NSLBP NICE Guidelines

back-pain_001-1080x600For anyone who works in healthcare you’re probably quite familiar with NICE guidelines, for anyone who isn’t, they are guidelines health professionals follow for the treatment and management of certain ailments put together from the best evidence based research that is available at the time.

There are guidelines for all sorts of things and I thought I’d write a little about the guidelines for a very common problem – Non Specific Low Back Pain (NSLBP) and sciatica, that is, where pain has no association with a known serious or potentially serious cause.

Self management is first up :offering advice and information; personally I think this is an underrated aspect, if knowledge is power then offering knowledge can surely only be empowering (and hopefully motivating) helping someone understand their problem and ideally want to take control of it.

Next up, group exercise, specific programmes tailored around needs, capabilities and preferences of individuals, where NSLBP is concerned exercise is the number one go to! Something I’ve often come across is people using belts, there is a huge psychological element to using supports with injuries, and if they’ve been advised in relation to a particular diagnosed condition follow the advice, however for NSLBP NICE say they are not to be offered.

Other no go’s for NSLBP include acupuncture and electrotherapy (i.e. TENS). Manual therapies (soft tissue/massage, mobilisations/manipulations) are suggested as a potential for consideration but not on their own only in conjunction with other treatments such as psychological therapies and (you guessed it) exercise! I’m not going to go into less conservative treatments as I’m not a doctor but for anyone interested NICE guidelines are available to access online. It may not have escaped your notice that where NSLBP is concerned exercise is foundational,

I’m not talking sets and reps of deadlifts just progressive exercises (any one that’s done a FitFarms core session will know what I mean there!) beginning gently, progressing and committing to it; often programmes are followed until pain eases then neglected until it comes back and its back to square one, the key is continuation.

Health and Fitness exercise tip by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here.

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Foot Strike in Running

Foot Strike Types








As anyone that’s been on a FitFarms course will know I like a good stretch and often focus on an area generally neglected -feet; as I’ve also been on a bit of a running kick I decided to combine the two and discuss foot strike in running. I mentioned a while back about how running technique varies from person to person and foot strike essentially is a part of an individuals technique.

When we talk about foot strike there are three types – rear foot, midfoot and forefoot. Each is pretty much as they sound, rear foot is where the foot strikes the ground with the heel or rear third of the foot, mid where the metatarsal heads or middle third of the foot strike first and fore where again the metatarsal heads strike first but where the heel does not lower to the ground (with that said there are a few different methods for deciding foot strike including one that suggests ankle position should be considered as well, but for simplicity consider the foot in thirds!).

It has been believed that forefoot strike is the more natural way to strike, and when I say natural I mean how you would strike if unshod, however the majority of people seem to rear foot strike; this has been assumed
due to the creation of footwear however studies have shown from barefoot runners in Africa a majority also rear foot strike.

Some people have changed how they strike through practice believing it less injurious to fore or mid foot strike despite it being noted that there is little research wise to show any benefit long term (though I think it’s partly that there’s little research on the matter full stop). Forefoot running is shown to lower the impact and ground reaction force (the force return, if you like) compared to rear foot and it is demonstrated that top rank participants at different distance events were often fore or mid foot strikers; it has been suggested that foot strike may be specific to the task, with fore foot strike apt for increased speed and rear foot better for conserving energy with reduced oxygen uptake by running at submaximal speed, though as you can probably glean from the theme running through, this also is not definitive!

Health and Fitness exercise tip by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here.

Foot strike image source by Ronnie Station

July 2018 FitFarms Norfolk Camp – Day 2 Review

walking exercise

It’s Sunday and the first workout of the day starts at 7:30am it’s the morning mobiliser, an hour of movement and articulation based exercises to get the body loose and nimble, straight after is breakfast and after that a personal favourite kettlebells! Followed by a class involving fitballs sliders and body weight exercises combined into mini circuits each one lasting 6 minutes and then we change the exercise but keep the equipment the same it flows really well and gets the group hot and sweaty, it’s never boring and easy to adapt so it works really well. Before we know it lunch has arrived and it’s time for a break.

We always try to give around 15-30 mins off before meals and half an hour after to allow food to settle etc but today it’s not so much of an issue as after lunch it is our 1st workshop of the week so it’s a sit down session for an hour and a half. In the workshop we talk about balance and variety as well as the importance of a more stress considered approach.

After the workshop along with a little “homework” we have a local walk to stretch our legs before dinner.. our first walk is always a short one just enough for us to assess the different paces and abilities in the group and for the group to get a little off site time.

After a nice quiet (ish) afternoon we have dinner and finish again with a stretch all be it slightly more active this evening.

It’s a lovely end to the Sunday and the weather has really been in our favour for the weekend so spirits are high and with the nutrition workshop tomorrow no day is ever the same for the group so although tired and happy with what they’ve accomplished so far they are powering on excited for the coming days activities all over again.

Health and Fitness exercise review by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here.

