Your City 2 Surf ‘preparation guide’

Isn’t it so EXCITING that City 2 Surf is only 5 days away!?! It’s easily the best day on Sydney’s fitness calendar & my favourite day of the year to run a muck (literally) in Bondi. For me this day marks the beginning of the end of winter… It’s usually always sunny, people rock bright clothing & some of the most incredible costumes, there is music, people dancing, face paint & people lining the sidewalk cheering the runners on. It’s almost as if for a day everyone in Sydney is one big happy fun fit family!

So many of you have been training for this day, getting up early & braving the cold for early morning running sessions and heartbreak hill sprints. This weekend you get to see all of your hard work pay off & then there is the celebratory breakfast (or brunch) with a few celebratory beverages of course! Nothing says congratulations like a jug of fresh Pimms punch!

When it comes to being prepared, what you do over the next 5 days is almost as important as what you have done for the last 6 weeks. Don’t fall off the wagon in the home straight, just follow these couple of basic tips so you are super super prepared come Sunday.

  1. TAPER: Yes you are allowed to finally back off the training and have a light week. I would suggest 2 runs (max 3 if you really really cityneed too). Early on in the week aim for a steady 8km sitting just under race pace. Later in the week push out a 6-7km flat effort just to wind the legs over.
  2. DAY OF REST: Saturday is your day off. Have a massage, do a yoga stretch session if you feel like you need it, but give the legs a day of rest.
  3. RACE DAY PACK: don’t forget you need to collect your race day kit with your bib and timing chip. Available for collection Thursday – Saturday at Moore Park (check your registration details for times etc). You cannot collect these on the day!
  4. NUTRITION: I am not a huge believer in altering your diet in any significant way in the lead up to an event. I have been eating my usual diet throughout my training regime so the last thing I want to do is load up on a whole heap of foods my body isn’t used to the day before.
    • Friday & Saturday eat a few more good ‘complex carbs’ like sweet potato, lentils, quinoa and nuts in your meals.
    • Don’t stuff your face the night before, keep dinner relatively small make sure you have some good sources of carbohydrates on your plate. Think sweet potato, starchy vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, green peas, beetroot, parsnip) or lentils as opposed to white bread & pasta.
    • Do you eat before you run? This comes down to personal preference. Some people can’t stomach the thought of food before a 14km run, others like to have something small such as a banana or small bowl of oatmeal with fresh berries. Do what you are familiar with!
  5. HYDRATION: Your body needs water more than anything else. Make sure you are getting your 8 glasses every single day this week. I like to add a little sea salt (NOT TABLE SALT) to my water bottle, it helps you’re body stay hydrated!

Most importantly, don’t forget to HAVE FUN!

GOOD LUCK RUNNERS!!

EMS xox

 

Yoga vs Pilates. Which is better?

I get asked this question ALL the time from my client and honestly I sometimes find myself not really knowing which to suggest as there is no straightforward absolutely correct answer. Both forms of exercise have many positives and from a clinical point of view I don’t think either is necessarily superior to the other.

Some would say it’s a head to head battle between strength & stretching BUT I tend to disagree. I’m certainly no yogi or a Pilates guru but I have done a little of both and I would say there is definitely a strength & flexibility component to both styles. The main difference I believe lies in what not only your body but your mind will get out of each session.untitled

Yoga is one of the most widely practiced exercise forms in the world, it’s said to help with uniting the mind, body & spirit to restore balance and harmony within the body. I would say it’s somewhat therapeutic for many, if done correctly it facilitates awareness about alignment, posture and imbalances within the body. There are many styles of yoga with choice purely a matter of personal preference.

Pilates has more of a focus on strength and stability throughout the entire body & incorporates floor based work with reformer machine work. The poses & exercise are targeted towards the hips, pelvis and legs using your body weight to create resistance and improve strength. There is a prime focus on engaging the deep abdominal muscles to support the spine & strengthen posture.

