Björn Borg | Ask the coach

Ask the coach


Once again we're teaming up with our friends at Safe Education, a Scandinavian company educating personal trainers and nutritionists. Their coaches have years of experience in exercise, nutrition and behavioural change. For the upcoming weeks, they will serve us as digital coaches, answering our questions on a certain topic!

Feeling sore after being so still at home these days, swollen knees. What to do?
You need to increase the circulation in the lower part of the body. Most people need to take breaks on a regular basis to feel good. Try to do some exercises every 30 minutes. For example, you can do 60 air squats or jumping jacks. I would also recommend you to work from a standing position at least twice a day. If you don't have an adjustable office table to be able to stand up and work, you could try to use your ironing table instead. My last advice is to exercise or to take a walk at lunch. A longer break could help you a lot. Maybe you could take a walk with a friend or even a telephone meeting while walking outside?

Can bodyweight workouts be as effective as when using weights?
Absolutely, try callisthenics or martial arts and you’ll find your body in extreme soreness the days after the workout.

What's the best exercise to fix "jumpers knee"? Achronic injury from playing tennis. 

First, you need to pause playing tennis if that withholds the pain. If it doesn’t get worse from tennis nowadays you can continue playing but remember to do a proper warm-up by stretching your glutes and quads. In addition, try to work with some eccentric contractions (for example, as you lower your arm in a biceps curl, that lengthening movement would be considered eccentric). For example, do squats 60-80 reps/day (20 reps 3-4 times/day) with focus on the eccentric phase - count 3-6 seconds on the way down and raise up as fast as you can.

Remember that ”jumpers knee” takes a long time to heal, normally 3-12 months. Make sure you do not have a stress fracture in the patella by consulting a physiotherapist.

Sometimes get migraine attacks when working out very hard. Why? And how can I avoid that?
Migraine should be taken seriously. Normally it’s harmless meaning it is not a cerebral haemorrhage, but if it hits you for the first time you should consult a physician to exclude other diseases. In other cases, try to figure out what causes it. For example when you do bench press som people press their head to much down on the bench while raising the body in a ”bridge position”. That could cause small muscle strains in the neck muscles which sometimes lead to headache or migraine. Exclude the exercises that cause the migraine for a while and see if it disappears. Next step might be to consult a personal trainer to see if your technique can be improved.

How can I strengthen my neck?
Many people have bad circulation and weak muscles in the neck. Take a break every 30 minutes when working to help the blood flow. Invest in a rubber band, so you easily can work with some rowing exercises during the breaks. For example, 30 reps 3-4 times/day.


Recommendations of workouts suitable for someone recovering from plantar fasciitis? (hälsporre)

This is a tricky one. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do, and it just heals by itself within time. In some cases, you can continue with your favourite training as long as it doesn’t get worse. Normally it is best to do exercises that don’t apply force on the plantar fascia such as strength training, swimming, bike riding and rowing.


I have a weird pain in my right calf. How should I train?

You should avoid all training that triggers the pain. Try to stretch the calf muscles. The calf muscles are postural muscles and when stretching them you should try to stay in a stretching position for about 3-4 minutes every morning and evening for 2 weeks. You can also use a foam roller and ”roll” your calf muscles for 3-5 minutes in the morning, before the training session and before bed for 2 weeks. If the pain is still there for more than 2 weeks, I suggest you consult a physiotherapist to get a diagnosis and further tips.


I run long distance, I’ve been running most days. My knees are now feeling extremely painful. What to do?
If you want to treat yourself, try to stretch out your glutes, quads, hamstrings, calf and hip flexor muscle. Preferably, you should also cut down on the long-distance training and do some interval training instead to avoid repetitive forces as much as possible. Sometimes rest or alternative cardio training for 1-3 weeks might help. If it's a new type of pain, you should consider consulting a physiotherapist.

What are the best foods for post-training recovery?
Any meal with carbs and protein! If you want a quick and easy snack, go for a banana and a glass of milk. 


What would you make as a quick dinner option, if you have 30 min of preparation time?
I would go for boiled potatoes and green peas, salmon and a salad with as many colours as possible. For example carrots, tomatoes, spinach and radishes.  And of course, serve it with a sauce based on quark. 

What’s the #1 thing you’d suggest people keep in their fridge…

Frozen vegetables, so that you always can have something colourful for the meal. 


….and in their pantry?

Definitely nuts and seeds, such an easy on-the-go snack made of healthy calories! 


I work night shifts. What snacks are the best for staying energized most of the night?

