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7 Simple Ways Of Relieving Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain and more specifically, relieving lower back pain is probably one of the biggest problems I deal with. Sedentary lifestyles and too much time spent sitting have wreaked havoc with the structure of our spines. So if you you suffer with pain in the lumbar region

This article is for you!

Now I’m not an osteopath or a physio. In my role as a Personal Trainer I often see people after they’ve been with these guys for a while. But when I’ve got my other hat on, as a Performance Coach and Nutritionalist. I try my best to ensure my clients never have to see these guys in the first place.

To do that I focus much more on what is going on inside the body. 

Why?

A lot of lower back pain is aggravated by inflammation. 

Let’s say you’ve got problems in your lower back. Often caused by poor posture due to sitting too much. Whether this is muscular or skeletal, it often causes the muscles to tighten up. A lot. This makes it harder for essential nutrients to get in and for waste products to be taken out of the muscles. It makes the muscles have to work harder to achieve the same result. It also means there just isn’t enough physical space for the muscles and organs anymore. 

Relief from lower back pain

The end result…inflammation. 

So if we can reduce this inflammation we can start to make it easier for the circulatory system and the lymphatic system to do their jobs. As well as relieving pressure on the organs and allowing the muscles to work properly again. 

At best this can start a chain reaction which leads to a massive lessening of pain and a return of function. At the least it means when you do go to the Osteopath or Physio, it’s MUCH easier for them to actually get into the muscles and manipulate them…

Without giving themselves a hernia. 

Meaning you get great results, much faster.

Now I’ve seen a lot of cases of lower back pain clear up just doing what I’m going to suggest next. When you combine these methods with with a good osteopath you often see stellar results.

So Where To Start?

Well some of these are so simple its silly:

  1. Water: Drink at least 2.5 litres of filtered water a day, preferably with good electrolytes
  2. Red light: These is a huge amount of research being done into the healing benefits of red light. For more information on this see my friends over at Red Light Rising
  3. Foam rolling: All over the body. It’s common to see lower back problems being more to do with the glutes an hamstrings (the most powerful muscles in the body) than with the back itself. So by getting rid of any knots in these places you can make a huge difference to your lower back pain
  4. Systemic enzymes: These little guys are naturally produced by the body, unfortunately after the age of 25 our body really slows down production. Which is a shame as these guys play a great role in reducing inflammation, promoting recovery and breaking down scar tissue in the body. Which you’re likely to have a lot of around your lower back if it’s causing you pain.
  5. Collagen: this is more a restorative thing, but mort of our diets are hugely lacking in Collagen, which is one of the bodies main building blocks for ligaments, and connective tissue.
  6. Omega 3, Turmeric, garlic, ginger are all great at reducing inflammation in general so include them as much as you can in your food.
  7. Another thing I found really helped me is a really innocuous device called a SHOFT, these things are so simple but I’ve found they really do help to correct my posture whilst driving. If you drive a lot it’s something I’d definitely consider.

Now this isn’t a complete list and I go into this in much more depth in my latest book. It’s called “Secrets of Peak Performance in a Connected World” and you can grab your FREE copy here >>

Of course, all of this will do nothing…

If you’re going out and eating a load of junk and causing a load of systemic inflammation with your diet. So the basis of this is, of course, a low inflammatory diet. Eat foods with one ingredient..an egg is an egg. 

Look at your latest TV meal from the supermarket and see how many ingredients there are and how many you’ve never heard of before. This is not food(not for humans at least) and is making your pain worse.

Once you’ve done this for a month, you should start noticing your pain decreasing.

If you combine what I talk about above with deep tissue massage and manipulation from an expert you can really see things fly and suffer much less from aches and pains and crippling back pain.

Sam
😎🤙

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Become MUCH More Resistant To Injury After 40

kitesurf fitness

I have a mate (let’s call him Dave), at 30 Dave was an amazing kitesurfer, highly resistant to injury and the fittest person I knew.

Now 45, he’s given up kitesurfing, rarely leaves the sofa and has pretty much stop doing ANY sport…and it could have all have been easily avoided.

At about 35 Dave tripped over a paving flag in the street and damaged his knee….nothing major, certainly nothing worth getting looked at (or so he thought at the time). But it meant that every time he went kiting his knee caused him pain.

As a result he didn’t push himself as hard on the water, didn’t improve as much, didn’t enjoy it as much and inevitably did less and less. 

