healing

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. 

 

 

 

 

Guilt-free Christmas Cocktails!

Guilt-free Christmas Cocktails!

Precision Movement's KT shares her favourite healthy Christmas cocktails so you can enjoy the festivities without incurring too much damage!

Hot chocolate that helps your healing & recovery

As the days and nights get colder it's tempting to reach for warm foods that give your comfort but may not be nutritionally beneficial.  Nutrition is an integral part of recovery from injury and pain as well as supporting a healthy happy lifestyle.  

You really want your food intake to be doing the following:

1.   Reducing inflammation in your gut and in your body overall.  Inflammation stresses your immune system which means healing and recovery are compromised.  You want to promote healing and recovery by reducing inflammation.

2.  Nourishing your body with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals for healing and recovery and for all the vital processes for a healthy, happy functioning body.

3.  Fuelling your adventures or your rehabilitation is that's where you are currently at!  Whatever your life is filled with you want your food intake to support you so you have the energy to enjoy it.

A quick and easy way to fulfil all these criteria and even take with you on your adventures is with this incredible rich hot chocolate drink.  It's loaded with anti-inflammatory foods such as coconut cream and super antioxidant rich cocoa powder containing maca and cacao as well as plenty of vitamin E from the fresh almond milk.  I drink it as a bedtime warmer when I make my hot water bottle at night.

IMG_4080.JPG

Rich Hot Chococo

Ingredients

* 1 cup fresh pressed almond milk

* tablespoon coconut cream 

* 1-2 tablespoons Of The Earth Superfoods Hot Chocolate powder

* Stevia to taste 

Instructions 

Place the almond milk in a saucepan on the stove and heat gently so as not to burn it.  Place the almond milk and all the ingredients in a blender and whizz up.  Drink with joy and let the nutrients heal you!  

ManMade - A Case Study on the making of a man

ManMade - A Case Study on the making of a man

Precision Movement's KT shares her latest case study of Andrea Domeninchini the creator of ManMade and Voices in the Dark.  Dre was suffering with chronic pain that just would not go away.  Find out what happened when he worked with KT.  Dre has made a video series about his journey called ManMade.

How to get good at your injury rehabilitation exercises

How to get good at your injury rehabilitation exercises

Precision Movement's KT explains how to get good at your injury rehabilitation exercises so you can become injury and pain free, design your life and boo your next adventure! 

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!

The difference between Physiotherapy, Osteopathy and Chiropractic

The difference between Physiotherapy, Osteopathy and Chiropractic

KT from Precision Movement explains the difference between Physiotherapy, Osteopathy and Chiropractic treatment.

How self care impacts health, healing and recovery from injury

How self care impacts health, healing and recovery from injury

Precision Movement's 5 categories of self care and how they positively impact injury recovery and healing.

An audio postural meditation for you

 

 

I'm always trying to think of ways to recreate the sessions you do in the studio for your to travel with or do at home.  As you know, consistency is the key to getting better faster.  

 

I have considered doing video clips of exercises but I'd rather not have your attention on a screen when it should be on your body and how exercise feels. So, I've come up with something I think is much much better! I'm going to trial audio recorded training sessions.  

 

Benefits  

1.  It's the closest recreation of doing a session in the studio with me but without me. 

2. You'll hear my motivating little voice saying all those helpful little analogies and KTisms that get you in the right alignment doing the right movement. 

3. You can take your focus into your body and use a mirror for feedback instead of looking at a screen. 

4. You can put on your headphones anytime, anywhere and inconspicuously do your programme. You'll look like a total pro in the gym! ;)

5.  You'll be more motivated to do that third and final set instead of just doing the bare minimum two.  You know it's the last set that really counts!

 

First come first served... for the freebies!

I'll be trailing the bespoke recorded training session for free for the first three people to email me.  I think one has already gone now so there are only two free ones left.  Just inbox me at KT@precisionmovement.co.uk and I'll record your latest home programme for you to download and listen to whenever, wherever.  

Going forwards, bespoke recorded sessions will be charged - fee upon request! 

 

Freebie for all

As as a preview, and due to popular demand, I've recorded a demo above. It's a 10 minute guided postural meditation that you can listen to on your commute to work or on a 10 minute break during your day. You can do it sitting or standing.  Let me know what you think! 

For those of you not working with me at the moment, if you don't understand what the analogies in the recording mean please do feel free to book a postural session with me so I can teach you.  Once you know what all the references are the recording will make much more sense!

If you would like me to send this recording to you directly so you can download it to your phone please ask me in your next session or email 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: Helen Skehan RSI physiotherapist

manual therapy
manual therapy

Helen Skehan specialises in the treatment of RSI (repetitive strain injuries).  She is the owner of

Physio Solutions

clinic in Islington, a clinic that she built herself over 16 years, houses 9 therapists and also offers massage and ergonomic assessments in the work place.  

KT:  Helen, what is RSI?

HS:  RSI stands for repetitive strain injury.  It is a term given to work related non-specific upper limb injuries and does not always mean the injury has come from repetition or is a strain.  Patients present with a number of symptoms that may not always be the same from person to person.  

KT:  What symptoms are common with RSI?

HS:  I test for many things - often clients present with varied pain in the neck, shoulder and arm, tingling ,numbness, temperature changes, swelling.  I look for specific tightness, muscular imbalance and postural misalignment.  I may also send clients to be tested by a rheumatologist to eliminate other underlying conditions.

KT:  How does RSI develop?

There are many different ways RSI can develop.  It is often a combination of a poor workstation, poor posture, lack of exercise (although not always sometimes I see patients who are real gym bunnies),not taking enough breaks at work, high stress, lots of typing and ignoring initial symptoms.  

KT:  How does stress play a part in the development of RSI? 

I would say stress exacerbates symptoms.  Mechanically, stressed induces increased muscle tension in the neck and shoulders where the nerves exit the spine and pass through the shoulder joint down the arm.    Also, breathing rate increases and during stressful times we tend to adopt a upper chest lead breathing pattern which utilises the accessory respiratory muscles surrounding the neck and shoulders.  The nerves are supposed to glide through neighbouring structures but if the muscles are contracted it can squeeze the nerves causing pain, numbness and tingling.

KT:  What is your opinion on exercise for RSI?  Does it create more strain or can it help?

HS:  I always try to get my patients to engage in some form of stretching, mobilization and exercises.  There is always a role for graded exercise in the recovery of RSI.  It is important to go by a tolerance factor - the patient should not work into areas of pain.  

KT:  What affect does posture have on the development of RSI?

HS:  Sustained postures for long periods in poor alignment are definitely not healthy and can contribute to RSI.   Typically patients that have RSI injuries have a rounded upper back, a forward head carriage and their shoulders are rotated inwards.  It is very common to find neck an shoulder stiffness as well as a lack of mobility in the upper back.  Some patients can suffer from headaches.  Even more distally you find that patients often have hamstring and calf tightness. 

KT:  What impact does modern technology like smart phones and portable laptops and tablets have on the recovery of RSI?

HS:  All these devices encourage a poor posture as you tend to look down at the device you are using.  People tend to overuse their smart phones which stresses the fingers, wrists, hands and forearms.  With tablets and laptops they can be heavy to carry around and we tend to look down when we use them which strains the upper back and neck.  

KT:  What advice can you give to people using smart phones and tablets for work?

HS:  Modern technology is improving all the time.  For smart phones you can use the voice activation system to cut down on your typing time.  Try to avoid using your phone and tablet when you travel on the tube and bus to give your hands and arms a rest.  At work place a tablet on a stand or a removable keyboard.  For laptops and desktop computers invest in an ergonomic mouse or a roller mouse that sits at the front of your keyboard. 

KT:  What are the early symptoms of RSI?

Any hand symptoms that are related to desk work including pain, muscle cramps, tingling, numbness, swelling or feeling of swelling and restricted movement.  Also be aware of any of these symptoms in the shoulder and neck area even repeated small episodes.  We should be able to function without pain.  I would recommend diarising your symptoms and check over a period of time whether the symptoms remain or get worse.  If in 10-14 days the symptoms are still there then seek treatment.  

KT:  What other advice would you give to those suffering with RSI?

HS:  For those with mild symptoms I would advise regular movement that is based on improving postural alignment and mobilising the upper back.  Backstroke can be helpful and calming to some.  Avoid cycling as the posture can encourage symptoms to get worse.  RSI is an injury that develops over time and through the continual use of bad habits.  The most important thing is educating yourself on how to minimise the risk of injury and taking responsibility for your health and wellness at work.  

