Category: Uncategorised

Is bending bad for your back?

Is bending bad for your back? Ryan Wesson , one of our therapists has written this blog to provide you with some information surrounding low back pain.

Low back pain (LBP) is the most common complaint we see in Physioflexx, which isn’t surprising considering it is the most reported musculoskeletal complaint across the world. Everyone presents differently – different symptoms, different restrictions, different goals. The one common theme is the underlying beliefs and perceptions surrounding LBP.

It seems as a generation we have grown up afraid of moving our back and when it becomes painful, it takes over our life. It’s not “oh my back is a bit sore”, it’s usually “I have back pain” or “I have had back pain all my life”. Almost like it’s another member of your family – it’s acknowledged, accepted, and lives its life alongside yours.

Typically, this then brings with it another side of the coin – the “cant’s”. “I can’t bend my back”, “I can’t run because of my back”, “I can’t stand or sit for too long”…you get the picture.

If this is you, I want you to take a moment and think why you think like this. Be honest with yourself, do you know something structural is restricting your movement? Or do you just avoid these activities or movements because you know they will be sore?

As infants we are all born the same (to a degree). Granted there will be those out there with certain restrictions from birth, but we are all influenced by the society around us as we grow. It shapes our beliefs and understanding – what is good and what is bad.

So is bending your back really that bad?

The answer is no. Bending backwards, forwards, side-to-side and rotating are all natural movements that the spine should be allowed to do. Now, does that mean everyone should be able to touch their toes? Probably not – we all have our restrictions (usually tight hamstrings!), but it is a movement that the back should be able to tolerate and not one we should be afraid of.

The secret is how much movement you introduce to your body – and regularly. Motion is lotion. If you avoid movement then of course your body (and specifically your back) won’t enjoy it when you suddenly reach for that sock on the floor that requires a full range of motion. Move more regularly and your back will thank you for it.

Unsure where to start? We offer a wide array of both Pilates and Yoga classes here at Physioflexx and our team of experts can guide you through the process. Links to each are below.

Yoga – https://physioflexxayrshire.co.uk/2021/07/16/yoga/

Yoga – https://physioflexxayrshire.co.uk/2021/07/16/yoga/

Should you wish to book an Assessment with one of our team of therpaists please click here Book Online – Physioflexx Ayrshire

Running resolution

Every year millions of people make New Year’s resolutions. One popular resolution is to plan your running for the year as a personal goal. We all start somewhere when it comes to running.

Few are born with the ability to run far and fast without early training, but the majority will need some time and patience. Consistency is key to building up your running load.

Approaching running the right way when you first get started will make all the difference. Because running can be an incredibly physically, mentally, and emotionally fulfilling activity, ultimately you’ve just got to start!

Ready for some tips and advice?

  • Goal setting

What would you like to achieve with your running this year?  Set a goal, even if it’s just committing to running every 2-3 days or be more specific, like committing to finish a 10K race in a specific time. Setting small realistic goals will keep you motivated to run every week.

  • Planning your runs

The best advice is not to run for speed (specific pace per mile) or distance. Instead of going out each day as you’re starting to run and committing yourself to a set distance or pace, run for time instead. Set a time goal each day of how long you want to be out moving faster than a walk. Telling yourself that you just need to run for 20 minutes seems much more conquerable than saying 2 miles. By choosing a time you also separate your expectations from speed or pace and halt any day-to-day negative comparisons.

  • Remember to rest and give your body time to recover

Listening to your body needs in the early stages as you start running is essential. Building up to being able to run frequently every week and keep progressing takes a lot of time. The importance of rest and recovery in between runs is heightened during the early stages, to keep you away from running injuries and find the way to enjoy every run!

pair of blue-and-white Adidas running shoes

What else can you do?

  • Work On Your Weaknesses

As mentioned above, rest and recovery days in between runs are essential as you’re starting to run. During those rest and recovery days, in order to help progress your running without actually running, you can do a series of cross training activities during these “off days.” Using your non-running days to stretch, strengthen, and develop your aerobic capacity with low-impact movements will help improve your running overall. Cycling strength training, yoga, Pilates, swimming, and other similar activities are great for runners. All of this will help reduce injury risk and gently increase the durability your joints and ligaments.

