Traffic light approach to health, what do I mean ?Traffic Light Approach to Health
At my clinic, I always ask my patients to fill in a questionnaire about their
current health, and their answers are incredibly useful in letting me see
where they need to improve their mindset, their nutrition, their fitness and
their lifestyle. I call it the traffic light approach to health because we analyse
these areas by saying whether the patient is green (good), amber (room for
improvement) or red (poor). These are your fitness keys, and they will tell
you where you need to improve. With this in mind, I have developed four
questionnaires – one for each key – and have placed them in the appendix
of this book. If you want to get the most out of this book, I urge you to
complete the questionnaire at the start of each chapter, and again after
you’ve absorbed the knowledge and implemented some of my suggested
changes into your life. Soon, you should start to see your traffic light scores
changing from red or amber to green on all counts. When this happens, you
are likely to be at your optimal health for your age, which means you’ll be
giving yourself the best possible chance if a disease or injury should occur.
So, to those therapists and doctors who want to go beyond their specific
training and look at the synergy of everything they know in order to create
their own map, here is mine.
If you don’t want to commit to a new, healthy you, then now is probably a
good time to leave my blogs. If, however, you desire to work towards a healthy, fit,
pain-free body, here we go. It’s time to take your health into your own hands
and get rid of all the pain that has been holding you back
Spring is upon us, promising longer days, warmer weather, and a feeling of freshness and growth. It is the time when we start to squeeze out of jumpers and coats and see the winter plumpness with disdain. It is a perfect time to take that move to committing to being more active again.
Exercise is a word that for many invokes a sense of dread and ‘it’s not for me’. The fact is that exercise takes effort and the pain of committing to that effort is too much for many to get going. For those of you who need persuading, let’s look at the balance of what’s in it for you.
The downsides of exercise usually come down to making time to exercise, being prepared to work hard enough at it for it to do any good and feeling comfortable in an exercise environment with others. If we are honest with ourselves, we generally have quite a bit of time to sit in front of the TV. Just three shows less a week would make a difference, so lack of time is an excuse, not real, especially when you know the shows will be repeated anyway. You can of course choose to exercise on your own, if you feel awkward about exercising with others. So that just leaves the effort you put into it, which I will leave you to ponder on after I tell you about the consequences of not exercising.
So ‘what’s in it for me’ if I don’t exercise? Take a good look around next time you go shopping, obesity seems to be an epidemic. Around 50% of over 65’s are already on a cocktail of five or more drugs as GP’s try to fight off health problems. Their task is going to get a whole lot tougher when the next generation hits retirement age.
When we slouch in our chairs, watching TV, we don’t breathe correctly causing less lung capacity, lower oxygen intake, poorer blood flow, a weaker heart and less nutrient delivery. Muscles will contract to take up slack and blood pressure will rise. The reduced blood flow cannot sustain sudden movements any more, leading to dizziness and the increased risk of accidents.
The gut slows and digestion fails. Sugar metabolism struggles and diabetes is more likely to take hold. Men’s sexual potency falls. Bones get weaker making fracture more likely.
This list doesn’t make good reading does it? The pain coming your way if you don’t exercise is most probably going to make the effort to exercise look insignificant.
Exercise is vital for healthy aging. Whether you are 40 or 80, regular exercise will help you stay physically and mentally healthy and improve your life. It is widely acknowledged that a healthy body equals a healthy mind. A recent study suggests that intense physical activity may offer greater benefits for brain function in later life than less intense, but regular exercise. The researchers found a gradual increase in memory scores with higher intensity exercise.
If you are new to exercising, start with a few minutes a day, a small start puts you well on your way toward longer periods of exercise. Walking is a wonderful way to start exercising.
Exercise doesn’t have to mean you have to endure lengthy intense programs or take on a gym membership, although I think the discipline of going and the social angle is great.
If you are exercising on your own, you still need to add in working out with weights as well as aerobic exercise such as walking.
Your bones are remodelled throughout your life and they respond to stresses put on them by weight bearing activity. Space travel confirmed this when it was discovered that weightlessness prevented bone matrix repair and the bones thinned.
