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