Are you ripping yourself off in the gym?

What happens next depends on YOUR RECOVERY protocols.

For the muscle to repair and grow, you need to FUEL yourself with PROTEIN and for women it needs to be within a 30-45 minute window directly after training.

When we train, we are actually BREAKING DOWN muscle, not actually building it.

Whaaaaat? I know it sounds strange, but in the gym when we train, heavy enough that is, we are actually creating tiny little tears in the muscle fibres. This creates an inflammatory response to help to heal the muscle and repair.

If you don’t fuel within this window, your body starts to go into a state of breakdown, which means your muscle will break down and not grow. What a waste!! LITERALLY!

Why do we want muscle to grow?

Because more muscle improve your metabolism, immune function, reduces joint pain, improves posture and so much more.

Another big problem that we see with clients coming to us because they are not getting results is, training too intensely for their body. This can come in the form of too many training days in the week, or simply following terrible trends like HIIT or Crossfit methods. These methods will put your body into a state of stress due to too many training days being encouraged in the week and not enough recovery days to promote the muscle repair, growth and healing. In the beginning they may start working, but over time you can start to see hormonal problems, weight GAIN from the body being in stress, injuries and pain from not allowing the body to heal. Or simply not turning up to sessions for fear of the days of pain that are about to come!

‘Recovery is just as important as training’

So how do you not rip yourself off in the gym and create a healthy balance to training for your body?

You start to train and eat because you love your body and not because you hate it. Too many people are trying to cut calories because they feel fat and believe that it will help them lose weight. It will in fact do the opposite, especially if you are risking your pre and post training meals.

Show me somebody training and I can tell you if they are training out of self love or hate. TRUST ME. I used to be in the latter group and it wasn’t fun. I recall going for 10k runs with tears streaming down my face because I wanted to punish myself. Or smashing myself in the gym for 90 minutes because I thought I was fat. Oh I’m so glad those days are over.

In terms of training and how many training days are too many. It depends!! Every body is different and has different needs and outcomes based on our physiological load (stress load) , our body type, our nutritional plan and of course the type of training that you are doing.

Here’s a rough guide! 

If you are a healthy person 

You might aim to train with weights 4 x a week then add some recovery cardio in on the other days like walking, swimming, yoga or ELDOA.

If you are just starting out and not particularly active

You might start with 2 full body strength days and one day of Yoga, ELDOA or Stretching to ease your body into the training. You’re actually better to do this than going full hog right away. Full hog will add that stress to the body and essentially rip yourself off. What a waste of precious time! After 6 weeks, add another training day, then another and watch your body change!

If you’re already training and wanting to see more STRENGTH & MUSCLE GAIN (tone) – let’s say you’re already training 3 times a week and your body is handling that well. Good recovery etc. You might add a leg training session to your week to up the anti. Legs in particular are a big calorie burner for those wanting fat loss!

If you on the other hand are already training 5-6 days a week and have hit a plateau.

Drop your sessions down to 4, feel your body release tension as your body recovers properly, you reduce stress, you can hit your gym sessions with much more energy and strength and you will not only gain some precious time back in your week, but you will start to see those results again.

Remember when we add more training, we need to add more recovery, walking, stretching, mag baths.

At H.A.I.L Fitness, we thoroughly assess each client before they begin training with us to assess their body and ability before recommending which and how many sessions to attend. This way, we get you fitter, healthier and reduce that inflammation in your bod without wasting your precious time and you get better results by doing less. 

The above suggestions are a rough guide, but if you need help determining a game plan for you,  book in a chat with one of our team and find out how you can start gaining your results and not waste your precious time. 

It’s not about training more and eating less

Most people spend way too much time on two things. Training and nutrition and they focus all of their attention on these things without looking at the other main lifestyle habits that will actually add to their result. I know right, here’s someone in the fitness industry telling you to focus ‘less time’ on nutrition and training? YEOP
  • Do you need to train 5 x a week? No
  • Can you if you love training? Sure, if you’re getting a result and recovering well
  • Can you get a great result with training 3 x a week in the gym? Yes absolutely!
  • Do you need to count calories, macros and to feel like you’re dieting? Absolutely not!

