Pre-Season at The Guildford Spine Centre
I was thinking the other day of good ways to encourage more people, including patients at The Guildford Spine Centre to do more for their spine. One part of having a strong and resilient spine is exercise. Time and time again exercise has been shown to be a key player in preventing spinal injuries. This goes for the top-level athlete to those who enjoy a Sunday walk. This is even more important if you are recovering from an episode of back pain. With pre-season at The Guildford Spine Centre we hope to give you a guide to getting yourself and your spine in top shape.
So, the question remained how to encourage better spine health through exercise. The idea dawned on me through one of my other passions, rugby. As a lot of patients who come to the Guildford Spine Centre are aware rugby is a passion of mine, both watching and playing. My long suffering wife would also agree as she probably knows more about rugby than I do now, and has met the players!
The regular rugby season in Surrey runs from approximately September to April or May the following year. In years gone past I used to be very relaxed when the new season rolled around. I would enjoy the summer and have a few too many BBQ’s and beers then struggle for the first month to run more than 10 meters without gasping for breath. The older I get the more import I realise being prepared and having a plan is.
My intention is to share with you my journey to get through pre-season training and into shape for the end of the summer or in my case the first match of the season. This doesn’t have to be for a particular sport and can be to have a healthier approach to staying healthy and most importantly looking after your spine.
When making a plan it is important to plan for what you can sustain. I always get nervous when patients who haven’t exercised in a long time proudly explain that they have been exercising 6 times a week now. This is such a dramatic shift that it is very common to be back to no exercise within 4 weeks as it was just too much to sustain and they have burnt out. This does not do you any favours, it’s better to exercise twice a week ongoing than 6 times a week for a month.
For me, I generally try and get to the gym twice a week, I have always done this not just for the health benefits but also as a place to de-stress. I will list the health benefits too though: studies provide compelling evidence that regular physical activity and a high fitness level are associated with a reduced risk of premature death from any cause and from cardiovascular disease in particular among asymptomatic men and women. Prevention of cardiovascular disease, prevention of type 2 diabetes, reduction is specific cancers, preventing loss of bone density (osteoporosis), better quality of life and health outcomes.
As part of my daily routine I walk our dog Paddington, who some of you may have met when you come to the clinic. Generally he gets at least one 30 minute walk in the mornings and another walk during the day. Although in the current heatwave he is only up to one early walk a day. I wanted to take the two gym sessions a week and the dog walks I already do and formulate a plan around this.
After some research and a few journal articles the plan I came up with was 2 to 3 gym sessions a week, focused around progressive, moderate to high intensity (for me) weight training and 2 sessions a week of cardiovascular training. This would be done by turning a couple of our usual dog walks into runs which would gradually increase and Paddington and I get fitter. In the run up to the start of the season the weight sessions would be reduced in place of cardiovascular exercise so when the season starts I will have the required cardiovascular fitness.
As part of all my training I intend to incorporate a spine and core stability exercise to ensure my back stays healthy too. I will look to improve my core strength and endurance. This is particularly relevant in my day to day practice, if you take only one piece of this endeavor it would be how to look after your spine.
Wish me luck, keep up to date on our facebook (The Guildford Spine Centre), twitter @Guildfordsc and this blog.