back and injury

The power of being human in healing & recovery

Photo by Anete Lucina via unsplash.com, edited by KT

Photo by Anete Lucina via unsplash.com, edited by KT

In the last month of 2016, I was deeply struck by the death of AA Gill, a "journo giant", who died from cancer. It inspired me to write this article about why being human to each other, and to ourselves, can have a profound affect in healing and recovery and at the very least make an individual feel that they matter, especially when facing terminal illness.

 

AA Gill's last article, published just one day after his death explained his traumatic and frustrating journey of care from the NHS in the last months of his life. I was struck by how beautifully he narrated his situation. He was denied a life lengthening treatment, immunotherapy, because it is too expensive to get on the NHS. He acknowledged the genuine care towards of the people who work within the NHS towards him, mentioning in particular a nurse who was devastated to learn that his chemo was no longer working. He ended his article by saying,  "you don't get that in the private sector" referring to the humanity and empathy of the nurse.

You can read AA Gill's parting gift to the world here:

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/more-life-with-your-kids-more-life-with-your-friends-more-life-spent-on-earth-but-only-if-you-pay-d7lwpht3j

 

Same same but same

The turn of a new year always makes us a bit more philosophical as we look back at what we have achieved and then look forward to what lies ahead for us. I see countless Facebook posts about 2017 being the year of kindness, of solidarity, peace, togetherness, humanity. I myself posted my new years message, urging people "to be the change you want to see".  New year or mid year, we all want the same thing to feel the humanity of others and to feel that we matter. It's what connects us and it has powerful healing properties.

 

How to be human 

Above all, whether you work with people or have people in your life who are in pain or recovering or not, the way we can help each other in a daily way is just by being human. Being human to me means being kind. It means holding space for someone when they need you; listening to someone in need of being heard; giving of your time, energy and love. It also means holding space for yourself, listening to yourself and allowing yourself to be quiet, giving back to and loving yourself. I believe the body knows how to heal itself otherwise our species would not have survived this long. It needs the right conditions - physically, mentally and emotionally to help it along. 

 

Humanity heals

This is relevant in our personal lives, in our work life and particularly in medicine and therapy when you seek help for illness and injury. Being human or what the medical profession often call "bedside manner", can have a profound affect on your perception and ability to recover.  It is really important that you choose therapists and medical practitioners you trust, have a good relationship with and who hold space for you without judgement or ego during your healing and recovery. If you feel you need more "human" than what is being offered do not be afraid to walk away and find therapists who better suit your needs. My new guru, the late Louis Gifford, believed that the human part of therapy and medicine is as important as the healing of tissue, because you, your consciousness, is part of that healing. Your synaptic connections, your thoughts, play a part in what messages get sent from the brain to the tissues. Feeling safe and cared for positively impacts your emotional and mental outlook on recovery.  

 

Human yourself  

And kindness and humanity doesn't always have to come from others. Being human to yourself is just as important. I firmly believe part of the self-management of your own injury or condition is being kind, loving and compassionate to yourself. So go be more human to yourself and others in 2017 and see what impact it has on your healing and recovery, your life and the lives of those around you.

 

If you are struggling with an ongoing injury, or have suffered with ongoing pain that just won't go away we can help. Please contact KT at KT@precisionmovement.co.uk for a complimentary phone conversation. 

 

 

 

 

Your free 12 week guide to healing and recovery

I am always looking for ways to make your rehabilitation journey more beneficial so you can  get back to a life of freedom and adventure - the life that you truly want to build, share, cherish and remember.  As a movement specialist I am focussed primarily on the biomechanics of alignment and your movement patterning.  However, I fully appreciate a comprehensive approach to healing and recovery, so I have created a 12 week mailout that helps you address all aspects of your lifestyle during your rehabilitation with Precision Movement.

 

Star qualities of the 12 week mail out:

* It will keep your mind focussed on your rehabilitation during your 12 week journey 

* You'll get bite sized reading recommendations for your How To Eat Move and Be Healthy book on other areas that contribute to your healing and recovery

* Helpful reminders that you can refer back to on the things I teach you in the studio

* Tonnes more free information in links, books, articles, videos, audio guides and other sources

* Inspiration and motivation for the tough moments! 

 

This will be available to new clients from September onwards.  However, if you would like to receive the bailout for an added boost to your training and rehabilitation then please sign up HERE.  It will only be available to "oldies" (!) until the end of September 2016 - so sign up to avoid disappointment!

FREEBIES!

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I knew this would catch your attention - everyone loves a freebie, me included. 

I start my year long remedial sports massage course this month. As part of my training I need to log 100 practice hours. So I need willing candidates to practice on... Cue the Freebie! 

I'll be setting up a massage clinic on Friday afternoons in Mayfair from 4-7pm. You can book in for a complimentary 45 min massage by emailing me or Rosie by email or phone. There are only three slots available each week so you'll need to book early.

A small fee of £20 is required to cover the room rental but the actual massage is 100% complimentary. 

If you cannot make Friday afternoons I may do some extra appointments but they will be scheduled around my working week and cannot be substituted for regular training sessions. 

Practicing complimentary massage with KT will be available from September 25th 2015 - June 24th 2016 excluding all holidays and subject to my availability.  For more information on scheduling please speak with Rosie or myself.

Form an orderly queue.... :) 

 

Is this the best hotel gym space in London?

 

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As many of your know Precision Movement has been making extensive additions and changes to our little Mayfair studio space courtesy of Grosvenor House Apartments.  And though she be little she is (mighty) fierce and versatile.  Here are the new changes to the space and how they optimise your workout.

 

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The rig 

This March we had a custom designed BeaverFit rig installed into the ceiling.  This has been the most anticipated change in the studio since we moved in.  The rig will be used for pullup/chin up and brachiation training. Also check out the fat GRIPZ for extra intensity without extra load.  It has proved super popular so far! 

 

 

 

Suspension Training 

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The rig also enables us to use TRx, Crosscore180 and Olympic Rings for suspension and aerial training.  Bring on the strength!  The rig is 3.5m long meaning we can have someone working on the Kinesis, someone working on the TRx and someone in the weight area quite comfortably.

 

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The floorspace 

The matted floorspace has been increased by a third meaning more workable space for people to use and more people using the space at the same time.  It also means the floorspace becomes more versatile - we can bring out a barre for a ballet workout or clear the space for kickboxing or a yoga based work-in.  We have had some guests using the space to practice their karate katas and MMA moves.  We have left the space open for just this purpose because no single person's workout is the same and we want to cater to that as much as possible.

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We now have adjustable weights up to 41kg each alongside the original rack of 1-10kg.  We have a few olympic bars and weight plates for more traditional strength training as well as weighted medicine balls and powerbags.  The original Kinesis cable machine is still installed as well.

 The bring out put back system 

We have lots of different equipment that can be used in the space - kettlebells, powerbags, battling ropes, agility equipment, olympic bars, medicine balls.  We bring out what we need into the space for your specific workout and then put it back to open the space up again.  It sounds really obvious but many gyms, particularly hotel and residence gyms are the same space as our little studio but packed full of machines which limits the type of exercise you can do in the space. Training has moved on past machines... there are some uses for machine work but at Precision Movement we are more steered towards challenging your body in different ways. Which is why we think our space is becoming one of the best hotel gyms in London. 

