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Using Habits to Avoid Pain

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Will Durant

 

In my job as an osteopath, in the last ten years I have had the pleasure of treating people from all walks of life. I have treated professional athletes and some of the fittest people in the country, and then those who are far less healthy.

I have come to realise that there is no difference between the very healthy and the very unhealthy. The only thing that separates them is their habits.

When we want to change something about ourselves, it’s very easy to look at people that do what you want to do and think, ‘if only I had the discipline they do’, but that’s a myth.

It has been shown that discipline and willpower are finite resources. It doesn’t matter who you are, they run out eventually, so relying on them to be healthy won’t get you very far.

It is far better to create the habits of health. Habits are not finite, they are a subconscious part of our day (when was the last time you moaned about having to brush your teeth at night, for example?).

 

Another little myth around habits is that they take 21 days to make. I even used this number in the first few years of my career. Science has shown it to be wrong though; on average it takes 66 days to create a habit. So if you aim for a good three months you should make the habit stick.

The reason I am writing about this now is that I have observed a shift in peoples’ behaviour in the last few months, a good shift. With all the good weather we have had I have noticed people have been cycling more, walking more, getting out in the garden more and just generally moving more.

As I sit here writing, looking out into my garden, the Virginia Creeper has turned a deep, luscious red and it is being bombarded with a heavy autumnal rain. A few days ago, I finalised the plans for Christmas with my family. Autumn and winter are coming!

We are at a cross-road where it’s possible to let the good habits of summer slip. When the days get shorter and the weather worsens, it’s so easy to take the car instead of the bike, or sit watching sport on the telly instead of dig up the garden.

 

Obviously, through the seasons our habits change, but be conscious that you swap a movement-based habit for another movement-based one. If you’ve loved cycling this summer, why not get a turbo-trainer at home or join a spinning class? If you’ve felt proud of your efforts in the garden this summer, rather than hibernate during the winter, why not get your teeth into a DIY project?

You see, movement is strongly correlated to how much pain we feel. Those that move more have lower incidence of pain and they recover more quickly when they have it.

The summer has gifted us with a few months of beautiful weather, so you should have your 66 days to build a habit covered. Your body will be wanting to continue to move regularly. It thrives in movement.

Be conscious and figure out a way to continue moving all through the winter months. Get creative and have fun with it! This is an opportunity to carry good health forwards to next year.

In the clinic we see all sorts of injuries, and people often think it is doing  things that caused the problem, but injuries are made more likely by not doing  things like moving regularly and exercising.

Keep up your good health by focusing on making movement a habit and your body will thank you for it!

As always, if pain or injury is preventing you from living the mobile life you want, we are here to help. Get in touch at [email protected] or 01245 522360. We also give regular exercise videos on our Facebook and YouTube channel.

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How to Treat Plantar Facsiitis

Plantar fasciitis is a relatively common condition which causes pain underneath the heel and foot.

The plantar fascia is a thick connective tissue which passes from the heel to the tips of the toes and it provides attachment points for the many muscles of the foot and it creates elastic energy in every step we take.

It’s a super helpful component of our foot mechanics … until it gets inflamed. People tend not to thank it much when that happens!

Common symptoms of plantar fasciitis are pain when putting the foot down, particularly after rest (the first few steps in the morning or after sitting for a while can be agonising), stiffness in the foot and ankle and even pain at night.

It can be caused by poor footwear (pounding the pavements in heels or smart office shoes can be the culprit), overuse in sports like distance running, and in the non-athletic population the most common cause is excessive weight.

In treatment, we often notice other correlating factors like a tight hip on the same side or restricted pelvic and lower back mechanics. This is because in every movement we make we work as a CHAIN. The feet help the hips, the hips help the feet. If this chain is inefficient, some parts of the body get overloaded.

In any diagnosis, it’s not only important to know WHAT is going on, but also WHY it is happening, and this is where treatment is so important with things like plantar fasciitis.

