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Intrinsic Biomechanics

So I spent last week getting my brain fried on an intrinsic Biomechanics course.

WTF is one of those you ask? Well, Biomechanics is the study of the human body’s mechanics and how it moves. This is then divided into:

 Extrinsic Biomechanics which looks at movement, how to make it more efficient and improve performance. This science is used most commonly in sports performance and conditioning.

And:

Intrinsic Biomechanics which is the study of HOW the body is able to perform those movements in relation to the mechanics going on inside the body. In particular this tends to focus on “dysfunctional” movement i.e. not in the ideal range of motion. What is going on intrinsically for that to be the case and more importantly how can I fix it?

The thing is, for years I have seen people and myself included being told by various health professionals that certain parts of our posture/movement are fine if they aren’t causing a direct problem and therefore it doesn’t warrant treatment.  There is also the common theme of – if you go in with a shoulder problem you’re chosen therapist/professional just looks at your shoulder.

When we look at the makeup of our body’s internally the huge complex system of muscles, tendons and ligaments are all linked from top to bottom by fascia. (This is like that thin shiny layer on top of chicken breasts). They cover all of our muscles and inter link throughout our bodies which means in fact your right calf muscle is linked to your left shoulder muscle. Which means if you are getting constant problems in your left shoulder and various treatments to the shoulder are not fixing the problem; you may want to look a little lower down the body to find your answer?

Intrinsic biomechanics always starts with looking at the function of the pelvis as this is essentially the foundation of your skeleton, it is where all the other important bits such as your spine and legs connect from and therefore it’s function or lack of can have a huge impact on how everything around it functions.

Think of it like the chassis of your car. You can dent the doors (arms) and it does not affect it too much and can be put back into place, you can break a windscreen (your erm ribs) and it can be replaced with no drama but if you dent your chassis it may have thrown the whole alignment of the car out and is then a major problem to put back into place. Your Pelvis is your chassis. If it strays out of line your whole body could be pulled out of line.

From there we look at in order the spine shoulders, knees and feet . Which makes the catchy song “hips, spine shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes……..” As mentioned the site of the pain is not necessarily the site of the problem.

The human body is such an amazing machine, yet we rarely give it the MOT and servicing we give to our cars. We tend to just duct tape over the sore bits and carry on hoping for the best. You wouldn’t do this to your car (ok I might but I learnt it from my dad) so why do this to your body?

If you are having aches and pains you can’t seem to get rid of then maybe it’s time to look intrinsically?

You know where to find me!

 

 

 

Look after your Feet

So how many of you honestly consider how important your feet are to you? I bet you make them spend the day squashed into pointy toed heels (fellas….) or in completely flat shoes with no support and don’t give them a second thought.

Your feet are an incredible complex part of the anatomy, they are made up of 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 tendons, ligaments and muscles all working together to hold you up all day and carry you around.

They are responsible for flexibility, shock absorption, weight distribution and balance.

We never give this stuff a second thought when we are young but as we get older and more emphasis is placed on avoiding falls and the possibility having to use a frame or stick to get around suddenly improving the strength and function of our feet becomes a game changer.

And if you have ever had a foot injury you will know how debilitating it is-you literally cannot walk!

If your feet are imbalanced or not fully supported by the muscles, joints and ligaments of its structure this imbalance and/or instability travels up through the body causing problems with the knees, hips back and right up to your shoulders and neck. So basically it can throw your whole body off course!

When we walk or run our feet pronate (roll in slightly) when they hit to ground to absorb shock and then they supinate (roll back out) to propel forwards. If either of these mechanics is faulty our feet are unbalanced.

The majority of the population have overly flat arches and over pronate which means their feet roll in excessively when they walk or run. Around 4% of the population have high arches and over supinate which means their feet roll out excessively when they walk. I am in the minority-typical!

As mentioned this kind of imbalance causes poor shock absorption, can cause bunions, corns and plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the tendon on the arch of the foot). The imbalance then causes dysfunction of the rest of the skeletal and muscular system and can lead to early wearing of knee and hip joints and misalign the spine.

An orthotic insole can be used to help correct the imbalance and prevent further problems up the kinetic chain. These are usually only prescribed if your foot mechanics is causing pain and are best done as a made to measure for your foot rather than off the shelf. Wearing orthotics for the first time is a real lesson in how much your feet affect your whole body, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck for a fortnight after I began wearing mine!

