disease

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. 

 

 

 

 

The back bone of life

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 21.21.53
Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 21.21.53

Last week I was asked to speak at the L Club in on Sloane Street about the importance of the spine for health throughout life.  I thought I would share with you what I shared with the audience of the L Club how your spine develops, what injuries it is most vulnerable to at certain parts during your life and how you can minimise the risk of injury as you age.  If you are tempted to just read what it says under your current age bracket this would be foolish.  Remember what you have done in the past and what you do now will all influence how the spine will respond in later years. Read on to find out more....

0-3 years 

When we are born our spines are curved like a shell.  In the first 2 years up to when we walk we go through huge amounts of development and change in the spine.  We learn how to move it and stabilise it and to sit up, crawl and walk the spine changes alignment.  As we grow our spines take on three curves - cervical, thoracic and lumbar and these curves are responsible for maintaining good posture, keeping our intervertebral discs in place and providing shock absorption.  This is one of the most important developmental stages of our lives and we should never underestimate the value of babies learning to move efficiently and effectively.  The movements and postures that babies learn here serve them for the rest of their lives which means if faulty movements are developed it will affect movement, co-ordination, posture and strength development in later years.

3-21 years

This is the time when we should move and learn sports.  Jumping around and pounding on our bones is the best way to make them dense and strong coupled with a good intake of calcium from leafy greens and vitamin D from the sun as well as good overall nutrition.  Any weight bearing sports are good for bone density development (swimming is a non-weight bearing sport).  Intense learning of sports is not recommended until age 7.  Ideally children should try out lots of different activities.  At age 7 if children show an interest in a particular sport they have enough neural development to learn more intensely.  Children should not lift heavy weights as it can stunt growth.  

21-30 years 

When we get to 21 we have fully grown but we can still increase our bone density.  Bone density is exceptionally important for the prevention of osteoporosis.  Between 30-35 our bones begin ageing and it is no longer possible to increase our bone density - we can only slow the rate of decline.  This is effectively done by weight bearing exercise such as strength training.  The discs between your vertebrae have fluid and a jelly like substance inside which acts as part of the shock absorption I mentioned earlier.  At at 30 our bones cannot get any denser.  From here our bones go through a process of becoming less dense.  

30-45 years 

This is the time when the spine is most vulnerable to disc injuries.  Mostly because of our lifestyles - too much sitting and not enough movement.  Up to age 45 the discs are refilled with fluid each night as part of the recovery process when we sleep.  This is why you are taller in the morning and shorter at night!  One of the reasons why disc injuries happen between 30-45 years is because of years of 'ligamentous creep' the connective tissues in the spine stretching over time to accommodate poor posture.  Ligaments are the strongest structures in our bodies connecting bone to bone and they give our skeleton stability.  Once ligaments are stretched they do not go back to their original length.  Over time, years of time, it makes the spine unstable and then the discs become vulnerable to pressing out on to the nerves.  

45-55 years 

Past 45 the discs begin to dry up and the spine becomes stiffer.  This actually has an advantage as the discs are less prone to pushing out against the nerves because they are less plump.  However, less fluid in the discs means loss of disc height.  Firstly, you lose height which is not so bad.  Secondly, your vertebrae are much closer together so the ligaments become lax and can create instability.  This hinders movement, particularly rotation, and can also lead to bone spurs and stenosis.  

55 onwards 

Depending on what you have done or not done with your body you may experience some pain or injury in your spine as you age - common but not normal issues are osteoporosis, arthritis, spondylitis, ankylosing spondylitis and postural imbalance.  What I always find interesting is that most people as they age will have some sort of disc degeneration but not all suffer with pain from it.  The key here is movement - the more active you are the less likely you are to feel pain.  

The most important point here is what you can do to minimise the risk of injuries and diseases when you are older.  Once you have these issues they can be managed but they are not reversible.

If you want to know more about minimising the risk of spinal complications when you are older or maybe you have a spinal injury that you'd like to know how to manage better then contact me at 

KT@precisionmovement.co.uk

.

