Friday, 25 February 2011

A tasty salad - Fig, Pecorino & Honey Salad

Another 400 calorie meal option

Serves 2


2 tbsp good quality honey
3 tbsp olive oil
600g ripe green or black figs
200g pecorino cheese or similar
80g rocket
10g basil leaves
Sea salt & pepper

Preparation method

Whisk together the honey and olive oil and season with salt & pepper to taste.
Cut the figs into quarters.
Tear the cheese into large chunks.
Layer the rocket, basil, figs and pecorino on two plates and drizzle over the honey dressing as you go.
Season with black pepper.

Grant Roberts
The Sports Specialist
07867 535696
Check out my new blog at:

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Sweet potato & coconut soup

Don't be put off by the coconut, follow this recipe and it will fall under the 300 calorie mark!!

Serves 1


1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
½ onion, sliced
pinch dried chilli flakes
pinch ground ginger
200g/7oz sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
100ml/3½oz hot chicken stock (vegetarians may substitute vegetable stock)
100ml/3½oz coconut milk LIGHT
25g/1oz fresh coriander leaves, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
15g/½oz spinach leaves, to garnish

Preparation method

0. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and fry for 3-4 minutes, until golden and softened.
1. Add the chilli flakes and ground ginger and fry for one minute, then add the sweet potato and cook for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the stock and coconut milk. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to simmer for 8-10 minutes, then add the coriander.
3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, then pour into a food processor and blend until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4. To serve, pour the soup into a warm bowl and garnish with the spinach leaves.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Shin pain - is it a stress fracture, shin splints or compartment syndrome?

Shin pain is an extremely common complaint among athletes. The term 'shin splints' or 'medial tibial stress syndrome' has been used by many to describe generic pain in the shin, however, with much improved diagnostic tools a more specific diagnosis can now be made.

Shin pain generally involves one or more of the following three processes:

1. Bone stress

This is a continuum of increased bone damage that exists from bone strain to stress fracture.

2. Inflammation (Tenoperiostitis) – Typical Shin Splint complaint

Inflammation occurs where the muscles of the medial (inside) shin insert into the tibia. Typically the deep calf muscle, known as the Soleus, and the Posterior Tibialis.

3. Raised compartment pressure

The lower part of the leg has a number of compartments each surrounded by a thick fascia and as a result can become swollen and painful when over used and inflamed.

These aren't three different diagnoses, as two or three of these types of condition can all exist together. It is not uncommon to see a patient with chronic bone inflammation combined with a compartment syndrome.

Signs, Symptoms & Causes


Differentiating between the three




Bone stress


Compartment syndrome


o    Localised

o    Acute or sharp

o    Medial (inside) border of the tibia (shin bone)

o    Pain can vary

o    Aches

o    Tightness

o    Vague feeling in the lower leg

Related to exercise

o    Constant or increasing

o    Worse with impact

o    Improves as you warm up

o    Increases with exercise

o    Decreases with rest


o    Aches at night

o    Can be worse in the morning

o    Worse in the morning and after exercise

o    Occasional muscle weakness


o    Local bony tenderness

o    Medial border of tibia

o    Generally minimal



One of the major causes of all three injuries is abnormal biomechanics. How you plant you foot (gait) has a huge bearing on how the rest of the body works.


With regard to shin pain, if you have an exceptionally pronated foot, the muscles in the lower limb become hugely over worked and can cause any of the three conditions mentioned above.


Those with a rigid foot and very little shock absorption will increase impact pressure on the bone and can increase the chance of incurring a fracture.




Initial management of shin pain involves rest, anti-inflammatory modalities and a reduction of the stresses which caused the condition in the first place.


New trainers, raised mileage, increased speed and power work to name a few.


If these training stresses can be modified and the condition has been identified early enough this may be all that is required.


If not, however, further assistance from an injury specialist is required. Please email info@thesportsspecialist for further details.



Futhermore, a biomechanical assessment of the lower limb is essential and prescription of an orthotic should be made where necessary. Click here for more details


It is also worth stretching out the calf muscles. Tight calves will restrict motion in the ankle and increase the tendency for excessive pronation.


Insert video clip




Below is a summary of treatment modalities and advice to aid the recovery from any one of the above conditions of the shin.





Bone stress


If you believe you are suffering from a possible fracture, seek medical advice as soon as possible for confirmation.


Once confirmed, follow these guidelines and/or consult an injury specialist.


Rest (sometime a period of total non weight bearing is required.

4-8 weeks of rest from sports activity required for fracture to heal or bony tenderness to disappear.


There is no reason why you cannot perform cardiovascular exercise that is non weight bearing, swimming for example or running in the water with a buoyancy aid around your waist.


Once pain free with walking and no bony tenderness is present, gradual progression of impact is introduced.


