The Perfect Squat

The Perfect Squat

Anyone can squat. Anyone. There’s no preparation required and it’s an exercise that our bodies can naturally do – ever crouched to the lower parts of a bookshelf? Bent down to pick something up? Those both use the same muscles as squats do, except that they’re just part of our everyday life and so don’t work your body in the same way as specific warm-up squats do.

Considering we probably do multiple squatting variants every day, you’d think that it’d be easy to do one correctly on demand, or when needed. Well, you thought wrong. (Sorry.)

There’s a lot of debate about ‘the perfect squat’, and it is talked about as if it’s a mythical creature or a rarity that we can only hope to achieve. As a full-body fitness staple that works not only your glutes and quads, but your hips, hamstrings and core too, it’s important to perfect this go-to move in order to stop wasting your workouts and get the most out of your exercise. So, how do you perfect the correct squat?

To begin, you’ll need to perfect the basic ‘body weight squat’ – after all, you couldn’t decorate a cake without baking one in the first place (unless you intend to eat it straight away, in which case it will be well-deserved after these squats). Workout techniques are no different; you need to properly establish a foundation before you can begin to build on it to avoid injuries and strains.

  1. Start in a neutral position, with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, and keep your legs firm and straight without locking your knees into place. Roll your shoulders back, as hunching over or bending will put too much strain on your lower back.
  2. With your palms facing down, extend your arms out as straight as you can get them and keep them parallel with the ground.
  3. Inhale, and bring your hips backwards as you bend your knees down into the squat. As your hips and pelvis start to move back, keep your shoulders upright and your back straight, and your head facing forward. This will ensure that your spine stays in a neutral position.
  4. Go as low and deep as your flexibility allows; try and get your hips to sink past your knees, if you can.
  5. Keeping your body weight in your heels, push yourself back up into your neutral standing position as if you’re about to spring off the floor (but without your feet leaving the ground, obviously).

Your basic-yet-perfect correct squat, detailed there in five easy-to-follow steps. These are great to use anywhere and to warm-up before any workout, or even as just a low-intensity form of exercise. Beginners shouldn’t add any extra weight, but once you’ve got the hang of the basic squat, you can start to incorporate some equipment into them for a more effective workout. Try holding a medicine ball/kettle bell/dumbbell to your chest and drop your elbows between your knees as you lower yourself into a squat – this would be great for those who cannot achieve deeper squats as lowering yourself and pushing your hips out back isn’t required.

After doing all those squats day after day – because now that you know the proper technique, there’s really no excuse for you to not be smugly squatting in front of the mirrors at the gym – you may find that you ache a little. That’s normal and shows that you’re making progress in strengthening your core, building up your balance and coordination, and improving your overall fitness levels. If you want to know more about correct technique or would like professional advice from one of our personal trainers then please get in touch. Furthermore, if you are including squats into your regime and they are causing you some aches and pains, then we can help there too with our specialist sports massage service. For more information on how these types of massage could help you, contact us on 07939 212 739 or drop us an email at info@livewellhealth.co.uk

Rotator Cuff Injury

In the rotator cuff region there are four muscles, tendons and ligaments, surrounding the shoulder which provide added stability to the shoulder joint. This structure helps to keep the bone securely placed into the socket. Injury to the rotator cuffs can cause an ache like pain in the shoulder. This may lead to a feeling of muscle weakness and inability to lift the shoulder above the head.

Rotator cuff injuries are most commonly presented in people regularly exposed to overhead movements, such as painters, carpenters and builders. Individuals who suffer from this injury can usually manage their symptoms, through sports massage and specific exercises focusing on the rotator cuff muscle region. However, if not treated correctly, further injury to the area may occur such as a complete tear, which may result in surgery.

Anatomy

The rotator cuffs are made up by four muscles, these are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. These muscles aid in keeping the upper arm and shoulder into the socket with stability. They also each allow specific movements at the shoulder joint. The group of four muscles all originate within the shoulder blade, but all insert into different portions of the upper arm bone.

Supraspinatus: This muscle originates at the supraspinous fossa; the muscle belly passes laterally over the acromion process and inserts into the greater tubercle of the humerus bone. This muscle allows the first 15 degree’s movement of abduction, after this the deltoid and trapezius muscles will then allow further motion.

Infraspinatus: The origin of the infraspinatus is the infraspinatus fossa, and the insertion is also the greater tubercle of the humerus. The motion created by this muscle is lateral rotation of the shoulder, moving the arm away from the centreline of the body.

Teres Minor: A small narrow muscle on the back of the shoulder blade which sits underneath the infraspinatus. The origin is the lateral boarder of the scapula. This muscle contributes to external rotation of the arm of the body.

