5 Common Running Injuries

As much as athletes want to be able to perform at a 100%, injuries are inevitable. Sometimes it may be due to wear and tear of soft tissues, other times it could result from an inadequate warm up or over doing things. Whatever the reason, sustaining injuries at one point or the other is a reality every runner must face. These injuries if not properly managed may hinder you from training & racing to your potential and restrict your daily routine.  Naturally, there are many ‘potential’ running injuries but in the vast majority cases you would be very unlucky to suffer any of these. In this article we will focus on the top 5 common running injuries.

1 of 5 Common Running Injuries: PLANTAR FASCIITIS

The plantar fascia is a tough band of tissue that runs from the heel bone to the toes. With repetitive stretching of this tissue, micro tears begin to develop and it can become painful and tender to touch. This condition is termed Plantar Fasciitis.

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms

While trying to attempt walking for the first time in the morning, pain will be felt around the heel of the affected foot. This pain may also be experienced after long periods of standing. Consequently, the runner may limp or prefer to toe walk. Walking barefoot especially on hard surfaces or climbing stairs may become intolerable due to pain.

 

Planter Fasciitis Foot

Picture source: Steve Guyatt Pro Massage

Plantar Fasciitis Causes

Most commonly, this injury results from repetitive strains causing micro tears of the plantar fascia. However certain factors can predispose a runner to plantar fasciitis. These factors are categorized as;

– Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly,
– Being overweight,
– Prolonged activities without proper conditioning (i.e. overdoing it)
– Physiological factors which include flat feet, tight calves, diabetes etc.
– Not doing enough stretches/strengthening of the foot and lower leg.

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

It is important to note that treatment may span between days to months for symptoms to be relieved. Application of ice, combined with topical analgesic to the affected foot will help relieve pain. Physiotherapy is highly recommended where there is prolonged pain and this will involve strengthening and stretching of the affected muscles. Furthermore, wearing of soft sole shoes and the use of shoe inserts can be adjuncts to physiotherapy. From experience, I have found a few days off the road (do cycling/stretching etc instead), soaking my feet in warm water, followed by icing, LOTS of stretching and strength work got me back moving again.

Invasive treatments such as steroid injections may also be given in combination with conservative treatments. If all the above mentioned conservative and invasive treatments fail, surgery may be required.
Note: Injections and therapy are a very last resort and apply to only the worst 1% of cases or for high performance professional sports people. Patient stretching and strengthening will generally sort you out over time.


2 of 5 Common Running Injuries: SHIN SPLINTS

When the muscles and soft tissues at the front of a runner’s leg suffer from overuse or are overloaded, they may become painful after performing exercises. Overtime, the pain may be felt without the runner engaging in any form of exercise. A condition called Shin splints is said to have developed.

Shin Splints Symptoms

On the lower part of the tibia (shin bone), the runner will feel a dull pain which extends at least 5 centimetres to the surrounding regions.

Shin SplintsDiagram

Picture source: Health Jade

Shin Splints Causes

Making an attempt to run faster than the body is conditioned to or overloading the leg muscles are among the most common causes of this injury. Or more specifically going hard at training too soon will stress the muscles causing pain. Also, wearing poor shock absorbing shoes as well as running on hard or uneven surfaces can result in shin splints before you have built up leg strength.

Certain factors such as being overweight or having uneven leg length can predispose a runner to having shin splints. But muscle stretching and strengthening can prevent or alleviate symptoms.

Shin Splints Treatment

As a first course of treatment, reduce or stop your running to help in pain relief. The use of ultrasound and steroid injections may be considered (again relevant in only 1% of extreme cases). Physiotherapy treatment is recommended and varies according to the stage or intensity of the injury.

In the acute phase, depending on the severity resting for a few days will generally make a difference (might even need a few weeks off the road. If you cannot run, look at alternative ways to keep moving. Cycling and swimming are great for aerobic exercise and are non-load bearing i.e. you are not putting weight on your legs. Pilates and yoga are also great for building flexibility & strength. Ice should be applied for 10-20 minutes post exercise and combined with analgesics or a hot bath if you can. If you feel the pain has eased after a few days, go for a brisk walk, but ease into it, before gently picking back up the running once there is no pain. Shin splints are generally born out of a weakness in the muscle, so  remember to keep

  • Stretching,
  • Building strength,
  • Ice & rest,
  • Warm baths if possible
  • Drink plenty of water


3 of 5 Common Running Injuries: ACHILLES TENDONITIS 

The band of tissue that joins the calf muscles to the heel bone is called the ‘Achilles tendon’. With repetitive stress from activities like running, the Achilles tendon may get damaged causing pain and discomfort. This condition is called Achilles Tendonitis.

Achilles Tendonitis Symptoms

Pain in the morning around the region of the Achilles tendon on the affected leg is a typical symptom. With activity, this pain may worsen. There may be swelling around the region, with associated stiffness or tightness of the Achilles tendon on the affected leg.

 

Achilles Tendon

Picture source: Orthopaedia.com

Achilles Tendonitis Causes

This injury mostly occurs as a result of the Achilles tendon being stressed repetitively, thereby causing micro tears or in severe cases a complete rupture. In addition natural stiffness or tightness of the Achilles tendon can also predispose a runner to this injury.

Achilles Tendonitis Treatment

In the acute stage, analgesics may be administered to relieve pain. However, physiotherapy treatment is required throughout recovery. Physiotherapy will include muscle strengthening and stretching programs, while low laser therapy and muscle taping can be used as an adjunct. Surgery may be considered if non-surgical treatments fail or in cases of complete rupturing.


4 of 5 Common Running Injuries: RUNNER’S KNEE

The knee joint is very important in bending and stretching the leg while performing activities such as ascending or descending a stair. Runner’s Knee is a condition where the front portion of the knee becomes painful. However, despite the name of this condition, it is not limited to runners or athletes alone.

 

Runner’s Knee Symptoms

The runner will feel pain at the front of the knee, around the knee cap. Attempting to carry out activities such as running, kneeling and climbing, worsens the pain. Furthermore, a clicking sound (crepitus) will be heard during movement and the affected knee may be swollen.

Runners Knee

Picture source: Injurymap.com

Runner’s Knee Causes

This injury occurs when the kneecap (patella) is not in alignment with the other bones that form the knee joint (femur and tibia). With time, the cartilage around the kneecap may wear down thereby causing pain.

Runner’s Knee Treatment

The runner is advised to take a period of rest and reduce exercise workload. As the pain reduces, the runner may gradually increase exercise workload. Physiotherapy is important for recovery and will involve muscle strengthening and stretching programs. Short wave diathermy (specialist heat treatment) may also be included in physiotherapy treatment. Administering analgesics, taping of the knee cap, bracing and use of orthoses can be adjuncts to physiotherapy. As a last resort, if all non-surgical treatments fail, surgery may be required. However, it has been the experience of your author that the vast majority of knee issues are not as a result of a ‘bad knee’, but tight areas between the hip and the knee that manifest as knee pain.


5 of 5 Common Running Injuries: HAMSTRING INJURY

It is a common, but unpleasant sight to see a sportsperson running and suddenly clutching the posterior thigh muscles while grimacing in pain. This is because the hamstring muscles have been damaged, a condition called Hamstring injury.

Hamstring Symptoms

Based on the severity of injury, intensity of pain and loss of motion, hamstring injuries can be classified into mild, medium and severe.

-Mild: Rupture or damage to a few of the affected muscle fibres. Pain may not be felt within the first 24hrs post injury. Usually, the runner will feel stiffness of the posterior thigh muscles, but this does not limit bending of the knee or movement.

-Medium: Up to half of the affected muscle fibres are damaged or torn. Pain is felt immediately the injury occurs, with associated swelling around the region. Movement is noticeably affected.

-Severe: More than half or all of the affected muscle fibres are torn. The pain felt by the runner is intense, with associated swelling. The affected posterior thigh muscles are weak and cannot perform their normal functions.

 

Hamstring Injury

Hamstring Causes

A sudden stretch or over stretching of the posterior thigh muscles (hamstring) is usually the cause of this injury, especially if the muscles have not been properly warmed up. The fibres of these muscles become ruptured to varying degrees depending on the severity of the injury.

