How do you look after a £100million athlete?

Over the next four weeks we will witness the best players on the planet showcase their skills in pursuit of the ultimate prize any footballer can achieve – to win the World Cup.

As fans of our national teams we like to think that players are giving their all for Queen and country and while the majority of players will see this as the pinnacle of their career to represent their national side in a World Cup, others will see it as an opportunity to put themselves in the biggest possible shop window in order to gain a big money move to the promised land of the Premier League where the pitches are literally paved with gold.

Inevitably we will see a number of the big boys exit at the early stages and whilst excuses will range from arguments in the ranks, refereeing of even Virtual Assistant Refereeing decisions, to bad management or even noisy hotels! I’m pretty confident that the consistent excuse that we hear at every major tournament will appear at some stage – “the players were simply too tired.”

Whatever your thoughts on Premier League footballers, (or players from any other league in the world for that matter), the morality of their wage packets, their level of intelligence or the annoyance of their “WAGS”, you can’t get away from the fact that the world simply loves the beautiful game. Fans want to see more and more league, cup, international and even friendly games played each season, surely this takes its toll on the players required to perform at the highest level in each fixture?

But what is the reality of the situation? Is tiredness a justified excuse? Are we asking too much of players these days and how do we look after them in the best possible way? Here’s my take on things from a human performance perspective…

Dealing with injuries

The fact is that of the 23 members of each nations playing squad, every single player will have had some form of injury of varying degrees, during this past season. Whilst those players would have received incredible care from the best team doctors and sports science support team at their clubs, ultimately the decision to return would be on the player and although all top players can still perform at 80 or 90% of their capacity, consistently asking their bodies to deliver when they are not 100% fit will inevitably lead to long-term issues.

You hear stories of the old school centre halves that would take pain killing injections at half time to get them through the next 45 minutes or just man up and get on with it! But we take a more sensible approach to sports medicine these days and look after the welfare of the players first and foremost, meaning that these type of things simply can’t go on nowadays.

Life moves on and football has moved on at a rapid rate. The evolution of sports science and the evolution of the game itself has drastically changed even in the last few years. The role of the full-back has drastically changed from the guy that just needed to hoof it up the touch line, into a much more skilful attacking player that arguably runs the game from an attacking and defensive perspective. These guys require the upper body strength to hold off other opposing players, the cardiovascular fitness to run over 10km each game, the speed to sprint up and down the touchline and the skill to take on defenders and deliver pinpoint crosses.

But even these highly conditioned athletes will have their weaknesses, typically most players are very one sided which will immediately causes potential imbalances and weaknesses. Coaches and sports scientists are very aware of what they term “functional dysfunction” they just need to address to these imbalances in a structured manner before they potentially lead to injury.

Technology

The fact is we now have the technology to monitor top athletes in so many ways around the clock, we can see how much they’ve moved, how hard they’ve trained, the quality and quantity of the  recovery and sleep they’ve had, we are aware of their personality type and how they need to be managed. We know their stress levels and how they manage it (or don’t). We can monitor how they walk, talk, eat, sleep and breathe, and we have the ability to control so many aspects of their human performance.

Dave Brailsford the former performance director of British Cycling termed this approach “marginal gains” and the advancement in sports science over the last ten years or so has meant that these marginal gains within any sport have enabled a huge impact on the overall analysis and performance of each individual and team.

But, and it’s a very big BUT, we need to realise that these are young men and not machines and sometimes things don’t quite go to plan!

 

How well do you think you would perform with a relatively simple task in your day to day work life if you had over a billion people watching you doing it?!

 

Fail To Succeed

How you deal with pressure and how you respond when things go wrong is, in my opinion what defines you as a potential £100 million pound athlete.

Every single player that has been selected to represent their country in Russia this summer is the best player in their position at their club, they were the best player in the youth team they graduated from and they were head and shoulders above every other kid in the playground at school. When it comes to football, all these player have ever known is how to deal with success!

The real test is when things go wrong.

The average player falls away, but the star performer just gets better.

When David Beckham was sent off for England in France ’98 some thought his England career was over. Instead it ended up being the making of him, the following year he won everything with Manchester United and single handily dragged England through to the 2002 World Cup and in the process became a phenomenal captain and leader.

So what separates the superstars from the nearly men?

In my opinion elite human performance comes down to four areas:

Fitness, Nutrition, Recovery and Mind Set.

 

Fitness - Everyone knows that fitness is a vital component to any athlete’s makeup. Physical fitness and freedom from injury allow a player to compete at the highest level for the longest period of time, but this in my opinion is bottom of the pile when it comes to determining performance, it just gets you entry to play with the big boys.

Nutrition isn’t just about having six pack abs. Good Nutrition will give you a positive outlook, it will turbo charge your energy levels, it will improve your alertness and productivity and can even speed up your recovery from injury. Gone are the days when a typical player’s diet would consist of a pre-match fry up followed by some post-match beers! I’m sure a number of players out there still do this from time to time, but I guarantee they’ll never become a £100 million pound athlete with a Sunday League players diet. If you’re after marginal gains then first stop is the fuel you are putting in your engine.

Recovery is the toughest one to manage. Every player just wants to play and the biggest mistake many of them make is rushing back before they are fully recovered. Top players have amazing coaches, therapists and doctors at their beck and call to safely manage their return from injury. Everything from physiotherapy to cryotherapy, soft tissue work to fitness testing is covered. The problem isn’t when they are at their clubs, the issue is what do they do when they are at home?

A £100 million pound athlete will do everything required to get them back to their best. They will have their own recovery routine, wrap themselves in cotton wool and prioritise a good night’s sleep over a big night out every time.

For high performance I cannot emphasise the importance of sleep enough. It’s no coincidence that Roger Federer and LeBron James who are arguably performing better than ever in twilight of their respective careers swear by 12 hours sleep each night. It doesn’t sell newspapers hearing a footballer is tucked up in bed at 9pm, but it definitely ensures that the player makes headlines on the back pages and not the front pages!

Mind set – This is without doubt the key ingredient to building a £100 million pound athlete.

Forget about success, If you want to look after a £100 million athlete them teach them how to fail big time at a young age!

Throughout their career players will be faced with any number of challenges, from injury, humiliating defeat, falling out of favour with the manager, to transferring to a new country and managing personal issues. Problems will always arise and the bigger the problem, the bigger the potential reward. The truth is in football and in life it's never about the problem, it just comes down to how you deal with it. An average player will just see the problem and it will always hinder their progress, the top player will simply see each problem as another small hurdle along their journey to becoming a superstar!

Get all four of these ingredients in place in a manner that works for that individual player and success is guaranteed.