  • Keep A Training Diary

Logging your training is a really useful exercise and is something that you can learn a lot from. It will enable you to look back and see what training helped you to run that PB or it may give you some vital clues as to why you became ill or injured. Looking back at all the training that you’ve banked can serve as a great motivator too.

Further Information

Running resolution should keep you accountable for the new year as you work towards your personal goals. Click below to book a Runners Assessment with one of our Physiotherapists.

Book Online – Physioflexx Ayrshire

References:

https://www.chargerunning.com/blog/6-easy-effective-tips-for-starting-to-rn

https://www.realbuzz.com/articles-interests/running/article/10-running-resolutions-for-the-new-year/

Spiky Ball series Part three

Spiky ball series part 3 is here, read on to discover some more uses of this little spiky friend- or foe.

We’ve seen in our previous blogs how the ever adaptable spiky ball can be used to treat pain, ease tension and improve circulation. You can find out more about using this special little massage tool/torture implement on your feet and your buttocks here (https://bit.ly/3qNP7DK) and here (https://bit.ly/3t4CAyS).

Massage and the spiky ball

Massage is a wonderful skill, and the spiky balls are a great time- and cost-effective way of releasing tension yourself, without the need for a therapist. The best thing about it is that you are in charge of the pressure. Your physiotherapist’s thumbs (elbows) can have a day off.

We’ve already heard about how massage works by creating pressure and stimulation through the skin and into the tissues of the body. Including muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia (connective tissue). This increases blood flow and helps to reduce blood pressure. The pressure desensitises nerves, and helps us move on from (or at least around) pain.

Today, let’s take our spiky ball focus to the shoulders. Many of us will have been sitting for the majority of the Christmas period! This is a great way of releasing the thoracic spine and shoulder blades to help us improve our posture for the New Year.

Ready, steady , lets go . . .

It is best to work with 2 spiky balls if you can. Starting with the balls a couple of inches apart on the floor, slowly lower yourself from a sitting to a supine lying position.

Each ball will sit in the “meat” of muscle and soft tissue between your shoulder blades (rather than on the bony shoulder blades). You may need a small pillow if your neck feels strained in this position.

Depending how much you can tolerate, that might be enough for you. If not, lace your fingers at the back of your head and slowly relax your shoulders back to the floor or mat. Return to neutral and repeat this a few times until you feel comfortable.

We’re going to work into the rhomboids muscles between the shoulder blades. First, lift both arms straight up above your chest.  Slowly take your arms out to each side and down towards the floor, then back up. You might be aware that one side is more painful (or satisfying!) than the other. That’s normal.

Keeping up? . . .

Now we’re keeping those arms up above the chest. We are going to slowly move the thumbs up and over the head towards the floor. You might feel the need to lift your bottom and slide down your mat a little to allow the trapezius and levator scapulae muscles to feel the squeeze. These are muscles which tend to gather tension when our postures are poor, and when we sit for long periods. Bringing the pinkies back up and over the chest, you can repeat each of these moves for 10-12 repetitions or until you feel a release.

It’s worth noting that this area can be a lot more tender than the buttocks or feet. So, taking your time is key. Work within your own limits. You should feel that by the end of your spiky ball session, you can sit up a little taller, and even look a little further over each shoulder when you turn your head.

Further Information

If you have any questions about back or shoulder pain, or would like to book an appointment to see a physiotherapist, please click here to book. Book Online – Physioflexx Ayrshire

For all equiries : Contact – Physioflexx Ayrshire

Previous Blogs on our Spiky Ball series can be found here:

Spiky Balls – Physioflexx Ayrshire

Spiky Ball part two – Physioflexx Ayrshire

Poor balance

Poor balance has to be one of the most common complaints we hear each day in our physiotherapy sessions and in our classes. Are you one of the many people who feels like your balance is not improving, no matter how hard you hard you to try to practise to make it better?

Potential underlying reasons…

Firstly, there can be many reasons why your balance can be poor, for exmple – inner ear issues, nerve damage in your feet/legs (peripheral neuropathy). You may have vision problems, side effects of some medications & certain neurological issues such as Parkinson’s disease.

If there is no medical explanation for your poor balance, it may well be time to pay attention to your feet!