This is an important focus for me when discussing options with my clients. Chronic back & neck pain sufferers will gain huge benefits from Pilates where the focus is on core stability. Patients suffering ongoing episodes of back pain will most than likely have weakness through their core and pelvic stabilisers. The only solution in the long term is to develop a strengthening program for them which in terms of compliance and effectiveness is best done through proper structured Pilates classes.

I think when it comes down to choosing what is better for you, the breathing and spiritual side of things will be the deal breaker. Studies have shown a link between practicing yoga and improvements in mental & emotional well-being. Me, well I can’t sit still for more than 5 minutes. Focusing & engaging my mind is so challenging that I find yoga classes harder than a 14km run. That’s a pretty good indication that a certain area of my well-being that needs work.

In yoga the breathing is all about relaxation. The breathing cycles are performed in rhythm with movements & flow patterns. You inhale with certain movements and exhale with others; the aim being to relax  areas that may be holding stress within the body. There is a certain level of spiritual focus, finding your inner self & being at peace with it.

Pilates uses breathing to provide energy to working muscles. Concentrating on the breathing will help channel oxygen flow to the muscles that need it for that particular movement. Generally there is no spiritual connection in these classes, rather slow controlled movements focused on quality not quantity is the key.

Both styles have similar goals being to achieve control through balance of the mind & body. I won’t sway you with my personal preference as clearly both yoga & Pilates have exceptional merit.

If you want to escape from the stresses of everyday life, be calm & get zen go for yoga. Recovering from an injury or you have weak muscles / joints and you want something to strengthen and stabilise I would tend to say Pilates may be the choice for you.

At the end of the day it’s about what you WANT to do. Try both and make the decision by which one you get more out of.

Can high heels damage our feet?

Very excited to have a little guest blog from our friends down at PodMed in Double Bay.  We treat alot of women with foot & lower limb problems…. when discussing aspects of their rehabilitation the wearing of high heels is often a question that comes up… So we asked the podiatrists…. they are at the end of the day experts when it comes to feet!

I am asked this questioned nearly every day by women who present with all kinds of different foot pain. There is a common misconception out there that high heels are the primary cause of most foot pain and deformity in women. Yes, I can guarantee you that if your foot is squeezed into a high-heeled shoe eight hours a day, at some stage foot pain and deformity will be the end result. High heeled shoes can do a lot of irreparable damage to the feet and ankles. However when used in moderation some of the pitfalls can be avoided. Many of my patients wear high heels on the odd occasion and as long as it’s only for a couple of hours at a time at a party or out to dinner; it’s generally not a problem. Of great concern to us is the number of young teenage girls presenting in our clinic showing early onset deformities as a result of high heel wearing. Parents need to discourage their teenage daughters from wearing high heels at any time. The developing and immature foot structure does not cope at all well with the excessive forces placed on the foot by the high heeled shoes. High heels put the anatomical structures inside your foot into an unnatural position. With each step the toes are squashed inside the shoe. The pointier the shoe and the higher the heel the more pressure placed on the toes. It’s important not to under estimate the damage this can do to the foot in the long term. Habitual long-term high heel wearers routinely present with problems like clawed toes, bunion formation, metatarsalgia and nerve damage. Foot structure will have some bearing on how resilient the foot structure is to the adverse effects of high heels but as I like to say, footwear is designed to protect your feet, not to hurt you. If your high heels are hurting you, take them off because they have already been on too long. ‘If the pain persists…..see your Podiatrist’. High heeled shoes shift an unnaturally large amount of force onto the forefoot with every step. The natural heel to toe transition is altered and the force moves too quickly from heel to the forefoot where the high loading remains for the duration of the steps. It is the increase in time that the foot is overloaded with every step that does as much damage as the pressure itself.

The postural position high heels places the body has historically and is still considered aesthetically appealing to the human eye. In the leg, the calf muscles protrude more in high heels giving the impression the legs are strong and slender. At the knee, it is bent when the heel is lifted up. Usually with a 3 inch heel, the pelvis is tilted forward 10-15 degrees which leads to a “sexy” curvature in the spine. This makes the buttocks protrude 25% and also lifts the bust (see picture below). That is how a sexy and wavy body posture is obtained and explains why 3-inches high heel is apparently more popular and loved by most women. However, it is also due to these minor postural adjustments that can have negative effects on the body after a long period of time.

imagesUZ8FBV1EWhat steps can you take to minimise the effects of high heels?