Subscapularis: This rotator cuff is the strongest and largest out of the three listed above. This muscle originates at the subscapularis fossa and inserts into the lesser tubercle of the humerus. The subscapularis allows greater motion at the shoulder and mainly aids in allowing medial rotation of the arm.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of possible rotator cuff injury:

  • Dull ache
  • Difficulty lifting arm over head
  • Weakness around the shoulder
  • Disturbed sleep
  • The constant need to use self-myofascial techniques

Causes

There are a few common risk factors of why rotator injury may occur:

  1. Family History: There may be family history of rotator cuff injuries which may make certain family members more prone to having the injury than others.
  2. The type of job you do: Individuals who work in construction or manual labour who have repetitive overhead movement of the shoulder could damage the rotator cuff overtime.
  3. Age: As you get older joints and muscles become weaker, meaning you may be more prone to injury overtime.

Diagnosis

To diagnose a rotator cuff injury a physical examination will be carried out by a doctor or a physiotherapist. Firstly, they may ask about your day-to-day activities which may determine the seriousness of the injury. The doctor will test the range of movement at the shoulder by getting you to perform movements such as flexion, extension, abduction, adduction and medial and lateral rotation. This will allow the doctor to determine if it is actually rotator cuff injury or whether it may be other conditions such as impingement or tendinitis.

Imaging scans such as X-Ray’s may also be used to see if there is any abnormal bone growth within the joint, which may be causing the pain.

Treatment

Treatments for rotator cuff injuries can be non-surgical or surgical. Tendinitis may occur over time from the repetitive strain placed around the joint, so it is important to treat the affected area.

  • Apply a cold compress/ ice to the effected area to reduce swelling
  • Heat packs can be used to reduce swelling
  • Resting the affected area
  • Inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen and naproxen
  • Reduce the amount of repetitive movement to the joint
  • Don’t lift the arm overhead

Exercises

  • Doorway Stretch: Stand facing an open doorway with your hands placed on the door frame at shoulder height. Step one foot forward and gently lean forward, feeling a stretch in your chest and shoulders. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds before releasing. Repeat the stretch with the other foot forward.
  • External rotation with weight: Hold a dumbbell or weight plate in one hand and stand with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and your upper arm against your side. Rotate your arm outwards, away from your body, while keeping your elbow tucked in. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 8-12 repetitions before switching arms.
  • High to low rows with resistance band: Attach a resistance band to a sturdy anchor point at chest height. Stand facing the anchor point with the band in both hands. Pull the band towards your chest, keeping your elbows tucked in and your shoulders down. Slowly release the band back to the starting position and repeat for 8-12 repetitions.
  • Reverse fly’s: Hold a dumbbell or weight plate in each hand and bend forward at the waist, keeping your back straight. Extend your arms out to the sides, keeping them parallel to the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bring the weights up towards your body, then slowly release back to the starting position. Repeat for 8-12 repetitions.
  • Lawn mower pull with resistance band: Attach a resistance band to a low anchor point and stand with your side to the anchor point. Hold the band in one hand with your arm extended towards the anchor point. Pull the band towards your chest, keeping your elbow bent and your shoulder blade squeezed down and back. Slowly release back to the starting position and repeat for 8-12 repetitions before switching sides.
  • Isometric internal rotation: Stand with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and your upper arm against your side. Place a rolled up towel or small ball between your elbow and your side. Squeeze your elbow into your side, holding the contraction for 10-15 seconds before releasing. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
  • Isometric external rotation: Stand with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and your upper arm against your side. Hold a resistance band in both hands, with one end of the band anchored to a sturdy object. Rotate your arm outwards, away from your body, while keeping your elbow tucked in. Hold the contraction for 10-15 seconds before releasing. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions before switching arms.

Prevention

  1. Strengthen the rotator cuff muscles: Exercises that target the rotator cuff muscles can help to build strength and stability in the shoulder joint. Examples of such exercises include external rotation with a resistance band, internal rotation with a light weight, and scapular stabilization exercises.
  2. Warm up properly: Before engaging in any activities that involve overhead arm movements, it is important to warm up the shoulder joint with dynamic stretches and exercises. This can help to increase blood flow to the muscles and reduce the risk of injury.
  3. Practice good technique: When engaging in activities that involve overhead arm movements, it is important to use proper technique and form. This can help to reduce stress on the rotator cuff muscles and tendons and minimize the risk of injury.
  4. Use proper equipment: Using equipment that is properly fitted and designed for the activity can help to reduce the risk of rotator cuff injuries. For example, using a tennis racket with a larger grip or wearing properly fitting swim goggles can reduce the stress on the shoulder joint.
  5. Rest and recover: Resting and allowing the shoulder joint to recover after activity is important for preventing overuse injuries. Avoiding overuse and engaging in activities that strengthen and stretch the shoulder muscles can help to prevent rotator cuff injuries.

