It used to be said that getting a sports massage will help to flush out your 'lactic acid build up' in your muscles”.
Well, I am here to tell you that, this statement should have left our mouths years ago and in fact, everyone should all think of lactic acid as our ‘back up’ fuel source.
If we look at basic physiology, massage is unable to squeeze out the lactic acid from our muscles because lactic acid is recycled within our bodies as part of an important energy process called glycolysis.
Let’s look at an example. Say you raced your friend to the car.
Due to the speed you run, your muscles would be screaming out for oxygen to help keep up with the energy demand, but because your body could not get enough oxygen in – lactic acid was produced.
Where does lactic acid come from?
On a cellular level, there is a process called glycolysis, which helps to convert glucose into energy. Glucose will turn into pyruvate acid. If no oxygen is available pyruvate acid ferments and converts to lactic acid - called anaerobic metabolism. This lactic acid is your ‘back up’ fuel system. When you first start to sprint within 6 seconds, any energy stored in the muscle depletes, a 10 seconds window where muscle will use any available creatine to make energy and then around 30-40 seconds glucose stored in the muscles will be broken down into pyruvate and due to the lack of oxygen, it will undergo fermentation and be converted into lactic acid which will provide you with a couple of minutes more of energy to get you there quicker than your friend.
When the sprint ended and you go to the car, you would have found your body trying to get as much oxygen in as possible - this is called EPOC - Excess Postexercise oxygen consumption - aka I NEED OXYGEN! Once the oxygen becomes replenished in your muscles, your breathing rate slows down and then repayment begins.
What happens to lactic acid?
Any lactic acid circulating in the blood which was not used for energy is readily then converted back to pyruvate acid in the muscles and enter the pay as you go system - the aerobic pathway, where tonnes of energy is produced for body function. Even typing this I am using this pathway.
You can now see that lactic acid does not linger in our muscles and that in fact it gets recycled back into pyruvate to enter the aerobic pathway where there is plenty of oxygen or the liver may convert it back to be stored as glycogen, only to be release if blood sugar levels are low.
How can relaxation massage help with anxiety and stress?
I’m sure we all know the flight or fight response – (technically it's a sympathetic nervous system that jumps into action). Your body provides a bit (or a lot) of adrenaline which gets your heart rate going a bit faster; sometimes we may sweat, and we become more alert and at the ready. This inbuilt protection mechanism is valid for reacting to dangerous situations such as getting out of the way of an oncoming bus quick smart. But we sometimes keep in this state - this dis-ease of being busy – is it becoming the 'norm’?
Continuous circles of stress to situations such as; I must have this in by this deadline; I have emails I have yet to respond to; whoops there goes the phone; arrghhh I am late for the school run/doctors/work; the baby keeps crying and I can’t do anything to help; or my mind can’t slow down and I am constantly onto the next thing. What if your doing too much training and your performance is beginning to decline?
I’m not 70, I’m 18 with 52 years of experience” – Anon
If you’re a person of this age, then you would have seen many things come and go through life, including changes within your body.
We have found our 18 year olds with 52 years’ experience to be our most endearing and well respected clients, and we always look forward to their interaction – especially the stories we are told.
You see touch and physical contact is still important to people, and it is something that can be lost quite quickly especially when living in isolation. We care about making sure you are doing OK and want to know what is going on for you and if we can assist with gentle massage.
It is well known that exercise can help with the management of chronic pain, but it is often met with uncertainty of what to do. Sometimes homework given in the form of physical activity just does not happen. So when the words, "you must do these exercises" come out of the mouth of health professionals, what goes through your mind?
Being prescribed exercises for your rehabilitation are given from Health professionals who have the best interests at heart - they want you to get better. But what happens if there is a mismatch?
As the weather gets warmer, so does the aim to get out and about and ENJOY the weather! If you have taken to hibernation this winter the best advice is ‘steady as she goes’ – gradually building your fitness up over time is the key to reducing injury. When you are starting out on an exercise regime it is a good idea to know how to appropriately load the body so that it can adapt to the increased forces you are now asking of it.
Load does not just mean the amount of weights you lift, it also can be the amount of activity you do a week, how long you do it for (duration), how fast or slow you do it (speed) and we also have to remember adequate rest – the most important part of load management where you make your biggest gains.
If you suffer from things such as cardiovascular issues or you are new to exercise? It is always a good idea to check in with the doctor and get a W.O.F before embarking on any exercise programme.
Your pain is real, 100%. When acute injuries occur we now understand danger messages are sent through to the spinal cord and up to your brain. It is here your brain evaluates “how dangerous is this really” and if the brain believes it is dangerous enough it will have the outcome of pain and will conclude you need to do
something about it – taking action to protect that area.
Becoming more sensitive
Some pain can be considered an ‘everyday’ experience. For example, let’s look at a netball player, they can have an overzealous contact with another player to contest the ball, which can send them spiraling onto the court straight onto their hip or, a weird catch of the ball could have really hurt a finger or thumb. Despite these ‘hurts’ they would have shrugged it off and continued to play on.
How we come to feel and experience pain
In Part 1 we touched on the necessity of pain and how it is essential to our survival – our own alarm system which lets us know we have been hurt somewhere on our body.
We all know when we experience pain it is an unpleasant experience but did you know it is also a sensory and emotional experience.
Pain is an unpleasant experience, even more so when it becomes persistent.
You may not like experiencing pain but the reality is pain’s a normal part of life and is essential to our survival. Pain occurs when the brain perceives damage or there is a threat of damage to the body and it wants action.
Our school children are now into full swing of term. As parents, caregivers and teachers we need to be cautious and continually monitoring our children's school bag. Primary school aged children are at risk the most and by carrying a heavy load it becomes detrimental to their health and their growing bodies.
Majority of school bags will contain a lunch box, water bottle, textbook/books, portable devices, maybe some sports gear it all starts to add up, so it comes as no surprise school bags can reach OVERLOAD quite quickly.
Why so important?
If the school bag is heavier than 20-30% of the child there is increased stress on growing muscles and spinal ligaments (which are not fully developed until 16 years old). If your child has to hunch over then this position reduces their lung volume - resulting in less air, shallow breathing and ultimately adoption of poor breathing mechanics.
What is ideal?
The “ideal load” is suggested within the range of 10-15% of child's body weight. For example a 20.1 kilograms (kg) child should carry no more than 2 kgs and a 42 kg child no more than 4.2kg.
What to look for?
Red shoulders from the shoulder straps
Complaints - 'my neck hurts', 'my back hurts'.
Walking hunched over, looking up placing strain on the neck. Headaches.
How to manage it?
Evaluate your child's pack