 

 

Here are some things you can do yourself though to take control:

  1. Stretch the calf

Our plantar fascia has connective tissue attachments which are continuous with the Achilles tendon, which in turn becomes the calf muscle. Stretching this muscle can be your best ‘way in’ to releasing the plantar fascia

 

  1. Roll the plantar fascia

When sitting and relaxing, you can roll your injured foot on a ball to create pressure. I’ve heard many people say to use a golf ball, but I think that’s a little mean for something that can be so tender and I don’t think a golf ball gets the right traction in the tissue either. We find a lacrosse ball is better. It has the Goldilocks-zone of firmness and traction in the tissues!

 

  1. Gentle calf raises

There is evidence to show that using something known as an ‘eccentric load’ in the calf muscle can help the plantar fascia. An eccentric load is where one puts stretch into a muscle while working it.

In the calf, the way you would do this is rest the ball of your foot on the edge of a step and slowly lower your heel below the level of the step. Use your ‘good’ foot to support you as much as you need to, but try to take some weight in the injured foot. Slowly push yourself up from this position using the bad foot as much as you can without pain. You can do as many reps as feels comfortable, somewhere between 5 and 20, depending on what stage you are at with things.

 

  1. Stretch the hips

Working higher up the ‘chain’ to create flexibility can help offload the foot when walking and moving. We have plenty of hip stretches on our YouTube channel and Facebook page.

 

  1. Lose weight

If it has not been overuse through running or bad shoes that has caused your plantar fasciitis, it may be your body’s response to excessive weight.

I often find that pain and injury can be the catalyst someone needs to make the lifestyle changes they know they need to make, but never found the time.

I always say, our bodies can’t talk to us in English, they can only talk to us in signs and symptoms. Sometimes pain is our body’s way of telling us to make change. In this case, losing weight won’t just help the plantar fascia, but it will also help all the other body systems too.

 

  1. Gel orthotics

Basic off-the-shelf orthotics can be helpful in the short-term to take the pressure off the heel-strike in walking and to give a little support to the arch mechanics.

Although this is not getting to the root cause of the issue, it can help relieve the symptoms initially.

 

  1. Get treatment!

Plantar fasciitis is notoriously stubborn, but getting treatment can help accelerate recovery by dealing directly with the tissue strain and helping the whole mechanical chain above. By having hands-on work and using unique and personalised exercises, you can speed up the tissue healing and reduce the inflammation.

 

As always, if you have any questions, get in touch by emailing [email protected] or using Facebook.

Have a healthy month!

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‘Wear and Tear’? Don’t worry about it!

We all love a rhyme. Rhymes and alliteration, in fact.

Evolutionary psychologists put it down to the fact that humans passed knowledge through the generations by telling stories. Our lives literally depended on remembering knowledge passed down by our elders, so the easier it is to remember, the better. Studies have even shown that different parts of our brain fire up when we are taught something using rhyme or alliteration, compared to the same information explained without them.

Most rhymes are a great tool to help us remember things, but strangely, some actually cause us harm.

In the last ten years there have been some amazing breakthroughs in the world of pain science. We are starting to understand that a major influencer of chronic pain is the language we use (both in our heads and out loud).

 

‘Wear and Tear’

If you have ever been told you have ‘wear and tear’, what image does it create in your mind? The word ‘tear’ in particular, that’s the strongest image in my mind. I imagine a tethered shipping rope, or an old pair of jeans. But this is not how the body works.

Yes, we wear as we age, but we also repair. Our bodies are known as ‘bioplastic’, which means that they adapt to the stimulus they are given. While we are wearing, we are repairing.

The image I have in my mind of a tethered rope is also untrue. Muscles and tendons can tear, but in reality, the effect is more like a small hole in a sheet, rather than a torn rope. Imagine holding up a bedsheet with a hole in it; you’d still be able to create tension in the sheet by pulling on the corners, wouldn’t you?

Our muscles do the same. Once the inflammation has died down, a muscle can still function even with strains in them.

On very rare occasions a muscle will completely tear and that can require surgery, but guess what, that repairs too!

 

Degeneration

Some other interesting research is showing that there isn’t much correlation between degenerative changes in our body and pain. Sometimes there is a link, but if you were to scan 100 random people, most of them would have some form of joint degeneration but only a few of them would have pain.

You may be thinking, “this is all well and good, but I do have pain related to arthritis, there’s no hope for me”. Well, the research comes to the rescue here as well.

