If you’re suffering from bad knees, clicking hips or backache, the culprit may be lazy, under-used gluteal (buttock) muscles.
An increasingly sedentary lifestyle is being blamed for a condition dubbed Dormant Bottom Syndrome (DBS) by an American medic. It’s becoming a more and more prevalent problem due to the amount of time we all spend sitting down, whether it’s at a desk or relaxing at home or in the garden.
DBS develops when the gluteal muscles in your backside (three, known collectively as the glutes) are weak and the hip flexors – muscles that control the movement of your hips – are tight. This leads to muscles and joints around them taking the strain, which can cause all sorts of injuries to the back, hips, knees and elsewhere.
The stronger and more resilient your glute muscles are, the better control you will have over your hip, knee, ankle and foot, meaning less chance of overloading and injuring these joints and structures around them when you run, jump, hop, skip, dance or prance around a square pitch, an oval field, a circular track, a straight line, a diagonal line, whether you’re kicking a ball, throwing or hitting something with a bat, stick or racquet or even pushing or pulling someone/something.
So in a nutshell the glutes are vitally important to pay that little extra time and attention to, in particular the one called Gluteus Medius.
The gluteus medius is mainly responsible for keeping everything in relatively good alignment and stabilising the pelvis when one leg comes of the floor, which it does a lot, for example when walking we spend approx 55% of the time on one leg, this goes up to 85% when running.
If you’re suffering from a lazy bottom there are exercises you can do to remedy the problem. Squats, lunges and bridges can all help, as can straight leg deadlifts – where you keep your legs, arms and back straight and hinge at the waist to lift and lower a weight. However, it is easy to do these exercises using the wrong muscles, and then only make the problem worse. The key is to slowly retrain the body.
Other good exercises which are easy to do are different versions of Theraband walks. For these you will need a glute band – this is a simple piece of Theraband or similar stretchy band tied in a loop. The glute band should be about 6-9 inches when tied and should be slightly taut when you have it around your ankles and are standing with your feet about 3 inches apart.
The Crab Walk
- Stand sideways, with the band around your ankles
- Keeping your toes turned outward, pull your legs apart wide
- Squat down bending the knees, keeping your back straight and keeping your knees turned out slightly in the same alignment as your toes
- Side step by bringing one foot in half way keeping the leg alignment and not leaning over with your top half
- Do 10-15 side steps one way and then return in the other direction
- Think not a waddle but a glide…
The Waltz Walk
- Stand in the same squat stance as the Crab walk but facing forwards
- Bring one foot in towards the other, then push it out forwards and to the side roughly at a 45 degree angle (like a mini side lunge)
- Repeat with the opposite leg, keeping the low squat position, not moving, leaning the top half of your body and keeping the knee alignment over the 2-3rd toes
- Do 10-15 steps forwards and then reverse by walking backwards immediately 10-15 steps
The ‘Pee’d your Pants’ Walk
- Stand in the same squat stance as the Waltz Walk but this time keep up on the balls of your feet, great for the ankles as well.
- Walk forward in this squat position on the balls of your feet, keeping your leg and knees apart as if walking on railway tracks
- Do not let your heels touch the floor
- Do 10-15 steps forwards then reverse by walking backwards immediately
Sources: www.dailymail.co.uk; thesportsphysio.wordpress.com
Diets and Slimming
Forget those strict regimes of self-denial that are truly impossible to keep up, what’s needed is an eating regime that you can follow for life and that fits in with your own personal lifestyle. The western world is obsessed with diets we have become overfed and under nourished, obesity is now at worrying levels in both adults and children and un-realistic images of super thin models and muscle men give us a distorted view of what is to be fit and healthy.
The successful slimmer loses weight slowly with the key being to establish a way of eating and exercising that becomes second nature and lasts a life-time. It is when we feel well in ourselves that going back to our old patterns is no longer a consideration.
