All posts by Anni

Too old to run

Shocking title, but it’s what I was told by a young NHS registrar this week. As someone in their forties this came as quite an alarming comment from an orthopaedic ‘professional’. Along with that ‘advice’, I was told running ruins ones knees and hips, and if I continued running I would need knee and hip replacements. Seriously. I am not making this up.

No scientific evidence exists as to such information. I was so dumbfounded by his ignorance I saw little point in challenging his comments either.. he just wasn’t worth it. WTH are they training doctors in? Job creation for the obese with co-morbidity factors associated with zero physical activity?!

Ok, some background.. I had some foot pain a few months ago which was not resolving with conservative treatment of physio, rest (!) etc so went down the route of X-ray, ultrasound scan etc. All of which were pretty inconclusive. Anywaays.. it’s healed and I’m still running.. Pain-free. And walking dogs. And doing yoga & bodyweight exercises. And doing Mountain Rescue activities.

Maybe the NHS registrar thinks Fauja Singh should not be running either!


Stretching and Injury


Anyone engaging in sport or physical activity will be familiar with sore muscles, niggles and injuries. That’s pretty much the classification continuum I use. Soreness a day or two after a workout can either be satisfying; that feeling of tight muscles.. or debilitating if it prevents you training, in some cases even walking!

However when some part of your body starts niggling it’s a warning you’re on the cusp of an injury – and that’s when you should seek help with it. Some people ignore it in the hope it will go away. Most injurieswill heal by themselves -key words here-  If Not Further Aggravated. From a treatment perspective though, the outcome measure of improving the injury increases if caught early, before it turns chronic.

Injury happens when a load applied to tissue or bone exceeds its failure tolerance. Genetic factors such as age, musculoskeletal deformities, limb alignments affect injury. So does conditioned status, muscle imbalances, lack of flexibility, hyper mobile joints, poor biomechanics and over-training.

Everyone has a level at which they can train injury-free… for some that’s set low so they are regularly getting injured, others can put a lot more stress on their bodies before niggles occur.

There Is Still No Scientific Evidence That Stretching Prevents Injury

If you know otherwise, please show me your sources! So why do I recommend patients stretch? To address muscle imbalances. Muscles work in pairs and if one is weak, the other will be compensating by being over-strong. Muscles function injury-free at their optimal working length and stretching assists this. That is why I muscle test to establish which muscles need lengthening and which need strengthening.

And S t r e t c h…

Stretching is FREE yet so many people don’t do it, or do a quick ‘token stretch’ at the end of their workout. By some it’s not seen as important as cardio or strength training – yet if you do that type of training you need to stretch to restore muscles to their resting length.

Make it separate session. Add some core work prior to it if you need to make it into more of a ‘workout’. For static stretching, hold the target muscle on stretch for 20-30 seconds. If your goal is increasing flexibility, hold for >60 seconds.

Stretch gently, do not force it or bounce the stretch. You can tear muscles doing that. Try multiple sets of stretching – you’ll notice increased range of motion after your first set.

Static Stretching before sporting activities is outdated and a waste of time – it actually reduces muscles’ power. Instead, Dynamic (quick) Stretching which mimics the activity you’re about to do is a better option. Save the static stuff for that separate post-activity session.

Stretching feels good! Look at your dog’s or cat’s face when it stretches – animals always stretch their spines first too. They know what’s good for them.


Elements of Fitness Part 2 and a Free Workout!

Firstly thanks for waiting for this! In Part 1 I spoke of overall fitness comprising, in my opinion, 4 main elements: 1. Cardiovascular 2. Strength 3. Core 4. Flexibility.

So how do we fit those into our busy lives? The best answer is you make it a lifestyle choice. There’s 168 hours in a week so find the time… make the time, just as you do for other things in your life. At the end of this post there will be a workout you can try that will take you around 15 minutes. Not much out of the10080 minutes available in the week!

Elements 1-3 can be nailed with 4 simple exercises… if done intensively. Flexibility will be a separate post. There are many other exercises, but I’ve chosen these as they work a lot of muscle groups. More muscle groups being worked = more calories being burned. Here they are:

  1. The Squat
  2. Press up
  3. Lunges
  4. Plank

1. The Squat deserves capital letters because in my opinion it’s the The King of exercises. It can be a body weight one for beginners, or a weighted version for intermediate / advanced. Proper squat form is essential to prevent injuries to knees and back. I could write an entire blog on squats, so I will just say this.. if it feels wrong, then it probably is! Ideally get someone qualified to show you how to squat correctly. Want to see a perfect squat? Watch a 2 year old child pick a toy up off the floor!

  • How many to do? Enough to feel it, silly!

2. Press up. Firstly I’ll dispel the myth that females cannot do ‘full’ press ups. I once personal trained a lady in  her 70s to do full press ups, so no excuses! Start on your knees in a modified position if you need to and build from there.Fact: press ups tone your abdominal muscles as well as chest and shoulders. Another reason to do them.

  • How many to do? See 1. above!

3. Lunges. Also known as a split squat. Again, keep it simple with body weight only lunges if you’re a beginner. Because the lunge is a single leg strength exercise it is good for addressing muscle imbalances (most of us have a weaker side). You can step forward or backward into the lunge – which ever you do, keep your knees at 90 degree angle. Lunges improve balance and coordination as well as toning your legs and butt.

  • How many to do? Twice the amount of squats, assuming you have 2 legs!

4. Plank. Many variations to blitz your core (abdominal) muscles. Start with a basic static version if you’re new to them. Support yourself on your forearms, or on your hands like a press up position. Your lower body can be supported from either your knees or your toes, the latter is more challenging.

