Archive for October, 2012

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog
Mark Twain’s famous quote can be related directly to the Adrenal Gland.  It produces more hormones than any other gland, metabolises proteins/fats/carbohydrates, balances blood sugar levels/stress/sodium and potassium levels, produces corticosteroids,  controls water retention and is only the size of a walnut, weighing in at about the same as a grape!  It’s fair to say that if we have an adrenal related disorder than we will potentially be in a bit of a state, conversely if we have any disorder than it’s also a fair assumption that our adrenal gland is out of sync hormonally somewhere!
The adrenal glands sit above both the kidneys (abdominal region) and consists of the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla.  The Adrenal cortex consists of three layers (zona glomerulosa, zona fasciculata and the zona reticularis), this area of the Adrenal Gland is hormonally controlled and is in charge of secreting hormones such as cortisol (stress), sex steroids (reproduction) and aldosterone (water retention).  Whereas the adrenal medulla is in charge of the fight or flight activity (release of epinephrine and norepinephrine) and is therefore sympathetically activated (neurological control).
An inefficient Adrenal Gland can cause numerous disorders such as low blood pressure, allergies, asthma, stress, anxiety and autoimmune problems.  Interestingly, its known that disorders such as anxiety and depression can be due to a malfunctioning adrenal gland so before your doctor goes putting you on anti-depressants and ant-anxiety medication (which may cause detrimental side effects) you should find out if you just need to address your adrenal gland firstly.
The signs and symptoms are vague and non-specific so may just reflect the individuals personality type, immune function or physiological issue rather than an adrenal issue.  Symptoms are as followed: Run down, weakness, sweet and salt cravings, mid/lower back pain, PMS, mood swings, mental exhaustion, easily agitated,  chronic headaches, weak pulse, low blood pressure/blood sugar, irregular heartbeat, constipation, dizziness when standing up.
Reasons for the Adrenal Glands becoming fatigued are from basic things which can be controlled daily: Dehydration, food allergies, anaemia, toxicity, traumatic event (chronic stress), protein malnutrition, blood sugar surges, poor sleep pattern, caffeine consumption, alcohol, leaky gut and trans fats.  Therefore rehabilitation of the adrenal gland consists of doing the following:
– Rest/Sleep
– Hydration (plus sea salt once in morning such as himalayan sea salt for electrolyte balance)
– low/moderate carbohydrate intake
– Saturated fat (surprising? not really seeming as saturated fat maintains structure and rigidity of all our cells!)
– Increase vegetable intake
– Alkaline diet!
– Yoga (believed to temporarily turn of the  adrenal glands to help repair them)
– Vitamin C
Also exercise seems to have benefits on the adrenal system, as the adrenal glands have an indirect effect on stroke volume, heart rate, blood volume, respiration, perspiration and blood flow than the more efficient we become with our cardio-respiratory system the less stress is placed upon the adrenal glands during exercise or fight/flight activity.  However we should be aware that anybody with diseases such as increased blood pressure and diabetes may be on medication which slows these processes and the effects of the adrenal gland so make sure you understand what your limitations are and if you don’t know ask your doctor!
As you can see the adrenal gland is very important to our bodies.  In fact before they new much about the gland they tried removing it from patients who have a dysfunction and each time the patient died (compared to pancreas removal etc in which doesn’t result in death) so look after your gland with care!
That’s me done for this article, let me here what you think!
Healthy living,
Luke Nevill
Core blimey, I’m not functioning properly!
Core stability has been the centre of recent attention with the concept that human mobility and stability stems from a ‘core’ system working hard to maintain human movement.  Exercise professionals seemed to have jumped aboard this fascination and used it to their advantage and now we currently have hundreds of classes, exercises and equipment which all claim to improve your core and function.  This article will look at the anatomy of the core briefly and revise current methods used within the health and fitness industry.  
The human body has an inner unit and an outer unit, known as the local and global systems.  The local system is in charge of mobility and stability (e.g. transversus abdominis), compared to the global system which are in charge of movement as these muscles typically cross multiple joints (e.g. pectoralis major).  
The inner unit has been shown to have separate neurological control compared to the other  muscles of the core.  The inner unit comprises of the transversus abdominis  (TVA), posterior fibre of internal oblique, pelvic floor muscles, multifidus, diaphragm and the lumbar portions of longisssmus and iliocostals.  Whereas the rectus abdominis , anterior fibres of obliques and the external obliques don’t have the same activation pattern. The relationship between the muscles of  the inner unit have a strong impact on the stability on the lumbar region and if muscles aren’t working adequately than individuals may be predisposed to lower back pain.  This is probably one of the main explanations that 80% of people will suffer lower back pain at some point in their life.   When the inner unit is working adequately there should be a simultaneous activation of the pelvic floor muscles and the diaphragm to encompass the internal organs as the TVA tightens like a corset.  This stiffens the trunk as the diaphragm generates intra abdominal pressure and causes a decompressive lift via the the crura of the  diaphragm (L2-3) through the lumbar spine.
The outer unit, or known as phasic muscles, consist of the muscles which allow movement of the human body and cross more than one joint.  These are the muscles we see everybody traditionally working in the gym, and typically over activating which leads to an imbalance between the inner and outer unit leading to injury predisposition.    
