There are many ways to help increase the amount you walk and to get more steps in. But normally people focus on small ways to do this for example parking further away from work so instead, we will help name some bigger-picture ways of improving your step score.
Walking the Walk
Taking a 10-minute walk after each meal is not only a good way to ensure the numbers on your pedometer rise, but it will also improve your digestion. A recent study published in Sports Medicine found that even 2 to 5 minutes of walking after a meal improved insulin and blood sugar levels which will help with your heart health. Although it is worth adding if you are going to walk 2 minutes, why not walk 10 or 15?
Post-workout walks. If you add on a 15 to 30-minute walk after your workout it can be a great way of increasing your step count. As you have already set aside time to work out you might as well take it a little bit further. Along with helping you raise your step count, walking after exercise helps you clear lactic acid so you feel less stiff the next day.
Overall if you are working out consistently and staying active you may not need to worry ahout your step count. Because whatever the activity is you’re doing for example hiking or running or Crossfit, your workout may contribute to your steps-per-day count. So overall being on your feet and moving many times a day is a good way to stay on top of your health.
Walking and talking is a great way of helping to gain an incentive to walk more. Taking the opportunity to socialise on a walk instead of for example a coffee date will help you achieve your goals quicker. Over the last couple of years people have begun to walk and talk more with gyms being shut so keeping these habits is much easier than building them. These habits resulted in great conversations, closer relationships, and more familiarity with the people in the community. And these hidden benefits are just as important for good health as the steps you’re taking.
Some athletic teams prescribe players 800 meters of walking as part of their workouts. It was shown to help players bond and enhance their playing as a result. So adding this as part of your routine or going for a post-sports training walk with some of the team can help performance and health.
If you need the incentive to walk, it is important to know it is one of the best ways to ensure that you’ll sleep well at night. Walking, even if you’re not doing it at a fast pace, is fatiguing and also being outside exposes you to light, which helps with the circadian rhythm so you sleep more routinely and better as a result.
When all else fails, get a dog. Or borrow from your friend or family members. If you’re committed to an animal, you’ll have no choice but to walk. All dogs as well as humans need to get their steps in.
If you need help with your pains or just want some advice feel free to contact the clinic today on 0578678904 or book now.
The foam roller is something most people have in their gym bag but is commonly used ineffectively.
Soft tissue work, including foam rolling, trigger point work, and even hands-on self myofascial release needs to be a focused process on an area. If you find that you are rolling the same muscles and areas every day or before workouts it most likely is not causing any long term benefits.
Also when using it if you are rolling on it without any feeling of mild discomfort then you won’t be performing it correctly.
If you put yourself into some serious pain for the hope of breaking down tissue to loosen your muscles out, it is not the way to create long lasting and effective results.
Do This Instead
There are a few key things you can do to manage your muscles and improve your health and performance. Prioritise your foam rolling on just a few targeted areas on the days you are training or recovery days until you feel some relief. Big muscles for example the quads and lats can be worked very well with the roller, so don’t get rid of your roller quite yet.
Overall the foam roller may not enhance your overall performance but research shows that working through your muscles yourself can temporarily reduce muscle shortness and increase your flexibility. Also if done correctly and specifically to your tight areas you can have long term reductions in tightness. So you improve your recovery.
Although if you are dealing with specific soft tissue restriction that are not being relieved long term then a hands on approach is much better as the fingertips provide a much smaller surface area that are similar to the size of the small muscles and tendons.
If you need help with your tightness, pains or just want some advice feel free to contact the clinic today on 0578678904 or book now.
When dealing with back pain a common relief strategy people use is to stretch for the back. In this weeks blog post we are going to discuss why stretching your lower back may not be an effective long term way of dealing with your pain. For a long time it was common for people to prescribe certain stretches for example pulling your knees to your chest while lying on your back as an exercise for people suffering with lower back pain.
Short term the exercise makes sense. If people had trouble standing for long periods of time or if they were in pain lying on their back then they would feel better in a flexed position. Many who complained of feeling stiff and painful in their low back had instant relief of their symptoms after performing a few of these stretches.
However, this relief is only temporary for most people. When you stretch your low back, you are stimulating the stretch receptors deep inside the muscles that give the perception of pain relief and the feeling of less stiffness.
But muscle pain and stiffness you may feel in your back is caused because of a chemical reaction called inflammation. Inflammation occurs from the real injury located deeper in the spine. This can from a bulging disc, facet irritation or other injuries. The underlying injury is what causes the secondary contraction or spasm of the surrounding muscles. This then causes pain.