How We Can Help

We understand that dealing with a rotator cuff injury can be a challenging and painful experience. As healthcare professionals, we are dedicated to helping you manage your symptoms and regain full function of your shoulder joint.

We are pleased to offer you our services in massage therapy and sports therapy, both of which can be highly effective in treating rotator cuff injuries. Our trained and experienced therapists can work with you to reduce pain and inflammation, improve range of motion, correct muscle imbalances, and provide advice on injury prevention.

Our services are tailored to meet your individual needs and goals, and we will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is effective and manageable for you. We believe in a collaborative approach to healthcare, and we may work in conjunction with other healthcare professionals, such as physiotherapists or orthopedic specialists, to ensure that you receive the best possible care.

We take pride in providing our patients with high-quality, compassionate care, and we are committed to helping you achieve optimal health and well-being. If you are interested in learning more about our massage therapy and sports therapy services, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Exercising In The Heat

Exercising in hot weather can present a number of challenges for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. While the heat can provide an added cardiovascular challenge, it also requires careful consideration of fluid balance and hydration to ensure safe and effective performance. In this article, we will explore the science behind exercising in the heat, the benefits and risks associated with this type of exercise, and the best practices for staying hydrated and safe when engaging in physical activity in warm or hot weather.

Science Behind

Exercising in the heat places additional stress on the body due to the increased workload required to regulate internal body temperature. This can result in increased sweating and fluid loss, leading to dehydration and other heat-related conditions.
In order to regulate body temperature, the body must transfer heat from the internal environment to the external environment. This is accomplished through sweating, which is facilitated by the sweat glands in the skin. The evaporation of sweat from the skin helps to cool the body and maintain internal temperature. However, this also results in fluid loss that must be replaced to prevent dehydration.

 

Benefits

For athletes and fitness enthusiasts, exercising in the heat can offer several benefits, including:

  • Improved cardiovascular fitness: Exercising in hot weather can provide a more challenging cardiovascular workout, helping to improve overall fitness and endurance.
  • Increased calorie burn: The body must work harder to regulate internal temperature in hot weather, resulting in an increased calorie burn during exercise.
  •  Improved heat adaptation: Regular exercise in hot weather can help the body to adapt and become more efficient at regulating internal temperature, improving performance in warm conditions.

Risks

  • While there are benefits to exercising in the heat, it is important to be aware of the associated risks, including:
  • Dehydration: The increased fluid loss from sweating can result in dehydration, which can negatively impact performance and increase the risk of heat-related conditions.
  • Heat exhaustion: Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include dizziness, headache, and fatigue, and can result from dehydration and overheating.
  •  Heat stroke: In severe cases, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which is a life-threatening condition characterized by a high body temperature, confusion, and unconsciousness.

Usefull Tips

  • Hydrate before and during exercise: Adequate hydration before and during exercise is essential to prevent dehydration and related heat-related conditions.
  •  Wear appropriate clothing: Lightweight, breathable clothing can help to regulate internal temperature and prevent overheating.
  • Exercise at cooler times of day: Exercising in the early morning or late evening, when temperatures are cooler, can help to reduce the risk of heat-related conditions.
  • Gradually acclimate to the heat: Gradually increasing exposure to hot weather over several days can help the body to adapt and become more efficient at regulating internal temperature.
  •  Monitor for symptoms of heat-related conditions: Pay attention to symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and fatigue, and seek medical attention if these symptoms persist or worsen.

In conclusion

Exercising in the heat can provide a more challenging workout and improve cardiovascular fitness, but it also requires careful consideration of fluid balance and hydration to ensure safe and effective performance. By following the best practices outlined above, athletes and fitness enthusiasts can enjoy the benefits of exercising in hot weather while minimizing the risks associated with this type of exercise.

 

Ankle Stability Exercises

The ankle joint is a complex hinge joint that connects the lower leg bones (the tibia and fibula) to the foot bone (the talus). The ankle joint plays a critical role in weight-bearing activities such as walking, running, and jumping. Ankle stability is the ability of the ankle joint to maintain its position and resist movement that could cause injury. The ankle joint is held in place by ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

Ankle stability is crucial for preventing injuries such as sprains, strains, and fractures. An unstable ankle is more susceptible to injury, and recurrent ankle injuries can lead to chronic ankle instability, which can affect an individual’s ability to engage in physical activities.

