What’s up with that tape athletes wear?

paul rocktape

We just got back from the Exmoor round of the Ultra Trail running series. The next round is January 31st 2016 on Dartmoor. By we, I mean Paul Hindle representing Exminster Sports Injuries & Chiropractic clinic and now Riviera wellbeing’s newest part time chiro and Natasha Hindle (nee Harris) representing Essential Chiropractic Torquay. Our role today was pre race kinesiotaping and post race massage. So why the hell did we bother putting tape on people? If you didn’t ask that question tough I’m telling you anyway 🙂

Kinesiotape is the overall name applied to any elasticated therapeutic tape that is placed over the skin to; improve mobility, reduce swelling & pain and improve biomechanics. Most brands can stretch 140% of their resting length. We use a brand of kinesiotape called Rocktape. The colours don’t matter at all therapeutically speaking but if you want to have a bunch of pink skulls running down your arm then its cheaper than a tattoo. What does matter is where you apply the tape and how much stretch you apply to it.

Rocktape is particularly good at sticking to your skin for up to 7-8 days even if you swim or have regular showers. It is designed for use by swimmers, triathletes and those who sweat a lot. It shouldn’t be used as a substitute for massage & manipulation but if you don’t have time or the money for those things then it can be a quick way to gain increased flexibility without doing lots of stretching etc. It’s best used in conjunction with manipulation/massage, stretches and exercise however.

rugby rocktape

Many different professional sports people use kinesiotaping these days and whilst some of its effect are likely to be placebo it clearly leads to:

When you are about to do a sporting event or if you are struggling at work with some repetitive strain injury then kinesiotape can be a less harmful/more effective alternative to taking painkillers. Put the offending muscle on stretch and slide the tape over the muscle without any stretch. It can also be used to reduce bruising/swelling ie to help settle a new injury during the acute phase (first 2-5 days). Today we mostly taped tight calves for the runners who were struggling with Achilles tendonitis. Obviously long term they need to start on the eccentric stretches and reassess the intensity/distance of their training program but for today it got them through a race they wanted to do, without pain.
calf tape

If you would like to try Rocktape you can see Paul in Exminster on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday or in Paignton (Riviera wellbeing) on Tuesday & Friday. Alternatively if Torquay is easier for you Natasha is available Tuesday, Thursday & Friday at Essential Chiropractic. Next month the blogs will slow down eventually becoming monthly not weekly, remember if you want a specific topic discussed leave a message below or email exsicc@gmail.com.

Running, good or bad for you?

 

Last weeks blog discussed arthritis and I mentioned the commonly held belief that running causes knee and hip arthritis may not actually be true. Studies have shown that compared to non-runners those who run regularly generally have a lower level of knee and hip osteoarthritis. But running can still cause many injuries including shin splints, achilles tendonitis, ITB syndrome, patellar tendonitis and glute medius tendonitis to name a few. Being physically under prepared for running is a key reason for this. Meaning that if you are running way more distance or way faster than you are used to running or you are too heavy for the amount of running you are doing then you will get overuse injuries like the ones mentioned above.

So what if you want to use running to lose weight? Well start sensibly with a mix of walking and running so you can build up your fitness slowly over many months. For example look for objects on your route that you can target like lamp-posts to run to and then walk until the next one and repeat. Don’t make big increases in your mileage, if you’ve signed up for a marathon but never run more than 5 miles a week before don’t try and go for long runs straight away, build your distances up slowly using examples like the couch to 5k program offered by the NHS.

The next important aspect whether you are elite, overweight, a beginner or anyone else you will also need to have good “core” stability to reduce the chances of overuse injuries from poor biomechanics when running. You need good rotational stability in your trunk muscles to reduce any twisting in your spine when running so you don’t run like phoebe from friends! Exercises such as rolling patterns, planks & bird-dogs will improve your rotational stability. You will also need good hip stability to stop your knee from dropping inwards each time you land, this is where the oft mentioned glute medius muscle comes into play and you can use exercises like side lying clams, monster walks, 1 legged squats and hip aeroplanes to strengthen these muscles.

If we look even further down the chain of muscles used for running then your ankle will also need some lateral stability to maintain a good foot arch so exercises such as toe scrunches, 1 leg balance, calf raises and hip aeroplanes (yes I mentioned this one twice for a reason :-)) will help to reduce inward movement of the knee the same way lateral hip exercises will. For these muscles to have an easier time of it good mobility of your feet, ankles, hips and pelvis (sacro-iliac joints) will allow for full, unimpeded running motion that does not need to be compensated for. Therefore it will also be good to do foot, calf, hamstring, quad, glute, inner thigh and lower back stretches regularly and/or have regular chiropractic to help maintain your mobility.