For more information please visit the website at 

physiosolutions.co.uk

 or to make a booking with Helen please contact her clinic, Physio Solutions, on

0207 713 7780

.  For more information on how exercise can help you recover from RSI injury please contact me at

KT@precisionmovement.co.uk

.

What exercises can I do for back pain?

DSC_3564
DSC_3564

I love this question!  It is something I get asked when I am out socially and people discover I work with back pain and injuries.  The truth is no one set of exercises fits all back pain problems.  In fact, every person I see in my practice is so completely different it never ceases to amaze me.  For instance someone with a disc prolapse may really benefit from a back extension mobilization and stretch.  If I give the same stretch to someone with stenosis (bone spurs) it will push on the already smaller spaces where the nerves exit the spine and aggravate their condition.  It gets more complex when I have someone who has both of these conditions or multiple spine issues.  Believe me there is no one size fits all.  Here are some golden rules about exercise that apply to most all back pain sufferers.....

1.  MOVE!!!

If there is one thing you take away from this article please make it the importance of movement.  Every day moving around trumps sitting or lying still every time.  The key to movement for relief of pain, especially when it is very sore, is to do it gently.  If you are desk bound at work get up and walk around, take the stairs for a few floors, get out for lunch, walk to the water cooler.   Walking can often provide a sense of relief (however if it makes it worse and sitting relieves it then take a rest periodically).  Things to avoid are heavy lifting and too much bending over to pick things up off the floor.  

2.  Specific back mobilizations

I recommend my clients do gentle back specific mobilizations upon waking daily to ease the back into the day.  If you suffer from stiffness upon waking these mobilizations can be very effective at reducing your pain in less time.  Ideally you should have someone show you how to do mobilizations that are specific to your back problem.  However, you can download your copy of the

Precision Movement Daily Mobilizations

that I give my clients

here

. Be sure to read the instructions carefully - small and gentle is key!  

3.  Corrective exercise for postural alignment and stability

Here lies the key to getting your back pain sorted.  Corrective exercise focusses on your alignment, stability and core activation and moves your through stages of development from small isolating exercises right up to functional often loaded movement.  This is where you can get mobilizations, stretches and exercise tailored to your specific condition.  At Precision Movement I always give programmes for the relief of pain when your back is sore, daily home programmes, a set of stretches to do at your desk, and a programme for the gym as required.   

4.  The Gym

If you are suffering from intense back pain avoid lifting heavy weights.  Weights create axial (vertical downward) loading on your spine and if you are already in discomfort the worst thing you can do is increase the pressure on areas of discomfort.  You could seriously hurt yourself.  Do not use machines as a substitute either.  Machines isolate and stress your big muscles without using the stabilizers around the joints.  If your back is sore the last thing you want to do is make it more unstable or have the larger muscles pulling on it.  It would be better to do some gentle yoga or pilates work being mindful of your postural alignment and core activation until your back settles.  If you are a regular gym user make sure you have a professional with rehabilitation experience look over what you are doing.

5.  Running, biking, rowing and cross trainer cardio machines 

If you would like to do some cardio work the key to not aggravating your back is to change it up.  Sustained positions can be aggravating for the back.  When your back is sore avoid jumping and running as a greater amount of load is placed through the spine and this can be jarring to the back.  Cycling and cross trainer are gentler options for cardio and can be alternated.  For the bike make sure you are sitting properly and have a professional check your position before you begin.  I would avoid rowing when your back is bad especially if you have any disc prolapses and proceed with caution under supervision.  

For more information about how corrective exercise can help your specific back pain or injury contact KT at 

KT@precisionmovement.co.uk

.  Download my eBook '7 steps to getting your back pain sorted' - the link is on the right hand side (just scroll up a bit!).  

Precision_Movement__eBook
Precision_Movement__eBook

The core killer that negates a killer core

teddy in casts
teddy in casts

I recently saw a man working out at my Mayfair studio who was wearing a back brace.  I asked him what it was for and he proceeded to tell me that he had terrible back pain and was advised to exercise with a sturdy back support.  If there is one thing that I find contradictory, it's wearing a brace that stops movement so that you can exercise/move in the gym.    If you want to make your back pain worse then wearing a back brace or support is the quickest way to do it and here's why....

Casting is for breaks

Have you ever broken any bones?  Last year I worked with a lady who broke her ankle.  She was in a cast for 6 weeks and a boot for another 6 weeks.  When she started her rehabilitation with me the difference in the musculature from left to right was incredible.  It looked like she had two separate legs!  You see the body is mighty clever.  If you are not using muscles they atrophy (shrink).  A similar phenomenon happens to astronauts when they go into space for long periods.  Because there is no gravity their bones become less dense.  The good news is that when there is an increased need for muscle the body responds and adapts to the stresses it is put under.  

This is why I am so adamantly against back braces for back pain.  If you have back pain from disc prolapses, spinal stenosis, disc degeneration, or non-specific back pain back braces are really not going to help you in the long term.  I am not saying do not wear one but I would like to educate you on what they do to the body so you can make a more informed decision about wearing one.

The off button

Effectively, just like a cast, a back brace will cause muscles to switch off.  One of the first things you learn when you start corrective exercise is how to activate the core.  Core activation is absolutely essential to the support of the spine and surrounding structures.  Switching off these muscles is just asking for trouble.  You cannot rely on a brace to give you the support you need - that is the job of your muscles and connective tissues!  If you stop conditioning the muscles under controlled conditions with gradual development you will leave your back even further unsupported and at risk of further injury.

Restricted movement

The point of exercising is to move.  Wearing a brace can result in muscles getting tighter as they are not able to move through a full range.  This will create further imbalance as certain muscles will become tighter and others will overwork to compensate further pulling you out of alignment and causing more stress on your back.  

Faulty messaging

If you are wearing something that restricts movement and causes muscles to switch off you will effectively change messages to your brain and alter movement patterns.  The brain responds to the movement patterns you put it through and with repetition it creates a blueprint that is stored for future use.  It means we do not have to learn a movement every time we come to do it.  However, if you change the variables for instance by putting a brace on, the brain will change it's blueprint accordingly.  When you take the brace off and go through daily movements, the brain will use the newly formed blueprints with restricted range of motion and less muscle activation.  This leaves you even more vulnerable to injuring yourself further.

What to do

You body has its own brace system - your core.  The great thing about the core is you don't have to put it on every day - it is always with you.  If you do not know how to activate it then seek out help from a corrective exercise specialist.  To find out more about your core read my article "Does having a strong core relieve low back pain?"  Equally important is your postural alignment.  If movement is not your specialist area then chances are you won't know if you have poor posture or to what extent your posture is affecting your back pain.  Optimal alignment, core activation and gradual progressive corrective exercise are the keys to getting your back pain under control.  There are no quick fixes.

If you are currently wearing a brace and would like to explore another option for improving your back pain then contact me at 

KT@precisionmovement.co.uk

.  

How to talk to your GP about your back pain

crossroads
crossroads

When you have pain the only priority is to make it go away, quickly.  The problem with back pain is it takes a bit of time to settle and usually it takes a whole approach - the combination of manual therapy, corrective exercise and a few lifestyle habits.  If you are keen to get out of pain but are skeptical about how your doctor can help then have a read of my 5 top tips for speaking to your GP about getting your back pain sorted.  

Your first port of call when you have pain is usually your GP.  Your GP is the gateway to further treatment options as you need referral letters to specialists.  Here are my 6 top tips for speaking to your GP about your back pain so you can open a discussion about a whole approach and get the best possible outcome for further treatment.

1.  A whole approach

It is widely known now that back pain does not respond to one solution.  Pain relief is the goal but how you get there can make a difference as to whether your back pain returns or not.  Go in with a mindset of taking a whole approach to getting better.  A whole approach means taking on board all systems of your health and using more than one method to settle your back. 

2.  A word on pain medications

It is tempting to take pain medication that will be offered.  If you decide that you will take it make sure you know the side affects of the medication and talk to your doctor about how long you should take it for.  Also note that pain medication puts a strain on your liver and aggravates your digestive system.  Be careful about what you do when you take medication - it takes away the pain so you can hurt yourself further without knowing until the effects of the medication wear off.  Pain medication is a band aid form of treatment.  It will not make your back pain better it will only take away the alarm that tells you something is wrong.  Ask you doctor about alternative forms of pain relief such as acupuncture that have less side affects.   

3.   Be specific

I am sure GPs are faced with countless "I have back pain, it just hurts" patients!  What is helpful to any medical practitioner is the quality of information you can give them.  Notice patterns of pain, when the pain occurs, when it gets worse and what makes it get worse.  What makes it get better? Does it ease throughout the day?  All this information helps your GP to make a decision about how best to help you.  Also, if you go in armed with information and an approach of wanting to get better you are much more likely to get the desired response from your doctor.

4.  Bare minimum referral

As a bare minimum your doctor should refer you to a manual therapist.  Ask your GP For a referral to a good physio or osteopath in the local area. I prefer this as a first step to your treatment plan over pain medication but it depends how bad your pain is.  This is a good start for your treatment plan as you will be working with a musculoskeletal specialist who can advise you more specifically for your condition.  

5.  Corrective Exercise for postural realignment

Also ask your GP about a corrective exercise specialist or rehab specialist in the area that can assess and correct your postural alignment which will be contributing to your back pain.  These specialists can train the active systems (neuromuscular) to give you better postural support and movement for your back.  Corrective exercise is now considered an integral part of recovering from back pain.  

5.  Looking inside the body

You may need to go back to your GP a few times before scans are discussed.  Looking inside the body through an x-ray or MRI can really help you and your doctor understand what is causing the pain.  I have a friend who has been suffering from back pain for nearly a year and repeatedly went to his doctor for advice.  The last time he went I told him to insist on an MRI.  He got one and a cyst was discovered in his spinal canal.  This was the cause of his pain and no one would have ever known unless he had the MRI. Talk to your GP about whether you need a scan and if not now when it may become an option.  A scan may show that nothing is structurally wrong with your back but at least you can begin looking for other causes.  

For more information on how corrective exercise for optimal postural alignment can help your back pain please contact me at KT@precisionmovement.co.uk.  For a more comprehensive guide to sorting your back pain please download my free eBook "7 steps to getting your back pain sorted" the sign up is just to your left!

Precision_Movement__eBook
Precision_Movement__eBook

What does it mean if you wake up with low back pain?

wake up in pain
wake up in pain

Low back pain is the 2nd top reason why people take sick days from work.  80% of the UK population will at one time in their lives experience back pain.   One of the most common symptoms I come across when I see new clients is the complaint of waking up with pain or stiffness.   I am going to explain why this is such a frequent complaint and also offer a few tips on how to relive your morning discomfort so you can start the day in a better state.

The spine throughout the day

Over the course of a day we lose height.  This is to do with the effect of gravity on our spines and also a loss of fluid in the discs.  This is a normal occurrence and one of the important reasons why we must get enough good quality sleep.  For my top 10 tips on the best sleep ever read my blog post on sleep.

What happens when you sleep?

Sleep is when your body gets to work on healing and recovering from the day’s events.  This includes the restoration of fluid in the discs between your vertebrae.  The expansion of the discs with fluid can sometimes cause pressure on the nerves that run through the spine and this can cause discomfort on waking.

Nerves get on my discs

Nerves are sensitive creatures and they do not like to be touched.  They like space and freedom to do their job.  When a disc expands over night from the intake of fluid it can press upon a nerve and create a sensation of aching or sometimes quite a sharp uncomfortable pain.  This can occur for many reasons – perhaps poor posture which is pulling your discs out of alignment, maybe a disc prolapse or bulge.  I cannot answer what your specific cause is – only a medical practitioner can help to diagnose an injury.  When the body experiences pain especially around the spinal cord where your central nerves run through, the muscles surrounding the area may contract to stabilize the area.  The body knows that the nerves running through the spine are exceptionally important for function and survival and it will do anything to preserve their health.  In this case it means contracting and tightening up the surrounding area.

What can I do?

If you find that you are consistently waking up in pain then start keeping a mini journal of your symptoms.  I would then recommend you seek medical assistance – the first port of call is your GP.  If you explain your symptoms he/she will be able to assist you further.  You can also download my eBook ‘I have Back Pain – what do I do?’ which give you 10 steps to sort out your back pain, who to see and in what order and what options there are for treatment.

Corrective Exercise

I see many clients with the main symptom of waking in pain.  I help to realign their posture and strengthen their spine and pelvis which helps relieve their pain.  Exercise is invaluable – but if you are experiencing morning pain it must be the right type of exercise to realign, stabilize and strengthen areas that are compromised.  If you are diagnosed with a specific back condition like a disc prolapse or disc degeneration seek specialist care from a CHEK Practitioner or similar corrective rehabilitative exercise specialist.

Morning Mobilizations

You can also try Precision Movement’s morning mobilizations.  These are gentle movements in a safe and unloaded position that help ease the stiffness of the muscles and encourage gentle movement of the nerves to ease them up.  Often just a few sets of these movements are enough to get on with your morning – however, they do not replace proper treatment and corrective exercise so seek further advice and expertise.

How can I help?

If  you are suffering with ongoing back pain and would like to do something about it that really works then please contact me for an informal chat.  I can be reached on 07515856009 or by email at KT@precisionmovement.co.uk.

Sophrology - how it helps pain & injury

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This week I had the fortune to interview Dominique Antiglio, a Sophrologist and owner of BeSophro.  Formally an osteopath from Switzerland, Dominique found her patients pain was highly linked to stress and how they perceived and reacted to daily life situations.  She trained in Sophrology as a means of helping her clients further and now teaches the technique exclusively in private and group sessions here in London at 58 South Molton Street practice in Mayfair.  I have personally benefited from this amazing technique and it is a great pleasure for me to share what Dominique has to say about relaxation and how it helps your healing and recovery.

KT:  What is Sophrology?

DA:  It is a mind body transformation technique that helps you deal more effectively with daily life occurrences - ones that may ordinarily stress us out.  It is a practice based on a philosophy and can also act as a therapy as well.  It uses breathing techniques, dynamic relaxation, visualisation and gentle movements to bring about change in the body and mind and to make you consciously aware of these changes.

KT:  Who can benefit from Sophrology?

DA:  Everyone!  I mainly see three types of people.  People who are stressed out and have physical pain related to their stress such as back pain or headaches.  I also specialise in birth preparation for pregnant women.  The third type of clients I see are people who are interested in their own self-development and want to expand their awareness and reach their full potential.

KT:  Do you work with clients who have physical pain?

DA:  Yes I help clients to discover if the pain they have expresses something in their lives that needs addressing.  Often physical pain can have an emotional or stress-induced cause which results in a seemingly 'random' relapse of pain until you take the time to look deeper into why the pain is occurring.  Once we establish what may be related to their pain I help them access resources to deal with underlying issues and beliefs associated with thier discomfort.

KT:  Do you think stress contributes to physical pain?

DA:  Enormously.  More than most people think.  The slightest change in the nervous system can change your breathing and the way your brain and mind functions.  It is a cascading affect - one system will affect the next system which affects the next and somewhere in that chain is the musculoskeletal system.  I believe the body is a very subtle and sensitive machine.  When any stimulus comes our way we take a conscious decision on how to deal with it.  Sophrology gives you tools to deal with your reactions to stress and stimulus that result in a better outcome for your body and mind to minimise the chances of it affecting you physically.

KT:  How often would you advise practicing Sophrology?

DA:  If everyone in the world did 5 minutes of Sophrology the world would be a much better place!  We would all have more freedom in our lives, in our thoughts, we would make better decisions, and be happier.  For use as a therapy I would advise 3 times per week for 15 mins.  If you practice the technique more, you'll experience more of the benefits!

KT:  How long does it take to learn Sophrology?

DA:  I teach people the basic techniques in 4-5 sessions.  You could do less than this and have it serve as a one off source of relaxation but to really achieve changes that you can keep benefiting from it is worth investing the time for 4-5 sessions.

KT:  How do I learn Sophrology?

DA:  The best way to learn is from a practitioner.  It helps to have a voice guiding you through the practice until you become more familiar with it.  I allow my clients to record their sessions so they can practice alone as well.

KT:  How long do the benefits of practicing last?

DA:  The more you do the longer the affects last.  My clients say the affects can last for 1 day and up to 5 days.  The response is individual.  If you are able to get into a regular daily practice the results are ongoing.  I recommend practicing 10 minutes a day for 7 days in a row to experience changes.

KT:  What are the limits of Sophrology?

DA:  Although Sophrology incorporates gentle relaxation movements the technique does not align, stabilise or strengthen areas of weakness or poor posture that may be contributing to physical pain.  Sophrology is not analytical so for work on a deep rooted emotional trauma I would refer on to a psychologist.  The technique also does not include any touch based therapy so if you have a blocked rib or a mal-aligned neck or spine I would recommend out to a manual therapist.  Sophrology is exceptionally compatible with all therapies though and can serve as a daily tonic - a way of being present, calm and quiet.  In my practice it has worked well as part of the healing and recovery of more serious illnesses, injuries and conditions.

KT:  What is the essence of Sophrology?

DA:  It is to improve the connection of mind and body and to be present often what I refer to as connecting with yourself.

KT:  Can you share a simple technique that people can use now?

DA:  One of the basic techniques we use in Sophrology is to slow the exhalation part of breathing.  This helps to bring the body into a state of relaxation. Inhale for 3 counts then exhale for 5-7 counts.  Repeat this breathing a few times in a conscious way and then try to maintain it for 2 minutes to start feeling a change.

KT:  Where can I learn Sophrology?

DA:  I teach BeSophro classes at 58 South Molton St, Mayfair, London.  I see clients for private sessions and in groups.  My next introductory session is and costs just £10.  It is a chance to try Sophrology to see if it a technique that would work well for you and your life.  I have a taster session BeSophro Taster on 12th February 2014 and my next Short course begins on January 15th 2014.

For more information on BeSophro classes with Dominique please visit www.besophro.co.uk.  Contact 07527 587 177 and info@besophro.co.uk.

Beneficial breathing for back pain & injury recovery

For this weeks blog post, I’d like to touch on a subject that is often overlooked.  What plays a major role in the alignment and stability of your body, is critical for your survival and is also integral to maintaining a sense of calm?

It’s breathing. Your ability to breathe is truly amazing.  It keeps you alive, it’s highly linked to how you feel and what state your body is in, it’s autonomic (you don’t have to tell yourself to breathe) but you can also take conscious control of it.  The control and awareness of your breathing is your own little magic remedy for stress relief.  Do a quick test now and count how many times you breathe in and out per minute.

Rate yourself!

A normal natural breathing rate is 12-16 full breaths (inhale and exhale) per minute.  Obviously, when you are exercising breathing rate increases as a necessity of the need to transport more oxygen to the muscles for work.  If you breathing rate is higher than normal for every day living this may be an indication that you are stressed.  This could be mental, emotional or it could be nutritional or digestive.  Whenever the body is disturbed or under stress it has the same response.  Breathing rate increases with stress.

Discover your Depths

There are a few ways to breathe.  The most common, although not most beneficial is chest breathing.  This is a short sharp shallow breath, which is usually quite fast and is associated with the stress response.  This type breathing contributes to getting more oxygen into the top area of your lungs as muscles in the upper back, shoulders and neck are use to lift the chest during strenuous exercise.  This is not however, a breathing technique that should be used in every day life.

Breathing that causes pain and injury

When someone breathes like this they usually inhale and exhale through their mouth and this can often bring the head position forwards and create mild (and sometimes major) stress on the neck and shoulders.  The body will also respond hormonally, as it thinks it’s under stress so it will secrete a low constant level of cortisol – the stress hormone.

Breathing for healing and recovery

Deep breathing/belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing is a full breath where by the whole lungs are filled with air, the diaphragm drops down and the organs below it push out against the abdominal wall.  Two thirds of a full breath happen below the chest, then last third of the breath should lift the chest if needed.  This type of breathing takes the body into a state of relaxation and rest.  Often a diaphragmatic breath is inhaled through the nose and exhaled out through the nose or in through the nose and out through the mouth.

Breathing for exercise

A simple effective berthing technique that helps you to relax and destress is to inhale for 6 counts hold your breath for 3 counts then exhale for 6 counts and rest for 3 counts.  It takes a bit of time to slow down the breath so go easy to start.  Practise this for 5 minutes a day and within a week it will seem easy.