Time for a service

Can you imagine having to run out of money before you discover your business has a cash flow problem? Or waiting for your car to blow up before you discover it needs an oil change? That would be irresponsible and probably cost you a fair bit to rectify.

We know we need to book our car’s in for a regular service and I know my dentist books me in for yearly checkups. So why do you wait until you have pain and swelling before taking action with your body, only to then discover that you’ve worn a hole in your knee?

The problem with taking action once swelling or pain has occurred is that these symptoms are all lagging indicators of damage. For example, swelling might indicate tissue overuse or strain from poor posture, but swelling is an after-the-fact sign, the tissue damage has already occurred.

In general terms, this is how modern sports (and general) medicine operates. We wait until something is broken, sometimes horribly so before we fix it. This paradigm keeps orthopaedic surgeons and pharmaceutical companies in business.

So what should you do?

Obviously I’m happy to have you in here, especially if you’re already showing some signs of injury, but what if you’re not sure and want to take some steps to ensure that you avoid this happening at all? I’d still be happy to have you in for a tune up, and in fact I strongly encourage it.  But there are also steps you can take yourself in your home to help prevent your engine from blowing up in the first place. Your body is an amazing, adaptable, healing machine, if you give it some love.

Do some stretching, use a heat pack, jump on your foam roller or any of the myriad of tools available to you.
As always if symptoms continue give me a call!

Why it’s important to be Strong

The origin of these posts is from emails I send to a database of my clients from MMT where I work. I had great feedback about the #JERF and compression post’s over the last week from those guys, I hope you enjoyed it too!

Let’s talk today about why it’s important for your body to be strong. I’ll cover in the coming weeks why I use a certain method of strengthening over others when working with clients.

If you come in for treatments you will often hear me talking about ‘getting your body (or a specific part of it) strong’, obviously there are different types and levels of strength but the idea is to be “strong enough to support your body through the things in life that you want to do”. I like to call it Practical Strength. 

It doesn’t matter if what you want to do is run a marathon, pick up small cars like this guy, do the gardening, or simply be strong enough to support yourself through a happy and healthy life, it’s important to have strength available to you when you need it.

Why is it important?

When you don’t have appropriate strength to do a task that you want to do, your body will find alternative ways to offer support to itself. Often this involves tightening and thickening of the connective tissue, including fascia and muscle, as a means of offering more structured support. When this tissue thickens you start to lose the ability to move effectively. Think of it as the the body sacrificing some of it’s mobility so it can increase it’s stability (there are other reasons why your tissue tightens up but we’ll just focus on this today).

It is this tight and thick tissue that you get worked on during a Solidified Connective Tissue (SCT) Release treatment; You know that really not-painful at all hands on work I do to you on the table 😉

Now you understand why it is important to have strength, you may be wondering how you should go about ‘getting strong’. If we’ve talked about it in the clinic you’ll know we use a technique called Neuro-Muscular Facilitation Power Training, or NMF Power Training. Most of you probably just know it as just; ‘lifting’. NMF Power Training is unique in that it stretches the tight thickened tissue and strengthens areas of weakness in the same movement.

NMF Power training is particularly effective as you use enough resistance to engage muscular and neural pathways that don’t normally get used in your everyday life, even if you go to the gym or do Pilates.

NB: I could write a whole other article on why NMF Power Training is more effective than Pilates when it comes to rehabilitation but luckily someone else has already done that for me – check it out here. Long story short – functional strength training activates the deep stabilising muscles of the body and Pilates doesn’t. Read the article if you want to find out more.

I’ll continue the discussion on why it’s important that you strengthen your body another time and I’ll go into more detail on how we go about doing this at MMT and I’ll give you some great ideas and tips on how to go about doing it yourself.

Stay Strong!

Matt

Is compression gear worth it?

There’s a lot of great marketing out there regarding compression gear, but does it live up to it’s own hype or does it just look good? Fellas… here’s a free tip to get us started – it doesn’t look good without shorts over the top or in white or beige.

Let’s look at what the manufacturers claim, break it down according to available research, then I’ll throw in my two cents using personal experience.

I have listed below a variety of claims made by some of the major brands about their compression wear. I’ve then sat down and done the hard work for you, looking through independent studies to see if the claims can be validated (references included).


I’ve decided to put my Verdict in first as the research information may be a little overwhelming and technical for some and I know you really just want to find out if you should outlay up to $200 (I wouldn’t) for a pair of tights.

THE VERDICT

All in all the rationale for wearing compression gear is solid, but concrete evidence from clinical trials is weak. Varying from –  There ‘may’ be benefits for recovery to “compression stockings fail to enhance performance”.