Tissue around the fracture site can become thickened so soft tissue massage to the area is certainly worth considering.


As mentioned before, abnormal biomechanics play a large part in the cause of this injury so gait analysis and a prescriptive orthotic inner soles may well be necessary.


Excessive training can also be to blame so a training regime over haul may be required. Consult your coach or sports specialist for advice on this. Email for details.




If after the initial treatment of rest, ice and anti inflammatories hasn't improved symptoms you may need to seek advice and treatment from an injury specialist.


An effective form of treatment for this condition is deep tissue therapy, whereby varying massage techniques are used to release thickened and tight fibres. Ultrasound and cupping techniques can also be effective. 



Compartment syndromes – Anterior and Posterior


Treatment consists initially of a reduction in exercise combined with deep massage therapy. Again, biomechanical assessment is critical to prevent future problems. 


If this conservative form of treatment fails, then surgery may be required. A fasciotomy, which is the release of the fascial sheath that surrounds the compartment, is a common procedure but can be deemed insufficient as the sheath can reform. Surgery, therefore, may be in the form of a fasciectomy, a fasciotomy procedure plus the removal of a window of fascial sheath.



To Summarise:



Þ    If pain improves after warming up and with continued exercise, then periosteal problems are most likely.


Þ    If pain worsens with exercise and is accompanied by a feeling of tension, then compartment syndrome may be present.


Þ    If the pain is increased by jumping activities or if there is pain at rest or a night ache, a stress fracture must be considered.


Þ    A pain that disappears quickly with rest is indicative of compartment syndrome. The presence of numbness or a 'dead' feeling in the leg or pins and needles in the foot is also suggestive of compartment syndrome.


Follow the rule, if in doubt….seek medical advice from a sports specialist






Thursday, 17 February 2011

Warning! A tasty and easy salad - don't be put off by the cous-cous!

Quick & Simple Couscous Salad

Serves 2



200g       Couscous

350mls    Light Chicken or vegetable Stock

200g       Roasted tomatoes and their oil

10cm      Cucumber piece                Diced

4            Spring Onions                   Finely sliced

25g         Fresh mint leaves              Roughly Chopped

2tbs        Lemon Juice

60mls      Olive Oil (as a top up)

100-120g  Soft Cheese (goats, feta etc)





1.    Place cherry tomatoes of choice in a roasting tray along with a tablespoon of olive oil and cook for 15 minutes on 180 degrees

2.    Meanwhile prepare the cucumber, spring onions and mint.

3.    Now, put the Couscous in a large bowl and season well.

Add a splash of the olive oil from the roasted tomatoes and then the hot stock.

Stir and leave to cool completely, fluffing up now and then with a fork

4.    Add the cucumber, spring onions, mint and lemon juice to the couscous.

5.    Add the tomatoes with their oil, topping up with extra olive oil (1 tablespoon maximum) if there is not enough tomato oil. Stir gently but well.

6.    Lastly add the cheese.

7.    Either serve 2 or use as two portions. Will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Grant Roberts

The Sports Specialist

07867 535696

Check out my new blog at:

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Lateral knee pain - Is it Illiotibial Band Syndrome?

What is Illio-tibial Band Syndrome?



Illio-tibial band syndrome can often be referred to by other names, such as runner's knee and Illio-tibial band friction syndrome.


The Illio-tibial band is a sheath of thick, fibrous connective tissue that starts at the top of the hip bone and runs down the outside of the thigh, where it attaches to the outer surface of the shin bone (Tibia).


Its primary function is to extend the knee joint (straighten it) but is also able to abduct the hip (move it out sideways). 



As the ITB passes over the lateral epicondyle of the femur (bony prominence on the outside of the knee) it is prone to friction. When the knee straightens, the ITB flicks in front of the epicondyle and when it is bent, it flicks back behind. This occurs at an angle of approximately 20-30 degrees which is why this type of injury is common in runners.


Symptoms experienced:


An ache and/or sharp pain over the lateral aspect of the knee, usually aggravated by running.

Often the pain can start at the same distance/time into each run. Down hill and longer runs are particularly aggravating.


Tightness and/or tenderness in the Illio-tibial band



The friction experienced over the lateral aspect of the knee can be significantly increased due to tightness of the ITB.


Tightness can be caused by inappropriate training and abnormal biomechanics.


Certain factors may make you more susceptible to developing Illio-tibial band syndrome:


Ø      A naturally tight or wide IT band

Ø      Weak hip muscles such as gluteus medius

Ø      Trigger points within the IT band and gluteal muscles

Ø      Overpronation

Ø      Overuse

Ø      Excessive hill running

Ø      Running on a cambered surface

Ø      Leg length difference


Most of these factors can be addressed through changes to your training programme, the use of insoles or heel pads and a thorough rehabilitation programme.


