http-equiv='refresh'/> Global Therapies: July 2011

Friday, 29 July 2011

Injuries Part 3: Intrinsic Factors

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In Injuries Part 1 there was a brief introduction to my experience of recent injuries and an overview of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. The latter, extrinsic factors, were covered in more detail in Injuries Part 2. I'll now take a look at intrinsic factors that could contribute to injury.

Fitness: if you're unfit (either cardiovascular or muscular endurance), lacking strength or flexibility then you're letting yourself become one step closer to being injured. A fit individual who has adequate recovery and rest days in their training programme, has good nutrition intake and limits alcohol/drugs is preparing their body as best they can. If you're not resting sufficiently then your muscles are likely to be suffering from repeated microtrauma which does not repair properly, leaves muscle fibres laid down haphazardly and at greater risk of injury.

Technique: if it's poor you'll be prone to injury – simply because your body is designed to function well when you are biomechanically sound. Over-use or muscular imbalances reduce the biomechanical efficiency. In running for example, muscular imbalances can lead to over-pronation and increase your risk of ankle sprains.

Body Composition: if you're overweight your joints are going to be stressed. There's no easy way to say it – you just have to move more and eat less (or eat better). Burn the calories and ditch the weight so your fat to muscle mass ratio is optimal. There is also the concern for individuals who are too lean – repeated stress through exercise or just a repeated action on atrophied muscles is not good – the muscles are just not able to cope. Remedy this by increasing strength and fitness suited to the sport or exercise you are undertaking.

Anatomical Variants: skeletal alignment abnormalities (some say they feel “wonky”) can come from either training incorrectly or because of genetics factors. Leg length discrepancies is a common example – either your legs are structurally different lengths when measured by a trained professional, or you have imbalances (either above or below the hips) causing your pelvis to be unbalanced. Either way, postural deviations lead to faulty biomechanics, and as said above, this puts you at greater risk of injury.

Gender: Whether you're male or female, we cannot change this, nor the fact that there are differences in how the bodies of the different genders function in terms of aerobic capacity, muscular strength, body fat percentage and hormonal activity. Whilst there are always exceptions way outside the normal range, on the whole these all impact on exercise and training.

Age: if you're young your body may not be fully developed – a classic injury for young lads who play a lot of football is Osgood Schlatters disease – too much stress on the tibial tuberosity (where the quadriceps muscles attach below the knee) occurs because of excessive quad use and the patella tendon becomes inflamed. Its most common in young lads due to rapid growth and enthusiastic high level playing of football. In teenagers there are growth spurts to contend with and the body changing rapidly. In mature athletes changes in endurance and flexibility occur, some declining and some increasing – particularly if someone has been involved in their sporting activity all their lives. They'll be more accustomed to the level of activity, have the knowledge and endurance to sustain those for longer and have the experiences behind them to know how much they can push their bodies.

Past Injuries: whenever the body is injured it has the potential to leave scar tissue, not necessarily visible on the surface of the skin, but deep fascial restrictions that can lead to muscle imbalances and dysfunction. These are not always that apparent, but left untreated can lead to pain, discomfort and injury. Some injuries, for example sprained ankle ligaments, will also leave structures (particularly the ligaments) weaker than they were originally and the risk of re-injury is higher. Strengthening weak muscles can help: don't think a few exercises once a week will help - this takes time and dedication for your rehabilitation to be effective.

Also tied into past injuries, though something that we can't necessarily do a great deal to prevent, is musculoskeletal disease, e.g. arthritis such as ankylosing spondylitis which affects the joints of the spine. Adjustments to both training and exercise are most likely to be necessary. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a whole issue of it's own, and we've blogged about it elsewhere. Needless to say it's a big issue and not to be underestimated.

Psychology: your mental attitude towards training, exercise and injury play a big role. Whether you're motivated to undertake rehabilitation seriously or not can impact significantly on the outcome – try returning to exercise too soon, before your body is repaired, perhaps because you're overly keen or frustrated and re-injury is more likely. Pressure from parents, coach or peers can also lead to some people not fully listening to their body, pushing too hard and getting injured and then returning too quickly. A good coach shouldn't put pressure on an athlete, but they could inadvertently do so if they're fired up and focussed on winning a championship for example. This all ties in to how confident you are and how you deal with, or react to stress. As an inexperienced youth you're more likely to want to please the coach or your parents, or not let them down because they've invested time and money into your training.

Competition with others - be that fighting to keep your place on a team, or your position in the championship, or just competition with yourself when you want to beat a PB – all add up to more pressure to get back into the game sooner....or they could be the cause for over-training in the first place which can lead to injury.

None of the intrinsic factors work in isolation (either with themselves or the extrinsic factors). An inexperienced and young female track runner might just want to prove her worth in the championship race and push herself too far, or be pushed by others. Here we have Technique / Age / Gender / Psychology already as factors that might lead to this athlete being injured, and that's before we know if she's got any musculoskeletal imbalances (Body Composition) or Past Injuries, or whether she's received suitable coaching so she is strong and well trained for the sport she's playing (Fitness), the surface she's running on (Environment) or whether the Equipment she is using fits/is suitable.

To summarise, the factors which could influence whether or not we suffer an injury are:
extrinsic: environment, equipment and training/competition
intrinsic: fitness, technique, body composition, anatomical variants, gender, age, past injury and psychology

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


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Well, I've been waiting for this one to come along for a while. A local race, 5 miles long with 1350ft of ascent. Another midweek counter for the Glossopdale bunch, but with a number of the "big names" away on a jolly to the jolly isles of Rum and Eigg, this was going to be a good one for those still remaining in the citidel that is Glossop, to get out there and steal some useful points.

I didn't see the route until yesterday, when a photo of a map was put up on fellrunner. It was kind of what I expected, but with a bit of an extra kick. A run up the hill, past Wormstones, on to Harry hut Trig point, turn right, down to the road and over, through a couple of fields, then up a steep kicker of a hill to the top of Herod farm, and a wonderful descent through the farm, then down the track to the end.

That second hill- the kicker. That was the bit that I was a bit concerned about, simply because it was a second hill. I didn't realise just how much hill there was until I got to it.

The Glossopdalean gaggle
We arrived a little later than usual to the race (which had a somewhat unusual 7pm start, which certainly caught one runner out), and there was a gaggle of Glossopdaleans hovering around. Andy made a rare appearance, actually being able to get to this one as its very local, which was going to make my race a little tougher than I anticipated. We wandered around to the starting area, and there were a fair number of runners already buzzing around, warming up, running up and down the flat beginning bit. Lynne and I had just walked over from home, which provided a bit of a blood going around the legs, so I concentrated on stretching out my psoas on both sides, and also my hamstrings, which are still feeling a bit tight from training on Monday.
In hindsight, I should have gone up the track a little ways to see what was in store for us in the first couple of hundred yards, but I managed to keep out of trouble.