 

**Food for thought, at the last World Cup in Brazil, then 22 year old Mario Goetze famously scored the winning goal that saw Germany lift the trophy. Four years later and arguably at what should be the peak of his career Goetze didn’t make the squad for this years tournament. We all want to see the star players perform and I'm sure the winning goalscorer will again be the lasting memory of this tournament in four weeks time. But just keep an eye on the spectacular failures, it may just be the making of a new £100million athlete!


A Cure For Neck Pain? Here's My Neck Hammock Review:

I’m sure you’ve had neck pain at some point in your life. Around 50% of the general population will experience neck pain in the next twelve months and as our lifestyles evolve this figure will undoubtedly grow.

Computer screens, uncomfortable pillows, and constantly being on your smartphone are usually the biggest reasons for this. But how do you fix this growing problem without weekly visits to see your physio?

Read on to find out.

What Is Good Posture?

We all know that we should sit up straight. But what does proper posture even mean? Here is a simple test you can do at home to evaluate yourself.

Take off your shoes and stand with your back against a wall. Your heels should be shoulder width apart with your buttocks pressing against the wall. Open your chest and have your shoulder blades lightly touch the wall (it is important that they touch it though).

Is your head touching the wall?

It should be.

If it isn't, that means you have a forward head position. And this could be very harmful to your neck.

Forward Head Posture And Why You Should Be Mindful Of It

Normal head to neck alignment would see both your shoulder blades and head touching the wall. For every inch of protrusion from that, your neck gets an additional 10 pounds of pressure. Over time, that can seriously weaken your neck muscles, as well as harm the disks in the spine. This, in turn, can lead to chronic neck pain and nerve impingement.

Not to mention that the hunched appearance that isn't exactly flattering!

What Causes Forward Head (And How To Prevent It)

According to Wikipedia, this position is also called  "Scholar's Neck", "iHunch", "Reading Neck." and even "Justin Bieber Head"! While I'm not really sure about the Justin Bieber Head (apparently, he did it in a photo), the others make perfect sense.

Indeed, long hours of staring at a computer screens  are the main culprit for forward head issues and our relationships with our smartphones is becoming a very serious issue. Walking around with your gaze glued to the phone isn't just sad, this unnatural neck position is taking a toll on your bodies biomechanics too!

Your neck muscles will also get weaker as you age and if you're not working out regularly. A decent balanced strength training programme that includes posture improving exercises for the upper back and neck muscles could help pull your head back where it should be.

What Is Cervical Traction?

If you've visited a physiotherapist or a chiropractor for neck pain, you might be familiar with cervical traction. It's actually a quite simple but very effective technique.

Essentially, it's about applying a pulling force to your neck in order to release built-up tension. The compression of the discs between the vertebrae is decreased and muscles and joints get a bit of a stretch as well. Cervical traction can also help to release a compressed nerves and improve the associated pain with that.

How Do We Know Cervical Traction Works?

Although cervical traction is a fairly popular technique, you still get polar opposite opinions sometimes. There have been a number of respectable clinical studies on cervical traction and although they are inconclusive on the long-term effects, fast pain relief was definitely proven to be a result of neck traction.

Since neck pain can be such a debilitating condition and painkillers are definitely not a sustainable long-term option, cervical traction is considered to be one of the best treatment and management options, it has always been very difficult to perform it on yourself... until now!

Would I Recommend It For Neck Pain?

When I first saw this product I have to admit I thought it was a bit of a joke, but after looking into this further I wanted to try it out for myself...

It initially sparked my interest because of my work at Red Bull Racing Formula One team, Racing drivers have to deal with huge G-forces on their necks. Developing strong neck and core muscles is one of the key elements of their training. You will often see the drivers working with resistance bands prior to races to activate and strengthen their necks but I wanted to explore some release techniques to compliment this.

As for my London-based clients, they are some of the most inspiring and hard-working people I've met. But success comes with hard work, and many of them spend obscene amounts of time in front of a computer screen. Over time, neck problems are among the first to arise.

In my experience, people with neck pain tend to make things worse with exercise. Especially if I recommend something for them to also do at home, they tend to have bad form (because of the pain). As a result, you can harm yourself more than you help yourself.

 

The reason I recommend the neck hammock is the simplicity of use and efficiency. It's one of the most affordable and accessible forms of "therapy" you can get. Of course, lifestyle changes such as spending less time in front of screens, and a few corrective exercises to improve posture are also necessary, but this product really does work.

I'm also a big believer in encouraging clients to take the time to stop, relax, breathe and actively slow the body down, using this device forces you to do all of those things and I'm convinced that this process alone will promote healing and relaxation in the affected areas.

If you are looking for some efficient and immediate relief, I would the neck hammock is definitely a great option for you! I'm going to use this myself more regularly over the next few weeks and I'll update this blog at a later date with my story...

As usual, if you have any questions or suggestions, I'd love to chat with you in the comments below.

Cheers,

David


What is Heart Rate Variability and how can you benefit from it?

Heart Rate Variability has quickly been reaching buzzword status. It's been a standard measurement amongst athletes in high performance facilities for years but not something that has been particularly easy to monitor for the average exercise enthusiast - until now.

So what is heart rate variability (HRV)? Why should you be aware of it? How can you to measure and track it? And why can measuring it completely change your approach to training and recovery?

What Exactly Is Heart Rate Variability

I'm sure you've measured your own HEART RATE at some point, whether that's by placing three fingers on a superficial artery and counting the beats or by strapping on a heart rate monitor, you'll get a figure measured in beats per minute. However, this number doesn't tell you everything...

A resting heart rate of 60 beats per minute doesn’t mean that your heart beats exactly every second, it will vary from beat to beat - hence the term Heart Rate Variability.

So what does this mean?

As a (very vague) rule of thumb, the higher the HRV the better, the lower your HRV, the worse your current wellbeing. Human physiology is such a fascinating and complicated topic and there are a number of other factors to consider but let's keep it simple to start.

Your heart works automatically. There are bundles of cells that get excited and send the electric impulse through the heart via the electrical conduction system and this causes the heart muscle to contract.

These pacemaker cells generate impulses at a higher rate than is actually required of a normal heartbeat and it's the role of your autonomic nervous system to slow them down.

Your autonomic nervous system has two divisions. The sympathetic system and the parasympathetic system. Stick with me here!...

The parasympathetic system is responsible for slowing things down and promoting "rest and digest" mechanisms, while the sympathetic nervous system fires you up and is your "fight or flight division". In a normal healthy individual you want the parasympathetic influences over the pacemaker to be stronger, meaning that your heart rate is slower than it would be if the heart only functioned automatically, unfortunately stress, poor sleep and even being over-stimulated from your mobile phone can stop this from happening and keep us in a constant switched on fight or flight mode.

Why Change Is Good

Your body is constantly under changing conditions. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and their opposing actions, are there to ensure that your internal organs respond to these changes. That's why if your heart rate variability is higher, it's a sign that you're more adaptable.

On the other hand, if your HRV drops, there's a good chance that you're undergoing a lot of stress. Low HRV is a good indicator of low resilience and adaptability. It can also signal mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and PTSD, or chronic illness, From my perspective as a human performance coach, I use it as a marker for athletes under stress, still recovering from training sessions, poor sleep or even a bad diet.

How Do You Measure Heart Rate Variability

HRV was first noticed on ECG strips. ECG is reliable, and widely used in clinical practice. However, outside of hospital settings, the machine is simply not practical. Not only is it time-consuming to hook up the electrodes by yourself every morning, the device takes up space, and it's very pricey if you're not on a private hospital budget!

Thankfully, new ways of measuring HRV are emerging and wearable technology and mobile apps are leading the way in providing cheap, simple and incredibly easy and effective ways to monitor yourself.

Tracking HRV on your mobile phone

For the last few weeks my morning routine has consisted of strapping on my bluetooth heart rate monitor and opening the Elite HRV app on my phone. Yes, I know there's an app for everything! But this one has been really useful for me and simple to use. I sit perfectly still and relaxed and allow the app to measure my resting heart rate and HRV and after just two minutes it gives me a score and tells me if I'm all set to push hard with my training or need to look after myself a bit more in the day ahead.

It may not be a perfect measurement but it gives me a good idea of where I’m at. You need to control the conditions as much as possible, for example taking it at the same time of day and in the same position. Even small changes in your routine can affect your score. There will undoubtedly be mornings where you have slept less, where you had to get up to go to the bathroom, or when you had a big meal late the night before that you still haven't quite digested. All of these will change HRV and ultimately make the measurement unreliable, BUT I still believe it's well worth tracking.

From my own perspective it has been really beneficial for me to start the day in a very calm manner. I get up very early each morning and I'm on the go straight away either into my studios in London, off to Red Bull Racing or out for an early morning training session. The process of stopping before I've even started has been incredibly beneficial from a psychological perspective as well as seeing the physiological benefits. I've also enjoyed the process of listening to my own body. I recognise if I haven't slept well, if I'm feeling a bit under the weather or I'm stressed in any way about the day ahead or just sore and stiff from a tough training session earlier that week. After measuring myself for the past few weeks I'm getting pretty good at predicting what my score will be and most importantly adapting my day to reflect this.

I must stress that this is only a rough guide and in no way

How To Use HRV Information

While heart rate variability is a novel and highly effective way of tracking health, I have to stress that it will not be 100% accurate.

However, I enjoy using it myself and I recommend it to a number of clients that I work with. From a performance perspective I think it's incredibly useful in determining how I pitch the training sessions for myself and my clients. I find that most people get very lazy with their approach to training. Yes you may be training several times per week but what are you actually doing during those sessions? Are you pushing beyond your previous capabilities? Are you following a proper training programme? and are you factoring in enough time for sufficient rest, recovery and proper nutrition?

My experience tells me that most people probably aren't. Instead they do the same old workouts day after day that may actually be doing more harm than good. I'll explain more about this in a later article...

My advice? Check your HRV, enjoy the process of slowing things down and listening to your body, push hard on the good days and learn to ease off on the low score days. I guarantee your results will improve - and that's what it's ultimately all about isn't it?

Cheers,

David Osgathorp


The Hierarchy of Fitness: Performance is more than just exercise!

I get asked a lot about the best exercises for fat loss or how often someone should train each week...

In my role as a Human Performance Coach I believe that performance is more than just exercise. There is never a one size fits all programme for each client to follow and I often find that the exercise programme I create is usually the last thing that is going to have an impact on the performance of an individual, let me explain...

I believe it is my job as a coach to enhance high performance by obtaining a clear picture of each clients overall health and well being. (I will go into details of how I achieve this in later posts)

Each programme I create is founded on the premise that energy is the currency of high performance and I aim to focus on strategies to increase energy and manage it more effectively.

So how do you create more energy?

The Holistic Approach To Training

I have found that unless you treat the body as a whole, you won't experience any real/ lasting change. One thing always affects another. We are often told that exhaustion from too much training has a negative effect on your energy and progress in the gym, but I don't believe in the concept of "over-training", the whole purpose of a training session is to push beyond your previous capabilities and overload the body. Where I find problems with energy levels is when clients under recover.

I’m very aware that putting a client through a tough session when they aren’t eating properly, sleeping properly or are under excessive pressure at work, will do a lot more harm than good.

The stress hormones will reek havoc with their body. High stress hormones equals low energy, less progress, and ultimately - less health.

If this is getting you thinking then take a look at my hierarchy of fitness below. Understand that human performance is much more than just exercise and remember that you can't move up unless you improve the basics.

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

Yes, my first and most important item is the foundation for your hierarchy of fitness is rest. Even if you got every single other thing right, if your sleep schedule is off, it wrecks havoc in your entire system.

Within just four days of poor sleep, your body can no longer use and regulate insulin properly. Insulin is the hormone that tells your cells to use the glucose in your blood. When you are short on sleep, insulin sensitivity drops. This means that you need more insulin to properly use up the glucose and so your system starts producing more.

The catch?

You can't burn fat when insulin is high. It's biochemically impossible.

But the trouble doesn't stop here. Research has consistently shown that sleep deprivation can also:

  • Mess with leptin, the satiety hormone, this will therefore make you hungrier.
  • Significantly decrease cognitive function, including memory and decision making.
  • A risk factor for deadly chronic disease, including cancer.

Bottom line? Strive to get at least 6- 8 hours every night. If this isn't achievable can you incorporate an afternoon nap? Or catch up at the weekends? Research has shown that keeping a weekly sleep target can still be effective and not cause you to stress too much about the odd late night. Understand that sleep is vital, but you don't have to miss out on life by going to bed at 9pm each night in order to hit your target!

Hydration

Water is literally the essence of life, staying hydrated will protect your joints, help your body rid itself of toxins and it is also key for maintaining optimal health.

Every cell in you needs water to function properly. And yet studies show that most of us live in a state of constant dehydration. One common reason for that is we confuse hunger and thirst. Try this: next time you crave a snack, drink a glass of water first. Your body will thank you.

But how much water do you really need in a day? 8 glasses? A gallon? However much you want?

In theory, your thirst should be enough to guide you. When you are dehydrated, though, you tend to lose sensitivity for thirst. Thankfully, there are tools that could help you figure it out. I personally love this calculator but there are lots of others you can find online.

Food As Fuel

The importance of good nutrition can not be overstated. You are, quite literally, what you eat. It's not just abs that are made in the kitchen, it's the entire state of your body. Without the proper nutrients, your system can't function right. Normal biochemical processes are altered and in the long run, you risk serious damage to your health, not just your figure.