Heel height: Wearing a shoe with a lower heel can certainly help. By lowering the heel you can take some of the pressure of the foot structure but you can also help reduce the negative postural effects on knees, hips and low back. Lowering the heel can also reduce the stiffness in Achilles tendon’s and calf muscles that habitual high heel wearers suffer. If the Achilles and calf muscles shorten too much then wearing flat shoes or walking barefoot becomes almost impossible.
Insoles: Insoles or customised orthotics can prove to be a wonderful way to manage foot pain on a daily basis. However, it is best to discuss what type of insoles or orthotic might be right for you with your local Podiatrist.
Wearing well-fitted shoes: When a shoe fits very well it will generally be comfortable for eight hours or one hour. It is important to select the right type of shoes for right occasion. You wouldn’t wear your high-heeled shoes for exercising i.e. a long walk, a run or to the gym. Nor would you choose to wear your exercising footwear or comfortable casual shoesout to dinner or to a cocktail party (unless you had to). Alternating between flats and heels can sometimes prove difficult (see ‘wearing a lower heel’). However, providing that the difference in the heel height between the flats in the heels it’s not too extreme, alternating between the two is a fantastic way to go. Try to make sure that the flats still have some small amount of heel raise in them. Most foot types appreciate a small amount of heel raise in their flats and this makes the transition from high-heeled shoes into to flattish shoes much easier.

Also it is best to buy high heels in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest. Therefore when your legs and feet expand, the shoe size is correct and the toes aren’t cramped.

Stretching: Most of us have been wearing shoes with some form of heel raise in them from a very young age and this somewhat shortens the Achilles tendon’s and calf muscles. For this reason, stretching is very important. Stretching is even more important for long-term high heel wearers because their Achilles tendon’s and calf muscles can become extremely short and tight. To walk normally and without having to make unnecessary compensations is not only important to have a good range of motion in your calf muscles but also in the other important muscles of the leg, thigh and hip. High-heeled wearers typically have very tight planter flexers in the bottom of the foot, short calf muscles, tight hamstrings, quadriceps, ITB’s, hip flexors, gluteals and over time the body over compensates and muscle imbalances and postural issues often arise.
Thanks to Sarah Bongioletti from Pod Med Podiatry Centre for her words of wisdom.

Check out their website HERE

 

 

Are you hypermobile?

As physiotherapists we spend ALOT of time working with people who have stiff joints, tight muscles, reduced movement….. All of these things present as a lack of mobility, which is, in most cases, resulting in pain (hence why they are sitting in my waiting room).

BUT sometimes we forget about the other side of the coin….. The hypermobile ones, those that have TOO much movement, their joints have more range than required, their muscles are too flexible.

This is actually a problem that exists far more commonly than one may think, often it is asymptomatic & people won’t even be aware that their body is a little more like an elastic band than their best friends, BUT in some cases joint hypermobility syndrome can cause pain.

Joint hypermobility is usually inherited; if your mum is super super flexible, chances you will be too. There is nothing you can do to change it or prevent it, unfortunately its due to a gene representation in the connective tissue (the glue that holds our bodies together) causing it to become more pliable& more stretchy allowing for excessive movement at certain joints.

People with hypermobile joints have a higher incidence of dislocation and sprains of involved joints. The hypermobility tends to decrease with age as we naturally become less flexible.

When it comes to being hypermobility some people just live with it, other people may suffer from certain related medical conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), Marfan Syndrome and Osteogenesis Imperfecta BUT the purpose of this blog isn’t to overload you with information related to these issues but rather to give you a little insight into a more common presentation which is ‘hypermobility syndrome’ or HMS and when you may need to seek a little professional advice.

Do you have HMS?

