What’s causing my muscle tightness?

Muscular tightness is one of the disruptions to normal movement and if not managed well can lead to possible injury. Identifying your tightness and using specific strategies will help relieve tension.

One of the main issues patients struggle with is muscular tightness. They get a feeling of pain or tightness and an inability to relax the muscle.

What is tightness?

When looking at patients I need to find out if they have mechanical stiffness or the “feeling” of tightness or a combination of both, as this would direct my treatment plan.

Is the range of movement limited? does it have a soft or hard end feel? Are movements a struggle at end range, feeling heavy? What’s the rest feeling like, is it a constant tightness?

While we can have mechanical tightness of a joint or muscle, there are also the “feelings” of tightness. You might get your hands to the floor with your legs straight and feel the hamstrings tightening. While another person could do the same, get to their knees and not have tightness.

What causes the feeling of tightness?

Tightness is a sensation like many others, including pain. What we understand from pain is that this is not always brought on physically, but also by the perception of threat.

pathway-of-a-pain-message-via-sensory-nerve-in-injured-muscle,2324600

So like pain, tightness is a protective mechanism from the central nervous system to avoid danger. On a number of levels it detects stressor’s that expose the whole body or specific region to threat.

Examples of this…..

  • Prolonged sitting, without movement we often notice tightness in certain areas, possibly through reduced oxygen supply and increased metabolic toxicity.
  • Stressful situations cause rising cortisol levels and increased activity of the Vagus nerve leading to muscular tightness.
  • Repetitive movement over a period of time causes increased tension.
  • Posture muscle tightnessInjury or pre-existing weakness can cause a guarding response from the nervous system.

Using tightness as a warning sign for these potential threats might allows us to acknowledge the situation and quickly act upon it.

What will help my tightness?

Like all movement patterns, we improve with practice. The same goes for muscle tightness. If we regularly bombard it with neural messages to remain tight we develop trigger points and chronic tightness through a process called central sensitisation. Which makes the tissues more sensitive to pain and tightness.

If we can regularly supply our nervous system with input that is non-threatening we can slowly help desensitise the muscle. But this takes time and regular repetition.

Stretching

Most people with tightness, especially after prolonged rest feel the need to stretch out. But depending on our intended goal there are different types of stretches.

  • Static stretches
  • Active stretches
  • Dynamic stretches
  • PNF (Contract-relax)

While these stretches will help, it might only be temporary without regular repetition and reinforcing the nervous system with good movement.

Strengthening

There is a misconception that resistance training causes our muscles to feel tighter. Mainly due to the effect of DOMS. That feeling of soreness you have the day after a hard workout. But some recent studies have shown that strengthening can be equally, if not more beneficial than stretching.

Improvements in flexibility coming from improved ability to handle higher levels of metabolic stress and lower levels of inflammation. By lowering the threat to the nervous system through increased strength, it allows you to work the muscle through a wider range, without getting a stretch reflex.

Massage and other soft tissue work

Another way to help desensitise these tight muscles is to apply pressure. This could be with the use of a foam roller/lacrosse ball or other manual therapy techniques like deep tissue massage, myofascial release, trigger point release, dry needling.

Relaxation techniques and breathing mechanics

Like in the previous blog, an overactive or dominant sympathetic nervous system can cause muscle tightness. Finding ways of breaking poor postures or shallow breathing using a range of methods like kapalbhati, wim-hof, meditation, yoga etc. Using these methods are just part of the process to lowering overall tightness.

Usually, just following one of these methods individually is not going to be as effective as combining them together. Try to deal with the tightness from all angles.

If guidance is required or manual therapy techniques feel free to call 09 5290990.

Understanding your Nervous System

A healthy nervous system allows us to perform at a high level. Using particular methods we can tap into the subconscious side to improve the running of vital bodily functions.

You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails

Our nervous system has a connection to all structures in the body. Without a healthy working nervous system most bodily functions suffer, our performance in life situations and sport are hindered and recovery from injury is impacted.