Factors that contribute to ankle instability include weak muscles, poor neuromuscular control, and previous ankle injuries. Additionally, external factors such as the type of footwear and surface on which an individual is engaging in physical activity can affect ankle stability.

Improving ankle stability can be achieved through various exercises and interventions, including balance and proprioception exercises, strengthening exercises, and neuromuscular training. It is important to seek guidance from a healthcare professional or qualified trainer when beginning an ankle stability program.

In conclusion, ankle stability is critical for maintaining proper ankle joint function and preventing injury. Individuals who engage in physical activities that place stress on the ankle joint should take steps to improve ankle stability through exercises and interventions to prevent injury and maintain optimal joint health.

Ankle stability exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles and ligaments around the ankle joint, which can help to prevent injuries and improve overall ankle function. Here are a few exercises that can help to improve ankle stability:

Ankle Dorsiflexion

Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Loop a resistance band around the ball of your foot and hold the ends of the band with your hands. Slowly pull the band towards you, lifting your foot towards your shin, and then slowly release.

Ankle Plantar Flexion

Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Loop a resistance band around the ball of your foot and hold the ends of the band with your hands. Slowly press your foot away from your body, extending your ankle, and then slowly release.

Eversion

Eversion with resistance band: Sitting in a chair with feet on the floor, loop a resistance band around both feet and hold both ends of the band in your hands. Try to move your foot up and outwards against the resistance of the band, hold for 1-3 seconds then slowly control the ankle back to the starting position, making sure only the ankle is moving and not the whole leg.

Inversion

Inversion with resistance band: Place the resistance band on the symptomatic foot, hold the band in one hand out to the side, try to move the foot down and inwards against the resistance of the band. Hold for 1-3 seconds then slowly control the ankle back to the starting position, making sure only the ankle is moving and not the whole leg.

Calf Raise

Calf raise: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointing forward. Slowly rise up onto the balls of your feet, lifting your heels off the ground and squeezing your calf muscles.

Balance on one foot

Balance on one foot: Stand on one foot and try to maintain balance while lifting the other foot off the ground.

Conclusion

There are a number of exercises that can be done to improve ankle stability. Above are just a selection and it is important to start with light weight and increase the weight as you progress, also make sure to maintain proper form throughout the exercise to avoid injury.

If you are suffering with ankle issues such as constant sprains, weakness or have a sport specific reason for strengthening your ankle area, then get in touch today. Our team of specialists can help with your planning, exercise regime and any injury related issues.

3 Exercises for Glute Activation

As anyone who exercises will know, getting yourself warmed up and ready before working out is an absolute must. Glutes are a very important muscle group that do a lot of work, from preventing any injuries to improving your general performance. Whenever you lean or bend over at your hips, your glute muscles are the things controlling your movements, so in order to fully engage them you’ll need to ‘activate’ them. Not doing so means you’ll be using other muscles for work that they don’t need to be doing (i.e. using your knee muscles to bend at the hips) and this can become an injury risk.

Strong glutes help you to become more powerful in your movements, and not just in exercise-related ones – simple tasks like walking or jogging will become a little easier as you have more power to put into them. Preventing excessive movement in your lower back and knees is another key advantage to having strong glutes, as this means you’ll reduce your general injury risk.

Anatomy

The glutes, short for gluteal muscles, are a group of three muscles that make up the buttocks. There are other muscles known as the deep 6, but we can discuss these at another time as the primary muscles are the glutes. The glutes are one of the most powerful muscles in the body, responsible for hip extension, abduction, and external rotation. The anatomy of the glutes is complex and understanding it is essential for anyone looking to build a stronger, healthier lower body.

The three muscles that make up the glutes are the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. The gluteus maximus is the largest and most powerful of the three, responsible for hip extension and external rotation. It originates from the ilium, sacrum, coccyx, and fascia of the lumbar region, and inserts into the femur.

The gluteus medius is located on the outer surface of the pelvis, just above the hip joint. It is responsible for hip abduction and internal rotation. The gluteus medius originates from the ilium and inserts into the greater trochanter of the femur.

The gluteus minimus is the smallest of the three muscles and is located underneath the gluteus medius. It is also responsible for hip abduction and internal rotation. The gluteus minimus originates from the ilium and inserts into the greater trochanter of the femur.

The glutes are not just important for aesthetic reasons; they play a vital role in many activities we perform daily, such as walking, running, and jumping. They also provide stability and support to the pelvis and lower back, making them crucial for proper posture.

To train the glutes effectively, it is essential to understand the different functions of each muscle. Exercises that target the gluteus maximus include squats, deadlifts, and hip thrusts, which all involve hip extension. For the gluteus medius and minimus, exercises such as side-lying leg lifts and lateral band walks are effective.

Proper form is crucial when performing glute exercises to ensure that the muscles are being targeted effectively and to avoid injury. It is also important to gradually increase the intensity of exercises to prevent overloading the muscles and causing strain or injury.

In conclusion, the glutes are a complex group of muscles that are vital for a healthy, strong lower body. Understanding the anatomy of the glutes and their functions is crucial for anyone looking to improve their strength and overall health. By incorporating targeted glute exercises into a regular fitness routine, individuals can build a stronger, more stable lower body and improve their performance in daily activities.

Exercises

So now that you’re aware of what glutes actually are, how do we activate them?

  1. Clamshell

This is an exercise popular both for stretching and physical therapy, and targets your hip rotators and muscles. Start by lying down on one side, with your head resting on an arm or pillow (but be careful, if you lean on your arm for too long it may start to go a little numb!). Then bend your knees upwards so that your feet are in an even line with your hips and your heels are behind you, and tilt your torso and pelvis slightly forward. Keeping your heels together, raise your top knee from the one that it’s resting on – this should contract your core and squeeze your glutes. Don’t be tempted to follow the movement of your hips rolling back, as they will try and to achieve maximum results from this, your body needs to remain stable as you lift your knees.

Once you’ve mastered it lying down, try it with your weight resting on one elbow in a side plank.

  1. Hip extensions

This can also be used as a great warm-up exercise as it targets your lower body and improves your flexibility and strength. To begin, get yourself into a table top position (on your hands and knees and looking down at the mat below you). Keep your hips over your knees and your shoulders aligned with your wrists, but be careful not to lock your elbows into place. Bring one of your bent knees up to the ceiling – this is the part that really works your glutes. Exhale as you raise it, then bring your leg back down into the position you started in and inhale. Complete 15 reps with one leg, then repeat for the other and you should be good to go.

  1. The glute bridge

Despite how involved it is with working your glutes, this is actually one of the easiest exercises that get the best results! Start by lying down on your back and looking up, with your knees bent and feet on the ground with hip-width space between them, to create a small triangle in the space between your legs and the floor. Press your arms down by your sides and your feet into the ground as you lift your hips off the ground, using your arms to support yourself, and then lower them back down to the ground. Make sure to keep your core tight for maximum effect!

When the two-legged version becomes too easy, extend one leg in the air as you lift your hips, or even pull your knee to your chest with your arms as you bring it up.

Injuries and other considerations

The glutes, also known as the buttocks, are a group of muscles that are crucial for movement and stability of the lower body. These muscles include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. Injuries and medical conditions associated with the glutes can cause pain and discomfort, and may affect a person’s ability to perform daily activities. Here are some possible injuries and medical conditions associated with the glutes:

  • Strains and Sprains: The glutes are prone to strains and sprains, which occur when the muscles and ligaments are stretched or torn. These injuries can result from sudden movements, overuse, or trauma. Symptoms of a strain or sprain include pain, swelling, and limited range of motion.
  • Piriformis Syndrome: Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle, located in the buttocks, spasms and compresses the sciatic nerve. This can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the buttocks and down the leg. Piriformis syndrome can be caused by overuse, trauma, or poor posture.
  • Bursitis: Bursitis is a condition that occurs when the bursae, small sacs of fluid located between the bones and tendons, become inflamed. This can cause pain, tenderness, and swelling in the buttocks. Bursitis can be caused by overuse, trauma, or infection.
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction: The sacroiliac joint is located at the base of the spine and connects the sacrum to the pelvis. Dysfunction in this joint can cause pain in the buttocks, lower back, and legs. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction can be caused by trauma, pregnancy, or degenerative joint disease.
  • Gluteal tendinopathy: Gluteal tendinopathy is a condition that occurs when the tendons that attach the gluteal muscles to the hip bone become inflamed or degenerate. This can cause pain, weakness, and difficulty walking. Gluteal tendinopathy can be caused by overuse, trauma, or aging.
  • Hemorrhoids: Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus and rectum that can cause pain, itching, and bleeding. Prolonged sitting or straining during bowel movements can increase the risk of developing hemorrhoids.

Preventing injuries and medical conditions associated with the glutes involves a combination of proper stretching, strengthening, and conditioning. It is important to maintain good posture, avoid prolonged sitting, and engage in regular exercise that targets the glutes.

If you experience any pain or discomfort in your glutes, please contact us and we may be able to help with rehabilitation, strength and conditioning or sports massage. Furthermore, should you be seeking advice on how to build / train your glute muscles, please contact one of our personal trainers.

Cardio’s effect on Muscle Mass

What are the effects of cardiovascular exercise on muscle mass?

Cardiovascular exercise, also known as cardio, has long been associated with weight loss and improving overall health. However, there is a common misconception that cardio can also reduce muscle mass. In this article, we will explore the relationship between cardio and muscle mass, examining the evidence to determine whether or not cardio can truly reduce muscle mass.

Muscle mass and Cardio explained…

First, it is important to understand that muscle mass is primarily influenced by two factors: exercise and nutrition. Resistance training, such as weight lifting, is the most effective form of exercise for increasing muscle mass. Additionally, consuming a diet high in protein is crucial for providing the necessary building blocks for muscle growth.

Cardio, on the other hand, is primarily focused on improving cardiovascular health and burning calories. While cardio can be a great form of exercise for weight loss and improving overall health, it is not typically associated with building muscle mass. In fact, some forms of cardio, such as long-distance running, have been shown to actually reduce muscle mass in some individuals.

One reason why cardio may lead to muscle loss is due to the body’s adaptation to endurance exercise. Endurance exercise, such as running or cycling, places a greater demand on the body’s aerobic energy system. This can lead to a reduction in the body’s anaerobic energy system, which is primarily responsible for powering short bursts of high-intensity activity, such as weight lifting.

Additionally, cardio can increase the body’s production of cortisol, a stress hormone that can break down muscle tissue. This can be especially true for individuals who engage in excessive amounts of cardio, without adequate rest and recovery time.

However, it is important to note that the relationship between cardio and muscle mass is not always clear-cut. For example, moderate amounts of cardio may actually help to improve muscle mass by increasing blood flow and providing the necessary nutrients for muscle growth. Additionally, some forms of cardio, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), have been shown to improve both cardiovascular health and muscle mass.

Ultimately, the relationship between cardio and muscle mass is complex and depends on a variety of factors, including the type and duration of cardio, the individual’s diet and rest habits, and their overall fitness goals. While cardio alone may not be the most effective way to build muscle mass, it can still be a valuable form of exercise for improving overall health and fitness.

Conclusion

In conclusion, cardio can lead to muscle loss in some individuals, especially if it is performed excessively and without adequate rest and recovery time. However, the relationship between cardio and muscle mass is not always clear-cut, and moderate amounts of cardio may actually help to improve muscle mass. Ultimately, the best approach to building muscle mass is to incorporate both resistance training and cardiovascular exercise, while also consuming a diet high in protein and getting adequate rest and recovery time.

Get in touch

If you liked this article and you are thinking about your exercise and nutrition regime our team of highly qualified personal trainers and nutritionists can help. Getting the right balance of exercise and nutrition to reach your goal can be a scientific process where one size does not fit us all. Our experts can tailor make the right approach for you. Contact us today for more information or advice alternatively make a booking online.

Build your Glutes! Show off that bum…

It is vital for individuals to have strong glutes and incorporate strengthening exercises into training programmes. Strong glute muscles ensure the correct pelvic alignment and can help reduce lower back pain. Also reducing injuries sustained to the hip, knee and ankle joints. Strong glutes aid in balance, improved posture, single leg limb support and reduced back pain when lifting heavy weights.

Anatomy

The gluteal region is an anatomical area located posteriorly to the pelvic bone at the proximal end of the femur. The muscles in this region move the lower limb at the hip joint. The main glute muscles are glute maximus, medius and minus.

Glute Maximus – This muscle is the biggest out of all the glutes. It is the most superficial and makes up most of the shape of the glutes on the body. This muscle helps perform extension and lateral rotation of the hip.

Glute Medius – This muscle lies between the maximus and the minus. Movements such as abduction and medial rotation occur here.

Glute Minus – The minus is the smallest and deepest of the superficial glute muscles. This also helps movements such as abduction and medial rotation. When in movement this muscle helps secure the pelvis, preventing any pelvic drop.

Importance of Glute Strengthening

1. Strong Glutes help prevent injuries – It is so important to have strong glute muscles and muscles surrounding the hip as this will add support to the lower back, knees and ankles. This is due to the alignment of the body being in the correct positioning and reducing the amount of stress on certain joints in the body.

2. Enhanced Athletic performance – Basic movements such as jumping, running, driving and twisting are all performed through the hips and legs. This aids an athlete performance by increasing their agility levels and strength when carrying out the movements.

3. Improved posture and balance – Having strong Glute muscles will improve your posture and balance within the body. When the hip, glutes and core are stable it will reduce the amount dysfunctional movements in the body. When the hips are aligned, it will keep the neck shoulders and back in a further stable position, improving posture.

Glute Activation & Exercises

Firstly, to activate the glutes you need to stretch. The main area that needs to be stretched is the hip flexors. Stretches such as a kneeling lunges and banded split squats could be really helpful to loosen up the area.

A few glute bridges can be performed to start the activation of the glutes, these exercises will get the glutes warmed up, ready then for people to move onto the heavier weights. This is so important because you do not want to go in straight away with the heavy weights, as this could cause injury and strain to the glute muscles.

Here is a list of exercises that could be used for glute activation:

Exercises

  • Donkey kicks
  • Fire hydrants
  • Lateral walks
  • Glute bridge with abduction
  • Clams
  • Plank jacks with resistance band

The glutes play a vital role in a huge majority of bodily moves, helps with core strength and is one of the most active muscles in the body. If you think you need help with your butt, then contact one of our fitness advisors or personal trainers today.

Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes

How can exercise help with Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that affects the level of sugar in the blood, but can easily be managed with the correct medication accompanied with a healthy diet & exercise. A healthy diet is a great way of managing your blood sugar level, as well as aiding in controlling your weight & improving overall mood. Being type 2 diabetic doesn’t restrict what foods you can and can’t eat but limiting certain foods such as sugar, fats & salt can definitely help. 

Physical activity helps to lower your blood sugar level by increasing insulin sensitivity, allowing your muscles to use the glucose (sugar) in the blood for energy. Furthermore, Sheri Colberg-Ochs, founder of the Diabetes Motion, states that physical activity actually helps to lower blood sugar for up to 72 hours. Overall, the NHS recommends you should be aiming for at least 2.5 hours of activity a week, but activity doesn’t always have to mean exercise, this can be anything that causes you to get out of breath. For example, walking slightly faster than normal, going up & down climbing stairs, or even doing some strenuous housework. However, if you are looking to add more exercise into your daily routine the activities below have been found to be beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes.

  • Cardio – Exercises such as walking, jogging, cycling or swimming are great cardio workouts. If you’re fairly inactive at the moment going out for a little walk each day will have amazing benefits on your body. As well as helping with insulin sensitivity & blood sugar levels doing cardio will also improve lung health & fitness. Meaning over time you will be able to get a little further or even progress a walk into a fast walk or light jog. 
  • Resistance training – Building muscle mass allows a higher capacity of blood sugar to be stored within the muscle, lowering the amount of sugar in the blood. Therefore helping to manage blood sugar levels while storing energy. 
  • Balance Training – Sometimes type 2 diabetes can lead to loss of sensation in the feet, known as neuropathy. This condition can lead to trips & falls, so improving your balance can help to prevent this. This doesn’t have to be anything strenuous simply standing on one foot for a certain amount of time can help to improve overall balance.

If you are currently quite inactive please make sure to consult with your healthcare professional before adding any intense exercise into your routine. Also make sure to stay hydrated & to keep check of your blood sugar levels before & after exercise.

You can also contact our team to schedule a nutrition consultation with our qualified staff and maybe even discuss some exercise and training with our personal trainers! Contact us for more information and make a booking here.

3 Simple Steps To Achieve Your Resolutions

Christmas is the time for us all to eat as heartily as we’d like whilst pretending to ignore both the scales in the bathroom and the nutritional information on all those boxes of mince pies.

And then January is the time to make the resolutions that you are absolutely going to stick to no matter what: go to the gym twice a week, cut out sugar, stop drinking wine on weekdays…all that good stuff that inevitably gets abandoned after the reduced Quality Street tins start to line the shelves of supermarket. Whilst well-intended, only one in ten of us can actually stick to our New Year’s resolutions for longer than a month, and this is because many of us set unrealistic goals while trying to perform ‘damage control’ after the Christmas dinner.

The easiest way to stick to your resolutions is to make your goals more achievable in the first place – and believe it or not, you can start from December. New Year’s resolutions may be made with the ‘new year, new me’ idea in mind, but if you’re already signed up to and paying for a gym membership in December, chances are that you’re going to find a lot more motivation to continue these habits into 2017.

Step 1: Don’t let Christmas become ‘an excuse’.
This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself at Christmas. You are allowed to make a beeline for the yule logs and indulge in the roast potatoes on the big day. But many of us use ‘oh, whatever, it’s Christmas’ as an excuse to justify out-of-control eating habits. Treat December like any other month (and therefore pretend that you have a pine tree in your living room and tinsel around your lampshades all year round), and it means you can afford to go all out on the 25th.