Your feet are what form your foundation. Your body responds to the feedback that it gets from your feet via your nervous system.

What is important about your feet is that they need to be able to move and adapt to the surface beneath it. Sometimes your feet need to be rigid and sometimes they need to be mobile. Importantly, they need to be able to access both of these forms.

Understanding a bit more…

To enable you to understand a bit better how your feet are meant to move, refer to our blog post Simplifying Foot Movement: Simplifying foot movement

An important starting point when it comes to your balance is to becoming familiar with your tripod of each foot. The tripod is made up of:

  • Your heel
  • The base (knuckle) of your big toe
  • The base (knuckle) of your little toe

If you take a moment, in a relaxed standing posture, to bring your attention to the soles of your feet and scan each of these points in each foot.

You may find that you are aware of all of these points or potentially only one or two. Another useful observation is to sense where most of the pressure is in your feet. For example, many of us carry the majority of our weight in the front of our feet, but this can lead to unnecessary strain in various parts of the body such as the neck, shoulders, lower back and knees.

Are you keeping up?

Ideally, we need to be able to distribute our weight evenly across our tripods. When your weight is held anywhere out with these three points, your balance as well as our efficiency of movement reduces in not only your foot but also the ankle. The knee. The hip. The pelvis. The spine. The neck.

Do you get the picture! This is because your body is one closed system. If one part doesn’t move well, somewhere else in your body will take up the slack. Your body is incredibly adaptable, however there is a threshold – if over time this is crossed, aches & pains will begin to arise.

If, from the above self check, you have found that you are unable to sense all of these points in your feet, it is absolutely worth your time to address this. You will most likely find that your balance will improve too.

 You can start by ‘filling the space’ under any of the points of the tripod that don’t feel very clear on the floor. This will begin to you give a sense of what bearing weight across these three points actually feels like. You could use, for example, the edge of a folded up towel. You could then try standing on one leg to see if it feels steadier. This is just a starting point as ideally we want to also be able to train our foot to move fully whilst maintaining these points of contact on the ground.

Keen to learn more?

If you are keen to explore this, we strongly recommend you doing Gary Ward’s online programme ‘Wake Your Feet Up’:

Further Information

If you are presenting with balance problems Book Online – Physioflexx Ayrshire Contact – Physioflexx Ayrshire

Our Physiotherapists will be able to fully assess you and help with any balance issues you may face.

Kinetic Chain Release

Kinetic Chain release (KCR) uses a sequence of mobilisations, muscle energy techniques and stretches throughout your whole body to return a state of balance.

The technique was developed by Hugh Gilbert, an experienced physiotherapist, whose aim was to help as many people with their health as possible. It starts from your feet up and works through your legs, spine, your jaw and arms.

There are a combination of 3 exercises provided as a home exercise programme. These should be easy for you to execute and ideally performed daily.

KCR has been used for chronic pain management and research is being collected for its effectiveness with pain, fatigue, fibromyalgia and also osteoarthritis to name a few.

In our clinic we have had great results with the method and seen dramatic drops in pain levels alongside wellness and return of function. Patients receiving KCR generally feel much better within themselves as a result of the treatment.

Kinetic chain release works on stress relief as well as pain relief.

So, who is it suitable for?

This technique is for just about everyone. From occupational injury and joint pain to top sporting athletes it has proven benefits

Performance in sport has been shown to increase and energy levels improved as a result of the physical release with KCR.

Further Information

Interested in learning more? Why don’t you visit www.kineticchainrelease.com for more information. This may be of interest to you if you have considered becoming a practitioner to deliver the method. Or perhaps as a patient , you may wish to to find out how this might help you.

At Physioflexx we can recommend this treatment as a positive experience…what are you waiting for?

For any further questions or book in please call 01560 483200 or book online www.physioflexxayrshire.co.uk/bookonline

Taping

Taping, what is it and what is it used for?

Kinesiology, Tape, Physio-Tape

Have you heard of taping?

Taping is a hypoallergenic material that is applied over the musculoskeletal system for a specific function.

It’s designed to mimic your skin’s elasticity so you can use your full range of motion. The tape’s medical-grade adhesive is also water-resistant and strong enough to stay put for three to five days. Also it is designed to stay in place while you work out or take showers.