The Nervous system

Part of our central nervous system, within our subconscious is a mechanism for handling stressful situations. This is called the Autonomic Nervous system. It branches into two parts; the Sympathetic NS (SNS) and Parasympathetic NS (PNS). The SNS stimulates the bodily functions preparing us for the “fight, flight or freeze” in life threatening situations. The PNS is the other branch that prepares us for “rest, digest and heal”. It’s the PNS that should be the primary driver of our physiology.

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Using the mailman and dog as an example. Most canines are territorial and when unknown visitors arrive they become defensive, will bark and jump at the door. It’s ready to fight. When the postman leaves, the dog quickly forgets what happened and is able to fall asleep within minutes. It recognises the threat has gone and can immediately relax.

Consider yourself in the same situation, feeling threatened of an intruder. You might shout at them to leave or prepare to engage with them. When the person retreats could you relax straight away or will you be on edge for hours or even days?

The SNS is important but only has a purpose for the short term, to allow us to deal with threatening situations. Unfortunately with hectic lives, our brain interprets these physical and mental stresses as life threatening, which frequently triggers the SNS on a daily basis. Constantly stimulating SNS can lead to chronic issues…

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disorder
  • Non-working muscular tension
  • Hyperventilation
  • Adaptation failure
  • Cognitive dysfunction

The brain struggles to identify physical stress’ and imagined stress’. Anxiety of an electricity bill, job cuts at work or relationship issues will fire up the SNS.

Throughout exercise/sport our PNS and SNS working in balance. Depending on particular stressors like speed, distance, duration, the SNS may start to have a greater influence. It’s important to get into our PNS state for improved decision making, better oxygen delivery and for achieving optimal recovery.

Ways of Activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System

The PNS is the system we should be using most frequently . Therefore finding methods of staying in this state even when put under perceived levels of stress are important.

1. Breathing Mechanics

The way we breath has a deep connection to the autonomic nervous system. Shallow, apical breathing has a direct link to our SNS. But taking Deep diaphragmatic breaths stimulates the PNS. Using breathing exercises daily can help train you into a more relaxed state.  Methods such as….

Wim Hof Method

Apnea Breathing

Kapalbhati Breathing

2. Meditation Practices

Through channeling your thoughts and breathing, meditation can help induce a state of relaxation. Following this 5-10 minutes daily can help improve many different functions. Easy to use apps for this are…

Head Space

Wildflowers

                      SoundCloud – Mindfulness Works

3. Muscle relaxation

Using methods like meditation or yoga are ways of achieving muscle relaxation. Having massages and soaking in a hot bath also offers a way of relaxing muscles. The release of tight muscles indirectly sends signals to the brain to activate the PNS and switch off the SNS.

Continue reading “Understanding your Nervous System”

Strength Training for Endurance

This is a literature review of the benefits of including resistance training into your running or cycling training programme.

Rønnestad 2014

For recreational runners and cyclists, strength training is not always considered important when developing increased pace, endurance and mechanics. But this paper from 3 years supports the involvement of explosive strength training as part of a training program for endurance runners/cyclists. With benefits of improved endurance to muscle fibres when in an anaerobic state, increased tendon stiffness and greater explosive power.

The study went on to find numerous benefits with the addition of strength training. And provided these recommendations.

  1. To improve the chance of increased endurance performance following a strength training program, the resisted exercises should engage similar muscle groups and imitate sport specific movements. This will result in firing up the same neural pathways connected with the motion of running or cycling.
  2. Force output may increase the ground strike in runners or force velocity in cycling if an explosive focus is put on the concentric phase of the muscle. For example pushing fast out of the back squat.
  3. At least 2 sessions per week of strength training to develop maximal strength over a 12 week program. Beginning with lighter loads in the first 3 weeks to learn correct form before increasing load. Working within 8-12 reps and 2-3 sets.