Just because you have pain now, it doesn’t mean you always will or that it will get worse. Take the right actions and you can change.

 

Here are some rhymes and alliterations that are more helpful:

  • ‘Motion is the Lotion’
  • ‘Movement is Medicine’

 

‘Wear and Repair’

Get ‘wear and tear’ out your head. Tell yourself that you might wear but you can also repair.

The way you repair is by getting the right hands-on treatment to accelerate the reduction in pain (that’s where we can help). Then nourish your tissues (remember, motion is the lotion!), and use the medicine of movement to stay loose, strong and coordinated.

All you care about day to day is how well you can move through the space around you and whether or not it causes pain. The fact that there is some wear in your body (which most of the time doesn’t cause pain) is not an issue.

Check your language and be positive.

If you are in pain, get treatment and keep moving! Simple!

Any enquiries about treatment can be made by emailing [email protected], calling 01245 522360, or you can explore our website. We also give out lots of exercise and health videos on YouTube and Facebook so you can follow us there.

Have a healthy month!

 

This blog has been inspired by the wonderfully funny, educational and inspiring knowledge from the guys at noijam. I encourage you to check them out if you suffer with chronic pain or if you want to delve deeper into the curious world of neurology.

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Frozen Shoulder: The How’s and Why’s

Our shoulder is the most mobile joint in our body. A remnant from our tree-swinging ancestors, now it’s a joint that enables us to use our dextrous hands as the brilliant tools that they are.

If our shoulder is out of action, life suddenly becomes quite hard! Manipulating the space around us with our hands becomes much more difficult and we realise that our shoulder plays a role in pretty much everything we do. Even laying on them when we sleep can become a problem!

What Is ‘Frozen Shoulder’?

One of the more debilitating shoulder injuries is the so-called ‘Frozen Shoulder’. All the joints in our body have a bag around them called the ‘capsule’ which holds in the fluid. The capsule of the shoulder has folds in it like a curtain so that when we reach our arms overhead the capsule can stretch. In a frozen shoulder, the folds become sticky and inflamed and can be incredibly painful when you reach up. Movement becomes limited and the hand can barely be lifted above waist-height.

Frozen shoulders mostly occur between the ages of 45 to 60 and are more common in women than in men, but this is just a guide because I have seen them in many demographics.

They normally come on after an injury like a fall or an unexpected reach, like catching a falling glass, for example. What normally happens is that the shoulder aches for a bit after the incident which the patient thinks is normal, but then it continues to tighten up over the next few weeks and doesn’t seem to improve.

The Mind/Body Link

The really interesting thing about frozen shoulder is the link with the mind. This was summarised beautifully by one of my mentors when he said simply, “animals don’t get frozen shoulders”.

When we look at the difference in the stress response of humans and other animals, it’s got nothing to do with the chemistry that goes on in our body – that’s the same. The major difference is the time we suffer for. Animals fight, prey, chase, run, but then they go back to their life. Humans have bills, relationships, colleagues and rush hour traffic to contend with and our stress response can last months or years.

The link between our mind and our body is still not fully understood by science, but there is certainly a known correlation with problems like frozen shoulder and stress.

How To Treat It?

With this in mind (excuse the pun), what do we do about it?

Well, frozen shoulders have three phases known as ‘freezing, frozen and thawing‘ which relate to what is happening to the capsule and how much inflammation there is. The rehab and exercises needed in each phase are different so it’s important to have a clear diagnosis and make sure you are not doing something that will exacerbate the problem.

Minimising Stress

I also speak to my patients about managing lifestyle stress. Our body can’t speak to us in words, just symptoms, and something like a frozen shoulder can be our body’s way of saying “slow down”. Take note of the stressors in your life and see if you can minimise them. Maybe there’s a conversation you need to have with a loved one, or you may need to ask for help in your work or you might be doing everything for everyone else but not have any “me time”.

This may sound strange that there is such a strong correlation between stress and frozen shoulders, but I have yet to find an example where this isn’t true.

