Not a question that you were expecting I would imagine?!
This may seem like a totally unrelated subject but in this article I aim to give a small but vital insight into this subject; specifically when considering the optimal conditioning for winter sports.
To begin with it is paramount to understand two things;
- The first is that whenever an organ experiences inflammation or pain there is a reflex inhibition of an associated muscle due to innervation by the same nerve.
- The second point leads on from the first in that the human body is a system of interlinked systems and to treat organs, joints and muscles in isolation misses a vital point, meaning that we won't get to the root cause of dysfunction and injury.
Please consider this, when we eat a food that we cannot digest properly, this will create inflammation in the gut. This starts to become relevant when we realise that the intestines are at the associated muscular level of the lower region of the Transversus Abdominus, a vitally important stabilisor of the pelvis and the low back.
When there is inflammation in the intestines this lower portion of the Transversus Abdominus will become inhibited.
When this is the case the pelvis becomes unstable. Luckily, our body is very clever and when this happens other muscles will lend a hand to help maintain the pelvis in a more neutral position.
The helpful muscles in question here are the hamstrings. The proximal end of the hamstring group has the function of assisting the lower portion of the Transversus Abdominus in stabilising the pelvis. However, in this instance the hamstrings become over taxed due to them being asked to be primary stabilisers, which they are not designed to do.
"What's the big deal and what has this to do with my knee"
You may ask. Well here's the problem for the skier. Another very important function of the hamstring is to assist in the integrity of the knee joint at the distal end due to the fact that the hamstrings cross the knee and attach to the Tibia and Fibula; having the mechanical effect of pulling the Femur and the Tibia and Fibula together.
When the hamstring is over working to stabilise the pelvis the whole muscle becomes fatigued leaving the knee joint relatively unstable. This is where the cruciate ligament finally comes into play. When the hamstrings have become fatigued the cruciate ligament now has very little help in its role to stabilise the knee.
So picture the end of your day on the slopes; you've been on your skis all day, you're tired, the snow is rough and rutted; you hit a rut, catch an edge or have a collision with another skier and an anterior sheer force is placed upon your knee; your overly working and fatigued hamstrings don't fire as quickly or effectively as they should and suddenly BANG you feel an intense pain in your knee; the next thing you know you're being airlifted off the mountain!
The sad end to this tragic tale is that your poor cruciate ligament couldn't cope with the extra strain it had to deal with as its synergistic hamstrings become too fatigued to do their job.
Many people never recover fully from this type of injury
As they receive suboptimal rehabilitation, and they may never ski again. I feel that's a huge sacrifice to make when we consider that small dietary changes could make all the difference to the function of the Transversus Abdominus; the primary muscle in this chain of events.
So let's go back to the inflammation in the gut, which is the underlying cause of this injury. Put simply, when we are regularly consuming foods that we have an inability to digest properly, this creates constant inflammation in the intestines due to the secretory (IgA) antibodies in the mucus membranes being triggered to attack these undigested food particles.
This sets up a battle ground in the intestines, which, given time, can lead to leaky gut syndrome, causing an even more serious, chronic immune response, which we needn't go into here.
Two of the main culprits, in most modern diets, are gluten and diary, both of which the adult human body was never really designed to digest.
Think about your diet and ask yourself how often you're consuming foods containing gluten and diary?
Is it everyday? For many it is nearly every meal! That croissant and cappuccino for breakfast; that sandwich for lunch; that cereal based "energy" bar, with a cup of tea (with milk), in the afternoon, and that pasta dish for dinner, with a nice bowl of ice cream for desert.
If this is the case then you will almost certainly be creating constant inflammation in your intestines and the subsequent chain of events, mentioned previously, will be quietly waiting for that rut, edge catch or collision!
When we consider food intolerance, let me ask you this, do you suffer with that troublesome "paunch" belly that won't go away no matter how many crunches you do? Do you often feel bloated after eating? Do you suffer with trapped wind or digestive discomfort? If so the chances are this is your body sending you a message that I really hope you're listening to!
Many times my clients have cut out dairy and gluten in order to activate that vital Transversus Abdominus in the clinical environment, and on the slopes.
I suggest try cutting out gluten and dairy for 3 weeks and see if you notice any differences. You may be surprised at an improvement in your energy levels, digestion and body composition in this short time, let alone the function of your vital stabilisation system.
After 3 weeks you can then reintroduce gluten and dairy one at a time and see if you notice any difference. If you do then you are seeing the results of a food intolerance at work and you may wish to cut out that foodstuff on a more regular basis.
So, see if you notice any differences in how you feel. If you do, you can be confident that your body has the potential to function more effectively and keep you safe when you're enjoying those precious days on the slopes.
By Mark Zawadski - Chek practitioner @ BodyWorksWest for more information on injury prevention contact Mark.firstname.lastname@example.org