Some beneficial lifts for runners and cyclists would include back squats, dead lifts, hip thrusters and bent over rows.

Abstract

Here we report on the effect of combining endurance training with heavy or explosive strength training on endurance performance in endurance-trained runners and cyclists. Running economy is improved by performing combined endurance training with either heavy or explosive strength training. However, heavy strength training is recommended for improving cycling economy. Equivocal findings exist regarding the effects on power output or velocity at the lactate threshold. Concurrent endurance and heavy strength training can increase running speed and power output at VO2max (Vmax and Wmax , respectively) or time to exhaustion at Vmax and Wmax . Combining endurance training with either explosive or heavy strength training can improve running performance, while there is most compelling evidence of an additive effect on cycling performance when heavy strength training is used. It is suggested that the improved endurance performance may relate to delayed activation of less efficient type II fibers, improved neuromuscular efficiency, conversion of fast-twitch type IIX fibers into more fatigue-resistant type IIA fibers, or improved musculo-tendinous stiffness.

Rønnestad et al (2014). Optimizing strength training for running and cycling endurance performance: A review. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports

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Lunge Hip Mobility

The 2nd part of hip mobility focuses on your lunge shape. Having full access to hip extension will improve your running, throwing and kicking abilities.

This is the second part of the hip series. These hip shapes are positions that we should all be striving for to have confidence and feel safe to function if exposed to complex positions. 

Following on from the blog hip opener for the hinge shape is our next hip position we should try to achieve. The lunge shape is full extension and internal rotation of the hip with the knee positioned behind the hip and foot pointing forwards. This shape is most seen in lifters doing split jerks, kicking a football, ball throwing. But most commonly seeing this lack of range with runners, not utilising the full hip extension in the push off at the end of stance phase.

Over the years adaptive changes happen either through injury or more with positions we adhere to. The most common being sitting, which results in anterior structures of the hip becoming limited. Lacking the end range of this movement could mean we’re selling our self short of momentum, power or endurance.

Running-lunge

Using the picture of long distance runner Mo Farah, he demonstrates a great lunge shape at the hip. While maintaining a neutral spine he manages to reach full hip extension and toes are pointed forwards, maintaining the internal rotation of the hip. Lacking hip extension can compromise running form of the upper limb and spine. But as you can see he reaches a good press shape of the opposite shoulder in the arm swing making his running style extremely efficient and balanced.

Below are a series of stretches and mobility exercises to help improve your lunge shape.

Couch stretch

If hip flexors are tight this is one of the best stretches for improving length back. A long sustained hold of this stretch with full diaphragmatic breathing over 2 minutes is extremely effective.

Illiopsoas Trigger Point Release

This muscle sits within the abdominal cavity and if tight it will feel sore with pressure through the abdominal wall towards the muscle. At first the pain can be quite high but relaxing into the pressure overtime the pain subsides and will feel looser once released. Aim for 1-2 minutes hold.

Hip flexor stretch (with band)

Another hip flexor stretch with a joint mobilisation using a band. Position the knee behind the hip. Allow the band to pull the hip forwards, contract the glutes to get the best anterior hip stretch.

Quads and inner thigh release with LaX ball

A lacrosse ball is a great tool for isolating sections of tight muscle. Rolling on the ball like you would a foam roller will be more effective, if tolerated. Then opening up inner thigh/hip adductors using the kettle bell handle. The knee flexion/extension stretches the muscle through range while being tacked down.

Suspended split stretch

This is for the more adventurous. It will help your lunge go deeper while increase stretch through the hamstrings. Throughout this movement, it is important to keep the glutes switched on to avoid hanging of the hip capsules. Spend around a minute each direction.

Continue reading “Lunge Hip Mobility”

Redefining your “Normal”

Taking a look what could be limiting your physical potential to grow and redefine what you would class as “normal”.

You are braver than you believe,

stronger than you seem,

and smarter than you think.

