Compression wear – from the average gym goer and weekend runner, to the professional athlete. No doubt you’ve seen compression garments being worn plenty of times before. But how effective is compression wear for the non athlete? Is it just a fashion fad or is it a legitimate option for increased performance and recovery? We sat down with Australian Olympic team physio and runner Myles Burfield to discuss.
1. Are compression garments necessary for increased performance and recovery?
At the amateur level compression garments are not necessary, although they could be beneficial depending on your reasons for using them. From a recovery perspective their use is well supported in the research, and they’re used widely within the elite community for travel and improved speed of recovery post high intensity sessions. Their performance benefits are a little more controversial. Some very weak research suggests that their may be some performance benefits across a few different sports (cyclists, netballers, track athletes) although the size of the studies were small, and the improvements were not ‘statistically significant’. This means that they found small changes but after analysis it was not clear if these changes are due to true benefits from compression garments, or just natural differences between the groups (aka sampling error).
2. Are they relevant for the casual/semi casual runner, or only for professionals?
In all honesty, if you’re looking for performance benefits as a casual runner you’re unlikely to find them in your compression garments. Although one of the biggest issues for amateur athletes is they often don’t have the time or resources to do optimal recovery (massage, stretching, proper cool downs). Compression garments can really assist when used after long or hard training sessions, or especially when you are training on consecutive days. A good example for many runners would be racing on a Saturday, and then doing a long run Sunday.
3. In terms of recovery, when is the most optimal time to wear compression garments and for how long?
For recovery compression has been shown to work best when worn within 1 hour of exercising, and kept on overnight. If they are used during exercise benefits have been shown as early as 15minutes post exercise (decreased blood lactate levels in athletes wearing compression), although if you have been exercising without the garments then the priority is to cool your internal body temperature first (water immersion, rest, drinking cool water) before applying compression garments which could make it more difficult to get your body temperature down.
4. From your experience through the AIS, which brand of compression wear did you find the most effective?
The battle of the brands is mainly between 2XU and Skins, and unsurprisingly they have funded much of the research. The bottom line is that more compression gives you more benefits in circulation, although it is often less comfortable to wear for long periods. There are different levels of compression. These are measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). The higher the mmHg, the higher the compression:
8-15 mmHg = mild compression.
15-20 mmHg = moderate compression
20-30 mmHg = firm compression
30-40 mmHg = Extra firm compression
When choosing compression garments for sporting or everyday use I usually recommend moderate compression, and choosing the brand that is the most comfortable. If the garment is a good fit, and compression is applied evenly, it should feel comfortable and non-restrictive. We want increased circulation, rather than circulation blocks.
Myles Burfield was an Australian Olympic team physiotherapist at the Rio Olympics, and is also a director at Activate Health and Fitness. Myles is part of JS-PT’s network of health professionals who works with us and our clients for specialised physiotherapy needs.
Stay in shape this winter (and beyond) by incorporating some our favourites exercises we use in our programming. Some are conventional lifts, while others are variations on classics. Some will be more strength focused, while others will dial up your heart rate. Either way, start doing them now! Here we go:
1. The landmine clean and press.
An advanced full body movement focusing on power, The landmine clean and press is the perfect exercise to throw into a conditioning circuit given the amount of muscles you are working. The added rotational component makes this a go to of ours.
Once you’ve got the flow of the movement, it is actually much easier than it looks. Break it down by practising the following on the landmine attachment:
Single arm high pull.
.The pivoting of your feet by 90 degrees while changing the bar between your hands.
A single arm press.
Note: A landmine exercise refers to an angled barbell movement where one end of the barbell is on the ground (either in an attachment such as above or safely wedged into a corner of a wall/something stable).
2. The forward to reverse lunge
With added volume compared to a traditional lunge, this variation targets the quads and glutes from two different angles, and really ups your heart rate! You don’t need to add much weight to feel this lunge variation in all it’s glory. Try to go from the forward direction to reverse without your foot touching the ground in between for balance. Regarding technique, practice the following:
On the forward lunge, keep your spine in a straight line perpendicular with the ground.