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July 2018 FitFarms Norfolk Camp – Day 1 Review

fitness exercise

After measurements and breakfast the exercise begins, first off we have an intro to exercise a basic movement class where we cover adaptions and alternatives people may need to use throughout the week and this session is usually capped off with an 8 minute fitness test. Haha the clients are usually really happy at the end of those 8 minutes!

After this we had a yoga session with Rosie, it’s a great introduction if you’ve never done it before and Rosie really understands not everyone is there for the yoga so makes it a very well rounded session.

Next on the agenda is lunch, it’s chicken on the bone and cous cous salad today which sounds really straight forward but looks like something special even after 7 years of working at fitfarms the mealtime is still my favourite!

After lunch it was time for 1 and a half hours of boxing, that’ll get em’ sweating! People are always surprised if they haven’t done boxing or boxercise before for how much they enjoy it and how much they get from it, it really is great fun and I can honestly say I have t had a single course where the majority wouldn’t want to do it more than once in a week.

Next up is an intro to aerobics, we find people enjoy aerobics and dance type classes if they can at least follow the moves so we do an intro that teaches the basics and timing etc that way everyone gets involved, Jen has made this class into a really good progression so throughout the week everyone can see either base improvement and/or get a workout from it.

Core Session
After this it’s our first core session and again the basics are covered in the session it’s enough of a workout in itself but it’s focus is on correct technique. It’s a different enough approach that even the well trained will feel the benefits the day after. At this point a few of the more hardened and well conditioned clients may think it’s not a strenuous enough start to the course but it is exactly that and funnily enough the ones that usually ask on the first day are the ones suffering the most on the 2nd and 3rd day.

After dinner is the final class, a stretch session possibly one of the most important sessions of the day but typically the most underrated let’s face it “NO ONES EVER GOING TO BURN CALORIES OR GET FIT BY STRETCHING!” But we aren’t interested.

Health and Fitness exercise review by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here.

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FitFarms Spain – June 2018 Fitness Camp Review 2

FitFarms Spain

It’s Saturday and it’s arrival day for the FitFarms Fitness Boot Camp Spain guests. We offer two pick ups at 12.30pm and 5.15pm. There is one more collection from the airport this time at 8.15pm which we are doing for a lady coming from Norway. We are under an hour from the airport which is a real advantage for making the course run smoothly.

In the morning we had chance to go into the weight loss retreat villa and set up the rooms and store foods and do the standard health and hygiene checks in the Kitchen and exercise hall. The exercise are here at the Spain weight loss camp is rather impressive. It’s a huge ball room with wooden sprung floors which is great for aerobics and other high impact classes which we run throughout the holistic weight loss boot camp.

Malaga airport was extremely busy with holiday makers coming from all different areas. We managed to meet our first group of guests without any problems though at the Hertz rental car office. Then the short trip up the mountain to settle everyone in to the accommodation. We provide s quick healthy snack for everyone as most people have been travelling since the early hours and are feeling a little hungry.

One more airport trip to go later today and then the weight loss and fitness retreat course will be underway.

Fitness camp review by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here.

The Scenic Walk Experience at FitFarms Spain – June 2018 Fitness Camp Review

Fitness Camp Spain Scenic WalkThe walks which we have planned on the Spain holistic weight loss and fitness boot camp are very scenic. The lake is a vast open area with many people taking part in water sports like kayaking and paddle boarding. The lake is also a great area to relax and swim as the water and beach area is very clean.

The Spain weight loss retreat is excellently situated as we are just 1 hour from Granada and also under an hour from Seville. The Granada walk really is breathtaking and having the ancient city as a backdrop is fantastic.

The villa we have chosen to run the retreats is very impressive. It has 3 apartments and 7 rooms all being en suite. The accommodation sits around the swimming pool and the backdrop is the wonderful Andalucia hillside.

We are virtually all set up now and ready to go. Water bootles, journals etc are all prepared for the guests and food preparation has already begun.

The science behind the FitFarms Weight Loss retreat menu is balancing blood sugar levels and portion control. We know the amount of calories that go into each and every dish but we tend not to put too much emphasis on it as calorie counting can become a little obsessive to some guests.

Fitness camp review by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here.

FitFarms Spain – June 2018 Fitness Camp Review

people running exerciseIt’s Thursday early morning and we’re on our way to the Spain fitness camp and weight loss retreat.

This year we have changed the way we are running the weight loss and fitness retreat as we have lowered the number of guests to 12. The main reason for this is to improve the one to one attention we give the guests at the retreat. However we will be running more retreats so the intake of guests over the year will actually be more just a better standard of course.

One of the best things about the Spain weight loss retreat is the standard of food that can be bought in the supermarkets and local wholesalers. There is a fresh fish and meat market in the local town which is just 10 minutes away from the Villa. I’m cheffing this week and am already looking forward to seeing the variety of food types with all the different Mediterranean colours. There will be some videos coming up in the next couple of days of the food and the markets.

