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!


3 Great Reasons Everybody Should Meditate (And Why You Are Doing It Wrong)

Meditation has definitely got a bit of a cool reputation these days. What used to be a practice reserved for the deeply religious or carefree hippy types is now a daily essential for sports performers and CEO's. But what actually is it and why should you make it a daily habit? In this article, I want to give you the top reasons to meditate every day - simple, straightforward, and scientifically backed!

But First... What Is Mediation?

In its' core, meditation is just a mental exercise. It has been around for thousands of years. Virtually all major religions have their own version of a meditative practice. The English word meditation comes from the Latin verb meditari, 'to contemplate' but meditation doesn't necessarily have to do with actively thinking about anything. In fact, the goal is the opposite... Clearing your mind and grounding yourself is at the core of a meditation practice.

It all sounds very deep and spiritually-charged but meditation is not limited to Buddhist monks and aspiring life coaches. The sort of meditation most people practice focuses on mental benefits like stress relief, relaxation, and improved self-awareness.

One of my favourite ways to explain what meditation is comes from the Headspace app (which is a really good place to get started with meditation).

They suggest that you imagine your mind as a motorway during rush hour. The cars are your thoughts and clearly there are tons of them.

At times this can be really overwhelming. Meditation is about stepping back to the roadside and simply observing as the thoughts pass by. Over time, you learn not to fight all of these thoughts flying around and instead, sit back and watch as your mind clears.

Meditation And Your Brain

Meditation is a workout for your brain and in my experience, it's not an overstatement to say that meditation improves virtually all aspects of your life.

In terms of mental health, meditation reduces depression, anxiety, and stress. It is incredibly effective in treating existing depression and can help you overcome ruminative thinking (where you go over a thought over and over) and it also improves your self-esteem.

I've recommended a daily meditation programme to a number of clients and there have been some impressive improvements to their performance at the gym. In less than a few weeks clients come in calmer and more patient with themselves. If they do hit a plateau, they rarely get frustrated but rather adopt an 'I will do what I have got to do' attitude and in turn, they achieve much more impressive results.

Your Brain At Work

Meditation does not only improve how well your mind deals with emotions, it also ups your cognitive performance. Here are a few (science-backed!) benefits:

  • Improved memory (including rapid memory recall)
  • Fosters creativity
  • Makes you more efficient at dealing with stress
  • Improves focus (also in people with ADHD)

I have been lucky enough to work with some very successful people throughout the years. What I have noticed is that those who meditate were not only higher up the hierarchy but they also handled their responsibilities in a calmer, healthier way. New clients that I convinced to take up meditation always say that it has improved their careers and work-life balance visibly.

My advice: If you want to be successful, meditate.

Meditation Made Simple

Building your meditation practice can feel like the exact opposite of relaxation. There are hundreds of different approaches and most beginners become so overwhelmed that they never actually get consistent. It is a mistake I always see in novice meditators. Here is my challenge to you: start with your morning coffee. 

The point is to make meditation a habit.The reality is, most people don't spend ANY time alone with their own thoughts! We are constantly stimulated by noise, music, television and of course our best friend - our mobile phone! For the next seven days, I challenge you to commit to spending five quality minutes alone with your coffee. Focus all of your attention on that morning cuppa. No phones, no radio, no driving, no chatting with your kids or spouse. Just you and your coffee.

Once you manage to keep that up for seven consecutive days, try taking 10 minutes in the evening for some more traditional meditation. The Headspace app is a great place to start and so are the guided meditations you can find on YouTube. Don't beat yourself up if you can't achieve complete clarity of mind from the very first time. What matters is showing up and making it a habit. Get comfortable with being alone with your own thoughts, pressing the pause button on your hectic life and just being in that moment. Over time, you will notice yourself getting better and you'll probably want to commit more time to it. And that is how you build a meditation practice, the stress-free way.

If you have any additional questions or if you have any tips to share, I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Cheers,

David


Plantar fasciitis shoes for women

If you have Plantar Fasciitis, you might be wondering what are the best plantar fasciitis shoes for women. Many of my female clients despair at the thought of not being able wear heels or wedges, here is how I usually advise them:

  • Flats don’t cut it – you need proper foot support. When you can, wear these trainers for maximum support.
  • Plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation, not a fracture – time under tension exercise  will help get your body moving in the right way to reduce strain injuries such as plantar fasciitis and food allergy testing can help identify contributing factors in your diet to inflammation.
  • Choosing Plantar fasciitis shoes for women doesn’t have to be depressing – you may need to forego high heels at times, but it’s worth it in the long run to boost recovery.
  • In my professional experience, the number of women who recover from plantar fasciitis and no longer need specially adapted shoes by cleaning up their diet is AMAZING.
  • Use trigger point therapy to combat plantar fasciitis (see below).

What Is Plantar Fasciitis

The foot.

It doesn’t get much airtime in the fitness industry. As unglamorous as it sounds, the foot is centrally important to your posture, mobility and stability and therefore is key to your overall health.

The structure of the foot is incredibly complex – a minor injury to any one of the bones, ligaments, nerves or muscle tissue can create immense pain and destabilise you!

A few years ago, I had to have surgery on a foot injury I sustained through sport and so I know just how debilitating any kind of injury to the foot can be. The foot is key to your balance and the way that you move – and without that you’ll find it very difficult to exercise.

For example: try performing a dead lift or squat during a weight training programme with a *seemingly* minor injury to the big toe and you’ll quickly find yourself off-balance and unable to complete the exercise properly.

When you wear high heels, a lot of pressure is put on the arch of your foot which can, in the long term can mean plantar fasciitis shoes for women – this is tough to deal with!

High heels and flip flops are often to blame

At this time of year we throw out the boots and comfy trainers and slip into some strappy heels/wedges and flip flops, and whilst we may look great for the summer, your feet may not thank you for it.

Without the support of a “proper shoe” your feet don’t function in the way that they should and as a result, a number of people suffer from heel pain which caused by something called ‘plantar fasciitis’.

A painful (but very common) condition that affects one or both feet and can mean, tragically, you have to avoid wearing high heels for anywhere from few months to a year. Don’t be that girl!

Not good plantar fasciitis shoes for women!

If you’re experiencing foot pain (over and above what you’d usually expect after a day on your feet or an evening on the tiles) make sure you get to the docs and get a proper diagnosis.

Another risk factor of developing this condition is being overweight, so make sure you keep your diet in check – you get fit in the gym, you lose weight in the kitchen.

Plantar what?

Plantar…fash—eee—eye—tis

A lot of my female clients are suffering from this condition after years of wearing high heels which can put repetitive strain on the foot.

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot pain, it is usually found in one heel, although it can occur in both which can get worse over time, and it will need to be treated once diagnosed.

If you have this (very common) foot condition, it will need to be treated. You can’t just ignore it. Tragically you may need to throw out the wedges and stock your cupboard full of plantar fasciitis shoes for women!

Most people feel the pain associated with plantar fasciitis when they get up to walk after they have been sat or laid down for a long time but some people will find that the pain simply does not go away.

Wearing flats can often hold the solution

How long does typical recovery from plantar fasciitis take?

Typical recovery can take months, sometimes up to  12 months. With supportive shoes, rest, and exercises that stretch the plantar fascia, and the calf muscles, it is likely that you will make a good recovery. The remedy that is often recommended by doctors is to avoid wearing high heels entirely (in rare tragic cases you might need to permanently stop wearing high heels).

If that doesn’t sound like much fun you need to take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place:

How do you prevent Plantar fasciitis happening to you?

Using a foot roller and trigger point therapy can really help with plantar fasciitis
Using a foot roller and trigger point therapy can really help with plantar fasciitis

Switching to supportive flat trainers or other plantar fasciitis shoes for women when there is no need for heels can eliminate unnecessary risk – bad news for Russian girls everywhere! 😉

  • One cause of Plantar fasciitis is repetitive stomping on the foot which cause micro-tears to appear in the ligaments underneath the heel. If you wear high heels on the commute to work make sure you switch to supportive trainers (I recommend the Asics brand to my clients) that support the fasciitis ligament and don’t stomp your in high heels all the way to the office.
  • Don’t stomp on your heel when you walk (particularly if wearing shoes without a lack of support such as slip on flats), try to walk with good posture with your weight evenly spread on your foot.
  • Massage the underside of your foot regularly to ensure the muscles stay supple and reduce possible inflammation with a foot roller – this is also an effective recovery tool from plantar fasciitis.
  • You may be able to get fitted insoles that can help you to walk properly in high heels, while offering you foot or feet much more support.  You can buy these off the shelf from your local chemist but I would recommend that you visit a podiatrist or physiotherapist who can diagnose exactly what’s going on with your feet and help you choose the right insoles.

