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Self Health For Winter 2023/2024

St Mirren's Women and Girls' Academy.

10 Top Tips to Keep Tip Top.

It's the season to hibernate and embrace the cosy world inside our homes. It is also the time where training and performance is still pushing forwards at the end of the season, injuries have been more frequent, niggles, colds, flu and pressures of work and family commitments all showing themselves.

It really is the season to be happy and to prepare our aspirations and goals ready for 2024 during this short break. Here are my top 10 ideas, tried and tested to help you move smoothly through the coming weeks.

#Tip1 Take the Icelandic Approach.

Boost your energy and immune system with a Ginger and Turmeric Shot.

I've been using these power shots for 5 years and keep firmly away from the dreaded grizzlies that effect our health, energy levels and abiity to give our best.

Ginger is well-known for its energy increasing properties, ability to strengthen the immune system and improve blood flow, it can be an excellent treatment for colds. Plus, it can also promote respiratory health, reduce motion sickness and morning sickness.

Did you know it provides a relief from snoring too?

Taking turmeric as part of a daily healthy and balanced diet can be associated with reducing inflammation of the joints, accelerating workout recovery and increasing antioxidant capacity in the body.

Warm your core and take a shot just before training. Reaction times reduce by 45% when you are exposed to temperatures below 4 degrees for more than 15 mins.

#Tip2. Beetroot Juice. Post Training Recovery.

Did you know that Northumbria University Sport Science Department has a whole team studying the impact of Beetroot use on football performance and health ?

The active movement of rapid speeds and changes of direction can cause micro damage in muscles and change function and capacity to be explosive and recover.

54% of qurestionnaire responses indicated Hamstrings and Quads are our problem areas. Reducing oxidative stress on the muscles can go a long way to preventing muscle soreness - especially in cold and damp weather.

See the full article here.

Quick and Easy in a Juicer makes the process practically effortless, and the beet juice is ready in just minutes.

  1. First, wash the beets well and chop them into 4-8 pieces, depending on their size (small enough to fit your juicer chute).

  2. Then, feed the beets through the juicer chute and let the machine do all the work. Shizam !

#Tip3. Kimchi or Fermented Cucumbers. Pickling Juice.

Consuming probiotic foods like kimchi might help to improve the diversity of the good bugs in your gut microbiome — the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut — which is essential for good health.  This also reduces cytokine or inflammatory processes. You can make your own or it's easy to buy at the supermarket in the Korean Section.

#Tip4. Foundation Training. Looking after Sciatica / Back pain, hamstrings. Hip opening, flexibility and strength....and Balance!

Scandinavian football teams are moving to this unique way of strength training. It is this 12 minute routine we completed at training for warm down. Created from all our learning in the dissection room and the understanding of fascia and "Tensegrity" ... or the integrity of tension.

If you truly want to recover from or prevent injuries, foundation is the keystone to build your strength training programs on.

Feel the burn..... feel the freedom. It is an art ... so practice is the key..listening to the key detail in the explanations. A real game changer.

Squeezing muscles under body load and creating systemic strength is fast becoming the way forward in addition to traditional "stretching". You are your own personal flexibiity and strength machine.

You all as a squad felt how powerful this work is and how your balance was really challenged, the devil is in the detail with this. So practice, practice and we can work thorugh it again and more when I see you all on January 16th 2024.

#Tip5. Improving your Vagal Tone for Optimum Performance.

Your Vagal nerve (meaning the wandering nerve) is the longest nerve in your body and can influence......well... everything. From your digestion, to your mood, heart rate, how you perform in sport, how you perceive the world, how you respond to perceived threat. It is key.

Hummingbirds are a mystery.

They're tiny, and their hearts beat incredibly fast. All zoological rules dictate their lives should be drastically short. But, these bright little birds defy biological science by living five times the length their heart-fluttering physiques suggest.

Why? It may have something to do with their ‘resonance’.

Hummingbirds ‘vibrate’ while hovering at around 50 HZ can affect the vagus nerve. This nerve is a neural highway running throughout the lengths of our bodies. It's becoming clear that stimulating the vagus nerve, and improving ‘vagal tone’ can enhance both physical and mental health.

The vagus nerve, or “The self-care nerve” is known as “The future of medicine”. It could hold the key to an astonishing number of modern ailments. Learning to utilise its powers is a must if you struggle with tension, anxiety, panic attacks, neuro divergence, balance issues, fear, performance anxiety, pain and inflammation, amongst a few.

Sport Science for 2024......... when your vagal nerve does not stay in Vagus!

Measure your HRV. Heart Rate Variability. (HRV)

More variability between each heartbeat or a high HRV means the body can adapt better to external and internal factors. It can indicate good health. you can track HRV on your smart watch or a polar strap monitor / my zone chest monitor. Your personal trainer / gym will have these.

The science is new and there is no exact figure... however can be a greart indicaotor of stress in the system and how you adapt.

A healthy HRV is considered to be between 55 and 105 milliseconds. Higher than this is a reliable measure of a strong ability to have autonomic resilience and the ability to cope internally with stress and adveristy.

Increasing resilience is key for football. It is the difference between keeping a cool and focused head and losing the focus in the game Linked to unhelpful emotional responses on the pitch, loss of form and motivation because the natural parasympathetic activity cannot be regulated and you slip into self-defensive type responses.

Struggling with sleep, frustration, irritation,

Deep dive into the most recent science. Understanding your vagal tone can be the Key to your success.

Christmas present? Here are the top 6 Smart Monitors.

#Tip6. Zing up your Lymphatic System and Blood Flow - Simply.

Dry skin brushing benefits may include lymphatic drainage and movement, improved circulation to the peripheral tissues, draining products from metabolic activity during matches. Dry brushing is a medicine that has been around for centuries. We used this with England Basketball for decades and still do. Brilliant for post match rub downs, especially after a cold shower. We looked at lymphatic movement under fluroscopy at my colleague Jane Wigg's Lymph academy.

When you watch the miracle of lymphatic movement and the importance for keeping the flow in relation to injury care and prevention it makes sense to put this in your shower and keep it close to hand. Just watch out if you have psoriasis or other skin conditions.'s not great over open wounds of any sort.

Brainy corner : This is a lymph node and you have 600 have these tiny miracle machines that are looking after infection, inflammation, drainage and systemic health. Super important. Now it's not the prettiest and looks like it belongs in the Aliens film series... however, inside this node a whole pile of activity happens -and it's super related to whether you get sick or not. it's why we ask you to hydrate to 2 litres a day and why we say take cold showers, ice baths and the like.

Since so many of you are flopping with colds and flu - knowing how these work will help you look after them and keep you a little more bug free. They are shaped like kidneys (Reniform).

Basically the shape works like the "Toilet" at the waterslide park. Lymph channels all arrive here and get "sorted" inside this node. Macrophages gobble up the nasties, filtration occurs and then it moves to the next larger duct - ending up in your kidneys and then... out into the toilet of the world !

So give your nodes some love this Christmas and see just how wippet fast you are in the New Year.

#Tip7. Infra Red Therapy.

Right at the cell level and stimulating the power houses of your energy production - your mitochondria. There is a growing support for the increased flow of oxygen and the consequent raise in energy levels in the form of ATP. This is the simple version. Read more below If you don't have one already, it's worth looking into these to improve your sleep, injury recovery and match preparation.

A great investment for your self care and peak ability.

#Tip8. Good Old Fashioned Tens Machine.

TENS works by blocking pain signals travelling along nerves. It does this by stimulating other nerves that carry sensations such as touch and overrides the pain signal. It has been regularly used in pain management but more recently 30 mins of TENS use has been shown to help with recovery from tough training sessions and matches.

This is the whole basis and then it's increasing complexity with the P-DTR method we use in the club sport science approaches. The magical "flicking and tapping" which stimulates different mechanoreceptors and sensory receptors to alter neural input and feedback, reducing the "volume" on pain and re-organising the brain's response.

The NFL has used these as part of their day kit for over 15 years. They are inexpensive as well.

Find it on Amazon.

AUVON Dual Channel TENS Machine for Pain Relief, TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator with 20 Modes, 2" and 2"x4" TENS Pads Replacement (Black)

#Tip9 My mental health tip.

Extended meditations with Jason Stephenson. I have personally used these 3 hour meditations as part of sleep health for various sports teams. As sports people we tend to be super alert and super aware of stimulation which as we know can lead feelings of panic, poor sleep and an effect on our performance. Especially if listened to over a period of 7 days or more. I found these recordings really take you on a journey and down into sleep within 30 minutes of starting. Thr gift of sleep is vital for your wellbeing.

#Tip10. Use Heat Pads in your shoes and trainers.

There is a hight occurrence of plantar fasciitis and other cramping effects in the feet occurring in the squad. It's worth using toe warmers that can be moved around your foot to where you struggle the most. These ar super thin too. You don't have to wear them in trainng and matches...this is about keeping great circulation if you happen to work outside or have poor circulation.

Hope you enjoy the above. Not rocket science, more of a winter snuggle ready for the second half of the season. It's all about the self-care, the Oodie and the laughs.

Looking forward to seeing you on January 16th.

Happy Christmas Everyone :-)

Paula Esson ( BSc Sport Science / AiM/ P-DTR/FREC/Fascia Release/ Lecturer/Speaker)

Lover of all things fun.

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