While some studies find physiological benefits, such as increased blood flow, increased muscle oxygenation, decreased lactic acid build up and decreased muscle oscillation, the theoretical benefits from this don’t  necessarily translate to noticeable performance benefits in all cases.

However, and this is as good a reason as any to own a pair; many people love the feel of them and anecdotally, many people who try them find they provide a performance boost and that they feel better afterwards. So if you think it works, it does work. Placebo effect or not, I know that if I train wearing compression gear I don’t get as sore than if I train without it and that’s good enough for me.

Given that there’s no evidence of any negative effects, if they feel good and put you in a sporting frame of mind, go for it!

WHICH ONES ARE BEST?

There is no particular brand that stands out as being better than another in studies, from cheapies to top-of-the-range (thats why I wouldn’t outlay $200). I own two different brands because they fit me well, not because of what they claim on the label. One of them also has a cool spartan warrior helmet on the thigh (lets be honest here… a large part of your decision is based on what they look like and who else wears them 😉

The main thing is that they feel comfortable and you feel good wearing them.

If you think it’s worth getting some gear you can check out a variety of brands at Optomo*, they usually have quite a few on sale too! or head into your local sports shop etc and try a few on. The tighter the better!


THE CLAIMS AND THE RESEARCH

  • Increased performance
    • One study demonstrated that lower-limb compression garments may lower the effort perception associated with 400-m performance, despite there being no differences in overall athletic performance(source)
    • Another study demonstrated that compression garments may limited muscle soreness, but insignificantly. The results of this study support that compression stockings fail to enhance performance(source)
    • This study showed that compressive garments significantly reduced impact force by 27% compared with American football pants alone. Through various mechanisms, these findings may translate into an effect on athletic performance and a reduction in injuries. (source)
  • Aids in explosive power / Heighten power and ability
    • The compressive garment had no effect on the maximal power of the highest jump in either men or women. These data indicate that compression shorts do not improve maximal jump power output. (source)
  • Lowers energy cost 
    • The improvement in energy cost was attributed to better muscle coordination and greater propulsive force, due to reduced muscle oscillation. (source)
  • Reduced muscle oscillation and therefore reduced muscle damage and fatigue
    • The compressive garment significantly reduced impact force by 27% compared with American football pants alone. (source)
    • A compression garment also significantly reduced the vertical velocity (oscillation) of muscle movement upon landing. (source)
    • An enhanced mean power output during the repetitive maximal jump test was observed when wearing a compression garment. The performance improvement observed may be due to reduced muscle oscillation upon impact, psychological factors, and/or enhanced joint position sense. (source)
  • Increased circulation
    • The original use for compression wear was to assist people with circulatory dysfunction. The principle of compressive support is to artificially increase extravascular pressure. However – medical compression is rated on a scale of 1-4, and I am led to believe that none of the ‘sporting’ compression gear comes close to being a medically rated 1. Limiting how much actual compression is being applied.
  • UV rating 
    • They all claim approx spf 50+ UV protection. I didn’t bother looking for research here, it should be pretty clear that wearing something will reduce your exposure to the sun.
  • Speed muscle recovery time
    • A whole body compression garment worn during the 24-hour recovery period after an intense heavy resistance training workout enhances various psychological, physiological, and a few performance markers of recovery compared with non-compressive control garment conditions. The use of compression appears to help in the recovery process after an intense heavy resistance training workout in men and women(source)

Hope this was useful for you! Leave me a comment if you’ve tried compression gear before or you’re thinking about it!

*The Tigerbalm Warrior participates in the Optomo affiliate program. Whenever you make a purchase from Optomo using a provided link, a 10% commission is received. This doesn't affect your purchase price and the price is the same as if you went to the site directly. I recommend Optomo as it has a wide range of products and brands and has great pricing and shipping. I purchase most of my gear there and it just works. If you find a better deal elsewhere, GO FOR IT! (and let me know too)

Why?

Normally I write all about things that can help YOU! and that’s how it should be, but for today only I’d like to talk about me 🙂 More specifically, I’ll give you an insight into why I do what I do. I think it’s important that you know why you do what you do, as when times get tough you can sit back and reflect on it (that’s not to say you can’t have a day where you don’t enjoy it!).

Although I never had a lightbulb moment when it comes to my choice of career, I’m very clear on reflection of why I do this.

Some of you may know that my sporting background is swimming. With swimming, comes up to 10 in the water training sessions a week (yes, at ridiculous hours in the morning), 3 or so in the gym and for me; countless hours in and out of physio clinics having treatment on my shoulders.

I had cortisone injections into both shoulder joints along the way and can’t really recall a time in the couple of years prior to retiring that I didn’t have to put up with some sort of pain. It was a major factor in my decision to hang up the goggles and speedos at the grand old age of 22.

