Running Diaries #2 Glencullen

They say the best laid plans often go awry, and that’s certainly been the case with my New Years Resolution. Caring for our newborn son has turned our family life upside-down, which has made getting out for my weekly run that little bit harder.

Run #2 – The Climb to Johnnie Fox’s
My run today took me on Ballyedmonduff Road (just above Stepaside Village) up towards the aforementioned pub, and it was a miserable, cold, wet Irish day! The climb to this famous spot, allegedly the highest pub (by altitude) in Ireland, required me to conquer some lungbusting hills both on the way up and on the way back down. Hill running is one of the best ways to improve your lung capacity, so if you’re finding yourself in need of fresh air, why not give this run a try! 

Flynn Tip #3 – Goal Achievement

When you’re trying to change your  own behaviour and routine, it pays to stick with it. The research data clearly shows that smokers who are trying to quit smoking are much more likely to succeed if they keep trying to quit. It doesn’t matter how many times they fail, each time they try again, they are a bit more likely to succeed. I know from my work that the same is true for establishing an exercising routins, so remember to always get back on the horse! 

  • AVOID trying to make up for the time you missed. Those weeks/months you missed are gone, and they’re not coming back. Try instead to simply stick to your original plan and start fresh. Punishing yourself for failure will never bring you to success.  
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4 Tips to Help you Exercise More

“Exercise is medicine, take if everyday!”

This is something I’m always telling my patients in the clinic. It’s vital that we start thinking of exercise as something that we have to do everyday, rather than something that’s purely fun and/or weather dependent and/or only for people who want to compete in sports or athletics. Have you ever set out on a new exercise frenzy, wanting to become super-fit, only to have your regime fall apart after a few short days or weeks? Its ok, you’re only human and none of us are robots! Implementing these tips the next time you start a new exercise regime will help you stick with it longer and enjoy it more as well.

Diary Make an Appointment

1. Plan your Weekly Regime

People who plan to do something are more likely to do it. Planning doesn’t just involve thinking about something, you also need to write it down somewhere you’re going to see it – be that in your phone calendar, in your diary or on a piece of paper stuck to your fridge! What you write down shouldn’t be that long or detailed, just a brief synopsis of what you’ll be doing to exercise. You also need to write down when you’re going to do the exercise. Example: ‘Monday: Walk the park before work’, ‘Tuesday: Run to the shop and back after dropping the kids to school’, or ‘Wednesday: Cycle to Jane’s house and back after dinner’. When you plan like this, the subconscious part of the brain processes your plan in advance, so you’re more mentally prepared when you go to do your exercise.

2. Variety is the Spice of Life!

Particularly when it comes to exercising (and also healthy eating), variety is crucial in maintaining your regime long-term. Repeating the same exercise session over and over is boring, and it doesn’t have to be! Switching between different types of exercise not only makes your sessions more interesting, it also challenges different areas of the body, and you’re less likely to get injured. For these reasons, even the most focused of athletes need to vary their exercise sessions.

3. Entertainment During your Exercise

If you’re entertained during your exercise session, you’ll exercise for longer and enjoy it more, I guarantee it. Entertainment can take many forms, it’s a case of choosing whatever works for you. Exercising with a friend, spouse or offspring is one example; the conversation and company helps pass the time. You can also exercise either while listening to podcasts, music playlists or watching your favourite TV show(s). I personally like to exercise while watching/listening to rugby matches! This is one of the reasons why exercising outdoors is better than exercising indoors on a machine, because there’s entertainment everywhere you look outdoors!

4. Start Slow, Small Increments

  • How hard is too hard? 

When (re)starting a new regime, of course you want to push yourself as hard as you can, primarily to see results as quickly as possible. STOP, don’t do it, this is a mistake! In order to gain the medical benefits of regular exercise, you need to be pushing yourself only so hard that you’re moderately out of breath i.e. so you have to breath through your mouth. It’s at that point that you’re challenging your cardiovascular system sufficiently for your fitness to improve.

  • How long is too long?