You don't need complicated diets and eating schemes. Focus on eating plenty of vegetables and lean protein at every meal. Limit the processed food you consume. Consider cutting out added sugar and reduce the amount of wheat and dairy you consume.

I know, I know, my advice is hardly revolutionary. The diet and nutrition industry is an industry for a reason. But no matter how hard they try to sell you the next fad diet, the simple tips will never go out of style. Food is fuel for your body and improving your diet will immediately enhance your wellness.

Stress Control

Yes, controlling the levels of stress you experience can be tough. You can't control external factors and learning to manage your responses isn't always easy.

But consider this:

Stressors have real, measurable physiological responses on your system. What begins purely in your consciousness affects everything from hormones to your brain and internal organs.

The over-secretion of stress hormones like cortisol makes you more likely to gain weight while burning fat becomes harder. Even your brain is affected, especially the areas associated with long-term memory.

Since chronic stress can have such a detrimental effect on your performance, implementing stress management techniques will dramatically improve your well-being. My personal de-stressor of choice? Meditation.

We are learning more and more about the benefits of meditation every day. Neuroscientists are only just beginning to discover the power of such a simple exercise.  I love the Master Your Mind Course by Live and Dare and also the Headspace app.

Finally, Exercise

Yes, exercise is the last item on this list. Is it really the least important on this list? In my opinion, YES.

You see a great training programme won't get you great results if your body is completely run down, stressed out, dehydrated and malnourished! Build the strong foundations of sleep, nutrition, hydration and stress management and I guarantee you will turbo-charge your results in the gym.

On the flip side, good habits tend to follow one another, working out will often improve your sleep quality, reduce stress and perhaps even encourage you to eat a little better.

However, it can't and should not be an end in itself. Wondering where to start with fitness? Check out my five favourite exercises to get some ideas!

Change your focus from just simply trying to improve your fitness and aim for ways to increase your energy  and your overall performance.

This is the opening article in a new series in which I will detail numerous techniques, hacks and lifestyle adjustments you can make in order to see huge improvements in your mental and physical performance.

Stay tuned!

David Osgathorp


Nothing Beats A Londoner - But London Might Beat You!

Have you seen the new Nike advert?

It's called Nothing Beats A Londoner and it's a great story about young sports stars following their dreams and not letting the Big Bad City get in the way of their dreams.

Nike says nothing beats a Londoner, but I say it can be pretty tough to beat London!

As a proud survivor (and thriver) in one of the busiest, craziest, most fascinating cities in the world, here are some tips on making it here.

Beat Pollution

The World Health Organisation has named air pollution as the world’s largest environmental health risk. In a city nicknamed The Big Smoke, soaring pollution levels are the silent killer nobody is talking about.

Since 2004, the legal limit on harmful emission concentration has ALWAYS been breached within the first week of the year! Londoners are exposed to toxic air on a daily basis which puts you at risk of most major killer diseases.

Pollution is inevitable in large cities like London. Luckily, you can take steps to control the damage. Here are a few easy ways to keep your lungs happy:

  • Get some air-purifying house plants. Boston Ferns remove more indoor air toxins than any other plant. They can be hard to take care of, though, so try palms or rubber plants for a harder to kill option.
  • Drink green tea. Pollution means free radicals. A cup of antioxidant-rich tea helps your body protect itself naturally.
  • Opt for walking. Air pollution is four to five times worse in your car and by driving too much you are contributing to the problem. Switch to walking or public transport.
  • Avoid high pollution routes by using an app. Some of my favourites are CityAir and Plume Air Report. Both are free and user-friendly.

Beat Stress

Normal stress management recommendations aren't really an option in London. Walks in nature, getting a pet, or taking up a new hobby are all awesome stress reducers. But, suggest these things to a Londoner and I guarantee you'll get the same response - Sounds great, but where do I find the TIME for all of that?!

Time is the biggest thing that no one in London ever seems to have enough of, this is why everyone is always in a rush, doesn't have time for a proper conversation and always look pretty stressed!

To reduce stress, a Londoner needs to become a master of the one-minute fix!

Five Strategies To Banish Stress (In Less Than A Minute)

  • Houseplants are a really easy win here. Being surrounded by nature, no matter how tiny, is enormously beneficial and that's backed by science.
  • Eating to make your gut happy will calm down your brain too. Often when we're stressed we eat the wrong foods and end up feeling even worse! There is a gut-brain axis that connects the largest organ of the immune system to the largest one of the nervous system. A healthy snack, eaten slowly, will help both. I recommend bananas because they are nutritious, help good bacteria, and they are very convenient, too. My good friend Hannah Richards at The Gut Clinic can give you a lot more advice on this subject.
  • A quick stress release technique that you can do anywhere is pressing between your second and third knuckle. This activates a nerve that loosens the area around the heart to create an instant sense of relaxation. Honestly! Try it.
  • Another one of my favourites is the "tense up-loosen up trick". Start by slowly tensing up your muscles as much as you can. I like to do it with my whole body but just the arms works, too. Then, as you exhale, allow the tension to flow out of your system.
  • Finally, add some dancing into your morning routine. I'm serious. Music boosts endorphins and jumping around the kitchen can burn just as many calories as the treadmill. Even if it's just a couple of minutes, you will notice the effects right away.

Beat Keeping up with the Jones's

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Seriously.

London is a huge city full of successful, talented people. Some will be richer than you. Some will have better careers than you. Some will be better looking than you, deal with it!

It's easy to get caught up in the comparison game but you can never win at this. You may be prepared to sacrifice more and more to hit your next goal, but trying to succeed here could make you feel worse than a failure if you're constantly looking at what you don't have. For me this is one of the biggest reasons why London can beat you. There is so much opportunity, always the next step, the next promotion, the next ten grand to chase, the friend doing a little bit better than you.

Ambition is a great thing and you definitely need it to succeed anywhere, not just London.

But you need to celebrate the small wins along the way as well. Don't start your day looking at what others are doing on Instagram, I guarantee that will bring you down. You need to set yourself up to succeed and you can do this by asking yourself these three simple questions:

  • What did I last eat?
  • When did I last laugh?
  • What's the last conversation I had?

Great nutrition, a positive outlook, and surrounding yourself with amazing people are the three key ingredients to thriving in London. When you stop comparing yourself to others and choose to compare yourself to the person you were yesterday, you get happier. The first step is simply acknowledging and improving your choices.

Beat Overwhelm

When accident and emergency doctors are on call, they may have to rush off at any moment to deal with a life or death situation. A lot of Londoners also tend to live like this! It is so common to see people in a constant reactive state, never able to switch off and stressing over pretty insignificant things. If this is you then you might not even know you're living in this reactive state. Sadly for most of you, the reality is despite what you may think you really aren't that important!

