Precision Movement shares 3 basic spinal mobilisations you can use daily to support good spine health and minimise the risk of injury.
Can you believe it? Technology has now reached posture! Technology now called "wearables" have become accessible to the public. Consisting of a wearable piece that is linked to an app on your phone it tracks how you sit and stand and transmits a gentle vibration to remind you to sit up straight when you start slouching. In this article I reveal the most popular wearables for 2016, the upside and the downside of using them and I explain why adopting one position for long periods of time is detrimental to the health and wellness of your body. Read on to find out more...
The wearables of 2016
Lumolift is a small sensor that you place on your t-shirt at chest level. It measures the angle of your torso and gently vibrates to remind you to sit up straight if you start slouching.
ALEX is a wearable neck device that sits around the back of the neck monitoring alignment and sending out a vibration reminder when the wearer begins to slouch. It is currently crowdfunding through Kickstarter so not available to the public right now.
I am all for new technology. Technology is woven into every part of our life now so it is natural that designers and product developers are thinking up ways to influence health, wellness and now posture.
I think a positive about wearables is that they provide some sort of consistent reminder of what an individual is trying to achieve - in this case better posture. When trying to improve posture in sitting, standing and corresponding movement, consistency is absolutely imperative to create change. We build programmes for movement and posture that are stored in our brain. The more we use these patterns the stronger they become. I liken it to drawing a line in the mud with a stick - the more times you do this the deeper the groove in the mud becomes. When we work on posture or a new movement pattern we cannot overwrite an old programme in the brain we can only build a new one and try to make it the preferred one. The key to making a movement or posture pattern dominant is to repeatedly use it so it becomes stronger. In essence a wearable can act as a consistent reminder to make a preferred posture pattern stronger.
As a posture and movement specialist sitting and standing better is not just a matter of sitting/standing "up". The changes in posture that an individual needs to make are as individual as their injuries and or discomfort.
Everyone I work with here at Precision Movement receives bespoke programmes and bespoke cues for improving and changing posture. What is really key in sitting and standing posture is the information you give an individual to elicit change.
Often if you tell someone to sit up straight or stand better they get taller but often lean back. They hinge from the mid-back and the position of the shoulders and head stay the same in relation to the chest and back. This is no more correct than slouching forwards and can lead to as many if not more problems in time. It is also common for an individual to "hold" themselves in a better posture creating a higher resting tension in muscles which is both metabolically inefficient and will lead to muscles becoming overworked, tired and sore.
Posture and movement are intricate, delicate, and sensitive systems that require subtle, measured changes to achieve optimal joint centration and muscle balance.
I give my clients a 10 minute audio posture meditation to listen to on their commute to work, during their lunch break or on their commute home to remind them of the cues for better posture. You can listen to it below or click here to the article I wrote about it.
Posture isn't static
The body is built for movement. It is well known and certainly well written about that sitting at a desk is not good for posture. It is true that sitting creates undesirable postures but stagnancy is equally to blame for poor posture, discomfort and injury.
Movement helps prevent muscles, joints and connective tissue from stiffening up. Movement helps pump blood into muscles, it pushes lymphatic fluid out and both provide cells with nutrients and remove toxins. This also helps reduce discomfort.
Rather than trying to sustain one good posture all day it is also beneficial to stand up and walk around the office or go out for lunch. At Precision Movement we often give individuals stretches and mobilisations to do in their chair just to create a bit of movement away from sitting still for long periods.
I think wearables could have a place in reminding an individual on a consistent basis to think about a better way to carry themselves. But (and I rarely ever use the word but), the information given to an individual about how to improve alignment is absolutely crucial to the success of improved posture.
So in conclusion, the cues that an individual is given to improve posture are the real gold here, the wearable can act as a positive reminder in the early stages of change. I would recommend anyone wanting to use one to work with a posture specialist and incorporate the wearable in sessions. I would also recommend a programme of stretches and mobilisations that can be done in an office setting also to encourage movement. The ultimate goal is to find good posture and movement without the use of external stimulus so an appropriate phase out of the wearable should be considered also.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.... ;)
The number one question I get asked is "Are you a physio?" - unfortunately I cannot lay claim to this esteemed profession! I am not a physio. The second question is, "So are you a personal trainer then?". Again I cannot say I am a Personal Trainer either - well not anymore. I fall somewhere between the two and work under the grandiose title of "Corrective Exercise Specialist". This line of conversation invariably leads to a discussion about what type of exercise I do and how it differs from gym training. I will now humbly attempt to explain in an effort to give you a better understanding of the difference.... Wish me luck!
What is corrective exercise?
Corrective exercise is a special type of exercise usually used as part of the rehabilitation process in healing and recovery from chronic pain, injury or surgery, or given to those who suffer from poor posture. The emphasis really is on optimal alignment, stability, mobilisation and then strength development.