On the reverse lunge, hinge/tilt forward at the hips more while maintaining a straight back.
Aim for at least 6 reps on each side (forward to reverse = 1 rep).
3. The trap bar deadlift
If you’ve been following us for a while you’ll know we love deadlifting and we will always recommend the movement, but in this case we are going to recommend the trap bar variation over the barbell for a number of reasons.
Both the barbell and trap bar deadlift help to increase hip mobility and increase strength through the posterior chain (lower and upper back, glutes, hamstring muscles), however the trap bar has less of a load on your spine due the torso being more upright. It could be a good starting point if you lack control and stability through your lower back. The neutral grip positioning of your hands (palms facing towards your body) are also much easier in terms of shoulder stability.
4. Pull Ups
Executing a pull up from a full hanging position is one of the toughest upper body exercises you can do, and requires plenty of strength through your upper back muscles, shoulders, and biceps.
Brace the glutes, keep the core tight, and envision pulling the bar towards your chest. As fitness expert and strength coach Bret Contreas says, think of the pull up/chin up as a moving plank and keep a straight line from the shoulders to the knees throughout the movement. Vary your grips and hand spacing to help improve your performance.
Also, your lats (upper back muscles which run from your shoulders to your hips) are one of the primary muscles being used in a pull up, and are key muscles of your core so strengthening them can assist in improving your squat and deadlift.
5. Goblet Squats
A much more natural squat position in comparison to a front and back squat, the goblet squat should be the starting point for all weighted squats as it allows you to set a rigid spine and perfect the balance and movement of a squat. As well as a starting point, there are benefits to programming variations of the goblet squats for people of all levels.
The goblet squat will help you improve the upright torso position that is needed for more advanced exercises (such as cleans, front and back barbell squats, amongst others), as well as being a great exercise for the quads, core, and upper back. Due to the upright torso position, this also allows for less stress through your lower back.
Mindful Eating – I’m sure you’ve heard the term, but do you feel like you’ve really grasped the concept? These days the term ‘Mindful Eating’ has somehow found its way into diet and weight loss programs around the world. Yet using mindful eating as as weight loss tool actually goes against what the practice of what mindful eating is truly about. Let’s break this down. So what is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is all about deliberately paying attention, non – judgmentally to your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations in the present moment. It’is purpose is to help free yourself of reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. It is about balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is. Ok, so how does Mindful Eating fit in?
Mindful eating involves the act of non-judgmentally acknowledging your hunger and fullness cues to guide your decisions of when to begin and finish eating foods, and eating with awareness of all of your senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. It helps to develop non-judgemental responses to food (likes, dislikes, neutral) while allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities available through food selection and preparation. It is a tool to learn which foods will best satisfy your hunger. Why is it not for weight loss?
As you can see, the core purpose of mindful eating is to eat without judgement guided by your internal hunger and fullness cues. Practicing mindful eating with the intention to lose weight means that you are entering the eating occasion with expectation and judgement – to lose weight. If those expectations aren’t met, generally feelings of failure arise – which more often than not lead back to partaking in another behaviour for weight loss – which is a classic example of the diet cycle. So how can Mindful eating help?
Eating is a behaviour and behaviour change is hard! You can follow a meal plan or pay someone to dictate to you what to eat until they are blue in the face, but at the end of day you have to learn to eat for YOU. Improving your eating behaviours is not about weighing less for a moment in time, but about learning to eat well for the rest of your life. Mindful eating can assist this in this in a number of ways:
• Reconnecting with internal physical hunger and fullness cues: We were all born with the ability to regulate our hunger and fullness internally, but as we get older and life gets busier these cues get interrupted by our environment (i.e. increased stress, working shift work, designated eating times, being preoccupied with work,). By bringing awareness to your body’s sensations around hunger and fullness, mindful eating can help you reconnect with this innate ability we are all born with.
• Reduce Non – Hungry Eating: As natural cues to hunger and fullness are explored mindful eating can help you to identify any instances of non hungry eating (i.e. eating because you are bored, stressed, depressed, lonely, procrastinating or just because it is there). Recognising these occasions is the first step to behaviour change and allows you to explore other remedies for non-hungry eating than food.
• Reduce Overeating: Awareness during eating is also key to mindfulness practice. Combined with hunger-fullness awareness this allows us to notice when a food ceases to be as palatable or as enjoyable, helping to determine when satisfaction has been reached. This is called the ‘Law of Diminishing Pleasure’.
• Increase confidence around foods we feel powerless around: We all have them, those foods that we don’t keep in the house because we don’t trust ourselves around them. Avoidance is a short term solution but long term it’s important to feel confident that you can be around certain foods without going crazy. When eating for ‘pleasure’ over ‘fuel’ – which is totally ok to do, practicing mindful eating can help us to determine when our pleasure/sensory needs have been fulfilled. For example you may buy a chocolate bar because you genuinely feel like it – in the past you might eat the whole bar because it is there, using mindful eating you may find that just half the bar satisfies you – or you may not! Only you can determine this.
How can I be a more a mindful eater? Here are 5 ways you can start with now:
Write a definition of your hunger as if you were to put it in a dictionary- i.e. I feel… an empty feeling, gnawing and… fatigued, moody.
Keep a hunger diary- Note down times you get hungry and any relevant circumstances around your hunger. Are you hungrier on days you exercise? Or perhaps days you have a larger workload? Less hungry on days you are stressed? Identifying patterns can help you to pack, prepare and choose foods that are more likely to satisfy your hunger.
Give your hunger and fullness a score / 10- this is best practiced around meals you feel your overeat at (See scale below). Try to identify how much you need to stay in the comfort zone (i.e not getting so hungry you bite someone’s head off, and not getting so full that you feel unwell).
Eat without distractions- Turn off the TV and put down the phone. Save your attention for the eating experience!
Be curious with food, even if you have had it a million times- Before taking the first bite, ask yourself; What is the colour, texture and shape of your food like? Does it feel warm, cold or neutral? What does it smell like? Does it smell as you expected? Do different parts of it look, feel or smell different? Take a bite, but don’t chew yet! Is it cold, warm or hot on your tongue? How does the texture feel? Is it soft, smooth, dry or hard? Is it a combination? Chew slowly…How does it taste? Is is sweet, salty, or a mixture of both? Does the texture change as you chew? Does the flavour change as you chew? How does it feel on your tongue as you move it around your mouth? Now swallow…Has the taste changed again? Are there bits in your teeth? What is the aftertaste like? How is it similar or different from your first chew? Do you need more or are you satisfied?
I hope you enjoy these tips on mindful eating and remember – mindful eating is about eating without judgement and is a skill that takes practice. Start small – if you can only practise mindfulness at one meal this week that’s ok, be patient with yourself – remember behaviour change is hard.
For more on mindful eating, why not visit the Centre for Mindful Eating at www.tcme.org
F: Gather Nutrition and Dietetics
Health is our greatest asset – we’ve all heard it before, and deep down we all know it. Taking care of ourselves physically and mentally through exercise should be one of our highest priorities given all the health benefits it brings, but often prioritising exercise can be a challenging one when the calendar is full. Sure, we all have businesses to run, children to pick up, meetings to attend, but I guarantee you someone who is much busier than you is still scheduling time to exercise. As Arnie says below, if Barrack Obama and The Pope can make time, so can you!
Finding that optimal work/life balance can be challenging, but if you follow the following few tips, that balance may be easier to find than you think.
Schedule time to exercise. Enter it in your calendar and make time rather than find time to exercise. Schedule 30 minutes for a workout and some time to shower and change afterwards. Everyone is busy, but let’s face it, if your child needed picking up because no one else could, you could get out of the office. If you had a dinner you needed to attend to which meant you had to leave work by a certain time, you’d make it happen. That same commitment should be made to meeting your exercise needs.
