You are doing the high-intensity spinning classes, three to four times a week, you feel pretty good afterwards. Why?...because you have triggered a physically induced stress response, you have taken your body into the red zone, the fight or flight state. Your body releases adrenaline, cortisol, endorphins and insulin which, like some magic mix cocktail, leave you buzzing....like you might after having outrun a sabre-toothed tiger with eyes on you for lunch.
We start to lose muscle mass from the age of 30. This phenomenon occurs more rapidly in those who are sedentary and sit long periods each day.
As we age, we also become more susceptible to muscle imbalance, where some muscles tighten, and others weaken to create increased joint stress and injury. Muscle imbalance is a big issue for golfers, for example.
As we age, muscle recovery also takes longer after a bout of exercise or physical strain. While recovering, the muscles are in a weakened state and prone to injury.
It is essential to make every effort to maintain and even improve muscle function as we age through correctly prescribed exercise, diet, advice and treatment if required.
Those who train too hard, too often are weakening due to overload of the nervous and immune systems. Furthermore, inadequate periods of recovery leading to ‘weakness windows’ during which they inevitably continue to train. The result is pain, reduced muscle fibre recruitment and an inability to perform basic tests of functional strength, such as the grip and jump tests. So we have active, seemingly fit people, perhaps with large muscles but who lack fundamental strength.
We live in an age of immediate gratification, usually at the touch of a button. It has to be quick, effective and more often than not, the cheaper the better.
News flash! The human body does not work that way. We cannot download a software update to remove all bugs and fix the problems.
The human body takes time to heal, there is usually no quick fix, no app to provide a cure. In fact, given how we are abusing our bodies with poor diets, too much or too little or too much exercise, and stress, it is now taking even longer for bodies to heal.
The body of a runner is subject to much wear and tear. The longer and faster the runs, the greater the wear and tear.
Our muscles take most of the wear and tear, which over time, can lead to muscle imbalance, pain and reduced running efficiency.
An example of muscle imbalance would be a weak gluteus medius resulting in overactivity of the gluteus maximus, tensor fasciae latae, and lateral quadriceps.
Muscle imbalance may lead to the development of patellofemoral pain syndrome, and possibly patellar tendinopathy. The overactive muscles themselves may also become painful due to the development of myofascial trigger points.
As a physiotherapist with 20 years experience who regularly uses manual therapy as a treatment technique, here are some of my comments and insights on manual therapy from a clinicians perspective.
Manual therapy can be considered a range of hands-on techniques which may include joint mobilisations, manipulations as well as techniques targeting the soft tissues. Mostly, manual therapy is applied to the client, but some manual therapy, such as the very effective mobilisation with movement technique, is performed with the clients' active participation. Clinically I find techniques which combine passive and active techniques most effective, when applied correctly and at the right time, in restoring movement and function to an affected joint or joints.
Right-sided low back pain seems to be more common than left-sided low back pain according to a recent clinical audit.
Back pain may develop relatively quickly, perhaps after lifting or moving something and is often due to tissue strain with associated sensitivity and restricted movement.
Knowing what to do, and what not to do can help you recover quicker with a reduced risk of recurrent right-sided low back pain recurring in the future.
Regular exercise is essential for many reasons, but unless approached in the right way, can be counterproductive and in some cases, harmful.
High-risk sports can put our bodies at risk of injury, which defeats the whole purpose of the exercise. You may not be playing rugby, boxing or mountain biking at high speed, so this may not sound relevant to you.
However, one of the most popular forms of regular exercise is considered a high-risk sport – running. The problem isn't running as such; it's running the wrong way.
Regular readers of our blogs and who follow us on Facebook may have worked out that the theme for the latter half of this month is headaches.
Following on from last weeks more general overview of the different types of headaches, this weeks article will focus on the common muscular tension-type headache.
Headaches are very common, the 'scourge of modern society' so they have been described. My perception is that many suffer in silence, perhaps reluctant to admit to suffering from headaches as a sign of vulnerability, or feeling they are something which should just be put up with.
There are various types of headaches, each with its own cause and characteristics.
Sometimes more than one type of headache can occur at the same time, which can make an accurate diagnosis difficult.
It is essential that headaches are properly diagnosed. Especially if experiencing a new type of headache, which comes on quickly, may be associated with other symptoms, and is not settling within a reasonable period of time.
More gradual onset headaches, which are less severe and may fluctuate in intensity, could be less serious but still need to be assessed and treated early.
Beware of relying only on painkillers. Research has shown that over time painkillers can become less effective and might even start causing headaches, the so-called ‘re-bound headache’. If in doubt, get it checked out.