New Years Broken Promises

new year res

We’ve all probably done it at some point in our lives, decided that his is the year we are going to sort out the things that bother us most of the year. Well instead of banging on about how much you should go to the gym or eat healthily I thought I would write from a different angle on this topic – the stages of lifestyle change.

There is a theory in psychology called the trans-theoretical model of change. It is a generalised overview of the different states of change a person may be in when attempting to alter their habits. This can apply to any of the common resolutions pictured above and to many other choices such as learning a new language or musical instrument and deciding to change career.

trans theory model

The first stage (precontemplation) is essentially when you are not ready to change, you are so not ready to change you aren’t even aware there is a need to change your behaviour. This could be for a number of reasons including lack of awareness of the consequences of not changing the habit in question. Whatever the reason at this stage you are not ready to change so new year resolutions are not going to happen!

At the second stage (contemplation) things get more interesting, now you are starting to recognise a problem and thinking about ways you could change your lifestyle to remedy the problem. This stage can last a long time before you either give up and ignore the problem (relapse to precontemplation) or move into the third phase (preparation).

In the preparation phase you start to seek out information on how you might change. For example if getting out of pain is your goal you may have; started to research exercises on the internet, or thought about getting chiropractic treatment, or started asking friends & family how they control their pain. Reading a blog like this is often part of the preparation phase.

Stage four, now the real action begins! This is when you finally start to do the things that will help you change. This may include going to the gym, joining an exercise class or letting your chiropractor get your muscles and joints out of pain and teaching you how to exercise correctly.

behaviour change

Unfortunately as with all the other stages relapses happen and you may have to go through several preparation/action stages before you finally make it stick as a lifestyle change that will improve your life. Those who are able to keep the positive changes from the action stage going are finally able to reach the maintenance stage. Relapses still happen but they are much less likely to happen at this stage especially as you will now notice the benefits of action which should help you realise what you are missing if you do relapse and lose them.

So if you have gone down the road of yet another new year resolution, think about these stages and where you are currently at, realise that many people will be in the same boat as you. Even though it is normal to relapse multiple times eventually success can be achieved if you can make the action stage stick long enough to make it your new “normal” habit.

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

Black Friday Discount 2015

black-friday-uk-7

Yes just one week to go until it’s that time of year again when we wait impatiently outside shops and supermarkets ready to steam-roll over our own grandmothers just to get our hands on a £50 flat screen TV. The term Black Friday clearly comes from the good old US of A most likely beginning at least as early as 1961 in Philadelphia. The theory suggests local police named the day after thanksgiving day; “Black Friday” due to the huge number of people roaming the streets & shops on their extra day off work. This resulted in huge traffic jams, more accidents and generally more irritable people for the police to deal with. It officially marks the beginning of Christmas shopping season in America as it is still a day off for many employees.

Whilst it doesn’t appear to have started in the UK until 2003 (despite ASDA trying to claim it was them in 2013 and now getting all high and mighty about being over it) it has quickly been picked up by the media as a good source of sensationalist journalism. Some shops have adopted it others continue to resist it. Love it or hate it even in the UK it does seem to coincide well with the beginning of the Christmas shopping season and it is unlikely to disappear from the media now its become as big as it has. So why am I writing about it on a chiropractic and sports injuries blog?

blackfriday

No it has nothing to do with the injuries that inevitably occur from racing through supermarket aisles with your elbows sharpened as you see the last cheap laptop sat on the shelf between you and 5 other eager bargain hunters. Unfortunately I have decided that this phenomenon is here to stay so I am jumping on the band wagon with both feet and offering a Black Friday discount offer! I want to avoid it being a mad one day rush so the offer will actually be available for a whole 10 days from Friday 20th November 2015 (the one before black Friday) to Monday 30th November 2015. Bookings can be made via the website www.exsicc.wordpress.com or by calling reception on 07710791434.

The Deal: Our normal price for an initial assessment including 30 minutes of treatment and a personalised report explaining the diagnosis and detailing a home exercise plan is £65.

If you book between Friday 20th November 2015 and Monday 30th November 2015 the price will be just £30.

After that period a Christmas and new year deal will remain available from Tuesday 1st December 2015 to Monday 1st February 2016. The price will not go back up to £65 it will instead be only £50.

That’s still fantastic value for money when you consider what you are getting;

  • 30-45 minute consultation resulting in diagnosis of your musculoskeletal problems

  • 30 minute first treatment session including manipulation and massage

  • At least a 2 page document explaining the diagnosis and what you can do to look after yourself at home and a home or gym exercise program

And if you refer a friend, when they have their initial assessment you will receive one free treatment so the savings just keep adding up!

Black-Friday