Equine, Horse & Rider, Human, News

Changes Ahead!

The last year has been an interesting year in regards to the pandemic and the affect it has had on work. As many of you will know I haven’t been able to be hands on for that much of the year. However I have been using the time to develop a few things.

Firstly I have been increasing my social media presence as well as being part of the Expert Academy run by NKC. This has really helped develop my way of thinking as well as offer support in the direction I would like to go. This was the first step in making some changes. NKC offer a number of online courses for owners such as equine first aid that you might find useful.

The second step was to start an MSc in McTimoney Animal Manipulation to help develop my skill set and offer more to the animals I treat. So in less than two years time I should be qualified and be able to work on your horse (or other animals) through joint manipulations and soft tissue making treatments more effective.

Thirdly I have decided to separate my equine part of my work from Lightspeed Sports Recovery. In the not to distant future there will be a separate website, facebook and instagram account for all horse related information. Those of you that are not horse people will be able to enjoy more information related to your needs through the Lightspeed Sports Recovery platform. Those that are horse fans will need to like the new pages when they are all complete. Updates on where to find these will follow soon.

I want to also say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported Lightspeed Sports Recovery especially through this last year. I am hoping that if the governments targets are met that I will be hands on again from April 12th. I look forward to seeing you all and helping relieve all your aches and pains very soon.

Human

Ways to get through lockdown 3

So we are well into lockdown 3, without really knowing when it will be eased or lifted. It is the tail end of winter, which can sometimes be the worst weather. We have all had enough of lockdown, and the weather. So how can we make ourselves feel better and get through this? In a previous blog I discussed ways to help your muscles but in this we are going to discuss ways to just get you through and make you feel better.

Structure

Some of you maybe working from home, some on furlough or some who are self employed and not able to work. If you are still working then you have structure to your day. While it may seem tedious and mundane planning your week even if you are not working really helps to give you a reason to get up in the morning and get things done. One of the worst feelings is wasting time away with nothing to do. This leads onto the next step. A project

Project

Set yourself a project or several projects. These may include some DIY in the house, social media posts, future work project or learning something new. By having a project you have something to put into your structure, a focus and something to achieve that once done will make you feel good. Make sure you have a realistic timescale to complete your project in so you have the motivation to get it done once started.

New hobby

Take up a new hobby or perhaps an old one which you haven’t had time to do. This could be any number of things such as learning the drums. A large percentage of people have taken things online so it can be done through video chat. Some of you may not want to spend more time at the computer on zoom chats so take up something like painting, knitting or photography.

Exercise

This doesn’t have to be running. Yoga, Pilates or a walk are all ways to exercise. Try and get outside once a day even if the weather is rubbish. The fresh air will help. There are plenty of videos that you can use to follow along and help with motivation online. Timetable exercise into your day. It gives you more structure and again a sense of achievement. It also burns calories which allows you to have cake, chocolate and wine without feeling guilty.

Mindset

This is something I have learnt over the latter part of last year and not something I thought would help, but it really did. At this time of year and especially as it is lockdown we can have a lot of negative thoughts. So by realising this we can start to change the way we think. If you do have a negative thought you need to change this into a positive and continue to reinforce this thought. For example, say you feel like you can’t do 10 push ups. Instead of saying you can’t. Change it to you can do 10 push ups. It doesn’t matter if you can’t do them right now, but you are allowing yourself to be able to do it in the future. While you might be thinking this is a load of rubbish, have a try. You need to do it for sometime for it to have an effect, a week or more. Also listing what you are grateful for helps change your thinking as well. Try it and see whether you feel more positive.

The above are just a few things you can do to help you through this lockdown. Think positive above anything else, remind yourself of what you are grateful for such as family, wine and being able to walk with a friend. These little things go a long way to helping you deal with the current situation better.