So what are we going to do to look after our feet.

Well unless you have a very obliging and skilled partner to massage them every night you are going to have to do it yourself.

Rolling your foot on a ball whether that be a tennis or golf ball or a spiky physio ball will help to relieve knots and tension.

Stretching your feet, pressing them away from you and then pulling them towards you, circling them left and right and moving your toes independently –see if they can do a Mexican wave! This will all help to increase strength and flexibility.  

Also rotating your shoes so they are not given the same support pattern every day helps to strengthen them and prevent any compensatory patterns. It’s the reason I need 14 pairs of trainers………

So look after your feet they literally carry you around all day!

Yoga For Pain Relief

I have long been a believer in exercise for pain relief. The human body needs to move in order to function optimally, if not put through their range of motion regularly muscles and joints can quickly become tight and stiff.

Regular exercise improves the flow of oxygen around our bodies. Our organs and muscles require oxygen to survive. The more oxygen they receive the more they able to renew their cells and therefore function more optimally.

Your joint fluid carries oxygen to the cartilage around your joints which keeps them lubricated and therefore able to move well.

This forms part of why movement is so important for pain. If you feel stiff, tight and achy sitting still will only compound this feeling as less oxygen enters your joints and muscles and they therefore aren’t functioning as well as they can.

Alongside that a lot of pain can be coming from the mind. By this I don’t mean you are imagining it but stress, tension and emotions can be manifested as pain in our bodies. It is extremely common for people who are stressed to suffer from back pain, now this may in part be because the cause of their stress is 12 hours a day spent at a desk but it may also be because they have a tendency to hold this area rigid as almost a brace against the stress. There are definitely a few of my clients who I regularly tell to stop wearing their shoulders are earrings!

So exercise can also work by clearing the mind as well as releasing endorphins which will reduce cortisol levels and therefore stress levels.

Now, I imagine if you are suffering with a condition such as arthritis, osteoporosis, chronic pain etc. the last thing you think you should be doing is exercising. This is where I believe yoga and Pilates are so important. They are such gentle forms of exercise with many variations and adaptions yet the foundations and purpose of them is directly based on correct alignment, strength and fluid movement.

Yoga will take you through a series of gentle movements that can be adapted to prevent aggravation of any painful areas, whilst encouraging alignment throughout the body, increasing circulation and therefore flexibility. Yoga can also in some forms be used to clear the mind with a focus on relaxation and meditation.

Yoga has roots going back over 10,000 years although its solid foundations begin around 5000 years ago as a system to rejuvenate the body and prolong life. Early forms of yoga explored the physical and spiritual connection to cleanse the body and mind to break the knots that binds us to our physical existence. Today we would recognise this most in Hatha Yoga one of its most gentle forms.

 

Pilates is focused on working your body from the inside out. The main focus is on strengthening the deep abdominal muscles that support your spine, then progressively to strengthen weak muscles and stretch tight ones. This in turn will increase mobility, flexibility, strength, circulation and lymphatic drainage. The increased strength and alignment will also ease postural related aches and pains and the mind body connection can lower stress levels.

Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates who after intense meditation, yoga and exercise to recover from rheumatic fever, rickets and asthma became accomplished at many sports including gymnastics.  During the First World War Joseph Pilates was stationed as a hospital orderly where he began to work with patients, who were disabled, bed ridden, injured and often diseased. Pilates used his previous experiences to take these patients through movements and exercises which enabled them to recover quicker. This is when the Pilates method was born.

There are actually many cross overs of movements in Yoga and Pilates probably due to Pilate’s early experience. This is why I often combine the two methods in one session as they flow well together.

I would urge anyone who is struggling with movement for whatever reason as long as their doctor agrees to try some Yoga or Pilates. You can do just 10 mins a day at home in your pj’s if you want. I would bet money that after a few days you would start to feel even the tiniest bit better.

My focus this year will be on how the body moves, functions and how we can correct problems. This starts with my Biomechanics Trainer course at the end of January, and from there Biomechanics Coach alongside more study of Pilates and Yoga and Rehabilitation techniques, so if you are struggling with a particular problem let me know and I will see if I can help.