The space is being used more than it ever has been and it's being used in many ways, for all kinds of movement, workouts and sports conditioning.  If you haven't been down to visit yet, then please do. We'd love to have you! 

Precision Movement's hand picked specialist partners

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At Precision Movement we often work in conjunction with medical experts and therapists to help clients get better faster.  We've hand picked specialists in orthopaedics, physiotherapy, osteopathy, specialist chiropractic, nutrition, lifestyle and stress management.  Our MO is to get you better - whatever that takes we'll make it happen.  We want our work to benefit you at the right point in your recovery so we may send you to another specialist first or in conjunction with the work we are doing.  

So here are our hand picked specialists and a bit about how they could potentially help you. Click on the links below to find out more about them and how to contact them.

 

Lucy Bransgrove

Lucy Bransgrove is a private visiting Physiotherapist who specialises in back pain and injuries as well as working at Kings College Boys School in Wimbledon as their pitchside sports physio.  Lucy provides treatment at the Precision Movement studio as part of our injury rehabilitation programme.

 

NUCCA 

Heidi Grant is a NUCCA Chiropractor and specialises in head and neck trauma as well as how the alignment of the head and cervical spine affect the whole body.  Patients range from professional athletes to those recovering from strokes, neurological disorders, chronic pain, and common injuries.  I work in conjunction with Heidi a lot to help clients hold their adjustments better.

 

London Orthopaedic clinic 

If you require more medical and invasive interventions from trauma or long term degenerative changes, Precision Movement recommends patients to The London Orthopaedic Clinic on Wimpole Street, W1.  Founded by Mr Brian Cohen, it houses a team of 14 surgeons and specialist physicians who I would trust with my life!  

 

Philip Waldman at Chelsea Natural Health 

Philip Waldman is the owner of Chelsea Natural Health clinic and my personal Osteopath.  As a local practitioner to my home I am always recommending his treatment to clients if they are close by.  Many of my clients have said he has magic hands!  He is truly gifted.

 

Karen Maidment at Pure Body Balance 

Karen Maidment is a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist and is my go-to girl for all the inner workings of the body.  Karen provides a comprehensive assessment of the digestive and hormone systems and helps you heal your insides with anti-inflammatory nutrition.  She has also written a book called Meals that Heal which I have found invaluable.  If you need any kind of nutritional support I highly recommend Karen - she does much of her work by Skype so don't let her home town of Cheltenham put you off!

 

Richard Skudder at Pure Sports Medicine in Kensington

ure Sports Med Richard Skudder is the Osteopath at Pure Sports Medicine Kensington and specialises in the biomechanical aspects of human movement, injury prevention and injury recovery.  Richard helped me overcome my elbow tendonitis last year - a great practitioner.

Avni Trevedi at Avni Touch in North London specialises in women's and paediatric healthcare.  Avni sees many women while they are trying to conceive, during their pregnancy and when the baby arrives often treats both mother and child.

 

ONYX 

Joanne Halstead is a remedial sports massage therapist working from practices in Mayfair and Shoreditch.  She works with clients who need regular release work as a result of their sports and the stresses of every day life.  Joanne comes highly recommended by me personally as I've hugely benefited from her treatments.

Fabs Massage Fabian Adami is a remedial sports massage therapist who has worked with Precision Movement clients to assist in their recovery from injury.  He often works with rugby players.  Having received treatment from him on a number of occasions I can highly recommend him.  Fabian works in Putney and also offers a mobile service - visiting you at home which comes in very handy for us time poor busy folk!

 

Fitness Adventure Travel 

Rob Tynan's company, Fitness Adventure Travel provide bespoke fitness travel life changing experiences.  I am due to lead a trip to Vietnam this year for F.A.T and I highly advocate setting yourself a challenge like this and gearing your training towards it.  Life is for enjoyment, adventure and experience, and if your training can support this then all the better!

 

Florence Parot

Florence Parot is a Sophrologist specialising in sleep and burnout.  As you know I for me sleep is an essential foundation of health and wellness. It's where we heal and recover both mentally.  For those really struggling with the quality and quantity of their sleep Florence can help you.  As a former corporate ladder climber Florence knows how burnout starts, what it feels like and how to recover from a total crash.  

 

Be Sophro 

Be Sophro is owned by Dominique Antiglio a sophorologist who specialises in birth preparation, stress management and preparation for special events.  Sophrology combines gentle movements, visualisation and meditative practices which make it a comprehensive system for mental and emotional support and rebalance.

In summary, at Precision Movement we are specialists in movement - in rehabilitation and strength conditioning.  We also highly advocate optimising all areas of your health and well-being and that's why we have picked these specialists for you should you ever need their assistance.

 

 

 

 

Do you want to know what KT is really like?

Let's face it, I'm hard to sum up in a tidy little phrase - though many have tried!  So I asked my lovely clients, the recipients of my knowledge and expertise to describe their experiences of working with me. My fabulous web/video/media guys at SquareGlu sprinkled magic dust over it to produce this little movie... 

 

Thanks to to my lovely clients for taking part - I did tell you I'd get you your five minutes of fame! And thanks to SquareGlu for making such a professional end product.  

 

Popcorn at the ready.... ;) 

 

How to get a fitter body with less exercise

We live in a culture of more is better but when it comes to exercise more is not always better.  In some cases it's just down right worse.  There is a growing culture in the fitness industry of late that more intensity, more volume of workouts per week and more of the same thing is the only way to get serious about your fitness.  I wholeheartedly disagree and I have seen this result in serious injury, total burnout and illness as well as mental and emotional fatigue and irritability.  I consider over exercising a form of self sabotage or self-harm and I can speak from personal experience on this.  I have grossly over-exercised at times in my life and it's never led to anything good.  So, this week I talk about how much is too much and how to find a balance that works for you and your life.  Remember you are only ever competing against yourself!

 

Too much intensity

In the past few years there has been an uprising of high intensity group workouts which really push the limits of intensity to the threshold.  But the most shocking story I recently heard was of a gym in NYC that does the toughest workout ever burning a minimum of 1000 calories in a hour.  Apparently you get a badge of recognition if you can get through the warmup without stopping.  Are you kidding me?  A warmup is not a place to compete - EVER!  That is just dangerous.  The point of a warmup is to prepare your body for the intensity of your workout.  If your warmup is the workout you are putting yourself at greater risk of injury because your body is not warm yet!

 

Monitoring intensity

An easy way to measure the intensity of your workout is to wear a heart rate monitor.  Set your age and weight and it will calculate training zones for you.  A high intensity workout oscillates between 70-90% of your maximum between 1-3 minutes.  You can work longer than 3 minutes depending on what you are training for and your current fitness level.  For strength training heart rate monitors are not so effective because time under tension is often shorter than a minute and you get a delayed heart rate increase.  And FYI a warmup should work from 50-70% over a period of 7-10 minutes.

 

Too much volume

This is the biggest problem I have with too much - too much volume.  Volume is the number of training sessions or the total amount of hours spent exercising per week.  Everyone thinks the more I exercise the quicker I'll achieve my goal.  Not true.  Over exercising induces a prolonged sympathetic stress state which leads to mental, emotional and physical burnout.  It can also lead to injury. 