It’s also important not to push yourself too far into discomfort – remember that exercising for 5 minutes per day is better than no exercise at all. I recommend that you keep going until you’re really not enjoying the session anymore, and then try and hang on for another 2-3 minutes. Exercising for 5-10 minutes every day is better for your health than exercising for 40 minutes one day each week, because you’re challenging your cardiovascular system every day. You’re also more likely to keep it up long term!

health is priceless poster

5. Appropriate Clothing & Gear

If you’re like me and live in Ireland, then you’re used to wet weather. Often when you go to exercise outdoors, it’ll either be raining already or there’s a good chance it could start at any moment. Wearing comfortable, waterproof clothing can make exercising in the rain actually enjoyable, as opposed to sheer misery. Getting yourself a good pair of appropriate footwear is also highly advised. Getting welts or blisters will end your new exercise regime pretty quickly, so I advise investing in a good pair of Asics running shoes. You can find some good deals online for these types of things if you shop around!

That’s all for today, but if you live in the Dublin 18 area, why not get your exercise needs taken care of at Flynn Medical Exercise? I’ve got a variety of exercise classes and groups running 5 days each week. You’ll be tutored by a professional and meet like-minded people at the same time! Get in contact with me for more information! And remember…

“Exercise is medicine, take if everyday!”

Sean Flynn

Chartered Physiotherapist

 

Principles on Weight Reduction and How I Apply them to my Patients

Everywhere you look there’s theories, fads and quick solutions regarding the quickest and most effective ways to lose weight. It can be extremely difficult to wade through all of it and come up with a weight loss programme for yourself, especially if you’re not a health care professional. As an experienced chartered physiotherapist, weight management falls directly into my area of expertise. I’ve been researching and applying my knowledge about weight loss since the days of my college thesis, and I’m going to tell you how I approach my patients who need to lose weight.

Postural Muscle Strengthening

If you’re carrying extra weight, chances are that you’ve experienced some associated lower back pain and/or knee pain. The primary benefit of strengthening your postural muscles is that it will reduce this pain.  When I say postural muscles, I’m mainly talking about your abdominal muscles, the muscles at the back of your hips, your thigh muscles and the muscles around your shoulder blades. Stronger muscles are able to bear more weight and consequently your joints have less weight to bear. You’ll feel less aches and pains which in turn will make it easier to exercise. It’s a win win.

4 pt core Opposite

The secondary benefit of strengthening these postural muscles is that there will be an increase in your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR refers to the amount of calories that your body is spending every day to maintain the muscle you already have. The bigger your muscles are, the more calories that will be spent in this way. Therefore postural muscle strengthening will help you burn more calories and thus lose weight

Bridging

Exercise Intensity Determined by Heart Rate

In the absence of any severe heart conditions, your heart rate is the most accurate indication of how hard your body is working to perform a particular exercise. When designing and leading individual weight management sessions, I lead patients to work at 80% of their Estimated Maximum Heart Rate (EMHR) for short periods of time: roughly 20 minutes. If you’re reaching that heart rate goal, then you’re burning enough calories to lose weight, and exercising for 20 minutes is psychologically much easier than exercising for 60 minutes. It’s also much easier to fit into your daily schedule, which is a big factor as well.

Shop for Heart Rate Monitors on Amazon.co.uk:

Exercise Test Image.jpg

Direct, Physiotherapy-Led Sessions

One of the hardest things to do when you’re trying to lose weight is to choose your exercises. If you’re on your own or searching online, chances are you’ll end up with a repetitive regime of exercises, and even the most effective exercise can get boring after a couple of sessions. To combat that, I lead my patients directly through each session, so all they have to do is show up. I monitor their heart rate continuously, and modify the exercises as needed to increase or decrease intensity. I individually design each exercise programme tailored to that patient’s history of aches and pains as well as their physical ability. So all my patients have to do is follow my lead.

No Shortcuts

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, then there are no shortcuts. The most natural way to lose that weight is to burn those calories off. If you want to become a patient of mine, give me a call, text or email. You can come for a no-obligation fitness assessment where you’ll meet me, do a simple exercise test and talk about what my Weight Management Approach could do for you. I give every 6th individual weight loss session free, and I charge €50 per session. No gimmicks, just hard work and well earned results. Are you ready?

