Eat like a champion

healthy plate

So I’ve already gone through my DNA results for training performance therefore its time to go through the nutrition side of things. This is split into macronutrient advice (carbs/fats & protein) and micronutrient advice (vitamins/minerals). Ever wondered why one type of diet works for some people but not others and why there is no one size fits all diet? Well genetic fit to the diet is probably the main reason, a calorie is not just a calorie!

Some people are very sensitive to eating carbohydrates leading to large swings in blood glucose. This gives you a quick high in energy when consuming these foods but also a crash in energy a few hours later. I have never really experienced this and not surprisingly my DNA results showed a low sensitivity to carbohydrates and also saturated fat. This makes me one of those lucky people who can (as long as they exercise) get away with a lot of naughty food.

I do however have a higher than average risk of developing coeliac disease so as much as I may seem to be able to tolerate rubbish food based on my waistline it is sensible for me to eat healthy as I won’t notice the heart disease and coeliac disease creeping on until its well established. I mention heart disease as I also have a higher than average sensitivity to salt intake and I do not gain the benefits of raised HDL cholesterol from moderate alcohol consumption.

So what about the smaller nutrients and supplementation? My micronutrient profile shows a raised need for omega 3 fats, vitamins B6, B9 (folate*), B12 & D. Also I have a greater need for antioxidants due to my moderately reduced capacity to reduce free radical damage on a standard diet. Overall my detoxification ability is fast so standard dietary guidelines for vegetable intake should suffice.

It is important to note that if you have raised needs for any of these areas then standard dietary guidelines will not lead to a healthy enough diet for reducing your risk of conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and diet related cancers. The overall point of this sort of DNA testing is not to scare you and it will not tell you your risk of getting a particular disease. It will tell you how well your body deals with various nutrients from food and therefore what sort of diet is best for you.

As for supplements most people should be able to obtain the majority of their needs from food although if you are going to achieve this it is important to buy high quality produce not just the cheap stuff from Tesco etc. Yes that stuff is still technically the same food but cheap, low standard production results in less nutrients than you would expect under higher quality farming methods.

 

If you are interested in getting your DNA tested you can check the DNAfit website for further details. In the next week or so I will be offering this service from this website so I can give you a small discount on the DNAfit prices which will include a personal consultation to explain your results and what you can do with them. We also have expert personal trainers on site if you wish to follow your training advice under our supervision.

*Folate and folic acid are 2 different forms of vitamin B9. Within the body folic acid will after a complicated series of chemical reactions be turned into folate which is then used to reduce homocysteine (a marker of heart disease) levels. The conversion of folic acid to folate can slow the whole process down so personally I would recommend either consuming plenty of dark green leafy veg (and other foods that contains folate) or supplementing with folate rather than folic acid.

DNA Results

 

spiderman

Well I promised you I’d share my results when I got them so here they are; unfortunately I do not have Spiderman’s ability to climb buildings hidden in my DNA. If I’d known that before my results I wouldn’t have bothered swimming in a pit of tarantula’s and then trying to climb the town hall. All joking aside though as you will see the results do show that I would be more suited to some activities than others so the next step is to adapt my training plan and diet to these results.

Training responses: So I apparently have a 71% endurance response meaning only 29% power response. This doesn’t mean I should be running marathons, it means that whatever I am training for I should bias my training plan 71% towards the endurance side of that activity.

For example a 100m runner with this sort of profile would actually find more benefit than you would normally expect for a 100m runner by doing higher rep weights and longer sprints such as 150m/200m and maybe even 300m reps. Traditionally a 100m would rarely run above 200m and almost always lift heavy and/or fast for less than 5 reps per set.typical strenght traing

If I were however to train for a marathon I would benefit from longer steadier runs and/or high volume/lower intensity intervals compared to someone with a higher power response percentage. Those with say 40% + power response would be better including a decent amount of heavier and faster weight lifting plus shorter and faster intervals in their training, without completely neglecting the mileage of course.