If you have a frozen shoulder, firstly deal with the mechanics by seeing a specialist who can tell you what phase you’re in and give the correct exercises for your stage of the injury. But you also need to look after your mind. Take time each day to relax – mindfulness meditation is the best form of this using an app like Headspace.

Ask yourself, “what is my body trying to tell me?”, because if you are honest and really listen, you will know the answer.

Get In Touch

If you need help with a frozen shoulder and want to take a holistic view, get in touch at [email protected] or you can call on 01245 522360 – we are here to help.

Have a healthy month!

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It’s Not Your Lower Back’s Fault!

It’s Not Your Lower Back’s Fault!

 

When I was at school, I had a lovely maths teacher called Mrs Boyce. Unlike many of my classes, Mrs Boyce allowed us to sit where we like. I’m sure the intention was that by giving us some autonomy she was hoping to be repaid with good behaviour.

Unfortunately, my best friend, Kyle, and I just couldn’t help ourselves from chattering. We were told so many times to be quiet that eventually we got split up and sat in opposite corners of the room.

I used to love maths class because it was an opportunity to do puzzles for an hour, and I love puzzles!

One day, the class was sitting quietly in concentration working through the exercises when there was a bang of a rubber hitting the wall above my best friend’s head. “Woah Chris!”, he shouted. He pretended I had thrown it at him, when really, he had thrown it at the wall himself, bored and wanting to cause me some trouble.

Mrs Boyce shot me a glare and told me to stop throwing things at my friend. “But…”, I knew it was a lost cause. “Ok, Mrs Boyce”. I got my head back into my workbook and a few minutes later, the same banging noise came but this time it was a pen hitting the wall followed by my friend shouting, “Chris! What are you doing?!”. Mrs Boyce was getting angry now and I got a proper telling off.

I was stuck. You can’t grass your best friend up, but I didn’t want the consequences that were about to come from Mrs Boyce. My only hope was to get on with the maths problems and hope that my friend had had his fun for the day.

Alas, five minutes later, when Mrs Boyce had her back to the class Kyle picked up his entire metal pencil case and lobbed it at the wall, pens, pencils and protractors scattering all over his corner of the room in an almighty bang.

“Christopher!”, Mrs Boyce screamed, “Get out!”.

Kyle had well and truly won that round. When I was standing outside in the hallway the headmaster happened to be doing the rounds, so not only did I get a telling off from dear Mrs Boyce, but also the headmaster, and that was no box of chocolates I can tell you.

What is the point of this story? Well, sometimes it really isn’t your fault!

This brings me on to your lower back. If you have lower back pain, I can guarantee it’s not your lower back’s fault. You see, the lower back has friends too. Its closest friends are the hips and the thoracic spine (your upper back, between the shoulder blades).

There are many reasons why you may have lower back pain, but I am going to tell you three of them.

1. TIGHT HIPS

If you have restricted hips, when you perform a function like picking something up, or twisting, rather than the movement coming from the hips, your body asks other areas to do the work so you can achieve the task. This can ask too much of your lower back and overload it, thus leading to injury.

Spending some time stretching each week is the solution to preventing tight hips.

2. WEAK HIPS

Our hips are our powerhouse of movement. If you’ve ever had a golf lesson, learnt to throw a punch or hit a perfect backhand, what do they say? “It’s all in the hips”. Strong glutes initiate a chain reaction that creates power in our movement, and if they are weak, the body will recruit more from their closest friends – the lower back muscles. The lower back isn’t designed to be as powerful as the hips, so again, asking too much from it will increase the risk of injury.

Learning to squat, especially the “below parallel” squat where your hips go below the level of your knees is the best exercise to strengthen the glutes. If this seems too hard, simply doing repetitions of getting up and down from a chair would also be a good exercise for you.

3. TIGHT THORAX

Too much sitting and desk work can be the culprit for tightening your upper back. If this area is tight, like when the hips are tight, your body will ask for motion from elsewhere when it’s needed.

The lower back is a target because often the thorax and the hips are tight at the same time, so the lumbar region is getting overloaded from above and below. No rest for the wicked!

If you suffer with lower back pain, it’s super important to figure out which of the lower back’s friends are causing the problem. When in pain, it’s human nature to focus on it, but that’s where an expert eye can help you solve the problem and fix the cause of it.

