Hiking has easily one of the most popular outdoor activities in Ireland after field sports. Irelands landscape allows for some of the most enjoyable and challenging hikes possible. As enjoyable as hiking can be, due to the environment in which it is done in, it can also help train or challenge several different aspects of our health. The long-distance pushes our cardio, the changes in incline and decline push our entire lower bodies and backs, the altitude makes it tougher on our respiratory Read More
This year I was able to be, again, involved in the Dublin Ironman event. The Dublin Ironman is a half Ironman and the route normally involved entering the Irish sea for the swim at DunLaoghaire. After a 1.9 km swim participants will transition over to the bike section which involves a 90 km cycle up the Wicklow mountains. The last section is a 21.1 km run back towards and around DunLaoghaire finishing close to the starting point of the race. If this is a half Ironman you can imagine how physically exhausting and mentally challenging full events are as well as something as, to be frank crazy as the Kona Ironman race in Hawaii, which is a 3.86 km swim, 180.25 km cycle and 42.2 km run in searing heat and hostile terrain.
Those in the event range from professionals, seasoned veterans, triathlon club members, endurance sport activists and then some of the most normal people who decided this was to be their new obsession for the coming year. Prior to race day I spent the 2 days beforehand dealing with various cases and individuals with issues ranging from simple checks on niggles, strapping, soft tissue work and full on consultations and real down to the wire decisions regarding if a certain person could compete in the race. The two days beforehand were long and tiring but being able to prepare so many people for such an event felt great.
On the race day myself and seven other therapists set ourselves up well before the end of the race was even in site. our first patient of the day had injured themselves in the water which was incredibly choppy on the day. The slow and steady stream of people who had injured themselves during the race and those professionals who had finished the race in an inhuman time suddenly became droves of being being accessed, looking for soft tissue work and even a few being stretch out because the could no longer do it themselves as a result of exhaustion. From 8:00 am in he morning until nearly 5:30 pm we provided care to a large number of the participants.
The Ironman event is such an endurance event that even the therapists are exhausted after it all. The event makes you feel like you can really do any kind of event. For all the people who loved and hated the training process you were hard pressed to find a single participant who wasn’t happy that they choose to compete, maybe only a few disgruntled partners and family members not as enthralled in the sport having to wait an entire day for the event. Yet the comradery expressed in the event and the dedication needed and shown by so many people, you can only appreciate and admire all those who decided to undertake the event.
This was my second year involved with the Ironman, in different roles between both roles and I definitely hope to involved again in the future especially with events such as the first full Ironman event being held in Cork in 2019 and the Hell of the West triathlon which I have been persuaded to train and enter next year.
What exactly is foam rolling and why does everyone talk about it and also treat it like a way to fix every kind of muscular pain /problem in the body. Well foam rolling is normally the use of a hard cylinder shaped object placed against a fixed point that a person will apply there body weight to it and cause it to move. The fixed shape and weight applied causes the soft tissue directly underneath to experience increased pressure directly at the point of contact acting as a form of self myofascial release. Self myoyfascial release can be done using a classic foam roller, lacrosse ball, theracane, muscle roller sticks or even something like a yoga block. Self myofascial therapy has gone from something only done by people who compete in sports and endurance activities to something many people have introduced to their everyday routines, like stretching.
The goal of self myofascial therapy and in turn foam rolling is to return muscle and soft tissue to its original elastic state. People aim to apply these pressures so that tissues that feel sore, stiff or shortened return to a more normal state and sensation. When creating this motion many people experience pain or referred pain with many stating knots in the muscle. There a re no such thing as knots in muscles but areas of tenderness or trigger points as a result of tissue having to produce a function it is not fully developed for or under great stress can cause this pain or the referred pain may be experienced.
(Repost Discoveries Soccer club)
The force applied by the weight of your body upon the object can allow for tissue to produce a reactionary force often causing a release of the tension built in muscular tissue. This often alleviates the pain which s a symptom normally allowing for the cause of the pain to be better identified and solved. When the pain or reduction in functionality of the tissue is not that bad self myofascial release in the form of foam rolling can be used as an effective method of maintenance and preparation for activity.
Caution should be taken when using such methods though as it is best used into areas with large or deep surrounding muscular tissue such as the lower or Lumber spine or the neck. Areas that only have a scant amount of soft tissue can be aided by these methods but as many people often find it difficult to judge the force they are applying by the use of their body weight it can also cause bruising or low grade strains into sensitive areas.