After a quick group photocall for Des, and a short verbal description of the route, proceedings were handed over to the time keeper, who proceeded to say .... GO!
agh. Minor anarchy in the pack. Thankfully I was at the front, so I just had clear space to run at- nearly forgot to turn my watch on in all the excitement. And we were running.

The first part of the run was along relatively flat terrain, kind of open, but with a couple of trees and bushes thrown in for good measure. I was somewhere in the top 20 or so, and I saw Charlie hurtling along beside me muttering about being "too far back". Ah, I should have checked the first bit for pinch points... I bet there is one just ahead. Accelerate, overtake a few people, pinch point 1, a bridge- single file, and the guy behind me is pushing me despite the fact that there is a queue. Some people just don't get race etiquette. Over the obsticle happily, and then, almost immediately, the second pinch point. Literally a pinch point with one runner at a time fitting through a thin gap-stile. I reached there about 15th, and could see the leaders just accelerating up the hill to the right, so charging on, I followed on.
Up through the wood, out, onto the road a "hi" to Pennine Steve who was marshalling today (props to the guy for doing Snowden at the weekend and coming top 60 or so) and then the first of the stiles. Wierdly there were 2 stiles in very close proximity over the same bit of wall, and everyone was using the Right one, so I launched over the Left one and gained a place.
The hill started.

I've done a hill session on the lower part of Wormstones before, but on a different path, so I knew I could keep up a certain level of pace... the key being, could I then tack on another 4 miles on the end... at speed?
A guy with glasses on was in front of me, and I thought I could overtake him quite happily, he glanced over his shoulder, and took off (kind of... took off in the way that you marginally increase speed going up hill and slowly accelerate away from the person behind). But I followed him and we overtook 3 or 4 people, including Charlie and Andy, who I had seen shoot off at the start. The guy in glasses was about 30 metres ahead, and bascially stayed there for the entire climb. Up over the second stile, past the rocks, passing another runner in the meantime. I could see figures strung out in front of me and managed to count the people up the hill- 11? maybe 12?
Wow, thats alright. Lets try for the top ten.
Me in the white shorts just getting to the first pinch point- just as the leaders have crossed
Getting toward the top, I was feeling my legs a bit, and glasses man had got a bit more of a lead, but as we crested the trig point I began to stretch out and bounce down the hill with a bit of renewed vigour. By a third of the way down I had caught him, and by two thirds of the way down I had overtaken him. As I did so I heard "aright Tim!"... so I waved vaguely in his direction and carried on, hellbent to get to the bottom. Just needed to stretch out and eke out a bit of a lead over him, but my heartrate monitor was getting loose... damn, there I am, hooning down a hill trying to adjust a glorified bra-strap thing, keep it up, because that second hill is coming up any moment now.

Bottom of the hill, over the stile with a bit too much aggression and nearly fall down the slope into the layby, pointed down the road by Steve (he appears to have teleported here from the last road crossing... I wonder if I've found out why he's so good at fell running....?) down the road, I think I can hear footsteps behind me, left into a field, and a vault over the gate, down, past a herd of bewildered sheep to the bottom of the field, I can see the slope rising above me, with a string of runners... now very much "walkers" hacking up the hill.
I have had bad race experiences on hills like this having lost about 6 places in the Kinder Trog on one, and the same on Mount Famine. Not a good record.
2 gates to vault over, cross a stream and onto the hill. Just keeping it going, all the way up the hill expecting to be overtaken at any moment. I can hear thudding footsteps at the foot of the hill where the chasers are catching up. Keep moving the legs...
The guy in front of me, the only person I care about catching now is zigzagging around, trying to make the gradient less steep for his legs. Even as I take the direct approach, he doesn't seem to be getting any closer. As for anyone behind, I have no idea. Never look back. They could have sat down for a picnic for all I knew, (it was far more likely that they were gaining on me, but I have no clue).

The hill went on forever. It wasn't a gradient you could run, but was a walking/crawling hill all the way to the wall, and then fence that we vaulted over at the top. A short section of flat(ter) ground with tussocks making life difficult, and then, a longer ascent up off camber sloping grass. This fell running is a lark, isn't it?

This was the killer. You do the crazy uphill scramble, think its all over, and then a long and nasty uphill section to the top. All the way, the guy in front continued to be about 100m in front. It was all I could do to keep moving and not walk. Is 10th possible? Can I catch this guy?
I still have no idea whats going on behind me- concentrate on the one in front. Thinking about the hills I've run in training, I've not once stopped running. If I've not stopped in training why should I stop in a race? Is what is training if not practice for actually running a race?
No excuses.

Up to the top, following the flags. painful progress, and then flatness, then blessed descent. He is still 100 metres in front. As it stands now, if we finish like this Im going to be 11th, by about 20-30 seconds. Lets see if we can't cut that down a little bit. Stretch the legs out, keep going faster, give the guys behind something to chase.
The path cuts up, over another gate, 10 yards down, turn right and over another one, then down. Down a steep bilberry covered slope. Following the flags I can't see the man I'm chasing, until I reach the real steep part, slipping down, a recovery, and I see he is struggling with going down. Switch off the head and let the legs do it all, I develop a technique for getting over the unstable, but patterned ground in a faster way. By the gate at the bottom I'm right behind him. Vault the gate and run, overtake done, by the time I'm over the gate he is just swinging his second leg over.
Track to the end now, keep it together.
We pass Herod Farm, and the occupant claps us on, I hear a "how far is it mate?" from behind me... honestly, I have no idea. Does it finish at the bottom of the track or half way down? "No idea mate!" I shout back, and lengthen my stride.
The way mu lungs feel I certainly HOPE its halfway up the track, I'm coming close to the red point where I run out of steam.
Pound down the hill, no-one in front to chase, just hammer down and keep away from the footsteps behind.

Halfway down the track the finish appears and I feel like I could actually go on to the bottom. Keeping the speed I dash through the finish line in about 35:10, I think, 10th place, with no-one to be seen behind me for a fair way.

I couldn't stick around for the prizes unfortunately, but Gwyn, again came 1st, Mark 3rd, and I believe we won the team prize, but I don't know about that yet. Pretty cool if we have done though.
A successful evening out. Thanks to those organising, marshalling and doing all those good things that keep races like this going.