As a physiotherapist, the optimum goal is to get your whole musculoskeletal system moving with harmony in relation to each other. When balance changes in your body due to an injury your body parts move differently in relation to one another leading to pain, and of course further injuries.

Taping is used to help re-gain the movement harmony and to help get rid of the pain.

If you have been injured, kinesiology tape might help improve circulation and reduce swelling in the area where you’re hurt.

Are there different types of tape?

There are two main types of tape: a rigid tape (McConnell tape) and a flexible tape (kinesiology tape). Each of them has its own function.

You may have seen some people in your gym or running club sporting some tape on areas of their body. It also comes in some brighter colours for those of you that do not wish the flesh coloured one.

The Rigid tape:                                                                                                                          

The rigid tape

This tape is used to direct the bony parts of your body to certain direction during movement. An example of that is your knee joint. The patella area of your knee moves upward and outward during extension in a rotatory fashion.

Weakness within the structures that pull the patella in that direction leads to abnormal movement pattern. Consequently this may cause you pain and can lead to arthritis.

You can have McConnell tape applied to maintain the correct position of the patella, encouraging normal movement pattern. Your movement analysis takes place during your initial assessment session to decide the application technique and the direction.

Kinesio tape:

K-Tape

This tape has many more purposes . It can be used locally for the pain, for stimulation/inhibition of muscle activity and with the swelling. Following an injury, some of your muscles get tight leading to pain and movement restriction.

When Kinesio-tape applied in a direction opposite to the MS fibers it reduces your muscle activity helping it to relax. On the other hand, when applied in the same direction it stimulates MS activity to be stronger especially before a Marathon or an important game (usually in athletes).

How is it applied?

You should always consult with a physiotherpist who is trained in the proper application of kinesiology tape before you try to put it on yourself.

A physical therapist will show you how to apply the tape in the pattern that will help your specific problem. Tape can be applied in an X, Y, I, or fan pattern, depending on your goals.

Live in harmony

Book Online – Physioflexx Ayrshire If you feel that you might benefit from using the tape to get ready for a sporting event, or want to relax your tense muscles or fix your postural issues.

Do you need more information?

You can get in touch by clicking here Contact – Physioflexx Ayrshire , our team at Physioflexx will be happy to help with your enquiry.

References Kinesiology Tape Benefits and Uses (healthline.com)

Exercise during Pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy and beyond.

Woman, Pregnant, Belly, Baby, Outdoors

Exercise during pregnancy and beyond can help you stay healthy and feel your best. There is evidence that physical activity may prevent *gestational diabetes , relieve stress, and build more stamina needed for labor and delivery.

If you are already physically active, exercising for fun or even professional, you should be able to continue your activity with some adjustments.

If you aren’t exercising ,you can safely begin an exercise program during pregnancy after consulting with your health care provider.

There is a lot of misunderstanding info related to the subject and a lot of myths about exercising during pregnancy.

First of all, there is no evidence of increased rates of miscarriage or premature labor in women that exercise during pregnancy.

So, can I do all types of exercise?

Autumn, Fall, Maternity, Nature, Ocean

Exercise prescription during your pregnancy depends on your fitness level prior to pregnancy. It also depends on if their has been previous complications during any other pregnancies.

Indicators to stop exercising and seek medical advice would be if you develop any of the following: vaginal bleeding, shortness of breath while exercising, severe headaches or dizziness that don’t go away when resting.

The only sports that are considered dangerous are horse-riding and contact sports, in case of an impact. Scuba diving should be avoided due to fetus decompression problems.

All the other sports are considered completely safe for a pregnant woman to participate.

Things to be aware of :

  • Hydration and Temperature control, especially in the first trimester (<39 degrees)
  • Energy balance, especially from the late first trimester, the pregnant athlete should be aware of the demanding calory intake needed
  • Normal physiological and anatomical changes during pregnancy (like ligament laxity & lumbar lordosis) that may increase the injury risk around the pelvic-lumbar area.

Recommendations for Postpartum exercising:

  • There are no real contraindications for postpartum exercise
  • The way of delivery (C-section or normal) or complications during pregnancy or delivery may affect the quick return to exercise
  • Importance of pelvic floor exercises to reduce risk of stress incontinence and bladder problems in later years.
  • Exercise immediately after breastfeeding to avoid the discomfort of breast engorgement firstly and secondly the theoretical risk of lactic acid be transferred to the baby.
  • Postpartum exercise can reduce the risk of postpartum depression.