There are so many other factors that will add to you either achieving your goals or not and these habits will; 

  • be EASY to add to your day
  • take little to NO TIME out of your busy schedule
  • they will actually GIVE you more time in your day 
  • mean you spend LESS time training
  • allow you to spend MORE time doing what you love

At HF Studio we focus on the holstic approach to health and fitness and we teach you  all of the important lifestyle habits that you can easily filter into your day to gain a result in incredible energy, reducing stress, reducing the tummy bloat and gaining incredible physical and mental strength to make your day run more smoothly. To get MORE DONE.  

If the train more, eat less method isn’t working, it’s time to try a different approach 😉

If you would like to book a complimentary Holistic Health Consult to find out what the simplest habits that you can add into your day to give you more energy and better results then click the button below.

Can Insufficient Rest Negatively Impact Your Gym Results?

REST DAYS 

Do you have them?
 
Do you understand the benefits of them for muscle growth? Why do we want muscle growth? 
  • improve body composition (reduce fat mass, increase muscle tone if needed), this is not just aesthetic but a health REQUIREMENT.
  • improve metabolism
  • increase strength for life and ageing (reduce injuries, keep working, keep living active life)
  • reduce muscle wastage, which happens with age 
Why do we need rest days? 
 
This is where muscle grows. We stress the muscle in the gym and make tiny tears in muscle fibres, then when we rest, the muscles repair and grow. 
*** They will only grow with enough protein in your diet*** 
 
If we don’t rest, we put the body into a stressed state, and training in a stressed state actually breaks down muscle and stores fat. Which is the very opposite of the goal and why I bang on about working OUT days and working IN days. 
 
Not only this, but to get a result in training, whether it be for increased strength or improved body composition, you need to work hard. To work hard, you need the body to be recovered from previous workouts. Otherwise you’re training in the grey zone and not hitting the workouts hard enough to create change mentioned above. 
 
How often should you rest? 
 
It depends. We are all different and require a different amount of training stimulous to grow, and rest to repair. It is also very dependent on your diet, of course, and your daily habits like sleep, stress, hydration etc. It will also highly depend on your training program style. 
 
For me personally, I like to train 2-3 days, then have a rest day to recover before hitting it hard again. 💪 If it’s a week out from my period, this may change to suit my energy and hormones, having more rest days or just lighter sessions. 
 
Does this mean you sit on the couch on rest days? 
 
Farrrrk no! Rest from TRAINING. Training is your hard workout days. The days you’re hitting it hard in the gym, lifting weights, going all out. 
 
So, on your rest days, get out for a walk, a swim, a slow run, do yoga, and do light movement. Just don’t ‘train’. 
 
Your body needs to MOVE DAILY. Some days are go for it days, and some are just movement days. 
 
So, to sum it all up; 
  • Yes, your rest days are just as important as your training days. Factor them in. 
  • Rest from training doesn’t mean sitting on the couch 
  • How often you train will depend on your body and stress state 
  • How well your body recovers depends on your lifestyle habits like sleep, stress, nutrition, hydration 
  • Training in an unrecovered state puts your body into stress 
  • Training in a stressed state reverses results  
  • We need to move daily!! 

Salty Soldier Slice

This is a nutty, almost caramelly, chocolate delight that wins at every occasion. No refined sugar and gluten free goodness. It’s also a whole foods treat that doesn’t taste like just coconut and dates! 
BASE
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 4 large medjool dates
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil

Method

  • Grease a baking dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 155 degrees.
  • Place all ingredients in a high powered blender/ Thermie or Bellini.
  • Blend on high until the mixture holds together when pressed between fingers.
  • Press into tin evenly and use the back of a spoon to smooth and compact the mixture.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 mins, until golden.
  • Remove from the oven and cool on the bench.
A special shout out to my girl Nyssa @nyssatati at Boddy Freedom Fitness for this incredible base recipe.
 
MIDDLE
  • About 400g (ish) Tahini
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (then a splash more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons of Maca powder

Method

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until combined. I do this to taste so don’t be shy to taste and add as you need! It should have a nice nutty flavour.

Once mixed well spread over the cooled base!

CHOC TOP

  • Absolute Organic Dark Choc chips 3/4 of the bag
  • 2cm of butter (about 2cm piece cut off 250g block)

Method

  • Melt in a double boiler (aka a bowl over boiling water) then spread over the nutty center.
  • Sprinkle with celtic salt! This is the flavour kicker. The salty with the sweet!
  • Place in the fridge or freezer to set. Once set cut into small squares and enjoy! 