And here are the stats for the race

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Shining Tor Fell race

Me and Nev, pre-race.
Another Wednesday, another mid-week counter for Glossopdale. This time, over onto the White Peak Map for the Shining Tor race. 5.9 miles, and 1600ft of climbing. 2 uphills and 2 downs, and a right kicker at the end. Not much on its own, but 200yards uphill on a track at the end of that lot, well, it was always going to be an amusing one.

The Glossopdale turnout was, unsurprisingly pretty good, and there were some fast runners in the mix. I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to repeat my effort from last week- 3rd from Glossopdale, but I was going to have a damn good go.

Spot the Blue and Orange tops...
After the hill session on Monday, which was pretty harsh on my legs and Cardiovascular system I didn't know whether to feel good or not about the race. The midges did though. They were out in force, and at the start, there was a jumping, swatting, cursing mass of about 200 runners just waiting to get going. It was quite a sight to see, but not one that we relished being a part of!

Run away from the midge!
After a very brief speech about the route and comments about the midge, a fairly unceremonious Ready, Go was uttered, and we went as fast away from the midges as we possibly could. Despite being pretty close to the front- maybe four rows back, I still got caught behind about 2 or 3 runners who decided they were going to take it even easier than me right from the off. So I headed around them, and saw a mass of Blue and Orange in the front group, steadily making their way down the road away from me. They were setting quite a pace, and I certainly wasn't going to try to keep it.

A right into the woods and we were going uphill. I chose a pace, and stuck to it, all the way up. To begin with I was sticking within a group, and then, all of a sudden, people started walking. The ground was still pretty good, but the hill was just going on for longer and longer. I kept on going, and saw John and Julien up ahead. John - I've seen once before in a race, but never Julien. Something is very wrong about this.

But I just kept on plugging away, at a relatively decent pace, there goes John, nice work... but have I played my cards too soon? Before I know it, I've overtaken Julien, who is walking up the hill. Ah. I think I've done it now. Yes, not even 300 metres later, Jules comes bounding past - just as I expected. Well, keep plodding away and see what happens.

The path headed up and out of the wood, across the moor and onto the flagstones. Not my favourite thing to run on, but it had to be done. I followed Julien up the flags, they became less steep and more like an undulating surface toward the top, and he pulled out ahead of me, pretty much as I was expecting, then a short downhill before a minor kicker, and then a long, long downhill which I thought I would love.

By the time we got there, John had gained back on me, but I figured I wouldn't lose too much time, if any on the descent.
As soon as I started stretching out on the descent, BANG, back came the pain in the diaphragm which I talked about back in the Mount Famine race. No... that can't be.
The only way to sort this out is to slow down, and so slow down I shall have to, despite the fact we're only about a third of the way through the race.
So I cut down my stride so that the pain wasn't so bad, and began losing time to John, first a few metres, then 10, then 20, 2 people overtook me, but there was little enough I could do, as soon as I stretched out, the pain came back so badly that it slowed me down even more.
Right, damage limitation.

Keep going as hard as possible, without the pain coming back, even if I can't keep up with these guys.
Finally, the end of the (what should have been delightful) descent, through a gate, overtaken by another, and down through the trees, Hairpin right, and I'm losing sight of those in front.
I really hope that the path is well marked.
Through the trees, left, down more, through a river and right, along. I hear more people behind me. Damn, I still hurt, keep it going.
Down some very slippy steps, across a bridge and up more steps, left, and overtaken by 2.
But now its uphill again, and the pain has gone.

So I start making up time on those in front. Just. Keep. On. Moving. Turn right, and I see a Dark Peak vest behind me - I swear its the same guy as I beat last week, up the climb I manage to keep him behind me, and then over the moor, I realise that I can no longer see John in front of me and there are more closing behind me.
I get overtaken by 2 more as we turn left down the path next to the road, and I know there are a couple more as well.

Hell for leather down the hill, remembering the words on Mark Twight's site- "there is always something more to burn - even if its brain matter" Give it all you've got.

I hang on to what I have going down the hill, and a left turn into a wood, just as I hear footsteps behind me. Trust the shoes, it's loam underfoot now, if anything goes wrong, it's tree time.
Straight into the wood and dodgy underfoot, but the footsteps get further behind me. Down, drop like a stone, through neck deep ferns and I can't see my feet, or what they are landing on, another person behind me, we have 500 yards to go now, through a gate, across a green field in front of a dam, legs burning, lungs burning, everything hurting, I know there is the kicker coming up, and I have to keep something in reserve.
I let her overtake me, just coming up to the gate, but she goes to the wrong end of the gate, and I get through first.
Onto the final ascent, and take it easy for 30 metres as we round the corner, then, there it is, 200 yards ahead, the finish, right. What do I have left? There is one person that I can see, he has 30 yards to go.
So I run like it's going out of fashion, teeth gritted, veins pumping battery acid, legs that feel like they are made of lead, I close in on him, but not in time to get past before the funnel.
Of the people behind me, not a sign.
Thank goodness for uphill finishes.

Enough for 31st out of about 180. I managed an average pace of 4:55 per Km, which isn't bad given the circumstances.  Without that diaphragm issue, I'm thinking maybe 20th could have been on the cards. However. It didn't happen.

Well, I had about 40 mins while I ran to try and work out what was going on biomechanically, and I noticed that I was a lot freer in movement on one side than on the other. The spiral line from right leg to left shoulder opened out fine, not a problem, but when I tried to open out left leg to right shoulder, I couldn't do it.
Psoas major and iliacus, both hip flexors, were tight, and psoas attaches to the Lumbar vertebrae - L1 through L5 bodies and transverse processes. The diaphragm also attaches to the Lumbar vertebrae - and a lot of fascia is common ground between the two muscles.

What I think was happening, was as I was stretching out on the down hills, my legs were stretching away and psoas was too tight, in the end, it was the leg stretching that was pulling the psoas on the Lumbar vertebrae, which in turn was pulling onto the diaphragm, which gave me pain and shortness of breath.
Psoas release and hip flexor stretching is very much on the programme from now on. I'm improving on the uphills, who would have thought it would be the descents that would cause me problems? Well, I think I have worked out what it is, so onward and upward!

Gwyn and his prize. Sorry about the quality... the lens steamed up.
Well done to Gwyn for winning (again!), and congrats to Beryl for her catogory winning run as well. Julien- in a couple of weeks time, the stats are on your side for a few more prizes as well!

In the mean time, here are the stats

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Just a couple of thoughts on movement

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(Just as a mild disclaimer here, this blog is partially tongue in cheek, slight rant, and though relatively serious, should not be taken all that seriously. Take it with a pinch of salt, and realise that when I say "death" its kind of a figure of speech. But kind of not).  