The other factor I wanted to go into a little bit of detail about in this post is the choice of running technique itself. The two main options are forefoot running and heel strike, referring to the part of your foot that makes contact with the ground first when running. Heel strikes are more economical in ultra long distance running (longer than marathon) but will increase the forces transmitted through your bones on each step. This leaves you more at risk of ankle, knee, hip and low back joint pain but is easier on your muscles. It is also a slower technique so if you are trying to run fast you should definitely be striking with the forefoot first.

Forefoot running as mentioned above is the predominant technique of sprinters, middle distance runners and some long distance runners as it allows you to use the powerful spring mechanism of your foot, achilles calf complex to rebound off the floor with each stride. This does reduce the load on your joints but means your muscles & tendons are taking over and so their injury risk becomes higher.

SSC

This means things like achilles tendonitis, calf strains, hamstring strains and plantar fasciitis become more common although most of these can be avoided with the things described in the paragraphs above like sensible time, distance and speed for your current fitness, good mobility, good core stability, good technique and regular chiropractic treatment.

So most of you will be best with forefoot running. A few might benefit from heel striking instead but all will benefit from having a body that can cope with the demands of running in the first place so be honest with yourself do you need to put more miles in, more speed or first concentrate on mobility/stability exercises whilst slowly increasing your running load. Core stability won’t make you a faster runner in the short term but if you get injured less then the consistency of regular training not interrupted by injury will make you a better runner in the long term.

If you would like to learn more about this and get any of your niggling running injuries fixed then call 07710791434 or book online via this website. Exminster Sports Injuries and Chiropractic Clinic are also teaming up with Essential Chiropractic Torquay at the Exmoor ultra marathon series next Sunday 27th September to offer pre race advice and rocktaping, so if you’re there and you want to know more come over and say hello and pick up some discount vouchers for clinical assessment/treatment.

Does every adult have arthritis?

pain pic

It seems even 20-30 year olds can go to their GP now and be told their aches & pains are “just their age” or “just arthritis” so do we really all have it? Well the short answer is YES but lets be clear about what is meant by arthritis. There are several different conditions that have the word arthritis applied to them, some of them have nothing to do with your age, some of them require medication and some of them are easily managed with lifestyle changes & manual therapies like chiropractic.

Inflammatory arthritides are the group of related arthritis (literally means joint pain) conditions that include rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondilitis, reactive arthritis & gout. They are very painful and occur in sharp bouts of pain, with red, hot, swollen joints. They can be controlled by medication or less harmful methods like ice and comfrey. The underlying causes are usually a combination of genetics and lifestyle, particularly poor diet. Physical therapies like chiropractic can help improve mobility but are best avoided or minimised during severe inflammatory episodes. Emotions also play a role in the intensity of pain and the occurrence of inflammatory bouts so treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and emotional freedom technique (EFT) can help in some cases.

Osteoarthritis: By far the most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis also known as degenerative joint disease and almost every adult will show some signs of this on x-ray in at least some of their joints especially the neck, back and knees. It cannot be cured and it cannot be avoided. This is the reason for the provocative headline of this article, but now the good news. In most cases especially if you start doing something about it early enough the pain and disability of osteoarthritis can be minimised and the progression of it slowed down so that it barely bothers you throughout your life. To find out how read on below!

Osteoarthritis is essentially wear & tear on your body throughout your life. If you hop around on one leg for years expect some early onset hip degeneration in that hip. If you are significantly overweight and/or have bad biomechanics of your hips & pelvis expect some advanced degeneration of your low back and knees. Many people think running is a key provoker of knee degeneration but recent studies have actually shown that this is not the case and non-runners actually have greater levels of degeneration. The biggest problem with running is that most people run with bad technique and run too far for their fitness levels, as well as having underlying biomechanical dysfunctions of the feet, hips and pelvis which put more pressure on the knees.

So hopefully you can start to see from the paragraph above that the majority of degeneration is not just your age or genetics it is how you perform movements, how often you perform them and how vigorous you perform them. Previous traumatic injuries like fractures also increase levels of degeneration around the injured area. Another factor is repetitive strain from work whether it is a physical job affecting things like shoulders and knees or a sedentary job affecting necks and low backs because of a lack of movement. I should also mention here that what you eat & drink can speed up or slow down degeneration of joints. An unhealthy diet particularly excessive sugar and insufficient healthy fats will speed up degeneration.