~ Winnie the Pooh

YOUR PERCEPTION OF NORMAL COULD BE LIMITING YOUR GROWTH?

Our bodies are constantly adapting. I see people of all ages, from different backgrounds, each individual with their own experience of pain and weakness. Most have learned to live with this feeling and avoid certain movements through fear, apprehension or a lack of practice over time.

This restricted level of function has become their new norm.


My experience of this was quite recent. In preparation for a snowboarding trip to Mt Hutt I thought I’d get some practice in at the local indoor slope. After having not snowboarded for 2 years I was already feeling a level of anxiety knowing what was coming. Getting there I decided to have a few practice runs on the magic carpet (a beginners slope, relatively flat).

My first run went as expected, with a few falls, poor coordination of my feet, but this slowly improved. I was soon at the top of the slope back to my novice level of linking turns, still with a few falls.

At that point, I was then trying to push myself to go over small ramps, this lead to a return of anxiety. But once accepting that I can overcome this challenge and then achieve it my confidence only increased more.


For new Crossfitters the box jump can be quite a daunting obstacle. For some, it’s a movement that’s not been attempted for years. This isn’t their current norm and has been lost from their movement vocabulary. With appropriate scaling of this skill and positive reinforcement they are able to clear this milestone. Confidence quickly increases and it becomes a normal skill within their training.

Our bookends of normal function throughout life are expected to change with the onset of physical deficits. But when these restrictions are defined by lifestyle rather than capabilities our limitations are instead self-imposed.

Many people think that the body only adapts to the physical, without considering that psychological barriers could be the largest hurdle.

Thinking under the premise that “we can’t do something because we haven’t tried it” only sets us up for a limited version of ourselves. Try accepting that we are capable of doing more than we perceive, through patience of developing skills and strength. This will slowly help you define your new normal.

Lets stop calling it tennis elbow

This injury affects more than just tennis players. Unlike its name the treatment for lateral elbow pain has advanced.

Lateral elbow pain is a regular complaint from athletes to manual workers, even office workers are exposed to the risks of these injuries. Sometimes this injury can be difficult to shake off without the necessary changes being made.

Why tennis elbow and what should we call it?

The diagnosis of “tennis elbow’ dates back to 1882 described as “lawn tennis arm”. While it effects up to 50% of tennis players throughout their careers there are many other activities other than tennis that cause this problem.

Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy (LET) is a more appropriate and clinical description of the injury. It encapsulates both a tendinitis (inflammation of the tendon) and tendinosis (micro-tears of the tendon).

With repetitive use of the arm, whether you’re doing a swing, cleaning a 60KG barbell, hammering together a fence or typing up endless reports. As the muscles in the forearm are being used continuously without rest the immune and metabolic bi-products cause micro tears in the tendon, leading to scarring, swelling and lateral elbow pain over time.

What can cause LET?

Forearm anatomny.jpg

The most common cause for LET is mentioned above, the small tearing of tendon inserting into the lateral epicondyle (outer elbow). Most commonly the tear occurs with the small muscle Extensor Carpi Radialus Brevis due to its weak insertion into the extensor tendon. But there are several other wrist extensors that can also overload this tendon complex.

For a long time, it was thought the sole problem was with the tendon and its connecting muscle. But the most recent model of LET suggests that as well as inadequate muscle power and endurance, there are also external factors influencing the pain.

These external factors could be…

  • Neck and mid back dysfunctions – Particularly the lower Cervical spine, the nerves that supply the lateral elbow have nerve roots at this level (C5-6). If nerve roots are irritated at these levels it can enhance the feeling of pain in its pathway down the arm, into the elbow. Following the Law of Denervation (This is a whole other blog!).
  • Posterior shoulder trigger points – Following that same C5-6 nerve root into the shoulder, it supplies posterior shoulder muscles. The development of trigger points in these muscles can irritate the nerve branches travelling down the arm causing enhanced pain into the elbow.
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – This is another condition that effects the nerves supplying the arm. The pressure places on these nerves can also cause pain in the elbow.

