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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!//


Pregnancy- “natural” doesn’t mean without discomfort.




I am always intrigued by the phrase “being pregnant is a most natural process” and that birth is “the most beautiful experience there is”.  After all it is this very experience that is creating life. Being of the male variety I am unable to ever have first hand knowledge of these phrases, however as my wife is currently 19 weeks to the good, (and dealing with it magnificently-no bias of course!) I am somewhat able to get an insight into the finer details.


A caring osteopath on hand


The physical and emotional changes are incredible. The growing strains (in her case, low back pain and quite regular needs to visit the toilet as our unborn son {yes, we found out}, has seemingly taken to using my wife’s bladder as a treadmill!), requiring treatment on a near weekly basis by her caring and considerate osteopath husband has helped to manage her low back pain; and with the added benefits she is getting from pregnancy yoga classes, everything is looking very neat and tidy indeed. An ever-growing bump, however, will challenge all of this as ligaments become more lax and muscles strain under the increased weight of our growing baby, not to mention placenta and amniotic fluid.


Keep active


As a general rule it is important for any mum to keep comfortably active during pregnancy; walking or swimming being the most classic ways. Anything water based will provide that much needed support for growing, (and often aching) bodies. Varying forms of yoga will, amongst other things, teach you to understand what your body needs through improved breathing, and postural education.


Running mum’s don’t forget running!


In addition to all of this it is not necessary to shy away from weight bearing exercise, (the baby is well protected within the amniotic sac). After all, Paula Radcliffe was training well into her pregnancies. You may, though, point out that she could as she is a world-class athlete! It is of course relative and the simple line of advice is:


Don’t try anything drastic!


That’s not to say that if you were a world-class couch potato keep up the good work; but rather embrace the need to keep your body moving and always instinctively listen to what it is telling you.

1) Keep well hydrated

2) Blood sugar levels at an optimum

3) Don’t exceed 80% of your maximum heart rate during intense exercise.




What changes may bring


I earlier alluded to the emotional element that comes with pregnancy. Hormones are running riot through all pregnant women’s bodies and can lead to significant mood changes and cause a great deal of stress.


It’s not all bad (says the bloke)


Despite the somewhat negative press, there is of course an optimistic side. In my wife’s case with every physical strain there has always been a coupling with an excitable flutter of moving body parts inside. Not to mention the first real kick last week.

I also watch in amazement with every bout of sickness she has had, in her mind reaffirming “the norm” and joy of knowing she is pregnant.


For what it’s worth, being able to watch my wife nurture and care for him is a unique situation to behold. And if I feel like this, to be the very person who is doing the “growing” and “nurturing” must be a very special privilege indeed.


As my wife goes off for another pregnancy yoga class I am reminded of the fact that (having already been subjected to some hormonally driven tirades),

A)   I’m pleased she’s going to yoga to help meditate and re-energize,

B)   Quite frankly given the strain she is being put through –




Sinus blocks,

Uncontrollable bladder,

Back pain….etc


Absorbing a few hormonal bombs is the least I can do to help her through this most “beautiful and natural experience”!


Note: I must also spare a thought for a current patient and a friend who are both currently expecting twins. Double the discomfort! (All being well, double the joy at the end)//