 

Monitoring volume

I talk more about volume in next weeks blog (The work-in is the new workout)  but here are the basics; for general health, wellness and fitness choose 2-3 high intensity (between 70-90% of your max effort) 40-60 minute workouts a week. Balance that out with 1-2 calmer work-ins like yoga or tai chi.  When you go through more stressful times you can switch this to 2-3 work-ins and 1-2 workouts.  For very stressful times I would opt for the work-ins only.  Movement helps to relieve stress if it is done in a gentle and reparative way.

 

Too much of the same thing

Another problem of too much - is doing too much of the same thing.  This can lead to injury because of continuous repetitive motion particularly from running and cycling.  It also becomes very boring and can lead to mental burnout and then stopping exercise altogether.  As humans we have amazing movement potential and I believe we should utilise and practice the diversity of human movement as much as possible.

 

Changing it up

I always encourage my clients to a variety of different exercise and sports.  Try new things until you find something you like.  Team sports are always fun to be a part of and I also really value solo workouts like running or cycling when you can be with yourself.  Hit the gym, go to a class, in London there are so many options!  As long as you are doing good movement - vary it as much as you can.

 

Train smart not stupid

So in conclusion your body and your mind will thank you if you train smart not stupid.  Harder is not always better.  If you are training for a specific sport or event that does require very high intensity training then seek out a professional to guide you.  Just as you are specialist at what you do and people seek out your skills to help them, so are sports and fitness professionals specialists at helping you train. 

 

Lastly, as I said in the third paragraph, as long as you are doing good movement.  If you are not sure what good movement is and have never sought out help with learning what good movement is then I would highly advocate that you do.  We seek out specialist advice for everything else - movement masters are there to help you learn better movement.  Once you know the basics then you can apply it to any sport, class or workout.  We can definitely help you with that at Precision Movement! - contact us to discuss your specific situation.

How to detox your whole life

It's that time of year when the word detoxification is in every conversation you have.  And I had the great privilege of being asked by Men's Esquire to advise on detoxification which you can read below.

If you are going to start afresh with anything it makes sense to start at the beginning of the new year.  Let me know your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter!  

Free Ebook - 6 Steps to getting your back pain sorted

Back pain affect 80% of the population at some point in life.  It is easy to ignore it but it can quick escalate to a very serious problem.  If you take a series of simples steps at the first sign of a problem then you can minimise the risk of your back pain becoming a life long problem and seriously affecting your enjoyment of life. 

My ebook '6 Steps to getting your back pain sorted' gives you the fundamentals and step by step instructions on how to get your back pain sorted.  It tells you who to see and in what order, what to say, what to expect at each stage and how to manage your condition going forwards.  

The best part is, it's free!  It's my gift to you.  Download it below, read it and share it with anyone who you think could benefit.  Let me know your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Can I really help you?

I spoke with someone on the phone a few weeks back with Mr BackPain, who has a particularly complex back problem and at the end of the call he asked me "can you really help me?".  It's a brilliant question that should be asked more frequently and my answer to him is what inspired this blog post.  If you are wondering if I can help you or someone you know then read on.... (and at the end I reveal what happened with Mr BackPain!)

 

Mr Back Pain

Mr BackPain has had a problem with his back for more than 15 years.  He had an operation to try to fix the problem and it made no difference.  He had given up hope of ever being pain free. 

Most of the people who walk through my door have exactly the same problem - long term pain that just doesn't seem to go away no matter what they try.  At Precision Movement we make sure we find out what is really going on.  If that means you need more specialist assistance we'll make sure you get it.  Our MO is to get you better - we want you walking out of the clinic a changed person and we'll do everything we can to make sure that happens. 

 

But I've tried loads of things...

Mr BackPain is a proactive man and tried many many treatments and remedies to get better but to no avail.  Just like you, so have most of the people I work with.  They have taken a stab in the darkness of treatments and thought ok I'll try this.  Then when it hasn't worked they've gambled on something else.  Or they have been blindly led from one practitioner to the next with little improvement.  Would you blindly hire someone to take care of your children?  Or run the accounts in your business?  Probably not! 

 

Combination of specialists

There are many components of recovery from back pain.  At Precision Movement we are experts in rehabilitation and movement and we also know our limits!  We have found that it is the combination of treatments from the best experts working together that get you better faster rather than one treatment or random treatments that don't fit well together or in series.  We have hand picked the experts we collaborate with in orthopaedics, physiotherapy, osteopathy, specialist chiropractic, nutrition, lifestyle and stress management - check out our Partners page coming soon, or ask me in person or by email (KT@precisionmovement.co.uk).  We want our work to benefit you at the right point in your recovery so we may send you to another specialist first or in conjunction with the work we are doing.   Remember our MO is to get you better - whatever that takes we'll make it happen.

 

The RIGHT exercise for you

Mr BackPain had tried some exercise on the advice of a practitioner some rehabilitative corrective work and some more conventional exercise like running and it often made his pain worse.  

One of the key components to getting better from pain caused by inactivity, structural damage, degeneration and trauma is the right movement therapy.  Any old movement just will not do.  I see many people who have been 'moving' or given specific exercises some of which have merit.  The issue comes with remembering how to do them correctly alone and actually do the exercises regularly! 

 

We're different and we work 

The first important difference we give people who work with us is the foundational principles of movement.  We educate and teach our clients the 4 pillars of movement - alignment, mobility, stability and strength so all of their exercises become more effective and beneficial. The second important difference is consistency - we make sure you do your exercises correctly and regularly.  The third component that makes our process so successful is we educate you on why we ask you do to do certain exercises.  It makes the experience more mindful and purposeful.  Our clients leave understanding how their body works better and they are able to identify themselves when they are in and out of good alignment.

 

So can I really help you?

The answer is yes I believe I can help you.  I have an excellent track record of helping people out of pain, improving alignment, stability and strength and I'm pretty good at judging when you need additional assistance from other areas.  If you need to see some even more brilliant specialists before you focus on rehabilitative exercise with us we're totally cool with that! 

Incidentally, if you were wondering what happened to Mr BackPain he said, "thank you so much for being honest with me.  I have had back pain for 15 years and even after my operation it is just as painful.  You are the first person in all my experience who has taken an active interest in helping me get better."  I have referred him on to a specialist who I'll be collaborating with and when he's ready he'll come and do his rehab work with me - 'coz that's just how I roll!

Contact us today to find out how we can help you - make 2015 the year you sort out your aches and pains for good! 

The top 6 Precision Movement articles of 2014

Precision Movement's top 5 articles on 2014
Precision Movement's top 5 articles on 2014

In my last post of 2014 I'd like to share with the most popular posts of 2014.  Wishing you all a wonderful seasonal break whether you are staying home with family or travelling to a warmer destination for some winter sun - be safe, take care of your body, rest and rejuvenate and I'll see you back here in 2015 for more amazing information and top tips to keep you healthy, happy and on top of your fitness game!  For now here are the top 5 articles of 2014 (plus a photo based one for those of you who prefer images!).

In top place was the article I wrote on how Corrective Exercise differs from Regular Exercise.  This doesn't surprise me as it's the question I get asked the most!

How Corrective Exercise Differs from Regular Exercise

A close second was the case study on Mr G - I have to say the before and after photos are awesome!

The case of the Wonky Man who Became Straight

The top interview article was with Hannah Richards, nutritionist at MoveThreeSixty.  Hannah sees most of my clients for any an all nutritional needs.

Healing the Inside of You

Many of you enjoyed Precision Movement's new look photo article - I mean who doesn't love a make over?  For those of you who missed it or just want a visual story then this ones for you!

Precision Movement's makeover - we've got YOUR workout!

The most popular article I wrote for BOE magazine was my top ten tips for the best nights sleep.  Personally I am very passionate about sleep and it's imperative for good healing and recovery from injury.

10 Top Tips for the Best Night's Sleep

And lastly, my favourite article to write this year was about how Movement is the Foundation of Career Success and it is one of the most read articles on BOE Magazine!  Which is truly is!

Movement is the Foundation of your Career Success

Happy re-reading and have a wonderful Christmas season - warmest wishes KT at Precision Movement.  If you are already thinking that your 2015 goal is to get fitter, manage that injury or back pain, get that ballet body you've always wanted or kick the hell out of something to the best shape of your life then contact me at KT@precisionmovement.co.uk and lets have a chat about your fitness plan for 2015.

Common party injuries & how to avoid them

Precision Movement shares common party injuries and how to avoid them
Precision Movement shares common party injuries and how to avoid them

As we enter the festive season of end of year parties it is common for some of us to let our hair down a bit too much sometimes resulting in a puzzling pain or injury the next day.  If you think you may be prone to a little office party clumsiness then read on for some entertaining anecdotes and practical ways to avoid limping to work on crutches in 2015!  There is a personal one for your entertainment so it's well worth a read just to find out about my sordid side...

The mates friendly push

Earlier this year one of my clients came back from a boys weekend skiing with quite a serious ankle injury.  Unbelievably it didn't come from an over zealous performance on the slopes. It was a common après ski incident. Whilst chatting casually to a group of girls seated at a table in the bar his mate rather forcefully pushed him into the group. He was still wearing his ski boots so his foot remained planted in the boot while the rest of his body was thrown into the shocked harem. He sprained his Achilles' tendon and was out of action for the rest of the ski holiday. Thanks mate! Ok so let's take a way the situational and locational circumstances and focus on the rather raucous pushing action of his mate. This can happen in any party situation and in this case it caused an injury. What I would say is spread this story, especially amoung the more tackling type members of the office, don't wear ski boots to your office party and go easy on the alcohol which can affect your balance and reactive timing in unexpected circumstances.

The high heel step down

If you are like me, 4 inch shoes are as much of a staple at festive parties as "party punch".  No party outfit is complete without killer shoes - but they should not be literally killer! Ok now for my gossip fuelled story... last years Christmas season, I was invited to a party where we continued the party in a bar/club in town.  As my friends and I were walking down the stairs a lady rushed past us clearly eager to hit the dance floor. A few steps in front if us she missed stepped, rolled down the rest of the way and consequently broke the heel of her left shoe. Amazingly she didn't feel a thing - clearly any pain was numbed by her alcohol consumption. She was of course most disappointed about her shoe which was of the designer variety and promptly limped out of the club, one high heeled step followed by broken shoe limp in continuing succession, I think out of shame more than anything.  It sounds ridiculous but high heels and descending stairs are a sure fire equation for potential injury. Hold on to the hand rail and take a moment to consciously think about what you are about to do, especially if you are a little tipsy!  If there is a gentleman on hand to escort you then definitely take him up on the offer. It's also a fabulous way to make an entrance!

Dance floor injuries

Ok this one is personal, I figured if I'm going to gossip I also have to be part of the fodder! I'm pretty good on the dance floor being an ex dancer. A couple of years ago during the Christmas season I was out celebrating a personal achievement in a club in town. Before I knew it I was dancing with a gentleman who was it turns out quite strong!  It didn't take long before he let go at the wrong moment and I fell backwards onto a low table with an ice bucket in the middle filled with ice and a vodka bottle.  At the time I didn't feel too much but the next day I woke up with black bruises all down my spine and a crick neck! I was not happy. If you are going to dance (which I whole heartedly encourage, even if it is of the David Brent variety, it helps burn calories and it's an amazing form of self expression), then do so in the company of safe friends.  Anyone who starts fiercely flinging you around the dance abandon immediately or offer to take a break at the bar for a while! 

Lastly, please use your common sense.   It seems it evades many during this time of year.  I do see a fair amount of "holiday related" injuries in January.  

For those interested in working with me for 2015 please email me at KT@precisionmovement.co.uk and check out our amazing variety of workouts on our website - there is something for everyone!  

The red flags of skiing injuries

Downhill Skiing
Downhill Skiing

We are fast approaching snow sports season!  January through to April is my busiest sports injury time.  I see more injuries during this period from snow sports than any other time of the year.  Let's face it there is a risk to engaging in any sport - snow sports perhaps a bit more than others.  However, if you adhere to some basic advice you can minimise the risk of injury.  In this article I share that advice with you....

Not conditioned for snow sports

If you are going on a skiing vacation this winter now is the time to start getting your body ready.  I would recommend a gym programme that trains the biomotor abilities of skiing and snowboarding, which are balance, power, strength, and agility.  Specifically you need to have a strong stable pelvis and spine to widthstand the forces of skiing and snowboarding movements.   Rotational and lateral stability are very important too.  And you need stability and balance training so your brain and body can figure out quickly how to change direction and deal with the unstable surface of snow underneath you. This sounds like a lot I know.  The art of training efficiently for snow sports is something we can help you with at Precision Movement.  If you would like to learn more then get in contact with us for a chat. 

Attempting level that is beyond your current ability

Whether you are a daring beginner with a penchant for danger or a seasoned veteran of snow sports, it is always prudent to work within your abilities.  I have seen many injuries throughout my career caused by over-zealous dare-devil stunts!  I cannot stress enough how important it is to be sensible and the reason why is highly linked to my next point…

Someone running into you

Now this is probably the most common reason people get injured in snow sports and it is not something you have much control over unless you are the one crashing into someone else.  The best advice I can give here is, stick to runs that are within your ability, always have your wits about you, don’t rush, always wear a helmet even if it cramps your slope style and lastly, give crazies a wide berth!  Also, I’m going to add watch out for young children who are speed demons – they have no fear and also believe they are small enough to fit through the tiniest gaps between people. 

Lack of sleep and alcohol consumption

I personally think skiing and snowboarding is one if the best holidays because you get to be active as well as taking lengthy lunches atop a mountain and then partying with your friends into the wee hours of the morning.  It has everything that makes a holiday good!  With the good times also comes lack of sleep and more often than not a larger than normal consumption of alcohol.  Firstly, lack of sleep will impair your cognitive and neuromuscular abilities on the slopes the next day.  Basically, when you are tired all your communication channels become smudgy and lackadaisical which can increase your risk of injury.  Be aware of how many hours you sleep and if you’ve had a particularly late night then take it easy on the slopes the next day.  Alcohol makes you more tired and impairs your sleep.  I’m not saying don’t drink – just be mindful of what you consume with a thought to your activity the next day.

Ignoring weather conditions

I have had personal experience with this.  On my first snowboarding trip I decided to bravely venture out by myself on my last day and prove that I could snowboard unaided and find my way around the slopes like a pro.  Unfortunately, I picked the worst day – a complete whiteout.  I didn’t even know what a whiteout was until I was in it!  Obviously I thought I was going to die - first from motion sickness, then from losing my way and getting stranded.  Amazingly I survived without a scratch!  Accidents are much more likely to happen during adverse weather conditions because visibility is so poor.  Really consider whether it is worth going out when the weather is bad.  Sometimes staying in your chalet for the day in your long johns and ugg slippers sipping hot chocolate is a better option! 

I know some of these points seem a little obvious but it never hurts to be reminded, especially in the spirit of minimizing the risk of injury.  It’s always easier to say “in hindsight…”.  Let’s make this an injury free ski season – well as much as possible!  Happy skiing and boarding have some Raclette for me!

My healthiest recipe finds of 2014

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I’m not sure how you feel about this but I know what works for me nutritionally and my shopping list looks pretty much the same week in week out.  I get into the habit of cooking the same 5 recipes for lunch/dinner and for breakfast I rotate a few easy options.  Don’t get me wrong, I get all my vital nutrients and balance my macronutrients well.  It’s just of late I’ve been getting a bit bored. But thanks to the wonder of Instagram, my new favourite social media channel, I’ve discovered some really awesome new recipes and creative ways to brighten up my weekly cooking!  There are a two really great people I can recommend for you all to look up online.  Read on to find out more...

The first is Deliciously Ella (www.deliciouslyella.com - Instagram @deliciouslyella).  This girl of the moment is everywhere right now.  Ella puts up all her recipes on her website for you to enjoy.  The recipes are simple, healthy and often gluten free.  See my new favourite recipe of hers that takes just 5 minutes to cook below!

The second is PurelyHolly (www.purelyholly.com - Instagram: @purelyholly_).  Holly was diagnosed with celiac disease not long ago so now she is on a mission to create gluten free alternatives to every day foods.  I LOVE her simple recipes that often use a handful of ingredients, are quick to make and taste super delicious!

So without further ado here are my new favourite recipes of 2014:

Life-changing bread from www.mynewroots.org

This is a unique take on making bread.  It is practically gluten free – the recipe calls for oats so use gluten free oats.  What is amazing about this is the use of Psyllium husk, a probiotic, that is used as the binding agent instead of gluten.  When you toast this bread it makes the house smell divine.  Move over Genius bread – this stuff is ingenius!

LIFE -CHANGING BREAD

The chickpea wrap by Purely Holly

I’m partial to a portable lunch so this 4 ingredient gluten free alternative is perfect for me.  It’s super easy to make.  The best part about it is the it tastes better than a regular wrap! 

CHICKPEA WRAPS

Canellini Bean Stew by DeliciouslyElla

This is literally a 5 minute recipe.  If you are time poor and need to feed an army this is an amazing solution.  You can serve it with rice for a hearty, post workout meal.  Remember that benas and rice make a complete protein!  For a lighter alternative go with veggies.  If you are a fast oxidizer like me try adding bacon or grilled turkey to give it a bit more protein if you are eating with veggies. 

CANELLINI BEAN STEW

Avocado Fries by Purely Holly

This is an amazing twist on one of the healthiest foods on the planet.  It sounds really bad – but it’s full of nutrients and you bake the avocado instead of frying it.  I eat so much avocado that it’s a joy to find an alternative way of preparing it other than raw or in guacamole!

AVOCADO FRIES

Chocolate avocado cookies

Here’s a sweet treat from Bee’s Bakery thats both gluten and dairy free!  Any excuse for chocolate I say and it comes with a gooey and crumbly version to choose from. 

CHOCOLATE AVOCADO COOKIES

I hope you enjoy these delicious recipes as much as I have! 

Top 4 Essentials for Injury & Back Pain Recovery

Precision Movement essentials for injury and back pain recovery
Precision Movement essentials for injury and back pain recovery

Injuries are not fun - they hurt, they stop you from doing things that you love and they do take time to get better.  There are certain essential elements to effective recovery that if adhered to definitely help speed up the process.  Read on to find out more...

The Right Exercise

Every injury will need some form of exercise rehabilitation.  If you have broken a bone or have had surgery your rest time will result in atrophy (shrinkage) of certain muscles surrounding the joint/area.  It is essential that you get these muscles firing again for appropriate support and functional movement.  Injuries that are caused by other than trauma are often accompanied by muscular imbalance which results in a joint or area taking too much stress or not having enough support.  In this case it is imperative that you rebalance the body with exercise, break down poor postural habits and movement patterns and learn ones that serve you more effectively. 

Once you have had the go ahead to begin exercise it is essential that you go through appropriately progressive and specific exercise that is bespoke to your needs.  This is where a corrective exercise specialist can really help you.  Jumping back on the treadmill or hitting it hard in the gym, however tempting, is not the answer and will most likely put you back on the triage stretcher.  For more information on the difference between corrective exercise and regular exercise click here.

Sleep

Sleep is where healing and recovery happens.  When you sleep your body is in a parasympathetic state.  This means it focusses on digestion, absorption of nutrients, transportation of nutrients to cells for healing and reparation and the removal of toxins.  The body revives itself from the daily stressors it has gone through as well as larger issues like the regrowth of broken bone or the healing of tendon or muscle tears.  Make sleep a number one priority if you are healing from injury.  Aim to sleep a minimum of 8 hours ideally between 10pm-6am Your physical recovery happens between 10pm-2am and mental recovery between 2am-6am. This is especially important if you are doing rehabilitative exercise as both your brain and body need this rest time to process new patterns, make new connections and strengthen those connections to make them the preferred pathways for stability and movement.

Nutrition

You are what you eat - or more accurately, you are what you absorb.  I have broken this section down further to three important areas - sugar, fats and proteins and hydration.

Sugar is very inflammatory to cells - especially ones that are trying to heal.  Limit your intake of sugar and processed foods and focus on eating as clean as you can.  Clean eating means eat from the earth - nothing processed, nothing boxed or packaged, nothing containing preservatives.  It also means eliminating anything that is inflammatory to your body.  Gluten containing foods and dairy are two such groups that may need to be eliminated.  Eating foods that you are intolerant to sets off an immune response, puts your body into a nutritional state of stress and diverts the focus of injury recovery to survival against a substance that is considered dangerous to you.  It means taking precious nutrients for healing and recoveryof your injury to deal with the food that is irritating your digestive system. 

Proteins are the building blocks of cells.  I often recommend to clients who are healing from injury to use Great Lakes Gelatin Powder.   You can add it to tea or soups.  It contains high levels of collagen which are the building blocks for tendons, ligaments and bones.  You can purchase Great Lakes Gelatin from Pure Body Balance and for more information on how to use it look at Karen Maidment's cookbook Meals that Heal.

Hydration is an absolute essential to good health as well as healing and recovery from injury.  Aim to drink at least 2L of water a day, preferably mineral or filtered. 