The aim of an effective regime is to bring about weight loss by reducing the amount of calories we take in from food and drink, and increasing the amount of calories we burn through exercise. What is very important here is that we want to lose fat not muscle, some people think that means cutting all fat from the diet, far from it, if you reduce good fats in the diet you can become hungry and many low fat foods are high is sugar. If you don’t burn off that sugar, the body will store it as fat. It’s all about getting the right balance and eating certain foods in moderation.
Some slimming plans are scientifically based whilst others can be quite dangerous. Crash diets or detox diets if done incorrectly and not under supervision at best can cause water and protein to be lost rather than fat and at worst can lead to liver and kidney issues and disordered eating. Faddy regimes do not encourage healthy eating habits or establish safe and permanent weight loss.
Healthy slimming regime
Any programme undertaken, whether it includes smoothies, protein shakes, salads etc. must contain all the nutrients the body needs. To achieve this, vegetables, fruit, lean, meats, fish, pulses, etc. need to be included. Cakes, biscuits, sugary foods, alcohol and processed fats have no value and therefore need to be excluded. It all sounds very simple and fundamentally it is. However we are all individuals and what works for your friend may not work for you. This is where personalised nutrition comes in.
Personalised nutrition is where a programme is worked out especially for you, taking in to account your lifestyle and food choices. A regime that includes lots of fruit and veg when you suffer with IBS or other digestive issues could be quite unhelpful and living off smoothies made with too many high sugar fruits could be more harmful than anything else.
Keep a food diary of everything you eat and drink and the times for a period of four weeks. This will show you a pattern of eating, some things such as eating late at night or skipping breakfast or snacking on high calories treats throughout the day need to be addressed but when choosing the regime that works for you think about what you do already and adapt. You will be far more successful than trying something that is completely different and almost impossible to stick to.
If you would like further help to devise a plan especially for you, come in to clinic and see Kim, she will be only too happy to work with you to achieve your goals.
Genes in sport
Genetics is becoming hard to ignore, with genetic discoveries becoming more regular and the increasing use of genetic testing. But is exercise and sporting potential influenced by our genes?
It has now thought that a high percentage of the variance in the athlete status is explained by genetic factors, meaning Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Dennis Kimetto, for example, all have a genetic make up which predisposes them to sporting potential. In 2009 a scientific study looked at endurance performance and a multitude of genes in athletes compared to a control group. They found that 66% of the elite endurance runners tested carried eight or more endurance-related genes.
In addition to this, the dominance of Jamaicans and Americans of west African and Caribbean descent in world class sprinting has sparked intense debate about whether running at speeds that push the limits of what is humanly possible is all in the genes.
It is an idea that has its attractions. After all, it does seem baffling that the tiny island nation of Jamaica with a population reaching barely 2.8 million can consistently produce world-beating sprinters, while the whole of Europe can hardly register more than a handful of athletes in the top 100. It is thought that this is due to the presence of ACTN3 – the “speed gene” as it has been dubbed. This gene makes fast-twitch muscles twitch fast. Lacking the ACTN3 protein does not seem to have any harmful health effects but does affect running ability. Scientists conclude that it is almost impossible for someone who lacks the ACTN3 protein to become an elite sprinter. The so-called sprint gene is more common in those of West African descent than in Europeans, according to a study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.
Is genetic testing useful in sport? It depends on a few factors. What genes are being tested, why are they being tested and how many genes are being tested?
Genes have now been coded and studied which can assist athletes and coaches in planning training sessions, know how long recovery is likely to take from training sessions and potentially whether the athlete is susceptible to certain injuries. It is a contemporary notion that training can be tailored and prescribed based on somebody’s genes. An Australian rugby league team claim they have done just that and gained a competitive advantage over their rivals by using genetic testing to design players’ training programmes.
Although the genetics of sport is now well beyond academic interest, it is important not to look too closely at single genes as some genes may be present but can be reliant on certain nutrition to be effective. It is also the case for performance; just because a gene is present, training still needs to be done to gain optimal performance.
Sources: articles.chicagotribune.com; www.geneticliteracyproject.org; Functional Sports Nutrition – May/June 2014