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To train or not to train- that is the question?

‘My back aches when I sit or stand for too long’

Start walking. Allowing the lumbar spine and pelvis to naturally tilt and rotate through normal gait allows for improved joint mobility improving blood supply and lymphatic drainage.

Help yourself: Always wear appropriate shoes i.e. a comfortable fit to allow your feet to move and if necessary be supportive to prevent increased impact in the spine and peripheral joints.
In addition to this provided it is safe to do so, entering a swimming pool and walking in the water not only provides support to the body but added resistance to the muscles and joints for further strength and cardiovascular benefits.
Exception: Too acute to swim or even go for a walk, rest up laying flat with hips flexed to allow for a relaxed neutral spine but still getting up little and often to keep the spine relatively mobile.


‘My shins ache when I run’

Cease high impact exercise (running, plyometrics, etc), allow for the swelling in the anterior compartment of the shin to subside but swim, row, bike (if not too acute) to substitute the cardio element.

Help yourself: Always wear appropriate footwear when running. A significant proportion of shin splints injuries are caused by wearing inappropriate shoes.

Exception: In extreme cases tibial compartment syndrome requires complete rest or even surgery due to excessive pressure build up in the muscle compartment. To avoid this, don’t push through the pain. This is your body’s way of saying stop!


‘My knees ache when I exercise’

High impact exercise like running or impaired form deep squats, can irritate the knee joint and its surrounding structures. Females tend to have a lower hamstring to quadriceps ratio. This means they typically have weaker hamstrings compared to males. An additional imbalance through the hip rotators can lead to uneven weight distribution through the knee and therefore more problems occurring.

To reduce the rate of injury, an adequate strength program for the hip and thigh muscles should be undertaken to prevent further injury. Eventually, single leg movement patterns will help further to get you back running and moving efficiently through that squat pattern

Help yourself: Consult a personal trainer running coach or running rehab specialist to help with these specific exercises.

Exception: Chronic knee injuries like osteoarthritis mean that high impact exercise should really be avoided for better pain management, so get in that swimming pool or on a bike for reduced force!


‘My neck aches when I swim’

Often caused by repetitive neck extension out of the water or constant rotation one way, usually due to impaired technique, fear of getting ones face in the water or having just been to the hairdressers and not wanting to ruin the new do!
Counter: Stay in that pool your still safe…..
Help yourself: Swimming lessons to improve technique, in particular how and when to breath in the stroke, get some goggles and get your hair done after!
Exception: If the neck range of motion is so restricted then mix up the stroke or seek alternative exercise however given the support the water provides it’s unlikely it you cant find a way to swim effectively.


‘Wrist sprain, I can’t train!’

Boxing and related training drills are a fantastic way to improve mobility, speed and strength however always remember to support the wrists with boxers strapping, otherwise expect very sore wrists post a punch bag session!

Don’t do any exercise that requires gripping with your hands! If strength work is your fix, hit the leg circuits for a cardio blast instead.
Help yourself: If the sprain is recovering well you may be able to train having had it professionally strapped via regular taping or kinesiotape which aids healing.
Exception: Bad sprains or worse can be aggravated even when running or swinging the arm so rest is the key aid your healing an get back gradually.


‘I don’t want to get bulky’

The only way to get “bulky” is by eating the required amount to complement the training and therefore “bulk up”. Resistance strength training is still applicable even when maintaining regular tone.
Help yourself: Even for the endurance athlete, strength training is a must to improve form in what ever your pursuit may be.
Exception: None. A degree of healthy muscle mass is vital for amongst other benefits, day-to-day metabolic and postural function.


‘I’m overweight and unfit and my muscles ache when I train’

Slow and steady wins the race! You won’t get fit unless you train!
Help yourself: Avoid high impact to begin with, always set mini goals, eat well otherwise the training is counter productive.
Exception: Always address any underlying reasons for why you don’t want to train, are the muscle aches an excuse for deeper psychological concerns, always seek the cause. Not an exception but a grounding for aiding beneficial training.


‘Menstrual cycle- time of the month’

Bloated stomach, aching back, general fatigue and bleeding can limit exercise in many ways so to force exercise at this stage is counter productive. However gentle low impact exercise like yoga or if appropriate swimming to sooth back ache and mobilise the body will help.
Help yourself: Listen to your body and individual symptoms will dictate what you can and can’t do.


‘I don’t have enough time’

An understandable excuse but an excuse nonetheless. MAKE TIME!
Help yourself: Walk up the stairs at work don’t use the lift or escalator.
You don’t need any gear to do a good all-round body workout: push ups, squats, lunges etc hit many muscle groups.
Exception: NONE!


‘I don’t like the gym and it costs too much’

Counter: Get outside and hit the many “park style gyms” for outdoor workouts.
Personal trainers at home are a plenty but always seek personal recommendation. Attend an independent yoga or pilates class, join your local running club or tennis club for some social perks too.
Help yourself: Simply find, which sport or exercise flicks your switch and go with it. If you enjoy it, you will do it!
Exception: Gyms are a great place to workout however more often than not the time spent there isn’t cost effective so use the space well and ask a trainer for help with a workout program. An active gym goer is a happy gym goer!//

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Exercise- Weight bear, or not to weight bear?

Exercise- Weight bear, or not to weight bear?



As human beings we are designed for motion. This benefits us in many ways not only to improve the blood flow to our muscles and joints to maintain health but also for our organ systems to function they require motion to encourage oxygenated blood and nutrients to them for optimum function. True, the heart is the primary pump to allow for this but inorder to optimize the pumps very function movement is its key stimulus. So when possible, stand up and get moving is the simple solution to good health, however depending on ones ability and with so many options as to how to exercise, which is the best way to go?



Weight bearing exercise is important to stimulate joint proprioception (or awareness and stability in space), bone growth and repair however those suffering with weight bearing overuse injuries or other conditions must seek other options to still gain the benefits of exercise….



Walking is one of the most fundamental movement patterns we are designed for and the lowest impacting of the gears when considering jogging and sprinting as the higher. Therefore those suffering with arthritic knees and hips are less advised to run but to maintain mobility through regular walking. It is true for those suffering with low back pain that keeping oneself comfortably mobile is far better than compressing and stiffening the joints through a sedentary activity, so at the very least minimal amounts of walking can help to alleviate certain symptoms of low back pain.


Swimming has benefits to suit a range of people, from those suffering with chronic arthritis to the hypermobile gymnast. The water provides both resistance and support for the body so therefore working on muscle strength and joint mobility. Like any sport or activity it is imperative that the technique used is efficient for both injury prevention and getting the most out of your relaxing post work evening swim or your early morning one-mile blast!

It is useful to note that when exercising in a pool, swimming is not the only option. Walking or aqua aerobics are alternatives to getting the most out of your time in the water.


Cycling is an excellent way to improve endurance and strength particularly in the lower half of the body. And when attacking more extreme pursuits like downhill-mountain biking or the rigors of the long distance road event, core strength is of paramount importance. But even when going for a relaxing ride to the park it is still vital to consider ones body position on the bike so to apply the correct injury prevention forces through the hips knees and ankles and to protect the spine so not to over flex if not conditioned to do so. The racing position as seen on a keen road cyclist or for the avid spin class attendee is good for the spine but it is necessary to maintain good flexibility through this range via other activity so to prevent stiffening and possible overstrain.


Yoga and indeed Pilates are exercise systems that amongst other things help to balance the body, improve postural tone and flexibility. They are therefore perfect compliments to all forms of exercise and sport. There are varying forms of both and like any class will be modified by the skill and knowledge of the instructor. They also focus on:


  • Improving our ability to breathe more efficiently (therefore gaining more oxygen into our system).
  • Optimize our digestive system (improved fuelling of our system) through better posture.
  • Focus the mind on the body rather than what’s on TV tonight or when will Tottenham ever win the league!


All of the above are vital to calming our system and regaining both our physical and mental centre.





There are of course many other ways to train and move, to the more vigorous strength and endurance benefits gained from rowing, elliptical trainer or where possible cross country skiing to the grounding calming perks of Thai Chi and Alexander technique.


As humans we do have a tendency to overcomplicate and reach for the most hi-Tec or diverse but often the simplest approach is just as beneficial. Take playing around on the floor mimicking our children in play.

These “primal moves”


are the essence of our developmental patterns and are at our disposal whenever we want them, provided we keep practicing them!


In general when exercising, a few points should remain: Keep the variety-Mixing it up keeps it fun and stimulates both the brain and body. And also prevents overuse injury.


Due to different conditions some more severe than others, it is all relative as to how much one can do but above all wherever possible, KEEP MOVING!