In comparison regular exercise that you might do in the gym or in sports has a different goal - often increased fitness, body shape change, weight loss etc. As the goals are different the exercises and movement given are bigger and incorporate more muscles. This helps co-ordination for sports and is also effective for conditioning the body to change shape and increase fitness. If I were to give these exercises to someone who is in pain and has poor alignment, poor stability, mobility and strength they would not be able to perform them effectively and could potentially hurt themselves further.
It's important to mention here that corrective exercise also forms a foundation for all movement and exercise. If your foundational principles are good then your risk of injury is much reduced. When clients come to Precision Movement with fitness goals we still take them through foundational principles to make sure alignment, stability, and mobility is optimal for more complex movements.
The types of exercises
The majority of exercises I do with clients at the beginning of their programmes are floor or swiss ball based. I ask them to repeat the repetitions many times to elicit postural change and I also ask them to engage in mindful exercise which includes some psychology techniques. Corrective exercise rarely makes you sweat and definitely doesn't increase your heart or breathing rate. It is not easy though! The areas we stretch are usually tight and stiff and the muscles we train are weak to begin with. When clients adapt and improve, programmes are updated to challenge them further.
A classic exercise I teach clients is the horsestance series. It looks very easy but it is actually quite challenging. Before clients can do this exercise effectively I'll also teach and often reset their breathing mechanics, help them effectively activate their core and how to activate stability through their hands and feet. When the exercise is performed correctly it is exceptionally effective in training stability and forms a solid foundation for more complex movements that you would do in the gym or in sports.
Typical exercises you might see in the gym are squats, lunges, pullups and pushups. These are all neurologically complex movements meaning the brain needs to send a huge amount of information to the muscular system to perform the movement successfully. You might use a kettlebell swing which is a dynamic form of a deadlift pattern. Running, martial arts and many other sports are also exceptionally challenging to the body and brain. To perform these exercises and sports well you'll need optimal joint stability, understanding of core function, breathing mechanics, optimal joint mobility and to minimise the risk of injury good alignment throughout the body as well as in the movement.
When does corrective exercise become regular exercise?
At Precision Movement we are specialists in change. Our goal with everyone is to get them to a fully functional movement state for life and whatever sports they participate in.
We don't want someone lying on the floor doing a mundane exercise forever. We may ask someone to do this in an early stage of rehabilitation to get certain muscles firing but when they adapt to the exercise we make it more challenging. All the exercises we give have many many progressions right up to regular exercise that you'll recognise well. Perhaps the difference in giving regular exercise at Precision Movement is we might make changes or modifications that are specific to an individuals needs eg. A static lunge might include a band to emphasise the inclusion of the hip stabilisers that have a tendency to be lazy - they might now be strong but the band acts as a reminder for the individual to maintain good knee alignment.
In a way, we use corrective exercise like servicing a machine. A machine that has been running for a while might need some parts changed, an oil or water change. Similarly, we'll do a maintenance check and make sure all the stabilisers are firing correctly and alignment and mobility are good.
For more information on corrective exercise for postural alignment, pain relief and management of injuries and degenerative conditions please contact us.
Have you ever watched a baby learning to move? I think it is possibly one of the most fascinating things in this world. Babies are hard wired to learn movement and the most amazing thing is they do it by themselves. We can't teach them because they have not yet developed the communication skills. They can certainly teach us a thing or too!
What motivates babies to move?
Babies are solely motivated to move by attaining something. They might want a toy or to get to their Mother. The need to achieve this is greater than staying put so they figure out with the facilities they have at any given developmental stage how to get to where they want to.
Sight leads movement
Have you ever noticed that babies only move towards something once they have seen it and they keep looking at the object of their desire until they get it? It can be behind them but if they can see it their whole body is sent messages to move towards the object of desire. This mechanism stays with us and vision can be used to rehabilitate muscles that are not firing effectively. Try it - look towards something behind you and you'll notice your body starts to rotate towards it. It's a new technique I'll be using going forwards so get your movement goggles on!
Babies will repeat a movement at a particular stage of development over and over again. It is how they teach themselves unconscious movement and also how the get strong. It is also why they need so much food and rest because they are moving and learning all the time. This applies to adults too - especially in a rehabilitative setting. If you are injured and you need to relearn movement patterns or a better breathing pattern or how to activate your core again it is repetition that is the key to success. You want these mechanisms to be unconscious.
Pure movements and postures
If you are looking for perfect posture and pure movement patterns look at babies. They use the most efficient and effective movement patterns to get them where they want to go. Have you ever seen a 12 month old in that beautiful primitive squat position? That is what our squats should look like. We lose the ability to do this because we stop moving.
Set for life
The postures and movement patterns that babies develop form the basis for how we will move and function as a child and as an adult. If faulty postures and patterns develop in this crucial stage they need to be corrected immediately as it can result in problems later in life.