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Putting on the Stripes To Ease Pain: Kinesio Tape

Mario Balotelli

It’s hard to turn on the TV to watch sports these days and not see the masses of fancy, bright-coloured strips of tape running up and down legs and arms. However the fact is, for something that seems so popular with elite athletes, most people don’t have a clue what it is and what it’s supposed to do! Is this new wave of eccentric, vivid tape the latest in sports science ready to take athletes to the next level or is it another fashion fad at top of the health fitness marketing chain?

Known as ‘Kinesio’ Tape, this device is a strong, elasticized tape that was designed by Japanese chiropractor Dr Kenzo Kase more that 30 years ago. Dr Kase developed Kinesio Tape on the basis that the application of tape replicated beneficial manual therapy techniques such as massage and joint mobilization. The tape differs from the traditional rigid strapping tape in that it doesn’t restrict movement. Kinesio tape and stretch and contract which will restrict the incorrect movements but allow correct movements. It allows the athlete to continue training longer through injuries as their biomechanics have been corrected. Kase argues that Kinesio Tape also lifts the top layer of the skin off the muscle fascia which enables better blood flow between the dermis and epidermis.

However, there is no clinically meaningful evidence as yet to support the use of Kinesio Tape. Studies have shown some improvement in shoulder and neck pain however the quality of the studies were questioned. If no other benefit, Kinesio Tape improves psychological performance. Athletes feel better prepared and better supported. Like any clinical treatment, every athlete is different so what works for some may not work for others. Kinesio Tape is a treatment that needs to work in conjunction with other therapies and shouldn’t mask the need for strength and flexibility exercises. There are still more studies need to assess the efficacy of the new innovation but one thing is for sure; Kinesio Tape is taking fashion to the next level!

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Monreal: The Answer to Arsenal’s Left Back Woes

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Two clean sheets on the back of two gritty defensive performances for Arsenal is a massive boost for suffering Arsenal fans. Consecutive 1-0 wins Stoke and Sunderland have gone a small way to answering Arsenal’s critics about their ‘soft’ nature in defense.

One person who may not be so thrilled about the positive turn around is Kieran Gibbs who has been watching on from the sidelines as new signing Nacho Monreal has slotted in seamlessly at left back. In Monreal, Wenger looks to have found the answer to the Gunner’s left back woes. Arsenal got the Spanish international on a cut-price deal due to Malaga’s financial woes and even after only 2 games, it looks to be a very astute investment from Wenger.

Arsenal has struggled to replace Gael Glichy, with a series of tried and failed replacements since. Gibbs has done an acceptable job but his inability to stay fit is a major concern and his poor spatial and tactical awareness has let the back four down on a number of occasions this year already. Thomas Vermaelen has also deputised out wide for the Gunners but the classy centre back looks lost in wide positions and seems to play more attacking in the middle rather than out wide. Which leaves poor old Andre Santos. Gunners fans breathed a sigh of relief with Brazilian side Gremio signing the ‘flop’ on loan for the rest of the season. Santos just looked off the pace from the start and not equipped to handle the Premier League. So many times opposing teams have been able to expose Arsenal down the right flank and his shirt swap with Van Persie at Old Trafford this year really summoned the end for the Brazilian.

But in Monreal, Wenger has found an attacking minded wing back who doesn’t neglect his defensive duties. Strong in the air, a great crosser of the ball and a player that knows where he needs to be in relation to his back four. Too many times this year Arsenal’s back four have held their hand up for offside, only to see Gibbs, Santos or Sagna lagging behind. Monreal looks tactically aware and looks very much at home with Arsenal’s slick passing game. Monreal looks switched on every minute and with the Spanish connection starting to build at the Emirates, the Gunners might yet still challenge for trophies sooner rather than later!

Advantages & Disadvantages of the Low-Carb, High Protein Diet!