When we arrive in Malaga we will jump in a car and drive to a huge natural lake in Andalucia to do the first walk risk assessment. It’s going to be very hot so I’m not really looking forward to the run. Then we are driving down to the ancient city of Granada for the second risk assessment walk. Finally we will go back to Malaga to meet some food wholesalers and buy some more sports equipment for the FitFarms fitness camp and weight loss week ahead.

Fitness camp review by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here.


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Why Do We Exercise?

Exercise daily and be healthyIn general it all boils down to three goals – lose weight, tone up and get fit. These aren’t our goals these are how we respond “typically” when asked. Even if people say it’s for health reasons they generally attach that to visual changes they see. For instance if they lose weight it must be working and they must be getting healthier.

So when the doctor says you have a high risk of CHD or diabetes you need to exercise and start a healthy diet. You think in order for this to be working I should see some change in my body shape I should see some weight loss on the scales (it doesn’t help that the doctor also associates these issues with being obese according to the BMI scale or your hip to waist ratio). Even if you have never had that conversation with the doctor but you just know you’ve gained weight or you feel less healthy or your not as active as you used to be … or your getting out of breath when walking a little or you feel stiff sore or weak all of the typical pre cursors to prompting a change in lifestyle or starting a diet and exercise program. These all lead to one thing a focused and planned out routine of structured and usually restricted eating and exercise to achieve visual result that will suggest you are achieving your goals. But think of it like this, exercise is not a natural or functional concept we do not need it to live or maintain quality of life, a structured or routine diet is not necessary for a healthy body.

I remember when I first started working in the industry the 6-8 meals a day idea was new and it was the definitive answer shortly after it got followed up with the theory of eating live a caveman (person!) and it all made sense. The problem is the cave people weren’t eating a diet or a structured routine, they also weren’t working a 9-5 job they didn’t have such a organised and developing society stress was much simpler back then and they lived more instinctively than habitually.. not to mention our bodies have evolved massively since then and so won’t they can and can’t tolerate is very different. If you consider all of this and then consider they weren’t trying to be fit or live up to a certain expectation they were just living then you can see how an understanding of their way of life can help us to find answers and solutions but it is neither the answer nor the solution in its entirety. What our body actually needs vs what our mind craves vs what is scientifically correct based on a perfect working model vs what is right for that person.

I read an article a while ago about a tribe in Tanzania and whilst there were many interesting points the main one was that the males of this tribe as hunter gathers would graze whilst out hunting and gathering on the food they would collect the females of the tribe were the farmers who would also graze throughout the day on the food they would harvest. In the main feeding times they would all sit together and eat a mix of the same food but the study found that their gut microbes were different due to the different grazing habits. The reason I think this is a good example as it goes some way to demonstrate how adaptive to change our bodies can be and how by the time we decide to make a change to our lifestyle we as individuals are unique and should approach it as such.


Editorial by the FitFarms Health and Fitness team. Check out all our fitness camp courses today.

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FitFarms Dorset Fitness Course Review – November 2017

thank yourselfOur fitness and weight loss retreat is underway! Last night we met the clients had our first meal together, introduced them to the plan for the week and this morning took their measurements before breakfast.

We have a full day of exercise ahead; it’s the first day so we like to make it the fullest!! And the rest of the week will be filled with some Zumba classes, aerobics, and resistance training of many types! Movement based classes, relaxation and yoga based sessions as well as many workshops as we can possibly squeeze in to that short time!

As the week goes by we will spend one to one time with each of the clients helping to make sense of the reasons they have for being here and how best to make good use of what they learn for when they go home. FitFarms is all about a balance in life and above all of the things we want and need are the core principles of what is good for us and what right for us each as an individual.

It’s not a case of one size fits all but choose your own path and make your own terms. It’s an approach that works very well for our clients and can be adapted to whatever brings the clients to us. We want our clients to succeed by themselves for themselves in whatever their aims.

Let’s see if we can help our new group make sense of an easier healthier lifestyle.

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FitFarms Matlock Fitness Course Review – November 2017

river_2It’s a bitterly cold and wet Friday night and all the new FitFarms fitness course clients are all arriving to spend either two, three, five or seven days with us to take part in our fitness course and the weather is awful.

All throughout the afternoon and evening we have people arriving so it’s manic on the Friday but, all goes smoothly which is always a bonus.

There is a wide range of clients on the course and all different ages from 14 to 70+ so, it makes the course interesting for us fitness trainers.

By the time everyone has arrived it’s dark. We started the FitFarms welcome talk to explain to everyone what to expect on the course and if anyone has any questions or worries.

After that, I always do a basic stretch class for everyone. What we have to remember is that a lot of these people have either never exercised or have not done for years. They are very nervous, stressed and worried, or simply just exhausted from their hours and hours travelling to take part on out fitness course, a simple stretch class is a good idea as it calms people down and hopefully will de stress them before the course starts property on the Saturday morning.

Lucky, we don’t have many people with medical issues on the course apart from a few bad knees and a few post operation recovery injuries.

Check out our next FitFarms Fitness Camp Course Schedules and Rates here.