Paleo Banana Bread

When you want a delicious treat without the sugar, without the gluten bloat AND without the grains, this is it! 
 
Unrefined sugar like coconut sugar or honey is optional here if you need it sweeter. I find if the bananas are nice and over ripe, AKA with black marks, then the banana bread will be sweet enough. 
 
Perfect with a cuppa or in a lunch box.
 
Have a play and change the fruit around or add choc chips, walnuts or raisins to add a lil sum’n sum’n. If adding choc chips, Pana are great and will keep the bread sugar free. 
 
I’ve even ran out of almond meal and made it half half with almond & coconut flour. The coco flour is much lighter and makes it less dense. If you want a fluffier bread try that. I like mine nice and dense with the almond flour. 
Being more nutrient dense, a small slice is nice & filling. Yumm! 
 
Banana bread recipe 
  • 1 cup mashed banana (3 large, 4 small)
  • 150g butter cubed
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Optional – 1/4 cup choc chips, walnuts or raisins 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°
  2. Mix butter, eggs and vanilla with beaters.
  3. Add mashed banana and mix
  4. Then add dry ingredients and fold through
  5. Put into lined loaf tin and bake on 180 for 30-40 mins or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into loaf.
  6. Cool and eat as is! Slice up and store in the fridge. It will firm up in the fridge. 
Enjoy and don’t forget to tag me on insta if you make it – @hail_fitness 
 
Not sure how to eat to suit your body to gain the best energy, mental clarity and gym results? Find all of that and so much more in my next Nutrition For Life workshop here.
WORKSHOP
NUTRITION for life!

Learn how to gain INCREDIBLE energy for your busy days and how to stop looking for the next diet to help you. How to gain better mental clarity, get more restful sleep improve stress and how to look after your health for the rest of your LIFE!

Fitness gadgets are disconnecting you from your body

The more we follow gadgets for health the less we are in touch with our body. Gadgets, like step trackers, food calculators, meal plans, will all treat you like a robot. 

Sure, the recommendation to move daily is 10,000 steps, but does that take into account your energy, stress load, if you are unwell, your mobility or daily lifestyle? 
Your macro calculator may say to eat X amount of protein daily, but are you digesting and assimilating and eliminating it well? You can put the food in but is your body using it properly? All the macro and calorie counting is useless and possibly even making you more sick or more over-fed and under-nourished. Definitely less connected to your body. 
Food plans, don’t even get me started. Basically if I wanted to make a lot of money with little regard to actually helping people, I’d write a food plan. A food plan does not know your body, personal goals, lifestyle, stress load, digestive health, liver function, bowel movements and so on. Nor does it know your ancestral type. How much protein, carbs or fat YOUR body needs, which will change on any given day depending on your movements. 
If you can buy a food plan without anybody asking you questions about the above body responses, RUN! 
 
Yes, if needed to, I will tap into a step tracker, even a macro tracker if a client really doesn’t have an idea what macronutrients are or how much movement is enough movement. They’re a TOOL to be used for a short period in some cases, not to live your life by. 
 
The longer you spend using these tools and plans, the less in touch you become with your body and it’s needs. 
 
Our body is always giving us signs of what it needs. Signs like a little pain in the back or neck to tell us to eat more protein or to drink more water, stretch more or to train differently. A sign of jumpy mind or ADHD behavior, not sleeping well or waking up rested, or even our mood being flat and lethargic. These are all signs of our nutrition needs not being met. 
Our food is not only medicine but a gateway into fuelling our body to be able to live, create, move, inspire, to be happy and to live out our dreams and desires. 
 
Without a healthy body you will struggle to have a healthy mindset. The gateway to that healthy mindset is nourishment and movement, the right type for YOU. 
 
Learn how to tune into your own body, it’s needs, listen to the signs it’s giving you and learn which foods are YOUR medicine and which ones are YOUR poison in my upcoming Nutrition For Life workshop.  Gain nutrition freedom and learn the ‘non diet’ approach to health and happiness. Learn to nourish your body not only for a healthy mindset but for a healthy and happy life. 
WORKSHOP
NUTRITION for life!

Learn how to gain INCREDIBLE energy for your busy days and how to stop looking for the next diet to help you. How to gain better mental clarity, get more restful sleep improve stress and how to look after your health for the rest of your LIFE!

Sick Fit

I was sick fit for many years and didn’t know it. How could I not know that I was sick? Because I was being led and influenced by people who were also ‘sick fit.’

What is sick fit?

Sick fit is the term to describe someone who looks fit and healthy, but on the inside is sick from over-raining, under-recovering, dieting heavily and focussing only on what they look like on the outside and paying no attention to what’s happening on the inside of their body or how their actual health is.
Sick Fit = Looks good/hot, but has terrible health/pain/immune function
I’ll tell you what happened to me. I used to train at least 6 times a week, lifting weights for an hour to 90 minutes. Then some days I would also run up to 10k. ALSO, not INSTEAD OF. I was consistently on a diet or ‘counting my macros’ and weighing my food to make sure I wasn’t overeating and was eating foods only deemed as ‘clean’. Well, until Saturday nights when I would absolutely binge my hole out due to being so restricted in calories and nutrients all week.
I would constantly weigh myself, get my body fat % taken and every time I passed a mirror, I was making sure I wasn’t putting on fat anywhere. I was NEVER happy with how I looked, NEVER. I was constantly cutting, constantly wanting bigger shoulders, a bigger bum, a smaller waist. It was never enough.

This drove me to keep pushing, keep dieting, keep lifting heavier and heavier, and to keep absolutely smashing my body.

Eventually I developed a stage 3 adrenal fatigue and had to take a few weeks off work to sleep. I had to quit training altogether for 3 months and just walk. My blood pressure was so low that I would almost pass out when I was at work. I would train a client, and then go to the staff room to sleep on the floor. I was wrecked.

Even after I came out of the later stages of adrenal fatigue, I went right back to thrashing my body again. I dropped running, big whoop! Ha.

But I continued to lift 6 days a week, dieted heavily, never paid any attention to gut healing, immune health or on noticing that every single week I had a headache. Yes EVERY SINGLE WEEK I had a debilitating headache, often making me want to vomit. Sometimes lasting for weeks.

I had continuously a sore shoulder, my neck and upper back were always tight, oh and I forgot to add that during having the adrenal fatigue I bulged my L5/S1 disk in my lower back. A side effect from a weakened system is poor core function and stability. So my lower back would flare up often.

The point of my story is that I looked great! I looked healthy to the untrained eye, I looked fit as fuck!! But I was very unwell on the inside.

I was ‘sick fit’.
In all honestly I would say the a lot of people in the fitness industry are sick fit. In a completely honest guess I would say a good 70 – 80% are.

In the fitness industry it is praised to look a certain way, to be able to deadlift a certain amount or just to do cool looking shit for Instagram, but what is happening to the inside of the body from all of the dieting and over training? Nothing good that’s for sure! Unhealthy people are spreading an unhealthy mentality around health and fitness. It’s not their fault, they only know what they know, like I only knew what I knew back then.
I still remember when I was working in a big gym in Sydney and I was starting to ‘wake up’ to all of the over-training and dieting, not working for true health. One of the trainers asked me if I’d trained today and I said that I’d gone for a walk. He laughed and said ‘that’s not training’ and walked off. If we get down to the finer details, he was right – it wasn’t ‘training’ as such, but it was movement, healthy movement for what I needed that day. Yet I felt ashamed for not smashing myself as was expected.

After I moved away from Sydney and away from the big gyms I was able to fully adopt a much more healthy training style and to actually heal my body. I learned how to eat to nourish my body, how to train and not end up with a debilitating headache, I learned why I was getting recurring shoulder pain (my food and gut health!) and best of all, I learned how to rest and not to feel guilty about it. Well, sometimes I still struggle with this one, but remember – I was an addict and those habits die hard.

The point that I’m making is that a lot of the industry that is teaching health and fitness is actually sick and unwell themselves. Yes ,they look great, they are ripped, they have abs, they can do pull ups, but often they have poor immune function, they get recurring pain or injuries due to poor connective tissue and poor organ function, they have terrible gut health due to not eating a variety of foods and they take a shit tonne of supplements just to feel good because they are starving themselves of actual nutrients. This isn’t health or fitness, it is sick fit. Making yourself sick to look fit.

I was compelled to write this as I am getting more and more clients come to me in adrenal fatigue, having recurring injuries or just a poor mindset about what health and fitness actually is. They’re training 6 days a week at a high intensity and they’re coming to me looking like a burnt piece of toast. (Paul Cheks term, I can’t claim that one, lol)

Health and fitness is:

  • Being healthy not only on the outside but on the inside too
  • Having a healthy immune system
  • Having good digestion
  • Not dieting, but eating to give your body energy and to have incredible health
  • Having a healthy mindset about yourself and about training
  • Training well and resting well too
  • Training to get results but also knowing when to back off to get results
  • Sleeping well
  • Managing your stress levels
  • Having other ways to move that are not limited to a gym
True health FEELS INCREDIBLE and it makes you FEEL UNSTOPPABLE. You can look after yourself and still have energy for life. You can move your body daily and not absolutely drain yourself of energy and best of all you can do this and still get results! Whether that is fat loss that you need, improved muscle tone or just to feel strong as fuck. Health and fitness is achieved with a balanced approach.

Our body is always communicating with us in different ways but the simplest way it is showing you if you’re on the right path is;

  • Good energy
  • Good immune function (not getting colds and flu)
  • Good POOP
  • Good sleep
  • Not feeling in a constant state of stress
  • Healthy period (no pain, moodiness, bloating, booby soreness, extreme fatigue)
  • No recurring pain in the body (there are exceptions to this of course)
  • Good moods
  • Good response to exercise
The best advice that I can give you is to pay attention to your body and the little signs that it gives you. It is always telling us if we need to be giving it more attention or just a different type of attention. It speaks to us in all of the ways listed above.

Listen to the whispers or you will be forced to hear the screams.

Learn how to train better, not necessarily harder, and that will be different to every body as we are all unique. Learn how to eat to fuel and to heal your body. Learn how to reduce the stressors that wreak havoc on your health.

Lastly if you do need help learning a better way to look after your body in a much more balanced approach, reach out. It is my goal to help as many people as possible to heal themselves through health and fitness and to not only chase, but to live their dream life.

Healing Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup is so easy to make and this one tastes delicious is packed full of health benefits and will nip any cold in the bud!

You’ll need:

  • A free range whole chicken
  • 1 onion
  • 1-2 carrots
  • A few stalks of celery
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 swede
  • 1 – 2 potatoes depending on how many veggies you like
  • Herbamere salt (Coles or Woollies health food section or health food shop) Can use regular celtic or hymalayan salt
  • Butter
  • Spring water
  • Bunch of parsley
  • Garlic

Dice the onion, and chop carrot and celery. Heat some butter in a large pot and add the onion, carrot and celery and saute for about 4 minutes. 

Add the chicken to the pot and cover with water. Add 20 shakes of herbamere and a large handful of chopped parsley. Bring it to the boil and then turn it down to simmer for 30mins. Add the rest of the vegetables chopped and simmer for another 30minutes.

Then take the cooked chicken out and pull off all of the meat and chop it up to add back to the soup.

Serve topped with a minced fresh garlic clove. I love garlic so I put 2 or 3 on mine!! Garlic is fantastic for speeding up your metabolism too and is antimicrobial, anti-fungal! 

This will keep you healthy and warm in the winter months! 

Enjoy!

This is me…

It’s time I shared the REAL story. 

Exercise saved my life. 

I thought I’d fill you all in on the full story of my past. The dirty dark side because it shaped me to be the strong and powerful woman you see here today. 

I wasn’t born into a fit and healthy family. I had quite a challenging childhood in fact. To say it wasn’t easy would be an understatement. At the time I didn’t know any different of course but when I share stories of my life I often get strange looks, and when I hear stories about others, I came to the conclusion that my life was a little different. This is not a sob story, but one of strength and power to overcome the hand I’d been dealt.

My father was/is an alcoholic and when I was young he sexually abused me. Many times. It got to a point that when we were at school we learned about sexual abuse and learnt how to yell NO. I still remember this class very clearly. The next time it happened, I yelled NO. And it stopped. At that moment I saved myself from the immediate threat, but it lead to an adolescence filled with escapism and self loathing. 

I didn’t tell anybody at the time because you just don’t, you feel ashamed and somehow like it’s your fault and think that nobody will believe you anyway, so I lived with it hidden for many years. I would have nightmares as a child, I was accused of not concentrating at school or of being a day dreamer as my teachers would write in my report cards. I was never diagnosed with anything but with what I know now, I think that I may have been suffering from some kind of PTSD or depression or both? 

In my 20’s I found relief……….in drugs. It started out as what you would consider just being a party girl. I lived every week planning the next party and survived through the week on a cocktail of cigarettes, and Redbull. I loved drugs because they made me feel free. They gave me confidence, strength, they made me feel happy and they made me forget about everything painful. I felt calm. I felt at ease. I loved nothing more than getting wasted, then all of a sudden Saturday nights turned into Sunday mornings and they turned into Sunday nights. Then Fridays too and then Wednesdays, because I couldn’t wait all week. 

It got to the point where the high was never enough and I would keep climbing, keep going for days because I didn’t want to face my life. On the outside I was always bubbly, happy, making jokes but on the inside I was hurting. I hated who I was, I just wanted to be the happy, confident and free Hayley, and drugs gave me that feeling. 

So I took more and more until one day I was hospitalised for a reaction to a pill. I had been up for so many days and had taken so many drugs that I started fitting, until my friend took me to hospital and they filled me up with enough valium to sink a ship, until I finally stopped fitting and then slept for a long time. Days in fact. I was in hospital for the week until they let me out. Wake up call? Not yet…. I wasn’t done. 

The definition of addiction – addiction is a condition in which a person engages in use of a substance or in a behavior for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behavior despite detrimental consequences. 

So I guess I was an addict? 

The very next weekend I did it all again, and again, and again. Until one day a friend came to visit me and we went out for the weekend. When she got home she told me that she had cried for 2 hours on the way home because she was so worried about me. Then I changed. I saw the effect it had on my friend and thought ‘I must be fucked up’. To change, you need to feel ashamed, you need to feel somewhat disgusted at what you’ve become, you need to feel the pain of staying the same, and I finally did. 

I took myself away from Sydney and everything that would tempt me to take drugs. I even then took myself overseas to finally travel, something I’d wanted to do for years. I then lived and worked overseas for 5 years and in that time I found fitness and became a PT. I have no doubt that I used exercise as a new addiction in the beginning, something to take the pain away and something to give me a high, but it also changed my life. 

I had finally found something that made me stronger, that made me walk taller, that made me feel amazing and that built my mental strength as much as physical. 

Over the 10 years since I found fitness I have built myself up, everyday. I still have days and weeks where life is tough, we all do. But there are less and less of these. Every week you get stronger, you get better, you can handle more, and it hurts less until it doesn’t hurt at all.

Training to me is something that brings out the best in you, it certainly brings up some shit along the way that’s for sure, but if I didn’t find fitness I honestly don’t know where I’d be. 

I am no longer ashamed to tell you this as I am so incredibly proud of how far I have come in my life and I am proud of how many obstacles that I have faced along the way. I just felt so compelled to tell you all this finally, because if it inspires one person to face their demons then my work is done. I feel like I have just stripped naked in front of you, bearing it all but I still wanted to show you. 

This is me. 

Back pain and some not so obvious causes

Working with many young men and women I am finding that too many are having back injuries or weakness of the back muscles at a very young age. I thought i’d outline some possible causes of back pain and injuries and also share my own experience.

My Experience

I had a slipped disk 2 years ago which has only healed as of this year. Slipped or bulging disks usually take 2 years to heal properly. At the time of the injury, my doctor was very thorough in having me do a MRI scan. On having the scan we saw that my disk was pressing on my spinal cord causing a considerable amount of pain, and sciatica (nerve pain down the leg as a result of pressure on the sciatic nerve). My GP told me I should see a surgeon to consider an operation. An operation? Seriously?  I was 30 years old and the last thing I needed was an operation which would eliminate me from being able to do allot of normal activities and exercises in years to come. I asked the doctor for options and he reluctantly passed me onto a Physiotherapist. He also advised that if I couldn’t feel 80% better within a month to see the surgeon. Challenge accepted! I spent the next month doing physio exercises and stretches and changing my usual exercise routine. No more heavy leg sessions and no more barbell squats! It took time, setbacks, a few more massages than normal, a lot of Voltaren and great amount of perseverance but NO SURGERY!