Foam rolling is best used in conjunction with other injury prevention and maintenance methods such as stretching and warm up/ coll down protocols as well as prehab exercises put in place to strengthen often problem areas while reducing the sensation of pain into areas often plagued with pain as a result of their nature of being the bodies natural force absorbers. To keep our tissues in as good a condition as possible while maintaining a high quality of activity is one of the most important benefits foam rolling can have for many people. reducing pain and allowing people to experience relief from tightness and stress allowing for a greater quantity and quality of movement and as such performance.
Some of the best techniques for foam rolling are the most basic the roll out areas such as the T-Spine and calfs but also areas such as the base of the neck and lower Trapezius between the scapula. using a lighter force in more specific areas can be more beneficial than trying to apply as much pressure as possible as many people foam roll regularly but don’t benefit greatly from it due to poor technique.
So this year I was able to make my way to Wellfest. For anyone who doesn’t know what Wellfest is, it is essentially a two day festival where fitness and health in most of its forms gets a chance to show what its made of and allow people to experience it. Im a little late talking about it as it was nearly 4 months ago now, but I still think it is an event worth talking about and how it reflects Ireland right now. Wellfest has only been running fora couple of years now but has already become an event where thousands of people attend over two days. The event had a large number of successful and big name fitness and health enthusiasts such as Joe Wicks, Davina McCall, Simone de la Rue, Hazel Wallace and other home grown talents such as Movement 101 and Gerry Hussey. These individuals represent all very different aspects to modern health, from yoga, classes, diets, mobility and even psychology. The event represents perfectly how health and fitness has become the fasting growing industry in Ireland. Be it food, clothing, supplements or health related ideals, Wellfest acts as both a showcase to well established and start up health and fitness related businesses. Wellfest is a very unique event in the sense that fitness and its importance is given a very large and obvious spotlight.
Fitness in Ireland is going through its renaissance period where more gyms, clubs and fitness related businesses are springing up constantly. As time has gone on individual gyms within large urban areas have moved away from the old style of old school, super functional gym that may not have been what anyone could be called pretty. The new model of gym are style functional but they have now needed to be become apart of a larger industry where the best are the best for a reason. The model is perfectly shown in Flyfit and Raw gyms where near 356 day memberships, in several places and functional machinery and equipment with a pleasing aesthetic controlled by people normally with a background normally rooted in a far greater understanding of human physiology and anatomy has gained them some of the greatest success in the Irish fitness scene. Other people then such as the Happy Pear who have turned lifestyle into a successful business have shown that the fitness industry is not solely about gyms and sports clubs anymore.
This is then showcased in really only one event altogether in Ireland. You have yoga classes being held beside mindfulness talks, across from cooking tutorials and mobility classes while a HIT class it booming out across the field and various entrepreneurs passionately push their products and visions. You have people who do not share the same points of view and would rarely get a chance to speak with anyone who holds a different opinion literally sharing the space beside one another discussing their points of view and where they hope they take their own ideals in the future. It is definitely a unique event and it still also shows the growing and somewhat childish side of Ireland where we haven’t yet come to terms with the fitness industry and our knowledge of it. You have a fairly young demographic at the event but it does also show how it is continuously changing and trying to encourage a greater mixture of people to feel comfortable in the industry. This could be seen in the people who brought their start ups tho the event and the addition of a kids section for parents at the event.
Welfest does definitely show the best parts of what the health and fitness industry has to over as well as the growth of this industry in Ireland. The main question is how the event will grow, what direction they’ll try and take it and how health and fitness will mature and grow in Ireland after such an intense period of success and growth best described in an event such as Wellfest who has gone from strength to strength.
Should you always be able to practice what you preach? Being in a profession within the healthcare system many people have asked me am I capable of doing everything that I normally ask of my clients, be in strength, mobility or balance related. The simple answer is no, I cannot do everything that I often expect and seek from others. This can present some what like an irony that I would not consider myself to me injured or currently harboring a condition but I cannot do some of the things I ask from those that do. The honest answer is that regardless of what you may try and teach someone and expect them to be able to replicate each person has different body structures and capabilities. Each person has also developed differently including their health history regarding the injuries they have sustained and they way in which thy have recovered from these injuries. So very rarely do you find someone who is perfectly functional by the standards we test people. To the extent that when I access someone who is perfectly functional I’m almost shocked.