Illio-tibial band friction syndrome may require long-term rehabilitation and frequent Illio-tibial band stretches should be maintained even after symptoms cease.

Self treatment includes:



Avoid painful activities, for example downhill running.

Apply cold therapy or ice to reduce any inflammation.

Stretch the Illio-tibial band after training.

Self massage techniques can also be very helpful in correcting excessive ITB tightness.


If none of the above improves symptoms it is worth seeing a sports injury specialist


A sports injury specialist or clinician may:


Ø      Perform soft tissue or deep friction massage.  

Ø      Use Myofascial release techniques which have been shown to be highly effective.

Ø      Perform cupping techniques.

Ø      Use electrotherapeutic treatment techniques such as TENS or ultrasound to reduce pain and inflammation.

Ø      Outline a rehabilitation strategy which may include stretches and exercises to strengthen the hip abductors.


For information on rehabilitation, get in touch with the Sports Specialist via email at

Grant Roberts

The Sports Specialist

07867 535696

Check out my new blog at:

Thursday, 10 February 2011

An easy Indian dish - Tarka Dahl

Spinach Tarka Dhal

Serves 2-4

Can be made with virtually any lentil or split pea


150g ​​Red lentils ​​​​​Rinsed and drained
150g ​​Moong dahl (small yellow split peas)​ Rinsed and drained
1½ ltr  ​Water
2 tsp​​Root ginger​​​ Finely chopped
100g​​Fresh Spinach​​ Roughly Chopped
1 tbs​​Corriander leaves​​Chopped


5 ​​Garlic Cloves ​​​Sliced
2 tsp ​​Cumin Seeds
2 tsp​​ Mustard Seeds
1 tbs​​ Ground Cumin
1 tsp​​ Ground Corriander
1​​ Red Chilli​​​ Sliced
​​Salt to taste


1. Place the moong dahl in a large pan with water, tumeric and ginger. Bring to the boil, cook 2-3 mins then add the red lentils. Bring back to the boil skimming off any skum that forms on the surface.

2. Lower the heat and cook gently for a bout 20 minutes stirring occassionally.

3. Add chopped spinach and corriander 5 mins before end of cooking time.


4. Heat oil in a small frying pan and add garlic, cumin and corriander. Stir fry 2-3 mins, then tip this mixture (reserving a little for garnish) into the dahl. Stir well and season.

A easy and tasty lunch or dinner option

Spinach, Sweet Potato and Cherry Tomato Frittata

Serves 1-2


For the frittata

2 tbsp olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
8 whole cherry tomatoes, halved
½ medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks (65g)
3 medium free-range eggs, beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa verde

1 handful fresh parsley
1 handful fresh basil
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
½ lemon, zest only
3 canned anchovies, drained and chopped

Preparation method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. For the frittata, heat the olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan and gently fry the onion for 2-3 minutes, or until softened. Add the spinach, cherry tomatoes and sweet potato and continue to fry for a further 3-4 minutes or until the sweet potato is just becoming tender.
3. Pour in the eggs, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the egg starts to set around the edges. Transfer to the oven for 2-3 minutes, or until the egg is just set. Remove from the oven, slide onto a serving plate and cut into wedges. Keep warm.
4. For the salsa verde, place all of the salsa verde ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
5. To serve, drizzle the salsa verde around the edges of the plate.

Grant Roberts
The Sports Specialist
07867 535696

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Plantar Fasciitis - A very common injury!

Anatomical diagrams illustrating the component...Image via Wikipedia

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a chronic condition that causes pain on the underside of the foot and heel. When the plantar fascia (a thick band of tissue that runs from the bony prominence of the heel to the metatarsal bones of the forefoot) becomes tight from too much pressure, tension increases and tiny rips form in the tissue.

The more tension and tearing that occur in the plantar fascia, the more inflammation and irritation of the area occur.

The main symptom experienced is pain in the heel, which is generally worse in the morning and improves as the day goes on. It can often feel like you have a stone in your shoe!

It commonly occurs in runners, dancers and other high impact athletes, who often present with one or many of the following;  tight calves, a shortened Achilles tendon, excessive pronation, weight gain.

Initial treatment is to rest from the aggravating activity. The problem for many is that by the time their run or sport starts, their pain has reduced or even disappeared - that is, until the next morning! This does not mean total rest, simply change the activity to something less high impact, cycling with pedal under the heal, for example.

As this condition is largely caused by tightness in the calves and plantar fascia, often accompanied by ankle immobility, it is important to release these areas to encourage healing. One way to stretch the fascia is seen in the clip below.

Calf stretches are pretty common, but for those not familiar, check the clips below.


Soleus stretch

Many find the insertion of a heel raise/cup into their shoe or trainer useful - these can be found at most local sports shops or online. If unsure what to get, feel free to email me.

