Category: Sports

The Performance of Vegan Sports Stars & Clubs

Online takeaway service Just Eat found recently that veganism was a top trend among their customer base. Although it’s important to understand that veganism is not a trend and instead a lifestyle choice, the brand also noted that there was a 94% increase in healthy food ordered at the time. For sporting athletes, lifestyle is essential for performance and veganism is an increasingly popular option for some of the biggest names in the field. With this new information in mind, join Traidcraft, suppliers of fair trade vegan chocolate, and take a look at how successful a plant-based diet has proven for those who are under constant pressure to perform.

Jermain Defoe

As veganism has grown in popularity over the years, documentaries on the topic have become readily available to educate audiences on the realities of the meat industry. One person to make the conversion to veganism in light of one of these programs is Jermain Defoe, an English professional footballer playing for a string of successful teams including Tottenham Hotspur. In a recent interview, he confessed that his lifestyle change came as a result of watching ‘What The Health’ on streaming service Netflix, an expose of the cruelty and environmental consequences of a carnivorous diet. While many footballers retire before they hit their mid-30’s, Jermain is 36 and still actively playing the beautiful game for Scottish Premiership team Rangers F.C.

In an interview discussing his new dietary choices in 2018, he said “Now I feel like I’ve got more energy. I feel completely different – I’m able to train every day, I don’t get injuries, it’s helped with my game. That, for me, is the most important thing”, demonstrating a whole host of benefits from excluding dairy and animal products. With 57 caps for his country and 162 goals in the English Premier League, Defoe is a great model for any aspiring vegan athletes.

Venus Williams

Venus Williams has been a professional tennis player since the age of 14, and she was the first African American woman to become World No.1 in the Open Era in 2002. Her career is a force to be reckoned with, and she has remained unshaken by many opponents; but in 2011, Venus was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome and pulled out of the U.S Open later that year to recoup. As a result, she made the switch to follow a raw, plant-based diet and she slowly began playing again. She has regularly stated in interviews that making the lifestyle change was the sole reason that she could take to the court again, and she is often pictured armed with a carton of milk substitute in between sets.

She has celebrated her new relationship with food, “I fell in love with the concept of fuelling your body in the best way possible”, and she is testament against the common misconception of vegan diets as being restrictive and inadequate for those in sport. Protein is often a key focus for athletes, and many people believe that the protein content of a plant-based diet cannot compete with meat products. However, some of the best vegan friendly protein dense options include tofu, lentils, almonds, spirulina and chia seeds.

Forest Green Rovers

Fans of the Gloucestershire side do not enjoy the traditional steak pie or beef burger before kick-off, as the pre-match snacks are made with meat substitutes. In fact, meat has been entirely benched, as even the players must adhere to a veggie diet to don a Forest Green Rovers shirt. In terms of performance, they are currently fifth in League Two after a triumphant promotion in 2017. They cite their reasoning for implementing veganism into the club as environmentally linked, with the damaging consequences of livestock farming a key motivator behind the meat-free squad. They have also recently qualified for the 2019 English Football League play-offs, which could see them soar into the next tier up, League One.

The club chairman Dale Vince is also a green energy pioneer as the founder of Ecotricity, and he brought veganism onto the pitch at Forest Green Rovers in 2014. On the topic, he has said “Personally, I’m a vegan and have very strong views on the environment, animal welfare and human health”, and these concerns have been transformed in a sport setting as Forest Green Rovers set their sights on promotion glory.

So, do vegan athletes outperform their carnivorous competitors? Veganism has been subjected to a lot of criticism for a variety of reasons, but we could be underestimating it as a valid way to fuel our bodies. As these plant-based victories show, there is a substantial amount of bodily fuel that can be derived from following a plant-only diet, and perhaps athletes should try the switch themselves in order to determine the benefits.

Do colours have an impact on sports performance?

It is a widely held belief that different colours denote different feelings – for example, the colour blue is associated with calm whilst red can be associated with passion or aggression. Colour phycology is a widely researched subject, but just how far does colour association extend? Does a man wearing a green t-shirt appear less confident than a man in a black and white suit? Does a woman wearing a yellow dress appear happier than a woman wearing a black dress?