Looking inside the body for the cause of your pain

MRI
MRI

Scans help identify whether structural damage is causing or exacerbating pain.  Personally I think knowing is better than not knowing so I would always go for a scan.  But what scan is best for you?  And what are the pros and cons to scans?  Read on to find out more....

What scans do

A scan can show nothing even though you may be experiencing excruciating pain but it can rule out structural damage so you can begin looking at other factors.  If a scan does show evidence of what is causing your pain this can provide a sense of relief.  It also helps the specialists, therapists and rehab practitioners tailor your recovery plan more effectively.  The important thing to remember is that whatever the scan shows, it is just information.  It is the decisions and actions you take from learning this information that will form your recovery plan.   The most common scans used for back pain are x-rays and MRIs. 

X-rays

An x-ray can tell you if there is anything wrong with your bones.  An x-ray will show up breaks, fractures, bony change like arthritis or bone growths called spurs.  What is can be really useful for in terms of potential causes of back pain is showing loss of disc height.  Structural damage to discs and also ageing can cause the discs to reduce in height.  This results in your vertebrae (bones that make up the spine) sitting closer together.  If the cause of reduced disc height is not known it may be better to opt for an MRI to gain a more comprehensive picture of what is going on.  

Pros:  cost effective, reduced wait time for scan if any

Cons:  restricted information, small dose of radiation

MRI scans 

An MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging) can show you bones, muscles, connective tissue, nerves, discs, arteries and all other structures in the body.  It takes a series of images at very small slice increments and then puts it all together to create a complete picture.  Often with an MRI scan you get several slices to view which enables consultants to 'look through' structures beyond the surface.  It gives you a comprehensive view of everything in the area of pain.

Pros:  more accurate diagnostic tool 

Cons:  Expensive, often wait list on the NHS but  can go private, closed MRI scanners can be claustrophobic to some so ask for an open top one if available.

Getting an MRI quickly

There is often a wait list for an MRI scan on the NHS.  You can get a scan quickly through private medical insurance but if this is not an option there is an alternative solution.  Vista Diagnostics offer MRI scans from £200 with short notice appointments available.  You could potentially get a scan within a day and results within 2 days of your scan.  For more information visit www.vistadiagnostics.co.uk.  This option could eliminate much anxiety and frustration which can make your condition worse.  It could also mean starting treatment earlier so you can get better faster.  

Results

Whatever can you have make sure you understand the results.  The radiologist who interprets the results of your scan will send you and your specialist a letter explaining what has been found.  Once you know if there is any structural damage you can make a more informed decision about how to proceed with treatment.  If nothing is found that is totally ok - there are many people who suffer with back pain who do not have any structural damage.  Often pain is caused by poor posture, your lifestyle habits, your nutrition choices.  Discuss treatment options with your specialist and ask about manual therapy and corrective exercise as well as alternative forms of pain relief like acupuncture.  

Key points 

The key points to take from this are firstly MRI scans are the more comprehensive scan option and secondly, whatever the scan shows it is just information that will help you make a better decision about your recovery plan.  If you have structural damage like a disc prolapse or stenosis it's ok - you are not going to die!  Many many people have structural damage.  The most important thing is to put a multi-disciplinary recovery and management plan in place.  For more information on back pain and injury recovery and rehabilitation please contact me at KT@precisionmovement.co.uk.

Featured Expert: Hannah Richards healing the inside of you

fruit image
fruit image

Hannah Richards is a Metabolic typing advisor and does functional diagnostic nutrition at

Move Three Sixty

in NW London which she co-owns with Claud Sarjeant.  Hannah is a great friend and colleague of mine and I asked her a few questions about how she gains so much success with all the clients I send to her for nutritional purposes.  If you would like to work on another part of your healing and recovery as well as optimising your general health for life then this article is a great read for you.  

KT:  What is Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN)?