I have a few blogs in the pipeline, but they aren't quite ready yet, so I thought I'd just write a little bit about whats been going through my mind recently in terms of movement and the human condition.

People are animals, and when you think of an animal, you tend to think of it as moving. If you see an animal close up, it is likely to be still. If it is still it is very likely to be dead.
Think about that, in terms of living animals. Absence of movement often means death. Therefore the opposite is true- movement is life.

The only time something dead moves is when it falls out of the sky because its been shot. It then stops moving pretty rapidly. If it moves, its alive. Indeed, the more it moves, the more alive and more vital it appears to be. Look at the way cats and dogs move. (OK, so cats may spend the vast majority of the time asleep on the sofa, but bear with me- because if you watch them, they move in their sleep, changing position every 30 mins or so, in order that their spine/bones/tissues never spend a long time in one position), when they are awake, they stalk around the place, tails moving, ears darting around the place, always moving.

Lets transfer that across to humans.
We sit at desks. We sit in front of the computer. We sit as we drive. We shop on the internet. OK, so there is some movement around there, but how much do we actually just sit and not move? The less you move, the closer you are to death.
The less you move the less muscles have a chance to be toned by movement- atrophy can set in. Bones that are not stressed on a regular basis lose structure. Physically, they lose their boniness- and it is this gradual decay that is osteoporosis. The Lymph system which is responsible for working with the immune system, and gets "bad stuff" out of our system is pumped not by the heart, but by mechanical forces reliant on the movement of skeletal muscles, and also from heavy breathing.
That's only 3 things which lose out because of stationary and sedentary behaviour.
Slowly, your body becomes stale and begins to stop. If the tissues in your body don't move, they become attached to one another. Everything that should be in a "sol" state becomes more like a "gel". Sticky and slow.

Apathy and boredom prevail and you slowly lose interest in anything about you. The less you move the less the brain has to occupy itself.

If there was a way to prevent injury, prevent osteoporosis, improve your immune system, make you feel better and stronger and more cognitively active, no matter what your age, and it didn't cost anything, except for a bit of time and a bit of exertion, would you do it?
If you answer is no- sit back down, eat some more doritos and watch another 5 hour stint of the latest DVD box set to get delivered to your door. I hope you enjoy your slowly disintegrating body.
Its the only one you get and you have to live with it all your life.
Treat it with respect, treat it well, and it will serve you well.

Get out there and maintain it by moving it.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Bamford Carnival Race Report

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Well that was pretty fun.
We went over to Bamford pretty much en masse - it was a midweek counter for the Glossopdale championships. A good turn out was always going to be a foregone conclusion - if only from us.
As we arrived, the sun was shining down on us in glorious fashion. The visibility was splendid, and everyone was in a very playful mood.

We stood around warming up (who would have thought it, fell runners, warming up?!) and chatting away. I finally managed to meet fellmonkey, who spotted me in my white shorts - surely the only idiot wearing a pair in that colour. We had a good chat about the world and all that kind of stuff, wished each other the best for the coming race, and went to talk with other people in the run up to the start.

Carl, the club guru at the race pointed out a good line out of the field, and a decent place to stand so as to have a clear run out, generally keeping ahead of the heaving, sweating masses.
There was a short pre-amble and spiel about the run and then a comment that it would be a short while before the start.
And all of a sudden he said, right.
Get set.
Argh. push start on the watch, and run like a hoon across the field to the gate. Despite running pretty fast, I must have only been in the first 30 around the corner and onto the asphalt. My Roclites had bust in the 15 trigs run last week, and I still haven't got any replacements yet, so I was running in my Baregrips- very low profile grippy fell shoes.. great for soft mud and peat, terrible for hard surfaces. Guess what today was all about. Yep, Hard Surfaces.
We did the first km and I looked at the watch, that was a 3:59 km. Flipping heck, that's fast, and the guys at the front are just accelerating away. I'll just keep hitting this pace and see what happens. A few people overtake, including Charlie, we turn around a corner and head up the first slope and a couple of them drop away. I know that the ascent has a steep up, a flattish bit and then another steeper up, so long as I keep to the pace I'll be fine.
Charlie is still ahead... so I keep on hauling away and as we get onto a thin dusty path I catch up and pass.

Going ahead, I pass a number of other runners, and overhaul another blue and orange vest, I don't recognise him, and really don't have the breath for pleasantries, just keep on going up. We hit the "flatter" bit, I suppose the bit we just ran up was a steep bit. It didn't seem that bad at all and I kept the pace up along there, down a slight dip- overtaking 2 people as I went, then a sudden left turn and the kicker.
Drop a gear, hit a pace I know I can keep up for as long as possible and just keep going. People started walking- don't be tempted to follow suit, keep jogging up- don't go up the steps- too much break in the rhythm, keep to the dust and keep on going.

Another Glossopdale shirt ahead- that's John. I never see John in races... he normally finishes about 5 mins ahead at least. Well, he's not going that fast now... keep the rhythm going, and slowly catch, and pass, and keep on going.
I couldn't look back, that would be a massive mistake. I couldn't stop running. I've done some hill training, and I didn't stop on the training. How can I stop in a race? This is what I've trained for- keep on going.
I can see a Pennine top in front of me- that's Joe- I never see Joe except at the end of a race. Keep going.
He gets to the top and lopes out in front, I get there and do the same, trying to keep as much distance between me and the guys behind as possible, and its downhill from here.

This is the good bit. This is the bit I love. But the ground is hard, and each impact hurts my feet. Don't slow down- John could be right behind you- run!
I can't catch Joe in front of me, he stays tantalisingly out of reach. A runner catches up and passes me. Its not John, its a Dark Peaker, I let him go and he takes Joe as well.
We hit the asphalt and Joe slows, bang, that's another one, but I mustn't look back, keep looking forward - chase the Dark Peak guy.
The asphalt is drilling the studs in my shoes into my heels- I can feel the blisters forming, but I stretch out ahead, striking out for the guy in the Dark Peak top. We go down the road, hang a left into a tree lined path, the surface under my right heel is on FIRE. I can hear people behind us and the guy in front asks if I want to pass.
No thanks, not at the moment. Good choice, he gains some ground ahead of me as the ground drops away, but I gain it back. Out of the woods, down and a left hander, I give a burst of speed as I think the end is in sight, but as we turn out of the corner, it appears that its not 200 metres away as I thought, its another 4-500.
Well, I'm committed now. My breath comes ragged as I stretch my legs out, I've taken this guy now, he's not coming back. John might still be there too, it can't be far. THIS is the bit that you train for. THIS is the bit the miles prepare you for. THIS is the bit where you run, or crash and burn.
So I kept on running. My heels were in real pain, but the faster you go, the sooner it will be over. Normally at the end of a race I have a bit left in me for the final sprint - but I jumped way early - 300 metres before I normally would, and although I was catching the next guy, there really was no chance.