As you can see all these external factors add a nerve component to the elbow pain and should be cleared in assessment to ensure they’re not involved or treated appropriately.

How long it takes to recover?

Like all injuries, it will vary. Depending on the severity and how irritable you are this could be a few weeks to a few months. Following the guidance and management of the injury from physio you will have greater success than treating it on your own.

If symptoms persist, with no overall improvement over 12 weeks an ultrasound scan may be indicated, followed by an assessment from an orthopaedic specialist.

How do I prevent LET?

LET is a silent assassin, it’s one of these conditions that develops unknowingly (with scarring and tissue inflammation) until it’s too late (when you feel pain).

If you’re involved in sport or work that uses repetitive motion at the elbow, you’re already a candidate for this type of injury. Consider that your warning and take control.

Firstly, those forearm extensors need to be managed. Taking regular breaks to stretch and strengthen the wrists will help. Rolling the lacrosse ball into the forearm and back of the shoulder to reduce tightness. Consider your posture when sat at work or in the car, aim for your head to be over the shoulders.

For those in the gym, look at your wrist position. Most movements other than front rack and press positions, you want to maintain a neutral wrist. Look at your kettle bell swing or pull up, keeping the wrist close to neutral will reduce the force through the muscles of the forearm.

How can physio help?

Depending your presentation when assessed there are a range of treatments that could include…

  • Soft tissue manipulation of the wrist extensors, neck and shoulder
  • Joint mobilisations to the elbow, cervical and thoracic spine
  • Dry needling of forearm wrist flexors/extensors, deep neck extensors, posterior rotator cuff.
  • Mobilisations with movement for the elbow, neck and shoulder
  • Strapping of rigid or kinesio tape
  • Prescription of elbow brace/clasp
  • Specific exercises to strength and stretching exercises for the wrist, shoulder and cervical spine
  • Mobility exercises for thoracic and cervical spine

There are many treatment options available but to help with a quick recovery it’s important to provide a tailored treatment plan to meet your individual needs.

For an appointment, call on 095290990

The effect of food on your recovery

When feeling sore or recovering from injury there are other lifestyle factors to consider. Your diet may be slowing down your rate of recovery.

Your nutrition could be what tips the scales on your road to recovery

You’ve come in for treatment of your shoulder. It’s to be expected that it will consist of some manual therapy and education, followed by a home exercise routine to develop strength or improve mobility. But then there are other factors that can impact your recovery. Lifestyle factors such as stress levels, sleep and diet. While carefully rehabbing the injury it’s important to consider what foods your putting into your body.

There are many studies that show the relationship of improved nutrition on overall health outcomes with chronic diseases. More importantly it’s specific role in reducing inflammation.

Making some dietary and lifestyle changes may help with weight loss, feeling emotionally stronger, and reduce pain intensity. Nutrition could be that missing link to recovering from your injury and also help prevent injury.

Many of you may have already found the right nutritional balance in your life. For those that may still need to make changes here are some recommendations based on evidence. Theses are the common problems associated with pain that can be alleviated with diet.

1. Inflammation

Large amounts of inflammatory foods, including refined sugars and vegetable oils, populate the Western diet. Most clinical studies show that a traditional Mediterranean diet, rich in healthy fatty acids, fruits, vegetables and fiber, provides anti-inflammatory benefits. There are other diets with smaller evidence bases that have similar anti-inflam benefits such as paleo and Keto.

Studies have also shown for specific conditions. The Med-diet is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants that provides anti-inflammatory effects that benefit individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Evidence shows an optimal diet can reduce inflammation and fight chronic diseases.

2. Obesity

One of the fastest growing problems across the western world. Obesity contributes to numerous chronic pain conditions. Multiple Studies show that weight loss is vital to overall pain rehabilitation.

3. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the gradually degeneration of joint surfaces, one of the main causes of increased OA is obesity. Studies have shown that obesity is the most modifiable risk factor for knee OA. Pain levels of knee OA have been found to half when reducing 10% body weight.

One systematic review found scientific evidence to support some specific nutritional interventions–including omega 3 fatty acids–to relieve symptoms among patients with OA. Studies also show various nutrient deficiencies, including vitamins C and D as well as selenium, contribute to OA.

4. Autoimmune disease

Over 80 autoimmune disorders exist, including Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes. Genetic predisposition and environmental factors play major roles in the development of autoimmune diseases. But increasingly, researchers believe adverse dietary changes over the past 50 years. Including gluten intolerance, altered gut bacteria, and vitamin D deficiency contribute to an increased rate of autoimmune diseases.

Those main changes being a high-sugar, high-salt, processed-food heavy diet that paves the pathway for autoimmune diseases. Nutrient depleted diets only worsen this problem with a studies showing vitamin D, vitamin A, selenium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and flavanol deficiencies contribute to autoimmune diseases.


Most patients I treat deal with inflammation in one way or another. But if you suffer from any of the other of the above issues, adjusting your nutrition could be the needle-mover to alleviate pains and helps your recovery.

This is only a recommendation for adjusting your diet if you think there could be something exacerbating an inflammatory response. For any major dietary changes seek the advice of a nutritionist.

Foods that fight inflammation

Anterior Knee Pain in CrossFit

Anterior knee pain is common in most sports. In CrossFit there is a lot of repetitive knee flexion, through full range. Look after your knees to prevent this condition.

Anterior knee pain or Patellofemoral pain is quite the common condition within sports. It affects up to 20% of active individuals (1). With CrossFit athletes, there’s no hiding from repetitive knee flexion. Whether you’re squatting, box jumping, running or doing pistols the load on your knee cap is being carefully balanced. If the load is too much it causes pain around the patella.

Symptoms

Patellofemoral pain usually is at its worst when bending the knee, running, jumping, climbing stairs, squatting or kneeling. It can make a noise when the knee bends and sometimes there’s swelling over the knee.

Potential causes of Anterior Knee Pain

Unfortunately for the knee cap, it’s stuck in a tug of war from forces in different directions. This suspends the knee cap as it tracks within the grooves of the knee.


  • Muscle imbalances: The Vastus Lateralus (outer quad) and Vastus Medialus Oblique (inner quad) are the forces from either side. This is one of the most common issues where your VL is overly tight, sometimes with trigger points. This causes a shift of the knee cap away from midline resulting in more pressure on surface of the patella.

A tightness of the quads muscle, particularly Rectus Femorus causes an upwards force on the patella. When the knee is bent under load this puts extra pressure on the surface of the knee cap.

  • Biomechanics: Our body moves as a functional unit and often the knee pain is a result of something more global. The knee sits between two other mobile joints, the hip and ankle. The ankle may be rolling in or weak Glutes are causing too much internal rotation of the leg. This changes the direction of force through the knee and patella.
  • Overuse: Repeated movements especially with a new movement pattern can put higher demands on tissue. If you’ve only just started doing CrossFit or doing high reps of pistols or box jumps you may feel some anterior knee pain.

Prevention and Self treatment

This word strikes fear into most Crossfitters – REST.

While it’s understandable you still want to train, there needs to be a compromise. We want to reduce the number of days training the initial few weeks to allow symptoms to subside. We also need to restrict the some of the deeper knee flexion movements and high impact activities.

We want to offload the force reaction on the patella when bending the knee. The more knee flexion the more force reaction. Deep squats might not be a good idea to start with when feeling anterior knee pain (see the table).

force.jpg

Activity Force % Body Weight
Walking 334 N 1/2 x BW
Bike 905 N 1.3 x BW
Stair Ascend 1760 N 2.5 x BW
Stair Descend 4000 N 5.7 x BW
Jogging 7.7 x BW
Squatting 6375 N 7.6 x BW
Jumping 20 x BW
Schindler (2011) (2)

If you’re feeling anterior knee pain you want to stick within a comfortable pain-free range. Try to understand that this condition needs to be managed carefully and with patience to ensure a smooth recovery.