So because of this when you are rehabbing a back injury the majority of people should have their focus on stabilising their core and fixing any faulty movements. This is why increasing the mobility of the surrounding muscles and joints will help fix the cause of the lower back pain rather than just focusing on the symptoms.
If you do suffer from back pain and would like us to have a look at your problem and run through advice to get you out of pain contact the clinic today on 0578678904 or book now.
It is likely that you or someone you know has had low back pain in the past. It is a common problem but often it can be tackled by simply changing how you are moving or changing a couple of key habits in the day. This blog will cover ways to help the office worker and people working lifting boxes and machinery.
If you sit with bad posture during the day then it will put more stress on certain areas of your back.
Some key movement tips:
Don’t bend and round your back when getting out of bed
When brushing your teeth, unloading the dishwasher or other simple movements you want to avoid too much spinal movement. To help try and hinge from the hips. You should feel like you’re gliding your bottom backwards in order to lean forwards. It’s fine to lean one hand on the sink for support.
Try not to be hunched over when putting on shoes and socks, instead put a foot up on a chair to help bring your hips into play like in the point above.
Sometimes fixing your posture can help but often peoples jobs require lifting or moving in the day. For this a proper core brace should be implemented. Not with a physical one you can buy but rather with your abdominal muscles.
But how do you do it? If you create pressure in your abdominal cavity you will help to create extra stability for your back. So as you are about to lift the object off the ground take a breath and brace your core (to brace your core if you were to cough you will feel some muscles contract. Tense these muscles as you lift). Doing both of these things will increase the pressure inside your abdominal cavity against the structures surrounding it so your back will be protected as you lift to help you stay injury free.
I hope this helps, but if you do suffer from back pain and would like us to have a look at your problem and run through advice to get you out of pain contact the clinic today on 0578678904 or book now.
Osteoarthritis is a common condition that people develop and can cause issues preventing people from doing the activities they want especially at a good intensity. Often people jump to surgery or have a surgery planned for a few years down the line. But there are things you can do to help manage the condition and if you do have surgery for example your knee then you will be in a better position to recover from it. So below is a list of easy things to try to help manage your pain.
Exercise is an easy option to improve symptoms and function in people with osteoarthritis. A great place to start is 5-10 minutes on a bike as this will strengthen your quadricep muscles which has been shown to greatly help with pre operation or post knee operation knee health. Also in a 20 minute cycle you will do around 1000 knee mobilisations! This means the knee will be loose and mobile to help you do the activities you want.
You can also do repeated knee extensions and repeated knee flexions called knee CARs which you can see in the video below.
As with the bike, sometimes warming up the knee and getting it moving can help a lot.
A common problem people have is squatting so practising squatting with a reduced range of motion and then to slowly increase it is a great way of getting more confident with the movement.
A box squat to an elevated surface for example a chair with a cushion on it and then once you are comfortable with this you remove the cushion and then again lower the chair as you get more and more comfortable squatting.
A key tip is when you do the exercise do the muscle lengthening phase of the exercise slowly (count to at least 3 seconds for example doing a squat, the descent into the squat should be around 3-5 seconds and then when you are standing back up take about a second. This will help with muscle development and increase day to day function.
If you suffer from arthritis or achy joints and want to get some treatment for them feel free to contact the clinic today on 0578678904 or book now.
It is common for cyclists to complain about having a sore or achy back. Commonly this can be easily avoided and is due to people rushing out on their bike or not getting the bike fitted to them correctly. Because bikes are not a one size fits all, you can get fitted for your bike cheaply and easily and it can make a big difference to back pain.
But apart from poor bike fit what are some other reasons for people getting back pain cycling?
The seat is too high so your knee has a less than 25% bend at the end of the stroke. This will force you to rock your pelvis from side to side to get enough power at bottom of your pedal stroke.
The handlebars are too far forward causing you to overstretch which will increase tension in your lower back.
Flexing the lower back and causing core abdominal muscles to be in a poor position and so won’t work effectively. This means you won’t be in a stable position when you’re cycling.
Using BIG gears. You should aim for a cadence of around 90 RPM. If you are getting lower than this then it will put extra stress on your back.
Being tight! For example tight hamstrings can reduce your movement so will pull on your pelvis and rotate your spine into a more rounded position.
Weak core muscles.
If you are riding on bumpy ground. This increases jarring and compression to the spine while you cycle and can cause your back to get aggravated.
