4 Reasons Why Winter Sun Is GREAT

Today’s blog post comes from the wonderful Lucy Anderson, one of our highly experienced osteopath and pilates instructor who specialises in your total wellbeing, not just getting rid of the niggles meaning you feel great for a long long time.

As I was going for my morning run in the park today, I couldn’t help but be reminded of what a difference a sunny day makes. I actually felt motivated and energised to push myself a bit further and less foggy-headed… like I should be back in bed!

But why does sunshine make us feel so much better?

Serotonin release: Sunshine exposure has been shown to increase brain cell production of serotonin – a hormone and neurotransmitter intricately linked with mood and central nervous system function. Research has shown a link between depression and low serotonin levels.

Vitamin D synthesis – Sunlight exposure is known to promote synthesis of Vitamin D in our skin, which is by far our most effective source. Insufficient vitamin D production makes us feel sleepy and sluggish and generally feel low by virtue of it’s link with immune and metabolic processes.
Vitamin D is not only important for mood, but also for bone health. We need Vitamin D to absorb calcium in the gut which is important for maintaining bone density.

Influences circadian rhythms – exposure to sunlight particularly in the morning and daytime helps to switch off production of melatonin, a hormone needed to promote sleep. This improves release of melatonin when it gets dark helping you sleep better.
Other benefits:….

Sunlight not only makes us feel better, but it has also been shown to help lower blood pressure. Sunlight exposure promotes release of nitric oxide from the skin. Nitric Oxide is a potent vasodilator – I.e. It widens blood vessel lumens. This reduces resistance to flow of blood within the vessel resulting in reducing blood pressure.

How can I get more sunshine in the middle of winter?
Getting sufficient sunlight exposure in the winter can be tricky given the short days and often cloudy weather (sadly, we have no control over it!) However, I have put together a few simple ideas to help improve your sunlight exposure in the winter:

1) Walk to work – ok, you might not have time to walk all the way to work, but consider getting off the tube one stop earlier and walking for 15 minutes. This has the added benefit of endorphin release from the exercise. It doesn’t always feel appealing to walk around on a cold day, but the cold air is a great way to help you wake up and become more alert for the day ahead.

2) Run outside instead of on the treadmill – Again, this might feel less tempting on a cold day, but. once you’ve taken that first difficult step out of the door there really is nothing more refreshing than a cold run along the river or through the park. Make sure you wrap up warm and invest in a good pair of running leggings – brushed fabrics offer more warmth. If, like me, you find the cold air harsh on your lungs, ears and nose, wear a hat that covers your ears – we lost most of our body heat through our head so a hat really does make a huge difference. A thin scarf or snood over your mouth and nose can help to warm the air as it passes into the lungs and also reduce pollution exposure.

3) Pop out for a coffee – while the coffee machines at work may be convenient and free, leaving the office for that mid-morning coffee instead of staying in will give you some sunlight exposure, fresh air and helps to dull that late-morning slump.

4) Invest in a light box – On gloomy days or dark mornings, sitting in front of a light box has been shown to be helpful in improving mood.

5) Take a winter holiday – depending on where you go, it can be a cheaper and a less busy time of year to get away to a beautiful beach destination. A weeks’ holiday in the sun really does help to beat the winter blues and break up the long, cold, dark days.

 

4 Reasons Why Winter Sun Is GREAT Third Space Sports Medicine

Snap, Crackle & Pop

Is that Snapping Hips Syndrome? 

1. Internal Snapping Hip

When a tendon slides over a bit of bone, the result is a snap. This is by far the most common and usually caused by Iliopsoas slipping over a protrusion of the pelvis called the iliopectineal prominence or Rectus Femoris, your main quadriceps muscle moving over the head of the femur (your thigh bone).

Symptoms?

  • Popping when running, or when the hip is flexed more than 90degrees or rotates away from the body.
  • Popping with a sharp sudden pain at the front deep in the groin.
  • Pain worsens with activity
  • The original onset is vague and may have begun as a mild annoyance.

Treatment Required? Not always. If pain is present then yes as it is important to offload the irritated tendon and make sure the iliopsoas bursa isn’t involved but usually just lots of stretching and flexibility work should resolve the issue in a couple of weeks.

2. External Snapping HipThis is also when a tendon slides over a bit of bone but this time between the bone and the skin rather than deeper in the pelvis. This is still very common and usually caused by the ITB (iliotibial band) or Gluteus Maximus slipping over part of the top of the femur called the greater trochanter.

Symptoms?

  • Popping when the hip is flexing and extending e.g. when climbing stairs. Carrying heavy bags or playing golf or tennis makes this more prominent.
  • Popping with a sharp sudden pain on the outside of the hip. Sometimes this can be seen too.
  • The hip feels like it may pop out of its socket (it’s not, don’t worry!)
  • The original onset is vague and may have begun as a mild annoyance.

Treatment Required? More often than not, treatment is needed to nudge a patient in the right direction for rehabilitation. If pain is present then this is a must as your gait is likely to have been affected, which can lead to further problems down the line.

3. Intra-Articular Snapping Hip

This is a problem with the hip itself. Less common but not unheard and should always be treated professionally.Causes?