The question is, do doing planks, sit ups, crunches and other floor based activities have any effect on function and our ability to stabilise our spine and allow us to do a variety of different movement patterns in a tri-planal fashion.  The answer is most definitely no.  Unless the client/patient can’t literally do anything so is forced to be lying down 90% of the time than there is no reason in which we should be training people to activate their core in these positions, or if their activities involve being in these floor positions e.g. gymnast.  The inner unit needs to have isolation training to develop sensory motor control and, as soon as possible, needs to be integrated into movement patterns.  Plus the constant exposure to performing endless amounts of rectus abdominal shortening exercises like crunches will only lead to shortened abdominals and an irregular 1st/2nd rib position attempting to re-correct posture to help respire which will most likely end up in a shoulder problem due to a problem within the sternoclavicular or acromioclavicular joint.  Our body’s are just crazy at times!
Using core training which involves lunging, squatting, twisting, pushing and pulling will prove to be much more functional than telling your clients to lie down on the floor and perform an abdominal hollow ten times, unless they spend 90% of their time on floor of corse!  Obviously such exercises have a time and a place in a rehabilitation sense however when we are constantly exposed to squatting and lunging daily to do day to day tasks we need to have a more practical approach to prevent injury and improve function. 
What can we do?
First thing we need to address is the way our clients breath, if our clients breath leading with their chest rather than their diaphragm than they need to be re-corrected.  If we lead with our upper diaphragm, rather than our chest (which many people do!) than we start to stabilise the lumbar spine better (as mentioned above).  As our core is activated at each breath we take, we technically activate our core roughly 24000 a day so if we can correct that than we are one step closer to where we want to be!
Secondly, teaching the client how to abdominal brace is key and once learn we can get them to do this in low level movement patterns such as squatting and lunging.  
There are many great exercises and classes out there however everyone needs to be aware of what is good and what isn’t.  Before doing an exercise which claims to improve just ask yourself does it match up with any of the above information?
In summary:
– core training should be done in day to day positions (squats, twist etc)
– control the way you breath
– get of the floor, you won’t get 6 pack abs by doing endless amounts of sit ups
– simple sensory motor patterns should be learned than progressed to more unstable surfaces e.g. Woodchop progressed to on a bosu ball.
I look forward to talking about this topic with you all guys! 
Dream, believe and achieve!
PERSONAL TRAINERS – The good, bad and ugly!
We’re currently in the middle of a major health epidemic, where as a nation, we seem to be becoming progressively more unhealthy on a yearly basis.  It is hard to swallow when you hear these alarming statistics from the NHS such as 26% of men and women being classified as obese and 30% of boys and girls aged 2 – 12 also obese.  Especially when we already know the benefits of physical activity and healthy eating to our long term health.
We can blame several different factors to these statistics with misinformation within the media and standards within the fitness industry being probably the two most influential factors.  Therefore it is important that when aiming to achieve physical well-being you choose the best  trainers and sources of information to help you get to your target.  As a new personal trainer in the industry I have a fresh opinion on how I think personal trainers should be acting, don’t get me wrong though there are many fantastic trainers out there who we should all aspire to such as Charle Poliquin and Paul Chek who have proven themselves over and over again.
Therefore I thought it would be beneficial to give what I deem as being important traits of what a personal trainer should have:
1) Education – Trainers who see courses,  books and seminars as an investment rather than a cost will have more knowledge at their disposal.  They realise that the greater their knowledge the greater results they can achieve.  Which is beneficial for both a business perspective and a client success.
2) Passion and enthusiasm – Those who show these traits don’t necessarily succeed however  when a trainer has these traits mixed with the other points in this list than results come much easier for the trainer to achieve.  They’ll have a positive mental attitude and this will cause a domino effect onto the clients results.
3) Communication skills – Trainers who are approachable, friendly, motivating, understanding and positive are so much more easier to have as a trainer than those with the polar opposite.  Your own motivation to take part in the training sessions is largely influenced by the trainers characteristics.  You don’t want to be training with someone who can’t motivate you if you struggle with self motivation do you?
4) Experience – Those who have succeeded will be keen to show it in order to gain more clients.  Ask the trainer to show you previous clients before and after photos if possible.  Usually trainers will show and share success stories on their blogs, websites and the trainers credibility will spread by word of mouth.  Chances are if a trainer claims to be able to achieve results but can’t prove it there is something up, unless of course they’re a new trainer.
5) Business minded: As important as it is for the trainer to adhere to all of his/hers clients problems/needs they need to be able to manage themselves and their business.  Obviously a trainer is doing what their doing for a living and if they can’t manage themselves and are unorganised they may struggle to be able to give you complete attention because their  worrying about their own problems.
6) Offer variety of alternatives to 1 on 1 personal training:  Financially having a personal trainer can be expensive and unrealistic however you still want to achieve that look.  Trainers who offer online training, seminars, boot camps, classes and group personal training can help a much larger group of people.  Obviously 1 on 1 personal training offers much more than the others however if it is definitely out the picture than you still want to know they can help you with alternate methods.
Remember choosing the right personal trainer is important!  Before committing take a strong look at what they can offer you and your results will reflect that decision.
Dream, believe and achieve your goals guys!
Stay tuned for some more articles on training, nutrition and lifestyle in the near future!Image