Namaste x

Are Fitness Apps All That?

It seems that fitness apps and wearable activity trackers are being used by everybody these days.

I saw a debate the other day that questioned whether that was a good thing, the against camp suggesting that it was making us obsess about our eating and movement. Whilst I get that I have only seen positive improvements from the people I know, myself included.

You see I think most of us actually over estimate how much we move and under estimate how much we eat.

If you have a device on you that can highlight how little you have moved today that can be your motivation to get up and go for a walk. Likewise if you are logging that takeaway the realisation in front of you of exactly how many calories you have eaten can be a great deterrent next time.

You see I believe the first step to change your habits is the awareness of your current habits. It is incredibly easy to lie to yourself, and I know this from personal experience!

I also know this from working with clients, when I ask people how they eat on a typical week most people will say “I eat fairly healthy”. Then I dig a bit deeper, so “What did you have for breakfast every day this week? What did you eat on Friday night? That’s when the truth starts to come out. The Wednesday muffin they grabbed with their coffee, the bacon roll they had as an office treat on Friday, the glass of wine they had watching their favourite drama during the week, the couple of glasses they had over the weekend, oh and then there was the takeaway and the follow up fry up, oh and it was Sue from the offices birthday on Thursday so I had a piece of cake………………………….

Do you see where this is going? I’m not saying that eating like that is going to kill you, but can you see how this might be hampering your weight loss? As when you know that for lunch you had salad every day and your evening meal Monday to Thursday consisted of meat and veg it is completely logical to consider yourself as having a healthy diet.

So when I get people to write down everything they eat and drink throughout a week, they can see how it is easy to forget all the little extras.

With the activity log I know I was definitely surprised at how little I move some days, considering I feed animals and do a job that required movement when I spend the rest of the day driving or sat down writing I can really struggle to get in my 10,000 steps. My tracker encourages me to go for a walk or move around more.

There are also so many on the market that I think there is something to suit most tastes and budgets.

Firstly, the most popular and arguably the best online food diary MYFITNESSPAL. This is free unless you upgrade to premium, so easy to use, downloaded as an app, so many foods/brands already inputted for you as well as a barcode scanner, you can set yourself targets and monitor it day to day. It also links with many fitness tracker apps so that your activity level is logged too. If you just want to monitor what you are eating this is the app to use. Although I will say the calorie goals it sets for weight loss are far too low so please set your own using the Harris Benedict Equation to work out your daily calorie needs and then subtracting no more than 20% as your daily calorie goal for weight loss.

I know most I phones have step counter etc. in them now but what I find is I’m not always carrying my phone on me for example when I’m with a client my phone tends to be in my bag, so if you are like me it just doesn’t cut it. So if you are an apple geek you will have to go super flash and get an Apple watch that will track your every movement from around £300 upwards depending on how much tech you want.

The most popular wearable trackers have been the Jawbone Up and The Fitbit. These are closer to the £100 mark and have built in steps counters, heart rate monitors and sync straight to an app to log your information. Personally I have a Fitbit charge hr and I like that it is also a watch and the steps, calorie burn, hr etc. are all visible on the watch at the click of a button. With the Jawbone you have to log into the app to see this but it is more aesthetically pleasing so people may prefer this to wear every day.

On a side note, I have found the heart rate very useful not just from a training perspective where you may be looking to hit certain heart rate zones, but from a day to day monitor of my bodies stress levels. As it turns out my heart rate is pretty high for most of the day, this means whether I feel it or not my body is stressed and it makes me address this on a daily basis.

Garmin and Polar have also brought out their own trackers although these are closer to £200 and you have to use a separate belt to use the heart rate monitor, but they do have further features in relation to specific sports, music controls etc. so if you are more of a gadget geek they may be up your street.

So if your new year’s resolutions to be more healthy and active are waning maybe some tech could give you the boost/constant reminder that you need!

The Emotion of Pain

Something I have found very interesting to research recently is the science of emotions in relation to pain.

A physio once said to me that if a patient is told that something hurts it will hurt.

There have also been now numerous studies on this including one in which a randomised section of people without back pain had MRI scans that actually showed that a large percentage of them had bulging or herniated discs. Yet as previously mentioned they did not have back pain as a result of this?