  • Acetabular Labral Tear – When the tough cartilage that rings the hip joint tears. Symptoms include snapping and pain in the groin area. The most common cause of intra-articular snapping hip.
  • Injury to articular cartilage – the surface of the joint is damaged causing aching deep in the hip, not always snapping.
  • Loose bodies in the hip – When a fragment of bone or soft tissue breaks away and gets trapped between the hip joint causing snapping or a vague locking sensation in the hip.
  • The original onset is usually traumatic and pain starts immediately.

Treatment Required? Yes, identifying what is going on with this form of snapping hip is important as the longer it goes on the longer term the effect on the function of your body.

These are the musculoskeletal causes of a snapping hip. There are other things that may cause a change in the biomechanics of the hip which may mimic this, from arthritis to infection to tumours. It is really important that these more serious causes of any pain you are experiencing is ruled out.

So if you are struggling, then our team is always here to help, whether that is on email, phone or in person.

EPOC Training

Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption

Why you need to know about EPOC

We all want to get maximum results in the shortest amount of time. What would you say if I told you that the type of exercise you do can help to burn more calories whilst you are sitting writing that presentation? This physiological effect is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Want to find out how to achieve this? We need to geek out a bit….

EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to homeostasis (basically its normal level of metabolic function). Exercise that places a greater demand on the anaerobic energy pathways (higher intensity) can increase the need for oxygen long after the workout has finished, thereby enhancing the EPOC effect. During more steady state, lower intensity exercise, the body’s aerobic system can replenish the “oxygen debt” and you recovery quickly. This result is you only burn the calories during the actual workout. High intensity exercise is the best way to stimulate the EPOC effect.

The body expends approximately 5 calories of energy to consume 1 liter of oxygen. Therefore, increasing the amount of oxygen consumed both during and after a workout, can increase the amount of net calories burned. Burn more calories DURING and AFTER the workout…WIN WIN.

A perfect class for this is AFTERBURN. This type of training can be beneficial even if you are training for longer more endurance based events such as a marathon or triathlon. You will find that when you do go back to slower, steady state cardio, you’ll be able to maintain that longer with more ease.

Nutritionally you will need to ensure you “refill the tank” after this type of training. You will have depleted your muscle glycogen (energy stores) and the first hour after is the best time to replenish these stores. A meal containing quality protein, carbohydrates and a small amount of fat is idea. Head down to Natural fitness food and grab yourself the perfect refuel meal!

References

Bersheim, E. and Bahr, R. (2003). Effect of exercise intensity, duration and mode on post-exercise oxygen consumption. Sports Medicine, 33, 14, 1037-1060

LaForgia, J., Withers, R. and Gore, C. (2006). Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Journal of Sport Sciences, 24, 12, 1247-1264

Evening Refuelling

If you train in the evening, Liam Holmes, our resident there are some areas that you need to focus on with regards to your nutrition and your sleep:

There is research out there that suggests the time of day you train can have a big impact on the physiological responses to your session. In my opinion it comes down to just getting your session done! Here is some advice to help you structure your nutrition for evening training and recovery.

FUELLING THROUGHOUT THE DAY

Whether your training starts at 6pm or 9pm you have to ensure that you are fuelled adequately for the session. Too often I see athletes that will eat lunch at 1pm and then not eat again until after the session or grab something on route to training. Regardless of your training stimulus you need to be fuelling your body by providing enough calories over the whole day. Remember you are providing your body energy for work not just training.

Having a mid afternoon “mini-meal” will help you in three ways:

  • It will provide calories to support your evening training session.
  • It can help to prevent that energy slump mid afternoon or early evening.
  • It will support your recovery and help sleep (more on this later).

What you choose to have for your mini meal depends on your personal goals, training type and volume. But some meals I suggest to the athletes I work with:

The reasoning behind a mini meal is it will combat over-snacking, which often doesn’t leave you full enough (which in turn causes more snacking).

REFUELLING CORRECTLY

Ever struggled to get to sleep after an evening training session? Laying in bed wide awake is not good for any athletes recovery. Luckily there are specific foods and nutrients can balance hormones and neurotransmitters that have been either elevated or suppressed during any evening exercise.

Boosting melatonin, serotonin and growth hormone levels will help to induce a nice healthy sleep and kick-start your recovery. If you get your nutrition on point you can take advantage of this spike in growth hormone to maximise your recovery.

Foods that will help you achieve this include carbohydrates. Yep that’s right I said it – eat carbs in the evening! Why? After exercise your body is primed to absorb carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores. This is absolutely essential if you are training or competing the next day. For those of you thinking about training low or metabolic flexibility I will be writing an article on these very soon.

Carbohydrates will also lower cortisol levels due to insulin secretion. The consumption of certain foods that increase the availability of tryptophan, alongside synthesis of serotonin and melatonin, will also aid in promoting sleep.

Eating some protein containing Omega-3 fatty acids is also recommended. I don’t need to tell you the importance of protein for muscle repair, but eating quality protein in the evening can also increase your serotonin levels. The very last thing you want to be doing is eating foods that heighten the inflammatory response. Foods that are deep-fried or high in refined sugar should not even be on your radar.

Here are some recipe ideas that I always suggest, that help induce healthy sleep: