Your gluteal muscles have some important features:
• are the main muscles used for walking, when moving legs from hips
• essential for the stability of the hips when walking. Without them you would topple over to one side.
• allow you to extend your back
• allow you to stand from a sitting position
• Gluteus maximus supports the extended (straight) knee. It does this via the iliotibial tract (ITB). This is the fibrous band of connective tissue that runs down the outer side of the thigh.
Gluteal dysfunction and weakness can have quite a large effect on the functional physiology of the body. Glute weakness can cause some of the following:
• lower back pain – over-using lumbar muscles to compensate
• hamstring over-use (tightness and pain) –> can also then lead to pelvis rotation –> pressure and pain in lower back
• knee pain from reduced stability
• tight hip flexor
• ankle problems
• plantar faciitis
As humans, we tend to find the easiest and laziest way to do things. Perhaps this is energy conservation. For example, when picking something up from the ground we tend to lean over with a flexed back instead of bending the knees and squatting down. The gluteal muscles can simply just get deconditioned and weak through lack of use. The simple solution is to wake them up again and do a few exercises. Even doing something as simple as squeezing your butt cheeks together while waiting for the bus can help (try 3 sets of 10 reps) or whenever you remember during the day, for example whilst waiting for the jug to boil. Something this simple can help the brain and glutes make a better neurological connection and “switch on” better for movement patterns.
Pain can also be a limiting factor. There could be any number of pathologies in the hips and back creating a painful situation that limits movement. Pain is remarkable in that it causes an inhibitory effect on muscles in the affected area. Hence, once the pain has subsided the muscles can still be inhibited or have decreased motor response (“switched off”). Again, doing a few floor-based gluteal exercises can help to retrain the connection with the brain and the bum muscles.
For example, the correct firing order for leg extension (lying on tummy and raising leg up towards ceiling) is:
Glute -> Hamstring – > quatratus lumborum and lumbar muscles.
However, with a dysfunctional glute it can become:
Hamstring + lumbar muscles.
Hence, much more strain is placed on the surrounding structures.
Gluteus maximus – the largest muscle in the body – forms the buttock cheeks.
Gluteus medius and minimus – lateral stabilisers. These muscles are located on the sides of the hips. They wrap around the bony part of the thigh bone (trochanter of the femur).
Training the glutes
Strong, healthy glutes are important for proper movement and health maintenance. However, there can be other problems that are present in the pelvic/lumbar region that need to be addressed before any rehab training and exercise should be performed. Muscular fatigue (“feel the burn”) is ok but acute and neuralgic pain is telling you some damage is going on. Please always train being mindful and respectful of your body’s abilities.
Below are a few glutes floor-based exercises to get you started.
Lying on the side, back should be straight (neutral spine), and all the movement should be occurring in the leg that is facing the ceiling. You can support your head and neck with one arm, and have something soft to lie on. You can use a yoga mat or towels. Please note it should not be painful to do these exercises. After a while you should feel muscular fatigue. However, if you experience any acute pain or nerve pain please stop and get assessed by a health professional.
Do each exercise 10 times then roll over to other side and complete 10 times on other leg. Repeat this for each exercise. Once you have done them all, go back to the top and re-do them. Try doing 10 minutes in total first. Then as you progress you can extend the time to 20 mins. Aim to do the exercises daily or every second day.
Clam : Open your legs just like a clam would open its shell
Side lift : Point your toes towards the ground. It helps activate more of the glute muscle. Then move your straight up as high towards the ceiling as you can. Then move it down again. Repeat.
Toe taps: Point your toes towards the ground. It helps activate more of the glute muscle. Tap your big toe in front of you and then swing your straight leg back and tap behind you. Repeat.
Kick: Just like kicking a football with a straight leg.
Bike circles: Like peddling on a bicycle. Move your leg in a circular fashion as you would when riding a bike. Go forwards 10 rotations then backwards 10 rotations.
Sleep diary – Keep a note pad next to the bed. Make a note of how you sleep each night. It is also helpful to pen down persistent ideas in the mind. Sometimes writing down the things that are bothering you can help clear the mind and encourage sleep.
Soft music – Good if makes you relaxed. If music keeps you alert then it’s probably better not to use it.
Relaxation training – avoid intrusive and arousing thoughts. Guided imagery or meditation can be helpful. Sometimes recounting the plot of a novel or a movie can help to distract from intrusive thoughts and encourage the falling-asleep process.