Length of cycling done weekly. Cyclists who ride an average of 160 km or more per week are significantly more likely to report back pain than those who rode less km per week.
It is not just your lower back that can be affected, sometimes your neck and upper back can be achy or painful. Especially if you extend your neck for long periods causing irritation in your neck
You can also hurt your neck and upper back by bending your neck too far upwards. This will increase the strain in your neck and you could also hurt it going over unexpected bumps.
But overall we would recommend 3 main things to do:
Check your bike fit.
See if you are cycling at around 90 RPM as a low cadence puts more strain on your back so may need to be increased.
Strengthen your core and back muscles. Your core can protect your back if you cycle often or for long periods so is a key area to work on.
If you suffer from back pain when cycling and would like a full functional assessment or to see where you can strengthen up your body feel free to contact the clinic today on 0578678904 or book now.
A common question we get in clinic is what to do before warming up and more importantly what not to do. Sometimes people can be doing a warm up that will last as long as their actual workout because it contains a number of different elements to it. These might be an aerobic phase, self-myofascial release, mobility drills, activation drills and movement patterning. Then by the time they workout you are tired and fatigued.
But something that is always important and to always be thought of before warming up on your workout days is some days you will need certain exercises and some days others, depending if you wake up stiff or if you are feeling good.
Any exercise that does not directly contribute to making your workout better is not worth doing. An overly extensive warm up can actually decrease your effectiveness to workout causing some central fatigue.
Central fatigue is not to do with how you are feeling on a certain day, but rather the weakening of your central nervous system to send signals to your muscles.
For example a 20 minute cycle before you start deadlifting is not the most effective way to prepare your body for this but rather will cause you to be tired and also not have prepared the right areas in order to perform.
A good start in general is some mobility work for certain areas that are weak. A common area is the Thoracic spine and below are 2 links for exercises to prepare your Thoracic spine for working out.
Cat Camel: Aim for 15-20 slow and controlled reps making sure you are getting the movement through your upper back.
Reachbacks: Aim for 1-2 sets of 10 reps on each side depending on how you are feeling on the day of your workout.
Then as well as this you can do some assistance exercises before you workout for example a patient pull down or dumbbell row prior to deadlifting will help set the correct muscles for when you start the exercise.
Overall, having an intense stretching and mobility work can actually increase the risk of injuries when done before lifting. This is because you can create changes that can reduce the force you can create in your lift and therefore making it less able to resist force from an external load such as a barbell. So the risk of injury increases.
So if you have a pain or find out more contact the clinic today on 0578678904, direct message us on Facebook or book now.
Yours in Health
The Lawlor Clinic: Spine & Sport, Portlaoise, Laois
Many common mental health issues can be exacerbated by nutritional deficiencies. We can perform better athletically with the right supplementation and we can help to improve our mental side with health supplements as well as with a healthy diet. Here are the best supplements to consider.
Fish oils help with various mental issues from depression to cognitive decline.
It is becoming more common for people to be prescribed diets high in fish or fish oil supplements to help them with their issues
Although fish oils are not the cure they can certainly help to minimise existing symptoms and perhaps prevent future problems.
A recent study also looked at omega-3s and the effects of stress. Stress and the associated inflammation increase are not good for physical or mental health.
We can’t stop stress from happening, but fish oil does seem to reduce the negative effects of that stress.
It has been found that curcumin may help with depression. From both mild to higher levels of depression.
Chronic inflammation has been shown to be linked to depression and cause other mental health issues.
Curcumin helps keep high levels of inflammation down by stopping free radicals getting out of hand.
You can’t eat enough turmeric from spicy food to get all the varied benefits of curcumin. So a small supplement from your local health food shop can help this.
We’ve known for a while that magnesium deficiency is linked to depression, anxiety, and inflammation.
An increase in Magnesium for your diet will help to control your internal body reactions which regulate your mood. If these are under control then it can correlate to less depressive episodes and dampen the feeling of anxiety.
If you have any questions then please contact the clinic today on 0578678904, direct message us on Facebook or book now.
Yours in Health
The Lawlor Clinic: Spine & Sport, Portlaoise, Laois
Have you ever had pain in the elbow or forearm? This blog will cover Tennis Elbow. A common problem faced by many during day to day life and people performing at various sports.
Tennis Elbow has a bad reputation and one that is commonly feared by people and can affect people to where they do not think anything can be done for it. But this blog is to help show you that you can get through it and to not let it have an effect on your day to day life.