Interestingly my recovery speed potential is rated as fast on a scale from very fast to very slow. This probably explains while at my peak of 400m training a few years ago I was able to train twice a day some days for a total of 9-11 training sessions per week. As I look back at my old training diaries my best 2 seasons on the track were the seasons when I did my highest volume of training, closest to the 71%/29% endurance/power split I mentioned above. However it was my repeated soft tissue injuries that scuppered my plans to progress further.

This motivated me to learn more and more about injury prevention eventually becoming a chiropractor, after initially qualifying as a personal trainer and sports masseuse. My results now provide an underlying reason for these muscle pulls (even in seasons when my training volume was much lower) as they show my soft tissue and inflammation risk to be higher than average.

So in summary as long as I use my chiropractic skills and knowledge to minimise my modifiable soft tissue injury risk I can cope with a higher than average training volume. Despite my desire to run 400m again I should be sensible with the amount of high intensity training I do as I am more likely to benefit from around 71% endurance type 400m training. Looks like I’ll be training with the 800m peeps this winter!

I will post the diet responses next week as it is more detailed than the training response. A quick teaser shows that my carbohydrate and fat sensitivities are nice and low which for those of you who know me well enough will now understand why I can scoff so much cake without ill effects!

DNA update

DNAWell I did promise I’d have the results of my DNA test up by now but unfortunately there has been a delay due to a problem with my sample apparently….not that kind of sample before you make jokes about my swimming ability! New test kit should arrive this week so still hoping to have some results on here in 2-3 weeks time.

I thought I’d just tease you with some examples of what DNA testing can tell you in the meantime. There are 2 main areas the DNAfit team assess; nutrition and training related gene variations called single nucleotide polymorphisms pronounced “snips” for short (SNP’s). There are at least 3 large, quality studies backing up the recommendations for each of these genes and their effects unlike some of the less scrupulous companies out there.

So I will go through an example of each with you, starting with nutrition. Should you have a low carb diet or not? Well many popular fad diets recommend that these days with some evidence to support in a certain percentage of the population but not others. Transcription factor 7-like 2 (TCF7L2) is a transcription factor that affects several genes involved with the control of blood sugar levels. An individual may have 2 copies of the “C” allele, 2 copies of the “T” allele or on of each meaning they are “CT”.

The significance of this is individuals with 2 copies of the T allele (TT) generally respond poorly to a low carb/high fat diet. In weight loss studies individuals with the TT allele show the greatest difficulty in losing weight and are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes especially with a poor diet. The good news is matching these individuals to a diet and exercise regime appropriate for their individual genotype (including other genes not just TCF7L2) does lead to significant weight loss (if overweight) and improved blood sugar control.

Example 2 is taken from the training advice side. Alpha-actinin 3 (ACTN3) is a gene associated with fast twitch muscle fibres. The “R” allele is associated with better performance in power and strength based sports. There are several other genes involved in sporting performance but if you don’t have the RR genotype then you are less likely to be elite in power based sports.

The good news about this gene though is that depending on your genotype (RR/RX or XX) and regardless of your training goal we can predict which type of training will give you the most athletic improvement. So even if your goal is to do a triathlon or marathon your training results may actually be better with an increased amount of power based training compared to traditional “textbook” endurance training. Vice versa with speed/power based athletes, some of you depending on your genotype may benefit more from increased endurance training rather than lots of short duration/high intensity/long rest interval stuff.

Yes I know this goes against conventional training wisdom but no training routine or diet works for anywhere near 100% of people. Studies are even starting to appear that show improved sporting performance in endurance or power based training groups when they were matched to a training protocol based on their genetic analysis rather than what is traditionally thought to be the best type of training for that particular goal.

That’s your teaser for now, my DNA results to follow in another blog in the next few weeks, any questions pop them on Facebook or twitter unless you want to keep the private then email: exsicc@gmail.com

 

DNA Analysis

DNA

There are a number of companies online willing to unlock the secrets of your DNA so you can eat the foods that are right for you and train the way that your body is designed/has evolved to train. In fact some Olympic athletes, for example Greg Rutherford, have recently endorsed one particular company (DNAfit) offering DNA analysis and the BBC even got Gabby Logan to make a program about it.

It will be many years before the science is clear on whether it actually works but having done some research into it myself over the last 2-3 years I am excited enough about it to give it a go. As a result my next few blogs will be about the process of undergoing this type of testing and I will post my results so you can see for yourself if it interests you. Don’t forget my results will be based on my DNA so don’t expect my results to work for you unless we share some DNA, although this is Devon so we probably share a lot!

I think the general public and sports people could benefit from having a diet that is tailored to their unique biochemistry, this is a no brainer! The key question with any of these companies is have they actually found the right way to test this and is their subsequent advice correct. IF it is then this will drastically improve health and wellbeing, although its still up to the individual to follow the advice of course, I’m not sure the companies are ready to offer a service whereby they come round your house burn all your junk food and force feed you broccoli and beetroot just yet.

As far as the training goes Greg Rutherford seems to have engaged in more higher rep weight training and longer/slower running than you might typically expect for an Olympic long jumper since having his DNA analysed. He also appears to have improved his 1 rep max for cleans which if true goes against conventional training wisdom. Hopefully this bears fruit at the Olympics in Rio this summer!

The testing procedure was very simple, I paid online and within a few days had received the testing kit. It only takes a few minutes to collect a DNA swab from the inside of your cheeks so the process is simple and non invasive. Then you pop it in the post in  the envelope provided and wait up to 10 working days for the results.

I will post again soon with my results etc if you have any questions just post them on facebook or email exsicc@gmail.com.

Super Strong Abs

situps

The idea that sit-ups are bad for your back has been around a long time now, or so I thought. Stuart McGill first published his research condemning loaded spinal flexion exercises in 1998. Yet it’s nearly 2016 and still everytime I go into a gym I see multiple people doing “back breaking” sit-up type exercises so I thought I’d throw this blog out there and hopefully convert a few more people into some healthier habits for the spine.

Why are sit-ups bad? McGill’s research, along with several other researchers, show a gradual delamination of the annulus fibrosis connective tissue that forms the protective ringed layer of our intervertebral discs with repetitive lumar flexion. In simple terms think of the disc as being arranged like the rings of a tree, each lumbar flexion movement you do (even putting your socks on) will slightly damage the outer layers of these rings. Some people can get away with lots others breakdown quicker, thank your genetics for that part!

Therefore the more lumbar flexions you perform in a lifetime and especially if they are loaded with more weight/force like a sit up or lifting with a bent spine then the sooner your discs will wear out and bulge or herniate resulting in pain (when inflamed). You can’t and shouldn’t completely avoid lumbar flexion in everyday life but you’re supposed to go to the gym to make yourself healthier so why add more wear and tear to your back instead?

vsits

Sit-ups and similar exercises such as: hugging your knees to your chest, bending to touch your toes, V-sits (see picture above), oblique crunches, swiss ball crunches, bosu ball crunches, leg press machine and burpees all increase the degeneration of your lumbar discs. The same goes for bad technique on exercises like; squats, deadlifts, olympic lifts, lat pulldowns, seated rows, bench press, bicep curls, cycling, rowing, running, x-trainer etc. Hence why technique is paramount to safe, effective exercise.

So what exercises can you do instead? Well the second list of exercises in the above paragraph can all be done safely with good technique as mentioned already. As for the first list why not try any of the following; prayer stretch (child pose in yoga), cat stretch, McGill crunches, Bird dog, plank, side plank, rolling patterns, wood chops (cable), kettle bell swings, overhead squats, “stirring the pot“, prone rollouts, plank rotations, press ups, TRX exercises, alternate leg roman chair and battling ropes.

Many of the above exercises are trying to push you into lumbar (low back) extension, or in some cases, flexion. The aim is too resist this by stiffening all your abdominal and back muscles (not hollowing your spine like Pilates) to maintain a neutral spine, for example, the plank (see picture below). Please note I have seen many people do these exercises with extended lumbar spines which completely defeats the point of them, technique, technique, technique!

plank

The last point with many of these exercises especially the ones with movement like squats, deadlift etc is that they require good hip and ankle mobility to reduce the load on your back and knees. If you are not sufficiently mobile in these areas I would strongly recommend working on that before you lift heavy weights or attempt to do “ass to grass” movements. There is no shame in putting some plates under your heels when squatting if your ankles/calves are too stiff.

squat with heel raise

Plantar Fasciitis, incurable or easy fix?

plantar fasciitis

So I was going to calm the blog writing down to monthly but this week just gone I had a couple of patients in suffering from plantar fasciitis. One of them has been suffering for over 12 months and the accepted natural course of the condition without treatment is up to and sometimes longer than 18 months. With treatment it shouldn’t last any longer than 4-6 weeks so why are so many people walking around for months or even years suffering from this painful, debilitating, easily treatable condition?

Firstly the NHS lacks the necessary resources to treat plantar fasciitis so unfortunately if you have just gone to your GP you have likely been told it will go away on its own after around 18 months. If you’re lucky you might have been referred to an NHS physio. Unfortunately this is when you will then realise they also are limited in what they can do for you. You will receive some stretches and maybe some ice advice which are part of the correct treatment protocol but they will not be allowed to give you the required number of treatments (which involves massage, manipulation/mobilisation and exercises) to get the problem sorted.

plantar fascia percentages

Secondly there still seems to be some confusion as to how best to treat plantar fasciitis. Some therapists seem keen to use extracorporeal shockwave therapy. This is essentially high powered ultrasound designed to break up the fascia/tendons in your heel area so that they heal in the correct alignment and hey presto no more plantar fasciitis. Unfortunately several years of research on this controversial treatment have shown it doesn’t work very often as the tissues rarely heal the way you want them to as the biomechanical problems causing them in the first place have not been fixed first. Also it is basically burning your soft tissues so people are left with lots of painful burns on their feet. It should only be a last resort for the 10% of people who don’t respond to manual therapy and exercise before they try surgery.

plantar ultrasound

Plantar fasciitis is not as complicated as it sounds. Basically the connective tissue (fascia), tendons and muscles under the arch of the foot have been repetitively strained over a long period of time by poor walking and/or running biomechanics. The most common reason is hyperpronation of the feet. This could be due to several reasons including weak foot arch muscles, weak glute stabilising muscles, excessively turned out feet/hips or just excessive distances walked/ran without a rest, particularly in inappropriate footwear and on undulating terrain. The latter is especially true in the armed forces.

pronation

Therefore to get better you need to firstly find out what the biomechanical problems leading to it are and get exercises to help correct those (and in some cases insoles/kinesiotaping). Secondly you will need several massage/manipulation sessions over a few weeks to loosen up the various muscles that are excessively pulling on the plantar fascia, please note this is also true for shin splints. Thirdly you need to regularly ice the foot and stretch the calf muscles to give your body the best chance at healing the damage that has built up in the plantar fascia. In most cases this should take less than 6 weeks.

plantar insoles

So if you have been suffering unnecessarily from plantar fasciitis for weeks, months or even years and you want to get it sorted as soon as possible seek out a suitably qualified manual therapist near you. Obviously I’m bias and would say chiropractors should be the first choice due to their superior training in diagnosis, manipulation & biomechanics whilst still having no worse training than anyone else in massage, exercises and stretching but in all honesty any manual therapist who understands the biomechanics of plantar fasciitis and can loosen up the right muscles and give you the right exercises will get you sorted.

If you live near enough to Exminster I can sort it for you at Exminster Sports Injuries and Chiropractic Clinic, call 0771079434 to make an appointment or book online. As long as you follow the exercise/ice advice no more than 6-8 treatments should be required to get you literally back on your feet.

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.