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It’s that time of the year when everyone is feeling guilty after stuffing themselves with mince pies and Christmas turkey, then gulping the beer and wine on new years eve. Then comes the ritual of the new year’s resolution to eat healthy and shed the excess weight which usually fails come mid-January.

A big reason a lot of diet’s fail is we cut our meal portions drastically then spend the whole time hungry, staring at the clock until our next meal. There are so many ‘diets’ out there in the modern day, each with it’s ‘pro’s’ and ‘cons’ with every expert giving a different opinion, it’s hard to know which is the right way to go. A very popular diet that tends to get a bad rap in the media, is the ‘high protein, low-carbohyrate’ diet, offen referred to as the ‘Paleo’ Diet.

The ‘Paleo’ Diet works on the basis on foods prior to agricultural revolution, such as fresh fruit, vegetables, meats and seafoods (which are high in beneficial nutrients). These foods have soluble fiber, low in monosaturated fats and a low-glycemic carbohydrate index) and is based on the ‘hunter-gatherer’ nature of our ancestors.

There are many advantages to ‘low-carb’ nutrition however it is not for everybody. There are some genotypes that do poorly on a low-carb diet. The first advantage is that this diet promotes muscle gains while reducing fat stores.

Insulin sensitivity is decreased due to the low sugar content, meaning fat loss is more sustainable. The Paleo Diet also reduces inflammation. High insulin levels from high carb-eating are linked with inflammation markers, possibly producing joint pain. As a result, it also lowers blood pressure. The Paleo Diet has also been shown to Increase Energy Levels. Due to the low insulin level, energy is more sustainable throughout the day meaning you feel full for longer, rather than the short spikes from sugar. A major advantage of the diet is there large portion sizes. Due to the nutrient-rich foods involved, generally there is no limit on the amount of food you can have so no more going hungry!
However, with any diet there are disadvantages, which is why diets don’t tend to stick. Firstly, the Paleo Diet tends to be bland! Cutting out sugar and carbs means that diets can get repetitive, however there are many great recipes out there (try http://punchfork.com/paleo)! Secondly, the food preparation time is often greater (no more 2 minute noodles!). Constipation can be an issue but fiber supplements such as flaxseed can fix this. Last of all, there can be possible nutrient deficiencies so it is important that you seek advice from a doctor or nutritionist if you are concerned.
As with any diet, we recommend that you seek medical advice on deciding what is right for you. It’s important to remember that exercise is also a vital component of any weight loss program as well. Make 2013 the year you kept your resolution!!

Myths of High Protein Diets:
1. High-Protein Diets cause kidney damage – not recommended for existing damage, no studies to say that it causes it.
2. No Dairy means calcium deficiency – Bone-demineralistion is caused by alkaline imbalance due to grains, excess salt, fatty meats and cheeses.
3. High-Protein promotes high cholesterol – Studies show that high-protein, low-carb diets are effective in improving cholesterol and blood lipid levels
4. Grains are the best source of fiber – Vegetables are far more fiber-rich!

The Cyclist Checklist to Avoid Pain

4184212-3x4-700x933 By Will Thom

Many people wrongly assume that pain during cycling is an inevitable consequence of cycling. As a result, many people avoid riding because it has always resulted in pain, discomfort and the aggravation of injuries. However what most riders don’t realize is that problems can often be eliminated by simply reassessing the setup of the bike and retraining your riding posture.

The most important point to remember is that every rider has different needs and goals therefore the ‘optimal riding position’ varies between riders. For example, the seat height for a flexible elite level cyclist will likely be higher than for a recreational cyclist with a history of lower back pain, but both cyclists may benefit from gradually raising their seat height as training and treatment increases their flexibility.

To identify an individual’s ‘optimal riding position’, a thorough assessment of posture, strength, flexibility and core stability is required. Then basic recommendations can be made on adjusting the seat, handlebars of general spinal posture. A full assessment of ankle range can be helpful as well, especially if the cyclist is experiencing lower limb pain.

