Physio-yoga: DOES YOUR BACK HURT? ARE YOUR SHOULDERS SORE? DO YOU SUFFER ONGOING DISCOMFORT?
We offer guest workshops for health retreats, workplace, and private groups
Contact us for more information
Improve your gut health
Good bacteria are??
Nowadays, many people suffer from gut-based dysfunction or illnesses. Our gut contains the highest percentage of bacteria residing in our body, weighing in at approximately 1.5kg.
The main bacteria are the multiple strains of Bifodobacterium, who reside in the large intestine and Lactobacillus who live in the small intestine. Disturbance of the intestine bacteria through poor diet, stress, trauma, operations and antibiotics can alter the ratio and/or location in the intestines, leading to dysfunction or illnesses.
Functional medical science starts to understand more and more about the importance of our gut - the “second” brain, also called Enteric Nervous System (ENS). The ENS is a collection of neurons which help to control certain intestinal functions completely independent of the brain.
‘The so-called gut-brain axis (GBA) consists of bidirectional communication between the central and the enteric nervous system, linking emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with peripheral intestinal functions. Recent research has described the importance of gut microbiota in influencing these interactions.
If the numbers of the healthy intestinal bacteria-colonies are too low, a number of things can be effected.
Not good? What can happen?
Locally, we can experience delayed gastric emptying and increased intestinal wall permeability.
This can produce symptoms such as:
What about my brain and bacteria in my gut?
The gut can also be influence negatively, when our brain function is altered.
Through stress or when you have been in a sport or car accident/concussion, the balance of parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system can alter and our vagal nerve will be influenced.
The vagal nerve influences the valves in the digestive nervous system.
Very often in my treatments I will check the neck / C2/3 nervus vagus and I will explore the belly/ valve activity. Valves act as a doorway between the large and small intestine and should close in time. If the valve stays open too long, the bacteria of the large intestine can take a little field trip into the small intestine where they don’t belong. This can lead to:
So, what can you do to help your gut?
Do you want to know more and have a personal advice? Come and see me for an assessment, belly/body massage, stress less: yoga and meditation or advise on diet.
The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Ann Gastroenterol. 2015 Apr-Jun; 28(2): 203–209.
Intestinal Dysfunction: Uncovering the Neuro-Enteric Axis. J Neurotrauma. 2009 Aug; 26(8): 1353–1359. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989839/
Leo Galland. The Gut Microbiome and the Brain. J Med Food. 2014 Dec 1; 17(12): 1261–1272. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4259177/
Weitz, Charles J. Circadian Clock of the Paraventricular Nucleus. Harvard University, Boston, MA, United States. http://grantome.com/grant/NIH/R01-NS060860-02
“Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide”. General Practice Notebook. Retrieved 2009-02-06.
Great at this busy X-mas time is this vegan sweet pasta recipe for 4!
It is really easy to make and although it says one hour and 10 minutes, it is more of a 15 minutes meal and while in the oven you have time to do other things.
Time: 45 - 60 minutes in the oven and 10 minutes of preparation
2 kilos of tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
2 red capsicums
2 big red unions
4 table spoons of fresh basil
4 table spoons of olive oil
2 table spoons of balsamic vinegar
Black pepper and Himalayan rock salt
Black olives (pit them at home for more flavour)
Fresh spinach leaves
4 medium sliced courgette/zucchinis or (fresh pasta of your choice)
Oven and (metal) lasagne tray
2-litre pan for pasta
How to make:
Preheat the oven at 180 degrees
Cut the tomatoes, capsicums and red unions in big pieces and ad the peeled and crushed garlic to the lasagna tray.
Add the basil leaves, sprinkle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top and mix with all the ingredients. Then put the tray for 45 minutes in the middle of the oven. Stir a few times over that time.
Cut the mushrooms and olives in pieces.
When the vegetables are soft, take them out of the oven and put the mixture (with or without the garlic cloves) into a blender and blend till smooth.
As your “pasta”: wash and cut the 4 zucchinis in small long slices and heat up a frying pan with coconut oil.
Add the zucchini for 3 -4 minutes stirring while frying.
Then put the metal lasagna tray with the left-over juices on the stove/gas and add a little olive oil. Add the mushrooms and the olives and give them a stir till the mushrooms turn darker, then add the blended tomato sauce and add the spinach at the last minute.
Serve the zucchini- pasta with the sauce on top and add some fresh basil leaves and pepper to your taste.
ENJOY AND MERRY FIT-MAS ;-)
If you are one of the athletes, who is foam rolling "all life" out of your ITB, this if for you!!
Do you believe that foam rolling is lengthening muscles, increasing mobility, breaking up adhesions and scar tissue, does it help recovery (Muscle soreness) and athletic performance? Do you just do what you see online and on Facebook in your practice/training? Have you actually ever thought about what you are trying to do and when is the best time and how long you should roll?
So, what is the (or any science) behind foam rolling claiming to release muscle tightness or ‘trigger points’ and relaxing contracted muscles long term? What about improving muscle soreness? Or is it simply not true?
Serious, let’s look into the literature behind all of this and get you sorted with your foam rolling practice.
Does foam rolling really make muscles longer and increases mobility?
A research (2016 Scott W.) referring to this, has been done with rats: where they used tools to scrape over their ligaments to see if that changed the ligaments. The collagen in the ligaments remodeled over the course of weeks compared to the control group. Now the problem with this research is that the poor little rats where unconscious and the tools used where human size. So basically, we used this info, while it is not possible to reproduce that same amount of pressure ratio and therefor change the length of collagen in humans is not the case. The claim of dissolving adhesions is not possible only through foam rolling. Joint Range Of Motion seems to improve but needs further substantial research.
So why do you feel better when foam rolling?
Let’s explore this from a neurological perspective:
The brain is connected to muscles, ligaments and tendons, joints, skin and fascia via the nervous system with specialised receptors. When you exercise/move, you use the connection between brain and these tissues to protect and coordinate the movements.
For example: if you kick a ball, you do not want to end up with your shin on your chin!? When you extend the leg at high speed, the nervous system sends information about slowing down the movement to protect capsule, muscles and tendons around the knee and hip. We can stimulate the same “nerves and their specialised receptors” when we are foam rolling and influence a response.
So how does this work?
Look at the pictures of the two primary receptors: called Muscle Spindles and Golgi Tendon Organs.
The muscle spindles monitor the length, and the rate of change in length of our muscles constantly. They are under reflexive control and will fire to varying degrees whenever a muscle lengthens to control the motion (So stopping the shin from hitting your chin after kicking a ball). These spindles are found in the muscle belly and can be influenced in many ways through sensory stimulus, brain based drills and manual manipulation (tapping, stretching, passive ‘shaking’ and foam rolling)
So, do you get it already? Spindles when (over)-triggered facilitate a contraction reflexively within the muscle (see left picture). If you use a foam roller on the belly of the muscle you are triggering the spindle (worse with strong painful pressure), causing a reflexive contraction. Hence: if you want the muscle to relax, you do not want to roll over the muscle belly and spindles! And certainly, not as hard as you can, causing discomfort!
In the second picture, you can see the Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO).
These “organs” keep an eye on the level of tension/contraction within a muscle by monitoring the tendon. Stimulation of GTO’s happens when the tension on the tendon increases (too quick or too much) and this results at a certain point in a reflex inhibition of the spindles and ‘relaxes’ the attached muscle. This is to protect the muscles and tendons to damage.
These 2 principles of spindle and Golgi sensor organs are important when it comes to foam rolling the right way!
Because for various reasons (bad posture, repetitive actions/work, overtraining, under training/weakness, emotions, illness of organs or injuries) muscles get tight or weak or both. We can roll to strengthen or to lengthen.