There are many others including people still having pain following an operation to resolve it, and in fact people having “fake” operations and finding themselves “fixed”

So is it possible that there are other factors at play?

By this I am not saying that if you are in pain it is “all in your head” but is there an impact on how we feel pain based on how we are emotionally.

There are a few things I want you to consider in this.

One being that if you are stressed you will cause inflammation in your body and this in turn can cause pain. An inflamed muscle will be a sore muscle, so if you are particularly stressed, run down etc and are finding yourself in a lot of pain, you may find addressing your stress levels helps quite a lot before you start reaching for the pain killers.

Secondly;

A definition of pain by the International Association for the Study of Pain describes it as an “unpleasant sensory and emotional experience.”

We feel pain by our sensory nerves sending messages back to our brain from around the body. So a neural pathway is created through the body, up the spinal cord to the brain in order for us to feel pain. This all happens in a fraction of a second in the case of a sharp pain from for example standing on a pin. But in the case of long term pain, the neural pathway is already there and is therefore easier for the message to be sent over and over again.

So I find it easiest to explain like this. The pathway has become stuck, in order for the pain to go you just need to remove this pathway. I am aware this makes it sound incredibly simple but I want you to begin to believe that the messages you send back and forth to your brain can have an effect on what goes on in your body.

This does not actually relate just to pain it can be things like IBS symptoms, emotional responses and chronic fatigue.

This is a whole huge area of science that I am not going to go into today (unless you all have a spare 5 hours!) but I will definitely be exploring this more with you in the future.

For the meantime though I want you to consciously think about your thoughts, emotions etc and how they transmit around your body.

Is it possible to control a pain you may have in your body with only the power of your thoughts………………………………

Circuit Training in Liverpool with NSPT Liverpool’s #1 Personal Trainers

Circuit Training in Liverpool with NS-PT

 

 

Here at NSPT I run a fantastic Circuit Training  service in the Liverpool area, circuit training is a high energy class were you will do a variety of different exercises in quick success.  Your instructor will keep you motivated and tell you when each session starts and finishes. This type of personal training will help with aerobic development, conditioning, toning, and strengthening exercises

Consider the following if you are interested in taking a Circuit Training class:

  1. What Circuit Training does for you: Increases your strength and aerobic fitness and burns lots of calories. However, you don’t get the same level of conditioning as you would from doing your aerobics and strength training separately. If you take circuit classes, aim to get in an additional 20 minutes of straight aerobic exercise at least three days a week.
  2. The exhaustion factor: Moderate. Circuit Training tends to be intense, but it’s completely adaptable to the individual. Beginners use less weight and perform simpler moves than more-experienced exercisers, but everyone gets a good workout.
  3. The coordination factor: Low. Nothing to worry about.
  4. Who likes Circuit Training: Anyone looking for a good sweat to shake out of a training plateau. Circuit Training classes also are popular among busy people who want to combine a strength and aerobic routine in one workout. Anyone who wants a really fun and fast-paced workout will like Circuit Training classes.
  5. Signs of a Good instructor: Good instructors are aware of each class member’s level and modify the moves accordingly. Even though you’re moving quickly from station to station, the instructor still needs to focus on proper technique. Look for no more than a one-minute rest between stations. Expect a heart-rate check 12 to 20 minutes into the main workout.
  6. Tips for first-timers: Pay attention to how you feel. Many people are surprised by how challenging Circuit Training work can be.

 

If you’d like to know more about our Circuit Training in Liverpool service, or if you’d like some more information on the other services that we offer, then please don’t hesitate to get into contact with us and a member of our friendly team will be in touch with you shortly.

Personal Training Liverpool with NSPT Fitness

Personal Training Liverpool with NSPT Fitness – Liverpools Go-To Personal Trainers

 

If you’re looking to lose a few pounds to give yourself that body type you’ve been dreaming off, but you just aren’t motivated to do so in the slightest, then have no fear! Here at NSPT Fitness we have rigorous training regimes planned out for you already! Don’t let that worry you, we tailor each of our training schedules individually to each client that we have. If you’re still looking to get rid of that Christmas weight, before the next one comes again, then this is exactly what you’re looking for.