Hamstring Treatment

Depending on the severity of the injury, the runner may be advised to rest the affected leg and reduce the exercise workload. Physiotherapy is recommended and will include strengthening and stretching programs, applying ice to relieve pain, and balance training. In a case of complete rupture of the hamstring muscles, surgery may be required.

While it may be impossible for a runner not to sustain injuries, the nature and severity of the injury can to a large extent be checked by managing exercise programs properly and undergoing adequate warm-up before performing running activities.

Getting Ready for your First Marathon

For many runners, completing a marathon is a natural progression from having run shorter races. Often, upon completion of a half marathon, a runner may set his or her sights on the Holy Grail of running, the 26.2-mile marathon distance.

But getting ready for your first marathon isn’t just a case of doubling what you did for the half! A marathon is unlike any other foot race. It is two races. A runner who has completed training for a half marathon generally has put in the work to complete the first race, which is the initial 20 miles of the marathon. However, the second race, the final 6.2-miles (10K), is quite another animal, and requires a level of training and dedication needs to be completed if one intends to avoid the dreaded marathon “Wall.”

Around the 20-mile mark of the marathon, the body’s glycogen stores begin to deplete Glycogen is the sugar stored in your liver and muscles. If it runs out, your body begins to burn muscle. You fatigue more easily, running hurts a lot more, making the last 6.2-miles of the marathon painful at best, or impossible to complete.

Whats Involved in Getting Ready for your First Marathon.

  • Proper training
  • Nutrition
  • Rest
  • Hydration

are all the tools you need to prevent you hitting the wall and completing the marathon with a minimal amount of suffering.

Let us say you have run a half marathon and you feel you are ready to take on the marathon distance. First, select your marathon carefully. You may pick a large, big-city marathon with thousands of runners, or a small marathon with hundreds of participants. Some runners enjoy the company of many other competitors, while others enjoy the solitude of a rural race with smaller crowds. Another consideration for selecting your marathon is the assessment of the weather conditions. Heat is the mortal enemy of a marathon runner, so try to select a race that generally favors cooler temperatures. Also, if you decide to select a marathon close to a beach, keep in mind that windy conditions may prevail.

Upon completion of your half marathon, or any race distance prior to your upcoming marathon, give yourself a minimum of 12 weeks in order to put in the miles necessary to complete the marathon. Plan on running a minimum of four days a week. You may even increase to five days a week. Set aside a day for stretching or light upper body weightlifting. You may even cross train with some cycling, and always take one day off each week in order to rest tired muscles. If you are over 40 years of age plan to have at least 2 x rest days per week and it is really important to have at least 1 dedicated stretching and weights session per week.

Cornerstone of Marathon Training

The cornerstone of any marathon training plan is the weekly long run. I suggest a quality long run to be completed six out of the twelve weeks of training. A quality long run means that you try to run the training run at 30 seconds to one minute slower than your projected marathon goal pace. By doing so, you are simulating race conditions, becoming stronger, both physically and mentally. Try to complete at least three of these training runs in the 18 to 20-mile range. Never go above 22 miles in a training session.

Stretching

Stretching is an important component of your training regimen. Stretch for at least 15-minutes before your training run, and always stretch after the completion of your run. Stretch the important muscles you will use during your workout: lower back, hips, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. For those of you who practice yoga, yoga stretches are excellent for runners. If you are concerned about stretching, follow this rule. You can never stretch too often (if you feel pain though, ease back). Stretch until your muscles feel loose and supple.

Nutrition & Hydration

Marathon training can be intense, and a marathon runner burns an enormous number of calories. Therefore, it is necessary to “Fuel the fire.” Try to eat a balanced diet. Moderation is the key. A steak occasionally is fine. A steak 5 times a week is not. If it is colorful, it is good. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Marathon training produces a great deal of body heat, so one loses a lot of water through sweat. Drink plenty of fluids, throughout the day before you run, and after your training session. Being a bit graphic here, always keep an eye on your urine. The clearer the better. If your urine is dark, you are not drinking enough. Water is still the best hydration fluid. Electrolyte drinks are excellent, especially after long runs. Soda is poison, so avoid it. Caffeine in coffee is good, and a beer can also settle an unsettled stomach. Keep in mind, however, that both caffeine and alcohol will dehydrate the body.

Remember that glycogen burn? Storing carbohydrates can prevent the loss of glycogen. Beginning a couple of nights before your long runs or the marathon itself, load up on pasta and other foods rich in carbs.

Use your long runs to simulate your race conditions. All marathons have water stations, so plot out your hydration plan before your race. Place a bottle of water at strategic spots during your long runs. Experiment with the amount and the frequency of your water intake. Try an electrolyte drink on your long run, ensuring that it does not bother your stomach. There are several bite-sized energy supplements on the market. Never take these on race day unless you have tried them in practice. A general rule of thumb is to sip water consistently, rather than gulping down a cup at every third water station. If you get to a point where you are consciously thirst, you are already in a hydration deficit.

Rest

As we have said in other articles, sleep and rest are possibly two of the most under appreciated elements of training. On your official ‘rest days’, going for a walk is fine, but don’t push your body. Also aim to get 7 – 8 hours sleep and getting to bed earlier is better than sleeping in late!

A week before your marathon, begin the ‘Tapering’ process. Reduce your miles, stay loose, increase your stretching routine, and try to get plenty of rest. Two days before the race, try to sleep well, as anxiety may prevent you from sleeping well the night before the race.

Race Day

On race day, eat something about two hours before the start. A bagel, banana, and coffee can be a good breakfast. Avoid milk, and drink enough, but not too much water. A bathroom stop during the race will slow you down dramatically. Practise your race morning breakfast routine on the days of your long training runs so that you know what works.

Do not overdress. You should be cool on the starting line. You will warm up shortly after you start the race.

If you have trained properly, you will feel fresh and strong as the race begins. However, do not, “Let the genie out of the bottle.” If you start the race too fast, you will pay dearly in the later miles of the race. Start the race a few seconds slower than your projected mile pace. You will then feel stronger as the race progresses.

During the race, attempt to relax. Take in the scenery, enjoy the crowds. Be sure to hydrate. Sip water at each water station. Pour some over your head to cool off. Use some water to wipe sweat from your face. Find a partner who is running your pace. Chat with the partner. Look at the runners ahead of you. Visualize that you will eventually pass the runner in the green shirt. Physical preparation prior to the marathon is important. Mental distractions during the marathon are often essential.

There is a unique sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a marathon. Crossing that finish line admits you to an exclusive club of runners in an event that few humans can conquer.

Prepare well, race smart, and you will earn the title of Marathon Finisher.

10 Fat Burning Foods From Your Local Grocery Store

10 Fat Burning Foods From your Local Grocery Store

Do you feel that this pandemic is affecting your physical and mental health? Being stuck in one place and trying to keep up with your health can be very hectic indeed. While exercise and workout routines are a great way to deal with this problem, adopting a healthy diet that can fire up your metabolism is just as important.

You are what you eat, so it’s safe to say excessive carbs and unnecessary fatty meals are not  an option.

Now, eating healthy and metabolism-boosting foods doesn’t mean you have to let go of all things tasty. We are not saying you have to get rid of all the stuff you like. All you need to do is make sure you eat healthier and maintain your muscle mass by adding these amazing foods to your diet that will torch your calories and burn that extra fat. If you are serious about your health you will also need to start cutting down/out those fried foods/takeaways etc

 

  1.     Lentils

Lentils, particularly black ones, are extremely rich in protein and boost your metabolism greatly because, with these, your body needs to burn a greater number of calories to digest them compared to other lower-protein foods. These may effectively prevent and treat most metabolic issues. Lentils are also rich in a unique kind of fiber called ‘Resistant starch.’ This fiber, in the large intestine, produces beneficial fatty acids that can block the consumption of carb stores in your body, so it uses stored fat and recently consumed fat instead.

 

  1.     Broccoli

When talking about healthy green veggies, Broccoli should be given foremost importance. It is rich in Fibre, protein, calcium and helps prevent many bone diseases.

Broccoli is a fibre-rich vegetable that helps eliminate toxins from the body. It helps in digestion, prevents constipation while maintaining a low blood sugar level, and reduces overeating. Since it is rich in fibre, it also helps in weight loss, and being rich in protein it can prove an excellent source of dietary proteins for vegetarians. Besides these, Broccoli also has cancer-preventing, anti-aging, cholesterol-reducing, antioxidant, and eye care qualities.

 

  1.     Ginger

This root is packed with magic that can make you healthy in no time. Adding just a slight amount of ginger to your daily meals can enhance fat-burn and boost your metabolism. It has been shown to help reduce high levels of blood sugar and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as ‘Good Cholesterol.’ Studies have suggested that adding 2 grams of ginger powder to hot water and drinking it with meals reduces the feeling of hunger and has a strong calorie-burning effect. Ginger can also soothe an upset stomach effectively plus reduce pain and swelling in joints.

 

  1.     Beans

Beans, particularly boiled soybeans and kidney beans, are a rich source of proteins, fibre, vitamins, iron, zinc, etc. Since they are rich in fiber, they lower blood sugar levels after meals and boost your metabolism greatly. They also increase healthy gut bacteria and manage cholesterol levels. The vitamin B and zinc in beans help build calorie-burning muscle. Being protein-rich, beans help preserve lean muscle mass and burn more calories even if your body is at rest. Studies have suggested that not only do they help you lose weight but also prevent you from gaining it back.

 

  1.     Tea

A combination of caffeine and catechins found in tea substantially boosts your metabolic rate. Green tea and oolong have received special attention in that they increase metabolism by 4-10%, which means they help you burn an extra 70 calories per day. They enable your body to use stored fat more effectively, thus increasing the body’s fat-burning ability by 17%. Green tea has long been associated with good health in the Far East, but its wide ranging benefits are only now coming to light here in the West. As well as boosting metabolism it is also known to assist with the reduction in swelling, as an antioxidant, lowering blood sugar levels and cellulite reduction.

 

  1.     Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is rich in acetic acid which prevents fat storage, balances acidity levels in the body, lowers blood sugar level, decreases insulin levels, boosts immunity, kills harmful bacteria and burns fat. Apple cider vinegar, although, doesn’t boost metabolism directly, it is known to create a full thereby making you eat less. The best way to add it to your diet is to mix 1-2 teaspoons in water and drink before each meal three times a day.

 

  1.     Avocado

Avocado has received its reputation for being rich in fat, but it’s mostly the good kind of fat. The special kind of fatty acids in avocado are proven to be heart-healthy. If you’re trying to lose weight, this should be your go-to food as it gives a feeling of satisfaction and reduces the desire to eat in the hours following a meal. It helps lower cholesterol and boosts metabolism greatly.  Besides these, avocados are still a win-win due to its qualities in maintaining blood pressure, weight reduction, assisting in clot prevention, sugar-level-maintenance and supporting a healthy heart.

 

  1.     Chili pepper

Surprised to see this in the list? Well, you see, hot chili pepper contains a substance called Capsaicin, which boosts metabolism and helps in weight management as it prompts your body to burn more calories by increasing heart rate and making hormones alert. Also, Capsaicin may have appetite-reducing properties. Spicy meals containing hot chili peppers give a feeling of fullness. Besides these, Capsaicin may also help reduce pain and swelling and believed to act as an anticancer agent. 

 

  1.     Eggs

Due to being rich in protein, eggs are among the best foods to boost metabolism. A large, hard-boiled egg contains about 6.2 grams of protein, and this makes them the perfect metabolism-boosting food. Our body needs greater amounts of energy to digest proteins than to digest fats or carbohydrates. This phenomenon is known as the ‘Thermic effect of food’ or diet-induced thermogenesis (we know its sounds like something out of Sci-fi!). Protein-rich foods tend to increase your metabolic rate by 15-30% compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats. They help your body to hold onto its muscle mass during weight loss.

 

  1. Yogurt

Probiotic yoghurt, according to studies, helps in digestion, boosts your metabolism, burn excess fat, and support the good bacteria in your gut. Plain, unsweetened varieties are better since they don’t contain any added sugars. Studies have suggested that people who eat three servings of yogurt daily burn much more fat and lose 22% more weight than those who just cut calories. If you do want to add some sweetness to natural yoghurt, then add some blueberries which are also great for you.

 

So, when you are making next your next trip to the grocery store, make sure to include some of the above ingredients. Add these to your daily intake as part of a balanced diet and you wont be long to see improvements.

Best Run in Ireland?

For anyone of you who has been sleeping under a rock for the past 50 years, Ireland is pretty famous for its natural and unspoilt beauty. From dramatic cliffs to rolling green fields and a landscape that is littered with everything from Norman Keeps and stone age dolmens to spectacular stately homes.

Recently, I got to visit my favourite part of Ireland – County Kerry (in Ireland its nickname is ‘The Kingdom’) in the south west corner of the country. Kerry is not only home to Ireland’s highest mountain – Carrauntoohil, the famous Lakes of Killarney, but also three under-populated dramatic ridged peninsulas that reach out like fingers into the Atlantic. So when it was decided that we were visiting relatives for the weekend, I was like yeeessss!

The starting point of the run is the town of Kenmare, which is the intersection between the Beara Peninsula (pronounced bare-a) and the world famous “Ring of Kerry”. For me, I love getting off the beaten path and heading out along trails and quiet back roads and on the Monday morning in question, I was not disappointed. Over the space of 2 hours plus, I was passed by less than a dozen cars so it was pretty awesome. Though I have run parts of this route before, this particular morning I decided to do the full 15 mile loop through the hills, which I hadn’t done before. My route headed out of Kenmare along the north shore of the Beara (along woodland trail) before swinging inland to the first hill after 3 miles. From here the roads undulate slowly upwards as you seemingly leave the real world behind. Roads are initially interspersed with pretty cottages, famine era ruins and more recent new homes. But as you climb these become even more scarce with just occasional farm houses left to speckle the pastiched hills. Grass grows up the middle of the road reclaiming these human interruptions on the landscape as it attempts to reconnect the long disconnected fields. And as you climb, the air finds its own breath, getting crisper as it blows in from the Atlantic, pulling at my top to say ‘hi there stranger – welcome back’. Peering back down the ancient valley, I appreciate that the only sound out here is me – footsteps crunching on old asphalt, labored breathing on the steep incline and there is the silence. A sound of nothingness that seems to envelope you – a sound so rarely heard in the modern world. No sounds of engines or endless news and chatter – just my breath, whispers from the Atlantic, the gurgling of streams and the occasional cow with its plaintiff lowing from down the valley.

Normally, I run to the mountain pass near Dromoghty before returning along the same route, however on the day in question I pushed through the pass through a land which has its own pace. Old growth woods and patchwork fields bordered by furze and heather adorn the landscape providing a home for the local wildlife. At one stage, I was treated to a distant encounter with an antler crowned Stag looking regal in a woodland clearing. He stopped to check me out, while I returned the favour, before bidding me farewell. This area of Ireland has been inhabited for thousands of years and is littered with both Iron & bronze age monuments and of course famine era farmhouses – sad relics of Ireland’s most tragic period. Returning to the foreshore, a couple of seals flopped lazily in the water while others just looked at me curiously as if to say – dumb human!

Exploring this area by foot is just a never ending treat for your senses, to let your imagination run riot as you plod along rolling roads. The vistas feed you while the freshness of your surrounds fills your lungs before heading back to the real world. May the road rise to meet you brings on an additional meaning to the old Irish saying, for in Kenmare it doesn’t just meet you, it welcomes you back. 

The run I did on that morning forms part of the Beara Way which is one of Ireland’s best long distance walking routes and is roughly 200Kms long https://www.walkopedia.net/best-world-walks/Ireland/Beara-Way-

Is it the best road run in Ireland? Who knows? Who cares? I enjoyed it and cant wait to get back again.

Importance of sleep for health – Secret Weapon!

Anyone out there ever considered the importance of sleep for health? How many of you are out there every day, chasing careers, trying to beat the traffic, getting to school, dropping/picking up the kids, going to football games/dance classes etc, rushing home, working late, getting lunches etc??? ……. And finally at 10pm you get to sit on your sofa for an hour before heading to bed before it all starts again the next day! (its tiring even writing it!)

If we are to be honest with ourselves, this probably reflects most of our daily lives in some form….. Me included. While this article is not going to teach you how to live your life, I am going to let you into a secret I learned a few years back and that is the importance of sleep for health. Trust me, it truly is a secret weapon for looking after your health that the vast majority of people don’t realise…… and its FREE for everyone 🙂

From the time we jump out of bed in the morning, we are being pressed down upon by constant stresses as we chase schedules, worry about our job, difficult customers, a more difficult boss, issues at school, problems with the children and multiple other things in our lives. While each and every one has a different stress threshold and everyone deals with pressures differently, the one thing that we all have in common is a need to unwind from this incessant ‘squeezing down’ upon us. Now, if you keep adding to these pressures with no focus on yourself and you do this over a long period plus you bring in the effects of too much alcohol, smoking, poor diet, pollution and so on, it is then only a matter of time before your body & mind says enough is enough and gets sick.

How we deal with the above through positive activity will be dealt with in other articles but for now we will just deal with the importance of sleep for health. When we sleep, there are multiple physical and mental benefits for everyone. But here are some of the more obvious.

13 Benefits on the Importance of Sleep for Health.

  1. Improved sleep reduces the risk of heart attacks
    It is a known fact that high blood pressure increases your chances of heart attacks and strokes. But when you sleep, your body relaxes including your arteries which can help reduce blood pressure.
  2. When you lack sleep, your body gets even more stressed
    When we don’t get enough sleep, the body reacts by producing more stress hormones. Deep and regular sleep can help prevent this.
  3. Sleep helps reduce inflammation
    Lack of sleep, increases stress hormones in the body. Stress hormones raise inflammation levels in the body. Conversely, better sleep reduces inflammation.
  4. Improves your memory
    Did you ever notice that when you are tired, it is harder to recall information? Well, guess what? sleep plays a really big part in information retention and learning. Without sleep it is much more difficult to focus, process information and manage tasks. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25052368
  5. Better sleep makes you more alert
    After a good night’s sleep, we all feel more energised and alert. Feeling refreshed will encourage you to get out and be active and be more engaged with the world around you.
  6. Improves your mood
    Lack of sleep makes us feel agitated and grumpy making us more likely to be in a bad mood or snappy with those closest to us. Furthermore, approximately 90% of people who have been diagnosed with depression have complained about sleep quality. So, if we can improve sleep, we can improve how we feel.
  7. Helps you recover from injuries faster
    After really intense sessions, or if you are recovering from injury, proper sleep is one of the most critical things you can do to aid recovery and boost future performance. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping. These protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair the damage.
  8. Better sleep is believed to aid weight loss
    Psychologically, when you are less tired, you are less hungry. Also, if you have less energy, you are less likely to exercise. From a scientific point of view the hormones leptin and ghrelin are known as the ‘hunger hormones’ and we don’t get good sleep these become further imbalance, contributing to us eating more. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23419528 . (10 Fat burning foods from your local grocery store)
  9. Fighting illness
    As a child, how many times were we told that after a good nights sleep we will feel better in the morning? Well it turns out scientific research backs this up. We now know that our immunity system fights bacteria. However, sleep changes the way our immune cells work to make this process happen more efficiently.
  10. Sleep improves your Athletic performance
    In studies, sleep has been shown to improve both speed, reaction times and the ability to assess situations and take positive actions (good life skill as well as a sporting attribute). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21731144
  11. Improved physical well-being as we age
    In a study of over 2,800 women, it was shown that there was a clear link between poor sleep and slower walking, grip strength and other activities. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17969465/
  12. Type 2 Diabetes
    While there are many reasons for Diabetes, it has been demonstrated that poor sleep affects blood sugar and reduces insulin sensitivity. If you are worried about what you eat, here is a useful shopping list to consider. 
  13. Nap your way to a healthier you.

    I have long been a fan of getting out for a quick 15-minute snooze during the day(doesn’t happen every day, but if I am office based I go to my car) as it seemed to hNapping for healthelp me. Now I realise that those little naps are now known for both reducing stress and increasing brain function….. Little did I know 🙂 Here is a more detailed article that shares more information on power napping. https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-reap-the-health-benefits-of-power-naps-2224261

With all of these amazing benefits, there is no denying the importance of sleep for health. So what are you going to do about it? I know what I am going to do next…. zzzzzz!

Happy Sleeping

Peter

PS For those who struggle getting to sleep, read our next article on 10 Tips on Getting to Sleep.