I get asked a lot similar questions, so over the next month both on my Instagram (@fitchicnic) and on here, I’ll be going through the alphabet talking about some of the most common health and fitness related questions and topics.
H is for Hamstrings / Health
What a contradictory photo – it shows my hamstrings, but definitely not what the pinnacle of health looks like! (Competing is an extreme of the fitness industry, and is 100% about aesthetics rather than health, strength, fitness or endurance.)
Hamstrings. A lot of us spend our days with our knees bent, whether that’s sitting at a desk, curled up on the sofa, or cycling to work etc. It’s no wonder that our hamstrings get tight, and that can limit our ability in squats and other everyday movements. There can also be other tightness issues in the calves, hip flexors, fascial interconnections, lower back, or a mixture of them all.
- I could list various stretches to help with flexibility, but while either trying to touch your toes in a seated or standing position, then keep your legs straight, and bend from the hips rather than curving the lower back. This will be a lot more effective over time than cheating it.
- If you find you get cramps in them, then make sure you warm up properly, stay hydrated, keep them flexible, and eat more foods high in vitamins such as magnesium and calcium.
Health. Such a broad term. In the gym we so often get caught up in trying to keep our bodies looking good that we forget how we should be making ourselves feel good. Here are just some general points to remember or consider:
- Exercise is proven to help depression and mental illness. Try to help your bodies through good food and more activity first, rather than relying on drugs and antidepressants. Doctors are all too quick to just write a prescription.
- You can’t tell the state of someone’s health just by looking at them, although there are outward signs that can show a lack of it being optimum (being morbidly obese, skin conditions etc.)
- As I’ve mentioned before, we need to look after our bodies to be “healthy”, but this includes our mental health when it comes to balance. Life is for living, and restricting yourself long term, or overdoing the exercise, is just another extreme.
- Sleep is underrated. If you’re not feeling alert in the day, it takes you ages to get to sleep, it’s not continuous sleep, or you don’t wake up feeling refreshed, then they could be signs you need to rethink your sleeping habits. Recovery is as important!