How can Chiropractic help you with exercise?

1. Training too often – Overtraining is a common reason for fatigue, lack of recovery and can ultimately lead to injury.  Be patient and avoid training too much too soon.
We see 2 main groups that this affects – in different ways.  The first group are those just starting exercise and the second those that are training for an event.  Especially in the New Year, you have made that commitment, you want to get on and see results.  If you are starting out, remember that your body is not used to this and tolerance and fitness will take time to build.
It is a common misconception that gains are made in the gym.  Training in the gym is what initiates the gains, but your body adapts in the recovery period.  Therefore no recovery, no gains but worse still, increased fatigue and stress on your body and you and the increased likelihood of injury.  What is recovery?  Time off from training, good hydration, good nutrition and good sleep.  Take advantage of the optimal hour after training when your body is craving goodness.  There are many energy drinks on the market, but after years of elite experience, Dave Billows, ex-Everton S&C recommends a milk and banana smoothie and lets face it, he knows his stuff!
2. Listen to your body –  We all know the phrase “no pain, no gain” but there is a big difference between “good” pain from muscle burn as you work and “bad” pain from injury.  Pushing your body through “bad” pain can result in tissue damage and injury.
DOMS is a good thing.  That stiffness that arrives 24-48 hour post training (depending on your own physiology and how hard your session was) heralds the adaptation of your tissues and although we all complain about it, secretly we are chuffed that we did great session.  However DOMS should be short lived, it is an aching, stiffness that reduces with mobility and responds well to heat.  It can be tender to touch but it should not be sharp or twingy in nature.  If it is, you have overdone it and taken your tissues past their comfortable range.  If you experience this you need to seek advice.
The general rules are:
Sharp or twingy pain during exercise – STOP.  You are overstraining your tissues which could lead to injury.
Aching/tightness/stiffness – If you experience this at the start of exercise and it wears off, this is ok.
If this wears off and then comes back, your tissues are fatigued and you need to stop.
If this doesn’t wear off and especially if this increases or escalates to pain, you need to STOP what you are doing.
Experiencing pain during or after exercise is not normal and if this happens, you need to seek advice.    There are one of 2 issues:
Inappropriate Training – Either you are doing exercises that are too advanced or too much for your system or you are not getting recovery.
You need to speak to a Strength and Conditioning Coach for proper advice on your training schedule.  Remember, anyone can call themselves a fitness coach, it is not a protected title and you need to be looking for someone who is appropriately qualified in the subject for assurance that you are getting good and appropriate advice for you.  We recommend Underground Training Station (UTS) where their trainers have BSc, MSc and even PhD’s in the subject!
Injury or Dysfunction – We see many people who experience weakness, asymmetry, restriction and pain on training which is preventing them for participating in their sport.  At this point it is important to seek professional advice.
Chiropractic is appropriate where there are issues with movement or function that involves the joints, nerves or soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons or muscles.
There are many opinions and approaches on biomechanics and so you need someone who is appropriately qualified and experienced to assess this.  Biomechanical assessment and injury prevention is a long debated and controversial topic.  There is some evidence that functional movement patterns (how you do what you do) and asymmetry (differences in your body from left to right) contribute to injury.  However you need a qualified and experienced professional to assess this and assess you as an individual.  Some interventions cause more problems than they solve!
3. Gradually increase – Most of us do this when we start something new, the issue here is if you have a break.  Remember you will need to build back up again and not just start from where you left off.  This particularly applies with gardening – yes it’s exercise!
Some general rules for increasing exercise are:
-Increase either weight, sets or reps or introduce new exercises, don’t do them all at once!

  • Progression:     Non-impact (cycling, swimming, x-trainer) > impact (running)
  • To increase running:  Straight > acceleration/deceleration > change in direction