Avoid daytime naps – If you really feel drained then try 10 minutes of meditation. If you do fall asleep make sure it is limited to 10 minutes. Handy to set a timer just in case you do (mobile phone or even egg timer). Naps are fine if they don’t interfere with even night-time sleep.
Eliminate stimulants – coffee, tea, soft drinks, large amounts of sugar in the evening.
Try to maintain regular bed/wake schedule – 7 days a week, not just 5 days a week. For example, go to bed a 10 pm wake up at 6.30 am for all 7 days.
Create a dark sleeping environment, heavy curtains and ear plugs perhaps, or a noise-cancelling device if there are disturbing external noise issues (eg pool pump, trucks, dogs barking or very-early bird chorus).
Limit alcohol or just eliminate altogether. Booze makes you sleepy initially but causes agitation later on in the sleep cycle.
Get regular exercise, but avoid exercising 5 hours before bed. Intense exercise is better, something that gets you puffed and sweaty. Increased Cytokines increase non REM sleep – the restorative stuff.
Use bedroom only for sleep and sex (behaviour conducive to sleep), although for some reading in bed or watching TV sends them to sleep.
Don’t look at the clock.
Reduce electrical devices. Switch off TV at the wall, shut down social media.
Well ventilated room. Fresh air, consider having a fan.
Tart cherry juice (unsweetened) has been shown to be helpful in increasing length and quality of sleep.
Eat foods high in tryptophan. This converts to melatonin. Melatonin is your night time sleep hormone. Turkey and chicken are high in tryptophan, as are seeds, nuts and soy.
Fаѕсіа is thе body’s connective tіѕѕuе. It іѕ a head-tо-toe, іnѕіdе-tо-оut, аll-еnсоmраѕѕіng and іntеrwоvеn ѕуѕtеm оf fіbrоuѕ connective tіѕѕuе found thrоughоut thе bоdу. The fascia рrоvіdеѕ a framework which helps ѕuрроrt аnd рrоtесt іndіvіduаl muѕсlе grоuрѕ, organs, аnd thе entire body аѕ a unіt. Fascia consists primarily of collagen, which is a structural protein. It looks a bit like plastic cling wrap. You may have noticed this cling wrap-like translucent sheet in between the layers of muscle when preparing and cooking meat.
Fascia provides thе рrоtесtіvе ѕhеаth around our entire body аѕ a whоlе аnd аlѕо surrounds each organ and muѕсlе for рrоtесtіоn from outside trаumа. Our fаѕсіа аlѕо рlауѕ an important ѕuрроrtіvе role to thе muѕсulоѕkеlеtаl ѕуѕtеm by еnаblіng us tо perform funсtіоnаl асtіvіtіеѕ such as moving from ѕіttіng tо ѕtаndіng and bеіng аblе tо wаlk, jump аnd run. Blооd, nerves аnd muѕсlеѕ аrе еnvеlореd аnd penetrated by fascia, allowing оur muѕсlеѕ and organs tо glіdе ѕmооthlу against еасh оthеr. Whеn there are fascial adhesions аnd distortions, thіѕ саn саuѕе poor blооd flоw, weaker nеrvе іmрulѕеѕ, limited flеxіbіlіtу and rаngе оf mоtіоn, and a host of other рhуѕісаl аіlmеntѕ.
Distorted fascia can cause раіn, tіghtnеѕѕ, and much dіѕсоmfоrt as well as pulling, torquing and compressing the body into mаl-аlіgnmеnt. Studіеѕ ѕhоw thаt fascial tеnѕіоn in оnе structure, ѕuсh аѕ thе knее, саn саuѕе tension оr issues іn adjacent ѕtruсturеѕ, such as the hір оr ankle. Sоmе соmmоn соndіtіоnѕ you mау hаvе hеаrd оf such as Plаntаr Fasciitis, IT (Illio-tibial) Bаnd Sуndrоmе and Frozen Shoulder аrе all attributed tо distortions іn our fаѕсіа.
When thе fаѕсіа is tіght, it саn соnѕtrісt the nеrvеѕ and асtuаllу blосk off thе nеrvе signal. Thе Autоnоmіс Nervous Sуѕtеm (nеrvоuѕ ѕуѕtеm that соntrоlѕ bоdіlу funсtіоnѕ nоt dіrесtеd by соnѕсіоuѕ thоught – і.е. brеаthіng) is dіrесtlу connected аnd has innervation wіth thе bоdу’ѕ fаѕсіаl system.