As he did less his fitness declined, to the point where he struggled to last more than an hour on the water. He started putting on weight which made the whole process just that little bit harder…

Until eventually he gave up all together and rather than going kiting, he contented himself watching others do it on YouTube.

All Because Of A Stupid Knee Injury

Which could have been easily dealt with.

However injuries like this are the main reason I see people after 40 giving up, not just kitesurfing, but many of the things they love.

So for me the most important thing we can do to keep on enjoying our kitesurfing and other sports as we pass 40, 50, 60 and beyond, is to become more resistant to injury and heal faster when we are injured.

become more resistant to injury

How…?

Well the problem is as we age our muscles get old with us…BUT when I say old what I really mean is damaged. 

Muscle fibres are supposed to run straight through the muscle.

All that sitting around we’ve been doing at work, those niggling injuries we picked up in our teens, the fact the we’ve been exercising in a way not designed for longevity of performance

Leads to those fibres becoming entangled into knots like spaghetti junction.

These knots, pull the muscle tighter, making it denser, whilst at the same time forming a weak point. So when we twist in a weird way or receive an impact they break rather than absorb the impact.

This is the main reason why a child of 5 can go from sitting around playing computer games all day to a full on sprint at the drop of the hat. Whereas most 40 + year olds doing the same would pull up in agony after 10 meters.

The Great News?

We can get rid of these knots and so youth our muscles fairly easily.

How have we got to a point where the very exercise we are doing is causing such damage to our muscles?

The main problem I see is that there is a contradiction right at the heart of the hearth and fitness industry…and it really costs us once we pass 40 unless we do something about it.

You see most exercise science is based on the study of elite athletes. Following the ethos “if it works for Usain Bolt, it’ll work for me.”

But what isn’t taken into account is that most of these athletes are looking to be the absolute best they can be right now. They want to win the gold medal this year, they want to make the team this week.

No one’s really looking at how to ensure they still make the team in 10 – 20 years time. 

At the heart of this problem is …

The LONGER, MORE MODEL

This is the idea that the only way to get fit is to do more exercise at a higher intensity, for longer.

AND IT WORKS!

Of course it does, otherwise it wouldn’t be what every single personal Trainer out there is teaching…the problem?

It causes a huge amount of strain on the body, strain which comes back to haunt as as we pass 30/35.

The Solution?

We need to change the way we work out to focus less on immediate gains and more on long term fitness.

I’ve written an entire book about how to do this, complete with workouts which you can download and it’s all FREE!

Post 40 Secrets

You can grab a copy here >>

YOGA & INJURIES

The other issue I see cropping up time and time again is our obsession with stretching.

Now before all you yoga people get upset and stop reading let me explain.

Imagine you have a piece of string and you stretch it…all good, the line stretches as it’s designed to. Now put a knot in it and stretch it again. Now you’ve made the line shorter by putting the knot in it and as you stretched it you’ve pulled the knot tighter. 

This is similar to what happens in your muscles if you do yoga with knotted muscles (which practically all of us over 15 do!).

So yoga is great (as long as you don’t take it to far and become over flexible which causes its own problems)  but needs to be done after we’ve removed all the knots from our muscles.

How Do We Do This?

Well the gold standard in this is something called Pliability…championed by Tom Brady. It’s a deep tissue, targeted massage where the person being massaged plays an active part in the massage by tensing and relaxing the muscles as they are being manipulated.

For those of us who can’t afford a personal masseuse, vibrating rollers and vibrating spikes balls do a similar if not quite so effective job. Especially if we expedite the process by tensing and relaxing our muscles while performing the massage.

Do this before and after exercise and you’ll soon see your knots unravelling, your muscles youthing and your resistance to injury flying through the roof.

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Build Muscle After 40 – Why It’s Difficult To Do

building muscle after 40

All of us over 40 have heard the terrifying statistic that we lose 1% of muscle mass a year naturally and that it becomes increasing difficult to build muscle after 40.

How do we prevent this so we can keep on performing at our highest level as we age?

Most of the solutions I found when researching this focused on which type of exercise to do to counteract this decline. Which makes sense, what better way of stimulating muscle growth?

However pretty standard for the Health & Fitness industry, no one could agree on which form of exercise was best. 

  • Some said you had to lift lighter weights but do more reps (up to 3 sets of 30-40 reps) so you recovered faster.
  • Others that you had to do heavy training to build bone mass.
  • Others that you need to up the intensity and the duration. Basically do more and harder.
  • And others that you need to do less and focus more on recovery.