Thoughts become things

Of all the elements of healing and recovery, in my clinical experience, your mind is the most important factor.  You will recover quicker and more effectively if you maintain a positive mental outlook about your injury and about life in general.  I often ask my clients to say affirmations with each repetition of a rehabilitative exercise, such as, "I am getting stronger", or "I am getting better every day".  I also advocate good old meditation to cultivate good mental energy and you can even target it to heal your injury.  It might sound a little hippy, but I promise you thoughts become things.  You can choose to be grumpy and irritated about your injury and tell yourself that it won't get better or you can tell yourself that you are getting better every day.  As one of my favourite sayings by Henry Ford goes, "Whether you think you can or you think you can't you're right".  My favourite healing mental states include gratitude and laughter.  Of late I've been reading a lot of articles about how laughter is becoming part of Cancer treatment.  So give thanks for all you have in your life and get your friends round for a good old laughter session.  You'll be healed in no time!

For more information about the right type of Corrective Exercise for the recovery of your specific injury please visit our website or contact KT direct at KT@precisionmovement.co.uk

My 5 recommended Articles on Fitness Nutrition

At Precision Movement, I get asked about what to eat for health, fitness, weight loss and general well-being all the time.  I have had nutrition as a topic to write about on my list for ages.  It is not for lack of knowledge.   The real reason is because I read articles that basically say what I would say and advise.  So, in the spirit of time economy and not being able to do better myself, here are my top recommended 5 articles on nutrition for general health and wellness including my top recommendation for a nutritionist in London who I regularly send my clients to.

You are what you absorb

The phrase you are what you eat is sadly outdated.  It doesn't matter how healthy your diet is unless you are absorbing the nutrients that you are consuming.  One of my favourite bloggers, Mark Sisson, explains why gut bacteria is an essential part of nutrient absorption and how to cultivate good bacteria from nutrition.

16 things that affect your gut bacteria 

Gut health

Another one on the health of your digestive system.  I interviewed my go-to nutrition guru Hannah Richards on why digestive health is the keystone to weight loss and good health.  I send all my fitness, injury and pain clients to Hannah and I only ever get amazing results!

Healing the Inside of You

Protein power!

What with the rise of Paleo eating there has been a real buzz around protein and it's importance in health and wellness as well as sustaining appetite.  Optimal protein intake is imperative if you are wanting to gain muscle mass but it's equally important for recovery from any exercise.  This is an interesting article on the symptoms you can experience from not eating enough protein:

Signs you are not Eating Enough Protein

Fats

Fats are always a controversial topic for discussion when it comes to weight loss and health.  I am siding with Johnny Bowden on this one as he discusses the power of coconut oil and how it actually helps you burn fat!

The Benefits of Coconut Oil 

But what should I actually eat?

I know I know its the million dollar question!  Ok here is my favourite list of pre and post workout snacks from Greatist.com.  They don't call themselves greatist for nothing!

50 of the Greatist pre and post workout snacks

So now you know what to eat for your workouts and how to get the most out of the food you eat come over to Precision Movement to improve your fitness.  Guaranteed we have a workout to suit you - check out the options here.  Contact KT at KT@precisionmovement.co.uk.

Featured Expert: Joanne Halstead Remedial Massage Therapist

Precision Movement interviews Joanne Halstead Massage Therapist of the Onyx London
Precision Movement interviews Joanne Halstead Massage Therapist of the Onyx London

Last week I had a massage from Joanne Halstead from The Onyx London and I can't tell you how amazing I feel!  I was so inspired by her skills that I decided to interview her and find out why massage is such an integral part of healing from injury and also what role it plays in general health.  I mean lets be real here, who doesn't love massage?  And once you read about all the amazing health benefits, scroll down to the foot of the article for Joanne's special offer to enjoy your next massage totally guilt free!

What is remedial massage?

Remedial massage is one of the most effective and readily available ways to prevent and treat muscle injuries, pain and soreness. Remedial Massage is one of the deepest forms of massage and ideal for the relief and prevention of musculo-skeletal injuries or conditions, whether through sport, occupation, postural problems, or a specific trauma.

How does massage help poor alignment and injury?

When you hunch forward, your body isn’t properly aligned. Not only does poor posture look bad, but it forces some muscles to work incredibly hard while others get weaker. Poor posture can put you in other slumps, too.  When you slouch, you’re pressing down on your internal organs, which affects digestion.  Massage relaxes the overworked and sore muscles that resulted from bad posture and allow your body to relax into its natural alignment. Heavily exercised muscles may also lose their capacity to relax, causing chronically tight muscles, and loss of flexibility. Lack of flexibility is often linked to muscle soreness, and predisposes you to injuries, especially muscle pulls and tears. Blood flow through tight muscles is poor, which also causes pain.

What roles does massage play in general health?

Massage, whether conducted in a softly lit day spa or a treatment room at a physical therapy clinic, is something many people use to soothe sore joints and muscles, to ease anxiety or to help them sleep better.

Some of the general benefits of massage therapy may include:

- Physical relaxation

- Improved circulation, which nourishes cells and improves waste elimination

- Relief for tight muscles (knots) and other aches and pains

- Release of nerve compression (carpel tunnel, sciatica)

- Greater flexibility and range of motion

- Enhanced energy and vitality

- Some clinical (remedial) styles may help heal scar tissue as well as tendon, ligament, and muscle tears

What do you think your treatment is MOST helpful with?

The treatments I offer are most helpful with a range of issues. You cannot treat one physical problem without treating a psychological problem as they are both influenced by the other. When you are in a lot of physical pain this will have an impact on your mental well being which is why most massage therapists treat their clients in a holistic way.  As I am renowned for treating injuries or preventing injury I would say that my treatments are most helpful with this. My treatments allow people to have better form and flexibility as they workout and minimising further stress on the body allowing for a niggle/injury free life.

What do you specialise in?

I have studied many types of massage therapy around the world, however I am best known for my injury prevention, relieving pain in specific sites and deep tissue work. I am known and respected by many personal trainers and work well with them to help their clients recover and heal from injuries and pain.

What do you typically see people for?

Most people will come and see me or get referred to me if they have problems with movement due to tightness, poor posture due to bad working conditions (ie working at a desk for long periods, being on a computer/phone for long periods etc) or specific injuries caused by exercise or a sporting activity.

How often does someone need treatment?

Depending on lifestyle, massage therapy works well at least once a month for overall good health.  Many of my clients that travel frequently, are highly stressed or participate in sporting activities usually come once a week. This allows my clients to maintain a good working posture and prevents injury.

What is the most common complaint people comes in with?

A good proportion of my clients come to me due to back pain as a result of bad posture and lack of body awareness.  I also see a lot of specific injuries, usually because of bad form when it comes to exercise or over/incorrect training.

Do you believe the people you see need corrective exercise?

Yes I very much believe that most, if not all my clients need to implement corrective exercise. We have quite a 'desk culture' at the moment and most people will spend 6-7hrs at their desk. This has led to the increase of back problems and thus people taking medication or even having surgery. I really do believe that through regular corrective exercise and massage therapy a lot of these problems can be prevented.  Corrective exercise also ensures a more effective workout. If your body is aligned through this type of exercise, you become much more body aware meaning your standard weekly workouts have a much more positive effect on the body and you are more likely to see results.

What general advice can you give that readers can implement straight away?

My advice would be to seek out an exercise professional. Someone like KT will be able to show you how to work out effectively and in such a way that injuries are minimised. Going to the gym is not just about jumping on a piece of equipment, having this mind set is likely to increase the risk of hurting yourself.  Once you have the knowledge on how to exercise properly and effectively I would certainly introduce some kind of bodywork. Osteopaths and chiropractors are brilliant however they work particularly well in conjunction with massage. By combining the two you are working the skeletal and muscular system which is perfect for optimum health.

Joanne is an affiliate practitioner of Precision Movement and has generously offered you 25% off your first remedial massage treatment with her.  Discover your discount code here.  For more information on Onyx London please visit www.theonyxlondon.com and to contact Joanne direct please email joannehalstead@theonyxlondon.com.  

Ligamentous Creep the Poisonous Weed of Inactivity

Precision Movement's KT explains how ligamentous creep causes back pain
Precision Movement's KT explains how ligamentous creep causes back pain

I often get asked by people why do I have back pain but my friends and family don't?  What is it about my back that is different?  There are many factors that contribute to back pain - genetics, activity throughout life, nutrition, stress and rest ratios, how you perceive pain and threats to your body.  In my clinical experience, I have found that lack of movement and poor posture are common with back pain.  In this article I explain a theory called Ligamentous Creep, how it occurs, how it makes the spine more vulnerable to injury and pain and what to do to minimise the chance of it happening to you.  Read on to find out more...

The Poisonous Weed of Inactivity

Sounds scary right?  It is true that inactivity is like a weed.  It sprouts one day quietly and then before you realise it's everywhere throughout your life.  You stop going to the gym, you stop cycling to work, playing frisbee with your friends in the park and then the couch becomes the love/hate friend you spend most of your time with. 

A typical inactive work day includes getting up and sitting on the tube to work.  Then sitting at work for 7 hours with minimal movement throughout the day, followed by more sitting on the tube home and then sitting to watch TV on your couch.  Noticing the trend here?  Sitting - it's the fertiliser for weed growth.

Ligamentous Creep - How it occurs

In the spine you have the bones (vertebrae), intervertebral discs, connective tissues (ligaments, tendons), muscles, nerves and blood supply.  Ligaments are super strong cables that connect bone to bone. They respond to tensile loading - being pulled apart.  When they are lax, they give no support. 

Precision Movement shows how sitting badly can cause pain
Precision Movement shows how sitting badly can cause pain

In a poor sitting position (see picture right) the ligaments at the back of the spine are being stretched and the ligament at the front of the spine is lax.  Ligaments can be stretched but they do not return to their original length.  If you sit like this throughout the day your ligaments will gradually 'creep' - or stretch over time.  Do this for long enough and it will create an imbalance and leave you susceptible to pain and injury.

Why it leads to injury and pain

When the ligaments are overstretched it changes the posture of the spine.  Remember the body adapts to it's environment.  Instead of the spine maintaining a neutral alignment that helps keep all the discs, nerves, vertebrae in place the spine warps into poor posture.  This poor posture can encourage the discs to push out onto the nerves.  It can cause impingements (pinching) of the nerve roots.  It also changes the length-tension relationships of the surrounding muscles - so muscles that help maintain good alignment become weaker or tighter, the spine can become  unstable and more susceptible to injury and pain. 

How long does it take to 'creep'?

Liagmentous creep happens over years.  Often in my practice, I see clients in their mid 30s to mid 40s with 'unexplained' back pain.  One day they just crouch down to put their socks on and their back 'goes out'.  The socks are the last straw.  Chances are that if you are inactive and sit for work all day, ligamentous creep will occur without you even knowing over a number of years.  Serious painful problems generally occur after 10-15 years of inactivity and poor posture. 

What to do about it

I am starting to think I sound like a broken record when I say activity throughout life is a big factor in keeping pain away.  The body loves movement and it should become a regular part of your life - a lifestyle choice.  The best type of foundational movement if you are desk bound is a gym session which blends corrective remedial work to maintain good core and back stability and alignment and functional strength training.  Other activities such as running, cycling and sports are also brilliant and you'll see these improving when you are aligned, stable and strong. 

Top tips for keeping the 'creep' away

1.  Invest in a Corrective Exercise Specialist or an experienced and knowledgeable Personal Trainer who can identify your weaknesses, correct postural alignment and teach you the fundamentals of functional strength training.

2.  Stay active throughout your work day by walking a few tube stops to work or cycle.

3.  A lunch time workout is a good choice if you have family commitments.

4.  Don't forget your weekends - you can take a walk or a cycle in the park or the countryside. 

5.  Kids are great for more activity.  Try to get involved in what games they are playing - whether its 10 mins in the garden or a whole day of kite flying on the beach.

At the first sign of any discomfort in your back, especially upon waking or with extended periods of sitting speak to your GP about getting a referral to a physiotherapist.  Also tell your Exercise Therapist or Personal Trainer so they can advise you and adapt your training programme accordingly.

For more information about how Precision Movement can help you with back pain or other discomforts from sitting at work all day please contact KT at KT@precisiononmovement.co.uk.  We are highly experienced in dealing with and helping the recovery process of all kinds of discomfort, pain and injury.  

When on vacation do what KT would do!

Precision Movement's KT shares top tips for avoiding back pain on summer holiday vacation
Precision Movement's KT shares top tips for avoiding back pain on summer holiday vacation

It's that beautiful time of year when we get to take a vacation.  Whether it's long haul or an hour from home, trekking amoung ancient ruins, exploring the hidden streets of a european city or chilling out on the beach - you want to make sure that back pain doesn't wreck your time away.  In Part 1 of this article I talked about back pain occuring during the travelling part of your trip. In part 2 I talk about how back pain can occur whilst you are doing the 'vacation' part of your trip and of course how to avoid it so you can enjoy every moment of the vacation that you have worked hard for all year and that you thoroughly deserve!

The Deck Chair

The deck chair, although a British institution, is the worst seating invention for back pain - ever! When you sit it the deck chair you have no spinal support at all - in fact it encourages the spine to excessively curve (see photo above) which can contribute to Ligamentous creep (read more about this theory here) and then to the intervertebral discs pressing out on to the nerves. On holiday when you want to sit for a good few hours in the sun perhaps reading a good book or the paper your back could really suffer from a lack of support in the deck chair.

Solution:

Choose a more supportive chair with an upright back. If the deck chair is the only choice then pad the low back area out with a pillow, cushion or a towel so your back is more supported and get up regularly to walk around and stretch.

The Sun Lounger

The sun lounger is a more preferable choice to the deck chair as you can vary your position throughout the day.  However, I myself am guilty of setting my lounger up so I can read comfortably for the entire day without changing.  The worst angle is setting the back support at a 45 degree angle.  It puts your back in a similar position to how it is in the deck chair.  It is also common to crane the head forwards when reading which places strain on the back of the neck and upper back.

Solution:

If you must use the 45 degree angle then place a towel or a cushion behind the low back to place your spine in a more neutral position.  Rest the head back or support your head with a cushion or pillow avoid excess strain in the neck muscles. Also, changing up your resting position really helps to minimise the risk of discomfort.  This can be a regular change in the angle of the back support to alternating between lying down and sitting, lying on your front and even on your side.  The more variation of resting positions you use the better your back will fare. 

Upping your activities

On vacation we like to do things that we can't do at home such as watersports and mountain sports .... We tend to forget on vacation how inactive we have been for the rest of the year in place of living in the moment and having an exciting time.  The forces that go through your body during sports like windsurfing, waterskiing, mountain biking, are very high.  These sports require excellent balance, strength in three planes of motion, co-ordination and endurance as well as a highly tuned neuromuscular system to react quickly to changes of direction.  Boris biking a couple of times a week really wont cut it! 

Solution:

The best thing to do to prepare yourself is to train before you go.  Ideally if you have an active nature then you should be training all year round so your body is aligned, stable, strong to withstand the forces of these adventure sports. We train clients in this way on our Fit for Life programme (LINK).  If you are a spur of the moment person opt and are not fit for the sport then approach it sensibly and ask about modifications to minimise the risk of injury.  Another good option for exercise on vacation is Hatha Yoga, tai Chi or Qi Gong - more gentle forms of exercise that carry less of a risk for injury.  If you are heading East then these options will be plentiful!  Many European resorts and main towns and cities have good yoga options too.

Horizontal paralysis

I'm not one for lying on the beach all day I personally get very bored.  But I know many people who see the beach as the holy grail of relaxation and they can quite happily lie out in the sun all day without moving a muscle.  This is not great for back pain or avoiding discomfort.  If you are going to lie down all day and then sleep all night your muscles will quickly atrophy (shrink and lose strength).  This includes the muscles surrounding the spine which leave the spine unsupported and vulnerable to injury. 

Solution:

Move regularly throughout the day by taking a dip in the sea or the pool.  Play a ball sport or tag with your kids or friends on the beach.  I remember when I was young my Mum used to chase me around the beach with soggy seaweed for hours of fun! If you are not keen on so much activity then just take a walk a couple of times throughout the day.  Lastly, if you like to dance then go dancing in the evenings - it's a real calorie burner.  Watch the ankles in the high heels though and avoid daring back bends if you are partial to a bit of back pain! 

I wish you all happy and safe vacations wherever you are relaxing, exploring or going a little crazy!  Remember these essential factors to minimise back pain occurring and look out for my article on safely returning to exercise post vacation which I am writing for The London Orthopaedic Clinic.  It should be out when you are all back to your London routine!

Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Back Pain

Avoiding back pain on your summer holiday vacation
Avoiding back pain on your summer holiday vacation

It's that beautiful time of year when we get to take a vacation.  Whether it's long haul or an hour from home, trekking amoung ancient ruins, exploring the hidden streets of a european city or chilling out on the beach - you want to make sure that back pain doesn't wreck your time away.  You might think that vacation is the last place that injury or pain can strike - you are in a beautiful place, your time is your own, you are happy and relaxed.  How could you possibly get injured?  In part 1 of this article I discuss why back pain can occur during the travelling part of your trip and give you tips on how to minimise the chance of you experiencing back pain so you can enjoy every moment of the vacation that you have worked hard for all year and that you thoroughly deserve!

Why is sitting so bad for the back?

The low back has a natural lordotic curve which helps the intervertebral discs stay centred between the vertebrae.  When you sit the low part of the spine becomes rounded and the lordotic curve is reversed.  Curving the spine for long periods encourages ligamentous creep (read more about this theory here) - the stretching of structural stabilisers that help keep your discs and spine aligned.  Ligaments can be stretched but they do not return to their original length.  Over time the spine becomes unstable and the discs can push out on to the nerves causing discomfort.  Instability of the segments means unwanted movement which can also create problems.

Sitting for long periods also causes compression of the spine.  Depending on what position you sit certain parts of the spine may take more pressure than others which can result in certain muscles taking on more work than necessary whilst others switch off.  This can cause discomfort also.

Travelling to your destination often requires sitting on a plane, on a train or in the car.  The back doesn't like sustained postures like sitting in a chair for several hours.  For each situation you might find yourself in there are a few changes you can make to make your back more comfortable.  So here are my top tips for minimising back pain on your vacation this year.

In the driving seat

Car seats are not great for back pain.  The back seat is often slanted downwards which means your hips are lower than your knees when seated.  This is especially true in supercars such as the bugati, porsche, maserati, ferrari and maclaren which are set very low to the ground.  The first thing you can do is change the angle of your seat so that the back of the seat is higher than the front.  If this is not possible i advise my clients to get a wedge cushion and place the raised part at the back of the seat.  This will help to raise the hips higher than the knees and place the spine in  better alignment thus reducing the risk of discomfort.

Props

Another common problem is that car, plane and train seats do not give adequate low back support.  I recommend to all my clients who have disc injuries that they invest in the Mckenzie inflatable back support for their car seat.  Place it in the mid part of your low back opposite your belly button and inflate to a size that makes your back feel supported - everyone will need a slightly different adjustment but aim for supper that keeps your back neutral.  This means a slight arch in your low back.

I like to move it move it

The third and most important part of avoiding low back pain when travelling is to take regular breaks to move around.  That means actually moving around not more sitting at a service station for a cup of tea or walking for 10 seconds to your friend at the back of the plane or the other train car and sitting with him for a natter.  Walk around, stretch, mobilise and move as much as you can where you are.  If you are travelling by car and you take regular breaks I know it takes longer to get to your destination and if it means making the choice between two weeks of discomfort and grumpiness over two weeks of happy, relaxed fun... I'll let you make the decision on that one! 

Switch it up baby

On the plane if you have the option to recline and lie down alternate between reclining, sitting up and lying down as this counts as changing your position.  If you are particularly tall opt for a business class seat with more leg room or at the very least the front row of economy class.  If you are already in discomfort a seat which allows you to fully recline on the plane is your best option as this is where pressures and forces on the spine are at their lowest.  Regularly stand up and walk the aisles of the plane even if your flight is a couple of hours.  Movement is absolutely key to keeping discomfort to a minimum.  Don't wait until you feel uncomfortable - take a walking break every twenty minutes.  I often find drinking lots of water helps as I need to use the restroom a lot which means getting up.  It also helps you stay hydrated...

Water your back

Whatever mode of transport you are taking drink lots of water - not juice or tea or coffee - WATER.  The discs of the spine are filled with fluid.  When you are dehydrated they reduce in height which means the vertebrae are more likely to cause compression of the nerves where they exit the spine.  Staying hydrated helps keeps the discs plump and maintain good height.  Hydration is also one of the most important parts of good health so never skimp on water!

In Part 2 of this article I discuss the culprits of back pain when you have actually arrived.  If you can't wait then click here to read it.  I wish you all happy and safe vacations wherever you are relaxing, exploring or going a little crazy!  Remember these essential factors to minimise back pain occurring and look out for my article on safely returning to exercise post vacation which I am writing for The London Orthopaedic Clinic.  It should be out when you are all back to your London routine!