Vicki’s Tips

VK Inner Strength Personal Training

Vicki Knight is a mother of two children at the Sharks, Team Manager and also runs her own Personal Training Company from Inner Strength.

Vicki is passionate about health and fitness and will provide a Tip each week in relation health, fitness, training and recovery. These will feature online and in the Shark Attack newsletter each week, so watch this space.

Vicki’s Tip – Round 10


This week we will focus on cramping. Two out of three athletes have experienced painful muscle cramping during sport. It commonly occurs in the muscle groups directly involved in the exercise task (e.g. the calf muscle (gastrocnemius in running)

A number of theories have been put forward to explain what may cause cramping during exercise.

  • Abnormal or low salt (sodium) levels in the blood due to sweating
  • Abnormal potassium, magnesium or calcium levels in the blood due to sweating
  • Dehydration due to heavy sweating and inadequate fluid intake
  • Heat or cold stress during exercise.

Although some of the above might increase your risk of cramp, most now agree the primary cause of EAMC (Exercise Associated Muscle Cramping) is altered neuromuscular function (i.e. a physiological process involving both nerves and muscle). Without getting to technical, the muscle becomes fatigued.

Reducing the risk of cramps

  • Be fit – cramps are less common in athletes that are well trained and conditioned
  • Ensure adequate intake of carbohydrate before and during exercise which may help prevent premature muscle fatigue
  • Stretch before exercise.

Vicki’s Tip – Round 9

Fluid: How much?

Hydrating starts 24 hours before the game. Checking urine is a good indication how hydrate you are:

  • Light colour and frequent visits to the toilet = Hydrated
  • Dark colour and not needing to urinate = Dehydrated

Ensuring that you are well hydrated will also speed up digestion which will help on game day. Priming you stomach 1⁄2 hour before the game with fluids. How much each player requires again depends on their body weight. Work to 5mls per each kilo of body weight is what the player would want to consume.
5ml x 45kg = 225ml of fluid – then by sipping throughout the game will ensure the player will stay hydrated.

Sports drinks
A great deal of scientific research has gone into sports drinks in terms of rehydration and getting in the carbohydrates and salt that the body has lost and needs replaced. They are a simple carbohydrate therefore ideal for during and immediately after the game.

A well hydrated player will perform better then a dehydrated player!!

Vicki’s Tip – Round 8


There are two types of carbohydrates – simple and complex.

Simple are quick release energy that we talk about having just before, during and immediately after activity. Complex is slow release of energy that we eat to build our stores up. Below are just a few of each:

Simple carbohydrates:

  • All types of sugar
  • Honey, golden syrup
  • Jams, marmalade
  • Fruit -canned, fresh, dried
  • Jelly
  • Sports drinks, soft drinks, cordials
  • Sugar based confectionery
  • Dairy product

Complex carbohydrates:

  • Bread – white and wholemeal
  • Breakfast cereals – Weetbix , Just Right
  • Rice, pasta, noodles
  • Potato, sweetcorn
  • Dry biscuits
  • Legumes , baked beans, kidney beans
  • Grains – barley oats and cous cous

With breakfast cereals not all are a complex carbohydrates, they can be a mixture of both such as Milo Cereal, Fruit Loops and some other that are extremely high in sugar and really have no nutritional value. White bread is classed as a complex but also a high GI which is another subject.

So looking back to last week on out how many carbohydrates do we need to fuel our body’s…? Complex carbohydrates would be what you want to consume the most out of the two to build up our glycogen levels.

Simple carbohydrates would be consumed before, during and immediately after game or training to quickly replenish the glycogen levels. So high complex carbohydrate and low simple carbohydrate = Healthy diet and satisfy the appetite and stop that voice calling mum I’m hungry!!!

Example of complex carbohydrates in grams:

  • Pasta (1 cup) cooked = 37g
  • Brown rice (1⁄2 cup) cooked = 22g
  • Yogurt (1 cup) = 17g
  • Multigrain bread (1 slice) = 17g

Vicki’s Tip – Round 7

The Importance of Carbohydrates (carbs)

Carbohydrates are our body’s main fuel during exercises. When we consume carbs they are broken down into glucose. The glucose is either used immediately in our bloodstream for instant energy i.e. (sports drink) or if not needed at that point in time it transported through the bloodstream to the muscle and liver.