Work out efficiently. You don’t need to spend hours on an activity to see results or to receive the health benefits that exercise delivers. You can do plenty in 30 minutes. Pick something you can do at home, when traveling, or in the gym. High intensity interval training, bodyweight exercises, running, and cycling are all good options. Hire a personal trainer if you need help with consistency and intensity, and therefore the time you do spend exercising is beneficial.
Enjoy what you do. One of the most important points – find something that fits your lifestyle and personal preference, because you are more likely to make time for something you enjoy. Not everyone is a runner or a yoga enthusiast, so don’t do it because you feel as though you have to. If you’re not sure of what you may or may not enjoy, experiment with different activities until you find something. This could mean social sporting competitions, boxing for fitness, dance classes; there’s no right or wrong.
Make it social. Don’t want to exercise alone? Get together a group of friends or work colleagues and join a group activity. Whether it be organising fitness boot camp for your workplace, starting a yoga or pilates class, or joining a social sporting competition such as TRL (touch rugby league) or indoor football, there are plenty of group activities out there to try. Training with friends means you are held accountable if you don’t show, and you won’t want to let the team down will you?
Choose something over nothing. Even if you start by doing the minimum, if it’s more than what you were doing initially, it’s a start. Starting small on little things such as going for walks, or catching public transport every so often is better than doing nothing at all. From there you can build to any of the suggestions in this post .
Once you prioritise your health and start making time to exercise each week, not only will you improve your energy and physique, but you are greatly decreasing the risk of a number of health conditions such as heart disease/stroke, certain cancers, and depression/anxiety. Despite everything that we face each day, it’s easy to forget what our biggest asset is, and that is living a life with good health, because without that we can’t achieve much!
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As the mornings become cooler and the daylight hours decrease, motivation for exercise before and after work can begin to diminish as it competes with extra sleep in a warm bed or a hot meal sooner in the evening. Sure you have that weight to lose, but what harm will missing one day really have? Well, these missed days tend to accumulate more when the weather is cooler and before you know it, your consistent routine is something of the past. Often in life, you need another person to inspire motivation, and exercise is no different.
Even if you are seeing a personal trainer for motivation, sometimes you need a little bit more. That little bit more comes in the form of a training partner. Whether it is your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, family member or best friend, training with someone else both in and outside of your PT sessions can be of great benefit to you. Some of the reasons include:
1. You’ll miss fewer sessions. When your motivation is lacking, you have someone else to answer to now. Cancelling is one thing, but you won’t want to cancel on a friend or your partner!
2. You’ll work harder. No one wants to be that person holding back the team. Training with someone else will push you to reach a higher intensity. You can also encourage each other throughout the workout.
3. Your bank account will thank you. When two people are training with a PT, you split the costs. This is a great way to receive extra attention to detail that a trainer can give you versus a busy boot camp.
At JS-PT, the most common 2-on-1 sessions are couples training together, however more friends are enquiring and starting these types of sessions due to the financial benefit. An extra benefit with the JS-PT 2-on-1 sessions is the option of training in a gym of which has no membership payment required, or training outdoors. Now keep your exercise frequency and consistency this autumn and winter, and find someone to start exercising with!
Because of my profession, when I’m partaking in activities that aren’t considered “healthy” such as having a few drinks or eating certain types of food, I’m occasionally questioned from someone. As it happened this week when I was overheard talking about having a few beers early Saturday morning for the Socceroos game, I thought I’d make this point:
Health goes beyond food and exercising. A good social life, building and maintaining quality relationships and a positive mental attitude are also vital cogs in the machine that is optimal health. So if you miss your home cooked meal sometimes to instead be with friends or family to go out, don’t worry about it.
Eating all types of foods from chicken breast to ice cream, or consuming alcohol in moderation is fine as well if your overall nutrient needs are being met. “Clean eating” isn’t something that needs to be done 24/7 to be considered healthy.
I will go out for drinks with friends and I will eat what I want, when I want, but I know myself that I meet my nutritional and exercise needs none the less. Be smart, be flexible, and be a good friend/partner and you can enjoy foods which are often vilified without it affecting your health, as well as maintaining and building the relationships that matter to you.