Basically I don’t want other people to have to go through what I went through. I want to see you doing the things you love and want to do, without having to worry about your back or knee or whatever it is that’s causing you pain getting in the way

Now for some audience participation – What’s your why? Why do you get up and go do what you go and do? If you know the answer – great! Go and live it and let me know! If you’re not sure it’s ok! Take some time and work it out. Watch this video (its 18 minutes and worth every second). Well worth watching anytime!

Treat yourself

Something often asked in the clinic, is what can you do at home in between treatments to keep your body supple?

There are a number of things that you can do and I’ll explain a few here –

  1. MOVE – It sounds simple (and it is), but get up off your a#$@ and move! Movement promotes more flow through the body and will help to keep it supple.
  2. HEAT – You may have heard us ask you to ‘whack some heat on it tonight’, and there’s a great reason for that. Heat increases blood flow in the area that you put it on, meaning that you increase the circulation to that specific spot. This is beneficial as it can help to flush out any build ups in that area and bring in good fresh blood to promote healing. Click here for a more detailed article on why we recommend heat.
  3. FOAM ROLLERS – I can hear you all wincing already! 🙂 Love them or hate them, foam rollers do a damn good job at replicating some of the treatment you receive in the clinic. When using a roller – slow and steady wins the race! Move it slowly along the area you are treating, maintaining a relaxed state in the muscles (as much as possible). Don’t forget to breathe! You can get one here.
  4. MASSAGE BALLS – Just like rollers, massage balls can do a great job of replicating the treatment process. Use a massage ball (or tennis/squash/golf ball) to spot target areas of tightness in your hips, lower back, upper back and shoulders. You can get them here.

All of the above are great tools to help manage any pain or stiffness you have between treatments and for general maintenance. If you feel that these tools are not helping you get where you want to, then let me know.  If you’re in Melbourne we can always run a session on how you can get the most out of your home treatment tools!

Cheers and enjoy the rest of your week!

Matt

P.S. This week we made an effort in our household to de-clutter. Here’s a reminder of a quote I shared with you back in August in my post about PNG (click here to check it out)

We collect too much of everything. If you’re not using it, viewing it, reading it, loving it, or appreciating it, maybe you should give it away, preferably to someone who will. They’ll be happy and so will you. Life is far too short to burden yourself. Lighten up, while you still can.”

Take a seat (or maybe don’t)

Are you sitting comfortably? Great, we’ll let’s get started. Most of you will be reading this either relaxing on the sofa, tucked into your work station or on your daily public transport commute. Lets dive a little further into why this could be causing you some unsuspecting problems… (or maybe you already know that it is).

I’m sure you’ve all picked up on something in the media recently (here’s one from CBS in the USA) suggesting how sitting down for long periods of time increases your chances of disease and muscular pain? Fear not, there are some easy things you can do to help prevent these issues.

To begin, let’s rewind back to your ancestors 50,000 years ago who would run, walk and jump around all day long keeping their musculoskeletal systems active and switched on. They would climb trees to hunt food and sprint after prey day after day using their body through full range of movements. Our bodies were designed for this sole reason! Compare this against the 21st century human who sits, inactive for long periods of the day whether it be at work, in the car or on the sofa, or in some cases all 3!

Sitting is an activity which does not involve much energy expenditure (obviously). Thus, your body increase glucose levels in the blood (not good) and decrease your good cholesterols. This occurs because your body believes it is in a storage phase due to the low-level activity which ultimately makes you resistant to insulin (again obviously not good). There are numerous studies being concluded with these findings and more empirical evidence is being produced too.

 

As soon as you sit down…

1. Your calorie burning reduces to 1 per minute

2. Your enzymes which break down fat decrease by 90%

3. Electrical stimulation in your legs (essential for muscular contraction) switches off.

At this point most of you are probably having a bit of a panic and thinking, “I better shake off me dusty nikes and go for a run”, only to return  10 minutes later with potentially what feels like a torn calf or sciatica or a groin pull and so on….. and most importantly, another reason to discontinue exercise.

The reason why you feel this pain is due to muscular imbalances derived from a poor postural foundation due to long periods of sitting. Once you decide to chuck the skins on and jog around the tan, your body is not balanced well enough to deal with the stresses which are placed on the muscular system. You are quite literally running before you can walk.

Lets do a test – Jump up for a moment and stand up straight. Take your hand and feel one of your hip flexors (the muscles at the front which cross the hip joint). Don’t be shy to get stuck in a little bit – I’m sure you feel that ropey and tight muscular band? The tight muscle you are feeling is pulling your hips forward and creating this muscular imbalance.

This can be applied to many areas of your body. For example, if you press into where your pectorals (the big muscle on your chest) insert in the front of the shoulder you’ll also feel plenty of tension.

