This week I discuss the importance of careful preparation for a hike. Whether it’s planning for a trek in Iceland, the Oxfam trail-walk, or some bush trails in Australia, you can never feel too prepared.
Whatever your goal, if you are attempting to walk or trek you will need to prepare your body by increasing your strength and endurance capacity in the lead up to the walk. With gradual training carrying a pack and increasing the load, your skin, tendons and bones will become thicker, stronger and more resilient.
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There are two main aspects to work on.
1. Increasing your walking load:
The best way to avoid injuries while trekking is to make sure you’ve done the correct training and increased your walking capacity slowly. Try increasing the weight of your pack, and the lengths of your walk in a gradual and organised way.
Give yourself at least 3 months to train for a moderate trekking trip, or up to 6 months for an epic adventure like the Oxfam Trailwalk or Base Camp.
Look at your goal and work backwards. Arrange the steps towards your end goals, including lengths of walking and strength training. Then calculate your distances and loads over that time to formulate a training plan.
In the last few months make sure you wear your shoes in to avoid teething problems mid trek.
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2. Improve your strength:
Strength is hugely underestimated when preparing for these sorts of adventures. Many people underestimate the importance of upper and lower limb strength training. Upper limb strength is needed to carry your backpack as well as assist with lifting yourself up steep sections if the terrain is rough.
To improve your upper limb strength, try these simple exercises. I’d advise starting these at least 3 months prior to your trip:
Lie on your front face down with your hands on the floor shoulder width apart and your fingers facing forwards. Press up using your arms and shoulders, lifting your body up onto your toes, so that you have a straight line from your head to your feet. Keep your abdominals and core muscles braced – do not arch or sag your back. Bend your elbows, lowering your chest down towards the start, keeping your body completely straight. If this is too difficult, try starting with your knees on the floor and press-up from this position.
B) Triceps dips.
Sit on the front edge of a chair. Place your hands on the seat of the chair and use your arms to move yourself forwards towards the front of the chair. Walk your feet forwards so your legs are straight out or bent at the knees toward the edge. From this position, use your arms to slowly lower your body directly down towards the floor by bending at the elbow. Keep your hands close to your body. Lift yourself up by straightening your elbows to complete the triceps dip.
Tune in next week for some lower limb exercise tips!
#movebetterforlife #trekkingholidays #trekready #enduranceandstrength #fitness #strength #flexibility #preparation #hiking #walking
Many of us will admit to spending hours of sitting for long periods of time, whether it be at your computer or travelling to and from work. This can often leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated to exercise. So, it is important to get away from the screen (and those chairs!) from time to time; and what better way to escape than by going on a walk or a trek!?
I am heading off to Iceland and England to go trekking for a couple of weeks in July and have been preparing for the last few months to reduce my risk of injury, and make sure I can keep up with my fellow trekkers.
So how am I preparing to ensure that my body can withstand the change in pace and avoid injuries while trekking?
Over the next few weeks I will discuss my preparations and provide tips to others who wish to increase their levels of activity with walking, trekking or hiking. I will look at shoe selection, pack selection, clothing, avoiding injuries, and training tips and tricks, including strength, endurance, and flexibility.
This week I’ll focus on selecting the correct footwear.
If you don’t have a history of ankle problems, and you will be walking on a well-worn trail (most popular tourist trails), then I recommend considering hiking shoes rather than hiking boots.
Hiking shoes differ from hiking boots by the amount of ankle support they provide. Your ankle naturally moves while you walk. Extra resistance from a boot around your ankle can make the muscles in your calf and shin work harder. This can lead to overload and injury. Hiking shoes will decrease the workload on your lower legs on the trail and are a suitable option for someone with stable ankles.
However, if you have a known history of ankle instability then hiking boots are a better choice, as they provide your ankle the support and stability not offered in shoes. If you are walking on a trail that might be very rocky or slippery, or are planning to go off-trail with no defined pathway, then hiking boots are your best option. Trickier walking tracks will test your strength and ankle stability, so it’s best to play it safe and wear boots instead of shoes.
I advise improving your ankle stability with exercises in the lead up to your walk.
One of the easiest and most useful exercises to improve ankle stability is the heel raise:
1. Bilateral heel raises: Start in a standing position with your feet at hip-width apart. Keeping your knees straight, rise on to your toes. Return to the starting position, controlling the movement as you lower your heels to the ground.
2. Progress to a single leg heel raises as you become stronger.
Remember to wear your shoes or boots in well before you head off on your journey to iron out any minor issues (and avoid those blisters that can come with new boots!).
For my part, I am taking both shoe styles – walking shoes and boots – and will decide each day which ones to wear depending on the terrain and weather.
#movebetterforlife #trekkingholidays #anklestability #ankleexercises #hiking #walking #planning @trekready
Last week we discussed why rehabilitation is so important to recovering fully from an ankle sprain. To recap, the first 1-2 weeks of an ankle sprain need REST, taping, retraining of a normal walking pattern, and simple movement and balance exercises.
This week we will focus on how to progress your rehabilitation beyond these first two weeks of an ankle injury, such as a sprain.
Weeks 3-6 following an ankle injury should involve:
1. STRENGTHENING the muscles around the ankle and affected leg. Often, the calf muscles, and muscles surrounding the hip on your affected leg, will become weaker. This is due to the altered walking pattern that many people adopt to compensate for their sprained ankle.
Exercises, such as these, are important in helping to re-balance and strengthen these muscles:
A) Bilateral heel raises: Start in a standing position with your feet at hips-width apart. Keeping your knees straight, rise on to your toes. Return to the starting position, controlling the movement as you lower your heels to the ground. Progress to single leg heel raises as you become stronger.
B) Squats: Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and hips pushing your hips back behind you and leaning your body forwards, as though you are about to sit on the chair. Do not allow your knees to travel in front of your toes. Keep your weight on your heels, not your toes. At the bottom of the squat, tense your buttocks, lift and straighten back up to the start position.
2. STRETCHING the muscles around the ankle. Try some calf stretches and general stretches around the hip.
3. TAPING your ankle will help to support it as it strengthens. The best taping for sprained lateral ligaments of the ankle include the stirrup strap, figure six and the heel lock.
4. BALANCE. It’s important to continue exercises that will progress your balance. Try these:
A) Single leg standing; firstly, with your eyes open for 30 seconds, and then progress to eyes closed for 10 seconds
B) Hopping on the spot x 10 . Progress to 3 sets
C) Progress to side to side hopping x10
I hope these tips will help your ankle rehabilitation if you’re suffering from a sprain.
If you experience any excessive and unexplained pain, make sure you visit your doctor or physiotherapist.
#movebetterforlife #ankleinjuries #anklerehabilitation #wintersportinjuries #takecare #remembertostretch #payattentiontoyourbody #strength #flexibility #sprains #rehab #rehabilitation – image by Freepik
With winter sports well under way, people need to keep up their stretching, take care while they play, and remain vigilant about any soreness that occurs during their games. One of the most common injuries we see in the clinic are injuries to the ankle. Netballers, basketballers, and sports that involve a lot of jumping are particularly prone to ankle injuries.
The most common form of ankle injury is a sprained ankle. More commonly, is a sprain to the ligaments on the outside or lateral aspect of the ankle. When the ligaments on the side of the ankle become overstretched, torn or even ruptured, the ankle will swell, become very painful and be difficult to walk on.
Your walking pattern, balance, and the strength and mobility of your ankle are all affected when you injure your ankle. This will need careful rehabilitation to fully recover from the injury.
The first line of treatment involves elevation, compression and ice to help control the swelling. It is also helpful to do some very simple movements of the ankle such as making small circles with the foot to keep some movement and help the calf muscles work to reduce the swelling.
The next line of treatment within the first week of the injury should include the following:
1. Exercises to help the muscles around the ankle and the affected leg become stronger and regain their flexibility.
2. Taping or a brace to give support to the ankle. This also helps with balance because it sends signals back to the brain about the position of your foot and ankle. These signals are affected by an injury to the ankle.
3. Retraining your walking pattern so other body parts (such as your knees or back) don’t start to hurt because you are walking weirdly!
4. Balance retraining. This is one part of rehab that people will often be slack about once their ankle is feeling better. There is a high chance of re-spraining if this area is neglected! So make sure you stick at it and do your balance exercises.
Hope this helps,
By Shae Flynn, EP
As we all know, it’s important to keep our heart and lungs healthy… but why?
Cardiorespiratory fitness, in a nutshell, is the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to every cell in the body via the circulatory (blood) system and remove toxins and waste products. This delivery of oxygen is important for every system in the body and affects things like our sleep, healing, digestion, functionality and cognitive ability.
If the heart or lung’s ability to perform this task is impaired, other systems in the body will also be affected, stopping your body from running as well as it should. Indications that your body is not working at its best include shortness of breath when walking up a hill or long distances, or an increased heart rate when keeping on the move with your daily jobs.
So, what is the solution?
Exercise is your friend! It’s common knowledge that increasing the amount of exercise you do each week will get you fitter and healthier. The World Health Organisation recommends 30 minutes a day at moderate intensity. When we challenge our systems (such as the heart and lungs) by exercising, the body has to adapt, which results in better fitness. Exercise doesn’t have to be a daunting task – it simply requires some planning to break it up into manageable blocks.
If a 30-minute block seems unachievable, try doing smaller blocks of 10–15 minutes several times a day. You can even trick yourself into exercising! Little tricks like parking further away from the shops, walking the long way, taking the stairs wherever you can, or taking a walk during your lunch break can help. These smaller stints of exercise are a great way to build up exercise minutes each day and grow your step count!
If you have concerns about starting, you should consult your doctor before increasing the amount of activity you do. Don’t forget that our exercise physiologist is qualified to work with all health conditions, especially ones relating to heart and lung health. Come and see us to get some advice on safe ways to exercise and increase your fitness!
Book online or call the clinic to speak with our staff and start today… the heart waits for no one!
#movebetterforlife #heartandlunghealth #aerobicfitness #exercisephysiology
image by https://loom.ly/o1hW6wA by jcomp
Our last two blogs focused on how to overcome ageing muscles. This week we’re discussing why it’s important to keep our heart and lungs healthy too.
It’s important to maintain strong heart and lungs as you get older in order to keep your mobility and independence so you can do the things you love. An increased heart rate when undertaking activities, such as bringing in the wood or carrying the groceries, or the puffed feeling you might experience after going for a walk, indicates how well your lungs and heart can manage an increase in activity.
This is known as cardio-respiratory fitness and is a good indication of how healthy or unhealthy your heart and lungs are. You may have found over the years that you feel a little less fit than you used to, and everyday activities are now more difficult than they once were.
Our exercise physiologists commonly see people who feel short of breath or ‘unfit’ when doing things that were once easy start to become challenging. This can be quite confronting when it happens, but it’s important to know that you can do something about it!
So, how do you tackle this problem?
Current Australian guidelines, based on the World Health Organisation’s recommendations, are that adults over the age of 50 should complete 150 minutes of aerobic exercise at moderate intensity on five or more days of the week.
Walking and bike riding are all good examples of aerobic exercises that are low impact on joints, and specifically help to improve heart and lung health. Moderate intensity is working at about 7 out of 10, meaning it would be difficult to maintain a conversation with someone while you exercise.
To start off, try going for a 20-minute walk at a comfortable pace 2 x a week. As you improve, you can increase your pace or distance. Don’t overdo it!
If you have any concerns about whether aerobic exercise is safe for you, feel free to contact the clinic or book an appointment online to come and see our exercise physiologist.