No matter how badly or poorly you have run, jogged, or staggered 20 meters plus, there will always be a fitness motivator screaming “good job, you lapped the guy on the couch”
Its sort of true, but at the same time they lapped everyone doing a static exercise: they lapped the person doing pull ups, deadlifts, the olympic lifts, bicep curls and hundreds of other stationary exercises: they lapped the guy doing burpees and tuck jumps, they lapped everyone on a concept 2 rower or an assault bike.
During fits of depression, or good old fashioned laziness, it super easy to crawl onto a couch and crash out. This means that deciding to get up, change, walk out the door and start jogging can be a super barrier.
I remember lying on the couch staring at the floor being unable to roll off and do one push up.
To build new habits and behaviours, they really need to be modelled on existing habits and behaviours. It’s very difficult to abandon bad behaviours, so its best to use them if you can.
If it’s a racing certainty that you will throw yourself onto the couch in the next few hours, connecting the couch with exercise could be the most effective exercise improvement you can make. This is crucial if you find yourself locked down.
As a quick example I’ll use the curl up abdominal exercise. Its fairly easy to change from a couch slump
into something fairly near a therapeutic curl up!
Over the next few months, I’ll be showing you how you can get fit on your couch. moving from a slump into an effective exercise.
Obviously this is a great stand alone (lie alone) exercise. You don’t have to get on the couch to do it!
A big welcome to your Plantar Fascia. An unknown part of your foot, that, so it seems, you don’t have to worry about.
It will do whatever the hell it does for years, then one morning, in some unlucky people, it creates almost crippling heel pain.
First thing in the morning, upon getting out of bed, you’ll be in so much pain that even hopping across your bedroom floor is something you’ll dread. Even contemplating allowing your heel to touch the floor makes many want to throw up in their own mouths.
It’s not all bad. Just give it 5 or 10 minutes of hobbling around and you can begin to limp with a bit of dignity. Welcome to the party you now have plantar fasciitis. It often self cures, in anything from 6 weeks to TWO YEARS.
There are two positive sides to the condition:
1) You’ll meet lots of people online searching for a cure. So it’s like an agony based Tinder.
2) you’ll meet lots of dodgy therapists trying to part you from your money for quack cures. If you spot them, it’s fun to watch. If you cannot see a quack coming, its a bit expensive.
So some back ground, according to the BMJ plantar Fasciitis copy has the reputation of being “a trivial condition”. Clinically “benign and self limiting”. So, if you are limping around your bedroom, screaming with pain, wondering how you can get to the loo, don’t worry, its “benign and self limiting”.
“sit with one leg crossed over the other, and stretch the arch of the foot by taking one hand and pulling the toes back toward the shin for a count of 10. The exercise must be repeated 10 times, and performed at least three times a day, including before taking the first step in the morning and before standing after a prolonged period of sitting”. Thanks to Benedict DiGiovanni and Nawoczenski,
Most foot issues (not only plantar fasciitis, but the nasty achilles tendonitis) benefit from a better range of ankle flexion and pliable calf muscles. This daily stretch is also a must.
INSOLES: In my humble opinion, buying and wearing flatter shoes often causes Plantar fasciitis . This is often combined with the whole “go barefoot” rebellion. It’s based on the “well, its more natural, innit” concept and totally, totally fails to take into account the fact that you have worn heeled, and supported shoes for the last 20-30 years!
Maybe the strongmen of old didn’t have access to weights. I say that as, many of the old fashioned “get fit at home” manuals and pamphlets, put push ups and push up variations at the core of their regimes. Maybe they assumed that their home based clients did’t have a “bench”.
Not a totally insane assumption.
So, push ups or “dips” as Charles Atlas called them, belong in any home regime. I think they are often overlooked.
Charles Atlas does his “dip”between two chairs in order to get a bigger range of motion. according to his pamphlet its great for “Chest, Shoulders and Back. Excellent for preventing Lung and Chest troubles. Do the dipping exercise at least 100 times every day. Aim to do it 200 times daily if you are keen on getting a very big and powerful chest development. Do this by dipping 25 or more times, rest and relax a few moments and do them again. Rest and do them again.” Charles Atlas said he did 200 daily.
However, it isn’t as simple as just doing any type of push up. Notice from this video that you are aiming for a planche push up. Your shoulders go forward and your hands end up as near the hips as possible
Of course, this is achievable if you already have push ups. If you don’t work your progressions like mad
In the time before the lockdown, I used to coach Olympic weightlifting at Crossfit London on a Saturday morning.
I mean, I was in the same room, at the same time as other people
Seems weird now.