We treat many pregnant patients (12 weeks +) at Physioflexx and facilate post -natal Pilates classes , to find out more Contact – Physioflexx Ayrshire

*(diabetes that develops during pregnancy)

Reference:

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing aka belly breathing, is the term for strengthening the muscle across the bottom of the ribcage to make breathing more efficient. It’s also a nice relaxation technique and can help us improve our posture (that’s a big yes from me). Read on to find out how.

First things first

Let’s see what the diaphragm is and what it does.

You might think of your lungs as active tissue, expanding and contracting on their own to pull in and push out air. In fact, the lungs are passive, and the act of breathing is made by the muscles around your ribcage. The diaphragm is one of these muscles.

Shaped like a dome, it draws your ribcage in to push your lungs upwards and expel air (as well as secretions like phlegm). When it flattens, it widens your ribcage and allows space for your lungs to expand as you breathe in. It is the primary muscle of inspiration (that’s breathing in, not brilliant ideas; although one definitely does assist the other).

the dome shaped ribcage

We also have other accessory muscles around the ribcage, to help lift the framework of bone and allow room for the breath. Some of these can be seen around your collarbones and sides of your neck, and are especially apparent in people who struggle to breathe (asthmatics, heavy smokers etc). Here is a good example:

Diaphragmatic breathing example- accessory muscles shown around your collarbone

So, how can you improve the breath?

So when we’re breathing most efficiently, we are using our diaphragm. Now, I hear you say, “But I’m not a smoker, and don’t have asthma, so why do I need to know how to belly breathe?”

We don’t always use our muscles most efficiently, so here’s how you can improve the function of your diaphragm, and learn some useful relaxation tips too.

The practical bit…

* Word to the wise: if you have respiratory issues at present, check with your health professional before starting anything new.

  • Lying on your back with your knees bent, place one hand over your chest, and the other on your stomach just below your ribcage (you can do this sitting too).
  • Inhale slowly through your nose, allowing your stomach to rise but keeping your chest still.
  • Gently tighten your abdominals (stomach muscles), allowing your stomach to fall as you exhale through pursed lips.
  • Now you’re back to the start.

Here’s the key: there is no forced expiration (that might make you cough), there is only light control from the abdominals. Do this 3-4 times, then breathe normally for a spell so that you don’t hyperventilate. Practice for 5 minutes or so, once or twice a day to feel the benefit.

The process helps to improve your lung capacity, slow your breathing and heart rate and therefore relax you. It also works to strengthen your postural muscles around your back and middle, meaning you can sit upright and fill your lungs in a healthier position for longer. And as we all know, breathing is good for you.

If you have any questions, or pains that you’d like to consult a physiotherapist about then click here Contact – Physioflexx Ayrshire or click Book Online – Physioflexx Ayrshire to book an assessment with one of our therapists.

Foot Wedges

Foot wedges, have you heard of them?


Foot wedges featured recently in our social media posts, you may have seen us rave on about them? Let us explain what these are and why these humble tools provide opportunity for amazing outcomes when it comes to helping people move and feel better!

So what are they and what can they do for you?


Wedges are a simple device used to help you experience new shapes & movement in your feet (& therefore whole body) that may be missing or difficult to access.


Their 3 main uses:
⭐ influence the direction of motion in a bone
⭐ to fill space where pressure is lacking i.e. lack of tripod* connection
⭐ to offer feedback to initiate a movement

*An optimal tripod of your foot refers to the 3 key points – your heel, the base of your big toe and the base of your little toe

diagram of an optimal tripod

Bones in your feet communicate directly (via the nervous system) with the bones in the rest of your body. I.e. they are a component of your whole body system.

A fully functional foot, however, is a rarity…
Wedges help unlock new movement in not only the foot, but help generate movement throughout the WHOLE body!

OK, tell me more….