Recover with trigger point therapy

Using a foot roller and trigger point therapy can really help with plantar fasciitis and avoid the need for plantar fasciitis shoes for women

If you have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, trigger point therapy is a great way to help alleviate pain associated with the condition, personally I’m a big fan of this type of treatment, but not a lot of people are aware that this type of therapy exists.

The goal of trigger point therapy is to release some tension within the plantar fascia. If you’ve had the pain for several months then initially applying pressure to this area is going to be uncomfortable. You need to add a reasonable amount of force – what I would typically call “good pain” but, if you’re holding back the tears then you need to ease off!

Some people suggest that you use golf balls or even solid metal object to perform this type of treatment but I would always recommend that you start with a tennis ball and work up.

Once you’ve managed to hit the spot that is causing you irritation, you need to relax as much as possible and if this is performed correctly, then you should feel the sensation fade away by up to 80% of the original pain. For some this make take as little as 10 seconds, for others, several minutes.

Do your feet a favour

Plantar fasciitis can be quite a painful condition that can make walking and standing unpleasant and rule out certain types of footwear such as flats and high heels for a long time.

The cause of this condition can be due to a number of factors, but the good news is that with a bit of rest, maybe some ice and trigger point therapy you can recover. You may not need plantar fasciitis shoes for women.

If you are affected by any kind of foot pain, please seek medical advice as soon as you can. Your condition is likely to get worse unless you treat it. Do your feet, and your health a favour, and speak to a physiotherapist or a podiatrist as soon as you can, so they can help you get back on your feet in no time.

If you require any further information on this subject then feel free to get in touch and I can give you more personalised advice on your condition.

Cheers,

David


Foam Rolling Benefits: The Truth About Foam Rolling

  • Foam Rolling Benefits: The Truth About Foam Rolling

Foam rolling - applying specific and direct pressure to portions of affected muscle tissue using gravity and a cylindrical piece of foam (sometimes with a general rocking motion to apply greater pressure).

I'm sure you've seen it happening in the gym, maybe you were left wondering 'why?'.

Most of us experience some kind of muscular pain, stiffness or soreness from time to time. This can affect our workouts and prevent us from getting sufficient recovery. Pain and tension may even prevent you from moving freely and deter you from working out - I've been there and know how demoralising this can be.

However, help comes in the form of an unassuming cylindrical piece of foam that is popping up in home gyms and living rooms everywhere.

A foam roller, yesterday

Why are people doing it?

Foam Roller Benefits

I have seen foam rollers achieve amazing things (I recommend this one), the top foam roller benefits are:

  • Relieving trigger points and tension by applying isolated pressure to certain areas on your body (that you could not achieve with stretching alone).
  • Improve flexibility which is key for your training goals.
  • Increase blood flow and promote healing and injury recovery.
  • Foam rolling is a great tool to not only add to your gym routine but also your daily routine - foam rollers are highly portable and can work well alongside a decent Swiss Ball regime.
Foam rolling benefits: Having a foam roller helps you target the source of pain and tension with greater precision than therapeutic or sports massage

Personalised and Targeted 'Massage'

Deep tissue massage works along the same sort of lines as foam rolling, however even a great therapist may be unable to tell exactly where the pain is, meaning that they may be unable to give those troublesome areas the pinpointed pressure they need.

Using a foam roller puts you in control and allows you to target the affected areas, ensuring you benefit a lot more.

How to perform a foam rolling exercise

Simply place the roller on the ground, gently press down on it muscle in question, and use a different range of motions until you find the affected area.

Work that area gently, place just a little bit of pressure on the roller.

Which Foam Rolling Exercises Should I Do to maximise foam rolling benefits?

