Friday, 19 July 2019

Ligaments vs Tendons; Sprains vs Strains; unravelled!

People often interchange the terms sprains and strains when talking about injuries but there is a difference.  Read on and I hope I can clear it up...

Ligaments and tendons are both made up of fibrous connective tissue but they have different roles and functions.

  • Ligaments attach bones to bones
  • Ligaments help stabilise joint
  • Ligaments are not very elastic
  • Imagine a belt or strap connecting, for example, your shin and thigh bones
  • Tendons attach muscles to bones
  • Tendons help to move the joint and absorb some impact on the muscles
  • Tendons are more elastic than ligaments but not as elastic as muscles
  • Imagine tough bungee cords or straps, for example, your achilles tendon

Bearing the above in mind then the terms Sprains and Strains are used to differentiate between injuries:

  • A Sprain is an overstretch or tear to a ligament
  • Sprains commonly occur at the ankle, knee or wrist
  • A Strain is an overstretch or tear to a muscle
  • Strains commonly occur in the leg, arm or back

Sports Massage can aid recovery from both sprains and strains. Please get in contact to see how I can help.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Should you change to forefoot running?

I recently posted a link on my facebook page to an article investigating the pros and cons of forefoot vs barefoot running as there is a lot of hype and confusion about the two.

As a little add-on I thought that I would give my personal experience of changing to forefoot running in normal trainers.

A few years ago now I injured my knee playing hockey and despite all rehab have been left with internal damage and I had to retire from playing due to the pain from constant foot strike and rotational movements.  I found running uncomfortable and also had trouble in my basic karate stances.

I made the conscious decision to give up hockey as it was the sport that I had least control over body action.  I was however determined not to give up karate or other activities.  

Although I had a neutral running style I was a heavy heel striker, and so I decided to change to forefoot running.  I chose to change because our bodies were designed in such a way that our joints are able to absorb and dissipate impact energy when we strike through the balls of our feet.  Fundamentally this would deliver less impact through my knee.

I do have barefoot shoes for general walking and other activities I chose to keep my running trainers to give my joints more cushioning as my knee already has more than average 'wear and tear'.  I started gradually; jogging back the 3/4 mile from school drop off very slowly ensuring that it was all forefoot striking.  Oh boy did my calves ache, but not my knee, and a good stretch sorted them out!  After a few weeks I gradually increased the distance and found that not only did I have no knee pain; I was actually running faster.  Moreover, I was able to do squats and lunges after the run.  Something that had been impossible before.

Currently I am able to run, cycle, do karate and Muay Thai boxing.  Yes there are days when the knee lets me know that I have done too much but, as with everything else in life, it is a balancing act.  So my experience has been positive.  I have taken in steady in my transition from a heel striker to a forefoot runner and have benefited from it.  However I changed my running style out of necessity.  I would always caution against changing something for no real reason other than you fancy trying it.  If your current running style is causing no injury then consider very carefully the pros and cons of changing.

I you need any help with assessing your needs then please contact me and I will be happy to help.

Friday, 28 June 2019


So many people ask me how long it will take to recover from their injury and in truth there is no definitive answer because each one of us is different both in our biological make up and our mental approach to things.

That being said I would always emphasise QUALITY OVER QUANTITY when it comes to exercise rehabilitation.  Something which can also be translated into the way we approach any exercise we do and indeed how we all approach life!

It is no good doing hundreds of repetitions of something if you have poor technique as it could just cause more pain.  Take for example; someone who boasts that they can hold a plank for 4 minutes.  My first question would be why would you want or need to do that? My second, what was their posture like throughout that 4 minutes? And finally; do they engage the correct muscles throughout? So many people can do a 4 minute plank...poorly and indeed quite often when someone comes to see me with back pain they can do these types of exercises but they cannot engage their deep stabilising muscles correctly and therefore exacerbate their problem.

I always recommend going back to basics after any injury. Check that those small but vital stabilising muscles are switching on correctly. Make sure they have the endurance to support the big global muscles in their action before building up full strength and power.

I have been practicing Kyokushin Karate for may years now and in the syllabus book that you get as a beginner there is the route to power in karate.  It is so fundamental, not just to karate, but all exercise/sporting disciplines and if more people paid credence to it then more people would suffer less injuries due to trying to advance too quickly.  So here it is:

Position - Balance - Coordination - Form - Speed - Power - Reflex

As I mentioned above; we can also take the ethos of QUALITY OVER QUANTITY into anything we do.  My Daughter took up piano last year and it is recommended that they practice for 20 mins each day.  But what if that practice was poor in quality because she was tired.  She would just make mistakes and practice those mistakes over and over again.  Surely it is better to do a good quality practice for a shorter duration.  Even top Olympic athletes have to listen to their bodies and if they are 'not feeling the love' then give themselves an easier training session/rest period.  

There is such a fine line with pushing too hard and achieving you goals.  If you need advise with your injury prevention, treatment or rehabilitation needs then please contact me.