I have gone through my fair share of injuries so If I was to be tested for things such as ankle or shoulder stability someone may think that I may currently be carrying an injury but as of right this second I’m good. We are not always capable of doing the tests and assessments that we use to grade individuals musculoskeletal health. At times we can hold the testing methods we use a little to strongly. As those who are testing these people and trying to push them forward it can at times create goals that can be excessively difficult for people to cross. People are sometimes not capable of reaching what is perceived to be perfect functionality but most are still capable of doing the sports or events that they wish to undertake. There are always ways around certain functional shortcomings. This may mean doing things in an unconventional manner or simply by breaking activities down to their base elements.
At the same time most people involved in health and sports related activities need to be able to do the basic requirements of that activity. Be it simple skills or some of the functional movements that are heavily demanded in the sport, it is essential purely because to understand the sport and what is demanded of those involved, the best way to help them and make their plan applicable to them and their sports is to be able to understand the sport at a basic level and recreate it. Not to be able to understand every fine nuance of a game but to see the way an individual moves and the way this interacts with surrounding players or athletes can at times be one of the most valuable assets you can have. To understand how an athlete should move in their position and how they normally move themselves can lead you down a path where you realise that they may be carrying an injury or weakness. Seeing a player act differently or out of character can lead you to help them to overcome what may be effecting their game. Behind games, and this is especially true for athletes, lies the core of an individual. So if you cant put yourself in their shoes you may miss the signs behind certain problems. You are not a mind reader although many expect us to be. But at the same time make sure you can practice what you preach, to a certain degree, even to understand where your clients and athletes are coming from to better help them and to allow yourself to keep up with the hectic demands of a physical and demanding job.
Your T-Spine or Thoracic spine is the largest section of our spines. It is where our ribs and spine are interconnect as well as where nearly all trunk movement pivots upon. It connects our upper and lower extremities and is a passage way for forces that go through our bodies as well as protecting the contents of the thoracic cavity.
Our T-Spines are not very mobile as they are not suppose to be, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to stand upright and the contents between or ribs and T-Spine wouldn’t be protected. At the same time movement in relation to the limbs and joints attached to the T-Spine while it moves laterally, anteriorly and expands aids to force dispersal from the upper extremities of our bodies and the transferal of forces into our lower extremities.
The movements shown in the video (by Squat University) above can help with T-Spine mobility and stability which often is neglected with the other sections of the spine being concentrated on. Spine mobility as a whole are often neglected but as can be seen in the video it is very important even in something such as olympic lifts.
T-Spine mobility is a key to helping with many other functional strengths in our bodies. It can aid in shoulder functionality and chest mobility, lumbar strength and hip mobility. Often something overlooked it can at times help with the full functionality of many other and integral parts to our bodies.
A somewhat controversial topic at times to due many peoples views on the use of voodoo bands in relation to improving mobility. This is often due to certain ways in which they are used or to what extent. Mobility bands or Voodoo bands originally came into practice through body building.
They were originally used to provide an increase in pressure, to the active joint, to allow for a greater degree of movement, especially while their tissues are loaded. Within the body building world they are often also used to provide a hypertrophic effect to grow on the surrounding tissue.
They became popular in their use amongst athletes and therapists a like. Similar to the application of pressure by an external individual in PNF the bands allow for a greater degree of movement through compression, tension and movement. These often increase joint mobility, decrease pain, and speed up recovery through myofascial release, occlusion and reactive hyperemia, and joint centralisation.
Certain athletes can at times use the bands to increase their mobility to an unsafe degree in relation to their sport but as a whole it is often an incredibly useful way in which people can increase their mobility and reduce pain due to a reduction of tension in tissues and an ease of movement. The video shows the use of bands for ankle mobility and draining of excess fluid.
At the same time all aspects to Voodoo bands are not necessarily viable. Many use them for neural flossing but the compression itself can act more as a placebo effect reducing a persons ability to fully experience the pain. However as a whole for the benefits they can provide especially to those who are very immobile they are an essential tool.
My first blog post on my brand new website, which was kindly brought to me by www.michellemcinerney.com. Work is still ongoing, but there’s no time like the present to recycle the past. Below might look familiar if you follow my Facebook Page. And if you don’t, click here and give us a like 🙂
Around this time of year, the holiday season, maybe peoples bodies don’t feel as good as the mood of the season itself. A lot of us are running around, driving for hours, standing and then sitting for hours on end without getting a chance to take care of ourselves. The New Year has rolled ’round and all the promises are being made.
This video (shared from @fitnessguydublin) is just a way to stretch out your glutes and piriformis, taking a little stress away from your upper legs and lower back. A solid block like the bench used can help those who don’t have the balance of range to do it in standing or on a mat. It’s quick and easy and will help those who are stuck in one position for extended periods of time, be it at a desk or sat watching Netflix.
More to follow!