Friday, 30 November 2012

Recipe of the Week - 29/11

This week, I had thoughts of publishing a dessert recipe, which involved a healthy and nutritious alternative to ice cream. However, after taking a look outside at the frozen windscreens and people decked out in hats and scarfs, I realised that it's probably not the most appropriate time to share it, so instead I've gone for a breakfast option..

As you've already heard me bark on about how important breakfast is (see an earlier post below), I will spare you from another lecture.. This recipe involves a staple food in my diet. Eggs. How do you like yours? I think my favourite has to be poached, with a little bit of sea salt and pepper.. My step sister keeps telling me that if I eat anymore eggs I'll turn into a chicken... anyway.. this recipe involves another method of cooking eggs which is even more simple than poached and that's scrambled. Scrambled eggs with a twist...

Again, this recipe is really easy to follow and it doesn't require much effort - perfect for the lazy chef!


1/2 tsp of Coconut Oil
3 Organic Eggs
Two handfuls of organic spinach
5 closed cup Mushrooms
Half a Red Onion
1 Leek
Pinch of Smoked Paprika (Optional)


Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan, whilst the pan is warming, chop up the mushrooms, onion and leek and add to the oil.

Brown for 3-4 mins. Once the onions have become tanslucent, add the spinach and continue frying for 2 minutes or until the spinach has wilted.

In a bowl, whisk up the eggs and then add to the vegetable mixture, turn down the heat.

Continually stir until the egg has reached your desired consistency whether thats soft verging on runny or firm and rubbery. Either way, this won't take long!

Season with Sea salt and Pepper and a sprinkle of smoked paprika to add that little extra kick of flavour.

This recipe takes approximately 10 mins. I'm not going to do a Jamie Oliver and call it a 15 minute meal when all of his take double that time.. but seriously this meal is a great way of packing in healthy and delicious veggies with a big protein food such as eggs that will keep your blood sugar levels steady, unlike conventional cereals which are packed loaded with sugar and additives leaving you unfulfilled and hungry an hour later. Alter the veg that you throw into the pan, be inventive! Push the boat out and boost the dishes' omega 3 levels by adding some smoked salmon. There you have it, scrambled eggs with a twist.

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Your best friend but your worst enemy at the same time..

Going on from the pre-habilitation theme of my last post, I want to talk a little bit about foam rollers or if we’re getting technical, the action of self-myofascial release (SMR). Nearly every gym that you enter these days has these strange often brightly coloured rolls of foam that could be mistaken for a rolling pin on steroids. Many are just gathering dust in the corners of commercial establishments but these little anabolic rolling pins are a fantastic tool to improve your body’s tissue quality which can heavily reduce the risk of injury, and although some of the actions may cause a little discomfort, you come off it feeling better and prepared for exercise.

Although I would always support the work of a regular sports massage, this can often prove expensive for certain individuals who also may be governed by time constraints. I like to call foam rolling a cheap-man’s version of a sports massage, because that is literally what you are doing. You’re rolling certain muscles over the roller applying pressure which helps to identify specific areas which may be tender or cause discomfort. These areas are known as trigger points, knots or areas of increased muscle density. I tell my clients to focus on their breathing as the distraction of another stimulus often helps to relinquish some of pain that finding a trigger point results in. The body can be a bit of a mine-field and you definitely know it when you stumble across a trigger point. Common areas of discomfort include the iliotibial (I.T) band:

This is because the fascia in this region is densely encapsulated around the surrounding musculature. Endurance sport athletes and regular runners find this area particularly uncomfortable, especially if they are new to the foam roller and have not been receiving regular massage. The continual pounding on the lower limbs will develop tender areas and trigger point build up. This will also filter down to the calf region where trigger points can be accumulated. Many women who regularly don a pair of high heels will find that they have tights calfs and rolling over these can cause discomfort. It can also be a tough area to roll, particularly for individuals who may lack arm strength as the position forces you to raise your hips and support your own body weight as you roll the roller over the calf musculature.

Foam rollers come in a number of different densities and sizes. They are usually colour coded according to firmness. White being the softest and black being the hardest. If you’re a real sadist and like a roller that gets in really deep, try the rumble roller:

The nodules help to locate and release the deep trigger points but the pressure is significantly firmer than other rollers. When rolling, the speed should be slow and constant and when you locate a specific area of tightness, hold the roller over it and breathe to relax. I also use other pieces of equipment such as tennis balls and I’ve even ventured into a pet shop to purchase a firm dog ball which is perfect to locate specific areas which require further attention and release.

Like all mobility work, foam rolling should be integrated into your regular workouts, whether that’s 3-5 times a week or better still, daily for 5-10 minutes. I use the foam roller with my clients at the start of every session, as I believe that it helps with a smooth transgression into a comprehensive warm-up. It can also be used at the end of a session for regeneration purposes. Although if I am with a client I like to end with some assisted static stretching, depending on what their session involved, but for the majority assisted static stretching acts a good cool-down both physically and neurologically. It’s a time when I like to go through and re-iterate nutritional habits, and recovery protocols with my client.

Below is a short video of how to use a foam roller, apologies for the poor sound, you might have to turn up your speakers a little to hear my dulcet tones!


Monday, 26 November 2012

The Dreaded Christmas Shopping Outing

I think I can safely say that the festive season is in full swing. London’s Christmas lights are up. Winter Wonderland is grid-locked as boyfriends try and impress with their throwing skills, all in order to win a crappy cuddly toy for their ‘mrs’ (I haven’t done this by the way). I’m currently sitting in a really cool cafĂ© in Kensal Rise and Away in a Manger is blurting out of the sound system, Jesus! No pun intended. 

This year, I thought I would be super organized and set off on the hunt for Christmas presents early (Christmas Eve is usually my day when I blitz it). What better place than Westfield Shopping Centre, all under one-roof to get the job done with no problems. Well after endlessly marching around, I ended up purchasing zilch. No Christmas presents, no cards, NOTHING. Instead I bought myself a wooly jumper, a hat and a t-shirt. Why does this always happen? I suppose you could say I was in my comfort zone. I know what I like, what shops to go into, and how much I want to spend.

This could be said with an individuals training regime. They have certain exercises/bodyparts which they love to train and often bypass the nitty-gritty stuff . An area where a lot of people, myself included, generally neglect is that mobility and prehabilitation. As a personal trainer, fitness coach, slave driver and other expletives that I won’t share with you in this blog, I believe that my first and foremost responsibility is to keep my clients injury free. That’s why I predominantly spend the first part of a session conducting some pre-habilitation work. Foam Rolling, mobilization exercises, dynamic stretching etc.

Take you’re everyday office worker. Sitting in the same position for hours upon hours, week after week. Our muscles have a great memory, and learn to adapt. So by sitting in the same position for a prolonged period of time, our muscles envelop around that position. Meaning that our muscles that flex the hip (predominantly the psoas major, minor and iliacus) shorten and become tight. Our thoracic spine becomes more kyphosed as we slouch over the desk emulating the posture of Ephialtes from the film 300. 

It’s not the most attractive look, and over time can lead to some serious anatomical complications. If that picture doesn’t get you sitting up straight then I don’t know what will!

I’m a big fan of Gray Cook’s Functional Movement Screen (FMS), it’s a screening process that highlights areas where the individual may have muscular imbalances, certain areas of tightness and pinpoints where attention (in the form of stretching, mobilizing and soft tissue work) needs to be addressed. The FMS came out of research that suggested that most of the body’s most basic and fundamental movement patterns were going un-assessed in a training environment. Dysfunctions were being trained around. Strength was being added to a dysfunctional body and the correction of weaknesses was being ignored. As a result, this approach led to injury and the restriction of activity for that individual. From the results of the FMS, the appropriate exercises are implemented into an individuals program to improve their range of movement around a joint.

Unfortunately, there are many trainers in this world that neglect these areas of concern. Often individuals are looking for the quick fix, take the biggest loser for example. The exercises that those ‘trainers’ have those poor people doing is damn right dangerous. Due to their body shape certain muscles haven’t been functioning for years and as a result other muscles are compensating and working harder, adding increased strain on an already fragile body. For example performing a heavily weighted squat with tight hip flexors automatically brings excess strain to the lumbar spine to over-compensate. That’s a car crash waiting to happen. Talking of car crashes…

After years of playing rugby my shoulders have taken a bit of a battering. Even though I’m classified as a pretty boy as I stand-out in the backline waiting for the ball, defence and tackling is an area of the game that I love. After picking up a niggling shoulder injury, as most people do, I neglected it and continued to carry on playing. ‘Re-hab is for pussy’s” what a load of Bulls*** Because of this ‘macho’ opinion I’m now having to work hard to regain the range of movement in my shoulders in order for me to comprehensively perform overhead lifting exercises.

Now I’m not saying neglect the other aspects of your fitness work. What I am saying is that you will notice a dramatic difference in your lifting performance/running efficiency/agility and balance if you dedicate just 10-15 mins of each exercise session to some pre-hab work. Everytime I train in a gym I winch at some of the posture of  some of the gym meat-heads. Yes they may be able to shift serious amounts of weight and if that’s their goal then fine. But by having the suppleness of a stick they are only setting themselves up for a later life of restricted movement. Lets not have a population of Ephilates, get stretching and mobilising!!


Friday, 23 November 2012

Recipe/s of the week 23/11

So it's Friday, and recipe of the week time..

Today I'm going to spoil you (well it was thanksgiving yesterday!!) and give you two recipes. These two are so simple and take minutes to prepare. They go perfectly as an accompaniment to both fish, meat and vegetarian options. 

I'm aware that the daily consumption of fibrous greens and other nutritious veggies can get a little tiresome and lack texture and individual flavours. So I'm going to take two heavyweight nutritionally packed veggies - kale and cauliflower, and develop them using techniques that are often saved for carbohydrate heavy foods.

Recipe 1 - Cauliflower Mash (serves 2/3)



1 Cauliflower
3 tbsp Water


Chop the cauliflower into florets and put in a steamer for 5/6 mins until the cauliflower is soft to touch with a fork.

Empty into a food processor and add 3 tbsp of water. Blitz for 30 secs. Check that the mixture is smooth and a creamy looking.

For an extra treat, crumble in 30g of Feta Cheese and blitz.


Recipe 2 - Kale Chips



3 big handfuls of Kale
1 tbsp of Olive Oil


Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.

Add the kale to a baking tray and drizzle over the olive oil.

Put in the oven for 4/5 mins until the kale appears crispy, be careful not to burn the tips, although it just adds an extra crispyness! 

As you can see, these recipes arn't exactly taxing and take less than 10 minutes. Perfect for people with busy lives who often use the excuse of lack of time for healthy cooking. Both vegetables are cheap and easily accessible. Aim to purchase Kale organically as it's one of the dirty dozen (see previous blog). If you can't source, just wash thoroughly and dampen with a towel before putting in the oven.

Both of these veggies, once cooked, contain a compound called Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C). Numerous studies have been conducted on this compound and all have shown I3C has significant anti-cancer properties. Indole are natural anti-oxidants and help to combat free radicals.

Kale has been labelled a 'superfood,' and it's easy to see why. Packed with Vitamin K, kale can help to reduce inflammation therefore lowering blood pressure and cholestral levels.

Cauliflower is loaded with vitamin C which keeps infection at bay, improves the strength of your bones and teeth as well as quickening the body's ability to repair wounds. The fibre content per 100g of cauliflower is 12g so it will greatly help with digestive system support.

The cauliflower mash is a staple in our household. It goes perfectly with last weeks recipe of the week - Beef Casserole.

Enjoy and have a great weekend.



Friday, 16 November 2012

Friday Recipe - Hearty Beef Casserole

I love cooking, I actually wanted to be a chef in my teens, working my way up from ‘pot-wash’ to commis chef.. well I say commis chef I basically prepared salads and stuck a load of stuff in fryers in the local restaurant. I realised how hard chefs work, they basically live in the kitchen, you have to admire their dedication, commitment and for most of them, their drive to succeed and be the best they can be. However, if you look at their stress levels, they’re through the roof! Meaning that the body’s stress hormone cortisol will be sky high, not great for your overall health!

Every Friday I’m going to share with you some recipes that are quick, easy and most importantly packed with nutritionally dense foods. I’m definitely not Jamie Oliver, but if I can help give you a bit of inspiration in the kitchen department then that’s a good thing right??

Firstly, I believe that this cooking utensil should be in everyone’s kitchen: 

It’s a lazy man’s/woman's dream machine. Chuck it all in and leave it for a few hours. You can pick one up for around £20-30 quid. It’s easy to clean too..

With these winter nights drawing in, it’s cold dark and depressing outside. Warm yourself by trying this little recipe below:

Hearty Beef Cassarole ala chef Cheese :

Serves 3-4

500g Organic Beef Braising Steak – Will be hormone free and grass-fed by being organic and packed full of protein.
2 Cloves of garlic – finely chopped – A great anti-inflammatory
1 Organic Beef stock cube and 300ml of boiling water.
2tbsp of tomato puree
Veg (all preferably organic, if not just the clean 15, see earlier post) – This is personal preference but aim for root veg though such as:
3 or 4 Carrots peeled and diced – high in beta-carotene which helps to prevent cataracts.
1 Sweet potato peeled and diced – high in fibre and vitamin B6
1 Butternut squash halved and de-seeded – Packed full of Vitamin A, a powerful anti-oxidant
2 Leeks diced – High in folate, which supports our cardiovascular sytem
1 Onion diced – Packed full of Vitamin C
A handful of Mushrooms diced – Rich in Calcium
A glass of Red wine – plenty of anti-oxidants, just don’t add the whole bottle!
A  couple sprigs of Thyme – A rich source of potassium which helps to regulate blood pressure
2tsp of Cornflour (to thicken the sauce).


Sear the beef in a frying pan for 2 mins. Add the garlic and onion after 1 min. Once all the meat has browned on the outside, remove from the heat and place in the slow cooker.

Add the diced veg, beef stock, red wine, tomato puree and stir, season generously with sea salt and black pepper.

Add the Thyme to the top of the cassarole and put the lid on. Set the slow cooker to setting ‘slow’ and leave it for 4-6hrs or even longer if you want your meat really tender, I usually can’t wait that long!

About 30mins before serving add the cornflour and stir. This will help to make the broth a little thicker.

Once the broth has thickened, serve with a big ladel into a bowl and enjoy!


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

It's official.. I've seen the Coca-Cola Advert!

With just under 6 weeks to go until Santa hitches up Rudolph and his mates to the trusty sled, Christmas is fast approaching. I know it’s true as I have seen the Coca-Cola Advert and am patiently awaiting the showing of Home Alone.. Home Alone 2 is the best by way.. But apart from classic films and Christmas countdowns this means endless work parties, insurmountable plates of food, and what seems like an automatic refillable wine glass. During the Christmas period it is suggested that the average person gains 5lbs through excessive consumption!

Now I’ll be the first to admit I love Christmas and everything that comes with it. It’s a time to catch up with family and friends and have a good ol’ yarn shared over a couple pints of Somerset’s finest Medium Cider (Spot the Country Bumpkin!)

Cheers Rog!!

I’m not asking you to go cold turkey (excuse the pun). Lets be realistic, there will be a high level of indulgence but how about this year, instead of getting to January 1st and feeling a tremendous amount of guilt (along with experiencing the mood swings due to the high sugar foods and bloated feeling from all those mince pies and other trans-fatty treats) try something different. Approaches that will make you feel that you have earned that Xmas Pudding. Demolish that feeling of guilt, which can subsequently lead to stress, and an increase in the hormone cortisol, which leads to fat storage (more on that at a later date!)

Just like a job, you work hard at your occupation and persist to get the rewards, i.e. a bonus, a promotion. It’s the same with exercise, you work hard, and you see results, fitting into that dress that you couldn’t 6-weeks ago. Smashing your 3k running time or nailing a PB on the Bench Press.

I like to use an analogy with training and exercise. Consider it ‘Money in the Bank.’ You’ve worked hard, be it in the gym, or at the food you consume. If you’re like me, you like to treat yourself now and again, everyone’s human right?!

Well this analogy can be used with Xmas. By training hard during this Christmas period and earning that all-important ‘Money in the Bank’ Why not treat yourself for all that hard work and dedication. The key principle is that is should all be in moderation.

What happens when you over-spend? You become over-drawn and as a result get charged by the bank. What happens when a cheeky doughnut ‘treat’ becomes a daily occurrence? Or that glass of wine becomes a bottle? You become over-weight, which can lead to all sorts of health problems..

Alcohol is a depressant, it negatively affects your training and health, it contains ‘empty’ calories and raises estrogen levels (beer mostly). It pounds your liver, ruins your sleep and diminishes muscle recovery functions. I could write an entire article on the negative effects of alcohol but I just want you to get the message that if training is important to you, you will limit your alcohol consumption.

People often wait until January to set new goals or ‘resolutions.’ The question I’m going to pose to you today is, ‘why wait until January?’ With my personal training clients I’m forever asking them what their goals are. We set long-term goals, and short-term goals.  It’s the best way to measure progression and avoid that dreaded plateau. Once a goal has been achieved, we evaluate and look to devise new ones. All under the SMARTER acronym (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time related Exciting and Recorded).

6 weeks is plenty of time to make a considerable change on your body composition, alter your nutritional habits and generally feel better in yourself. Have people commenting on how good you look over the Christmas period don’t follow the crowd and gain that extra 5lbs by pigging out at those xmas parties. Here are a couple of strategies to help get you through:

Choose the Least bad option:

One of the bonuses of this time of year is the food of choice (turkey) is high in muscle building protein. Ladies this is what you need as well – don’t panic you won’t look like the Incredible Hulk! A negative however, is the large amount of carb-heavy foods that can cause major problems for insulin health and body composition. The high levels of carbs cause a quick insulin spike that causes signals to move glucose out of the bloodstream and blood sugar levels crash. The only way the body knows how to elevate these is to crave more carb heavy foods. So it’s best to fill up on protein. If you’re invited to a Xmas drinks and are invited to bring something, take something gluten free or high in protein to keep those sweet cravings at bay.

Drink Green tea to minimize the effects of Alcohol.

You’ve probably heard by now how great this drink is but there’s no harm re-iterating what it can do for your health. Green tea is crammed full of anti-oxidants which help to diminish oxidative stress. As mentioned previously, alcohol is a massive stressor on the body. Green tea helps to detoxify the liver and can even help with feelings of a hangover. Green tea elevates glucose uptake and the polyphenols found in the drink help to boost your metabolism and intensify levels of fat oxidation.

Get enough sleep.

Sleep is so important. It is a natural weight deterrent and a stress eliminator. Studies have shown that individuals with reduced sleep crave more foods with high sugar and saturated fat. Sleep deprivation also causes a reduction in growth hormone (the hormone of youth) elevated cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, which lead to fat storage. By getting a better sleep you make better food choices, can bang out an awesome workout and generally feel good! If you struggle with insomnia, look at taking a magnesium supplement to help with better sleep. If that fails… revert to counting sheep!!!

So why not start today?! It will be a lot tougher to jump on the bandwagon with everyone else come January 2013. Head into the gym/out in the park/into the pool, full of purpose and INTENSITY!! Make people sit up and notice you for the right reasons this Christmas. 

Friday, 9 November 2012

All About Snacking (with a touch of Barack)

I suppose I must start this morning by congratualing BO, not the kind that often dominates individuals in the gym but the re-elected President of the United States, Barack Obama. I'm not really a follower of politics, especially American politics, but I think the right man won.. He just seems far more appealing, especially to us 'over the pond,' and when his nearest rival questions the state of our readiness over the greatest sporting spectacle in history and riles our boy Boris, we know that he's trouble! One thing I would definitely question is the total money spent on the entire election campaign.. it totalled $6 billion!! That's absolutely crazy.. Instead of going on a rant about those ludicrous figures, I'll stick to something I know about, and you definitely don't need $6 billion..

I want to briefly touch on the subject of snacking. In my eyes, regular consumption of food (every 2-4hrs) is vital if you want to change your body composition. Whether it's to lose a few stubborn pounds or to add muscle, those extra meals outside the 'big three' are crucial. I know Intermittent Fasting (IF) has had some good publicity recently and results to prove it, but I think there's a specific time and place for IF and it's very dependant on the individual. I like IF because there are many ways that you can perform it and it goes on the premise of eating healthy, nutritionally dense foods during certain 'windows.' However for many of my existing clients and other individuals who have busy working days and rely on their mental clarity, I would much rather educate them to eat regularly to maintain balanced blood sugar levels and keep a sustainable energy balance throughout the duration of the day.

Like with all aspects of a successful nutrition plan, snacks/small meals come down to preparation and organisation. By being organised you wont succombe to the temptation of the biscuits/donuts/pastries/crisps that is so easily accessible in the office environment. It's also a good refusal strategy, just to say 'no thanks, I've bought my own.' So as you see your colleagues slowly crashing due to the blood sugar level dip (and their waistlines expanding), you will be more productive and feel better as the snacks I mention below all help to keep you full of both energy and your appetite satiated.

With each snack, your first thought should be protein. Protein is an essential macronutrient and is made up of amino acids which help the body with the repair and growth of muscle tissue. Protein also helps the body to burn fat as more energy is needed to break down protein than fat molecules. As mentioned above, they keep you fuller for longer. What snacks contain protein...

Nuts and seeds (unsalted) - There's a big misconception that nuts are bad for you as they contain lots of calories.. rubbish! Nuts contain essential fats (mostly mono and poly-unsaturated fats), high levels of protein and plenty of fibre. The type of nut that you eat isn't important, (be careful with peanuts - see below). Nuts also pack a heavy punch when it comes to levels of Omega 3's. They are one of the best plant based foods for levels of this fatty acid. They are also high in vitamin E which has shown to help stop the development of plaque build up in your arteries, which can cause a narrowing of the arteries and increase the risk of diabetes and heart attacks. Have a handful of mixed nuts and seeds or any nut of your choice UNSALTED!! I know they are more-ish but just keep it to a handful!

Eggs - Yes, I know they can be pretty pungent (!), but they are one of the highest biological sources of protein. Packed with vitamins, minerals, all in all a great food source. You may be a bit hesitant about eating them and raising your cholestral level, again, absolute rubbish, numerous studies have shown that by eating eggs they actively lower you ldl (bad cholestral) and increase you hdl (good cholestral) levels. They are a great source of choline, this nutrient helps regulate the brain, nervous and cardiovascular system. Choline is found in the yolk of the egg so don't throw the best bit away! In one study it showed that eggs also promote the growth of hair, this is due to their high sulphur content and wide range of vitamins and minerals. Many people found their hair growing faster when eggs were added to their diet.. I better get a couple dozen in then!!! Boil a couple up the night before and take them to work.. try it!

Hummus and Carrot/Celery/Apple - Hummus, is high in fibre and protein and contains healthy mono-unsaturated fats which are heart healthy and will keep you fuelled until your next main meal. Combine it with a fibrous veggie and you've got a great snack... just try not to eat the whole pot in one go!!

Nut Butters on oat/rice cakes - Try and source out the Meridian Almond butter - you can get it from Sainsburys, tastes great and is better for you than regular peanut butter, as peanuts are highly inflammatory because they contain a toxin aflotoxin. Add almond/cashew/hazlenut butter to an oatcake with a banana on top.... tastes amazing, perhaps a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Dried fruits - Raisons, apricots, cranberries - Dried Apricots are packed with Vitamin A which is considered an anti-oxidant so it will help protect cells from all those roaming free radicals. These are sweet and would be ideal to have a handful of these before your workout, give you that bit of energy before those burpees!!

So there's just a couple of ideas for some healthy snacks to consume in between the 'big 3.' All are easily accessible, you don't need to take out a mortgage to buy any of them and they will leave you feeling full and with bags of energy. These are snack ideas for individuals who want to improve their nutrition and perhaps shift that little bit of stubborn bodyfat.

I'm off to buy a euromillions ticket.. £121 million the jackpot is tonight!! Still, that's not even a dent on $6 billion....


Friday, 2 November 2012

Out for a bit of a trundle...

I had a change to my usual routine this morning which meant a little lie in (9.30am! Jealous?!) So what better way to start the day than to get the endorphins flowing and work up a bit of a sweat. I decided to stretch my legs and venture off for a morning jog around Clapham Common.

Running/jogging/waddling or whatever style you chose to adopt has always been a bit of a controversial topic. Now I’m a massive fan of HIIT (High intensity interval training) numerous studies have shown that HIIT melts fat at a faster rate than conventional steady state cardio – i.e Running, Cycling, Swimming. An individuals’ metabolism can fire for substantially longer due to the EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption) theory using the HIIT method, so that fat burning furnace is ignited. Prolonged periods of running (longer than 45mins) have shown to cause hormonal stress on the body, increasing the fat storage hormone cortisol

Now I’m not telling you to stop running. Far from it. I think there’s a certain inner peace when you stomp those pavements. It’s a time to think, to mentally push yourself and if you’re like me, aim to run down the runners infront of you.

I’ve just finished reading a book called ‘Born to Run’ an incredible story about a South American tribe called the Tamarahumera, who are natural born runners. They run with small parts of leather strapped to their feet. To them, an ultra-marathon is like a gentle 3k stroll in the park. Phenominal.

One of the latest ‘crazes’ to grace the fitness industry is that of barefoot running. The Vibram five-finger shoes have ballooned in popularity over the last year. These webbed-like shoes emulate running naked. I don’t mean running through the streets streaking like Frank the Tank on the awesome film Old School. I’m talking about running like you have nothing on your feet.

What these shoes promote is running on your forefoot.  This is seen as a good thing as the muscles and tendons in the foot and ankle (achilles etc) act as massive shock absorbers which means that the forces are not transferred to the knees and hips which is where most people get injuries from running.

As a population, we have decided that the ground is too hard and have designed shoes with massive amounts of cushioning.  Unfortunately, this cushioning is still insufficient to protect all the joints in the body and probably only helps the foot to be honest.  Because we have this cushioning we feel we can run on our heels which then opens us up to the problems of a foot that pronates/supinates under massive forces.

Forefoot running does away with this problem as the foot lands fairly flat (on the toes) and absorbs the shock through the multiple joints in the foot as well as the fascia and muscles / tendons.  Of course, if we all kicked our shoes off and started to run around we would develop injuries as we are not adapted to it so caution must be used and time spent exercising barefoot must be built up gradually.

I have very low arches, and extremely flat feet. I often strut and adapt the ten-to-two look. Not cool. I’m currently suffering from a jabbing pain in my arch, and the Vibram shoes are looking pretty appealing at the moment. Although I’m going to break myself in gently, and look to purchase from the New Balance Minimus range (below). Not the Vibram Five Fingers just yet as I don’t want to look like I have just come off the set of Waterworld. (Kevin Costner is a legend by the way..) I’m interested in anything that can increase your athletic performance, not steroids obviously, but may improve biomechanics and reduce the risk of long-term injury.