The muscle stores the majority of the carbs. When we store glucose in our body it is known as glycogen. Which is glucose stored with water in our muscle and liver tissue. Once the glycogen levels are low in our body our body then relies on protein and fat. Protein is not the ideal fuel as this leads to muscle loss and the player becomes weaker.

Fat is harder for our body’s to work with and the players slow down. Example of this is when a marathon runner hits the wall. The body has shifted from using carbs to fat. The runner slows down and cannot go at the same pace.

While our players do not run the same distance in a football game as a marathon the same process can accrue if they have low or no carbs stores at the start of the game. So how much carbs will I need???

Carbohydrates grams x per kilograms

  1. 3-5hours of moderate exercise per week = 4-5grams per kilogram of body weight
  2. 1 hour per day of serious exercise per week = 5-7 grams per kilogram of body weight
  3. 20 hours a week of exercise = 7-10 grams per kilogram of body weight

Example: For a person that weighs 45kg and exercises 10 hours in a week, including all training and sports they do, not forgetting school sports. The calculations would be:
0.7 grams x 45kg = 315 grams of carbs they need each day in their diet to meet the needs of their activity levels.You may be surprised when you add up your child’s activity levels and see how much they do. But isn’t it great to have children fit and healthy and having fun.

Vicki’s Tip – Round 6

How do you treat a corky (what is a corky?)

A corky is a bleed into the muscle. As with a skin wound that is bleeding, the treatment of choice is compression. With a muscle bleed, icing is achieved through compression with an elastic bandage not a crepe bandage as they do not maintain pressure.

So refer back to last week article on icing 20 min on and at least 20min off.

The main don’ts are heat and massage. Heat should not be applied particularly in the first 24 hours. This includes hot packs, spas, baths, and creams (Deep Heat etc) Massage should be avoided as it can cause further bleeding and further inflammation.

Your physio is the best person to advice you when to start running and when you will be ready to play again. Most corkys will settle in a week but it is important not to go back too early as irritation can result in extended time off playing and in some cases bone can form in the area of the bleed.

Vicki’s Tip – Round 5 

The importance of icing following an injury

Whether it is a sprained ankle or a pulled muscle Rice (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) is the answer! So often we neglect to follow this simple advice or we do but only for a short time. This is when we find ourselves dealing with nagging injury or discomfort throughout the season thinking it would just go away!

The reason it won’t go away on its own is because the common denominator in most injuries is the accompaniment of soft tissue inflammation. Swelling, redness or warmth in a traumatized area of the body is classic outward indications of inflammation. Although inflammation can be a very helpful process in some cases, more often than not it is an enemy of all sorts to the healing process that must take place at the site of the injury. The goal is to eliminate the inflammation so the body can speed up its recovery.

This is where the ice is so important. Ice constricts the blood vessels not allowing them to have a dramatic increase in the amount of blood that is leaking out of the damaged tissue into the surrounding tissue. At some time we have all seen a badly twisted ankle that turns purple and green. This is the inflammation taking place. With ice we can slow down this process and limit the amount of inflammation that occurs.

The less inflammation the shorter the healing time. The shorter the healing time the quicker you’re back to doing what you want to do. The first 72 hours following an injury should be ice only. Ice for maximum 20min then 20 min break at least. Do this for even the mildest injury and you will find yourself feeling better much sooner.

Having ice in the coaches box with a couple of tea towels enables the trainer to get the ice onto the injury as soon as it happens. Ice bags are simple to make, simply place a handful of ice cubes in a snap lock bag and then place a number of these in a small cool bag. That’s all it takes!

Vicki’s Tip – Round 4


The water lost from the body (sweating) during sport needs to be replaced. Sports drinks (carbohydrates- electrolyte-sodium and potassium beverages) are designed to provide the right balance

When should sports drinks be used?

Before Game

Sports drinks can used before to fine tune their fluid and fuel intake. The carbohydrate tops up the glycogen fuel levels.