There is a great little series of tests that you can do right no on your living room floor. Give yourself a score of 1 for each of the following that you CAN DO.

  • Touch the floor with your palms flat without bending your kneeshypermobile
  • Can you bend your left elbow back past straight
  • The same for your right elbow
  • When lying flat on floor with your left leg straight out in front of you can you lift your left heel off the floor approx 1-2 inches without lifting your knee or upper leg
  • The same for your right leg
  • Can you bend your left thumb under so that it touches your forearm
  • The same for your right thumb
  • Can you bend your left little finger back past 90 degrees
  • The same for your left little finger

For each one you are able to achieve give yourself a point.

What was your score out of 9? If you were able to do any of the above you have are classed as hypermobile BUT you don’t necessarily have HMS.

In a clinical setting your score along with the prevalence of certain symptoms would categories you into either minor or major hypermobility syndrome. Some symptoms include joint pain, history of subluxation or dislocation of joints, being particularly tall & slim. 

If your hypermobility is causing you joint pain make an appointment with a sports physiotherapist. They will be able to assess you and answer all your questions about what you can, can’t, should and shouldn’t be doing. There are exercises that can be done to help with the pain and also allow you to partake in all the activities you wish to. It’s also nice to be educated about the risks that certain sports may present to you as a ‘hypermobile’ individual; for example if you are desperate to play high intensity collision sports such as rugby you should be aware that the risk of you dislocating your shoulder is slightly higher than your team mates who are not hypermobile.

So you have HMS? DON’T PANIC. This doesn’t mean you need to start doing things differently. Yes you can exercise, in fact it’s recommended that you do; yes you can play sport (some may be advisable to avoid); yes you can go trampolining; yes you can ski; yes you can LIVE a normal life

Tibialis Posterior Tendonitis

Tibialis posterior dysfunction is one of the most common overuse injuries found in the foot & ankle.

The tibialis posterior muscle originates high in the shin from the back surfaces of the tibia and fibula. It tracks down along the inside border of the tibia, passes around the inside of the ankle and terminates via two attachments in the foot.  The main insertion (and that of interest to this particular injury) is into the tuberosittib posty of the navicular.

The tibialis posterior is an extremely important stabiliser of the foot & ankle. It functions to produce inversion at the ankle and also plays a major role in maintaining and supporting the medial arch.

Tibialis posterior tendonitis occurs when there is excessive strain put upon the tendon as it inserts into the navicular.

Why?

  • As an overuse injury through years of wear and tear associated with high impact activities such as running
  • Acutely as a result of sudden increase in training volume or intensity OR the use of inappropriate footwear

Athletes with poor foot biomechanics such as flat or pronated feet, tight calves and poor pelvic stability are at more risk of developing tibialis posterior dysfunction.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Pain: felt along the inside of the foot
  • In acute cases there can be visible swelling on inside of the foot
  • Pain aggravated by high impact activities such as running & jumping
  • Crepitus may be felt along the length of the tendon.

A thorough physical examination by a physiotherapist will usually be sufficient to diagnose tibialis posterior tendonitis. In cases where diagnosis is in doubt an MRI may be required to rule out other potential pathologies.

Treatment:

Initial treatment must focus on unloading the tendon and allowing it to rest. In severe cases where simple weight bearing activities are painful a short period in a walking boot may be warranted. Icing and anti-inflammatory medications may also be suggested by your health care provider.

Physiotherapy management can involve:

  • Soft tissue massage to tight surrounding muscles, particularly the calf.
  • Electrophysical therapy to reduce inflammation & assist with pain relief.
  • Dry needling to reduce inflammation
  • Taping of the foot to unload the tendon
  • Advice regarding orthoses, shoe inserts & appropriate footwear
  • Activity modification
  • Exercise prescription of appropriate strengthening exercises

In chronic cases or those that have not responded to conservative therapy further intervention may be required. Options can include corticosteroid injections and surgery.