My London gym studio uses the following guide that I put together on foam rolling, I decided to include it for you here:

Enter your email address and I will send you a free one pager guide to my favourite foam rolling movements

The Four Pillars of Health - Why Foam Rolling is a Key Part of Your Strategy

As I talk about here, the new physique that you are looking for this year will come from four things (and nothing else):

  • Nutrition
  • Training
  • Mindset
  • Recovery

The first three I've already written plenty on over at my Four Pillars blog, but I haven't yet zoomed in on Recovery that much.

Foam rolling benefits - often foam rollers are effective in targeting calve cramps
Tight, inflexible calves can often be addressed by foam rolling techniques

People often associate knots, trigger points, and tension with “over-training” I don’t agree with this theory.

Yes, training does physically damage the muscle fibres and connective tissue, but the whole purpose of training is to push beyond your previous capabilities, to challenge your body in new ways and to force your body to adapt and create a leaner stronger physique.

The problem is not over-training, no...

...The real issue is under-recovering.

If one of my clients is suffering from any type of muscular pain, stiffness or soreness, perhaps from a recent injury or health complaint then foam rolling is a key part of my tool belt in starting the recovery process.

Too much sitting can cause knots, trigger points and tension.

Too much sitting and bad posture 

Knots, trigger points, and tension can be quite uncomfortable. We were made to move a lot more than we tend to, and those of us who don’t move around as much as we should, often suffer from knots and trigger points. It's received wisdom that modern life is all too sedentary, and it's true.

These ill effects can occur for a number of reasons but most commonly they result from postural imbalances or too much sitting, which your body just isn’t designed to do!

Studies have shown that if you tend to spend a lot of time sitting down, you could me more prone to suffering from trigger points. Let’s imagine you work 8 hours a day sat at a desk in front of a computer. If the work you’re doing is particularly stressful, you may be unconsciously rolling your shoulders forward, and tensing them.

One of the key foam rolling benefits is its ability reduce these effects of knots, trigger points and muscle tension.

But sitting at a desk for long periods of time is not the only cause of trigger points, they can also be caused by:

  • Joint pain
  • Lack of exercise
  • Bad posture
  • Sleep issues
  • Poor diet/vitamin deficiency
  • Sports injuries

Can foam rolling cause nerve pain?

As with anything in life, if one person is saying great things about something, someone else quickly wants to shoot them down. One of the purported drawbacks of using a foam roller is rumoured to be that  you can hit a nerve or cause damage to tissues through their use. Ignore this rubbish and focus on performing the exercises correctly, take your time to increase your movements and nerve or tissue damage is extremely unlikely.

Foam rolling benefits - foam rolling should mean good pain which means you're on your way to recovery
When performed correctly, foam rolling should only cause 'good pain' that is aiding the recovery process.

Does foam rolling hurt?

Another supposed downside to using a foam roller is that those new to this procedure may feel uncomfortable doing it. Using the roller as directed, you will be moving your affected areas in different ways, and you may therefore experience a bit of pain. But it's good pain! Just like a deep tissue massage, using a roller may be slightly uncomfortable, foam rolling benefits are undeniable.

If you are very stiff and tender, I recommend trying a soft roller (or rolled up towel) or tennis ball , as they may be more gentle on your muscles.

Foam rolling benefits - PTs: foam rollers can really help your clients with recovery
Foam rolling benefits - Help your clients recover by advising them on the benefits of foam rolling

Advice for trainers looking to implement a foam rolling regime and deliver foam rolling benefits for their clients

  • Advise your clients to buy a foam roller if they are suffering from trigger points, muscle stiffness or general muscle pain (for any problem cases, obviously advise that they see a doctor first).
  • Download my guide to the top 10 foam rolling exercises (above).
  • Using a foam roller will boost their recovery time and improve the results you are able to achieve for them. If you're the person that solves problems for your clients, they will love you and your marketing programme will run itself.
  • Educate your clients on the foam rolling benefits. Clients who regularly use a foam roller will have:
    • Increased muscle and joint flexibility
    • Improved posture
    • A lower risk of injuries
    • A decrease in their recovery times

If your clients understand the benefits of foam rolling, they will be more inclined to use one.

p.s. remember foam rolling should be implemented alongside a proper training, recovery and stretching routine.

Cheers

David