 

For regular tips on how to stretch and move for your back health, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and YouTube by clicking the little links at the top of the page.

 

Stay healthy!

 

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60 Hour Keto Fast – Live Updates


Sunday 9pm – The Fast Begins!

My last morsel of food was eaten half an hour ago. It’s a strange feeling knowing that I’m not going to eat again for (hopefully) 60 hours. I’m super aware of all the feelings in my body, wondering if I’m going to cope until Wednesday.

I followed the advice from the experts and didn’t eat more than normal to ‘stock up’ and I avoided sugar. I had a small glass of white wine at lunch (sun was shining and I couldn’t resist!), but otherwise it’s been a fairly normal and healthy day.


Monday 7am

It’s been interesting this morning. Obviously I’m not hungry yet, but I’ve noticed how often I steal my daughter’s breakfast! Normally, as I’m getting it ready I take little nibbles here and there, and any leftovers go down the hatch too.

Even things like licking my fingers after picking up the cooked streaky bacon would probably give me the wrong stimulus during the fast.

It’s taken quite a bit of self-awareness not to do that because normally it’s so subconscious!


Monday 11am

I had a bad night sleep last night and that always makes me crave more sugar! Not a good day to be feeling this! I’m going to go for a walk to take my mind off it. I’m in the hunt for some Himalayan salt to put in my water…


Monday 6:30pm

Just finished work and have got through the day easily. At about 3pm I got a surge of very ‘clean’ energy that has lasted the rest of the afternoon. I felt very smily and happy all of a sudden!

My tummy is still rumbling and I do have feelings of hunger, but nothing major. Not having dinner will be difficult from a habit perspective rather than having any excruciating hunger.


Monday 9pm

Pretty hungry, but also pretty tired. I’m going to go to bed and hope I can get to sleep quickly.

I don’t think you can feel hungry when you’re asleep, can you?


Tuesday 5:30am

I’ve woken up at 5:30 with a bit of a headache. Nothing serious, just feel a bit groggy. I’ve necked a pint of water with some salt in and this seemed to help.

I don’t feel hungry as such, just ’empty’. I’m quite impressed with how well I feel actually. Despite the grogginess, it’s not as bad as I was expecting!


Tuesday 8am

Making my daughter’s breakfast was quite tough. I started to get a little angry! I was rushing, and became clumsy and irritated. It was so tempting to eat some, but I resisted.

I had a bit of a talking to to myself. I realised that this is where the test begins. Acknowledge the discomfort, but don’t give in to it. Yesterday was easy but it was just the warm up. Any discomfort I’m feeling now is normal so I don’t need to be irritated.

Feel it. Breathe. Let it go.

I’m now enjoying this slight feeling of tension and realise that it has actually given me energy. As I’m writing this, my fingers are moving faster than normal and I’m not making as many typos.

I took a brisk walk to the shops to pick up some more mineral water and I’m feeling good.

On that note, yesterday I drank about 3 litres and I don’t think it was quite enough. I’m going to aim for 3.5 – 4 litres today. This is just a feeling, so don’t take it as gospel that this is the right amount for you.

I see my first patient soon and I’m curious how much energy I will have to do the more physical side of my job. Mentally, I’m up for it!


Tuesday 10:30am

Salt! I’ve not been having enough salt!

Over the last couple of hours I’ve drunk a large glass of water with a good amount of Himalayan salt in it and it’s changed everything. I feel happy, energised and my headache has completely gone.

They said in the group I’m in that we need to be having salt, but I hadn’t been putting enough in my water yesterday. This has made a big difference.

I feel much better now than at any point in the fast so far. Treating my first few patients has been fine, I haven’t felt dizzy or weak at all. In fact, I’m more focussed mentally and able to be more ‘present’.


Tuesday 1:30pm

It’s funny how I haven’t eaten for over 40 hours but my tummy still rumbles at lunchtime!

I have a few feelings of hunger, but I feel very clear mentally and I’m coping well physically too. I had one small episode of dizziness after getting up quickly and I feel more cold than normal, but nothing bad at all.

The improved mental clarity out-weighs any negative feelings from the hunger and cold.

