Is it safe to exercise when you have the cold/flu?

With winter here, it is that time of the year for the cold and flu season. Getting sick and taking time off of training / exercise can be a real setback for anyone who has put in the hard work throughout the year in achieving their fitness goals.

The question often arises, ‘how do I know if training will make me even more sick’? A general rule is the “neck check”. If you have symptoms in the head or throat, it should be ok to do light / moderate intensity exercise. If the symptoms are below the neck, it is best to rest.

Following the neck check rule, you can exercise when suffering from:

 

  • Runny / stuffy nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Mild headache
  • Mild sore throat

It is important to remember that you need to keep the intensity to moderate. Do not try and attempt a record weight or perform reps to fatigue. Stay hydrated and ensure adequate rest after exercise.

 

 

Avoid exercising when suffering from these below the neck symptoms:

  • Chest congestion
  • Nausea
  • Fever/chills
  • Coughing up mucus
  • Joint/muscular aches
  • Diarrhea

The benefit of exercising throughout the winter months – it helps to prevent respiratory infections. A 2012 study from Barret et al, found that moderate aerobic exercise of 30-45 minutes duration can half the risk for respiratory infections. Examples of exercises can be walking, running or cycling. So one of the best preventative techniques for avoiding the cold/flu this winter is to get moving!

  1. Meditation or Exercise for Preventing Acute Respiratory Infection: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Barrett et al. Ann Fam MedJuly/August 2012 10 no. 4 337-346

Mitchell Roberts – Chiropractor

The 3 best exercises to prevent low back pain

A question I often get asked in clinic is what are the best exercises to perform to prevent low back pain. The below exercises are my ‘go-to’ for prevention of low back pain. They have been termed ‘The McGill big 3’ – named after the researcher Stuart McGill.

Stuart McGill is a spinal biomechanics researcher from The University of Waterloo, Canada. These role of these 3 exercises is to create spinal stability and endurance – which is essential for creating a stable foundation for the lower back.

The exercises aim to tighten up the front and sides of the core, while supporting the spine and remove gravity from the equation. The exercises are of a low intensity and are safe to perform.

Curl up – 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Bird dog – 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Side bridge – 3 sets of 8-10 seconds holds, each side.

If the above rep scheme is too hard, you can always modify it by reducing the number of reps and work your way up to the noted rep scheme.

It is also recommended to do these exercises before training as well, as it has shown to tighten and stiffen the core post performing them.

Perform these exercises once a day, not into pain. If you do have questions, pain or discomfort when performing these exercises, come in and see us and we can either correct your technique or advise you on alternative exercises.

 

References:

McGill, S.M. (1997) The biomechanics of low back injury: Implications on current practice in industry and the clinic. J. Biomech. 30: 465-475.
McGill, S.M., Low Back Disorders: Evidence based prevention and rehabilitation, Human Kinetics Publishers, Champaign, Illinois, 2002.

Mitchell Roberts – Chiropractor 

Exercising into pain with a chronic injury?

A recent systemic review and meta-analysis titled “Should exercises be painful in the management of chronic musculoskeletal pain?” by Smith et al 2017 was published. It looked at exactly what is mentioned in the title, should it hurt when performing rehabilitation exercises. This is a very common question I get when in clinic and prescribing exercises.

The findings as listed in the paper:

· Protocols using exercises into pain for chronic musculoskeletal pain offer a small but significant benefit over pain free exercises in the short term

· Adults with musculoskeletal pain can achieve significant improvements in patient reported outcomes with varying degrees of pain experiences and post recovery time with therapeutic exercise

· Pain during therapeutic exercise for chronic musculoskeletal pain need not be a barrier to successful outcomes

· Protocols using exercises into pain typically have higher loads and dose of exercise

So the short answer is yes! Exercising into pain is OK if you have a chronic injury.

The theory behind why exercising into pain being beneficial is that it effects the central nervous system. The exercises address psychological factors behind chronic pain, that being fear avoidance behaviours. When we have chronic pain, our movement patterns are different – due to the subconscious mind/nervous system tightening up and restricting/guarding against movements.

Therefore, by moving/exercising into pain, it tells the brain that the tissues are OK and that by progressing it is not causing damage to the tissues. A hurdle that is often hard to overcome in chronic pain is that pain does not equal tissue damage.

Please note, that this research is into chronic musculoskeletal pain (lasting greater than 3 months), not acute pain. Consult with your health care professional before starting an exercise rehabilitation program.

 

Smith BE, Hendrick P, Smith TO, et al. Should exercises be painful in the management of chronic musculoskeletal pain? A systematic review and meta-analysis
Br J Sports Med Published Online First: 08 June 2017. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097383

http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2017/07/12/bjsports-2016-097383

 

Mitchell Roberts – Chiropractor