Human, Injury Management

4 Things you can do to help your muscles during lockdown 3

Lockdown 3 is definitely proving to be one of the harder lockdowns to deal with for a number of reasons. Many of you will still be working from home. Below are a number of things you can do to help your muscles and also a certain extent your mental health. Take time for yourself and get outside even if the weather is rubbish it will make you feel better.

Exercise

During lockdown we are allowed to go out and exercise so grasp this opportunity especially if you have someone to exercise with. It doesn’t need to be a run. A walk will be just as beneficial to your muscles.

By getting out and exercising you are allowing an increase in blood flow which will help rejuvenate you muscles, allowing them to loosen up. I know the weather is not at its best but get those layers on and a waterproof and get some fresh air, it will be worth it. This will help clear your head. If however you don’t have enough time to get out then exercising at home is another good alternative even if it is just 20 min of activity such as yoga or pilates.

Move regularly

Those of you that have desk jobs probably suffer from a few aches and pains when you have been sat in countless zoom meetings. Try and get up and move regularly. Go get yourself a drink, take a walk around the room, stretch and change positions regularly. In the past posture has been drummed into people that it needs to be good, well the actual issue is staying in the same position for too long. So even if you have good posture at some point you will start to ache. Those that have the luxury of a desk that alters height can sit or stand which is a great way to change positions. Those that do not try different positions in your chair. Sit back in it, sit forward, stretch your arms up, hunk your back and then straighten it. All these movements will give relief to your muscles and keep them moving.

Hot and Cold

Having a hot shower or bath can go a long way to helping your muscles relax. Its also a great way for you mind to unwind and have some me time. If you are having a bath adding epsom salts will also help relieve any muscle aches and pains. Make sure you put some time aside so that you can relax while doing this. Hot water bottles are also good when sitting at your desk. They can help relieve tension and reduce pain.

Cold can also help relieve tension and any inflammation present. So if you have a particularly painful muscle or area of your body use a bag of peas wrapped in a cloth to help reduce any discomfort. Hot and cold can be used together. Do 5 min cycles of each and this will help draw blood into the affected areas as well as act as pain relief.

Spikey/hockey ball

Spikey balls are the one thing I recommend to everyone. I prefer them to foam rollers because they are more versatile and actually get deeper into the problem areas. They are particularly good at getting into the muscles on the back and shoulders. You can either lean against one on the wall or do it lying down. A hockey ball or hard ball can also be used as an alternative. Below is a video on how to use spikey balls to release off various muscle groups.

Anatomy, Biomechanics, Human, Injury and Rehab

The Importance of Sporting Footwear: Are you wearing the right fitting shoes?

Footwear is something in the sporting world that can often be over looked. We buy a pair of trainers for multiple uses and use them for a prolonged period of time until they are falling apart and wonder why we sustain injuries.

Overuse injuries can be sustained from not wearing well fitting footwear or the wrong type of footwear for the activity these include;

  • Shin splints
  • Corns
  • Stress fractures
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Heel pain
  • Patella femoral pain

Other traumatic injuries that can occur from poor footwear include;

  • Sprained ankles
  • Bruised toes and nails

How to choose the right footwear

  • Buy for your specific sport don’t get walking trainers for running and vice versa. Sports like tennis require more ankle support than running shoes and will have different grips that are suited to the surfaces you are exercising on
  • Buy for your foot type. If you have low arches then a shoe that has more arch support would be beneficial. Shoe brands have many different models for different foot types. If you are unsure about your foot type then it is a really good idea to see a specialist that can help. www.bootsure.co.uk is one of these specialists who has a wealth of knowledge in this area.
  • When trying a pair on you want wiggle room for your toes
  • Footwear should be comfortable from the moment you try them on
  • You want a snug fit around the heel and midfoot and a thumbs width between your longest toe and end of your shoe.

Replacing Footwear

I often get clients suffering from injuries and when we discuss their trainers it comes apparent that they probably need to be replaced.

Footwear only has a certain amount of mileage before it starts to offer less support and could cause injuries to develop. Roughly a running shoe should be replaced between 300-400 miles.

