Bring Sally Up….

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Have you seen the recent ‘Bring Sally Up’ challenge about doing pushups in time with the Moby track ‘Flower’? Pushups are the ultimate triceps exercise. I find it almost impossible, but I’m working on it! The lyrics are really ‘Green Sally Up’, not ‘Bring Sally Up’, but that’s a whole other story with its roots in slavery. I’ll let you Google it!

We use the triceps muscle to push things: helping ourselves out of a chair, pushing a door, and doing pushups.  ‘Tri’, means ‘three’. The triceps has three components: the medial, the lateral and the long head. These all come together  to attach onto the olecranon of the elbow.

The triceps is the muscle that is most commonly affected by a trapped nerve in the neck, the seventh cervical nerve. A problem with this nerve can give pain in the neck and arm, and weakness of the triceps. We normally test triceps strength, comparing one side to the other. As the nerve recovers, the triceps strength improves.

Pushups are a great way to develop our core stability, working multiple muscles, as well as to support our cardiovascular fitness. They help to strengthen our shoulders. They don’t require any equipment. They are free, and it doesn’t take very long to do them.

But, they are difficult. In another video I’ll show you how you can start to do pushups at a level that suits you and how to gradually progress so that you can do push-ups at a level that helps to get you fitter and stronger!

If you feel strong enough to have a go at the challenge here is a link to a YouTube video of the track with a timer so that you can see how long you can keep going. Push yourself up and stay up with ‘Green Sally Up’ and then lower yourself down and stay down with the lyric ‘Bring Sally Down’. See how long you can keep going!

Green Sally up and green Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Old Miss Lucy’s dead and gone

Left me here to weep and moan….

Is your BP monitor any good?

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This article was stimulated by me seeing an article by Dean Piccone and colleagues [1] in the JAMA. I thought that all blood pressure (BP) monitors that are sold in the UK would be equally valid, but apparently not!

Why is measuring BP important? We know that elevated systolic BP is a risk factor for death. It is estimated that 10 million people die globally each year due to high BP [2].  So, identifying patients with elevated blood pressure, therefore, makes sense, so that BP lowering interventions can be made or suggested.

I like to measure my patients BP when I first see them, and annually at their review, if they are attending for regular care. Sometimes it can be very high when I first see a patient, and this might be very relevant, if the patient is complaining of left shoulder pain, for instance. Other times I might notice that it is creeping upwards year-on-year

In-clinic measurements are commonly elevated, giving a false impression of risk, due to ‘white coat syndrome’. [3, 4]. This might result in an inappropriate referral of the patient to their GP for BP meds. We often ask patients to measure their BP at home. These patients will obviously need to have their own BP monitor.

You need to ensure that your BP monitor has been validated. Not all monitors have been validated, because the regulations governing their sale are apparently as much about electrical safety as measurement accuracy. You can check yours at the National Registry  run by the British and Irish Hypertension Society.

You can learn how to reliably measure your own BP an on-line course (yes, really) here which takes about an hour [5]. Most people just follow the instructions that come with the BP equipment that they buy

If you want to learn more, read the article by Piccone and colleagues (link below). Shout out to them for a really useful article. Awesome!

Can you run faster with these?

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I’ve never been a very fast runner. My Parkrun speed is only 6.2 mph. Mostly I run for the mood ‘high’ that running gives me. I reckon that Jill, the family guinea pig, can run faster than me (size related). Guinea pigs can run at speeds of up to 8 mph! How come they can go so fast? Looking at some of the tech in running shoes might help us to understand why. There was a great article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine about this. Lets look at the Nike ‘Vaporfly’, which is claimed to help us run up to 6% faster! This is due to three design changes:

Firstly a carbon-fibre plate that shifts the point of lift-off forwards, increasing the upwards and forwards forces of lift-off, much like the long foot of a guinea-pig!

Secondly: more springy foam in the sole, returning 32% more energy, a bit like the elastic tendons in a guinea-pigs leg.

Thirdly: a thicker sole, increasing stride length and improving efficiency.

If my legs were longer, maybe I would be able to run faster? If Jills were too, perhaps she also could. Now that would be scary! My own running shoes are made by Saucony. They are currently extremely muddy, having just come back from a run to Culham, and back, via a very muddy riverbank!

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