4. Good technique! – This is paramount.  Get feedback and tutoring.  Also despite common beliefs, mirrors are not there for posing, they are extremely useful for assessing your technique.
We get asked all the time what a “good” exercise is and if others are “bad” (situps are a great example) and what is our reply?  There are no bad exercises.  There are only exercises done badly!
Even if you have the correct idea of what you are doing in your head, it can be quite shocking how different that can be in reality.  Having someone correct and “cue” exercises can be the difference between making gains and avoiding injury and actually causing injury.  A common example of this is people giving themselves knee pain doing lunges.
At The Chiro Clinic, we hate to see your hard work, effort and precious time going into something that is hurting,especially when it should be helping you.  This is why we will go over movements with you and look at your “pattern” (how you do it).  This may be as simple as watching you walk, bend over, or go from sitting to standing.  Then we can recommend the right “rehab or prehab” for you (injury prevention or correction exercises).  Good exercises should “translate” in to real life.  This means they help you with everythin from getting out of bed more easily to doing the hoovering.  For those of you already in training it helps you perform better and avoid injury.  If you need further help we can recommend some excellent coaches in the area at the UTS.
5. Poor nutrition & hydration – Training when dehydrated can increase injury occurrance.  Tissues actually respond to exercise post-session and so optimising hydration and calories at this point will get the best results and also improve injury avoidance.
There are 2 aspects to this: Preparation for exercise and recover from.
When exercise is part of a “health kick” and particularly a bid to loose weight, you may be at risk of training whilst denying your body the calorific intake it needs to perform well.  This can lead to sluggishness, weakness and  inaccurate control.  This may put you at risk of injury, especially if you are lifting heavy weights or undertaking fast paced movement changes.  An extreme of this may manifest in dizziness, faintness or nausea.
As we have covered above, recovery is key and other than rest and sleep, the other key factor are nutrition and hydration.
The key, as always, is a health balanced diet.  Hydration is very important, isotonics or milk are recommended.  Take advantage of that key time when you are hungry after exercise – definately avoid the chippy or chocolate and instead feed your body with a healthy option.
6. Don’t do one thing only – A common example of this is running.  Running is a great form of exercise, but balancing the impact with non-impact work including conditioning and strengthening will help avoid injury.  It will help you run faster too!
Repitition is a key factor in tissue fatigue which in turn may lead to injury.  Even with cardio exercise like running or cycling, interval training which alters speed periodically has been shown to both improve results and reduce injury.
Variety is the spice of life they say and therefore take advantage of this positive aspect in exercise.  It keeps interest up, keeps you alert, you will enjoy your training more and your body responds better too.  Most importantly it helps you avoid the dreaded injury!
7. Pick something you enjoy – This helps compliance, as does a fitness partner.  But also because life’s too short to do something that makes you miserable!
8. Start with something you are good at – Yes we want to address weaknesses but to get a baseline of fitness start where your strengths lie.  This will build confidence, prevent injury and help with compliance too.
There are some things that some of us just arent designed to do.  Can you imagine a rugby prop doing gymnastics?  Would the prop benefit from some flexibility training?  Of course.  Would an introduction to that be sending them to gymnastics?  No.  Maybe starting with some foam roller work, ensuring the strength work they undertook was through range, and that their training included functional and pylometric work.  Now we are talking.
This subject can be both very simple and very complicated.  It depends on what your requirements from exercise are.  If you have questions regarding this then you should contact one of our chiropractors at the clinic or one of the trainers at the UTS.
9. Avoid stretching – Surprised?  Static hold stretches downregulate muscle activity and so are not advised before exercise.  Save them for later.  Warm-up should be dynamic.
Ok, so this was to get the attention of the avid stretchers out there!  Let us clarify this situation.
Traditional static stretching is not appropriate prior to exercise.  Before exercise you should undertake a “warm-up” which should generally consist of low intensity range of exercises that ideally mimic the activity you are about to undertake.  A good warm up will result in increased warmth and blood flow to the region, increased CV activity and will have taken your muscles, joints and ligaments through the ranges of motion they will undergo during your trainig but in a controlled and minimally loaded capacity.
Static hold stretching is great if you get really tight repeatedly in an area.  However be aware that is this happens it is not due to an underlying problem.  For example, we see many runneres who are constantly stretching ITB’s or hamstrings when the real issue is pelvic imbalance and lack of strength.
If you get an area that is recurrantly tight or restricted, this is not normal and you should seek advice.
10. Get Advice – If you have pain or injury before or during exercise you should seek professional advice.  Avoid aggrevating injuries further by training through pain.
If you have pain prior to exercise you need to address this before you start.  Full stop!
If you experience pain during an exercise, stop the exercise.  If this pain persists or recurs then again you should seek advice.
A disturbing number of people experience “normal pain”.  Let us clarify, this is not normal pain, but it’s what they report to us.  And then they try and tell us it’s normal.  Yes if you have done something that has increased your muscle load or demand, whether this is brushing down the driveway or increasing your squat load, then you will get DOMS.  This is both normal and good.  But it’s not normal or good that this persists or that it becomes painful.  Also if you do the same thing repeatedly and get “DOMS” repeatedly this is also not normal.  Remember DOMS happens with that initial increase in load.  If you are doing the same thing every time and getting it every time, you are struggling and you need advice.
At The Chiro Clinic we are here to help you achieve your goals.  Whether that is lifting your grandchild without pain or bench-pressing 120k we have your back and are here for advice and treatment as you may need.
If you would like to speak to one of our chiropractors or book an appointment, call the clinic on 0151 6485000 and we will be happy to help.