I think I’m in ‘the zone’ that they talk about 🙂


Tuesday 4pm

I finished work a little early today so went for a walk into town. Big mistake.

Food. Is. Everywhere!

I was feeling fine until then but all the food made me feel so hungry! Being busy with things to take your mind off the hunger is essential.


Tuesday 9pm

Phew! Nearly there!

Dinnertime (for the rest of the family) was really tough. The smell of freshly cooked food was enough to drive me insane!

In all honesty I nearly cracked. But when I really asked myself if I need food, I realised the answer was no. I could push on. I didn’t feel dizzy or unwell, just really, really, hungry.

I wanted to taste flavour again. And chew something. Drinking salty water all day has become a little tiresome!

As I sit here now, a little after 9pm, all the food has been cleared away and I feel much better. There’s no food in sight and I’m busying myself writing this blog and I feel very good.

I’m quite tired, I’ve got the very beginnings of a headache, but I feel very positive about the experience now. Earlier I nearly gave up and had a lot more negative thoughts floating round my head.

I must warn you, I absolutely stink! My breath stinks. My armpits stink. Generally I’m a pretty horrible person to be in close proximity of.

I’m assured this is a good sign and is completely normal for when you are in ‘ketosis’. This shows that my body is now getting its fuel from my fat reserves and starting to detox damaged cells. Very cool. (And also very smelly).

Earlier, all I could think about was what I’m going to have to eat at 9:30am tomorrow (my 60 hour mark), but now I just want to go to bed and fall into a deep sleep. I have vague thoughts of how perfectly I’m going to make my scrambled eggs in the morning, but the tiredness is taking over the hunger.

I will fill you in in the morning…


Wednesday 4:55am

Wanna know something embarrassing…?

I woke up to the smell of my own breath! I have the breath of a two day old corpse. It’s appalling. I’m going to go and have a mug of hot water to see if it helps.

I don’t feel hungry at all which is a sign I’m working off my own fat reserves and in full ketosis. I’m really happy I punched through the tough bit last night at the family’s dinnertime so I could get to this state.

However, I don’t feel happy! I’m pretty groggy and bleary-eyed. I remember writing on day one about a clean energy and feeling smily for no reason. Well, that’s long gone!

Despite the typical feeling of hunger having disappeared, all I can think about is that first meal…


My First Meal

Ok, here’s a little disclaimer, I’m writing this a day after I finished the fast.

Yesterday, I was just too moody to write anything! I was the grumpiest and most irritable I’ve been for years. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt like that.

I slept terribly from Tuesday to Wednesday. Every time I fell to sleep, I’d get dragged awake by some unseen force 20 minutes later. I also had some funky nightmares and my head was in a spin. All of this lead me to be the biggest grump I think I have ever been!

In the fasting group I’m in, most people have found their sleep actually improves during the fast, yet there’s a smaller number of us where they can’t sleep, and I’m one of them.

When I think about it, I also felt like I had restless legs, which could be a magnesium deficiency as magnesium also affects the ability to get to and stay asleep.

Yesterday, even once I had eaten, my thoughts were, “I’m never doing that again” (and then a lot of swear words). However, thankfully, for those of you who may have been put off, there’s some good news. I managed to have a nap half way through yesterday which really helped the grumpiness, and I ate a little more food. By last night I was feeling “okay”. Not brilliant, but on the normal spectrum of happiness.

Today I feel brilliant. I can really feel a noticeable difference and my mind and body feel clean.

When I think about it, all the resources I had says there will be a time where you feel terrible, and this is actually the detox process at work. You can’t get the full benefits without feeling bad at some point. If you go on to try this though, I must warn you, if you feel like I did, it’s horrible! Remove yourself from all conversation for a day because you won’t be rational.

I can assure you however, you will get through it. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s a good place to be.

But, I digress. My first meal!

Despite the dark clouds hanging over my head, my first meal of scrambled eggs and a mug of bone broth was absolute bliss. To have flavour and texture again was heavenly, and quite literally put a smile on my face.