Have a wonderful week! 🙂

Quite literally a pain in the butt

I seriously love my job. Yes of course I have days where my sunny courtyard is much more appealing than the inside of a physio practice, If I didn’t I wouldn’t be normal. The thing I love most; apart from the insanely awesome team I work with, is that no two days are the same. It’s a mixed bag; jam packed full of interesting people, fascinating stories and a vast array of injuries. Every case is different and everyone’s story is unique. The only common thing? They are all suffering pain.

It’s bizarre how life goes, and this has happened to me several times now. I’ll have someone present with a condition that I haven’t seen for a AGES; suddenly within that week 2-3 more people will walk through the door with the exact same problem. It’s as if it becomes the ‘trending’ injury for that week.. and then I won’t see another one for another few months!!! I think of it like the situation where you’re considering buying a new car and suddenly every second car you drive past is the exact car you want. Fascinating.

I have had one of those months. This months ‘trending’ injury is quite literally a pain in the ass.

Piriformis Syndrome:

People with this problem usually come in complaining of ‘sciatica’ that starts deep in their bottom. Just to clear a few things up because people often get this confused, sciatica is not a diagnosis as such; but a set of symptoms. Basically if someone says they have sciatica it means they have pain running down the back and/or outside of their leg. This can originate in the lower back due to a variety of things or it can start deep in buttock area. It’s caused by an irritation of the sciatic nerve at some point along its windy path from the lumbar spine (lower back) to the foot.1

The piriformis is a muscle located deep in the gluteal region. The sciatic nerve descends through this region sitting directly in front of the piriformis muscle. Interestingly in 10% of the population an anatomical variation exists and the sciatic nerve actually pierces the belly of the piriformis passing directly through it. These people are unlucky and probably more prone to suffering from this problem at some stage in their lives.

So to answer the question what is piriformis syndrome? I think the name piriformis ‘impingement’ is a little more appropriate BUT basically it’s an irritation or impinging of the sciatic nerve as it passes in front of or through the piriformis muscle.

Why does this happen? This little muscle is pretty damn important. Its active in just about every lower limb movement we perform in our day to day lives, whether it be walking, running, going up and down stairs and most definitely during most sports and activities. When this muscle gets tight or goes into spasm it can begin to irritate the sciatic nerve.

What will you feel? People usually present with vague pain that starts deep in the buttocks. Depending on the severity there may be tingling and numbness caused by irritation of the nerve. There is sometimes associated leg pain usually felt at the back of the thigh and potentially down into the calf. One thing 80% of people I see with this complain of is that sitting in a car and driving aggravate their symptoms.

What can be done? In terms of diagnosis, your physio can usually do this based on your clinical symptoms and assessment. The frustrating thing for the patient is that there is no definitive diagnostic criteria for this condition; no specific test, not even an over-priced state of the art MRI scan. These things may highlight inflammation within the area but it won’t show the nerve impingement itself because at the end of the day it’s all the result of over tight, overworked muscles.

Treatment of this problem involves deep tissue massage of the muscles in the gluteal region. It’s not pleasant, but it’s good pain…. That pain you just know is doing something. Heat and gentle stretching can assist with short term relief of symptoms.

I have found that acupuncture and trigger point dry needling is very effective also to help relax and calm the muscle spasm found throughout this region. There are a variety of home techniques that I often teach my patients to try and replicate the massage that I give them when they come and see me. A tennis ball will pretty soon become your bestie; and trust me it’s a love hate relationship.

Surgery is advocated in severe cases where conservative management fails to offer adequate relief, however this rare and a very last resort.

My advice would be to get it assessed properly. Pain in the buttock can be the result of many things other than piriformis syndrome.

Happy Thursday and have a FABULOUS weekend 🙂

Do you suffer from Cramps?

Cramps have got to be one of the single most uncomfortable, uncontrollable experiences EVER, usually because they tend to arise at very INCONVENIENT times… like when there is 5 minutes to go in a crucial rugby game…or when you’re fast asleep cosy under the blankets and bang your calf goes into spasm and you’re thrust into the cold pulling your foot this way and that way to try and stretch it out. Sleep ruined.