The point to my story is, look at your options. I do believe that Dr’s have a place and are very useful, but I also believe that all too often that diet and exercise is pushed aside. Or heavy pain killers are easily passed out. Pain killers will mask your pain, not improve the cause.

Here are a few possible causes of back pain:

1- Dehydration – Up to 80% of back injuries are caused by dehydration. When dehydrated, our muscles can become tight and collect lactic acid. What happens when muscles are tight is they pull on bones that they are attached to, and boom, injury! So if you suffer from back pain, try increasing your water intake. It may not be an instant improvement and may take up to a month to notice changes but it’s cheap and will improve your health if nothing else.

2 – Belly Button Rings – I know this one sounds strange but I also had a belly button ring and i’ve now taken it out and my back and core strength have improved. Metals are conductive and also excite the autonomic nervous system, causing organs to become inflamed and confused. This then can cause the core muscles to switch off or not work properly. Weak core leads to back pain or injury. It’s not a coincidence that many girls with belly piercings have also got back injuries. If you have a belly button ring, test taking it out and exercising and see the difference in your core strength. You may also notice that any digestion issues that you have will improve too. Cheap metals can also seep into the body and cause heavy metal poisoning which is even worse and can take years to fix. If you really can’t live without your piercing, just put it in for special occasions and use non conductive rings.

3 – Tight muscles surrounding the back – Tightness or inflexibility of the hips, hamstrings and calves lead to back pain and in time injury. These could also be caused by the dehydration that we spoke about earlier, or just from being inactive. Many people these days have jobs where they need to sit at a desk for long durations. This causes the muscles of the hips to shorten and the back muscles become tight. Good news is that these can all be fixed by including a good stretch program into your daily routine. If you have tight muscles causing an imbalance in the body, you need to spend time each day stretching them to improve the overall balance. Also, get up from your desk regularly and go for a walk.

4 – Muscle weakness – As sitting down causes tightness, it also causes weakness in other muscles. Glute (aka your BUTT) and core weakness is also a common cause of back pain and injury. When we sit down our core muscles go ahhh, i’m off shift. So again this can be fixed by including Core and Glute strengthening into your exercise routine. Functional exercises like squats, glute bridges and lunges are a great addition to a weak glute complex. Lying clam shell exercises are a favourite of mine to improve the glute mead which can get a little lazy too.

5 – Poor posture – Hunching or slouching can lead to back pain. Think of all of your muscles being connected. They all meet somehow through another, so if one is weak it will cause another to work more. So weak upper back muscles cause us to lean forward and puts stress on the lower back. Again this can be fixed by including strength exercises for the core and upper back muscles. Rows or a move where you are pulling a weight towards you help to strengthen the back. Usually combined with weak upper back is a tight chest. This can also be caused by leaning over a desk all day. Again, get up, stretch and move!

6 – Stress – A major contributor to illness and injuries is stress. Lower back pain can often become worse when having money issues in particular. When stressed we tend to breathe less or shallower. Breathing less lowers the oxygen provided to the body and increases the buildup of biochemical waste products in the muscles. As we spoke about before, this causes inflammation and your core muscles don’t work as they should. Stress can be managed. You can’t always change your situation, but you can change your reaction to it. Ways to decrease stress. Take a 20minute walk, meditate, play your favourite music, exercise, get beck to nature and take your shoes off to feel the ground, talk to someone who can help or do any of your favourite stress free activities including a glass of wine if that helps YOU.

7 – Inactivity – Often when we have an injury we think we need to do nothing so it heals. People become afraid to do normal daily activities for fear of worsening the injury. This often leads to inactivity which causes a certain amount of atrophy in the muscle, when in fact those muscles really need strengthening. If you don’t use it, you lose it! A good exercise program written by an exercise professional will not only improve your atrophic muscles but also get you back doing your normal activities and maybe even more than you did before!

I hope this helps explain some of the possible causes of back pain and injury. Reading these articles will only help if you take the information and try it out for yourself. Most of the things I have listed you can try straight away, so get up, get moving, stretch, breathe and fill your water bottles!

Hayley