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

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

Human Carpentry

Yesterday I went to watch a particularly interesting surgery – Sacroiliac Fusion using the Si-Bone implant system.  Essentially what happens is three triangular shaped titanium rods are chiselled through the joint to hold the back of the pelvis in place.

These patients are disabled with their pain before their surgery – manual therapy like osteopathy and physiotherapy had been done to exhaustion and wasn’t giving any lasting relief. However, after the surgery, these patients often “bound out of bed” (in the words of Mr Khai Lam, the surgeon performing the days surgery). A great result all round. Remarkable but the good news for the vast majority of patients is that surgery isn’t usually needed and a few visits to the good old osteopath or physiotherapist should get you the strength and movement back into your joints.

Have a look at the video for exactly how it is done (don’t worry, all animated not real life gore) and the picture for highly technical, yet remarkable carpenter-like equipment used during the procedure.

 

Headache Tension Relief

Headaches affect most people at some time in their life and the causes range from hormonal and stress to postural and traumatic causes. All types have a knock on effect on the muscles of your shoulders and neck.

Of particular interest in this is the Suboccipital Muscles that connect the base of the skull to the upper neck. They are prone to getting chronically tight in response to headache pain as they try to keep the head and neck stable. The problem is this only exacerbates the headache by pulling on the scalp and reducing blood flow around the muscles of the upper neck.

This video shows an easy release for these muscles that can be done anywhere so try it today and get friends and family who get bogged down by headaches to try as well – you’ll be amazed at the immediate results you can have if these muscles are tight!

For other stretches for your quads or hamstrings please see our YouTube Channel here.

STOP Foam Rolling Your ITB!

Foam rolling is painful at the best of times, but if you have been rolling your ITB you are a glutton for punishment with no benefit to you! The ITB is not a muscle so won’t respond to deep massage, what you need is to loosen the muscles that influence it, namely the TFL, Quads and Hamstrings.

This single stretch for your TFL is easy for anyone to do and takes half the time of foam rolling which I call a double win. For other stretches for your quads or hamstrings please see our YouTube Channel here.

Eccentric Muscles?

Bad desk posture, and even moderately good desk posture can leave lasting effects, notably hunched shoulders, flexed neck and tight hips. This can often cause pain in the shoulders, back and neck as well as tight hamstrings and weak gluteal muscles. 

This week, the video consists of ONE single stretch-type exercise to help combat the pain of tendinitis and tendinopathies. It can be applied to almost any tendon in the body and can be done anywhere so there is no excuse not to at least try it!

Ready, Steady, STRETCH!

Staying flexible is vital for injury prevention and speedy recovery if you are injured. Here we look at how some of Team GBs athletes might be achieving this.

Tension in the gluteals, hamstrings and calf muscles can cause a myriad of other problems from low grade back pain (which you do not need to live with – that is what we are here for!) to the inability to create sufficient power when you run and jump. 

This week, the video consists of ONE single stretch-type exercise to help combat some of the tension you might have in your legs. 

Go on, imagine you are part of Team GB for a day….

Absolutely fABulous Workout To IMPROVE Back Pain

Sit-ups are so last century. Find out how to get abs of steel and reduce back pain at the same time.  They can exacerbate the seated position we have in our working life, putting strain on the ligaments and small postural muscles of your lower back making them weak and achy. 

This week, I’ve put together three incredibly effective but back friendly exercises that will improve your core strength and protect your back from injury. 

If you try these or are already having problems with back pain, don’t hesitate to come and see one of our team, no challenge too big and we can get you BACK on track in no time. 

Ham-fisted Hamstring Stretches?

Hamstrings are vital to helping us run, walk, cycle, sit, stand. You name the movement and generally we need them.

Often a simple hamstring stretch hasn’t hit the spot so below I take you through the stretch from the basics so you can spot where you are going wrong and improve your technique, be better at preventing injuries and recover more quickly from injury and exercise then watch the video below.

In summary, I show you the WHY behind your hamstring stretch to help you understand why you might be going wrong. I show you some modifications for the basic hamstring stretch so that you can target tighter areas of the muscle that you find and get the most effective stretching time possible.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to stretch we are more than happy to help you out and do the hard work of stretching all your muscles for you and so come to use for treatment instead then book on the link to the right and we will be very happy to help!