The clocks have gone back and the evenings are darker, but the pace of fresh new research into health and fitness hasn’t slowed down at all. Here are five things we learned last month that may well be useful for your own training! Especially if you suffer from DOMS or a stitch…
1. Certain people experience higher levels of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) than others – bad luck!
Delayed onset muscle soreness is expected after a heavy weights session or a tough interval session, not only in untrained people but also in experienced athletes. This is due to the damage inflicted on the muscle during the workout. The level of soreness may depend on how hard the person trained or how new the person is to that particular programme or exercise. However, a new study has emerged suggesting it might not all be in the training, but in a person genes. So, if your training partner experiences more DOMS than you it may not be that they’re training harder, but caused by their genotypes.
At Hall Training we write personalised programmes for each client to prevent them from training the same muscle two days in a row. Our advice would be to follow the same programme for 5-6 weeks to allow the body to adapt, and to allow approximately 48 hours before training the same muscle again.
2. Struggling with energy lows? Oat bran could be the answer
On your feet all day with little time to eat? Want to reduce those energy highs and lows? It would seem it’s as simple as pre-loading on oat bran. Eating oat bran before a high carbohydrate meal helps to lower post meal glucose absorption by 25%. The most effective dose was 25g, with every 1g seeing a reduction of 4.35% reduction in glucose absorption.
The mechanism is not yet fully understood but scientists believe the gastric emptying of the stomach is delayed by the increase of viscosity/thickness of the stomach contents. The mixing of foods with the digestive enzymes is then reduced, thus slowing glucose absorption. A handy trick if you’ve got a long active day ahead would be to try adding a tablespoon of oat bran to your porridge or morning smoothie. It may also prove useful for stablising blood sugar in those people who have elevated blood glucose levels.
3. Feeling SAD? Brave the cold!
As the nights turn darker and the days get shorter your bright happy mood may start to diminish. According to the mental health association 1 in 15 people in the UK suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a form of mild depression that comes into effect as the seasons change, usually from summer to winter. It can range from a mild form of the winter blues to being so disabling you cannot function between the months of November to February. SAD is usually caused by lack of daylight and is rare in people living within 30 degrees of the equator, where daylight hours are longer.
Your mind may be telling you to wrap up warm, hunker down and hide from the world but recently, psychologists are telling us to brave the cold through water therapy. This could be a cold shower or if you’re feeling particularly low, a long cold dip in your local lake might do the trick.
The simultaneous firing of all skin-based cold receptors—thought to be three to ten times denser than warm receptors—from jumping into the cold may result in a positive therapeutic effect.
4. You might be breathing wrong
Obviously you’d be dead if you weren't breathing, but surprisingly we all pick up bad breathing habits due to the way we sit and move. Now, we all know the importance of a good warm up before exercise; ideally improving the mobility at each joint through stretching and foam rolling. But how many people reap the benefits long term through these techniques? As a personal trainer I can tell you minor benefits will be seen immediately after the warm up, but clients seem to revert back to their old selves by the next session. They then begin to rush the mobility/warm up routines as the months go on due to lack of long term change.
This month, the Hall Training team had its own ‘Eureka’ moment during a visit from local physiotherapist and ciropractor - Austin Lawrence, who taught us the benefits of proper diaphragmatic breathing on posture and movement quality.
It can be as simple as lying on the floor for several minutes and focusing on breathing deeply into your stomach, letting it expand like a balloon. Spending a couple of minutes doing this each day could be the answer to looser calf and hip muscles, meaning deeper squats and deadlifts and a far more efficient body. Not only this but breathing correctly can also improve muscle activation in the glutes by loosening the sacrum. We suggest fixing your breathing before spending hours with that painful foam roller. Over time breathing through your diaphragm will become second nature.
5. What exactly is a stich? Who knows?
A stitch is an all too familiar feeling, not only with fitness newbies but with seasoned athletes. But what is it? What causes it? And how can we make it go away?
It turns out that the stitch was quite the mystery until a series of studies were conducted over the past decade. An Australian researcher called Darren Morton ruled out popular theories. He induced a stitch by feeding volunteers carbonated drinks followed by running on a treadmill. Then, using electrodes to monitor abdominal muscle and monitored breathing and found no change during the stitch, ruling out abdominal spasms and respiratory muscle spasms.
So, what’s the answer? Well, there still is no definite answer.
Stitches seem to arise often in people with brain lesions or compressed nerves in the thoracic spine (upper back). A 2010 study found a link between the degree of curvature in the spine and susceptibility to stitches. They found the pain can come from extra pressure from the abdominal cavity when the stomach is full and there is excess curvature of the spine. This causes friction on the outer layer of abdominal muscle causing the stitch.
If you find you are particularly susceptible to stitches, we suggest working on your posture daily through mobility exercises and steering clear of food 1-2 hours prior to exercise.