If none of these tips help alleviate symptoms it is probably time to employ an injury specialist for some massage therapy and electrotherapy modalities.

If excessive pronation does exist, it may also be necessary to see a podiatrist for custom made orthotics to support the foot, and reduce the repetitive over stretching of the calf and fascia. (if you are not sure if you over pronate - look for signs of hard skin over the inside edge of the foot and toe and whether you have an arch in your foot when standing).

The key, as with all injuries, is to look at the cause not the symptom, otherwise all your efforts in training and treatment could be in vein.

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Monday, 7 February 2011

Try this quick and easy prawn dish for a sub 400 calorie lunch or dinner

Prawns with Pernod & Green leaf Salad

Serves 2


4 plum tomatoes
200g King prawns, cooked,
25g softened unsalted butter
¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
25g Kalamata olives, stoned & halved
20ml Pernod
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
Sea salt
1 slice of crusty bread

Preparation method

1. Get out 2 x bowls and place cold water in one and boiling water in the other.
2. Using a sharp knife, make a tiny shallow cross at the bottom of each tomato. Place them in the bowl of boiling water for
30-45 seconds and then transfer to cold water bowl. Drain, peel and cut each tomato into 4-6 wedges.
3. Thinly slice the garlic, chop the parsley and halve the olives.
4. Measure out the Pernod
5. Now, place a frying pan over a high heat and when very hot add 20g of the butter. When melted and bubbling add the tomatoes, olives and chilli and cook for 2 minutes - keeping the pan moving all the time.
6. Add the prawns and cook for a further 2 minutes
7. Carefully add the Pernod as it tends to catch fire!!
8. Let the alcohol evaporate for a minute or so and then add the remaining butter, garlic, parsley and a little salt until it forms a runny sauce.
9. Serve immediately with 1 slice of crusty bread or a generous handful of rocket and watercress leaves.

Grant Roberts
The Sports Specialist
07867 535696
Check out my new blog at:

Friday, 4 February 2011

Acute Injury Management - Ice vs Heat

I often get queries on, do I ice or heat my acutely injured wrist, hand, knee, foot etc, as it seems there is a little confusion between which one is best for the job.

So here it goes.

Your immediate action, and for the following 72 hours, on an acute injury is to reduce the amount of blood that is going to travel to the site of injury. This can be accomplished with the use of Ice, Compression and Elevation, NOT HEAT!

ICE constricts the blood vessels so can substantially reduce the amount of blood flow to the area.

Ice every hour - I often use a single ice cube and move it over the site until completely melted. The key is to get the area as cold as quick as possible, some of the off the shelf ice packs can be pretty useless!

If you'd rather not get a cold hand as well, simply get a load of ice and place in a wet tea towel. Beware of frost-bite if you just leave ice in contact with the skin, a light application of oil to the area can prevent this.


In between icing place a Tubi-grip over the area. You want it pretty tight, so double over if necessary. Tubi-grips are sold at most high street pharmacies and come in a range of different sizes. These aren't the knee bandages you see many people wearing during exercise!

Tubi grip can be worn all day and all night if necessary.


Simply try to keep the injured area elevated above the heart - a simple way to reduce blood accumulation.


These are a good idea - IF NOT ALLERGIC, check with Dr if not sure. They can be taken orally or used as a gel.

Once the 72 hours is up you generally want to start increasing blood flow to the area to aid healing. The best way to do this is to dilate the local blood vessels with the use of HEAT.

Again, apply at regular intervals, every one to two hours if possible. This can be achieved with heat packs, hot water bottles or a hot/warm bowl of water.

At this stage I would also advise you continue to use the Tubi-grip, especially if the injury is to the knee, foot or hand.

These are general guidelines and work well for most acute minor injuries.

If you are in any doubt about your injury GO TO A & E.

Grant Roberts
The Sports Specialist
07867 535696
Check out my new blog at:

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A tasty health conscious soup!

Beetroot Soup with crusty bread

Makes 4 portions


350g/12oz cooked, peeled beetroot, chopped
1 onion, grated
1 tsp grated horseradish
750g/1lb 10oz low-fat Greek-style yoghurt
½ tsp celery salt
1 tbsp cider vinegar
½ tsp ground black pepper
Up to 300ml/½ pint vegetable stock
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 x slices of fresh baguette

Preparation method

1. Blend the cooked beetroot, onion, horseradish, Greek-style yoghurt, celery salt, cider vinegar and black pepper in a food processor until smooth.
2. Once at a desired consistency, use vegetable stock to thin down the mixture.
3. The soup can be served either hot or cold. If preferred hot, warm through on a low flame, being careful not to boil.
4. Check for seasoning.
5. To serve, pour into a warmed bowl and sprinkle with chopped spring onions.

Grant Roberts
The Sports Specialist
07867 535696
Check out my new blog at: