Frankie Naylor Sports Therapy

Is sitting making your blood boil? Literally!

Sitting – the route of all evil? Our bodies dislike it on so many levels and I treat the effects daily. Physically we know the issues but emotionally? ‘Yeah right’ you say dismissively!

It’s normal for people to come to me with a bad back. I’m used to that. But the pattern I’m seeing more and more is the one that links lower back pain to stress and anxiety. So what is happening to people now that wasn’t happening 5, 10 or 15 years ago?

The answer could be that we are all sitting more. That extra hour sitting at work each day to pay that extra bill or that extra hour sat in traffic. It’s all adding up. And more time at work means less time exercising.

Sitting, whether it be at a desk, in a car, on a horse (yes!) or for farriers shoeing (you’re in that same folded position) affects our body’s (bio) mechanics. Structural imbalances increase and consequently so does the risk of injury.

Predominantly, sitting tightens the psoas muscle which sits deep in the abdominal area and connects the spine to the thigh bones. But here’s the interesting bit ……. psoas is directly linked to adrenaline production. Tight psoas signals that you’re in danger preparing your body for flight or flight by releasing adrenaline. So what happens if you continue sitting and there’s no fight or flight, where does the extra adrenaline go? Well if no physical activity takes place you simply end up with increased levels of adrenaline circulating your body. And it’s this that increases the likelihood of becoming stressed and potentially suffering with anxiety.

So what does a tight psoas feel or look like? From a postural perspective I tend to see a forward rotated pelvis (bottom sticking out), an internally rotated leg(s) (toes turn in), leg length discrepancies (unable to get stirrups level) and knee and lower back pain.

The clients I see who seem to suffer the most with stress and anxiety caused (at least in part) by a tight psoas are the ones who work full time in an office based role but who also ride horses. So they drive to work, sit at a desk, drive to the yard, sit on a horse then drive home (you get the picture).

What I feel when I treat someone with a tight psoas is tension through the sides (tight quadratus lumborum muscle, which attaches the spine to the pelvis) and tension through the abdominal area (tight psoas). The client will immediately feel tension on palpation of these areas but are usually blissfully unaware of an issue otherwise. Loosening psoas can often be achieved in just one treatment. And clients have reported significant decreases in levels of stress and anxiety almost immediately and with lasting effect.

So if your therapist is still closed do try to do some of the leg work to fix this yourself! I have trawled through various stretches online to find the best self-help methods for a tight psoas. Personally I find that a simple half kneeling stretch (see below) combined with a side lying foam roller technique (to also target quadratus lumborum) works well for most. But as with all these methods the techniques need to be fine-tuned to the individual…..so do get in touch if you’d like more information.

And it’s never just one thing that’s needed to fix the problem. Lifestyle choices play their part too. Try sitting less with the help of a standing desk. A number of my clients are now using these with great results. You can check out the reviews on the best standing desks here https://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/house-garden/furniture/best-standing-desks-a9371281.html

What are your experiences? Comment, like, share.

Frankie Naylor Sports Therapy

Stop rolling on your foam roller!

Yes really! Whoever decided to add the word ‘roller’ to its name has inadvertently put off about 80% of users from ever using a foam roller for a second time. The emphasis on rolling is too strong. So if you’re in this category of one-time users hopefully I can encourage you to dust off your foam roller once more!

Foam rolling (otherwise known as self-myofascial release) is a great way of loosening soft tissue before and after exercise to prevent and rehab injuries by maintaining flexibility.

Many of my clients have used a foam roller but haven’t continued because it’s too painful. On closer inspection I tend to see common issues with techniques. People typically roll too much, too quickly, position themselves inappropriately and fail to ‘hold’ on tender areas making foam rolling too painful and less effective.

There are lots of videos on the internet about foam rolling, but there are a few nuggets of information that I feel aren’t always emphasised enough:

  1. Roll less and hold more. The process of rolling is done largely to search for tender, tight muscles. Once you have found a tender, tight muscle use your bodyweight to push down. When the blood supply is reduced the muscle has to relax. Similar to trigger pointing, a technique used by therapists to encourage a muscle to relax. You should hold on any one area for 30 seconds or longer. When the pain decreases you can move on to the next tender, tight area.
  2. When you roll, roll slowly. Rolling too fast will causes muscles to contract (causing more pain and having the opposite effect to the one you want….doh!) Typically clients will try and get the process over and done with by rolling quickly. As pain increases so does breath-holding and body tension, again having a negative effect.
  3. Find a comfortable position. Rarely do I meet a client who has been told to support their head on their hand during side lying techniques to prevent neck strains or who has opted to use a cushion to prop themselves up if they aren’t flexible enough to perform the complete exercise. Getting comfy is important and it means you are more likely to hold positions for longer and support yourself better giving you more control of the degree of pressure you apply to a muscle. It’s not cheating it’s being realistic!

A common foam rolling exercise I teach is a back stretch. This technique involves the mid and upper back and is a great corrective stretch for those that drive, sit or ride (i.e. everyone). It helps correct that typically rounded back posture that so many of us suffer. I’m all for using props with this stretch and just encourage clients to do it for 1 minute a day initially to create a habit.

If you want to book a foam rolling session to learn more and get a personal program just go to frankienaylorsportstherapy.com/booking and choose the ‘Rehab exercises’ option.

Let me know what you think if you’ve tried foam rolling and do post your comments below.

Sports therapy Berkshire

Rural Life (Covid-19) & Exercise Habits

The New Year’s resolutions should have been in full swing and that beach body should now be honed …..but Covid-19 has kind of put a spanner in the works. All this down time may allow you to think more closely about what facilities are really available to you from a location and financial perspective and which are the best options to allow you to achieve your fitness goals.

Living and working in rural areas can mean the choices available to you are limited especially when taking into account our biggest barrier to exercise – lack of time. Time spent travelling to your preferred destination means time not exercising. And when life is already hectic you need to think tactically when choosing where to exercise.

There have been some massive shifts in the fitness industry since I first started out as a personal trainer creating more choice for the user and keeping prices competitive. So if you haven’t yet donned the Lycra, hold fire and let’s look at some of the options available.

Perhaps the ‘Waitrose’ option would be a David Lloyd gym (davidlloyd.co.uk) encompassing swim, gym, classes, coaching, kids clubs and treatment facilities under one roof – great (I hear you gasp). But they’re not always local, local and you’ll be paying over £1000/year. If you’re still excited by this option do check the class timetables fit around your life before parting with your cash!

Council run facilities can be a good ‘Tesco’ option. Just note that if you’re situated in the middle of two different counties (as we are in Lambourn) membership of one facility won’t allow you to use sites run by another council.

Personal trainers are dotted around. You can find prospective PT’s on the Register of Exercise Professionals (exerciseregister.org) or CIMSPA (cimspa.co.uk). Check prospective PT’s are registered so you know insurances and qualifications are up to date.

And if you want to get involved in a specific sport you can go to the National Governing Body website sportengland.org where you can search for a recognised sport’s contact information.

Social media platforms like Facebook can be a great tool in deciphering whether classes and activities in rural areas are right for you.

And if you don’t have the funds or the time get onto You Tube and try something like ‘Yoga with Adriene’ (yogawithadriene.com). Classes are approx. 20 minutes and at 6.01M subscribers she must be doing something right!

So don’t let a lack of finances, time or a rural location stop you from achieving your exercise goals. Let us know what sporting activities you’ve been involved in and what you’d like to have a go at next.