Tennis Elbow is pain on the outer side of the elbow named so because tennis players use those muscles often and so commonly develop the condition.
The reasons Tennis Elbow worries a lot are many, but mainly of which is the difficulty in treating this very preventable problem.
In most cases, treating a muscle that is inflamed and painful is a matter of unloading the tissues. That gets difficult with the elbow because we use our hands all the time.
Also, we often think of treating tennis elbow as a musculature issue, when in reality it’s an insertion issue. Meaning that the muscles are inserting onto the bone. Tennis elbow and its close companion in Golfers Elbow, which is where the same pain affects the inside of the elbow where the tendons of our forearm connect to the bone in our elbow.
In clinic we first work out where your pain is coming from and secondly what is driving that pain in the first place.
Then we use 3 stages to have an effect on your injury.
Firstly we want to lower the pain you are in. This is done by desensitising your tissue to cause relief to the area and improve the function in your arm so you can get back to doing the activities you want to do.
Secondly we want to create a long term change to the injured tissue by taking the tissue to the full range of motion it can have and build conditioning in it. This means you can do more things with your elbow at a higher intensity without increasing your pain.
Finally it is important to then prevent the cause of the pain. This means we can continually move the muscle to the end range of movement without causing pain.
The cause of Tennis Elbow is primiarily an issue with the small space in your elbow that then has swelling develop. So decreasing pain involves reducing the tension in that area so your tissues can move freely in it.
In the clinic we use a variety of techniques for this including: Active Release Techniques, Chiropractic Manipulation, Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Massage, Dry Needling, Laser Therapy and Soft tissue massage.
Other tissues that affect tennis elbow include the forearm, rotator cuff, and scapula, so we include these in the treatment of tennis elbow.
If you would like a full functional assessment and find out what is causing your elbow pain, then contact the clinic today on 0578678904, direct message us on Facebook or book now.
Yours in Health
The Lawlor Clinic: Spine & Sport, Portlaoise, Laois
In the clinic, we often get questions about how to avoid injuries and manage low back or neck pain. This blog will cover the functional implications that a faulty breathing mechanism can have on your body.
Function vs Action
Muscles have both actions and functions. During a movement that muscle can be asked to do either of these and it is often a sliding scale between one and the other.
For example. If we choose your Gluteus Medius which is a muscle on the side of your hip that is commonly training by doing clamshells or hip abductions. For these exercises, your Gluteus Medius is being trained for its action. The action is abduction (lifting your leg out to the side) of the hip and external rotation. Because that muscle is not a very common movement you do day to day, let’s think about how the muscle moves when we are walking. The Gluteus Medius has the function of stabilising the lateral hip when you are walking. Meaning you can walk smoothly through your walking.
Function: How muscles behave when we walk and breathe.
Action: How muscles behave when we move the origin to insertion.
So what happens when we look at breathing? We have to think about muscle functions rather than just actions to get the full benefit during your breath at the gym rather than just training the action of the following muscles.
Muscles of Inhalation
– External Intercostals
Accessory Muscles of Inhalation
– Pec Minor
A key thing to note is accessory muscles of inspiration are located around your neck and shoulder blade. This is why if we are breathing badly from the start and not using our diaphragm and abdominal muscles it is common to have neck and shoulder pain.
Muscles of Exhalation
Exhaling is a much more passive movement. But there are muscles that help assist it, this becomes more so the case when you are at full exhalation or forced exhalation.
Muscles of Exhalation
– Internal Intercostals
Accessory Muscles of Exhalation
– External Obliques
– Internal Obliques
– Rectus Abdominus
– Transerve Abdominus
– Quadratus Lumborum
These muscles are located around your lumbar spine.
How to help?
Below is an exercise to practice breathing in with a slight (10%) core contraction to help improve your breathing cycle.
If you are struggling with the exercise above, below is an exercise to practice breathing in through your stomach, you should feel your belly push up against your thighs.
So to go back to the opening paragraph of this blog. If we are spending more time in a high-stress, inhalation, stress-dominant state in both life and lifting it can lead to dysfunction and therefore pain.
In the clinic we assess both how you’re moving but also how you breathe and if you control your breathing. So if you have pain or just want to see if you can improve this aspect of your life then book yourself in for a full functional assessment. Contact the clinic today on 0578678904, direct message us on Facebook or book now.
Yours in Health
The Lawlor Clinic: Spine & Sport, Portlaoise, Laois