By definition a ‘muscle cramp’ is an involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscle. Often they can be accompanied by a visible or palpable hardening of the muscle.
Lasting for anywhere between a few seconds up to 15 minutes often one will experience multiple cramping episodes before they finally resolve.

Cramps can take on several different forms however for the purpose of this article I’m just going to focus on what are known as true cramps.

True cramps involve a muscle or group of muscles that work together to produce or bring about movement of a particular body part. These can in response to several factors:
Vigorous or endurance activity: when a group of muscles are repeatedly used for one activity often this can induce fatigue causing the muscle to go into spasm. Similarly if you use a group of muscles to sustain an awkward or unaccustomed position that requires repetitive muscle activation can result in cramps.

Rest cramps: my worst enemy. Commonly occurring at night and referred to as nocturnal cramps these cramps are painful and easily the most frustrating way to ruin a good night’s sleep. The exact cause is unknown. Some theories are centred around lack of certain nutrients and electrolytes within the body, commonly magnesium which is vital for muscle relaxation and repair. Low blood levels of magnesium and calcium in particular can increase the excitability of the nerve endings and the muscles that they stimulate predisposing you to rest cramps. Many of the night cramp ‘remedies’ you will buy off the pharmacy shelves are based on this ‘theory’.

Dehydration: strenuous activity resulting in excessive perspiration can commonly lead to cramps. When you sweat or perspire not only to you lose water but you lose vital electrolytes and salts that are essential to proper efficient muscle function. The problem is that a lot of athletes only replace the water, leaving cells depleted of sodium resulting in cramps. These are more common in hotter weather as we tend to sweat more (unless you’re like me and sweat ALL THE TIME). To prevent this form of cramping replace lost electrolytes with hydration gels, water with added sea salt or some sort of sports re-hydration drink.

A few other things to note are that yes some medications can cause cramps. I’m not a doctor and my knowledge of pharmaceuticals only extends so far so if you think you may fall into this category chat to your doctor! Likewise certain medical conditions can lead to cramping, so chat to your doctor about these too!

What can be done? Most skeletal cramps will resolve if you can stretch the muscle out. The stretch generally needs to be held for 20-30 seconds to be effective and prevent re-occurrence of the cramp. If camps are a result of dehydration or fluid loss replacement of electrolytes is essential.
Heat and gentle massage can also assist with reducing muscle spasm.

Can they be prevented? Unfortunately no. And no matter if you’re  lunch time jogger or super fit iron man no-one is immune to cramping and I guarantee every one of you will suffer from cramps at some stage.

Personally I have found a remedy that seems to help, its by no means fool proof and I still do suffer the occasional nocturnal cramp, especially when I have had a hard week of training. I stretch DAILY particularly my calves which is my problem area for cramps, and I take a daily magnesium supplement before bed to assist with muscle relaxation and recovery.

Why post exercise soreness is a good thing!

DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness is the term given to sore stiff muscles following unaccustomed strenuous exercise. DOMS usually begins 24 hours after exercise and can linger for anywhere between 2-4 days. (Usually worst 48 hours post workout)

When we talk of DOMS we’re not talking the heavy feeling in your legs when you cross the line of your first marathon, or the unontrollable shakes after your 10th rep of coogee stairs, more so the pain you get the morning after when your descending the stairs for your morning coffee and your quads just won’t participate.

I personally love the feeling of DOMS… Sometimes, because it’s a sign that I’ve actually worked hard in the gym for once!!

Everyone is susceptible to DOMS so don’t think if you train 7 days a week that you’ll avoid it, if you change up your exercise regime DOMS might come looking for you. When we exercise we program our muscles to deal with certain stresses and certain loads. Notice when you do your first session of squats / lunges your quads burn for days but after the 3rd or 4th time you do a similar session there is minimal post exercise soreness. This is all due to the ability of our muscles to adapt.

DOMS is thought to be the result of micro tearing of the muscle fibres; the amount of soreness will depends on what exercise you performed and for how long. Eccentric movements (where you’re loading the muscle as its lengthening) i.e. going down stairs or down hills; all seem to result in greater soreness.