Just ask yourself do you really need to send that email at 11pm? Are people really that impressed that you're in the office at 6am? Is it really essential that you work every weekend? Being "on it" all of the time doesn't lead to success, it leads to burnout, misery and stress.

Give yourself a day off, no one will die - unless you actually are a doctor on call!

Picking The Right Team

This is such an important topic that I will cover this in a separate article, but, in short, nobody succeeds alone. In London, workplace competition can be so fierce that it drives people apart. The caffeine and sugar-fuelled days, the nights where you can't sleep because of the anxiety, the heavy drinking that just gets you through it all, eventually makes you miserable. Having a good support network in place is essential if you are going to beat London.

That's why I have started talking about surviving London with some of my favourite online content creators. We are taking this to a team level. Together, we can finally get people to talk about the elephant in the city. And it all starts with the community.

As a challenge, I dare you to text just one of your colleagues and sincerely compliment them. Surrounding yourself with a team of positive people is the only way of surviving London fully. Start by making yourself one of these amazing people.

Cheers,

David


3 Amazing Cryotherapy Benefits: How It Can Improve Your Physical And Mental Health

After reading a lot about the benefits of Cryotherapy, I decided that the best way to see what all the fuss was about would be to experience it for myself...

As the wellness trend of choice, it is no wonder a lot more people are getting into it. But is it really that great for your health, or is the hype a little over the top? I thought I would share my thoughts on Cryotherapy benefits with all of you here on the blog. Read on to find how Cryotherapy could improve your health and well-being!

Getting Cryotherapy Straight

It may just make you think about the opening scenes of an Austin Powers movie! But please bear with me as I think there could be some really good benefits for you here...

Cryotherapy comes from the Greek cryo (κρύο) that means cold, and therapy (θεραπεία) meaning cure,  Basically, any use of low temperatures in treating an ailment is considered cryotherapy and this can refer to the simple ice pack on your swollen ankle, up to the high-tech cryosurgery procedures where tumours and other diseased tissue are removed by applying extreme cold temperatures.

So what sort of cryotherapy do the wellness gurus promote? Usually, whole-body cryotherapy or WBC for short. This is when you are exposed to the cold dry air for two to four minutes inside a cryotherapy chamber. As daunting as this may sound, it's actually quite a pleasant experience!

The process involves you stripping down to just your underwear and some lovely thermal gloves and slippers and stepping into the chamber that is adjusted to your height so that only your head isn't exposed to temperatures of around minus 120c!

I visited Cryogenix in East London where their marketing literature explains that "Extreme cold sends the body’s metabolic rate sky-high in order to produce heat. This effect will last 5 to 8 hours after the procedure, causing your body to burn around 300-600 calories. The results of whole body cryotherapy differs from person to person, but overall, the benefits and results can include the following":

  • Less painful joints
  • Quicker injury recovery
  • Jumpstarting the immune, nervous, vascular, and lymphatic system
  • Anti-aging

Cryotherapy Benefits For Fitness And Exercise

As a human performance coach, I take a decent amount of interest in anything that might replace me! Recent findings have shown that whole-body cryotherapy can actually mimic exercise. Apparently after a cryotherapy session, your muscles release the same compounds that they would after working out. This is fairly new research, but it could potentially mean that people struggling with obesity can benefit from cryotherapy.

The more traditional use of cold treatments is, of course, injury recovery. Ice baths have become par for the course for most elite athletes and cryotherapy chambers are becoming very popular as well. Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt and Conor McGregor all reported use cryotherapy on a daily basis!

The Mental Cryotherapy Benefits

There is more to this treatment than your physiological response. Cryotherapy benefits your overall feeling of well-being as well.

Taking a cold shower has long been considered a "character building" act. Nobody actually enjoys the freezing cold water but it is about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. In fact, ice cold showers are the first thing I suggest when clients ask me about cryotherapy. Granted, 30 second blast in a cold shower is much less glamorous or hyped but it can have most of the health benefits. I have personally seen the 'cryotherapy benefits' of a simple morning cold shower:

  • It shortens your morning routine,
  • sets you up for the day,
  • shoves you out of your comfort zone, first thing in the morning.

If you have been having problems with productivity recently, a cold shower habit can help you kick that. In fact, I challenge you to try it with me for the next 14 days. Two weeks are enough to feel the benefits but it's  also short enough so that you don't give up. Get your freeze on!

How To Choose Your Cryotherapy Treatment Provider

If your local health club has a cryosauna, it can be tempting to ditch the whole cold shower experiment and run there instead. Or maybe you saw a really good Groupon for a cryotherapy session. Bear in mind, that not all places are as professional and safe as you might expect.

The first thing to guide you would be the experience they have. You will not reap all the cryotherapy benefits if it is not administered correctly. Gyms, spa centres, and beauty salons that have only recently bought a cryosauna are usually more attentive but they are also definitely inexperienced. Choose them at your own risk - I would personally only go if I had received some sort of word of mouth recommendation.

Ask them all the details about the procedure beforehand. The employees should be able to answer your questions. If they are not, once again I would question their experience.

Check the website as well. Does the information on there seem realistic? Have they linked sources or did they choose to hype the treatment mindlessly? When a treatment provider is overstating the possible cryotherapy benefits, you know for sure that their integrity is questionable. Can you really trust them with your health then?

Final Thoughts On Cryotherapy Benefits

So what's my verdict? Well, although cold treatments can be amazing in so many ways, don't expect them to 'fix you'. Much like massages, cryotherapy benefits are only an addition to an already healthy lifestyle. Remember that diet and exercise should always come first! Having said that, I found it an incredibly invigorating experience, as someone that has suffered numerous injuries over the years I am always looking for ways to manage my pain and improve my health and wellbeing and I am keen to explore this avenue further...

It is an expensive habit to keep up though, at £60-£100 per treatment, you will need to invest a tidy sum but if it does what it says on the tin then it could well be worth the investment... I will keep you updated!

Do you have any cryotherapy benefits questions or thoughts that you would like to share? I would love to hear from you in the comments bellow!

Cheers,

David


Four Unexpected Back Pain Causes (And What To Do About Them)

If you read my previous article on back pain then you'll know that this is one of the most common health issues that a huge percentage of the population struggle with. It is also one of the toughest to tackle. Back pain causes can range from a muscle strain to degenerative disease. In this article, we are looking at the common and not so common ones and what you can do right now to relieve your pain.

Types Of Back Pain

Let's first talk about the types of back pain which can be split up into acute and chronic.

Acute back pain comes suddenly and lasts a limited amount of time. Usually, doctors say that back pain lasting less than six weeks is acute. Notice that these terms have nothing to do with how strong your pain is. Acute pain could be dull and relatively weak much like chronic pain could be unbearably strong.