With your hips constantly flexed and your arms always outstretched forward in a seated position, your brain begins to recognises this as your ‘normal’ position. As your brain is a clever piece of equipment it remembers what you do day after day. So, to help you be really really good at sitting down, it tries to put your body in a nice seated posture producing very tight, overactive hip flexors and shoulder internal rotators.

What this means for your body when you try and exert yourself, is some muscles are working too hard and others are not working enough.

All you need to do is restore balance and alter the load correctly through the musculoskeletal system! This simply results in pain-free exercise.

Get those hips and arms moving! At MMT, office workers with chronic pain due to long periods of sitting are one of our biggest client demographics. With a few pro-active lifestyle changes you can prevent such problems:

1) Move!

Don’t email Claire downstairs about lunch. Get up from your seat, use the stairs and start activating your muscles more regularly. Get a few jumping jacks on the go or march on the spot. Activation of joints and muscles prevent them from becoming dominant, stiff and glued together.

2) Get off the sofa!

Those who sit for more than 3 hours a day watching TV are 64% more likely to die from heart disease!! You sit down enough at work, don’t add to the problem away from the office.

3) Dynamic Stretching

Put your body into positions it’s not been for a long time. How many of you could squat down and get your ass to the grass without falling over?

4) SCT Release

Come in and see one of us for a treatment to melt away and loosen up your dominant areas

5) Strength Training

Activation and switching on the weak areas will counter act your imbalances by taking the load off the dominant, stressed areas.

So, are you sitting comfortably?

Ice Ice Baby

You may wonder why I’m writing about Vanilla Ice… and as much as I love an old school rap tune that’s hardly the point of this post.

One of the most common questions you ask about injuries is ‘should I put heat or ice on it’? and generally there’s a fair amount of confusion out there. I’ll try and clear up the confusion and give you my point of view.

The general view is that heat is fine for soreness but ice is necessary for injuries. Right?! You all know the R.I.C.E. principal don’t you? Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation, it’s been drilled into you since high school or even earlier. It was even taught to me at uni not that long ago.

Before delving any further into this, here’s a short lesson on the bodies physiological response to heat and cold –

Heat has the following effect on the tissue;

  • Vasodilation, meaning your blood vessels dilate (increase in size) bringing about an increase in blood flow and therefore increase in oxygen, nutrients and white blood cells to the heated area – sounds good so far?
  • The increased blood flow speeds up the local metabolism, and enhances the removal of waste – all things you want happening as fast as possible.  
  • Increased phagocytosis (think of a group of pac men cleaning up the injured area in preparation for new tissue to be laid down). 
  • Relaxation of abnormal muscle contraction and relief of spasm – you all want this to happen, it’s one of the main reasons you have pain after an injury.
  • Decreased joint stiffness due to decreased viscosity of synovial fluid (the fluid in your joints) – the fluid is more free flowing, meaning smoother movements in the joint.

Cold has the following effects on the tissue;

  • Vasoconstriction, meaning your blood vessels constrict (decrease in size), decreasing the available blood flow. Although this may reduce some swelling it will delay the inflammatory (healing) process from starting.
  • Reduction in local metabolism and reduced ability to clear the area of waste.
  • Reduction in muscle contractility – your muscles have less ability to contract (move). Movement is an important part of healing as it promotes flow through the area. 
  • Increases the viscosity of synovial fluid (it doesn’t flow smoothly), which in turn leads to slower, stiffer movement in the joints. 

Now apply those principles to injured tissue in your body; would you want to put ice on and slow down the the bodies natural healing response or apply some heat and accelerate the process?

So what does that mean to the aforementioned R.I.C.E principal and to your self treatment at home? Let’s quote Dr. Nick DiNubile, Editor in Chief of The Physician And Sports Medicine Journal (physsportsmed.com“Seriously, do you honestly believe that your body’s natural inflammatory response is a mistake?” Your goal needs to be to improve adaptation by improving circulation, clearing congestion, and facilitating healing. Cooling your tissue down, simply doesn’t achieve this.

So give it a go. Next time you’re feeling sore or injured put some heat on it. Grab a hot water bottle, microwave a heat pack, have a hot bath or soak a towel in hot water and wrap it around your injured area. I know from recent experience that I was back up and running from a knee sprain, swelling and all in a matter of days. Although I can’t 100% say that was all the work of heat, it certainly accelerated the removal of swelling therefore enabling more movement through the knee and I believe a faster recovery than had i used ice.

This article/advice aims to to promote a discussion. There is plenty of evidence supporting both points of view and as more research becomes available we will endeavour to keep you informed. We’ll never be afraid to admit we were wrong if the evidence starts pointing the other way all of a sudden. If you’ve always done one thing and are having great results – it’s simple – keep doing it! If you’re looking for an alternative then chat to your therapist and make an informed decision.