The prevention or treatment of DOMS has been a much debated topic for several years, purely because no single treatment has been found to be 100% effective.

Some simple tips include:

  1. Warm down and stretch properly: active recovery is best, it may be the last thing you feel like but a slow jog warm down with gentle stretching can help reduce post exercise soreness.
  2. Ice baths: All the elite athletes are doing it! Hot/Cold shower can also be effective.
  3. Sports massage has been shown to have some effect
  4. Foam Roller: roll it out, particularly good for your quads, ITB, glutes. This little piece of foam might  just be your new best friend, especially if your a regular runner. 5-10 minutes a day is all you need.
  5. Rest: if you have just completed your first half marathon no need to jump into a strenuous training run the next day, your muscles need time to recover so take a few days off. If your desperate to get out and about walking is a good way to get your legs moving!
  6. Try taking Magnesium; The Great Muscle Relaxer. Helps with muscle relaxation and recovery. Magnesium is also extremely effective at preventing cramps! (consult your health practitioner for more information)

For all of those runners competing in the Blackmores Running Festival this weekend chances are you’ll wake up with a case of DOMS on monday morning… Don’t be afraid, its a sign you have pushed your body to its limits! GOOD LUCK 🙂

 

 

To stretch or not to stretch?

Throughout school at every sports training, athletics carnival and PE lesson there was always that designated 5-10 minutes where we were taken through the mandatory routine of stretching all the bodies major muscle groups.  I personally enjoyed this stretching time and it’s something that I, along with most people probably need to do more of nowadays.

Stretching has always been a heavily debated topic among health professionals. Does stretching before sport actually play a role in assisting with injury prevention? Can stretching decrease the intensity of post exercise soreness otherwise known as DOMS? By stretching a short tight muscle can you actually make it longer?

Unsurprisingly there is no clear cut scientific evidence to whole heartedly confirm or deny the merit of any or all of these statements. What we do know however is that stretching when combined with an active sport specific warm up can aid with injury prevention.

There are several different ways you can stretch, the question is which method is best? It’s quite simple, no method is necessarily superior to the other, it’s all dependant on what type of exercise you are preparing for?

For example if your about to embark in some hill or stair runs, you most definitely need to get your calves, quads and hip flexors primed for the insult you are about to put them through!

Source: http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/

 

My favourite stretching tecgniques or those that I use most commonly in practise are:

 

Static stretching: This involves taking the muscle to a level of slight discomfort and holding for an extended period of time (usually 20-30 seconds). This form of stretching is great for chronically tight muscles and is best performed immediately post exercise or later on during the day. Sudies actually show static stretching prior to exercise can be detrimental to ones performance.

Dynamic stretching: this involves repetitively moving a muscle in and out of its available range. For example for the hamstrings you would swing your leg back and forwards in relation to your body. This is important pre exercise as it stimulates the nervous system, elongates muscle tissue, increases muscle temperature and above all prepares your muscles for functional movement.

Foam Roller: strictly speaking this isn’t a method of stretching per say BUT it’s great for problem muscles such as your ITB (thick tight fascia down the outside of the thigh) and quads. It’s almost the equivalent of a personal masseur that inflicts pain, but the good, I’ll feel better after this type of pain.

PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching: Usually best done with a partner and incorporates a hold/relax method whereby your muscle is taken to its available range of movement, you then push gently against the stretching force (essentially switching on the opposing muscle group to that you are stretching) and then relax, ideally then being able to take the muscle being stretched further into its range. This form of stretching has is risks so only perform this with someone who knows what they’re doing.

At the end of the day, disregarding science for a moment, stretching is great for your health and wellbeing, its great for your flexibility and offsetting muscle imbalances. Plus it can be relaxing! Unfortunately stretching seems to be the first part of the exercise program to be overlooked when people are strapped for time. Do yourself a favour; take 5 minutes out of your busy, chaotic life and STRETCH!