HR:  FDN is all about finding the root cause of a person's symptoms by testing saliva, urine, blood and stool to determine where the root issue lies and then fixing it.  The treatment is bespoke to each individual.  I am also a metabolic typing advisor so I help people discover what foods in what ratios are right for their individual make up. 

KT:  How does what you do differ from regular nutritionist? 

HR:  With normal nutrition people tend to get treated with an allopathic approach - a this for that system.  You'll often find nutritionists treat the symptoms.  With FDN I find the root that is causing the symptoms and this can be highly individual for each person.  Every disease will inhabit itself very differently in a person.  We all oxidise food at different rates, we have different strengths and weaknesses in our autonomic nervous system, we have different acid/alkaline levels and different fat production.  So I look at all these systems and the disease it comes with to find a solution that gets the person back to optimal health.  

KT:  What do you specialise in? 

HR:  Gastrointestinal rehabilitation.  All disease starts in the gut so that is where I look first. Clients will come with symptoms such as weight gain, disturbed sleep, skin conditions, constipation but nearly all of my clients have got digestive issues - so I look to kill off parasites, restore balance in the gut and repair the mucosal gut lining.

KT:  What role does nutrition play in general health? 

HR:  The first foundational principle of survival is hydration but the second is most definitely food.  Most people poison themselves with the food that they eat. Food should be a medicine - you should be curing things with food.  It is the most preventable measure that people have to cure their own health.  If you get the right nutrition then you reverse disease.  

KT:  What is the right nutrition?

HR:  Everyone is different.  Your right nutrition is based on genetic history, cultural history, your autonomic nervous system and your ability to break food down.  If you have good digestive capabilities and strong stomach acid you'll do well on fat and protein and burn it off.  If you don't have good stomach acid and don't have a gall bladder then eating fat and protein is not going to be for you.  You can be healthy eating a lot of carbs and healthy eating a lot of protein - you have to find the right fuel for your body.

KT:  Why can't I just exercise? 

HR:  Exercise is a stress to the body.  If you don't have enough energy to exercise then over exercising will cause the body to stress out and you might see weight gain.  Find the right exercise to do for you.  If the body is very stressed out then parasympathetic forms of exercise such as swimming and stretching would be better.  If the body has the capacity to exercise then run and do your weights.  Exercise is a science one size doesn't fit all.  Make sure you are assessed and have your stress levels determined so you know what exercise will serve you.

KT:  How does nutrition affect recovery from back pain and injury?

HR:  The right nutrition can help your healing and recovery of damaged and inflamed tissues at a cellular level.  If you are not getting the right nutrients how can your body heal from injury?  It is an integral part of injury and back pain recovery.

KT:  What is the most common nutrition pattern you see? 

HR:  In terms of pathologies the most common are the H pylori parasite and yeast overgrowths. In terms of symptoms, Eating less and gaining weight.  Most clients that I see think exercise alone will make them lose weight and they do not know what is in their food or where it comes from. 

KT:  When working with you what are the most common outcomes of your work?

HR:  Success!  Weight loss totally achievable once everything else clears up.  Underlying symptoms like parasite, adrenal fatigue, infection once cleared then weight loss is achieved.  Lose weight, better sleep, stop waking up in the middle of the night, look younger, have more energy, eat a more varied diet, look and feel younger and slimmer and all their digestive symptoms will all go - constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, gas.   

KT:  What are your absolute no-nos? 

HR:  Soy, gluten, dairy only if it doesn't suit you.  Sugar is as addictive as crack cocaine.  Sugar is one of the major causes of cancer and destroys every single cell in the body at the cellular level.  It's the world's biggest problem.  

KT:  Can you offer some general advice that someone can implement immediately?

HR:  Hydration - drink water. People are so dehydrated - kidney stones.  Easiest thing to fix your health by drinking 2 litres of water per day.  Generations of people who were not brought up drinking water.  We water flowers so they grow - we need to water the body so it grows otherwise it just shrivels up.  So many diseases can be prevented by hydration.  