Given these inconsistencies could it be that the exercise you actually do isn’t really important at all?

Build Muscle After 40

What if instead we looked at WHY we are losing muscle mass and addressed those factors.

Let’s look at some examples.

WEIGHT

As we age metabolism slows down. This mean’s if you were to eat the same diet at 40 as you did at 20. It’s the equivalent of eating an extra Big Mac a day compared to your 20 year old self. A sure fire way to pile on the pounds.

Add to this the fact that most of us are less active and more stressed (as we generally have more stuff going on) at 40 than we were at 20. And that both of these are known causes of weight gain. You can see the likelihood of us carrying more weight around at 40 is high.

Carrying extra weight means extra stress on the joints. Which leads to more wear and tear and a higher chance of aches, pains and injury. Injury which stops you exercising, leading to muscle loss and decreased performance..

STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS

If you’ve had a desk job for 20 years (which is generally impossible at 20) you’re more than likely going to have structural problems. ie. a skeleton which is slightly out of shape and so imbalanced. 

This leads to a reduced efficiency of movement and reduced strength through the movement. This also gives you a higher risk of injury and simply means that the same action of doing a bicep curl or practicing your favourite sport is less efficient at 40 than it is at 20. As your levers aren’t working as effectively.

OLDER MUSCLES

Over time as your body ages, your muscles, tendons, fascia and surrounding tissues tend to become more rigid, have more knots in them and lose elasticity. Which can contribute to an overall loss of strength and a hugely increased chance of injury.

Combine this with a reduced amount of something called Systemic Enzymes (the body slows production of these down from the age of 25). These are the chaps which go in and eat up scar tissue on the muscles. Scar tissue which causes weakness and brittleness. 

This causes the recovery process to slow down. Especially when you overload your muscles and joints with heavy weight training. Making those little aches and pains you feel every morning just that much more noticeable the day after a workout.

HORMONES

We have naturally lower testosterone when we’re 40 than when we’re 20. Testosterone which is essential for not only feeling great in general (in men AND women) but also for putting on muscle. 

If, rather than focus on which workout we were doing, we instead focussed on raising testosterone. It wouldn’t matter which workout we did as we’d gain muscle (and feel a lot better!) effortlessly.

BONE DENSITY

By the age of thirty, you have achieved peak bone density, when you’re young your body replaces damaged bone with newer healthier bone. As you get older your body doesn’t replace it as quickly.

Between 30 and 40 years old your body replaces as much bone as it loses. However once you hit 40 a smaller amount of bone is replaced which can lead to them becoming thinner and brittle.

Again this is something which is easily reversible and stronger bones mean a stronger frame on which to build functional muscle.

One thing you HAVE to realise. 

There is absolutely no reason why we can’t gain muscle at 40 like our 20 year old self.

University of Oklahoma researchers compared people of different ages who followed the exact same program for eight weeks. They found that guys between 35 and 50 years old built just as much muscle as those between 18 and 22 years old. DEXA scans showed that the college-aged men gained around two pounds of muscle, while the middle-aged men put on 2.5 pounds of muscle. 

Moreover, strength gains in both the bench press (7 pounds for the college-aged men and 14 pounds for the middle-aged men) and leg press (55 pounds for the college-aged men and 40 pounds for the middle-aged men) were similar in both groups.

 In our free book “Post 40 Secrets” I dive deep into how you can build muscle and fitness after 40. Addressing each of the issues I’ve mentioned above (and a load I haven’t) so you can build the body you want whilst having it perform exactly as you want no matter what your age.

Grab your free copy by clicking here >>

Sam.

😎🤙

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How To Stretch Properly Before Sport So You Avoid Injury After 40

snowboard injury

In my last post we talked about how static stretching isn’t what you want to be doing if you’re looking to stretch properly before sport. If you missed that post you can check it out here >>

So what can you do instead?

Well the first thing I recommend for my clients is dynamic stretching.

Dynamic (or ballistic) stretches stretch the muscles through movement. Repeated studies have shown they can improve power, strength and performance during a subsequent exercise session. Unlike static stretching which involves just pulling on a specific muscle group. Dynamic stretching incorporates posture control, stability, balance and ballistic, explosive movements such as swings and kicks.

Take a simple quadricep stretch, the traditional way of doing this (the way I was taught when I used to play football) was to simply stand on one leg, grab the ankle of the other leg and pull that heel towards your bum. A classic static stretch.

Instead of this, imagine you were to take a giant step forward with your right leg and then grab the ankle of your left foot pulling it up to your bum. Now drop it down and take a giant step forward with your left leg, grab your right heel and pull it to your bum. Suddenly you are incorporating stability, balance and mobility whilst actually contracting the muscles.

All of which makes this a far superior way to stretch.

stretch properly before sports

I would recommend warming up before doing dynamic stretching. Due to its ballistic and explosive nature you are more likely to injure yourself if done from cold than with static stretching. So a good 10 min cardio based warmup is mandatory.

The other method I use and have most of my clients use, is

Deep Tissue Work.

This catch all term refers to anything which gets deep into your muscles and connective tissue. Now there are loads of ways to do this, Rolfing, Muscle Activation Technique, Advanced Muscle Integrative Therapy, Point Therapy. But my favourite (mainly for its ease and accessibility) is foam rolling and simply making love to a spiky Death Star! Or if you don’t want to buy one of the specialist devices, rolling around on a tennis ball to really get it into all those spots which hurt.

Think of it as a self applied (or inflicted!) deep tissue massage.

Why do this?

When you have areas of chronic tightness or tension, or a history of injury or muscle overuse, adhesions (bands of painful areas) usually form in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. These adhesions block circulation whilst causing pain, inflammation and limited mobility.

Which is turn means when you exercise (or just sit around for too long) you create tension in these muscles. Tighter muscles tend to weaken, and a weak muscle tends to tighten. So you get a viscous cycle which increases inflammation, reduces blood flow and lessens the ability of the lymphatic system to remove waste material from the muscle. Increasing the risk of injury.

Deep tissue work gets in and breaks these adhesions down by applying direct pressure or friction across the grain of the muscle.

The best thing about Deep Tissue work? It doesn’t have to be done directly before or after sports, but can simply be something you include in your daily routine. I tend to do 20 mins every morning and evening when I can and the differences after just a few months are HUGE.

Interested to learn more?

I’ve written a book packed full of stretching and workout plans which includes all of the techniques mentioned to ensure you never get injured again…

You can grab your free copy here >>

Sam.

😎🤙

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Warm Up Before Sport – Why You Shouldn’t Stretch After 40

kitesurf fitness

I have a mate and every time we go to the beach he has to spend 20 minutes stretching to warm up before sport, in this case before he hits the water. Now he also expects me to launch his kite so inevitably I (being the kind and considerate chap I am) end up sitting through his impromptu Yoga session with gritted teeth waiting to get out on the water.

At some point through his contortionist act he’ll no doubt call out,

“You should join me you know, you’ll get injured out there if you’re not careful.”

My answer…

“No thank you good sir.” (I swear I’m that polite!)

And yours should be too if you’ve any sense.

Why? 

I’m sure if you’re like me, since the age of 0 you’ve been told to stretch before you do any form of exercise. To loosen your muscles up and prevent injury…

Now I’ve always had my doubts about this (and to be honest, I’ve always hoped I was right, as I was often too lazy to be bothered to stretch) but recently science has got on my side. At least for the form of stretching that my mate does.

Warm Up Before Sports

You see he practices something called static stretching. 

This is just the posh way of referring to the stretches which most people do before a workout or hitting the water. You know, the bend over and touch your toes type of stretches. To define them a bit better they’re stretches where you get into the stretch position and then hold the stretch without moving.

The problem is that static stretching doesn’t really help your mobility, worse, done before a session it can negatively impact your performance on the water. For example a recent study found that runners were on average 13 seconds slower when they performed static stretching right before a one mile up hill run.

In fact several studies have shown that static stretches can inhibit the amount of force a muscle can produce in just about any jumping, running or lifting activity. Wven worse, it doesn’t reduce your risk of injury.

It all comes down to the fact that making muscles loose and tendons too stretchy before exercise prevents them from producing quick and powerful responses.

Think about it like this, when you’re doing static stretches you’re telling your muscles to do the complete opposite of what you need when kitesurfing, surfing, snowboarding or pretty much any other sport you care to think of…

Explosiveness.

That’s not the only problem with static stretching. If your body is already a bit messed up or injured (and let’s face it who’s isn’t!) stretching can create more problems.