And over the line. I don't think I've ever run a race harder than that. Wow.
Final verdict, 26th, 33:42. John came in 7 seconds later, so I was right in my thoughts- NEVER look back.

Doing that again, I wouldn't use Baregrips- but then I didn't really have a choice. Roclites would have been perfect, but may not have given me quite so much confidence on the way down.
Still. Happy with that.
No pics of me running, Lynne was out working at Rockover this evening, however, I did get a snap of the relevant part of the results. Still more hill practice needed.
But I have big ass blisters on my heels. Though its not all that impressive in terms of profile, I'm quite impressed by my pace throughout the race, you can see the Garmin track here

And as a final postscript, its worth mentioning that a Glossopdaler came first. Minor nav error on the part of the guys in first and second, that he didn't notice, until they ended up chasing him down at the end. Still. A win is a win. Nice one mate!

Injuries Part 2: Extrinsic Factors

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In part 1 of this blog I gave you an overview of what might be the causal factors in injuries, and we briefly covered the two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic - essentially anything from within you or external to you.  I'm now going to look in more detail at extrinsic factors. In this category we have three subsets which will be covered in turn: environment, equipment, and training and competition.

So what can cause an injury? Well, it can be just pure bad luck of course - tripping on a stone or catching your toes on a tuft of grass - these would be extrinsic factors from the environment. Other environmental factors could be the weather (too hot or cold, wet or dry), and nothing can prepare you for that, even with the best equipment available, we cannot control what the weather does. But we can - obviously - choose when we go out in the hills or out to train.

Another environmental factor is (and the stones under-foot or grass tuft amount to the same thing) - the terrain. Whatever surface you train on you need to be aware of the factors that could lead to injury, be that shin splints from road running, twisted ankles from the fells, or muscle strains from the speed session on the track.

But what about that twisted ankle. Could it be the fault of terrain alone? No. Poor fitting, inappropriate or faulty equipment could also play a part. It seems common sense, because shoe manufacturers make 100s of different types of trainers for a myriad of different purposes, that choosing the most appropriate footwear is vital. Common sense it may be, and wearing fell shoes on the fells seems obvious. I have however seen runners on road and moorland in highly inappropriate shoes. Just don't do it. The shoe makers spend thousands of pounds on research and development so we can have it just that little bit easier. No guarantee you won't injure yourself, but you're taking one precaution by choosing the best equipment for the job.

If you're playing in a team sport or one which involves equipment such as a tennis ball then there's a risk of direct trauma were the ball to hit you. As accidents like this are totally random there's not a huge amount you can do, except for wearing appropriate protective gear if your sport uses any.

Training and Competition make up the third extrinsic factor. This is where I experienced problems. I made sudden changes and the increase in demands was too much for what my body could cope with. You could say that I had a poor programme (that is if I had a programme at all - I didn't, just a little over enthusiasm) and that I was inexperienced.  So I've learnt my lesson the hard way. You don't have to. The final part here is whether or not you're at the start or end of your sports season, if it has one. At the start you might be overly ambitious, not up to 100% fitness; towards the end you'll be fatigued from playing many games in a short period of time, potentially continuing through injury when you should be resting - but you can't let the club down. Remember, you only have one body so look after it. And listen to it.

This leads me on to a couple of rules which I'm now applying to my fell running:

Rule #1 Don't make sudden changes to your training. This is where the FITT principle of training is useful - Frequency, Intensity, Type and Time - make changes to any of these in small steps - use the 10% increase rule as a maximum to any of these aspects and you should be making steady and safe gains. I'll blog about the FITT principle in more detail soon.

Rule #2 Have a programme. Write down what you are aiming for and make the target date realistic. If you don't have an aim in mind (be that a race or competition) then keep a record anyway so you know what you've done, and by how much you can increase the following week. Make sure also that you note any slight niggles or aches - this could be a warning of an impending injury or a wake up call to keep things progressing a little slower. Your body tells you it's in pain for a reason - to protect itself. So Listen!  A training diary is the place to note rest as well. Having quality rest days, and quality recover days are vital to making forward progress in fitness because your muscles and soft tissues have time to repair themselves and learn how to cope with the stress of your hard training days.

Rule #3 Talk to other people who are doing the sport you're wanting to do. Ask them about training and good choices for equipment or routes that would be suitable. If there's a local club then join them, but be realistic in what you can achieve. My first run with the local club was a tad ambitious and in hindsight definitely too much to do. I was prepared to walk and turn back if necessary, but the pull to keep going meant that I ran further, faster and on tougher ground that my body was ready for.Whilst being tremendously supportive of me being a novice, the club didn't know me, what my background was, what I was capable of. Only I could know that, and it was only me who should have known that the run that particular night was not for me. 

So we have three extrinsic factors which could influence whether or not we suffer an injury:  environment, equipment and training/competition. Injuries are such a complex thing and it's difficult to pin down one factor that leads to them. What you can do is be prepared so that you stand a much better chance of avoiding them. Part of being prepared for any activity is having considered all the factors which influence how you perform. I've only looked at extrinsic factors here; I'll write about intrinsic factors soon.  We'll see that they're all connected, impossible to separate and equally important.

I've now been out for two further rehab runs, on 9th the aim was 5km and yesterday was 20 minutes (distance not important). Both runs were completed using the run/walk strategy and both were pain free. I actually felt good. I must say, I like the run/walk thing, the 5km run was pretty much at the same pace as I was running pre-injury, which isn't bad considering I've only run once in the last month, and that I walked for about a third of the time. Given that I felt so good after each run it was hard to stop, but, reminding myself of why I'm doing this - for rehab and to stay injury free - I reigned in any fancy ideas of longer/further runs and am sticking to my training programme.

Monday, 11 July 2011

UK Strongest Athlete Event

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The competitors and the organisers
What a fantastic day, and what a fantastic event.

Sean and Zoran from Strength and Performance in Stockport have been planning this one for a good couple of months now. In short, it was well executed, slick, well attended and really good fun to be at. And, all the proceeds went to charity. What more could you possibly want!?

We were invited over to the event pretty much last minute after treating Sean and Z on Thursday - in order to provide massage cover for the event. As it was for charity, we followed our script for every charity event that we do and there was no charge to anyone that wanted a massage. Any and all monies were donated direct to the charity box. The charity in question was Francis House Children's Hospice.

Tyre fip and sprint
The general format of the competition was relatively simple. It was a competition based on an American format, open to athletes rather than to specific "strongmen", and was an amateur only event. There were 5 events in total, each one tested a different part of the athlete's power.
Tyre flip/ sprint
Farmers Carry
Log Press
Sled Pull
Medley (sprint, carry, pull)

The competition was put on over two indoor 5-aside pitches, and when we arrived, there was all manner of lifting, pulling and flipping paraphernalia being transported in and around the area.The competitors were arriving right from 8am - even though the contest didn't start until 10am. There was an awful lot of eyeing up of the weights and ropes and tyres - working out the best way to heft, pull and press the various bits of kit. Apparently the tyre wasn't as big as expected, though it certainly seemed big enough considering the effort it took for some of the competitors to flip it. At the beginning there wasn't all that much call for massage therapy as everyone got on with their own warm ups.
Pre-event warm up massage

We did have a couple of guys who had low back issues - which were duly sorted. We did not treat any issues as this was very much a pre- and mid- session event. Warming, maintenance, getting the blood flowing, and generally keeping the athletes in as prepared-a-state as possible for the events was the order of the day. Working an event like this is interesting because you see so much that you WANT to treat. You see things that could use a bit of loosening, an imbalance that needs correcting, but you know that the competitors are used to their bodies being like this, and are in the right shape and state of mind to compete. As a massage therapist, the only thing you can do at this stage is assist them in whatever they need, without causing any structural change to the way they are put together. Even some over-enthusiastic STR might adversely affect their performance, so it needs to be kept very vanilla, but still very effective. Quite an ask.

Just as a quick aside, there were a variety of warm ups going on at the beginning. It seemed that each "gym tribe" seemed to have their own idea as to a good warm up. That's fine, but what interested me, was that within each gym, all the athletes, no matter what their size or shape seemed to be doing exactly the same thing - there were no specific warm ups for specific people... In the same way, during these warm ups, although some of the exercises were being done "mindfully", there were an awful lot that were being done almost "just for show" as if to fool the body into thinking it was being warmed up - whereas in fact, it wasn't. It drew me to think how I warm up for runs and lifts and rides etc, and that I do much the same thing. Warm ups aren't really taken all that seriously as it isn't the "proper thing". However, I think that we would all benefit from being as serious about warming up as we are about the rest of the sport.

Sorting out Hip flexors
A final aside on the warm ups - it would seem that during the warm up it is an excellent time to see and assess muscle shortness, tightness and asymmetry in athletes, and how it affects the tissues. There were more than a few imbalances across the floor which could be sorted out quite quickly, and I suspect which would help generate more power in a number of the competitors... But I digress...

The events soon began, and the over 90kg guys went first. There were some real beasts who took part - but the variation in body size and shape was enormous across both weight categories.

A big shout out has to go to Z. Every time the tyre was flipped by the contestants, and they had sprinted to the end, he had to come out and flip the tyre back up and roll it back into place... That's about 25 flips more than any of the contestants had to do. I suppose at least everyone had the opportunity to see how to do it with correct form...

Throughout the rest of the day treatments were sporadic, but frequent. Not just competitors, but spectators came for treatments as well - which was excellent.
As time went on we saw a lot of backs to be warmed up, a whiplash victim (not from the competition, I must hasten to add), tight hamstrings, tight hip flexors (psoas and Rec fem), sore shoulders, arms, and a couple of injuries which kept some people out of the competition.

Liam stamping his authoriry on the medley
I have to say that those who were injured and made the sensible decision not to compete were most sensible, and I'm impressed by their level-headed-ness. Just because you can push yourself through injury to compete, doesn't mean it's a good idea, especially if it means a long lay off afterward.

The PA for the event was certainly getting up to speed as the events gathered momentum - ably provided by Ross from My Protein, all the wit and humour you would expect from someone given free reign on a microphone!

As the day progressed, the over 90kg cat was generally being dominated by S&P goer Liam McCrea - proving just how strong he was with 14 reps on the log press - and from that point on never really looked like losing the lead.

Joe showing good form on the sled pull
The under 90kg was turning out to be quite a battle between Joe Lightfoot, and a gent (Bryan McMahon) from Spartan Performance Gym in Newcastle. A battle that continued head to head right up to the last event.

As the time went on, more and more spectators gathered, and there was an excellent atmosphere for the final medley, especially the under 90kg, which was won by another S&P faithful- Joe Lightfoot, a man, it has to be said, that has a LOT of power without actually looking "stacked". A most impressive athlete and a very worthy winner.

It was great to catch up with Joel Snape from Mens Fitness, with whom I did the Gym Jones workshop with at the end of last year. He travelled up from London to compete, and was perhaps one of the furthest travelled athletes of the day. There were another couple from London, and a few, as I mentioned, from Newcastle.

The lunch and cakes provided, and were consumed with much gusto. I noticed that the malteser bars had gone with in a matter of minutes of turning up. All proceeds from donations for the cakes went to charity, and they were excellent cakes as well. I must apologise for not knowing who made them, but whoever you are, thank you! It was also great to meet Stellios from Soma Fitness- based over in Altrincham, and Mark at Mens Health. (Good to see Paralympian Mark Churm cheering on the competitors as well - a real inspiration.

A Youtube vid has also popped up of the event (I'm not going to embed it as it would take a long time to load on some computers- including mine)- and there is a brief moment where you can see Lynne treating a competitor in the top left of the screen. The video gives a good general impression of the day- Enjoy.

Overall a good turnout for an excellent event. Thanks guys.

Sorting out a spectators neck issues. Oh- just because Lynne isn't in any photos doesn't mean she wasn't there. She was the one behind the camera, and must have hidden it when she was treating...

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Rock Over and Strength and Performance Gym

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We were over at Rock Over Climbing last night, climbing and treating a couple of climbers who had a few aches and pains. We had one client who had a full hour treatment, and a couple who were content with just a 15 min maintenance massage - a great way in which to keep on top of any potential injuries, catching them before they become damaging, and generally getting a brief MOT check on the arms and shoulders.

We also went around at the end giving out a couple of freebie arm de-pumps and shoulder stretches to anyone who asked for it, and as long as we have time next week, that will be the course of action as well. So if you see us around next week at Rock Over, we will be there on Wednesday evening, please do come and say hi, and ask for an arm de-pump if you want one. (you won't get 15 mins, but you will have get a brief taster treatment)!  With any luck our new t-shirts might be printed by then as well, which will be very cool.

This morning we went on over to Strength and Performance Gym based in Stockport. Sean and Z have just got back from Vegas where they were helping out with filming for The Ultimate Fighter 14 - at considerably short notice. Happily they are back in the country and have just about got over their jet lag and are very very busy finalising plans for the first UKSA competition which is going on this weekend.

As they are working so damn hard at the moment, with not so much as a tiny break, we thought we'd give them a little enforced down time - but not for relaxation.

Sean and Z are hard working athletes and regularly need a decent maintenance massage, working out the kinks in the muscles, and keeping their bodies in as good a shape as possible. As owners of the gym, and being on the floor everyday, they simply cannot afford to get injured.
A bit of a different setting to normal...
As it's been a while since they had any kind of massage treatment, today was going to be mainly about looking at various imbalances that they have been carrying around in their bodies, and giving the body a quick MOT and kickstart.

It's always a pleasure to treat someone that respects their body, and realises what they need to do to keep in condition. It is also always good to point out small imbalances that have built up over time, and to help them recognise what needs to be stretched and maintained on a daily or weekly basis in order to keep the body healthy and balanced.

Through the whole treatment we were talking with the guys about their training habits, how they could incorporate more recovery practices into their lifestyle, why various muscles were aching, and how we can help make them biomechanically more efficient, which will, in turn, enable them to become better at what they already do best. Work in functional fitness.

I have to say that I'm really very impressed with the set up that they have in Stockport. Anyone who is seriously interested in functional fitness and actually training (as opposed to "working out") should definitely check them out.

We are also teaming up with them for this weekends UKSA event, which will see 30 athletes battling it out to be the UKs Strongest Athlete. All proceeds go to charity, and it looks like being a great Comp. As I say, Global Therapies are going to be there providing massage support for the day, so if you are a competitor or a supporter, come on over, say hi, get a massage, and give some cash to charity.

When should I change my running shoes?

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I was pondering this one the other day.
With so many people constantly pounding the streets/fells/treadmills, there is a massive market for running shoes. However, they are rather expensive, so when you have a pair of shoes you naturally want them to last for as long as feasably possible. Once their running days are over, you may use them as a pair of slippers, a trophy or something to keep handy in order to throw at next doors cat.

The question is when is a good time to buy a new pair? How long can I continue wearing these bashed up old shoes- they feel comfortable, so therefore they can't be too bad, right?

It has been said by some people, (and a lot of shoe companies, who stand to make a fair old whack from it), that you should have a general rotation of 3 pairs of shoes, an old pair, which are beginning to wear out, a middling pair which have been broken in, and a pretty much brand new pair, which you are in the process of breaking in. The advantage of this is you don't continually trash one pair into the ground, gradually destroying any semblance of support it might once have had and then buy a brand new pair of trainers which have a level of support/cushioning etc. which you then have to get used to all over again. Instead, you have a constant rotation of old and new shoes so that you never have a massive step from one type of shoe to another.

This is really good if
a) you always use the same shoes and
b) you have a lot of money

I don't think I've ever actually bought the same shoes time and again, mainly because I never used to run enough to wear out a pair before some snazzy new thing came out that I wanted to try- and by the time I wore them out, again, there was some brand new "tech" that was innovative, and again, I'd buy those shoes.

Notice that I have just been talking about "cushioning" and "support". A lot of Barefoot runners will be sitting there sneering saying, well, my shoes don't have any cushioning OR support. That all comes from my foot and the way in which I run.
Well. inov8 X-talons are pretty close to minimalist shoes, and when they look like this....
its about time to replace them.

Lets have a closer look at those shoes.
I asked the runner to stand evenly with both feet shoulder width apart. Obviously the left foot is a bit worse than the right- the grip isn't being utilised fully, and the inov8 symbol certainly isnt pointing straight up and down the shoe. You might also notice all the wrinkles (in the shoe, not the legs), where long term, some might say excessive use has slowly deformed the shoe into its current state.
I'm not saying this runner shouldn't use Inov8s because they don't correct his gait issues, I'm simply drawing attention to the fact that even "barefoot" or "low profile" shoes, also have a life span and need to be replaced and that isn't necessarily to do with when the grip wears out.

Take a quick look at a non-destroyed pair of inov8s look- (they've been worn, but not worn out)
Take note of the way an inov8 shoe looks from the back when it isn't completely destroyed. The foot symbol on the back of the shoe points straight up. The grips are all touching the floor. It is a stable platform on which your foot sits. The platform is flexible and your foot controls it in an intuitive way- which makes it more like barefoot running than "shod" running, however, as you run in them, be aware that if you have bad biomechanics, you will wear the shoe out faster.

Have a look at your shoes and ask yourself if they are still providing a decent platform for your feet. Yes, new shoes are expensive, but so is a knee/ankle op when things go wrong and you get an overuse injury from bad biomechanics... and if you say- ah well- I can wait for the op on the NHS, think about the long months during which you won't be able to run because you've screwed up your knee. Surely thats worth looking at how good/bad your shoes are, and forking out for a replacement if necessary.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Injuries Part 1

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There is nothing more annoying than being injured. I know. Currently I'm suffering from an ITB issue - excruciating pain on the outside of my knee when I try (try being a very poignant word) to run down hill. Frustration at not being able to run in the hills seems even more frustrating as I've only been living in Derbyshire for the past 3 months. Seeing the hills so close is mighty tempting.

And that is where I went wrong. Too much, way too soon. The excitement of having hills on my doorstep overrode the common principle of increasing mileage slowly (10% per week is a good guide). So for me coming from running not that far, maybe 8km at best in London on the roads mostly, 10km in the fells was a bit optimistic. I for one should have known better. Now I pay the price with a slow recovery. I think this was the same over-excitedness that takes over common sense of others when they set off on a new challenge.

Now I'm one for being overly cautious about returning to running too soon, though I think I'm in the minority - most people preferring to return to training too soon and doing more damage than they had originally - and a subsequently longer period of inactivity. Given this, it always jumps out and surprises me when the pain kicks in again after what seems a remarkably long rest period. So where am I going wrong. It is slowly dawning on me that rest alone is not sufficient to get me back to fitness. I need to focus my recovery on not only rest, but also strengthening my glutes and my left psoas (hip flexor) which was considerably weaker than on the right.

So what are the possible factors that can contribute to or lead to an injury? We can break that down into two parts: internal and external factors. Internal factors, or intrinsic, are all things that are within us, inside our body or the stuff that is our natural make up. We can change some of these, and some we can't. In this category we have fitness, technique, body composition, anatomical variants, gender, age, past injuries, and finally psychology. The factors that may contribute to whether we get injured which are external, or extrinsic are those which come from outside of us: the environment, equipment we may use and the training and competition we undertake. It's safe to say we have a much greater degree of control over the extrinsic factors - but equally they're all interlinked.

I've given you an introduction the issues surrounding injuries, with some insight into the experience I've been through recently. I did my first rehab running session yesterday, going out for 30 minutes but with 5 mins warm up, then 1 min walk/1 min run for 9 sets, and the remainder of the time walking to cool down. I'm pleased to report that there was no pain in my knee and with the exception of it being a hot and humid evening the run was very pleasant. There's been plenty of foam rollering and sports massage too, which both contribute to a good rehab strategy. For those of you who are interested, I'll write more about the extrinsic and intrinsic factors soon.


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

calf stretches

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One of the most common questions I ask is "do you stretch", and more often than you think, the answer is "yes". Quickly followed by, "but only my calves".

This is fine, (well, its not, but at least they are making the effort), but the way people stretch out the lower leg muscle group is woefully inefficient and makes them THINK they are stretching them out all ready for a run, and off they bound, thinking they have warmed up their muscles... however, they have stretched ONE of the muscles. The other one, the (in some peoples opinion, the more important one) hasn't even been touched, and is being used to a massive capacity without any warning whatsoever.

running on cold muscles is not the greatest thing in the world, but running on cold muscles when you THINK they have been warmed up is probably a whole lot worse. That goes the same for warming down. Imagine thinking you had warmed down and stretched out your muscles after exercise, but in fact you hadn't. You'd start thinking why do my muscles hurt even though I've done everything I'm meant to have done?!

Ah, I think I see the problem. Inefficient stretching. Stretching of muscle groups which are missing out important specific muscles, which either are not being warmed up well enough, or not being cooled down/ flushed through with blood at the end of a session to get rid of all the waste products built up during the workout/run/cycle.

Quick physiology lesson. (you can also check this out on the plantar fasciitis post as its quite relevant to that subject as well).
Muscles of the posterior (back) distal (bottom) chain
There are a number of smaller muscles deep inside the leg, but we are going to concentrate on the Triceps surii. The Gastrocnemius and the Soleus.
Everyone should know what the Gastrocnemius looks like. Its the one you always see on skinny-ass runners and cyclists as they strain their way up a hill. We're just coming into Tour de France season- watch the lower leg muscles of the riders- they will have ridiculously well developed Gastrocnemius.
Showing the Triceps Surii. The muscle coloured Black is the Gastrocnemus. Note how it attaches above the knee joint. You can just about see the Soleus (in red), but there is a better pic of that below. I'm pointing out the Gastrocnemius on our leg model. (TdF athletes MAY have a slightly more well developed musculature)
The Gastrocnemius muscle attaches to the foot via the calcaneal tendon (achillies tendon), and to the leg at the top, ABOVE the knee on the femur. This is quite an important distinction as opposed to the soleus. The muscle itself is actually quite a thin muscle and does not run all that deep into the leg. However, it does look pretty impressive when it is tensed.
The Gastrocnemius is the muscle everyone knows about and the muscle everyone thinks is stretched when they do the calf stretch. (and they're right).

Soleus is the muscle that is always forgotten.
Soleus is deep to the Gastrocnemius and is actually a thicker muscle. You can't see it from the back because the Gastrocnemius is so showy that it completely covers it over. You can access it from the side though. The Soleus is sometimes referred to as the "second heart". This is because when it contracts, it plays an important role in sending blood back from the extremities to the heart. It is a very important muscle involved in your circulation, as well as in the gait cycle.

The Soleus attaches to the foot at the bottom on the same tendon as the gastrocnemius. They blend together into the Calcaneal (achilles) tendon. At the top is a very different story. The Soleus attaches to the top of the Tibia and Fibula- BELOW the knee. That is one of the most important distinctions between the muscles.

Soleus, the second Heart. As you can see, it blends with the Calcaneal (achilles) tendon, and attaches BELOW the knee, on the top of the Tibia and Fibula.
What difference does it make?
Well, when the leg is straight, it stretches out the Gastrocnemius beautifully- blood goes through it and all is good and nice. However, when the leg is straight, because all that is going on, the Soleus doesn't actually get a look in as it attaches below the knee. The blood can stagnate, waste products don't get flushed through, the muscle becomes hypertonic and tight, and this causes DOMS and might contribute to you getting Plantar fasciitis.
Even though you SWEAR that you always stretch out your calves.

So how do you stretch Soleus and stop all these horrible things happening to you?
When you stretch out in a "calf-stretch" the back leg is straight- right? Right. For half the time. This is the classic stretch that everyone does, and its brilliant.
Stretch 1- the one you always do. Stretches out the Gastrocnemius
Once you have stretched that, rock back on to the back leg so that it is BENT. You will feel the muscle stretch/ache in a slightly different place.
That is the Soleus.
Stretch 2- notice how the back leg is bent- that is stretching the Soleus.

Stretch that one as well.
And on the other leg.
NOW you have a slightly better set of legs. Go Play.

Just as a bonus- an extra stretch for the soleus, the rear heel isn't touching the ground, but it is being pushed down toward it. Be sensible and don't hurt yourself stretching. Its meant to do you good, not break you.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

15 trigs epic

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Tim went off and ran quite a long way yesterday, 55 miles, 8500ft of ascent.
Have a read of his blog here.

Friday, 1 July 2011


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Went to Rockover last night for a bit of an indoor session. Although it was only a day after my humbling efforts over at Burbage South, it was good to get some time in on plastic as well, training movement patterns without the risk of cheese-gratering more skin off my ankles before this weekends massive bog-bash through the Peak.

We took a table over to the wall in case any of the climbers wanted a massage, I know that its only really a couple of weeks since we started going there, and we still haven't officially launched, but its good to keep up appearances as well, just in case.

We had a little more interest in the massage, and may have a couple of bookings for next week as well, which should be good.
Had a quick chat with Little Tom about the design for our t-shirts, which looks pretty cool, I have to say- look out for them in a couple of weeks when they are finished and being worn around the wall. We also had a quick chat to him about places to go outdoors as well- Tom is ridiculously enthusiastic about anything to do with bouldering, and a fountain of knowledge about what is good to play on in this area of the Peak at any number of different levels. If in doubt, have a chat with him.

So now my fingertips are quite sensitive from being bashed about on gritstone and plastic. The indoor session was good, testing out the new Purple routes set up by Tom- some of them were a lot harder than others, I have to say- and I've been sitting around healing them up nicely with Climb On- excellent stuff.

Yes, look out for us over at Rockover, and if you're in Manchester and don't want to travel to Glossop for a treatment, drop us a line, we'd be most happy to treat you there instead- we'll be there next Wednesday, 6th July 2011.