If your back pain lasts for more than six weeks (some may argue three months), then it's termed chronic and is usually associated with a long-term disease. With chronic pain, you don't always have as many back pain relief options as the cause can't always be treated. For instance, osteoporosis can cause back pain and unfortunately is not a treatable disease. Meaning that you can manage the chronic pain but you can't always remove the source.

Prevention Is Always Better Than Cure

As I discussed in the previous article, the best way that I know to banish back pain is not getting it in the first place! But statistics show that around 80% of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives.

A small percentage of these cases will be chronic and you'll need proper medical advice to resolve it, but most cases are acute back pain and simply changing up a few of your habits is usually enough to eliminate it.

Heavy Lifting And Back Pain

One of the most common culprits is lifting heavy objects  - hardly a surprising back pain cause.

A lot of people feel that weight training is purely for vanity. Yes your body will look better but more importantly it will function better. Weight training is about training to be better at life! Just don't get too carried away and try to lift too much too soon, it kind of defeats the object here!

Always warm up before a strength workout. At least 5-10 minutes of active stretching and mobility exercises before every session are a must.

Learn to lift properly, whether that's a box of old things you want to move to the spare room or a deadlift you are performing in the gym, do it with good form and you will strengthen your back and not harm it.

Sitting Down

Let's face it modern lifestyle doesn't set us up for great posture. We sit in a car or on public transport for up to an hour to get to work when most of us then spend 8 hours (or more) sat down hunched over a desk, we then travel home in the same manner and spend the evening slouched on the sofa. Our bodies are more designed to sit rather than stand these days and that's why when we ask it to perform simple tasks it's just not up to the job!

Start tweaking your habits little by little... Can you move a bit more each day? Can you get a stand up desk? Can you try being mindful of the way you stand? Have a look at your posture, remember your mum telling you to stand up straight when you were younger? Well, you need to follow her advice more than ever now! Lift your chest, roll your shoulders back and tighten your core and over time you really see a difference.

Medication

This is the obvious answer to relieving pain isn’t it?

Reach for the pills potions gel sprays and anti-inflammatory creams... Ok I have to admit I have used some of the gels and sprays over the years to relieve my post exercise aches and pains but have you ever read the side effects of pain killing and anti-inflammatory medication?

Be very careful with medication. Although commonly used for a quick fix pain relief, the long term effects of anti-inflammatory drugs such as Nurofen or Voltarol can be extremely damaging. They have been seen to cause stomach ulcers and will only ever mask the underlying problem.

By masking the pain we place further stress upon the weakened areas and are unaware of the damage we are causing. As the pain increases so does the level of drugs to relieve the pain! This is madness!

Smoking

Did you know that smokers are three times more likely to experience back pain compared to non-smokers?

We all know the risks of cancer and heart disease but did you realise that your dirty little habit may also be the cause of your back pain as well?

Smoking causes decreased nutrition to the tissues of the back largely because of the carbon monoxide that cigarette smoke contains. Carbon monoxide sticks to the haemoglobin (the oxygen carrying part of the blood), this decreases the amount of oxygen to the muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons of the back. Oxygen is an essential nutrient in the healing process of the tissues of the back and must be present in order to achieve a full recovery.

Not only that but, nicotine is known to cause thickening of the walls of the blood vessels. This thickening contributes to restricted blood flow through the large and small blood vessels of the lower back and increases the amount of time for healing and recovery if you have a back injury.

So what should be done about it? Well, in short, GIVE UP SMOKING! Even veteran smokers have shown a marked decrease in back pain and further disc damage after quitting. Cutting down on smoking can also decrease the chance of developing back problems and can restore good blow flow.

These are just a few of the possible causes of back pain. Look out for my new ebook - Banish Your Back Pain out later this year for numerous  ways to prevent and manage back pain

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Cheers,

David


How To Cure Your Back Pain

Back pain is an incredibly common occurrence, approximately 80% of the population will experience it at some point in their lives and so its high time we talked about it here. Stick to the end of the article for an exciting new project I have planned that will help you banish your back pain. Other than that, let's jump straight in!

Where Does Your Back Pain Come From?

Back pain is very general. There are so many structures in and around your back and the pain could even come from your internal organs. Your pain could be caused by issues with your:

  • Spinal cord
  • Vertebral column
  • The ligaments that connect the vertebrae
  • The muscles of your back and their tendons
  • Nerves
  • Kidneys
  • Immune system (some autoimmune diseases)

For any pain that lasts longer than a few weeks and especially if you have other symptoms, please call your doctor. Some of the tell-tale signs of a more serious issue would be fever, nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations, pain urinating. Get it checked - Better safe than sorry!

If It Was A Muscle Strain (Or A Ligament Strain)

This is the easiest and most common back pain to recognise and treat. Even as a professional coach, I've had a few occasions where I have overworked my back. If you have also caused an injury whilst training, Some tips to prevent it are to make sure you always warm up, taking time to stretch after your workout, and leave your ego at the door and sure you take your time to progress in the gym (as opposed to jumping straight to heavy weights).

If you strained a muscle or a ligament, your first and most important step is rest. As soon as you feel the pain stop. Lie down on the floor or another flat surface. Breathe deeply and allow the muscle spasm to calm. It often eases away in a couple of minutes but give yourself some rest over the next couple of days.

Apply ice to the area for 20 minutes every day. Not only will it reduce the pain, but it also prevents swelling and bruising. Heat, on the other hand, is not a great idea for the first few days. However as you recover, a heat pad is often a great pain reliever as it very effectively relaxes your muscles. As always seek advice from a medical professional if the pain persists.

Posture And Back Pain

Confident woman walking
Great body posture prevents back pain!

I am a broken record on this one. Poor posture will always lead to back pain (plus a bunch of other problems). I get it, we are all busy and there isn't always time to think about proper posture but spending your day behind the desk and your night on the couch is a recipe for screwing up your back!

Fixing your posture starts with deciding to do so. Remind yourself throughout the day to roll your shoulders back and straighten your spine. A neat little trick I like is to set a 'trigger'. For instance, every time you check the time also check your posture. Being mindful of the way you stand will make the world of a difference for your back pain. And it will also prevent further damage.

Hydration Is Key

You know you have to drink water. You know that dehydration stresses out every single cell in your body. But what does it have to do with back pain? A lot, actually.

First, you have your kidneys. They filter out waste products and throw them out diluted in water. If you don't hydrate, your kidneys can't work properly. This can lead to inflammation, kidney stones, or even more serious issues. Since kidney inflammation is one of the possible causes of back pain, by drinking more water you can prevent that.

The other reason are your spinal disks. They connect the vertebrae in the spine. On the inside of a spine disk is a gel-like substance. When you are dehydrated, the disk loses some water and it's no longer holding the vertebrae properly. Drink enough water and you prevent that. The great part is that you can also help back pain by simply rehydrating. Of course, just in the first stages, not after years of dehydration, so drink up as soon as you feel it.

A line that I use constantly in my role at Red Bull Racing is to remind people that water is like their engine oil, without it things just seize up!

Eat To Help Your Back

Great nutrition will improve numerous things like your digestion, your mood, your immune system and it could also cure the back pain.

When it comes to bone health, focus on getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K. Calcium, contrary to popular belief, is not just found in milk. Leafy greens, broccoli, butternut squash, nuts, all of these are great plant sources of the mineral. So there are no excuses, even if you are lactose intolerant or vegan.

For your cartilage (a.k.a. what makes up the spinal disks), pomegranates, tomatoes, and red bell peppers are great sources of antioxidants. They limit inflammation, which can harm your tissue. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids. They are also anti-inflammatory, not to mention how beneficial good fats are to vitamin absorption and your overall health.

Finally, for healthy muscles, focus on the protein. Lean meats, eggs, fish, protein powder even (but only if it's hemp, check out the article to see why). Getting enough protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle.

Diet changes alone can cure back pain but it will take a while. They are a long-term strategy for both prevention and treatment.

The Cause And The Cure!

If there is no underlying medical issue and no huge trauma to explain your pain the the truth of the matter is the cause is probably down to you. The way that you sit, the way that you move (or don't), the food and fluids that you consume, the stress that you place upon your body and the way that you choose to look after it, it's all your fault! But you probably don't want to hear that!

Your body is an incredibly resilient machine, it can take most things you throw at it - but not everything. Pain is a reminder than something is wrong and maybe you need that reminder...

Here's the good news. If you've caused your back pain then you also have the power to cure it. Move more, spend less time on your backside, eat better, cut out the smoking and drinking, sleep more and learn how to de-stress and I GUARANTEE your back will thank you for it.

Banish Your Back Pain

Finally, I am excited to announce my new project - 'Banish Your Back Pain', a comprehensive guide to curing back pain once and for all. It is about to launch in December so keep an eye on the website and my social media!

Cheers,

David

 


Clicking Joints: What Is The Real Reason Your Bones Moan And Groan?

 

I’m sure you've experienced clicking joints at some point in your life... Whether it's a daily occurrence as you get out of bed and take a walk to the bathroom, or from your knuckles - that you enjoy cracking maybe a little too much!

Why do clicking joints happen? And more importantly, is it an indication of something more serious? It's another question that I get asked a lot and I thought I'd take the time to give you the low down on clicking joints, what actually causes this, and when it could be dangerous. Read on...

What Makes A Joint

Fit woman stretching
Stretching is great for your joints!

 

The bones are arranged in a way that means under normal circumstances they don't touch. The ends of each bone are covered in cartilage which is a resilient and smooth elastic tissue with rubber-like padding that covers and protects the end of bones at the joints. A joint is basically two bones coming together, bound by some tendons, ligaments, and muscles. More importantly, though, each joint has a capsule and contained inside this capsule is a tiny amount of synovial fluid that reduces friction between the joints.

How Synovial Fluid Causes Your Knuckles To Crack

 

When you pull the joint capsule ends either with normal movement or forceful actions like knuckle cracking, you essentially make the joint capsule bigger.

The amount of fluid within the joint does not change but some of the gases dissolved inside are released. "Air" bubbles form very quickly to fill the empty space. The process of these bubbles forming is called cavitation and because the release of gas happens so fast, a sound is produced and that sound is the infamous crack.

Why Cracking Your Knuckles (Or Any Other Joint) Could Be Bad For You

Clicking joints are not usually a cause for concern. They click because of the gas and this is a completely natural process. If you crack your joints often, though, the change of pressure will inevitably affect the ligaments. In fact, micro-injuries can happen with every single click. That is why I encourage my clients to slowly stretch before and after exercise. My rule of thumb here is to focus on active (yet still gentle) stretching and mobility exercises before the workout session and on slower passive stretches afterwards.

When Clicking Joints Are A Cause For Concern

Although clicking joints are usually nothing to worry about, there are some cases where an underlying condition is causing them. These usually fall in one of two categories: inflammation or injury. The difference is in the timing. It would be days, weeks, or even months before an inflamed tissue around the joint cause’s pain. If there was injury, though, you would know right away, especially if you tore a thick tendon.

Injuries That Could Cause Clicking Joints

At the extreme level one of the loudest sounds your body can make is if your Achilles tendon snaps. This is the thick cord that connects your ankle to the back of your lower leg and if it ruptures the sound is similar to a gun being fired!

A tear is more subtle and if it didn't happen at the moment of high tension on the tendon, the tearing of your heel cord could resemble a joint cracking. If you hear your ankles clicking and you suspect there could be some injury, observe yourself in the next few hours. Is there any pain or swelling? If so, chances are you could have damaged the tendon and it would be a good idea to have it checked out by a doctor.

Another common injury is twisting your knee. This type of injury usually happens to football players but with a bit of bad luck, you could even injure your knee running on the treadmill. The clicking sound, in this case, often means you may have damaged the cartilage as well. Once again, talk to a doctor and try to put as little pressure on the joint as possible.

Clicking and pain in your feet or toes could be the unexpected consequence of wearing uncomfortable shoes. I have seen it happen to a few of my female clients that were particularly fond of high heels. As hard as it might be, try to switch to flats and the problem usually subsides.

Clicking Joints And Inflammation

Arthritis is the generic term used to describe inflammation of the joints. As scary as it may sound, joint inflammation happens to a lot more (and more diverse) group of people than you might expect. It’s not just reserved for the elderly, I have met girls as young as 17-18 suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Although there are over a hundred types of arthritis the two most common are:

  • Osteoarthritis that comes with age and it affects virtually all joints in your arms and legs
  • Rheumatoid arthritis which is an autoimmune disorder, essentially your own immune system turning against your joints.

Sometimes clicking joints and pain can mean a serious underlying issue

Although arthritis patients require complex therapy (that this article won’t do justice), there are a couple of tell-tale signs that your clicking joints could be arthritis:

  • Trouble moving the joint
  • Pain and stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Muscle aches around the joint
  • Secondary effects on your entire system - weight loss, poor sleep, fatigue, loss of muscle flexibility or even function. Make sure you watch out for these and seek medical advice if you notice any of them.
Sometimes clicking joints and pain can mean a serious underlying issue

 

More Reasons For Clicking Joints And How To Improve Them

Sometimes the problem just can't be explained. An old injury that didn't heal properly, an incorrect alignment of your joint, over-exercising, all of these could cause clicking joints. Here are a few tips to minimise the cracking:

  • Stretch properly before exercise. It improves joint mobility and it also increases the flexibility of the tendons. This way, you are less likely to suffer an injury.
  • Have at least one rest day per week. Less can sometimes be more! Especially if you are a beginner. Overdoing it could cause injury.
  • Make sure you have enough nutritious food in your diet and you’re properly hydrated. A few of my favourite, joint-friendly foods are nuts and berries(loaded with healthy antioxidants that fight inflammation), oily fish like salmon (for the joint, and brain, healthy omega-3's), and the occasional steak (that contains all important amino acids for your joint fluid).