Step 2: Start making changes.
There’s no unwritten rule that says you can’t join your local gym halfway through December. Spoiler alert: if you sign up and start paying for it, you’ll be far more inclined to use it since you’re already paying for it. And if you’re already motivated to use it, it’s going to make ticking the box next to ‘lose weight’ or ‘get fitter’ on your resolution list far easier. This also applies to food habits: if you’re going to try and eat healthier in the new year, why not start now and slowly work more vegetables and fruit into your diet to make that change easier?

Step 3: Don’t stress about it.
Your resolutions are not law. You won’t be doing anything wrong by taking a break from them, or not doing exactly what you intended to when you first wrote them. Congratulate yourself on your progress and don’t make it into a very black-and-white, “I either succeeded or I failed” thing.

Those who post their updates publicly on Facebook are more susceptible to feeling bad or stressing about them due to everyone else knowing that they’re trying to achieve something – so when it turns out that you might not be able to do it, the shame of confessing it on social media can make you feel worse. But here’s the thing: social media doesn’t have to know. Tell everyone when you’ve achieved something, not when you plan to. Of course, not having to publicly admit defeat can be a source of motivation for some, but for others it may just increase the stress of it all, thus leading to a bigger ‘crash’ when you give up.

Above all, enjoy Christmas. Eat, drink, be merry, and don’t worry too much, because everyone all over the world is doing just the same as you are. But if you feel like you do need a little kick to help you recover after the Christmas dinner, why not try LiveWell Health’s personal training services or nutrition services to keep you on track? For more information, contact us on 07939 212 739 or drop us an email at info@livewellhealth.co.uk.

Exercises For Abs

Strengthening

Straight Leg Raises:
• Lie on your back with your legs extended straight
• Keep your lower back pressed into the ground
• Raise your legs up to 90 degrees, hold for a second, then lower them back down
• Repeat for desired rep

Heel Tap Crunches:
• Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor
• Place your hands behind your head
• Lift your shoulders off the ground and tap your right heel with your left hand
• Lower your shoulders back down and repeat with your left heel and right hand
• Repeat for desired reps

Cable Woodchopper:
• Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent
• Hold a cable attachment with both hands and extend it overhead
• Rotate your torso diagonally downward to one side as you simultaneously pull the cable down and across your body
• Return to the starting position and repeat for desired reps on both sides

Russian Twists:
• Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor
• Hold a weight in both hands and lean back slightly, keeping your core engaged
• Twist your torso to one side, then back to the center, and then to the other side
• Repeat for desired reps

Dumbbell Side Bend:
• Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in one hand
• Keep your feet and legs facing forward, and bend sideways at the waist, lowering the dumbbell toward your ankle
• Return to the starting position and repeat for desired reps on both sides

Side Plank with Rotation:
• Start in a side plank position, with your feet stacked and your elbow directly under your shoulder
• Keep your core engaged and lift your top arm off the ground, rotating your torso and reaching your arm toward the ceiling
• Return to the starting position and repeat for desired reps on both sides

Stability Ball Stir The Pot:
• Start in a kneeling position with your shins resting on a stability ball
• Place your forearms on the ball and extend them out in front of you
• Move your arms in a circular motion, as if you’re stirring a pot, for the desired reps
• Make sure to keep your core engaged and your balance steady

Stretching

Cobra Pose:
• Start lying on your stomach with your hands placed under your shoulders
• Press into your hands to lift your chest and head off the ground, keeping your elbows close to your body
• Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds and release

Ab Side Stretch:
• Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor
• Reach both hands toward your right knee, then use your right hand to gently pull your right knee toward your right shoulder
• Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other side

Chest Opener on an Exercise Ball:
• Start by sitting on an exercise ball with your feet flat on the floor
• Walk your feet forward until your upper back is resting on the ball
• Place your hands behind your head and hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds

Kneeling Backward Abdominal Stretch:
• Start in a kneeling position with your hands on your hips
• Slowly lean back, keeping your core engaged and your head and neck relaxed
• Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds and release

Rotating Stomach Stretch:
• Start lying on your back with your arms extended out to the sides
• Keeping your legs together, rotate them to one side, keeping your shoulders on the ground
• Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other side

With any kind of exercises, especially ones looking at the abs or core, you must seek professional advice from a qualified personal trainer. If performed incorrectly, you can cause other issues such as disc bulges or herniations, back pain, muscle strains and much more. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with one of our professionals either through email on info@livewellhealth.co.uk or call us on 0330 043 2501. Alternatively, contact us via our contact page.