In the same way, running, cycling, and swimming are not enough to reverse osteoporotic changes. A one year study of mature ladies doing aerobic exercise only, without any weight bearing activity, showed an average 4% bone loss. This may not sound much, but it took two years of weight building exercises to reverse it. That’s why both the American College of Sports Medicine and the Osteoporotic Society insist on the prescription of aerobic exercise to include weights.
A word of caution. Exercise is an integral part of keeping healthy muscles and bones, however don’t push through bad pain whilst exercising, as all you will do is create chronic tissue damage. If you have an injury or are suffering arthritis, then exercise alone is not a worthy substitute and never will be for hands on treatments such as physiotherapy combined with modern technology, so visit us first.
Springtime is about new beginnings and inspirations. Spread the word about the benefits of safe, enjoyable exercise.
Every summer, it’s time to get out your tennis shoes and racquets. It’s vital to make sure that both you and your kit are properly prepared to prevent unnecessary injury. So here are some tips and advice to help guide you:
Tennis Top Tips
- Practice hitting the ball in the “sweet spot”, the shot feels good and the impact force will be at a minimum.
- Improve your stroking technique, especially backhand
- Modern racquets do not absorb shock like the old ones. To reduce the impact on your arm:-
– Lower string tension
– Increase flexibility of racquet
– Increase racquet head size
– Add lead tape to the head to increase weight
– Increase grip size. The optimum grip circumference equals the distance from the tip of the ring finger to the crease in the middle of the palm (proximal crease)
– Grip higher up handle
– Loosen grip on handle
- Play on an appropriate surface. If you play on a hard surface the forces through the joints are much higher: twice your body weight when walking, 3 to 4 times on running and 12 times on jumping. Very dry and hard surfaces can also cause twisting ligament injuries to the knees, due to the increased friction between your shoes and the ground.
- Get a biomechanical assessment and if you need them purchase bespoke high quality orthotics. Make sure your footwear is appropriate.
- Train at an intensity lower than competitive conditions to reduce the chance of injury
- Reduce the total amount of weight bearing exercise. Do some cross training to reduce impact loading, while maintaining training volume.
- Mix training sessions with different activities. I.e. cycling, swimming.
- Set up a training diary recording rest days, sleep, heart rate and heart rate recovery time.
- If the morning your heart rate increases, decrease activity plus add in more relaxation time, and spend more time on cool down post activity.
- Eat healthily and adjust your calorie intake to activity level. Take carbs for fuel, protein for rebuilding muscle, high quality vitamin & mineral supplements and drink plenty of water.
- Enjoy the stress relief exercise can bring and don’t force yourself if you are exhausted as this is when you are most likely to get injured.
- Get regular sports massage to remove trouble spots before they become injuries.
- If in doubt see a sports physiotherapist
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Warming up is often overlooked and should be part of your injury prevention routine as there are a number of benefits:
- The muscles work better when warm and oxygenated with good blood flow.
- The joints become more flexible which reduces the pull on muscles.
- The nervous system becomes more responsive.
Including a gentle jog in your warm up will give the muscles the energy supply they need to work properly. Follow this with sport specific exercises and dynamic, sport specific stretching drills. This regime has largely replaced old fashioned static alternatives.
Examples of tennis specific exercises are running for 5 to 20 minutes with heels up to buttocks, or with high knees up to hip level. Increasing the size and speed of movements, as the body warms up and the heart rate increases, will more closely simulate competitive conditions. It is also important to focus on full body conditioning, as predominantly one sided sports, such as tennis, can cause muscle imbalances.
You should allow a total exercise and stretch time of 15 to 30 minutes and no more than 30 minutes before competing, otherwise the benefits will be lost.
Cool down should include a gentle jog plus light stretching to help eliminate waste products and reduce muscle soreness.
If you need help contact the clinic on 01889 881488 and see a physiotherapist or visit www.painreliefclinic.co.uk
Pain can be a result of injury, but in many cases how much pain we feel is a consequence of the decisions we make through our lives and is governed by our beliefs. How we deal with life’s challenges, what we choose to eat and drink, including the quality of antioxidants and minerals, how much effort we put into exercise, posture and weight control, how much sleep we give ourselves – all these are choices of which we are in control.
