healing, this taps into the fascia quite strongly and helps a scar to heal with less visual and physical impact on surrounding tissue.

Monday, 20 November 2017

What to day on a days walk

I get asked a lot what sort of things you need to take with you on a days walk, so I've put together a list!
  • Personal clothing; ideally good walking socks, quick drying trousers, conformable quick drying t-shirt and warm mid layer. 
  • Fully charged mobile phone
  • Map and compass (and know how to use them!)
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Warm hat, gloves in the winter, sunhat and sunglasses in the summer
  • A spare warm layer/fleece
  • Walking boots, or sturdy off road shoes. Go for boots in cold or wet weather or tougher terrain. 
  • Day rucksack, around 20 litres capacity is ideal
  • Drink bottle, minimum 1 litre (or a flask if weather is cold)
  • Lunch! In a bag or box.
  • Personal first aid kit; include plasters, paracetamol, blister plasters, any personal medication
  • High factor sunscreen and insect repellant in warm weather
  • If the weather is wet or changeable  a rucksack liner (e.g. dry bag) to keep the things in your bag dry and waterproof trousers

Monday, 13 November 2017

How to recover fast

To get the best out of your training and racing you want to recover quickly and effectively, to maximise training and minimise injury risk. Here's how!

Once your finished the main part of your run, run easy and gently for 5 minutes. This gradually cools the body and lowers your heart rate so the body can start to ease back down safely. If you are running a fast session coast to a stop, not deliberately stopping to reduce the "braking" forces up your legs.

Next; stretch! Target all the main leg muscles and shoulders (working hard for breathing). For a post run stretching routine just drop me an email.

Shower; hot showers will warm and loosen muscles. There is new evidence to show that cold/ice showers or baths slow the immediate post run recovery.

Eat a snack! You can find out more here;

Relax, keep gently moving, don't sit down too much. Ideally don't jump straight into a car for a longer journey, or sit down at a desk. Keep getting up and gently moving around to avoid stiffness and encourage blood flow to remove waste products from the muscles and send them the nutrients they need to recover.

Eat a main mean.

Sleep - the 8 hours a night is no myth. Your body recovers (from training and life) and rebuilds as you sleep. Less sleep = less recovery and therefore adaptation to training  = lower performance and higher injury risk.

Have a sports massage, and tell your therapist that it's for recovery from hard training or racing. They'll be able to ease out your muscles and help muscle soreness.

Check in with yourself and your fatigue levels before your next run. Still sore? Run easier or shorter.

Remember, if you train like a pro, you need to rest and recover like a pro. Take full rest days, drop your training intensity and volume every 3-4 weeks. After your "A" race for the year take 2-3 weeks off.

For specific post race recovery have a look here;

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Stronger Glutes for Runners

I am luck enough to work with lots of runners of all abilities, and this allow me to see themes in the areas I find myself focussing on in terms of strength and technique.

A big one is glutes!!

Glutes are the muscles in your bum, and they do lots of things;

- they drive your legs backwards on the run, the glute maximus is the biggest power muscle in the legs and should be doing more work than any other leg muscle in driving you forward when running

- they also stabilise your legs and hips as you run, these are called lateral glutes and are primarily the glute medius, glute minimus and piriformis. With these muscles working properly the legs move straight forwards and backwards, with no sideways motion or rotation putting pressure on the knees, ankles and feet.

So by powering up your glutes you can more power in your running, and fewer niggles in your other leg muscles, knee and ankle joints. 

This is especially important if your job or lifestyle involves lots of time sat down, as this weakens and switches off the glutes because they are left in an extended position for long periods of time.

So what can you do to help strengthen your glutes? These are two of my favourite exercises!

Glute Bridge

  • Lie on your back with your feet near your hips and hip width apart
  • Lift your toes off the ground so your weight only comes down through your heels
  • Slowly raise your hips, driving the weight down into your heels, until your knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line
  • Lower the hips back down slowly and with control, repeat

Monster Walks

  • Step through a theraband so it’s under tension just above your knees
  • Set the feet hip width apart and put a slight bend in both knees
  • Step outwards with one foot, keeping the knee facing forwards “lead with the knee”
  • Step the other foot in, slowly and with control, to catch up
  • Repeat with the other leg, going in the opposite direction to and fro

Post in the comments or let me know on social media how you get on!

If you want to know more about how to injury proof and improve your running just drop me a line;

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Running Technique Analysis

I work with lots of runners who are keen to avoid injury, and improve the efficiency of their running. So I've put together a 90 minute Running Technique Analysis that really digs into how you are running and whether you might be able to tweak things to improve the way you run.

So, what can you expect in a session?

I start with a chat about you, your running, your life, your other sports and hobbies and what you want to achieve with your running. That helps me adapt the session so you get the most out of it.

After a warm up and some drills to get you moving, and so I can watch how you move, I do some video analysis of you running when you are nice and fresh. Depending on your goals this can be running at easy and faster paces, as our technique often changes depending on the speed you run at.

I can also do a mini speed session with you to tire you out and then video you again to see how your running changes when you are fatigued.

We'll go through the results of the analysis and pick out some key areas to focus on in the session. These may be technique queues to adjust your running style, stretching to allow muscles to achieve a higher range of motion or strength or activation work to get muscles working harder. You get time to practice and guidance on how to integrate things into your training.

Don't worry about remembering it all, as you'll get a full report after the session with what we covered and including photos from your video analysis!

How can this benefit you?

There is scientific evidence to suggest that improving your running form reduces your injury risk, as your body is working efficiently and as designed. This means you can train more consistently and improve your performances. There is also some evidence to say that "marginal gains" can be had from tweaking performance so that more of the energy you expend whilst running is focussed on propelling you forwards, not leaking out in unhelpful ways.

You can find out more about the Running Technique Analysis at my website here, let me know any questions!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Posture 101

You may have noticed that different people have different postures. The body is very good at adapting to your daily activities and how you move. Sometimes it tries to adapt too much and ends up not working as efficiently as it could. One example of this is the fact that using a phone or computer is common these days, so your arms are forwards to type and your head looks down towards the screen for more time during the day.

This can put more pressure on the muscles at the back of your neck and shoulders as they are trying to counterbalance the weight of your head and arms. Sometimes these helpful muscles get tired, tight or sore from all that work. 

Eventually the muscles and the spine can then start to change from their natural position to one where your shoulders round forwards and your neck and back round forwards at the top all the time, and this can lead to longer term niggles and soreness. This new posture isn’t always helpful for other things you do in your life like sport, walking and sleeping and can have knock on effects on how your body can move day to day.

Generally the ideal posture, when you are standing, is a straight line running through; 
  • the centre of your ear
  • the centre of your shoulder
  • the bone on the outer side of your hip
  • the centre of your knee
  • the centre of your ankle joint 

This way your body is stacked nicely so that it uses your skeleton for support, as it was designed, without the muscles having to do more work than they’d like to hold you in a different position.

So what can you do? It can be hard to objectively assess your own posture, so booking in with a sports massage therapist can be a good first step to see what postural habits your body has developed and what you might be able to do to improve your posture. Massage, as well as exercises and stretches you can do yourself, all work together well to improve posture and reduce the niggles and soreness in your body. 

By having a body that’s working efficiently and as it was designed you may also find your performance in sport improves too!

You can book a massage with me here;