We can provide you with nutritional information such as what you should be eating and what you shouldn’t be eating, we can create you meal plans to go along with your exercise and together we’ll get you in shape again in no time at all! You’ll be proud of your shape and your body as a whole once we’re finished with you! Our Personal Training is perfect for people who are starting to get a little anxiety due to their body shape, a simple way for you to conquer anxiety can be done with some exercise as it’ll make you feel great afterwards (tired, but great!).

We have an outstanding track record of happy clients who have gained the shape that they desired and we have even helped turn people’s lives around. Once you become overweight, you feel less motivated to do the simple tasks and you start getting a little depressed about your size, but with our expertise and our training regiments, we can be sure that you’ll be happy with yourself again in no time at all!

If you would like some more information on our Personal Training, or even on our Nutritional ideas, then please don’t hesitate to contact us today and a member of our friendly team will be in touch with you shortly regarding any information that you require from ourselves.

Different types of cardio exercises

Different types of cardio exercises

When it comes to cardiovascular exercises and training, there is a huge number you can use to train yourself with. Each one of these has its own individual advantages and disadvantages with some being more appropriate for people who are more advanced with cardio workouts than for a complete beginner.

One type of cardiovascular exercise is low intensity and long duration. This style of cardiovascular work involves you reaching approximately 40-60% of your maximum heart rate. This style should be something relatively easy and continuous for a long period of time such as walking or cycling and is very good for beginners. Another type of cardiovascular training is medium intensity and medium duration. This style involves work done to reach approximately 70% of your maximum heart rate and is harder than the low intensity training, therefore it cannot be done for as long but is the first step up from it. The next step up from this would be a high intensity and short duration training program. This is where you aim to have your heart beating at 80-85% of your maximum heart rate but due to the intensity of this training it is advisable to only do it for a very short period of time.

Some good cardiovascular workouts include walking or running either on ground or on a treadmill, doing hill sprints, jumping a skipping rope, swinging a kettle-bell around, stair sprints with different challenges for yourself, beach sprints or even barbells.

There are many different ways to put yourself through cardiovascular training and they all have their individual benefits, you just need to find which style of cardiovascular exercise is best for you as an individual instead of taking others opinions into account, everyone has their own individual workout style and cardiovascular training should be a part of it if it isn’t already.

Exercise for Weight Loss

So it has been in the news recently that exercise won’t help us fight obesity but cutting sugar and carbohydrates will – erm welcome to the party BBC my NS-PT posse have known this for ages now!

You see the thing is, we did already know this-all those people in the gym doing the same thing week in week out not getting any thinner knew this! Or maybe they don’t because apparently it’s news.

So there you have it exercise alone won’t make you lose weight!

Unless someone is severely obese and sedentary in which case taking up exercise will help to start weight loss, if your diet doesn’t come up to scratch you are not going to lose any weight.

Now I know in it’s basic form it does come down to calories in calories out, so burning calories with exercise will have an effect but if you are putting those calories back in particularly with sugar it won’t help you lose lbs.

So you are thinking, great I can sack the gym off and just eat less and all will be well. Not exactly…………………….

Firstly exercise has been shown to ward off many things from

  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • dementia
  • some cancers
  • as well as a mood booster for those suffering with depression.

Keeping your body active as you age will help to stave off Osteoporosis.

Maintaining fitness and flexibility will prevent falls and also keep you more mobile. So it should still be an essential part of your lifestyle.

In terms of weight loss or body composition exercise is still worth a look in. Exercise increases your metabolic rate so your body will burn more calories i.e means you can eat more! It will also help you to build muscle, which again means your body is burning more calories even when your sat watching the tv!

It will also change your body’s shape. More muscles will make you look more firm and toned, and ladies forget the body building image, building some muscle will give you killer curves. (Like a bum you can bounce a ball off-Nicki Minaj move outta my way!)

So ok, I’m not gonna lie to you, you really can’t out run a bad diet-I tried trust me! But if you get your nutrition right and I will refer you to my earlier statement – It’s sugar and carbs you need to quit(I mean the processed ones like bread, pizza, doughnuts, not fruit and veg) then exercising alongside will speed the process up and will also give you a banging body along the way not just a skinny one.

So, after all that science stuff I’m trying to give you some easy weeks-whilst still keeping it super informative of course. So this week less science more health top tips. So I’m going to start with drinking your fruit and veg. This can be done by either juicing or blending.