Eat a good and healthy meal around 9 pm, then you only need a light snack during the night like oatmeal, omelette, nuts or any other healthy options. Then eat a nutritional breakfast before you go to bed. Most important -stay away from junk food!


Is a fibre-dense smoothie a complete breakfast or should I bother complimenting it? I use chia, bananas etc. 

The body handles nutrition over a long period of time. Analyse your weekly intake of food, if you eat deficient overall, or if you are more hungry - then you can add something to your smoothie.


I’d love to hear about getting enough iron on a vegetarian diet.

If you eat enough of wholegrain, nuts, seeds, dried fruits like apricots and legumes, you will definitely get your iron. A woman needs 15 mg/day and a guy needs 9 mg/day. 100 g of pumpkin seeds contains 10,3 mg, you can compare that to 100 g of beef that contains approximately 2,5 mg. The total amount of iron will depend on how much you eat. 


I mostly eat the same things every day. I try to make sure that I get all the nutrients I need, but is there any harm in eating (almost) the same things every day?

Not as long as you get all the nutrients, and do not exaggerate so that you exceed the upper recommended intake. For example, many vitamin C tablets contain 1000 mg. You need to eat 17 kiwis to get the same amount of vitamin C. Daily intake over 1000 mg increases the risk of diarrhoea and kidney stones. 

I would love to hear some good mental exercises, to calm myself down and reduce stress.

I would like to recommend the app “Headspace” – I use it myself and for therapy with many clients. It’s an app full of different mindfulness exercises and the foundation of their methods are evidence-based.

Don’t forget that your body and mind are linked together. If you are feeling stressed it’s very likely that your body is tensed. Then it is a good idea to start with the body instead of trying to steer your thoughts. Different kinds of relaxation exercises can be found in apps.

Hence the difference though – mindfulness might lead to relaxation but it’s not the main goal. Mindfulness aims to make you more present which can help you relax while relaxation exercises aim to relax your body in order to also relax your mind. 


I want to boost my energy, what is the best type of exercise when feeling low?

The best exercise to boost your energy can either be a) rest or 2) do a work out in a way that awakens the body and mind. Usually, more of a high-intensity type of training gives you a kick in energy compared to low impact training. In other terms: run intervals, go to a HIIT group training or similar. 


I procrastinate a lot of things but mostly my workouts. Any ideas on how to stop this behaviour?

To start with is this very common. From a behavioristic point of view, it seems like you are acting on the resistance that you’re initially experiencing when “work out” comes up in your mind or schedule. There is no secret magic here other than identifying the resistance (e.g. it feels boring or tediously to work out) and do the work out anyway. I can almost promise that the resistance is gone as soon as you start warming up!


If you want to achieve the effects of exercising you simple need to do it. To accept the resistance and stick to the plan is my best advice on this topic.


How do I not give up when running?

The short answer is – keep running! If you are referring to giving up during your running sessions I assume that the intensity/speed is too high. Try to run slower and shorter and lengthen the sessions as your motivation to run longer grows stronger. If you a referring to giving up your running routine regularly I would say that a specific and time set goal is a good idea to build character and motivation. E.g. run two times per week during 4-6 weeks and stick to that plan even if a resistance appears. 


Tips on how to break out of bad habits?

Yes! We tend to focus on the habits we want to get rid of – that is a common mistake! In cognitive-behavioural therapy, we focus on the behaviour we want to increase in frequency to outcompete the “unwanted” one. Let me take an example: a person is eating lots of candy during weekends. Instead of focusing on keeping down the candy intake, we focus on eating proper meals like breakfast, good snacks, lunch, dinner etc. By doing this we build new habits at the same time as we are out-competing the bad ones.


To sum up: if you want to break out of a bad habit, think of what you want to do with that time instead and focus on increasing that behaviour.


How to be consistent and stay motivated?

To be consistent – make a realistic plan and strive for sustainable habits. Ask yourself if you are willing to do the job and not just wishing to have the results. Accept the difference and make wise decisions regarding your goals and methods for how to reach them.


To stay motivated – this is a bit trickier question to answer. Are we talking about the strong feeling of being motivated? I don’t think it is a good idea to strive after that. Feelings come and go – accept this and become a master in identifying the resistance (or absence of feeling motivated). That helps you to be committed in your actions and not affected by temporary feelings.  Another perspective on “staying motivated” is to be clear about your intentions and motives – those are more stable and reliable than our feelings. Remind yourself often of why a behaviour (e.g. do the work out in my schedule) is important.