How to Start Running – 6 Tips from a Seasoned Beginner

How to Start Running – 6 Tips from a Seasoned Beginner

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? “uh, put on your daps and leg it down the road”. Not so much. I remember when I started running about 7 years ago. I had not long had my second baby (new Mums: do your Kegels) and wanted something which I could do any time of the day and which wouldn’t waste me valuable time by having to travel to do it.

So out I trundled, calling “back in half an hour” behind me as I flounced out of the door. Now, if you’re new to running, or can remember when you were new to running, you’ll appreciate my crushing disappointment when, 2 minutes into my ‘run’ I was pretty much ready to drop.

So, you see, it’s not quite as simple as trotting off for a brisk 3 miles when you’ve never run before. But I did persevere and in the following 12 months completed both a 10k and half marathon. And if ‘Mrs-I-can-only-run-for-2-minutes’ can do it, anyone can. Here are my tips for anyone just starting out…

How To: Run Faster

How To: Run Faster

There comes a time when every runner starts to chase their PB. We often (rightly) start our running journey with no pressure, entering races with echoes of “oh, I’m not worried about my time, I just want to finish”.

The thing is, increasing mileage teaches our body endurance, the only way we can become faster is by running faster. By introducing tempo – or lactate threshold – runs in to your training, you can increase your body’s lactate threshold – that is the point at which the body fatigues at a certain pace. In other words, your muscles can carry on contracting for longer before becoming fatigued by lactic acid levels, meaning you can run faster for longer.

4 Myths About Back Pain

4 Myths About Back Pain

You know when you have back pain, everyone and their dog wants to give you advice. Like being pregnant but without the little bundle of joy at the end of it.

I know people mean well, but there are some common misconceptions out there which we hear A LOT and though said with the best intentions, really won’t help you at all. In fact, some can make it worse.

So, read on, and we’ll do our best to debunk some of the myths surrounding back pain, so you can say a silent ‘thanks but no thanks’ the next time someone tries to bestow their wisdom upon you.

5 Ways to Reduce Muscle Soreness

5 Ways to Reduce Muscle Soreness

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You know, the day after a session in the gym or after playing some sports where your every movement induces wince-worthy pain. Let’s not even talk about stairs after leg day (or err, sitting on the toilet).

The actual term for soreness following activity is DOMS – Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness. And man, don’t we know it? You know sometimes it’s even WORSE on day 2 following a workout? Yikes.

4 Times You Shouldn’t Ignore Pain When Exercising

4 Times You Shouldn’t Ignore Pain When Exercising

We all know the adage ‘No pain, no gain’. But pain or discomfort when you’re exercising could, in fact, be your body’s way of telling you that something is up, and now’s not the time to be pushing through it.

There is, of course, the ‘good pain’ – if there can be such a thing – which we experience when we exercise, like the burning sensation in our muscles when we lift, or the can’t-walk-down-the-stairs tightness the day after a workout (the day after leg day is NEVER fun). This is totally normal, and all part and parcel of helping our muscles get stronger.

However, there are some types of pain which we should never ignore…

How To Sleep Better When You Have A Bad Back

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A client of ours sent us an email last week, expressing his thanks for enabling him to have the best night's sleep he'd had in several months. It's not unusual for people to come to us exhausted, following months - sometimes years - of surviving on very little sleep thanks to their back pain.

Sleep is vital for basic human function. It's the time when our body rests and repairs. If you have back pain, that rest and repair becomes even MORE important. Yet, as so many people with back pain will tell you, getting comfortable enough for a decent night's kip is easier said than done.

Try these strategies to help soothe you into a comfortable slumber the next time your back threatens to keep you up all night:

1. Find your position

This one is tricky as everyone has their own comfortable position, but often the position which aggravates backs the most is sleeping on your front.

In this position, your spine is in an unnatural position and unable to maintain it's natural curve, which subsequently puts pressure on your back muscles. 

If you sleep on your side, try placing a pillow in between your knees to stop your top leg sliding forward and rotating your spine.

If you sleep on your back, try a pillow under your knees or small rolled up towel in the small of your back to maintain the curve of your spine.

Keep in mind at all times the natural shape of your spine and trying to maintain that in your sleeping position. Which brings us on to:

2. Pillows

Too many or too little and you'll have an unnatural curve in your neck. Choose a thickness which keeps your head and neck in alignment with your spine.

3. Warm bath

The warmth of the water will help relax your muscles. If you're feeling stiff and tense, or your muscles are in spasm, this is the ideal way to encourage your body to relax as you prepare for slumber.

You'll also experience the added mental benefits of helping relax your mind at the same time as warm baths can trigger the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

Salt baths are proven to reduce inflammation so using Epsom salts or magnesium in the water may also help.

4. Mattress

Getting the right amount of support is vital, and investing in a decent mattress should be a priority if you have back pain. 

In terms of the support, ultimately, there is no one type of mattress which is best for all back pain, so you should choose one with the right level of support for you, whilst maintaining the comfort you need for a good night's sleep.