Seán Flynn

Senior Physiotherapist

PH: 0861546175

Email: info@flynnmedicalexercise.com

So What is Medical Exercise & Why is it Important For Me?

We all know we need to exercise more, but everyone has different ideas about what actually counts as exercise. Most of us don’t know how to exercise effectively, in a way that we’re actually improving our fitness or losing weight. I’m hoping this article will begin to explain the idea of ‘Medical Exercise’ and how it can improve the efficiency of your exercise.

What Counts as Exercise?

Before we start talking about exercise, we need to speak briefly about Physical Activity. Physical activity includes all the bodily movements you perform throughout your day like walking to your car or lifting the groceries. Some people perform a lot of physical activity in their day whereas others perform very little.

Exercise, on the other hand, is just one form of physical activity. Exercise is planned, structured and repetitive (Public Health Reports, 1985). You do exercise deliberately, not by accident. Going out for a walk, playing a sport or lifting weights all count as exercise. Walking up the stairs to get your phone, however tired you might feel afterward, doesn’t count.

health is priceless poster.jpg

How is Exercise a Medicine?

Exercise is a medicine because it can treat and prevent illness, injury or disease. Exercises which involve repetitive contact with the ground (like running, walking, step-ups and jumping) can help prevent Osteoporosis – a disease in which your bones become fragile and weakened. Performing regular exercises that stretch your shoulder joint can help prevent Frozen Shoulder, which is a painful injury characterised by gradually decreasing range of motion in your shoulder joint.

Performing exercise with your whole body challenges your cardiovascular system to supply enough blood (which is carrying energy, oxygen and water among other things) to your entire body. Improving your fitness means that your body gets better at delivering these nutrients to your working muscles, and that your muscles get more efficient at using them to do work. Exercises that work your whole body include swimming, running, cross-trainers and my Aerobic Theraband Exercise classes. A fitter, more efficient cardiovascular system is less likely to experience a cardiac event, like a heart attack.

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What’s the Correct Dosage of this Exercise Medicine?

As with almost all forms of medication, different people require different dosages to experience the positive benefits. Our weight, muscle strength, exercise history, diet and metabolism all play a role in determining how much exercise you individually need to improve fitness and prevent illness, injury or disease. When deciding how much exercise you need, we need to consider two factors:

  1. How long (time) you should exercise.
  2. How hard (intensity) you should exercise.

Time is easily measured with a stopwatch. Intensity, however, is more difficult to measure. In my Individual Exercise Sessions, I measure exercise intensity by constantly monitoring my patient’s heart rate. I then steadily increase the intensity of the exercise until my patient’s heart rate reaches the agreed target amount, usually around 80% of their Estimated Maximum Heart Rate. Then we sustain that intensity for 25-30 minutes.

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Where can I get My Own Exercise Prescription?

As a medical exercise therapist (and a qualified physiotherapist), I specialise in offering fitness testing services to my patients. Depending on your physical ability, we carry out either a walking or a running fitness test on the treadmill with constant heart rate and oxygen level monitoring. I then assess the results, go through them with you step-by-step, and show you how hard you should be exercising to see the results you want, whatever those might be. This test is a great way to see a snapshot of your fitness level right now as well as measure your progress in improving your fitness over time. You can find out more information by calling me on PH: 0861546175 or emailing me on: info@flynnmedicalexercise.com. I take appointments Monday to Saturday in my Blackglen Clinic, and I look forward to helping you feel better soon.

Seán Flynn

Senior Physiotherapist

5 Tips to Managing Chronic Lower Back Pain

Do you experience an ache in your lower back either some or all the time? Aches and pains in our lower back is something that will affect most of us at some stage during the course of our lives. So many more of our jobs and hobbies involve chronic sitting nowadays, which is a contributing factor for the majority of us. Want to learn some quick and easy tips that might help keep that back pain at bay? Well then keep reading!

1. Aerobic Exercise

It’s official: the cheapest and easiest way to dampen down these long-term back aches is to take regular aerobic exercise. In research from as recent as May 2015, aerobic exercise has been shown to diminish pain and improve physiological and psychological functioning in people with chronic lower back pain. Walking, jogging, running, sports and swimming are all possible ways to get this exercise. With any of these, you should aim to elevate your heart rate considerably, to approximately 130-160 beats per minute. If you don’t elevate your heart rate enough, you won’t experience the beneficial effects we’re looking for, so don’t be afraid to pick up the pace!

For information on exercise fitness testing, including getting your individual heart rate targets, click here!

For information on our signature Aerobic Theraband Classes which address all your aerobic fitness requirements, click here.

 

2. Stretch

It’s common when we assess people with chronic lower back pain to find a couple of muscles that are not as loose as they should be. The most common of these is the hamstring muscle group. Incorporating daily hamstring stretches into your regular routine is something you can easily start doing today and you might start seeing immediate results too. When doing these stretches, you should stretch the hamstrings for 30 seconds and perform stretches 3 times on each leg. You can choose either method below, I prefer the second method personally as I find it more effective.

3. Strengthen

Very often during assessment we also find that particular muscles are weaker than they should be. These muscles should be offering physical support but because they are too weak, your back is put under increased pressure. Two muscle groups in particular we look at are your Gluteal and Abdominal muscle groups. Here’s one exercise to strengthen each of these particular groups. When doing these exercises, you should aim to do them for 60-90 seconds each time, and repeat each exercise twice.

a) 4 Point Kneeling Exercise – Strengthen Abdominal Muscle Group by lifting opposite arms and legs, swapping from side to side every 5 seconds.4 pt kneel Alt UL LL Lifts

b) Bridging Exercise – Strengthen Gleuteal Muscle GroupBridging

For information on our signature Stretching & Posture Classes which address all your stretching and postural strengthening requirements, click here!

4. Posture

In the most common type of lower back pain that we see in our clinic, bending forwards and touching your toes brings on the pain. Is this the case for you? This is generally the result of spending too much time sitting down. When sitting, your hips and lumbar spine are flexed (bent) forward which is an unnatural position for them to spend long periods of time. Adopting the following positions after a long day of work can give you instant relief and dampen down the ache of your lower back pain. You can adopt this position for 25-30 minutes in the evening time, why not do it while watching your favourite evening TV show?

Prone on Elbows

5. Physiotherapy

Well yeah, of course I’m going to say that! But seriously, if you’re experiencing back pain it could be for any number of reasons, I’ve just talked about the most common form in the above article. Your physiotherapist will be able to identify the cause of your back pain and develop a targeted management plan that may involve spinal mobilisations and therapeutic massage as well as some or all of the below. If the above tips didn’t work for you, if your back pain is travelling down into your legs and/or if your experiencing neurological symptoms (pins & needles or loss of sensation) you should definitely see a physiotherapist.

To arrange an appointment with us in our Sandyford clinic, click here for details.

Cardiac Rehabilitation – What it is and Who its for!

What’s Cardiac Rehabilitation all about?

If I told you that you could prevent yourself from suffering with severe heart problems like heart attack, chest pain and heart failure, you’d be interested to hear more, wouldn’t you? I’m sure you’d be interested if I also told you that Coronary Heart Disease and Heart Attack remain the two most common causes of death in Ireland. Well, the answer is in Cardiac Rehabilitation, one of the unique services we offer here at Flynn Medical Exercise.

To read more about our Rehabilitation Programmes, click here.

We’ve all heard the term rehabilitation before – it refers to the restoration of something to it’s previous healthy state. When we talk about Cardiac Rehabilitation, we are therefore referring to the restoration of your heart function and your fitness levels to a healthy/healthier state. In the national health system, you will be referred to a public Cardiac Rehabilitation programme after surviving a heart attack, undergoing heart surgery, or possible after less serious cardiac procedures like the insertion of a stent. However, engaging in a Cardiac Rehabilitation programme before any of these events occur can be extremely effective in preventing adverse cardiac events in the first place – and as we’ve also all heard before, Prevention is Better than Cure!

What’s involved in Cardiac Rehabilitation?