Thе condition of our ѕkіn саn bе аffесtеd bу thе state of our fаѕсіа. Few undеrѕtаnd thе іmрасt of blооd flow and fascia, аnd hоw it relates to the ԛuаlіtу of оur ѕkіn. Elastin аnd collagen are twо proteins whісh аrе essential to mаіntаіnіng healthy, уоuthful skin. Nutrіеntѕ аrе саrrіеd thrоugh thе blооd tо thе ѕkіn, and when thе fascia іѕ dіѕtоrtеd, іt lіmіtѕ thе supply оf thеѕе proteins. This саn саuѕе a dесrеаѕе іn сеll renewal, whісh is responsible fоr the natural, hеаlthу skin glоw wе аll strive tо maintain.
When fаѕсіа іѕ dаmаgеd оr traumatized it can become tоо tіght and cause a numbеr оf рrоblеmѕ such аѕ:
-Muscle pain аnd ѕраѕmѕ
-Chronic bасk аnd neck раіn
-Sensations ѕuсh аѕ numbnеѕѕ аnd pins аnd nееdlеѕ
-Poor posture and rеduсеd flexibility
The following are risk factors that may reduce the flexibility of facsia:
-Traumas, ѕuсh аѕ a fаll or саr/bike accident
-Lасk оf ѕtrеtсhіng due to рrоlоngеd sitting or standing
-Rереtіtіvе mоtіоnѕ, such аѕ factory work, kеуbоаrdіng or prolonged computer mouse use
Mуоfаѕсіаl Release Therapy is a treatment thаt can be helpful. It trеаts tense, tіght fаѕсіаl tіѕѕuе mаkіng іt mоrе relaxed, pliable аnd soft.
Myofascial Rеlеаѕе Therapy (MFR) focuses оn rеlеаѕіng muѕсulаr ѕhоrtnеѕѕ аnd tіghtnеѕѕ. Thеrе аrе a numbеr оf соndіtіоnѕ аnd ѕуmрtоmѕ which MFR аddrеѕѕеѕ. Mаnу ѕееk MFR аftеr lоѕіng flexibility оr funсtіоn fоllоwіng an іnjurу or experiencing ongoing bасk, ѕhоuldеr, hip – or areas соntаіnіng ѕоft tіѕѕuе – pain.
MFR is a massage and manipulative technique. It is a slow, relatively gentle traction and stretching of the muscle. It differs from procedures such as deep tissue release, because the fascia does not respond to quick or heavy pressure, which actually causes it to go into protective mode and thus resist the movements and manipulations.
Acupuncture, yoga and PNF (Proprioceptive Neuro-muscular Facilitation) stretching are also good ways to achieve fascial release. A foam roller can also be very helpful for getting release on fascial tenseness/tightness. It is also something you can do on your own in the comfort of your home.
Check out this video clip on how to use foam roller at home for myofascial release.
Happy 2017, may it be a wonderful year full of happiness and abundance.
I will be taking some leave and enjoying one of my life’s big passions – snow sports!
I’ll be away for a little over 2 weeks and enjoying the fluffy snow tops of the Japanese alps. A journey to the mountains is an amazing opportunity for me to reconnect with nature as well as enjoying the thrills of powder boarding/skiing.
Exploring the alpine backcountry is an incredibly grounding experience; with mountain ranges as far as the eye can see. Here is where I find my place of self-reflection, perspective and Zen.
The clinic will be closed from the following dates:
Closed from: Monday 30th January 2017
Re-opens: Thursday 16th February 2017
The online booking calendar will continue to be available to take bookings before and after these dates:
I will also check my email periodically while away: firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking forward to seeing you all on my return
Kind and warm regards
The Christmas party/New Year festivities and the silly season is here, and it usually involves a few drinks. You might find it interesting to know how your body processes alcohol, and why it might pack on a few extra kilos.
– Alcohol (ethanol) is a toxin and is given metabolic preference by the body, to be broken down before other foods and drinks. The liver can break down, on average, a standard drink an hour. Any more than this, we get a little tipsy, and then drunk. This is because the liver can’t keep up with the intake, and the alcohol starts making its way through our body.–
– Food eaten with booze takes second place. The body will break down the alcohol first and then the food.
– If there is a lot of booze consumed with food, the body will breakdown the food you have eaten into fat and store it in your body – common storage areas are tummy and hips!
– That “beer belly” is not really beer causing the bulge. It’s the food that the body hasn’t needed to use for immediate energy, as it was too busy breaking down the alcohol.
Alcohol, at no stage of being broken down, turns into sugar!
This is in reference to pure alcohol. Wine and beer do contain small amounts of sugar from the fermentation process of the raw ingredients used to make it. I.e, wine is made with grapes that contain fruit sugars.
Keep in mind too, that soft-drinks added to liquors for long drinks, do contain high levels of sugar, as well as undesirable chemicals.
Below is the main chemical pathway for breaking down alcohol.
Ethanol (alcohol) -> Acetaldehyde -> Acetate -> water and CO2
At each stage of the reaction, bonds are broken and energy released. Alcohol does provide calories, which is probably why it dulls the appetite. For example you may have come home starving for dinner, had a beer and then not felt it was so urgent about eating after that.
Energy value of:
Alcohol (ethanol): 29 kilojoules/gram
Fats / Lipids: 37 kilojoules/gram
Carbohydrates: 17 kilojoules/gram
Protein: 17 kilojoules/gram
Alcohol is often referred to as “empty calories”. Meaning, it has no micro-nutrients in it. Micro- nutrients are things like vitamins and essential amino acids. Alcohol does provide energy, however, on its own it is not enough to sustain life for any length of time. Too much alcohol will damage the body in a number of ways, as well as not providing the basic nutritional needs.
Everything in moderation. Good food and good drink. Just not too much.
Except fun and laughter; it’s priceless and calorie-free!
“One martini is just right; two is too many, three is not enough.” James Thurber
“Moderation in all things, especially moderation.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
The World Health Organization showed an impressive list of conditions it felt acupuncture would have therapeutic effect. The was review entitled “ Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of reports on Controlled Clinical Trials” (http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/pdf/s4926e/s4926e.pdf)
It was a 81 pages document looking at clinical acupuncture trial data and results. It is worth noting that constructing effective clinical trials for acupuncture is difficult and some of the conclusions of the results have limitations.
“It must be emphasized that the list of diseases, symptoms or conditions covered here is based on collected reports of clinical trials, using the descriptions given in those reports. Only national health authorities can determine the diseases, symptoms and conditions for which acupuncture treatment can be recommended. “
Dr Xiaorui Zhang: Acting Coordinator Traditional Medicine (TRM) Department of Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy (EDM) World Health Organization
Conditions to which acupuncture has been proved through controlled trials to be an effective treatment:
Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
Dysentery, acute bacillary
Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
Induction of labour
Low back pain
Malposition of fetus, correction of
Nausea and vomiting
Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
Periarthritis of shoulder
Conditions for which acupuncture has shown a therapeutic effect but further proof needed
Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)
Alcohol dependence and detoxification
Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation
Competition stress syndrome
Craniocerebral injury, closed
Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent
Epidemic haemorrhagic fever
Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease)
Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection
Female urethral syndrome
Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
Hepatitis B virus carrier status
Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3)
Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic
Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence
Pain due to endoscopic examination
Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans
Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein–Leventhal syndrome)
Postextubation in children
Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
Raynaud syndrome, primary
Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Retention of urine, traumatic
Sore throat (including tonsillitis)
Spine pain, acute
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
Ulcerative colitis, chronic
Whooping cough (pertussis)
A small study didn’t find any signification change in cognitive function at the end of a 12 month trial. However, it did show the reduction of oxidative stress in the elderly.
If you need an anti-oxidant and you like tea, go green.
Dementia is a disease of the brain. It’s the slow decline of the brain’s ability to remember and process complex tasks. When severe, cognitive impairment limits memory and language to a point where daily living tasks can no longer be performed.
Research has found that the heart has some influence over this. The aorta, the biggest artery in the human body, is found to be a buffer from the pulse of the heart as it sends blood up to the brain. This protects the small and intricate blood vessels of the brain. Damage to the blood vessels will reduce the oxygen and nutrients from reaching the vital parts of our white and grey matter.
For most of us the aorta functions beautifully through our lifetime. It has a fantastic elastic quality that swells about 15% with each heartbeat. In the cases where the blood vessels are damaged by plaque and other wear and tear, the aorta loses some of this elastic quality. The pulse from the heart then travels more directly to the brain and can cause slow damage to the small blood vessels. It makes sense that dementia affects the older population more than the younger. Our vital structures gradually wear and become less efficient over a lifetime. The more you invest in your health now, the more it pays off later in life.
So look after your heart. Eat unprocessed foods, rich in vitamins and fibre, avoid smoking, and exercise regularly. A few alcoholic drinks are ok, but remember that large amounts can cause necrotic damage to the heart tissue. Enjoy everything in moderation.
Look after your heart and look after your brain.
Sydney Alumni Magazine: issue 03 – semester one 2016. P.26