Choose a mattress which supports your back and helps maintain the alignment of your spine, without sagging in the middle, for example. One study found that medium-firm mattresses usually provide more back pain relief than firm mattresses. One which is too firm may cause pressure points on your shoulders and hips, so find one where your shoulders and hips can naturally sink in slightly.

We help people sleep better and wake up without back pain.

To receive your FREE consultation, where you'll receive a full assessment of your back pain and learn how to get rid of your back pain for good, click the button below now to register and we'll be in touch to book you in.

How To Ease Back Pain At Home

If your back ever 'goes', you'd like to think that it was from doing something heroic, right? Something you can impress your mates with as you regale your story of courage and bravery.

Take it from someone who did their back in by picking up a piece of Lego, 9 times out of 10 people experience that terrifying locking-up from doing something slightly less bold. Think taking the washing out of the machine, closing the car door, or sneezing. Wave goodbye to your bragging rights.

The good news is that 90% of people who experience back pain will recover within 6 weeks. The aim of this stage is to stay comfortable, manage your pain and avoid making the problem worse as you recover.

If you are unlucky enough to seize up next time you pick up a pencil (really) then follow these tips for some self-care which you can do at home.

1. Don't panic

I get it, this is easier said than done but when your back seizes up, the muscles are in spasm. The more tense you are, the less likely this spasm is to ease. Be reassured by the fact that there's a 90% chance you'll recover in a few weeks and try to relax as much as you can.

2. Rest for the first hour

Try and find a comfortable position when your back first locks up. To help the muscles ease, rest in this position for about an hour.

3. Take short walks

Movement is highly beneficial for back pain. When you move, your joints release a fluid which helps lubricate them. If your spine is locked up, the release of this fluid with help you move more freely and feel less stiff. In addition, your muscles will loosen off, and you'll be helping your core muscles activate (more of that a bit later)

I get that in the initial stages, walking may be pretty uncomfortable so take it in baby steps, just walking around the house for 5-10 mins at a time at first.

4. Take Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is both a pain-reliever and an anti-inflammatory so it can help with pain and reducing any inflammation caused by your injury. Short-term it may provide relief.

5. Keep warm

Heat therapy can work wonders on muscle spasms by increasing circulation, helping you to relax and by decreasing pain transmitters to your brain. Take a warm bath or shower or use a heat pack or hot water bottle on your low back.

6. Activate your core

You know how when you have a bad leg, you limp as your body tries to compensate and use the stronger muscles instead of the injured ones? The same can happen with back pain. Your body will try and protect your back by moving differently (which you probably won't notice, it's very sneaky) and not using the muscles which you need to keep your back strong.

The danger in the first 6 weeks is that your back and core muscles will weaken, which then leads to a longer-term problem and leaves to vulnerable to injury. Override this by consciously activating your core every time you move, lift and bend to maintain your strength and protect your back.

7. Keep moving

And avoid long periods of time sat down. As I mentioned before, your body needs to move to avoid seizing up so over the course of your episode, stay as mobile as you can. Take frequent breaks from your desk if you're office-bound and try and fit in a daily walk, or some gentle exercise. Which leads nicely on to...

8. Gentle core exercise and stretches

We have an easy 10-minute routine on our YouTube channel which is ideal for people with back pain, as is yoga or pilates. You can also try some of these simple stretches for back pain. Try and avoid sit-ups, as they won't work your deep core muscles and may put extra strain on your back.

9. Avoid bending & twisting 

Your back is at it's weakest when it's bending and twisting at the same time. Often that's the movement you were doing when it went in the first place. When putting washing in the machine, kneel down before you twist, and if you're picking something up, position yourself so you don't have to twist as you do so.

We work with people both in the initial stage of back pain and to help people get stronger and back to doing the things they love if their pain lasts longer than 6 weeks.

If you are experiencing an attack, our team can help ease your pain, get you moving freely and guide you through an exercise programme safely to avoid your problem becoming long-term. Click the button below to register today for a free consultation to see if we can help.

Our 5 Best Bits of Kit For Core Training

Our 5 Best Bits of Kit For Core Training

One of the things we love the most about core training is that you can do it anywhere with just your bodyweight, making it perfect to do at home. And it's free, which lets face it, is always a winner.

What if we told you though, that you can challenge your core further whilst increasing your stability and balance at the same time, as well as strengthening more of the deeper core and back muscles AND make it a fun workout? 

Sounds good, right? By using some simple pieces of equipment, we'll show you how to switch up your core training to accelerate your results. All are perfect if you have back pain and will help you get stronger, move more easily and reduce your pain.

Mistakes People Make When Lifting Weights

Mistakes People Make When Lifting Weights

We all know by now that strength training is good, right? It’s great for boosting metabolism, maintaining a strong core and increasing bone density, amongst many other reasons.

We do, however, get some people coming through our door who started with all the right intentions but ended up doing more harm than good though lifting weights. Here’s our short guide to what to avoid the next time you hit the gym to make sure you’re getting the best from your workout.