So there you have it - Hannah Richards has spoken. I cannot more highly recommend Hannah for any and all nutrition, weight gain and gut related issues.  To find out more about what Hannah does visit her website

movethreesixty.com

.  You can contact her at 

hannah@movethreesixty.com

 or call the clinic on 

0207 624 4194

.

5 sources of stress that make your pain worse

stress ball
stress ball

In my

1st newsletter

where I shared the link to

Kelly McGonigal's Ted Talk

on How stress can be your friend I promised I would also share the other 5 unsuspecting sources of stress that may be compromising your health.  Although is true that your conscious perception of stressful situations can transform the outcome, there is little you can do about forms of stress you do not know about.  

Did you know that stress can come from foods, hormone imbalance, electromagnetic sources, too little or too much exercise, and temperature changes?  And did you know that all these sources of stress can contribute to a relapse of your injury, pain or discomfort?

Stress build up throughout the day

I'll use an example of how stress can build up without you even knowing.  You wake up to an alarm after a restless nights sleep. You force off your tiredness with a coffee and rush out the house because you are late.  You leave the house without a coat and it's too late to go back to get one now - you'll be cold all day.  When you get to work the computers are down  The You won't finish that proposal for a client today, you'll lose the contract and your bonus!  You have a makeshift late lunch and more coffee to stay awake.  You decide to shake off your stress by going for a run even though your back hurts and when you get home, you order a take-out and you can't wait to get the kids in bed so you can 'unwind' with a few glasses of wine before you fall asleep on the sofa in front of the TV.  Sound familiar?

Many stressors one response

What if I told you that everything in the above example stresses your body?  Think of your body having a threshold - a tolerance for all the stressful things we put it through.  What if I told you that repeating this over and over would create a build up of stress that might result in a seemingly 'random' injury or illness?  It does.  The body only has one response to stress.  It does not matter if the stressor comes from a food that you are unknowingly intolerant to or over exposure to the sun.  The body's response is to shut down so it can heal.  Repeated abuse of these systems results in tiredness, compromised immunity and suppression of healing and recovery.  This leads to discomfort, pain, injury, illness and disease.

How to combat these sources of stress...

In this blog i'll give an overview of how to combat these unsuspecting sources of stress so you can begin to change your mindset on how to deal with your discomfort, pain, injury and or illness.  As each of these subjects are pretty hefty on their own I'll be sharing information in more depth over the coming weeks.

1.  Nutrition

Eat from the earth.  Refrain from eating any foods that are packaged, processed and tampered with.  Reduce stimulants like coffee to the minimum to prevent stressing out your adrenals.  Be aware of your alcohol intake

2.  Hormonal/Adrenal

Sleep enough and rest properly.  Sleeping and rest are not the same thing!  Sleep 8 an average of 8 hours in a blacked out room in silence.  Maintain balance between work and life.  Acknowledge that you are not superman/woman and that rest is as important as action.

3.  Electromagnetic

Get enough sunlight for vitamin D but not too much - hardly a problem in the English winter months!  Eliminate all electronics from your bedroom and switch off lights at the mains.

4.  Exercise

Definitely exercise but make sure you are not overdoing it.  If you are injured seek professional help to recover effectively.  Strike a balance between healing restorative exercise like tai chi and hatha yoga and more energising forms of exercise like hitting the gym or running.

5.  Make stress your friend

If you haven't watched this video on how to make stress your friend I highly recommend it.  Kelly McGonigal says it better than I ever could.

How to make stress your friend

6.  Thermal 

This seems rather obvious but pay attention to your body temperature. Anything that keeps you too hot, burns you or adversely keeps you too cold is a stressor.  Make sure you are temperate in all situations - at home, work and when you sleep.

Lastly, this is a huge topic and I'll be covering smaller chunks in finer detail as the weeks go on so you can begin to make changes that will result in a healthier, happier pain free life!  If you have questions please email me.  

Information sourced from Paul Chek's How to Eat Move and Be Healthy book, CHEK Institute, USA.