Juicing.

Juicing extracts water and nutrients from produce and discards the fibre. This makes the nutrients more readily absorbed and many people find this easier on their digestive system too. However, getting rid of the fibre also means it is absorbed into your blood stream quickly and can cause a blood sugar spike, followed by a crash. This is especially true if you are juicing fruits, as the fructose in fruit is essentially a sugar (albeit more healthy than refined table sugar) and is therefore dealt with by Insulin.  Also when you remove the fibre you may not find the juice as filling.

Blending/Smoothies

Smoothies contain the entire fruit or vegetable meaning the skin is left on. The blending process breaks the fibre content down meaning it is still easy to digest but due to it still being present it releases more steadily into your blood stream and therefore is less likely to cause a crash.

I think with both it is important to try and keep the majority of your ingredients as vegetables as this prevents It from becoming a healthivised (new word) sugar fest!

Although I think there is merit with both options, in my opinion unless you have a digestive issue that does not agree with fibre (some forms of IBS etc.) then I think blending is the better option.

There is also a new kid on the block by the name of Nutri Bullet, which does something called extracting. Basically it rips everything up much finer than your blender so you would get a more juice consistency without losing the fibre. I don’t have one so I can’t vouch for its claims but they are incredibly popular so I guess there must be something in it, other than the fact it is much easier to clean than a blender-which in itself is a winner to me!

So, other than having a liquid lunch not of the alcoholic variety what is the point in all this fruit and veg pulverising???

Well, traditionally Juicing (and all its cousins, I’m just going to call it juice for this blog) have been used a diet tool for detox or just making the age old shake diet at least have some actual nutrition in it.

But you know I wouldn’t be mentioning it because of that since I don’t believe in fad diets, short term fixes etc.

No, juicing is having a bit of a revival at the minute not just as a weight loss tool, but more from a health perspective. It is a great way of getting loads of fruit and veg into your diet really quickly and easily. With a fresh smoothie breakfast you could have 5-6 servings of fruit and veg before you’ve even left the house! I imagine you will be so vitaminsed (I’m at it again) you will be firing on all cylinders all day, and don’t even get me started on your immune system-it will be like a gold medal boxer fending off those bugs-pop, pop, bam Mr flu!

And if you wanted to up the ante a bit further you could add further healthy ingredients to make it an all-round super power juice! Adding a super greens powder will add the amazing health benefits if green veg x 20 without having to eat your bodyweight in kale and cabbage.

Chias, Flax/Linseeds add protein which will make it a more complete meal and is also a great way for vegetarians/vegans to add complete proteins to their diet. Not to mention their anti-oxidant levels and Omega 3 benefit of linseed-this gives my pony a glossy coat so it will do the same for you!

There is also Coconut Oil, Maca Powder, Spirulina, Wheat Grass and many other things you could add that you may not enjoy eating on its own but when added to a tasty juice you won’t even know it’s there apart from the healthy sense of awesomeness you will feel all day.

 

So if you fancy getting your blender out or joining the Nutribullet revolution there are a couple of recipes to get you started below.

 

Nicola x

The Steak and Champagne Trainer

 

Green Smoothie.

5g Seaweed

½ large Cucumber

2 Green Apples

2 Sticks Celery

70g Spinach or Kale-Stalks removed

½ Large Avocado

Large Handful Watercress

Small piece of root Ginger

Small handful of fresh parsley

3 tbsp Lemon Juice

1 tsp Powdered Chlorella or Spirulina

And Blend!

 

Strawberry/Mint Blast

1 Handful Watercress

½ Banana-I’d peel t first I’m not that obsessed with fibre!

6 Strawberries

Handful Mint leaves

1 tablespoon Chia Seeds

1 mug Almond / Coconut Milk

Add water as required, blast all together in blender!

 

And because there is always room for a bit of Chocolate…..

Chocolate Peanut Butter and Maca Smoothie

1 Banana

Handful of Kale

2tbsp Cacao Powder or Cocoa Nibs

2tbsp Peanut or Almond Butter

1 tsp Cinnamon

1-2tsp Maca

1 tsp Flaxseed

Blend and add water as necessary, or try Coconut water for a little twist.