It is widely accepted that different colours can affect our mood. Let’s take an extension from that — if colour can affect us mentally, can it affect us physically? If our moods are heightened or dampened based on colours, it would make sense that colours could be used as a means to amplify performance in athletics.

Blue is often associated with calm, yellow is typically associated with happiness, and black has connotations of death in many cultures. It has been cited by numerous sources that teams wearing a red sports kit are more successful. But is this always the case? Let’s analyse the colours of different running clubs. The main purpose of club colours is, at base, to identify runners on the track. For example, the Edinburgh University Hare & Hounds Running Club wear green, whereas the Glasgow University club colours are black and gold.

Let’s take a look at some sports where colour has been linked to increased performance. Hill and Barton conducted a study regarding combat sports, and concluded that red had a higher success rate than blue due to red apparently sending a message of aggression and dominance to the opponent. But another study of Judo athletes showed blue contestants had a higher victory rate than those wearing white. According to researchers, the study was not wholly controlled — the blue-kit wearing contestants were seeded as the top 11%. Due to this, even in the loser’s pool, the athletes in blue had competed in one less match, and had had longer rest periods. Another study corrected these variables, and found uniform colour had little impact on success.

So, if colour and sporting success aren’t related at all, do colours make a difference? Minnpost dug a little deeper into the matter, and found an alternative view on the issue from psychologist Tom Stafford. He suggested that the colour of kit didn’t impact the athletes as much as they impacted the referee — and he used studies of digital colour manipulation to support this theory, in which referees were shown images with the colours worn by contestants altered. The referees awarded more points to those photoshopped in red kit than in blue. Could it be that the colour of sportswear has more of an effect on the people watching than the athletes themselves then?

The audience at a sports game are usually looking for entertainment, so this is a valid point. Perhaps the choice of colour in sportswear is less to do with trying to increase the chance of winning, or putting off the opponent, but instead generating a sense of excitement and energy in the crowd watching.

That’s not to say that colour psychology has no place in sports. But instead of looking at what we wear when we go for a run or perform sports, perhaps we should be considering our surroundings instead. Swiss running website On suggests that the real power of colour psychology in athletics comes from the colours of a runner’s surroundings. The example posed is that running in a grey room may be uninspiring and clinical, whereas running in a colourful room might perk the athlete up more. This theory could also be applied to outdoor running vs indoor running – for example, running under a clear blue sky on the green grass would probably be a much happier experience than running indoors on a treadmill. The sight of these colours could make for a happier athlete who, in turn, may perform better.

We can certainly apply colour psychology to sports. But if a team or athlete wins where another doesn’t, it’s unlikely because he or she chose to wear a red shirt.

How to make your bike quicker

We love bikes, don’t we? Not only are they an environmentally-friendly form of transport, but they also offer a host of health benefits. Whether you choose to go mountain biking, ride specialized road bikes or enjoy a bit of time on the BMX, you will always want to go that little bit faster. Here, we look at the best ways to do so:


Keep it clean

While this might sound obvious, there’s no doubting that your bike will go faster if it’s clean. By ensuring you keep your drivetrain and cables clear of mud and grime, your bike will be more efficient. What’s even better is the fact you’ll save money on parts in the long run!

To do this, you should try to get into a regular routine of cleaning your apparatus. Take a few minutes after each ride to wipe down your frame and mechanics and it’ll save you valuable time and effort when it comes to a big clean after the longer rides. However, make sure you go easy on the lube and use the correct one for your bike and your riding conditions. It’s important to let the oil soak in when you are lubing your chain and then wipe off any excess. Doing this will stop the onset of rust.


Tyre pressure

Just as is the case in your car, the tyre pressure of your bike is extremely important to how efficiently it performs, and it is one of the easiest ways to up your speed. It’s recommended that you pump your tyres up once a week, although sometimes a mini pump will suffice.

If your tyres have smaller diameters, they’ll require a higher pressure, so it’s crucial to know what pressure your wheels are supposed to be. It can also differ depending on your own body weight so be sure to acknowledge these factors and you’ll be amazed at the difference you feel.


Adjust your brakes

Okay, so this may not seem to be an obvious way to help you go faster but believe it or not it is very important. If you are able to brake later going into corners and carry some of that speed out of the other side, then you’ll quickly see an increase in your average speed.


Have the right saddle height

It’s surprising how many cyclists don’t ride with their saddle at the correct height. Not only can this cause discomfort and potential injuries, but it will slow you down as your pedal stroke won’t be as efficient as it could be.

Generally, you should try to have the distance between your bottom bracket and the saddle’s top your inseam measurement minus 10cm. However, make sure you make allowances for your pedal system, as this may vary it slightly.

However, don’t be phased if you are heading on a bike ride and don’t know your measurements. If you remember when you turn the pedals that you shouldn’t be overstretching, pointing your toe or rocking your hips, then you will be well on the way to having the seat in the right position.


Lose weight

Now, this point won’t apply to everyone. However, for those of us who may be carrying an extra bit of weight, shedding a few of those unwanted pounds may help you go faster. Of course, if you are of a healthy weight, you can focus on reducing your bike’s weight instead of your own.

For a shorter circuit, you may find removing your bottle and cage will help if they’re not needed. You can also look into removing all other unnecessary bits, such as mudguards and saddle bags. It may not seem like much, but as every bit of extra weight must be relaunched after you turn, or carried up hills, every little really does help.

So, that’s that. Five steps that will help you increase your speed on your bike.



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How to reduce your risk of injury in football

The sport that is adored the world over, it’s no wonder that football’s got professional and amateur players of all ages. It is many people’s go-to pastime and exercise for the week, and it’s a brilliant way to socialise too.

But, as with any exercise or sport, there’s the chance of injury when playing. There’s plenty of things you can do to keep that risk to a bare minimum though. Here, we will take a look at the most common injuries sustained in football, as well as telling you how best to prevent them.


Pulling your hamstring

Probably the most well-known football injury, the hamstring stretches from your hip to your knee, along the back of your thigh. Sometimes your hamstring muscles can overstretch, resulting in pain at the back of the leg, as well as potentially bruising and swelling. If you tear your hamstring, you could be out of action for a while, however, if you simply pull your hamstring, you should be fine to continue.

A damaged hamstring will often manifest sighs such as bruising, pain, and swelling. Reportedly, people with existing back issues are more susceptible to strained hamstrings, so to avoid this injury, loosen your back with exercises such as lumbar rotation stretches (lying on the floor and rolling your knees from side to side). Basic glute stretches will ease muscles around your hips, while yoga will help you stay flexible, which will lower the risk of hamstring strain. Squats, lunges and hamstring kicks are also great preventative exercises, as they work to strengthen the hamstring muscles.


Do you know how to avoid a hamstring injury? Try doing the Nordic ham curl:

  • Kneel on the floor.
  • Hook your feet under something sturdy and heavy that can take your weight or ask a partner to hold your feet to act as an anchor.
  • Breathe deeply, engage your core and slowly lower yourself to the ground, using your hamstrings to keep your body straight.
  • After reaching the ground, push yourself up and repeat.


Damage to your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)

The ACL is a crucial element of support for the knee. However, it’s often damaged by the twisting and turning of the leg, which means it’s a common injury for football players. If you hurt your ACL, it’ll be painful and you’ll likely see swelling around the area. But before then, you may hear and feel it pop or snap…

You can reduce the risk of an ACL injury by working on your leg strength. According to HSS, Hospital for Special Surgery, you should do plenty of leg stretches like squats and walking lunges. Having good balance — or proprioception — is vital if you want to avoid injuring your ACL too, so practice standing on one leg (30 seconds on each) regularly to boost your stability. These exercises also help prevent injuries to your menisci, which are cartilages that protect the knee joint.


Straining your groin

During a tackle or reach for the ball, players can sometimes over-stretch and injury their groin as a result. If you strain your groin, you’ve basically over-extended your abductor muscles, found in your inner thigh. A slight strain will often cause some pain, however, serious groin strain injuries can impede on your ability to walk and run, which is a serious flaw for a football player.

A proper warm-up is a vital component of injury prevention. Make sure you stretch your inner and outer thigh muscles daily and see if you can also get regular sports therapy or massage treatments to keep these muscles flexible. A strong core enhances pelvic stability, which will also reduce the chance of groin strains, so do plenty of planks and crunches as part of your basic workout routine. Resistance bands are also very handy for strengthening your inner thigh muscles and preventing groin strain.


Ankle sprains

Damage to soft tissue causes the pain associated with a sprain. According to the CSP (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy), approximately 70-85% of these injuries are ‘inversion’ sprains, which means the ankle has been turned inwards — common when tackling and dribbling the ball. If you’re looking to reduce the risk of a sprained ankle, try and do these exercises three times a week:

  • Calf raises.
  • Ankle circles (both clockwise and anti-clockwise).
  • Shin raises (lifting your toes, rather than your heels, off the ground).


Get ready

Sharp movements cause many of the injuries associated with football. According to a scientific study, taking part in a structured warm-up is effective at stopping players from suffering common football injuries and can reportedly even lower these by approximately 33%.

Before jumping into a match, be sure to stretch and get the blood pumping to your muscles. Here’s a top warm-up session to help you prepare your tendons, ligaments and muscles for a good performance:

  • 5 minutes: jogging and side-stepping to boost your core temperature.
  • 15 minutes: stretching, focusing on your quads, glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs, lower back, calves, Achilles tendon, and hip flexors. You should hold your stretch for ten seconds every time.
  • 10 minutes: mimicking football movements without a ball including high kicks, squats, jumps, and side-foot passes.
  • 10 minutes: practicing shooting, heading, passing, and dribbling as a team with a football.

You can also lower your risk of injury through your food choices. Eat plenty of protein and carbohydrates — including eggs, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, turkey and salmon — to build muscle and deliver energy. Also, lower your alcohol intake — it dehydrates you and leaves your muscles more susceptible to cramping and injury.

You can also bolster your nutrients intake with some supplements.  For example, vitamin D and vitamin D3 can help strengthen your bones and muscles, according to some scientific studies, and ubiquinol contributes to energy production

If you don’t fancy missing a load of games because of a preventable injury, follow these dietary and warm-up tips and stay at the top of your game!



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The Psychology Of Colors In Sports – Infographic

Football is the most popular sport in the world. Many say that talent, hard work and persistence are crucial for the success. But, does the psychology plays any part in it? The infographic created by Charles Tyrwhitt shows us some interesting statistics about the colors’ influence on sport results that we might take in the consideration.

The data says that 55% of World Cup winners played and won their final games in blue dresses. And, Brazilians have won 4 out of 5 World Cups wearing yellow. In general, psychologists agree that yellow stimulates mental activity and energy, while red stands for dominance.

When it comes to teams competitions, all winners over the 26 seasons of UK Premier League played in either red or blue. And, white has been worn by 40% of the winners of UEFA Championship League

CT Shirts - Sports shirts - colour by numbers

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Cycle Your Way to Health: Biking Accessories to Turn Your Healthy Hobby into a Habit

Ah, so many choices, so little time. You have to agree with me when I say it’s not easy for us 21st century people to get a hold of our lives, and start making more of the healthy choices, especially for those of us who are part of the concrete jungles. While in the past workaholics were pointed out as a bad example, nowadays there are so many, that for most of us it’s deemed as something to be proud of – a life full of accomplishment and success.

Now, no matter how proud we may be, it’s a fact, working your days away leads to stress, then as a result to anger, and to quote the insightful and memorable Yoda : “Anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”.

Unless you want to be grumpy on a daily basis, with a bunch of extra kilos at that, and illnesses, it’s more than essential to spice your life with some hobby, particularly if it’s one that involves physical activity, like good ol’ biking.

As the sport suitable for people of all ages, biking is still as popular as ever because of its contribution to shedding extra kilos, preventing cardiovascular illnesses, cancer, and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, improving sleep, and the immune system, and most of all, increasing the lifespan – what’s not to love about biking?!

So, it would seem, now is as good a time as any to make this healthy hobby part of our lifestyles. Yet, the process of convincing yourself to do so every day, or at least more times a week, may be slow (trust me, I can tell from experience), though it shouldn’t be regarded as discouraging; if you want to get into the habit quicker, this is where biking accessories come in handy.

Why? Because when you equip yourself with all the bits and pieces professionals have, you start feeling like one of them, and you can actually feel this hobby is really a part of your life, and take it seriously. Getting only the bike may be enough to get some of the people motivated to it, some of the time, but if you want to make the most of it, turning it into a habit to conquer streets, parks, and hills every day, to stay in shape, and reap all the benefits, the key to success lies in the acquiring of the adequate biking accessories.