So if you’re prone to hyper mobility too much stretching can make you…

Too stretchy!

Joint hyper mobility, whilst cool at parties, means less ability to produce force and increased risk of cartilage and bone injury.

Another drawback, when you exercise frequently your muscle fibres can easily get cross linked, knotted and stuck to one another in a pattern called an “adhesion.”

Think of your muscles as a rope with a knot in the middle. When you pull on the rope at both ends the knot gets tighter and more difficult to untie. This is exactly how static stretching can make things worse if you have poor mobility, adhesions, knots and other tissue issues.

Mountain Biking

Added to this most people have a set repertoire of stretches they run through again and again. Meaning that whilst some joints are getting stretchier, other aren’t. Which can lead to huge imbalances down the line..think of a bicycle wheel with bumps and dents at random spots all over it so it’s really not a circular shape any more at all…

Bumpy ride huh?

But this is effectively what is happening to your body.

So what’s a guy or gal to do?

I’ll be covering that in my next post but in the meantime I’ve put together a FREE workout and recovery routine designed to be done in just 15 mins a week which will boost your mobility and your sports performance in my latest book. You can grab your free copy here >>

Sam.
😎🤙

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Why You’re (Probably) Going To Get Injured [And How Not To]

Arrrgghhhh,” I screamed…my heart sank, I punched the water in frustration. I instantly thought of all the weeks ahead of me when I’d be stuck immobile unable to kite, to surf, to run.

I knew it done some serious damage…

I had felt the muscle tear and now faced the long road back to recovery and the constant worrying as to if I would actually recover properly ever again, or if this would be the one which slowly stopped me doing the things I loved.

Conventional wisdom tells us, when you pull or tear a muscle that the muscle was too weak and the solution therefore is to build it up stronger.

Rehab thus focusses on making that individual muscle stronger so it is able to withstand greater forces in the future and so not get injured…

Sounds about right…

Right?

Wrong…

What if we’ve been looking at it all wrong and this is why re-injury, painfully slow recovery and very often less than full recovery is so common..

What if by focussing on strengthening the muscle which got injured we’re actually making it MORE likely it’ll tear again in the future? 

Sounds crazy right, but this is exactly what I’ve found working with clients.

When you focus on making one muscle strong unless you do it a very specific way you also make it dense.

This muscle is now so dense that it has very little give, very little flex (or suspension as I like to think of it) so it pulls any muscles which attach to it towards it. 

Now, the body is an interconnected system where each action has a reaction across the entire system.

So as that one muscle gets stronger and denser and pulls the connective muscles towards it. Which takes any redundancy out of the system, it makes the suspension much tighter with much less give. 

So when you suffer a knock or apply a lot of force to that muscle it has no ability to absorb and distribute that force across the system. It must take the entire impact on that one dense, strong muscle…which then inevitably tears.

What if instead we focussed on making that muscle longer and softer as we make it stronger, whilst also doing the same for the muscles upstream and downstream of it?

We now have a muscular system with in built redundancy, with its own suspension. So when it suffers an impact the force is spread across several muscles all of which have the ability to lengthen and flex. 

Now that same force can be absorbed without causing injury.

So am I saying you shouldn’t be strengthening muscles? 

Not at all, but as you are working on making muscles stronger you MUST also be making sure they are soft and long, with a lot of redundancy built in. 

This is exactly how your muscles are when you are young. Which is why young people never seem to get injured.

As we age we get knots and lesions in the muscles which cause them to bunch and tighten up. So we need to encourage our muscles to become young again. 

This has multiple benefits, the main one being that we can continue to do the sports we love well beyond  what is normally considered normal and not suffer the normal aches and pain we expect as we get older. It also means we spend less time on the physios table and more time on the water or the slopes doing what we actually love.

How to do this?

Whilst there are many ways the simplest is deep tissue massage. The first thing we need to do is work those knots out. Now this doesn’t have to mean expensive trips to the physio 3 times a week. By grabbing a foam roller and rolling around on it every morning over a couple of months you’ll notice some amazing things happen…aches and pains disappear and movement becomes effortless.

Yes you do have to suffer a few funny looks from your partner as you’re grunting and groaning whilst seemingly making love to the damn thing, but that’s a small price to pay for younger , more resilient muscles.

I’ve put together an online community (not on Facebook) where each week I coach you live in techniques like this. It’s free and you can join here >>

See you on the inside,

Sam
😎🤙