Stretching and mobilising is important, especially the quads. If you’re unable to lie on your stomach and pull your heel to your bottom it’s a sign that your quads are in a poor condition. Regular foam rolling and stretches of the quads, glutes and along the ITB will help prepare you for training and prevent the onset of a patella dysfunction.

Practice the movements you’re struggling with. Ask your coach to look at the movement for correction or to be scaled in the interim until you’ve developed the strength. Also, practice soft landings, if everyone in the gym can hear you land, that’s a lot of force being passed through the knees.

What to Expect from Fundamental Physio

If you’re struggling to recover on your own don’t wait too long. The longer you wait the more chronic it becomes and harder to recover from. Putting up with patellofemoral pain has been shown to accelerate the process of patella osteoarthritis (3). 

Firstly, assessing your knee to test the mechanics of the joint with a series of orthopaedic tests to clear for any other pathologies. Then looking at how your knee and leg moves with different functional tests. This will help identify where you’re struggling and where you may be compensating.

Once we’ve identified the problem areas treatment will be more specific to your problems. This may consist of manual therapy such as massage, joint mobilisation trigger point release and dry needling. Depending on the stage of your recovery, strapping techniques with rigid or kinesio tape.

First we must break you down and then rebuild you…

While the aim is to get you back to functional movements, there may be some individual muscles that might have weakened. You’ll likely start off with some isolated exercises to build strength and control. Then putting it all back together in a compound movement. Correcting your on position, weight distribution and depth. You’ll have a lot more body awareness, rather than just doing the movement and it’ll help prevent an injury like this happening again.

If you’re struggling with recovering on your own contact me on 09 5290990

  1. Lack et al (2015), Proximal muscle rehabilitation is effective for patellofemoral pain: a systematic review with meta-analysis. 
  2. Schindler (2011) Basic kinematics and biomechanics of the patello-femoral joint. Part 1: The native patella. Acta Orthop Belg.
  3. Crossley, (2014) Is patellofemoral osteoarthritis a common sequela of patellofemoral pain? 

The Holiday Workout

Most of us when on Holiday completely switch off from exercise. If you don’t want to miss out on training try some of these workouts.

This blog follows on from The Office Workout I published a few months ago. There are times we neglect exercise, most commonly in the Office and when taking time off, going on holiday.

The usual story is you’ve been training hard all year and then go on vacation. At home you’re a finely tuned machine with a strict routine. In holiday mode, that routine usually goes out the window. Now try not to fear, a week away from the gym will not cause significant losses in muscle mass or fitness.

But if you’re feeling fidgety and can’t just lie in the sun, I’ve put together some options. Also try making some up yourself, get creative with the movements you use in the gym.

Take a rope…

One of the easiest pieces of equipment you can take away. It’s small and light to carry. Work on singles or doubles. Develop your technique and surprise your training buddies when you get back.

75DU’s – 50 air squats – 25 burpees – 20 push ups – 25 burpees – 50 air squats – 75DU’s

Other DU options….

30 HSPU/Push ups – 40 Mountain limbers – 50 Sit ups – 60 Squats – 70DU’s

3 rounds: 20 DU’s – 30 Walking Lunges – 40 Push ups – 30 Squats – 20 V-sit ups – 10 Burpees

Use the ocean…

Unless you’re a CrossFit Games athlete, how often are you doing interval training with swimming?  Find a quite section of beach and jump in the water.

8 Rounds: 100m swim – 10 Push ups – 15 Sit ups

Other swimming options…

30 mins AMRAP 50m Swim – 10 Push ups – 15 Air squats

15 mins AMRAP 50m Swim – 30 seconds treading – 50m Swim 

Use the Beach…

The sand creates another challenge of instability that you don’t have in the gym. Train in the sand to make the workout harder.

5 Rounds: 10 Push ups – 15 Air squats – 50 Walking lunges – 10 Burpees

21 – 15 – 9 Push ups and Air squats – 400m run each round

15m Bear Crawl – 20 Push ups – 15m Crab Walk – 20 Squats – 15m Burpees broad jumps – 20 Mountain Climbers

Get Creative

Think of other possible ways of training on holiday. They might not always work but it’s worth trying.

What’s in a warm up?

There’s a misconception with the warm up, that it’s mainly used to raise the heart rate and body temperature. But there’s much more to this part of your workout. If applied appropriately it can enhance your overall performance.

Warming up before sport or any strenuous activity it’s important to reduce the risk of injury (1-3). For the typical adult most of the day is sedentary (sitting or standing). Would you expect to jump straight into your fastest 100m sprint or complete a heavy dead lift? No is hopefully your answer.

What structures am I warming up?

Vascular System

When you move, changes happen to your circulatory system. There is increased blood flow to muscles, resulting in increased oxygen supply, along with delayed lactate buildup. 

Myofascial System

During the warm up the muscle and fascia (the connective tissue between muscles) begin to increase in temperature. Muscle fibers are prepped for a smoother contraction. A warm up allows fascia to slide easier.

Nervous System

This is the most important part of a warm up. Your nervous system is connected to every other system in your body. A warm up causes increased neural activity, increased sensitivity of nerve receptors and increased speed of nerve impulses. This provides improved balance, faster reaction times, increased speed, strength and flexibility. 


Warming Up Excites Neural Pathways

The nervous system is constantly responding to a multitude of sensory information to adjust muscle tension, movement patterns and balance. If a light jog was your standard “warm up”, but you’re training for heavy dead lifts. Will you have channeled the right neural pathways for this activity?

There’s a study showing improvements in vertical jump performance following sets of squat repetitions (4). It also demonstrated increased EMG neural activity following the squats.

A baseball study showed improvements in batting speed following warm ups with a weighted bat (5). This enhanced the neural motor pattern of this movement providing more speed and strength.


What’s in a warm up?

Really a lot depends on what you’re preparing for. Consider what muscle groups and movement patterns need to be primed. You need to be firing up your neuromuscular system and increasing your heart rate to enhance the vascular system.

Mobility – If you’re not doing this in your spare time, then check-in 10 minutes earlier to do foam rolling or some static stretches for those notorious tight areas.

Cardio – The best way of increasing your heart rate is a light jog or cycle, jump on the rower or practice some skipping.

Dynamic movements – This is where our nervous system gets kick started. Working on these movements will fire up movement patterns used when performing. These movements should engage our core stabilisors of the spine.

Plyometrics – Implementing this into your warm up will help fine tune your motor skills and ensure precision when training.

Explosive strength – Once going through the above warm ups. It helps to use extra resistance to improve those neural connections. Back squats before box jumps. Chest passing medicine ball for passing speed. Weighted overhead throw for spiking or serving.

Take the warm up seriously. By incorporating these actions to your warm up you will see great results and minimise injury.

  1. Emery et al, (2010) The effectiveness of a neuromuscular prevention strategy to reduce injuries in youth soccer: a cluster-randomised controlled trial. 
  2. McCrary et al, (2015) A systematic review of the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury. 
  3. Al Attar et al, (2016) How Effective are F-MARC Injury Prevention Programs for Soccer Players? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med
  4. Sotiropoulos et al, (2010) Effects of Warm-Up on Vertical Jump Performance and Muscle Electrical Activity Using Half-Squats at Low and Moderate Intensity. J Sports Sci and Med
  5. McCrary et al, (2015) A systematic review of the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury. Br J Sports Med