Core Stability is essential for cycling posture, especially the sustained forward lean of the rider. The most efficient riding posture places minimal weight on the rider’s hands, arms and shoulders. Poor riding positioning along with inadequate core stability mean cyclists will struggle to sustain the correct forward lean angle and pedaling technique. Flexibility allows the cyclist to be both powerful and comfortable on their bike. Specific stretches can enhance your ‘optimal riding position’ and has been shown to aid recovery from exercise soreness.
Pedalling Technique is also an important part of assessing a cyclist’s ‘optimal riding position’. The ideal pedalling technique consists of both legs producing constant and equal power throughout the pedal cycle however this not usually the case. Knees should be tracking in line with the toes, aiming for symmetry for both sides. Physiotherapy would use a combination of hands-on treatment, core stability and flexibility and exercises and adjustments to bike setup.

1. Extended Back
2. Adducted and Retracted Shoulders (Shoulders Back)
3. Core Engaged
4. Forward Tilted Pelvis
5. Neutral Neck
6. Decreased Weight Bearing in Hands
7. Loaded Glutes and Hamstrings

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Ask The Physio: Adolescent Weight Training

Weight-Lifting-Exercise-15By Will Thom
Q: My 12 year old son is asking me about starting weight training to get fit for rugby. I’ve been told that’s too early. When is it safe for him to start weight training?

A: This is a really common misconception we hear all the time. The age-old myth that resistance training in pre-adolescent children will stunt your growth I exactly that, a myth!!
There is no evidence to suggest that resistance training will have any ill-effects on your child’s health and it is definitely not age specific. The training itself is really quite safe, where injuries occur is after poor supervision, technique and poor self-control about loading. In fact, evidence shows resistance training in pre-adolescents can have functional strength benefits, especially on the sporting field.
It is important to discuss the goals and expectations of the training with your son. Prior to adolescence, it is very difficult to build significant muscle bulk. Until your son hits puberty and his body starts producing testosterone, he won’t be able to significantly increase the size of his muscles. However, he will be able become stronger and in better shape for rugby as the body will learn to recruit the existing muscles more efficiently!
Learning proper technique is essential and a qualified professional should be present. The most common injuries with resistance training are muscle strains and are usually due to poor technique. If poor technique becomes a habit, more serious injuries can occur.

It is recommended that low resistance is used until good form is second nature. Training should surround slow, controlled movements. Remember resistance training doesn’t need to involve weights. Body weight such as push-ups and simple equipment such as medicine balls can be good options for rugby.

While strength training can be safe and beneficial, it should not replace aerobic activities like on-field sports or running. Overall, if your son wishes to begin resistance training, speak to a professional in health and fitness to working out a suitable, supervised program.

Will Thom – The Football Physio

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Will Thom is a highly specialised physiotherapist within the field of sports injuries with a particular interest in football. He is the Senior Clinician at Northern Districts Physiotherapy Eastwood (www.ndpe.com.au).

Will recently worked as physiotherapist for Sydney F.C and Northern Tigers F.C for four years, combined with a background for representing Australia at youth level and has a Senior Football Coaching License.
As a keen footballer himself, and with his experience of working with both professional and amateur athletes, Will treats injuries with the perspective of the elite player and coach, rather than just the physiotherapist. Will understands the passion and need for an efficient return to peak condition physically and mentally to achieve greater success.

Will has extensive post-graduate education and uses a hands-on approach to treatment not only from a musculoskeletal point of view, but a specificity aimed towards football. He specializes in technique correction, biomechanical analysis, strength, flexibility, balance and skill.

Will currently plays football for Hills Brumbies F.C in the NSW State League and is coaching senior football at Barker College so he his updated with the needs of the modern day footballer. Will’s passion and knowledge in football combined with evidence-based physiotherapy treatment techniques is vital for prevention of injury in football and helping players to reach peak physical conditions and imminent success.