To understand the only 2 shapes of the foot (and therefore leg) that the body needs to access to move across the ground in an efficient way, you can refer to our previous blog;
Simplifying foot movement – Physioflexx Ayrshire

We use the wedges to improve your ability to achieve both optimal:

  • supination (arches of foot increase in height) and
  • pronation (arches lowering to the ground)
    with the corresponding leg shapes that come with these two foot shapes.
wedges in practice

Key point – A wedge is not a device used to prop a foot up into a neutral position – e.g. out of a flattened position. Unlike orthotics, their goal is to:


• Encourage the foot joints to get moving again
• Reintroduce movement in your foot
• Re-educate your foot on how to stand on the floor & move across it

• Allow your brain experience the foot as an integrated moving part of the human body again.

How can Physiotherpay help?


If you have a persistent or nagging pain or recurrent ache/injury (& not just at the foot..!) which may not be responding to usual physiotherapy or other interventions – you may be surprised to hear that these humble wedges could well help you enormously.

You can book an assessment with Senior Therapist Diane Chalmers by clicking the following link: Book Online – Physioflexx Ayrshire

Contact us at : Contact – Physioflexx Ayrshire

References : www.findingcentre.co.uk

Find us on Facebook Physioflexx | Facebook

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Caffeine

Caffeine comes in a variety of ways but do you know what it does to the body?

some popular branded caffeinated drinks

Many of us rely on caffeine day-to-day to give us that much needed boost, whether it is your morning coffee, cup of tea, energy drink or pre-workout before the gym.

So what is caffeine?

Caffeine is a natural compound and acts as a stimulant to the body’s central nervous system which is typically associated with an increase in alertness.

However, the affects will be different for each person and will depend on the amount you usually consume.

coffee beans beside coffee powder on brown wooden board

How much is included in your favourite drink?

Here is a useful table with estimated levels of caffeine in commonly consumed drinks.

DrinkVolumeCaffeine (mg) / Range
Coffee125ml85 / 60-135
Tea150ml32 / 20-45
Soft drinks330ml41 / 26-57
Energy drinks330ml80 / 70-120
Pre-workout supplements10g175 / 150-200
Table 1. Adapted from coffeeandhealth.org

So, what’s a safe amount to drink?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that around 400mg of caffeine (4-5 cups of coffee!) a day is safe and not associated with dangerous, negative, or adverse effects.

However, as previously mentioned, the effects will differ from person to person therefore should be tailored to your own body.

In addition, it is important to monitor levels or avoid completely, in some cases. For example, pregnant women or those with arrythmia’s (irregular heartbeats).

Similarly, the FDA has suggested that teens and adolescents avoid caffeine where possible.

What symptoms can occur with over consumption of caffeine?

  • Reduced sleep or insomnia
  • Anxiousness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Decreased mood

It is important to remember that these side effects can be short lived and may be more exaggerated in some people based on their tolerance levels.

The positive side to caffeine…

Caffeine consumption isn’t all negative. In fact, it can be very beneficial in your day-to-day life as well as in sport and performance.

Low (~40mg) to moderate (~300mg) levels were shown to improve

assorted beverage bottles

alertness, vigilance, attention and reaction time which resulted in a significant increase in occupational productivity (McLellan, Cadwell & Lieberman, 2016).

Similarly, caffeine consumption was shown to have positive effects on:

  • Muscular endurance
  • Movement velocity
  • Muscular strength

Due to the reasons stated above, the type of exercise which shows the largest benefits from caffeine use is aerobic exercise.

The recommended dosage is 3-6 mg/kg 30-60 minutes pre-exercise (Guest et al., 2021).

Final thoughts…

It is important to remember that caffeine consumption is safe and it can be utilised to benefit us positively with regards to our day-to-day and sporting lives.

In conclusion, too much (like anything) can cause unwanted side-effects.

Therefore, it is important to monitor your daily consumption – based on your own tolerance…and not Dave who is 10 cups down at 10am!

If you wish any Physiotherpay advice, treatment or have any questions you can ask us by contacting us here Contact – Physioflexx Ayrshire

References:

McLellan, T. M., Caldwell, J. A., & Lieberman, H. R. (2016). A review of caffeine’s effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews71, 294-312.

Guest, N. S., VanDusseldorp, T. A., Nelson, M. T., Grgic, J., Schoenfeld, B. J., Jenkins, N. D., … & Campbell, B. I. (2021). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and exercise performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition18(1), 1-37.