Exercise Stress Test

At the core of Cardiac Rehabilitation is safe, monitored, proscribed exercise. You need to exercise your heart to get it fit again, and there’s no short cut around that. Before engaging in an exercise programme though, we first carry out what’s called an Exercise Stress Test. This type of test typically takes place on a treadmill under safe, supervised conditions, and you complete an exercise protocol that steadily increases in intensity. These tests usually take between 15 and 25 minutes, and by the end you’ll be working hard! We use these tests to determine how hard your heart is able to work without putting you in danger, and we use that to guide our exercise prescription going forward.

Exercise Therapy

Following on from your exercise stress test, we now get to the hard work. From your results, your assessing clinician (i.e. physiotherapist or doctor) will determine a suitable target heart rate for you to aim for when exercising. It’s normally between 60% and 80% of your maximum heart rate but it depends on a number of factors, including your medical history. You will then commence  a regular exercise programme where you aim to maintain your heart rate in the target range. These exercises generally take place in a clinic under supervision so that your exercise session is effective, safe and completed in full.

Who would benefit from Cardiac Rehabilitation?

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should consider engaging in a Cardiac Rehabilitation programme:

  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)
  • Heart Surgery
  • Smoking
  • Experiencing Shortness of Breath
  • Chest Pain
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Overweight and/or Obesity
  • Recovering from Surgery i.e. Heart, Orthopaedic or Transplant surgery

At Flynn Medical Exercise, our prime specialisation is in personal rehabilitation programmes, like cardiac rehabilitation. We run private, effective, individualised programmes for people just like you to get you on the road to a healthier, happier, longer life. Call us to make an appointment for an assessment today: 0861546175, or to read more about our Rehabilitation Programmes, click here. 

Why not share this article on your Facebook or Twitter account so that someone who needs this type of care might see it! Thank you in advance!

Seán Flynn is the Senior Physiotherapist with Flynn Medical Exercise, and takes patients in their Sandyford clinic. For more information on starting a personalised rehabilitation programme, why not give us a call? PH: 0861546175

Massage, Sports & Everyday Life – A Faster, Less Painful Recovery!

With the Dublin Marathon taking place this bank holiday weekend, we feel it’s appropriate to talk about the therapeutic benefits of massage after a particularly hard bout of exercise. There will be a lot of people booking in massages for Tuesday and the days afterwards to ease the pain that comes with such a massive achievement. Completing a marathon, or participating in any sport at a high level, brings with it a huge sense of achievement, but it often come at a cost: stiffness and soreness in your working muscles for weeks on end, a constant reminder of your valiant efforts.

Delayed Onset Muscle Sorness

The most common cause of this stiffness and soreness in your muscles is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), which we describe as pain that develops in muscles approximately 8-12 hours after exercise. While we remain in the dark about the exact causes, we believe that DOMS is caused by the inflammation of the muscle and surrounding tissue in response to exercise.  During all forms of strenuous exercise, your muscles are broken down and rebuilt anew – stronger and thicker than before, therefore inflammation is an inevitable part of muscle building. But that’s small comfort when your feeling stiff and uncomfortable with reduced mobility & flexibility in the days afterwards.

Where Massage Comes In

We all know that receiving a massage from someone with good hands who knows that their doing is extremely rewarding. They can release knots in your back, and make everyday aches and pains seem far far away. With specific regard to exercise, massage has been shown to reduce swelling in the working muscles after exercise, which occurs as a result of the inflammation we talked about earlier. Massage can also reduce the severity of the pain experience as a result of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness by up to 30%. Massage helps you feel a more full recovery and helps you feel that recovery faster.

Massage is not just for athletes and people pushing themselves to achieve sporting excellence. The majority of us go to bed with everyday aches and pains in our necks, our lower backs and our legs from simple everyday activities. Repetitive tasks, like the ones you do everyday, will likely tend to leave you with some muscles tight and tense, while others are left weak and loose. Massage can help loosen out those tight muscles and physiotherapy can help identify and strengthen up those weak ones. So book yourself a massage with the experts at Flynn Medical Exercise today. We do therapeutic or sports massages either in clinic or in your home – whichever you prefer. We’ll give you a special discount if you book your next one on the day, and lets face it – you deserve it after all your hard work, whether you were running a marathon, lifting weights, or just on your feet all day.