How do you slow it down then? Well eating healthily and doing regular moderate intensity, good technique exercise will help, especially working on things like core stability, hip mobility, thoracic (mid back) spine mobility, deep neck flexor endurance & foot/ankle mobility (See conditions pages for more exercise advice). You can do this with the right guidance from a knowledgeable fitness trainer/chiropractor and chiropractors can also help speed up the mobility improvements and pain relief with regular treatment to keep your joints loose, this should be somewhere between every 1 and 6 months depending on how much you are looking after yourself at home/in the gym.

If your degeneration gets bad enough you will likely have to resort to painkillers, injections and surgery but these should be a last resort as they do not solve the problem they will just help make the worst problems more bearable. So if you want to start taking control of your body find a good chiropractor and start getting some treatment and exercise advice that can help you grow old gracefully and make the most out of your free time. If you’re close enough to Exminster come to our clinic at the westbank healthy living centre (07710791434). Feel free to learn what you can from our information pages on this site, more free stuff coming soon!

Is Gluten Free Healthy?

gluten free

Walk in to any UK supermarket these days and you will probably see a “free from” section, often referring to gluten free products but also dairy free, wheat free, nut free etc. Now if you have an allergic reaction to any of these ingredients then it is obviously great that many shops, café’s and restaurants now cater for a wider range of customers. However I have noticed that a reasonable number of people seem to be confusing these products with healthy eating. In some cases they may be healthy products but just because something is “free from” doesn’t mean it is automatically good for everyone.

The most popular free from labelling at the moment seems to be gluten free foods. For those who don’t know Gluten is essentially a protein composite (gliadin & glutenin conjoined with starch) found in many grains including wheat, barley and rye. When these flours are used in baking the dough will rise easier than gluten free versions and have greater elasticity. The final product will likely stick together better and be more chewy. Gluten is therefore a source of protein in foods such as breads, cakes & pastries.

Some people suffer symptoms such as abdominal bloating, gas, diarrhoea, vomiting, migraines and joint pain after eating foods containing gluten. Around 1 in 100 people in the UK are thought to suffer from an autoimmune condition called coeliac disease where gluten consumption leads to inflammation of the small intestine. A recent study (2012) in the USA found a prevalence of around 1 in 141. There is no cure for coeliac disease but following a gluten free diet will alleviate symptoms. When the symptoms described above occur without the presence of an autoimmune response in the small intestine the person may be suffering from Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (gluten insensitivity) or an insensitivity to a different food stuff such as short chain fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs). Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms may also improve by avoiding gluten containing foods.

If you do suffer from any of the symptoms described above then try replacing the gluten containing foods in your diet with gluten free alternatives. If your symptoms disappear you don’t need to see a doctor to know you should be on a gluten free diet! HOWEVER, many gluten free products have a lot of added sugar in them so they are definitely not healthy. If you want to have a healthy diet you should only be having them as alternatives to gluten containing unhealthy sugary snacks on the rare occasions you are allowing yourself unhealthy sugary snacks.

Choosing gluten free products for healthier eating as a bread substitute can a good idea if you want to reduce your calorie intake but be careful to choose low sugar, low salt options such as lightly salted rice cakes or ryvitas. When looking at food & drink labels low salt is defined by the NHS as less than 0.3g salt (or 0.1g sodium) per 100g. High salt products are over 1.5g salt (0.6g sodium) per 100g. An average adult should have less than 6g (roughly 1 teaspoon) per day of total salt. High sugar products are defined as more than 22.5g “of which sugars” per 100g under the carbohydrates section of the label. Low sugar products are defined as less than 5g per 100g.

Personally I think with regards to sugar this is still way too high and would say anything over 10g per 100g “of which sugars” is a high sugar food which should be minimised in your diet. Your GP will be delighted with you if you avoid high sugar food and drink as your chances of developing heart disease, strokes, diabetes and some forms of cancer will significantly decrease. Your dentist will also be happy as your teeth will suffer much less decay and your chiropractor won’t need to see you as much as you will have less inflammatory joint/muscle pain from conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Remember food companies don’t care about your health only your spending habits so they will make gluten free products as appealing as possible within the (very lax) labelling rules. Gluten free and other free from products will reduce or eliminate any symptoms coming from gluten insensitivities but they are not necessarily healthy alternatives when you factor in sugar/salt content. If you want good tasting meals that are also healthy try making your meals from scratch using quality sourced, minimally processed ingredients. The following website has some good examples: CleansimpleUK