Some of us however don’t actually know the mileage we run especially if playing a team sport. So the other way to ascertain whether your shoes need replacing is whether the soles are worn especially the heel and if they become less comfortable. It is best to be cautious and buy a new pair so you can gradually break them in while the old pair still have some life in them. This again will reduce the occurrence of injuries.

Footwear as a injury treatment

So poor footwear can cause injury but they can also be used to help treat injuries. If you have a lower limb injury it is always a good idea to take your footwear to your physio or sport therapist. This will allow them to see any wear on your shoes that might indicate poor biomechanics. They can then advise you if a different type of shoe would suit your foot type.

Also sport shoes can be fitted with orthotics to help support your foot in the right areas generating better foot biomechanics and relieving over stressed structures. Cushioning from footwear can also help support feet by reducing unwanted foot motion e.g. pronation. Lacing of shoes can also make a difference it can reduce heel slippage and allow for a snugger fit.

By having properly fitting sporting footwear you can reduce the occurrence of injuries. Your feet are something that need to be looked after as they take a huge amount of stress. When injured they affect your mobility and quality of life. Feet deserve a well fitting pair of sport shoes to allow them to do their job.

Anatomy, Biomechanics, Human, Injury and Rehab, Injury Management

Happy Hamstrings

Do you ever experience hamstring pain during or after exercise? While you might experience hamstring pain or discomfort it may not be the primary source of your problem read on to find out what might be the cause and how to remedy it.

Hamstring Anatomy

The hamstrings are made up of three muscles, the bicep femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. The adductor magnus can sometimes be referred to as a fourth hamstring as it shares one of its origins with the other hamstrings on the ischial tuberosity (seat bones).

Semitendinosus and semimembranosus only have one orgin but the bicep femoris has two heads. The long head originates from the ischial tuberosity and the short head from the lateral lip of the linea aspera of the femur. The two heads merge and insert onto the head of the fibula in the lower leg. The semimembranosus inserts onto the posterior aspect of the medial condyle of the tibia while the semitendinosus merges with gracilis and sartorius to form the pes anserinus tendon. This then inserts into the proximal, medial shaft of the tibia in the lower leg.

All the hamstrings flex the knee and extend the hip. The semimembranosus and semitendinosus medially rotate the knee and hip while the bicep femoris laterally rotates the knee and hip.

Potential Hamstring Issues

Hamstrings can become grumpy due to a number of reasons. Firstly they may actually experience a strain, tear or feel permanently tight. While the hamstring could be the primary cause it is often other soft tissue structures that are the instigator. So the 3 key things to look at if you experience hamstring issues are

  • Quadriceps to hamstring strength
  • Gluteal activation
  • Anterior tilt of the pelvis

Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Anterior pelvic tilt can come about due to tightness in the hip flexors (iliopsoas: psoas and iliacus) as well as tightness in the quadriceps. The pelvic tilt can stretch the hamstrings as a result you ask the hamstrings to take load in this position. The hamstrings feel tight so you try and stretch them further which probably doesn’t do a lot. If the hamstrings are loaded while being stretched then they have less elasticity are are more likely to injure. So by releasing or stretching the hip flexors and quadriceps you can reduce anterior tilt of the pelvis and allow the hamstrings to relax more. This should reduce the chances of straining them.

Gluteal Activation

Another consequence of anterior pelvic tilt can be the gluteal muscles not activating properly. Gluteal activation is not always dependant on anterior pelvic tilt being present. Sports than involve sitting on bending over and not full hip extension can also cause the glutes to not activate. As a result the hamstrings activate before the gluteal muscles do. This again puts extra strain on the hamstrings making them more vulnerable to injury. So to combat this getting the gluteals activating, strong and doing their job will take the load off the hamstrings.