Unfortunately, most of us make choices which will at some point promote pain. Fortunately, the body is always attempting to regulate pain impulses and heal. With knowledge we can work with, rather than against this process and feel less pain.
How Do We Feel Pain
We have a myriad of tiny receptors all over our body, which pass information to sensory nerves and then to the spinal cord. The pain impulse continues up the spinal cord to the thalamus in the brain, which acts like a router and in effect makes ‘phone calls’ to three other parts of the brain:
- Sensory Cortex interprets nature of pain
- The mammalian Amydala assesses level of fear/emotion and decides if parts of the body need to shut down to prioritise fight or flight.
- The Cortex is the human part of the brain which finalises the decision process
Hence our brains really do decide, like a panel of judges, how much pain is appropriate for us to experience at any time. Pain is then translated into how much we hurt.
Although we naturally want to avoid pain, this acts as an important and in some cases critical feedback. Pain is a warning signal that something is wrong and should stimulate a response to change activity to not repeat the cause of the pain. Thus if something is wrong and we block the pain, the risk is that we could continue an activity which is harming us.
Imagine you are driving a slow, small car and you are waiting to turn onto a highway and big lorry after big lorry goes past and stops you continuing your journey.
Now translate that analogy, this time the pain signal being the car and other, more powerful signals being the lorries. If we can provide a continuous supply of powerful signals the pain never gets out to the spinal cord and up to the brain.
This is called pain gate theory and goes some way to explaining how and why we can reduce pain. What’s the first thing you do if you hurt your hand in some way? Most of us will shake it. This sends stronger signals to the brain than the pain and so blocks the pain.
Endorphins – The Body’s Natural Pain Killer
Endorphins are released at the point where the pain signals reach the spinal cord and prevent more pain signals being released. It is this process which prevents pain getting through immediately, sometimes after a serious injury. This “endorphin rush” allows an athlete to persist through pain.
Ten Top Tips To Reduce Pain
- 1.Massage– nice sensations travel seven times faster than pain impulses and block the pain.
- 2.Acupuncture raises endorphin levels and blocks pain at the gate. Also it can be linked to electro acupuncture to boost the long term effect.
- 3.Nutritious food and supplements. The correct food products are required to make amino acids which are essential to pain-killing hormones. Minerals and anti-oxidants all reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Too many carbs/sugars metabolise into pain products: reducing the calories reduces the pain. Less obesity – less pain. If the cell is healthy, nutrient rich and properly hydrated, with few toxins, pain is an unwelcome guest.
- 4.Reiki and meditation are known to change the brain wave frequency and biochemistry. New research suggests the state of mind has an impact on DNA transcription and chronic pain. Self-healing methods like these can focus the subconscious mind on reducing both stress and pain.
- 5.Review your lifestyle and regulate levels of stressful/fearful activity will boost positive emotional activities. Understand your natural bio rhythms to make the best of your time awake. – makes you more productive and less stressed
- 6.Improve your posture, especially sitting, enables the large core muscles to take load off the back.
- 7.Taking regular exercise boosts feel good pain killing endorphin levels, boosts metabolism, and helps to reduce obesity – fat cells store toxins and enhance pain. Many studies prove correct exercise significantly reduces painful chronic illness and mortality.
- 8.Tens, is a portable hand-held, medically-endorsed device sends frequencies, 2HZ to 150HZ, through the sensory nerves to block the pain gate and boost happy bio-chemistry, such as serotonins and endorphins to kill pain, reduce depression and help sleep. The Tens electrodes can be placed along a nerve root and onto a painful point, or on to specific acupuncture points. With professional guidance, good quality Tens can significantly boost the effects of pain treatment.
- 9.Consider hypnosis. This fascinating and controversial subject can significantly reduce pain when practiced by an experienced therapist. People have even had surgery whilst under hypnosis.
- 10.A warm bath with alkaline salts and aromatherapy, especially lavender helps with sleep.
For more information about Nicky Snazell’s Pain Relief Clinic call 01889 881488 or visit www.painreliefclinic.co.uk