  • Maintain plank position for 15-60 seconds, depending on your ability.


Short Circuit Workout 

(Equipment needed: a timer, water, floor space, *free weights if using)

Get your timer. You will do each exercise for 50 seconds. After 50 seconds you will rest for 10 seconds before going straight to the next exercise. The 10 second rest includes having a drink of water if you need it!

Squat for 50 seconds, 10 second rest…

Press up for 50 seconds, 10 second rest…

Lunges alternating legs for 50 seconds, 10 second rest…

Plank for 30-60 seconds, depending on your level.

Those exercises only take 4 minutes! Repeat the sequence 3-4 times through depending on your fitness level.

If the circuit is done intensively i.e. fast but with good form, you will be breathing heavily. *Beginners – use no weight. Performing the exercises with weights e.g. barbell, kettlebell will add intensity.

Finally… Read this! If you cannot do 50 seconds of an exercise, e.g. full press ups… then do a modified, easier version. That way you are still getting the benefits of the workout rather than stopping.


Next time it’s the 4 element, flexibility, in relation to stretching and injury!


Elements of Fitness Part 1

Fitness means different things to each of us. It might be having enough energy to play with your children / grandchildren, improve your triathlon time, go hill walking, or do a day’s hard work in the garden. While the intensity may differ they all require effort, and we are only as ‘fit’ as what we actually do. Anyone who has done any new or unaccustomed physical activity knows how your body feels the next day.. sore!

My view of overall fitness is it that comprises a balance of 4 key elements:

Cardiovascular -The ability of your heart and lungs to uptake and utilise oxygen efficiently.
Strength -Your muscles’ ability to generate force against physical objects.
Core – Exercising your abdominal and back muscles to create a girdle of strength.
Flexibility – Moving the body’s joints through a full range of motion and having enough flexibility in the muscles to achieve this.
Some elements overlap – weight (strength) training can have a cardiovascular element depending on intensity. However imbalances in the 4 elements may predispose someone to injury; here is a couple of examples.. There is little point having strong legs from running if your core is weak. And repeated strength training with little flexibility work can cause muscle imbalances by tethering nerves to cause muscular pain.

To achieve a balance of all 4 you could print this out, take it to a gym and ask the instructor for a programme. However if gyms aren’t your thing, or you’re short of time, look at what activities you already do then try and incorporate the elements into those.

In Part 2 there will be some ideas on how you can do this with no gym required so check back soon!


Work experience

Here at Sports Treatment we are pleased to offer work experience placements to students wanting to further their studies in physical therapies. Sharing knowledge is a good thing and every therapist has to start somewhere!

If you are a student you have probably already realised that finding a clinic or hospital to take you on as a student can be very difficult. No doubt you will have already emailed a few private clinics, only to be faced with being ignored, or a reply to say that you are not suitable. The reality is, why would a clinic offer you work experience? What benefit is it to the clinic? Some see it as just hassle for the provider, and that’s not great for you.

Sports Treatment is a small privately run clinic, and we only have the facility to accept one student at a time for prolonged work placements. We will personally answer all requests received from students though – we won’t ignore you. The criteria used for accepting students is that you are studying on a degree level course in a discipline of evidence-based physical therapy, i.e. Sports Therapy, physiotherapy, osteopathy.

But we are not academic snobs! For example if someone wants further insight into what Sports Therapy covers; or maybe you are considering a career in physical therapy, but are unsure which direction of study to take? Then we will be pleased to arrange an open morning or afternoon for you.
Contact Anni on 07815 209 804.

Here is what a recent student said about her work placement with us:

“I would like to thank you for letting me complete my work placement with you. You have taught me so much that I haven’t learnt at university and I really appreciate this.”


Running with dogs

Running or jog / walking with your dog is great way of keeping fit and exercising your pet at the same time. Your dog must be skeletally mature to run distances – do not run young dogs or puppies. You can buy specific kits for running with a dog, but it’s simple to make your own.

Stuff for you:
Decent running shoes
Comfortable, breathable clothing
A running waist-pack for dog poo bags, mobile phone
A carabiner or secure way of securing dog’s lead to your waist-pack so you can run ‘hands free’

Stuff for your dog:
A long lead with trigger clip
A well-fitting adjustable harness

Remember harnesses are designed for a dog to pull, so train your dog some directional cues. I use Left, Right, Steady, Get On and Whoa (stop!) but be consistent whatever you use. Practice the ‘whoa’ a few times and give a treat when dog stops. Re-enforce your dog with verbal praise when he’s running at the right pace with you. Try to keep him out in front so he doesn’t trip you up!

Start with short distances and vary the terrain. Most medium and large dogs’ gait is faster than humans, so forcing him to run at a fixed pace attached to you can be unnatural over long distances. Allow him free-running where safe to do so, and make sure you can re-call him!

Stop by streams so he can cool off and get a drink; saves carrying water. Look for signs of over-exertion. Check his paws and under front legs after your run for any rubbed areas. Allow your dog rest days – do not run on consecutive days, and avoid running at all in hot temperatures.

Kit myself and the dogs use:
Inov8 race elite 2 waist pack
Julius-K9 power harness
Leads, collars and neckline all made to measure from mushing outfitters

Anyway here’s a short clip of my two dogs out on a run. Apologies for the shaky / poor quality video.. I need a head-cam!


Bodyweight Exercises

Anyone who has had the (mis)fortune of personal training with me knows how keen I am on functional and bodyweight exercises and the role they can play in injury prevention. Here’s some awesome ones!

Disclaimer: be sensible, these are advanced exercises that take no prisoners. Any one of them will have a laugh at you the next day. And the day after that.