Matthew meets Hollyoaks actress Gemma Merna

Matthew Bennett attended the launch of the new Mole & Skin Check Guidelines that have been developed jointly by the Melanoma Taskforce and the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) especially for health professionals and met Gemma Merna from Hollyoaks

The guidelines provide clear and simple information about the signs of skin cancer. As chiropractors we have an important role in noticing abnormal moles or changes in skin and advising patients to seek advice from their GPs. The guidelines have been developed by skin cancer charities, dermatologists, nurses, GPs and oncologists and are endorsed by professional associations representing the health and beauty industry.

Matthew was in Westminster on behalf British Chiropractic Association as he is Vice-president. He talked with MPs and the new president of BAD and impressed upon them the important role that chiropractors can play in the early detection of skin cancer.

The highlight of the afternoon was a photo opportunity with Hollyoaks actress, Gemma Merna. She is the celebrity face of the campaign having had a skin cancer scare a while ago. She is popular with the younger target group the information is aimed at.

For more information about skin caner and how to protect yourself go to www.bad.org.uk

Swimming tips for the triathlete part 3

Sundial triathalon swimming tipsIn the third and final part of her series of articles on Swimming for the Triathlete, Sundial’s very own triathlete Amanda Goring, talks about avoiding pain and injury when competing.

Triathalon Injuries

The beauty of triathlon racing is that each discipline places different demands on the body and as such requires global training. It is not enough to simply train in one and expect that your increased cardiovascular fitness will carry you through to success in the others. It will not. Although swimming does not carry the risk of a sudden acute injury such as a calf strain from the bike or a hamstring injury from the run, it will place undue stresses throughout your postural muscles in general and in open water in particular carries a very real risk of muscle cramps which can be very dangerous and extremely painful. If persistant these can carry through to the bike and run, and speaking from personal experienc they can only get worse and may cause you to end your race early.

Triathalon Nutrition

Keeping on top of your nutrition is vital. As it is inadvised to drink or eat before the swim I will not mention sports nutrition supplement drinks etc in this article, but keeping a healthy, balanced diet with the correct amounts of carbohydrates, fats and proteins is so important long term. It is not enough to ‘be good’ a few days before a race. This is where a personal nutritionist can be useful. You can read every article under the sun but like they say, one size does not fit all. Your body may not metabolise food groups in the same way as another person’s and as your food is your fuel you need to take this seriously. After all, not all cars run on the same fuel so why should your engine?

Key points:

Practice for race day. Train in the same environment (pool vs open water based) in a similar size area (e.g. same size pool), and if you can around the same time of day.

Focus on core based exercises in the gym.

Warming up the whole body before the swim is of paramount importance.

Keep on top of your nutrition and be aware of the dangers of cramping.

Invest in a swimming  coach even if you are proficient at swimming, or even better sessions in an endless pool being filmed.

Next: the bike.

Swimming tips for the triathlete part 2

Sundial triathalon swimming tipsSwimming Training

The most common discipline triathletes find tricky is the swim. A few simple tips will go a long way to improve your triathalon swim.

Supplementing your swimming training with core based exercises is a great idea writes Sundial chiropractor and triathlete Amanda Goring . Your time in the water may be heavily impacted by a lack of activation of your lower core muscles which will allow your lower body to sink in the water and therefore cause drag. Ever wonder why you see competitors with heavily muscled upper bodies get into the water, only to have surprisingly slow times and to haul themselves out of the pool exhausted? Likelihood is that their lower core muscles are not activating and so their legs drop in the water and act as a brake, leaving all that upper body effort wasted and the poor swimmer shattered.

Become friends with a gym ball and a trainer and by simply practicing a few simple core exercises to engage that lower core you will knock time off and more importantly, not emerge from the pool drained of energy. For those of you with extra time on your hands get to a Pilates class. You will be amazed at the difference in your body strength and it will strongly benefit all three phases of the race.

Swimming Environment

Each water environment will pose its own challenges when racing and the training beforehand will need to be adapted slightly to prepare you for that.

Pool based racing will be simple lengths which you will count down until the marshall places the float in the water and lets you out into the sunshine to the transition area for your bike. As tumbleturns are rarely ever allowed due to safety there is no need to discuss them. Just be prepared for the pools being both indoors or outside. I have raced in both, often at the same venue on successive years, and it always threw me when I was prepared for one and was then shown through to the other.

Open water swimming will usually involve a wetsuit and this brings its own set of challenges. The wetsuit not only gives warmth but also adds buoyancy in the water and so changes your swimming style dramatically. I always preferred open water because of this as it gave me a feeling that I would be less able to drown if I grew tired. It also made body rolling easier in freestlye. However it is almost comical to try and do breaststroke in a wetsuit so be warned!

Warming up

Warming up before the swim is also so important. It doesn’t matter if you are about to head into heated indoor pool and you can see the sweat dripping off the marshalls, that does not mean that your muscles will be warmed up and ready for the swim.

Stretching alone is not necessarily the best option either. If you are about to head into a sport where you need high power and speed the last thing you want to do is to stretch the muscles out. You want them coiled and ready for action; all warmed up by doing similar actions to those which they will be about to face. So take time to do lots of shoulder windmills and standing body twists from the hips. Stretching the chest, calf and neck muscles are of course a great idea, but don’t get into that water only having done this! Many races will not enable you to have a couple of lengths practice to warm up first so keep this in mind. And of course because the swim is first it uses global or large muscle groups so you are usually nice and warmed up for the bike and run that follow afterwards.

Swimming Coaching

Finally, a good swimming coach is often worth their weight in gold. Despite popular belief that you will face a man with a whistle who stands on the poolside and shouts at you to repeat length after length this is very rarely the case (thankfully those days of our school P.E. teacher have largely gone). Instead you will find an instructor who is all too aware that to tire their client out does not amount to achieveing the best from them. Fatigue may show them what bad habits you adopt when you are tired in the race but that will be adopted for the experienced swimmers who will need their technique refining. Likelihood is that they will be armed with moderately less than exciting devices such as a float, fins, buoyancy aids and paddles; any of which may aid you in perfecting your technique and helping you to avoid otherwise inevitable drowning.
Even better you could invest in several sessions in an endless pool. I cannot tell you how fascinating it is and so worth it even just to say that you have tried the whole experience. For those of you who are nervous of the water and becoming tired in a lesson, or who may be shy at the thought of a coach, you should investigate it. You swim in a small square area and currents are directed at you to swim against, which the instructor adjusts continuously to keep you swimming in one spot. If you get tired you simply put your feet down and you only ever swim for a couple of minutes at a time. And the whole session is videoed allowing you to take the DVD home and scrutinise it at home or at work at your leisure. Being very visual I found that invaluable and it helped in my training as I was able to see where I was failing and make sense of it and its impact as I swam. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Key points:

  • Practice for race day. Train in the same environment (pool vs open water based) in a similar size area (e.g. same size pool), and if you can around the same time of day.
  • Focus on core based exercises in the gym.
  • Warming up the whole body before the swim is of paramount importance.
  • Keep on top of your nutrition and be aware of the dangers of cramping.
  • Invest in a swimming  coach even if you are proficient at swimming, or even better sessions in an endless pool being filmed.