Quadriceps to hamstring strength

Athletes often focus on strengthening the quadriceps and forget about their hamstring. Quadriceps should be stronger because of their job but one of the hamstrings job is to control and stabilise extension of the knee. If this didn’t happen then the strength of the quadriceps would cause the knee to over extend, and cause hamstring injuries. As a result it is really important to do specific hamstring exercises such as Nordic hamstring curls.

Below is a video on how to keep your hamstrings happy and reduce the possibility of sustaining and injury to them

Anatomy, Human, Injury and Rehab, Injury Management

K-taping your knee for patella maltracking

Patella maltracking (or patella femoral pain) is a common occurrence in the sporting knee. It is an overuse injury where the patella is slightly pulled out of its normal position causing irritation and inflammation under the knee cap as it rubs against other structures.

Patella maltracking can be caused by tightness in soft tissue such as the tensor facea latae, rectus femoris, vastus lateralis and potentially bicep femoris. As a result the vastus medialis may also be weak and unable to counter act the tight muscles pulling the patella out or up. As a result the tight muscles need to be released of through soft tissue work and the vastus medialis strengthened. With the primary cause being dealt with taping the knee can help reduce pain and re-educate the movement patterns required.

Below is a video on how to tape your knee to reduce pain and allow you to exercise and strengthen your knee.

Human, Injury and Rehab, Injury Management

Injuries: Overuse

You may wonder sometimes how you sustained an injury when you didn’t have a noticeable traumatic event like a fall. Generally injuries that have no obvious event and build up over time are called overuse injuries. They are really common and can be caused by a number of things. Read on if you want to find out more.

What is an overuse injury

Overuse injuries are a build up of micro trauma to a certain area. The body goes through a process of remodelling to help adapt to stresses placed on it. Through this process we get fitter and stronger. However if this process is disrupted we can’t remodel correctly, as a result we sustain an injury if it continues. Often overuse injuries have inflammation along with the micro trauma.

Examples of overuse injuries

  • Tennis elbow
  • Golfers elbow
  • Runners knee
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Shin splints
  • Stress fractures
  • Patella tendon tendinopathy
  • Patella maltracking

Causes of overuse injuries

  • Increased load
  • Frequency of training
  • Not enough rest
  • Poor diet
  • Old or poorly fitting footwear
  • Incorrect equipment

If you want to reduce the risk of sustaining an overuse injury then making sure you increase your training load and frequency gradually with enough rest in between sessions will allow your body to react well to exercise, having regular massages can also help this process. Also making sure you eat a healthy balanced diet to give your body the building blocks to remodel and lastly making sure your equipment is up to the job I.e. fits you and is not worn otherwise this can change your biomechanics and loading of certain tissues.

If you find that you are suffering from an overuse injury then do consult a physio, sport therapist or doctor to help with management and rehabilitation.

Horse & Rider, Human

The Core of it: Core and Riding

In recent years the core of a rider is being highlighted and discussed more than it ever has. People are starting to understand the importance of a good core and how it can help with riding. So often none horsey people think that you just sit on a horse and give it a squeeze and then the horse gets on with it and the rider just sits there being fairly inactive. This is far from the truth. So what muscles are involved with riding and how can we improve our bodies to help our horses?

What are core muscles?

Generally when talking about the core it is the deep core that is being referred to. The deep core encompasses the pelvic floor (and gentlemen you do possess one), transverse abdominis and multifidi.

The pelvic floor and transverse abdominis are quite easy to teach people how to engage as they are easy to feel. However the mutlifidi are a bit harder due to the fact that they are made up of lots of little muscles attached to the spine so trying to isolate to activate is difficult. By activating the pelvic floor and the transverse abdominis the multifid also activate and help to stabilise through the back.

The transverse abdominis is like a corset wrapping from the spine to the front between the ribs and hips. It is classed as one of the abdominal muscles. The pelvic floor spans the inside floor of the pelvis it supports the abdominal and pelvic contents.

How to activate your core

Pelvis floor

To activate your pelvic floor you want to draw up as though you are trying to stop peeing mid flow. For guys the best way to describe it is ‘nuts to guts’. A really good way to see if you pelvic floor is functioning is to actually try to stop peeing mid flow. If you find this difficult than working on engaging your pelvic floor will be really beneficial. You will also find it helps hugely with you riding.

Transverse abdominis

The best way to start is lying on your back with your knees bent. Find the front of your hip bones. Slide the fingertip to the inside of the hip bones and you should find it soft. If you then try drawing in as though you are trying to get a pair of trousers on that are a bit to tight you will feel the muscle activate underneath your finger tips. You want to make sure you are activating below the belly button.

Practice activating both the pelvic floor and transverse abdominis and try and hold for 10 seconds repeat this a couple of times. Once you feel you have achieved this try activating them together.

Try activating your core when riding. You may find the first time you activate your horse might stop. Using your core in this way helps control your horse through your seat. Once you get used to activating the core you will be able to adjust the amount of activation to allow you to fine tune the response you get from you horse. Have a play around with this.

The above outlines the deep core and some very basic exercises you can do to start improving your core activation and ultimately your seat when riding. In future blogs we will delve into more complex exercises and discuss other muscles that can also help with your riding.

Anatomy, Human, Injury and Rehab, Injury Management

Stress fractures and the female triad

You may be wondering what the female triad is and why stress fractures can be more common in women? The female athlete triad is an important area to discuss with female athletes and also something that male athletes and coaches should be aware of to help support women in sport.

The female athlete triad is defined in regards to energy availability, menstrual function and bone strength. This description is quite broad to encompass several different disorders that can lead to the female athlete triad being diagnosed. Energy availability refers to disordered eating this can be dieting at one end of the spectrum and anorexia nervous or Bulmeia at the other. This may come about where sports require specific weight requirements or appearance such as gymnastics, judo, dance and many others. As a result the diet impacts on the body in so many ways and can affect bone density.

Diet also affects menstrual function and hormone levels. This can be in the form of oligomenorrhea (irregular menstrual cycle) and amenorrhea (the absence of cycles). A female needs to be over a certain weight to have a menstrual cycle and to be able to sustain being pregnant. If the body doesn’t have this then menstrual cycles can become disrupted or cease.

As a result of not eating properly bone density can be affected. Normally the body recycles bone, which is called remodelling. Bone is reabsorbed and then new bone laid down. If an athlete is not getting the right nutrients or energy levels then the bone is reabsorbed and not laid down causing the bone density to decrease. This can make the prevalence of stress fracture more common in women and osteoporosis in older life if it is not caught and treated at a young age.

In sport there is pressure on young women to conform to certain ideals and body shapes, causing distorted body images and ideals. As a result the female athlete triad does come about. Young males can also experience distorted body images but it tends to be towards gaining muscle mass and the use of steroids which also can affect bone density and other health issues.

Sport as a whole needs to consider what psychological impact it can have on young people and that as adults we need to make sure that young people are accepted as they are and not made to conform to ideals that would harm their health. Openly talking about eating healthy balanced meals is key and not discussing diets in a restrictive manner. By educating young athletes and parents on what food is good for them and help performance will allow a much more positive mindset. I don’t think this is addressed enough in sport and is one reason why we see physical and psychological signs of restrictive eating in young adults.

Biomechanics, Human, Injury and Rehab, Injury Management

Taping a Sprained ankle for sport

Below is a video on how to tape your ankle when you are returning to play sport after an ankle sprain. The techniques used below helps to limit the amount of inversion at the ankle meaning a player is less likely to roll the ankle during play.

The taping technique should only be applied before a warmup, game or training and remove it after the activity is finished. It’s not like Ktape which can be left on for longer periods of time.

The video demonstrates the stirrup and heel lock techniques but also looks at a figure of 8 if needed. I have demonstrated on myself so that you can see how to do on yourself when you haven’t got a professional to do it for you. I hope this is helpful

If you have any questions regarding ankles or taping please do get in contact with Pollyanna