Starting off by finding the reliable retailer, you can expect to come across a wide range of products, at affordable prices, from various brands – this goes for bikes, as much as it does for the accessories. At a first glance, it can be confusing due to the many options available, so here are the essentials you need for a safe, easy, and comfortable ride, to make this purchase less of a headache for you.

Using the bike as the means of transport, you’re going to park somewhere. Having this in mind, it’s important to get the peace of mind and ensure your bike wouldn’t be stolen by investing in a quality lock. That includes chains, as much as it does D-locks, so it’s up to you (and your pocket) to decide, just don’t forget to put this item in your shopping cart, unless you want to be buying a new bike every now and then.

Going from A to B with a bike also means you’re going to be carrying things with you (after all, it’s your transport, not just exercising means!), at least a few snacks in the form of protein bars for when on the road, to keep you energised, water and hydration mixes to keep you hydrated, electronics, additional clothes… and the list goes on. The bike can be as suitable for luggage as a vehicle, as long as you buy the right bag.

If you don’t mind getting a sweaty back and carrying the load yourself, you can go for one of the many choices of backpacks, just make sure there’s enough storage, in the form of compartments, and pockets, as well as helpful features, in the likes of sternum straps, and insulated pockets to keep things cool.

Leaving it to the bike to do the heavy carrying, there are many bags that would wow you with their properties, be it weather resistance, or storage, like the saddle bags, and rack-top bags. You wouldn’t have to worry about their safety either knowing there’s a lock designed especially for them, so word of advice is if you get one of the two, invest in a suitable lock too.

Other essentials of biking accessories have to do with the weather, since unlike vehicles, you are directly exposed to the outdoor conditions. When this is your daily exercise, and transport, day in and day out, season after season, it’s natural you won’t always take to the road when it’s sunny, but also when it’s raining, and even snowing. In terms of this, it’s more than important to invest in specialised waterproof, breathable, and visible clothing.

If you don’t have the budget to fully equip at the beginning, you should start off with the jacket, then as your rides get longer and longer, you could move on to wearing biking clothing with pride from head to toe, from all-things Lycra (like a true biker!), to specialised biking shoes with sturdy soles to withstand all the pedalling. You would no longer fear soaking!

Speaking of soaking, there are other biking accessories that would further help protect you from the weather, such as the mudguards. They are created to have your back, literally, so you can go on riding even while it’s raining, without getting your back soaking wet.

Additionally, there’s the helmet, and eyewear. The helmet isn’t as necessary as it might seem, because biking is all in all a safe sport, however, if you want to get the extra protection, make sure when you go on the quest for the ideal helmet that it’s the perfect fit, is stylish at the same time, and provides comfort.

As for eyewear, sun is always there – even on cloudy days the UV rays can be damaging, thus you can’t avoid this purchase. Then again, you wouldn’t want annoying insects getting in your eyes, would you? The cost-efficient alternative is the one with interchangeable lenses.

Once you start enjoying biking, there’s no going back! You’d get the urge to go for rides no matter the time of day, or night (having in mind night rides have magic of their own). Taking this into consideration, you can’t leave home without having the proper light source with you, both front and rear. While lights light your way, they also make you visible to the rest of the traffic, so they are a way of protection too.

If you want the best of the best, go for LEDs. Throughout the years, LEDs have undergone a great deal of changes, which made them that much powerful, and yet affordable as well. Along with the mighty beam, they are usually equipped with lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, and a design made of weatherproof materials, so you can count on durability. No wonder they are the prime choice of mountain bikers.

Years pass by, and we still require as much help as we can from tools. Biking is no exception. Sure, you may not be a handyman, as of yet, but the more you are in the company of your bike, the more you begin to understand it, and differentiate when it works properly from when it doesn’t.

Since you can’t always know when a repair might be needed, it’s advisable to carry your own toolkit with you whenever and wherever on the go, having a pump, and spare parts you can count on in times of need. Don’t forget relying on specialised literature can also save the day, so if you don’t feel like carrying a biking book, at least download some in electronic form because no one goes on rides without electronics.

Now that you know more about the biking basics, it’s time to take to take to the road, and cycle away to health!

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