I couldn’t eat much at first. I’d made 5 scrambled eggs to be shared between me and my little girl, and initially I think I had one and a half. Then I drank my broth and let things settle. I could feel my stomach physically expanding. And then, my daughter lost interest in her breakfast and I kept chipping away at the eggs with little breaks in between and I reckon I ended up having about 4 of the 5 to myself.

For the rest of the day, I ate some avocado on toast and then a light dinner, but the real challenge was getting through the day without having a mental breakdown! I slept really well last night and today I’m happy and glad for the experience.

I will be doing one again!

Will you join me…?

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How to Get More Energy in a Busy Life

First day back at work after the new baby and, funnily enough, I feel like I need more energy..!

What’s the quickest way to GET MORE ENERGY if your workload stays the same?

 – – >  Cut out all processed sugar from your diet and practice 10 minutes of mindfulness a day.

 

I’m a big fan of 30 day challenges. Whenever I do one I make a chart and pin it in my kitchen. It’s a visual cue each day to remind me to stick to it (don’t you find sometimes you just ‘forget’!).

I have to draw on it each day which has a tactile element and it gives a little endorphin kick each time I fill it in.

(Endorphins are the hormones which make you feel good when you “get things done”. Problem solving, ticking off a to-do list, tidying a room – they feel good because of endorphins.)

I also just start them when I feel like it – notice it’s started today on a Thursday. I haven’t waited until a Monday or the 1st of the month, that’s procrastination! I need more energy now so I’ll start now.

The other good thing about starting soon is that it meant I got to eat a LOT of chocolate yesterday 😉

If you need help improving your diet, you can book a free 15 minute consultation with our brilliant nutritionist, Adele, to see if she can help you.

And as for the mindfulness practice, I use the app ‘Headspace’. It’s great for beginners. It uses videos which give helpful analogies for what you’re trying to achieve with the meditation and it also has a ‘cool’ factor which makes it accessible.

So in 30 days I’m going to be a lean mean Zen machine!

If the workload has to stay the same, but you need more energy, you must omit the things that drain energy (sugar!) and use proven strategies to improve mood, concentration and memory (meditate).

Stay healthy! 🙂

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Come Out of Hibernation Slowly to Prevent Back Pain!

Change of Seasons

Every day, as I walk around the plinth treating my patients, I look up through the window and see the tops of the trees.

Listening to my patients’ stories, learning from them and laughing with them, and seeing the gradual change of the seasons outside, it makes me happy.

As I sit here writing this on a Monday morning, the tree closest to me has sprung to life with beautiful white blossom, which wasn’t there when I finished for the week on Saturday.

It’s such a vibrant and fast-changing time of year which gives us all a lift. When the days get longer and the sun starts to shine, we get out in the garden, get back on our bikes, and dust off our running shoes.

This movement is good for our bodies and the fresh air is good for our soul.

Be Careful – We Have Been Hibernating!

However, I want you to have a little Chris sitting on your shoulder saying ‘be careful’! This time of year is when we see a lot of injuries to the back caused by doing too much too soon.

We have been hibernating, snuggling into our wooly jumpers and nursing our hot chocolates (or nice winter ales if you’re anything like me!) for the last few months, and it takes the body a while to kick back into gear.

It doesn’t cross most peoples’ minds to warm up before, say, doing the gardening, but it’s essential, especially for the first few times. Our muscles and joints stiffen when they’ve not been used much, and our nervous system needs to be ‘reminded’ of the movements it once did.

Take It Easy

Spending a few minutes twisting, bending and reaching to loosen up will do you a huge favour. Be mindful and mentally ‘check in’ with how your body feels and for the first few sessions take it easier than you think you need to. If you’re on the bike, take it slow. If you’re in the garden, take more breaks than you feel you need. If you’re doing the spring clean, rope in the family to help with the lifting.

This is always a time of year where my phone becomes very busy in the clinic, so to avoid being one of those callers, take a little bit of time to get your body ready for the task at hand. It doesn’t take much to make a big difference.

Get in Touch

If you feel completely stuck and don’t know where to start when it comes to stretching, we put out lots of videos on our Facebook page giving you some ideas, so check us out at facebook.com/fortephysicalhealth, and as always, we love to chat so if you have any questions, give us a call at 01245 522360 and ask for Chris.

Have a healthy month!