We can use foam rolling to strengthen a weak muscle:
ACTION: To facilitate a ‘weak’ muscle we can use the roller to apply pressure through the belly of the muscle while shortening or contracting the same muscle.
The muscle spindles are in the muscle belly and when pressured will have a reflexive response to increase facilitation to the same muscle. This can be further enhanced by actively shortening the muscle at the same time.
DOSE-RESPONS: To strengthen a muscle there is not enough (strong scientific) proof yet about the exact dose. But as a physiotherapist, I test before and after a few reps of rolling to retest the range of motion. Continue till there is no further improvement, instead of just general applying a few standard 3 times etc. (till there is more substantial strong evidence).
Foam rolling to lengthen a short muscle:
ACTION: To inhibit a ‘tight’ muscle we can use the roller to apply pressure towards the TENDON (origin/insertion) while lengthening the muscle or contracting its antagonist (reciprocal inhibition).
DOSE-RESPONS: again, to lengthen a muscle there is not enough (strong scientific) proof yet about the exact dose. Test, retest do individually see what works for you.
The GTO’s live in and near the junction where the muscle becomes tendon.
Again: Re-assess. Make sure you do not trigger pain, because that will cause contraction of the muscle instead of lengthening. Make sure that you are not rolling over the muscle belly.
The conclusion is: there is a neuromuscular response: it is a changed short term perception!
So, rolling in a painful way is definitely not a good way to relax the muscle to lengthen nor will it send a signal to the muscle it is safe to stimulate to get stronger.
When is the best time to roll and how long?
If foam rolling only gives short term neuromuscular responses, then the implementation advice is:
Short rolling 20 sec-1 min (3-5 reps) and then load the tissue.
Longer term: 3-5 times per week performed on a consistent basis to achieve and retain the chronic effects on flexibility.
When are you going to roll is depending on the goal you are after:
Lengthen? Maybe before you start your training if mobility is your main restricting factor.
Or strengthen hamstrings e.g. in a (Russian/Romanian) deadlift?
Light warming up weight, then roll and contract muscle belly hamstring.
Increase the weight and repeat.
If the priority is lengthening then roll over the hamstring tendons around the back of the knee and close to the sitting bones and extend the knee to activate the 4ceps.
Increase the Range of Motion and repeat.
While rolling in a painful matter is not a good idea, muscle soreness responds to foam rolling, some research claims (see references).
Although still a little inconclusive, foam rolling can improve flexibility and strength. It suggests that it may be a worthwhile addition to your warming-up. Moreover, due to its capability of reducing the effects of DOMS following physical activity, it may also help to recover after exercising. More research is needed to better understand how foam rolling really works, but for now it can be suggested that this modality can provide a meaningful impact on training if as done as explained otherwise it is just a waste of time or even counterproductive.
I hope next time I see you foam rolling it will be with a smile on your face! ;-)
You can book me for a full body foam roll session with functional exercise or orthopedic assessment of what your body specific needs are to improve your performance. Call on 0415442029
References used to write this blog:
Barnes, M. F. (1997). The basic science of myofascial release. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 1(4), 231-238. [Link]
Bradbury-Squires DJ, Noftall JC, Sullivan KM, et al(2014) Roller massager application to the quadriceps increases knee joint ROM and neuromuscular efficiency during a lunge. J Athl Train
Ebrahim, A. W., & Elghany, A. W. A. (2013). The effect of foam roller exercise and Nanoparticle in speeding of healing of sport injuries. Journal of American Science, 6, 9. [PubMed]
Gregory E. P., Pearcey, MSc*; David J. Bradbury-Squires, MSc*; Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSc*; Eric J. Drinkwater, PhD*†; David G. Behm, PhD*; Duane C. Button, PhD* (2015)
Foam Rolling for Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness and Recovery of Dynamic Performance Measures
International Journal of Kinesiology and Sports Science (3);
Halperin, I., Aboodarda, S. J., Button, D. C., Andersen, L. L., & Behm, D. G. (2014). Roller massager improves range of motion of plantar flexor muscles without subsequent decreases in force parameters. International journal of sports physical therapy, 9(1), 92. [PubMed]
Healey, K. C., Hatfield, D. L., Blanpied, P., Dorfman, L. R., & Riebe, D. (2014). The effects of myofascial release with foam rolling on performance. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 28(1), 61-68. [PubMed]
Janot, J., Malin, B., Cook, R., Hagenbucher, J., Draeger, A., Jordan, M., & Quinn, E. (2013). Effects of Self Myofascial Release and Static Stretching on Anaerobic Power Output. Journal of Fitness Research, 2(1). [Link]
MacDonald, G. Z., Penney, M. D., Mullaley, M. E., Cuconato, A. L., Drake, C. D., Behm, D. G., & Button, D. C. (2013). An acute bout of self-myofascial release increases range of motion without a subsequent decrease in muscle activation or force. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 27(3), 812-821. [PubMed]
Miller, J. K., & Rockey, A. M. (2006). Foam rollers show no increase in the flexibility of the hamstring muscle group. Journal of Undergraduate Research IX [Link]
Mohr, A.R., Long, B.C., & Goad, C.L. (2014) Effect of foam rolling and static stretching on passive hip-flexion range of motion. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, 23(4), pp.296-299. [PubMed]
Okamoto T1, Masuhara M, Ikuta K.(2014) Acute effects of self-myofascial release using a foam roller on arterial function J Strength Cond Res. Jan;28(1):69-73.
Peacock, C.A., Krein, D.D., Silver, T.A., Sanders, G.J., von Carlowitz, K.P.A. (2014). An acute bout of self-myofascial release in the form of foam rolling improves performance testing. International Journal of Exercise Science, 7(3), pp.202-211. [Link]
Pearcey, G.E., Bradbury-Squires, D.J., Kawamoto, J.E., Drinkwater, E.J., Behm, D.G., and Button, D.C. (2015). Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures. Journal of Athletic Training, 50(1), pp.5-15. [PubMed]
Schleip, Robert; Müller, Divo Gitta (2013). "Training principles for fascial connective tissues: Scientific foundation and suggested practical applications". Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 17 (1): 103–15. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.06.007.
Schroeder, AN; Best, TM (2015). "Is self-myofascial release an effective preexercise and recovery strategy? A literature review". Current sports medicine reports. 14 (3): 200–8. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000148. PMID 25968853.
Scott W. Cheatham, PT, PhD, DPT, OCS, ATC, CSCS,1 Matt Lee, PT, MPT, CSCS,2 Matt Cain, MS, CSCS, USAW-I,3and Russell Baker, DAT, ATC4 (2016) The efficacy of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization: a systematic review J Can Chiropr Assoc. Sep; 60(3): 200–211.
Why do you stretch?
Now let us just explore: Why do you want / need to be flexible?
Are you trying to prevent injuries?
Sorry to tell you, but there is only inconsequential (high quality) scientific proof that static stretching or PNF stretching does that! I’ll discuss dynamic stretching a little later.
Yoga not for you, because, you are not flexible?
Yoga teachers usually are flexible! But more important: if they are not strong, their flexibility actually can be a risk for injuries!
So how come you are (not) flexible? Is it functional or it is a lack of enough movement?
Sometimes having short muscles can be functional and beneficial, for example if you are a soccer player. While kicking a ball, the knee has to extend quick and short hamstrings will help to slow down the movement and help to reduce the stress on passive structures knee capsule, crucial and collateral ligaments.
Or cyclist and ice skaters (speed): they have limited range of motion of the hip flexor (M. ilipsoas), because they need to be strong in a shortened position: “sitting” deep on the ice or bike and lifting the leg in a small range of motion pulling the pedal up on the bike.
Most people stretch because they think it is important to be flexible. Only when you have specific “functions” in mind, longer muscles might make sense.
And then trying to stretch to lengthen might not be the solution. Different studies show that stretching does not alter tissues quick, only when stretching is performed a lot over a long time. And then the changes will be more through neurological adaptations then tissue lengthening.
So, what is the solution if you want longer muscles?
Strengthen, not just lengthen!
Train muscles eccentric in an elongated state.
Eccentric training causes sarcomerogenisis (O'Sullivan et al. (2012): This means that the muscle creates new sarcomeres (image 1) in the muscle, leading to a longer and stronger muscle in an elongated state.
Dynamic stretching is similar to a form of lengthen the muscle and strengthen (static or dynamic) and does come close to training eccentric in an elongated state.
What does this eccentric training look like? For example, for the hamstrings it can be done by Romanian deadlift and also with Nordic curls.
Lower 3-5 seconds’ eccentric and move quick concentric
You might know this move from body pump classes or doing them at the gym.
Squat and stoop technique
And if you are a builder this is functional (even though the advice is to bend the knees while lifting, called squad technique), there is also the stoop technique that has equal load on the lower back and guess what? By the way does that looks like the Romanian deadlift? According to Timmins et al. (2016) this may be achieved in 14 days of 3 sessions per week. (More research is needed though).
And yes: Aussie health and safety regulations does only advice squat, but the stoop technique happens to show that the load is almost equal on Lumbar spine disc L4/5. Depending on the task and I guess the mobility of the person!
Conclusion: Strengthen eccentric in elongated state to lengthen!
With weight training, in yoga or at work!
Want to find out what works for you or not?
Call 0415442029 for a consultation/private yoga lesson
Behm DG, Blazevich AJ, AD Kay (2016) Acute effects of muscle stretching on physical performance, range of motion, and injury incidence in healthy active individuals: a systematic review
- Applied physiology …, 2015 - NRC Research Press
Dreischarf, M Rohlmann, A et al (2016) In vivo loads on a vertebral body replacement during different lifting techniques Journal of Biomechanics
Volume 49, Issue 6, 11 April 2016, Pages 890-895
Konrad et al. (2014): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24856792
Freitas et al. (2015): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25486299
Weppler et al. (2010): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20075147
O'Sullivan et al. (2012):https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22522590
Timmins et al. (2016): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26460634
Are you getting overwhelmed by all the hypes and pseudoscience advices out there about stress, health and lifestyle choices?
This series of health blogs aim to help you figure out to make some good choices for your health, based on scientific knowledge , made practical.....
What is actually understood as good heath? What is an optimal state of well-being?
According to the World Health Organisation's definition: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ .
But what if you have an illness or you are injured or just not that super fit/slim/relaxed, is that the end of your optimal health? Huber (2014) redefined heath: the ability to adapt and self manage social, physical and emotional challenges.
And one of these challenges is stress:
Patients that come to see me, talk a lot about that life is full of stress!
Do you belief that stress is harmful for your life?
A study done by researchers at the in the US looked at 29,000 respondents from the survey who matched up to public records, and then looked at instances of death among survey respondents through 2006. Overall, they found that survey respondents who reported a lot of stress and a perception that stress has a big impact on health had an increased hazard ratio — which converted to a 43% increased risk of premature death. However, survey respondents who reported a lot of stress but little to no perception that stress impacted health had the lowest hazard ratio of any group in the survey, even those who felt almost no stress.
So just from not perceiving stress as unhealthy, you will improve your health and life longer!
Apart from the perception of stress, there are a lot of other tools, like meditation, nutrition, breath, influencing the Ph of the body, exercise, yoga and so on.
More in my next blog.
Huber M. et al (2011)'How should we define health?' ;343:d4163 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d4163
Keller A.,Litzelman, K. et al(2012)' Does the Perception that Stress Affects Health Matter? The Association with Health and Mortality' Health Psychol. Sep; 31(5): 677–684