To help you get started on your way to healthier joints, here is my favourite pre-workout active stretching routine:

  • Push-ups with a twist - a regular push-up except you extend an arm when you come up. I usually do at least ten. If you can't do a standard push-up yet, going on your knees is perfectly fine as well.
  • Stretch walking lunges - I have my clients do a few laps around the gym, alternating legs on each step. Just make sure your knees never pass your toes.
  • High knees with a knee to chest - Essentially, you do three to five high knee jumps and then you hold your knee to your chest for five seconds. Spend at least five minutes on this and your knees will thank you.
  • Inward and outward foot rolls - The most basic of exercises but it makes the world of a difference, especially in clients with feet issues or pain.

So in closing are your clicking joints anything to worry about? Well, if you don’t experience any pain, then NO. But if the joints are painful, swollen or restricted in anyway it could be the signs of something more sinister and you need to visit your GP to find out exactly what is going on.

 

 

What helps your clicking joints? Do you have any tips or questions for me? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

David


Kinesio Tape: Helpful or Just Hype?

 Using Kinesio tape for treating injuries or inflammation is not anything new. It has been in treatment protocols for decades. Most experienced Physio's and massage therapists are familiar with the method. As someone who has struggled with numerous injuries in the past, I'm often seen with bright pink tape all over me!

But when a client comes to me and asks for advice on how to use it? A client without much background in professional sport? Who has not heard it from a doctor or a therapist but from her co-worker? Then it's easy to see that Kinesio tape has become a trend.

Since it is something I swear by, I thought I would share my thoughts with you, rather than just my client. What is Kinesio tape? Who is it for? How does it work (and is it a placebo)? Read on to find out!

What Exactly Is Kinesio Tape?

Basically, it's a tape for your skin. It is made out of a thin and stretchy cotton fabric with adhesive on one side and it's almost identical to human skin in the way that it behaves. Kinesio tape has the same thickness and elasticity and it moves just like your skin does. Athletes love that because it provides support without constricting movement.

Kinesio tape was first developed in Japan for treating musculoskeletal issues. Then their Olympic team started using it and from there it spread all over the world. Professional athletes use it to recover from injury but also to improve form and performance. Taping is one of the most versatile methods in kinesiotherapy, no wonder now it is reaching the general public as well.

What Do You Use It For?

Here is a list of conditions that taping could improve:

  • Acute soft tissue injuries - These are muscle strains, tendon and ligament injury, as well as bruising.
  • Bone injuries and pain - Support for after the fracture has healed, shin splints and even growing pains in teenagers.
  • Joint issues - Poor posture, instability, swelling, misalignment.
  • Tendon and fascia inflammation
  • Inflammatory and autoimmune conditions like lupus, arthritis and fibromyalgia.
  • Low muscle tone and muscle weakness

Obviously, if you have a serious medical condition like arthritis, fibromyalgia or general inflammation  then kinesio tape may well provide some welcome pain relief. However, it should not be seen as a cure-all, but as part of a treatment plan it can certainly play its part.

Does It Even Work?

You can still exercise with Kinesio tape!

So does it actually work?!

I'm sure there are many people out there that will point to a lack of scientific evidence to support the benefits of kinesio tape and maybe they are right to do so. I have experienced first hand the support and pain relief it provides and as a result maybe a placebo effect does come into play each time I now use it.

As with any treatment I offer or fitness programme I design, I am always looking to provide something that is appropriate for each individual. So no matter what I think, if a client really believes that this approach is beneficial to their performance, then that's good enough for me!

How does it work?

Unlike normal strapping tape, Kinesio tape provides elastic support. The traditional strapping technique restricts movement by wrapping non-elastic tape around the area of injury. That is great for the first few hours but it has to be Removed soon after because it restricts circulation and movement. Strapping with a rigid tape can actually slow down the healing process as blood does not reach the spot efficiently. Not enough oxygen and glucose get to the site and both of those are key to recovery.

Kinesio tape provides dynamic support. It protects your tissues, muscles, and joints while still giving you a great range of motion plus preserving circulation. Since it is non-restrictive in all senses of the word, you can wear it for days. Depending on how often you shower, it could last anywhere from 4 to 7 days. Even with rigorous exercise, applications have never lasted me less than 4 days.

The Benefits Of Kinesio Tape

The main benefit of kinesiology taping is it gives you 24-hour support without any negative consequences (like poor circulation or restricted movement). After an injury, your muscles get weaker. Maintaining proper form - be it during exercise or simply in your day to day activities - is more difficult. As a result, you can strain other areas that don't normally get that much tension.

It is a vicious cycle of the post-injury weakness causing more injury. The point of taping is to put the joint/muscle/tendon back to its' correct position. It helps posture problems for that very same reason. As for swelling and inflammation, the benefit comes from the passive lift to your skin. The tape gently tugs on your skin which makes the vein and lymph drainage faster. The quicker the drainage, the easier to reduce the swelling.

Since by-products like lactic acid are also removed through the veins, taping can also help reduce soreness the days following exercise.

 

How To Use Kinesio Tape

I always tell my clients to start with the basics. It's true for exercise, diet, and all other health habits you adopt. Of course, if you have any underlying issues that cause the pain and swelling, you would have to tell a doctor about them. Taping a sore ankle is not the same as taping to reduce arthritis-related pain. In the first case, you could probably get away with just the Kinesio tape. In the second, your healthcare provider should probably adjust the other treatment for arthritis. As always, when in doubt, consult a doctor.

There are some basic rules to follow when you apply the tape. First, clean skin is a must. Having any lotion, sweat, or even just water makes the glue weaker. It's best to take a shower before taping and then to clean the area with a cotton pad dipped in 70% alcohol. Make sure the ethanol dries before you apply the tape, though. Also, never use it if you have open wounds or if you have had reactions to acrylic glue before.

As for the actual tape, always cut it round in the edges. This way it will not peel and will last you longer. Don't just stick it on either. You want to have two anchor points where the tape is not stretched. For the rest of the tape, some stretch and tension are more than welcome. It is what gives you the effect.

I have filmed a short video tutorial for an ankle injury taping. Since it's one of the most common issues my clients get, I am hoping it helps you out. If you have any questions on Kinesio tape technique, I would be happy to answer in the comments down bellow!