During Game

Sports drinks are primarily designed for use during exercises, for optimal fluid and fuel delivery. They will allow the player to perform longer and more effectively in training and competition.


Sports drinks assist in replacing fluids lost in sweat and also assist with refueling to replenishing glycogen stores so that the player can be fully recovered and be ready to train or play. Also remembering to have sustagen with in the first 30mins after game or training as well.

Dental Health and Sports Drinks

Acidic foods and fluids are one of the factors linked to tooth enamel erosion. Sports drinks, fruit juices, soft drink, wine, beer, tea and coffee are all examples of acidic fluids.

The use of sports drinks alone is unlikely to cause dental erosion. However an athlete that uses large quantities of sports drink for prolong periods should pay extras attention to dental hygiene.

Encourage the player to take mouth guard out and squirt sports drink to the back of the throat and rinse mouth out with water.

Hydration Check

The Pee Test- If your urine is dark colored you need to have fluids. Once your urine has become clear that is an indicator you have rehydrated. Being thirsty is telling you that you are already partly dehydrated

If you have finished training or game and you are thirsty that is a key indicator you did not have enough sips during the game.

For more information go to

Vicki’s Tip – Round 3

During-Game Fuel

1/4 time and 1/2 time breaks is when we want to replenish the boys energy by eating and drinking.

Simple carbohydrates such as sports drinks, oranges and bananas are ideal for theses times because how quickly the body converts them to energy.

Having sugar based snacks can have a negative effect on the player as the blood glycogen levels increase quickly and these high levels will not last long and will lead to less energy once the initial increase ends.

These foods can lead to dehydration, cramping, nausea which will hinder the player’s performance. Sports drinks only really required for players training or playing for an hour or more.

I tend to dilute my boys sports drinks down with 1/2 water and 1/2 sports drink that way they won’t get the rapid energy rise but will get the hydrolytes and the fluid their body’s require to play out the rest of the game. More on fluids next week!

These articles are designed purely to provoke thought and for you to use them to research further to incorporate these ideas into how they would best work for your family. To learn more google “pregame meals for football”

Vicki’s Tip – Round 2

Pre-Game Meals

Pre game meals should be eaten at least 3 hours prior to a game and should consist largely of carbohydrates. Protein and fats should be kept to a minimum, because these nutrients take longer to convert into energy.

Carbohydrates come in two forms, complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods such as pasta, potatoes, wholegrain bread and cereals.

Simple carbohydrates come in food such as fruits, sugar and honey. Both of these carbohydrates play a role in fuelling the body.

  • Complex carbs – pre game meals
  • Simple carbs – during the game – which we will touch on next week.

Fuelling your body with sugar/honey foods before training or a game can lead to dehydration, fatigue, nausea and cramping. These articles are designed purely to provoke thought and for you to use them to research further to incorporate these ideas into how they would best work for your family. To learn more google “pregame meals for football”

Vicki’s Tip – Round 1

Prepare To Perform

Over the football season we hope to give you helpful hints on how to manage your child’s diet that will enable him to get the best out of his body:

Over the coming weeks we will cover:

  • Pre game meals
  • During game fuel
  • Post game meal
  • Recovery (post training & game)

No matter how old/young, what standard they play at all children can learn how to fuel their bodies to ensure they can perform at the best they can.

Post Training/game fuel

Within 30 minutes of training or game completion consuming a small meal/snack is very beneficial to help replenish the diminished glycogen stores. Protein absorption is maximised during the first 30 minutes.

This small meal/snack should contain carbohydrates/protein and fat. Some Ideas are:

  • Sustagen
  • Fruit, Bananas, Oranges, Apples
  • Peanut butter on rice cakes, rice crackers
  • Trail Mix
  • Yoghurt with cereal
  • Bagel with cream cheese or peanut butter

Think of this as silent training!!! It doesn’t just stop there. It is important that from training to game day the carbohydrate recovery continues.

These articles are designed purely to provoke thought and for you to use them to research further to incorporate these ideas into how they would best work for your family.

For more ideas and information on this subject google “post training and game food for football”.