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.

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.

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.

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

Stress Fractures

You may have heard the term stress fracture being used before and wondered what makes it different from other types of fractures. In short stress fractures are not caused by a specific impact or trauma to the site of the injury but rather a repetitive overuse of that area forming micro trauma, inflammation and superficial cracks in the bone. Stress fractures form over time but can be prevented. Read on if you want to know how to prevent stress fractures forming.

How do stress fracture form?

As mentioned above stress fractures occur over time. Naturally our bodies go through a cycle of bone remodelling, where bone is reabsorbed by the body and new bone then laid down to replace it. When this process is disrupted then stress fractures can result.

Generally a sudden increase in activity is the main reason for the disruption in the remodelling process. This can be an increase in load, frequency, intensity or duration that doesn’t allow the body time to adapt. As a result the bone is reabosrned by the body quicker than bone is laid down causing bone weakness.

The majority of the time the bones affected are weight bearing such as the bones of the feet and lower leg but other bones can also be susceptible. In sport it can be common in high impact and endurance sports such as running, basketball, dance, gymnastics and tennis. In sports like rowing stress fractures can occur to the ribs due to tight muscles that repeatedly pull at the surface of the ribs.

Risk factors

  • Sport- certain sports as mentioned above can have a higher risk.
  • Sudden increase in activity- this includes increase in intensity, load, duration and not having enough recovery time.
  • Being female- abnormal menstrual cycles can affect bone density
  • Foot problems- flat feet, high or rigid arches can affect the ability of the foot to absorb impacts.
  • Worn footwear- footwear that doesn’t support the foot correctly can place undue strain on bony structures.
  • Weakened bones- osteoporosis is a condition that affects bone density. Certain medication can also have an affect.
  • Previous stress fractures- if you have had them before then unfortunately there is a higher chance of developing another one.
  • Lack of nutrition- not taking enough calories in can affect bone remodelling as well as deficiencies in Vitamin D and calcium.

How to reduce the risk

  • Eat a well balanced diet and get advice from a nutritionalist
  • Don’t restrict calories when increasing intensity and volume of exercise
  • Increase intensity of exercise gradually
  • Increase volume of exercise gradually
  • Make sure you have enough recovery time between training sessions
  • Replace equipment regularly and don’t let it get to worn
  • Look after you feet

If you suspect you have a stress fracture then seek medical advice from a doctor. Often stress fractures do not show up on x-ray when they initially occur so you may not initially get offered one. Once stress fractures start healing they become more apparent on x-ray.

Anatomy, Biomechanics, Human, Injury and Rehab

Feet the foundation of movement: Part two Injuries

In the last blog we introduced the anatomy and function of the foot (Part one anatomy and function). With this knowledge it can be seen that the foot is quite a complex structure and with so many components you would think quite a lot can go wrong. If you think how often you walk, run or jump and the forces going through your feet it is quite immense, and yet our feet seem to tolerate this on a daily basis. However there are occasions where trauma occurs or our feet just can’t recover as they should. Below are some common injuries your feet might experience.

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common forms of foot pain. It is common in runners and older adults. It is often associated with biomechanical issues due to excessive pronation or supination. It is an overuse injury and what we would term a tendinopathy. You may have experienced tennis elbow or Achilles tendinopathy. Which is a similar condition just affecting a different part of your body. Tendinopathy in short is when the tendon is not healing in the normal manner, it can fray, become thickened and be painful.

Flat feet or high arches can increase the risk of plantar fasciitis. Tightness in the calf muscle, hamstrings and gluteals can also increase the risk. Plantar fasciitis has a gradual onset of pain which is often located on the medial aspect of the heel and experienced after activity. However when it becomes more severe pain can be experienced when weight bearing and on activity. Periods of inactivity during the day can also increase the pain when commencing activity again. Stretching the foot and fascia also can cause pain.

Stress fractures

The common bones in the foot that can suffer stress fractures are the calcanous, navicular and metatarsals. Calcaneal stress fractures are common in runners, military personnel, ballet dancers and sports that involve jumping. Having poor heel cushioning, overstriding and a heavy load can all increase the risk. The onset of pain is insidious in nature and aggravated by weight bearing. There is localised tenderness to the medial or lateral border of the heel.

Navicular stress fractures are the most common stress fracture in the foot. It can occur in sprinters, jumping sports and hurdling. It is an overuse injury and is thought to be due to training errors and impingement of the bone between other tarsal bones. Decreased dorsiflexion in the ankle is thought to perhaps bring about an increase in compensatory dorsiflexion in the foot increasing the stress placed on the navicular. Individuals often experience a midfoot localised ache, radiating along the medial aspect of the medial longitudinal arch. It often gets better with rest.

Metatarsal stress fractures occur with excessive loading of the forefoot and muscle fatigue. Forefoot pain is experienced and aggravated by activity. Pain gradually worsens with activity and tenderness over the metatarsal is present. Stress fractures don’t always present themselves on x-ray straight away so can be harder to diagnose than a complete fracture. However if one is suspected then management strategies can be implemented until diagnosis is confirmed

Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia is an inflammatory condition of the metatarsal phalangeal joints. It is caused by excessive pressure over prolonged periods of time. It is associated with high arches, excessive pronation of the foot, clawing/hammer toe, tight extensor tendons of the toes, prominent metatarsal heads and Morton’s foot. Pain is aggravated by forefoot weight bearing and affects the mid stance and propulsive phase of walking. Pain is gradual in onset and local tenderness over joints is present. Passive flexion of the toe causes pain and a v shape between toes can also be an early sign.

Bunion (Hallucis valgus)

This is when the big toe deviates laterally, it is more common in women and older people. There are a number of factors that can lead to the development of a bunion constricting footwear like high heels, excessive pronation of the foot, long first metatarsal (big toe), trauma to the medial and plantar ligaments and trauma to the medial sesamoid bone. As the deformity develops so does the pain over the medial border of the big toe this can be relieved by removing footwear or wearing wider shoes.

Toe Clawing

Toe clawing is not necessarily a painful condition but suggests that the long flexor tendons are tight. During the propulsion phase of gait the long flexors contract to stabilise the toes, if the foot is unstable the long flexor tendons excessively contract causing the toes to claw at the ground to maintain stability. If this continues then it could affect other areas of the foot or body as they compensate.

The above are just a few examples of injuries that can develop with feet. There are many others. The majority of the above injuries can be avoided by performing exercises and taking other everyday precautions. Part three of this series will address these solutions to help you maintain happy feet.

If you have concerns about your feet then either consult your doctor or Pollyanna would be happy to answer any queries you might have where she can

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Anatomy, Biomechanics, Human

Feet the foundation of movement: Part one anatomy and function

Feet are an important part of our lives. They continuously absorb a lot of force to allow us to move and balance in a number of ways. When feet are doing their job life is great but if there is something wrong then daily life can be affected hugely. Do you take care of your feet, understand how they work or want to know more about these incredible structures then continue reading?

Today we are going to discuss the anatomy and function of the foot. Part two will look into problems that may arise with feet and how they can affect the rest of the body. In part three and to conclude the series then ways to keep your feet healthy for pain free movement will be discussed.

Anatomy of the foot

The foot is quite a complex structure compared to the rest of a human body. It is made up of 26 bones, 30 joints and over a 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments all working together to create an apparatus that allows movement, and stability while bearing the weight of the whole body.

The foot is separated into three regions the hindfoot, midfoot and forefoot. The hindfoot is made up of the talus and calcanus. The talus articulates with the fibula and tibia to form the ankle joint (talocrural joint) and the calcanous is your heel. The midfoot has five tarsal bones, which are wedge shaped and help form the arch of your foot. The forefoot contains the metatarsals and phalanges which form your toes.

Function of the foot

As noted earlier the foot bears the weight of our bodies. When walking the pressure on the feet increases twofold and then fourfold when running. This is a huge amount of pressure in such a small structure. As a result the foot needs to be able to absorb and distribute weight. It also needs to be able to help with propelling the body forward in our chosen gait. The foot has three arches the medial longitudinal, lateral longitudinal and transverse arch. These arches allow weight to be distributed throughout the foot as well as allowing the foot to make adjustments to uneven terrain. The medial longitudinal arch is the primary load bearing and shock absorbing structure of the foot. It forms the instep of the foot.

The plantar fascia makes up the primary passive component (along with the bony structures) of the medial longitudinal arch. It covers the sole and side of the foot. Active toe extension stretches the fascia which adds tension to the medial longitudinal arch. It helps stabilise the foot especially in the push of phase of movement. Other structures such as muscles help stop the arch from lowering to much when weight bearing and likely protects against stress related injuries.

The foots ability to repeatedly transform from a flexible and shock absorbing structure to a rigid lever type structure is really important in our ability to move and weight bear. If there is a problem in the foots structure then our ability to weigh bear and move is compromised and our everyday living is profoundly affected. In the next post injuries that can arise with feet will be discussed.

If you have any queries about injuries to your feet then don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss your concerns or book an appointment