Now that everyone has moved online, it’s easy to forget that that building explosiveness into fitness regimes, without weights can be tricky. The Olympic lifting drills are especially difficult to think up as , ideally, you want to the end up in a squat.
There are loads of fantastic stretches for your glutes ( your bottom muscles) . These are seen as the biggest, strongest muscle the body has, and is the one that really powers most human movement.
It’s crucial to build a supple muscle . Today, I’m just getting you used to this”easy” lie on your back stretch. Simply cross one leg over the over in a figure of 4 shape and pull the “4” towards you (see above). You’ll feel a great stretch.
If that doesn’t work for you, isolate the core of this moves by grabbing your leg and ankle so you can see what you have to do to get the stretch to work. Focus on pulling the knee up towards your chest, with a pull across your body (see below).
Having great flexible shoulders can make your day to day life much easier and improve your posture, as well as your gymnastics!
Basically, can you make you hands meet behind your back? If so, you are well on the way to some really useful shoulders, if not, this is your first port of call. Develop your shoulders individually, both the reaching down and the stretching up parts.
Work on these sub-stretches, with some other drills we will show you, and your shoulders, too, will become lovely.
No modern discussion of flexibility, trigger points or pain is complete without talking about fascia.
I was introduced to fascia by Julian Baker of the Bowen technique during some guided dissection sessions back in 2012 ( which means I have dissected corpses as part of my studies).
Its the “sort of fatty stuff directly under your skin
Years ago this “stuff was simply cut away by laboratory assistants so you could see the actual muscles.
It’s only now that people see this as a new communication highway for our endocrine, circulatory, or nervous systems.
Today much “tightness” is attributed to dysfunction in the fascia. Although this is far from proven it’s useful working hypothesis that makes us focus on trigger points. They are “a hyper irritable locus with a taut band of skeletal muscle, located in the muscular tissue and/or its associated fascia.”
Sometimes called knots, trigger points can be quite painful, will cause stiffness and weakness of the affected muscle, and restrict the muscle’s full range of motion.
Fascia can also stick to muscles in what Gill calls “fuzz” ( if you cannot pick the skin off your muscle, its arguably adhered and interrupting muscle function, reducing range of motion
When poking around your body, you can often find what needs attention if
1. You press on the skin, and its super painful with pressure
2. you cannot pick the skin away from the muscle. This should glide, not stick
3. You feel special tension in an area when you stretch
This is sorted by, being bothered enough to do something about it. Practically that means a mix, but consistent mix , of gentle (and not so gentle) massage, skin rolling and pressure applied by your fingers, objects, cupping, or better still someone else.
This stuff goes under the heading of Myofascial Release.
It’s uncomfortable which is why few people use it or do it. Sort of like flexibility. You have to get used to that weird discomfort.
The problem is that medically, no one wants to be a muscle doctor. So it’s the orphan organ.
If you have enough flexibility to squat, why do you need more. Crucially, if you cannot squat well because of flexibility who cares. Most lift the weight anyway, and if they screw their back who cares!
Stretching is uncomfortable, boring, the evidence is very conflicted and many charlatans insist that flexibility is a “star gate” to spiritual well being and enlightenment. This obviously puts any right mind individual off stretching.
The bigger your flexibility tool kit, the better your flexibility training will go. So, it was fun to come across “Effect of Cupping Therapy on Range of Motion, Pain Threshold, and Muscle Activity of the Hamstring Muscle Compared to Passive Stretching” It’s a fascinating read.
Kim et al, set out to review the effects of cupping on flexibility. The conclusion was that cupping therapy has a positive effect on flexibility equal to passive stretching. Allegedly more convenient and easier to work on patients than passive stretching. Therefore, cupping therapy should be considered as another option to treat range of motion issues.
They tested this protocol: “Cupping therapy was applied to the hamstring muscle for 5 minutes in the cupping therapy group. The passive stretching group was treated with a passive stretching for 10 seconds and repeated 9 times”
This is the same result that Lacross, 2014 found. Cupping therapy may induce a change in flexibility (equal to passive stretching). Maybe cupping actually gets into the tissues! This depth of effect , allegedly, increases the neurophysiological activity at the level of nociceptors, the spinal cord, and other nerves, and ultimately leads to significant relaxation (Musial et al., 2013). Cupping has also been found to affect the body up to four inches into the tissues (Hanan and Eman, 2013).
So, yes to cupping. Its fairly cheap, quite safe and a good DIY thing if you make sure you are suitable for this treatment. Bound to be good for facebook and instagram photos. Get a cheapie set for £35