Who Do You Spend Your Time With? And Why It Matters

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

Whether you agree or not, we cannot ignore the fact that we’re definitely influenced by the people that we spend the most time with in our lives.

And these people affect everything!

From our way of thinking, our financial situation, our self-esteem, all the way to the decisions we make and even our personalities to some degree.

Of course, we are all our own person, but research has shown that we’re more affected by our environments than we might realise.

So have a think about the people you spend the most time with.

Are they supportive, encouraging, and do they truly care about you?

That being said, while it’s ideal to be closely surrounded by positive, supportive people who want you to succeed, it’s also necessary to have your critics too. The ones who tell you exactly what you need to hear (even if you don’t like it).

It’s about balance.

You need honest, caring, supportive people who will have your back but also tell you when you’re being an ass.

Sometimes it’s worth considering who you let in to your “inner circle!”

You Have Your Fitness Journey, And I Have Mine. 

You have your fitness journey, and I have mine.

One isn’t necessarily better than the other.

Both just are.

After all, there are a thousand paths to get to the same destination.

Granted, one may get us there in less time than the other.

But as long as we’re enjoying what we’re doing then that’s all that matters.

So whether it’s Crossfit or Zumba, Lifting, Yoga, Swimming, Kickboxing or Walking. It really doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that we move. And find the joy in everything that we do!

What is Biomechanics Coaching?

802885653.pngOne of the questions I get over and over is… What is Biomechanics Coaching?

So let me explain…

I started working in fitness 18 years ago as a Personal Trainer and Class Instructor. And over those years I realised that there was something missing with regards to getting my clients to perform at their best without all the little niggles that come with training or even just our day to day life.

I felt at the time that Sports Massage would help me to help my clients. And so I retrained. And it did help. Initially. But then I found that my clients were having to come back to me again and again as the issues kept coming back. I realised that there was something else missing. Something I wasn’t seeing.

Eventually I retrained once again, this time as a Biomechanics Coach (via Biomechanics Education). This meant that I could now assess the body as a whole, screening the different joints, muscles and nerves and therefore having a process of which to follow in order to correct the dysfunctions within the body that were discovered. This was the link I was missing.

Becoming a Biomechanics Coach meant I was able to combine the skills that I already possessed within Fitness & Manual Therapy with a screening process to ensure that what I was doing was making a difference. I was now able to assess, not just guess. ​

Biomechanics is so different from anything else I have come across. Not only do we stop chasing pain and work on the cause of the issues (as opposed to treating just the symptoms), we also allow our clients to ‘fix’ themselves. At the end of the day, who knows their body better than anyone else? It’s efficient, it’s safe, it’s practical and it get results.

Let me give you an example…

So your knee hurts when you run. You have done the usual recovery shenanigans (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and the pain went. You started running again and the knee pain came back. You go to your doctor and he checks your knees. He says they’re fine. So you go out running but the pain is still there.

So you stop running and again do what you have read or been advised about (Hello ice. Hello compression bandages). Then back to the doctor you go. Again he checks your knees. Nothing wrong he tells you. ‘Maybe you should quit running’ he suggests. ‘Maybe just walk’ he continues.

So let’s have a think about this.

If you have pain in your knees but your doctor tells you there is nothing wrong with your knees then maybe, just maybe, your knees are not the problem.

For example, if your pelvis isn’t quite moving the way it should be then this can lead to what’s referred to as a Leg Length Discrepancy. If you have a leg length discrepancy (with one leg being shorter than the other) then this can cause the body to compensate as it always wants to keep the head above the pelvis.

But how does this relate to your knees? Well the longer leg may shorten by bending the knee (think knock-kneed position). This can then increases the load and impact on the knee joints which can lead to pain and injury of your knee when you’re running.

So what do you do? Well….you correct the mechanical causes of the knee pain (ie the dysfunctional pelvis) and the knee pain will often correct itself.

This is what Biomechanics is….treating the cause of the problem and not the symptom.

So in this case treating the pelvis (problem) as opposed to the knee pain (symptom).

A Biomechanics Coach may then use different techniques (such as muscle release exercises or deep tissue massage) in order to create changes. This is just one example of the issues that Biomechanics comes across.​

But what if it is not your knees that are the problem? What if it’s your back or your shoulder or anywhere else you can think of?

Thankfully Biomechanics Coaching allows us to view the body as a whole. So no matter where your issue feels to you, we are able to assess rather than just guess.

At the end of the day it is my job to enable you to move more freely, and this then tends to mean less pain. So regardless of where your issues lie, a Biomechanics Assessment can help us identify whether your pelvis is causing your shoulder restriction, or your thoracic spine is causing the tingling in your fingers, or any other possible symptoms and causes there may be.

But what if you don’t have any niggles? Can Biomechanics be of any use?

Absolutely.

Biomechanics is about working with the body so as to allow optimal performance. So regardless of whether you want to improve the mechanics of your overhead squat, improve your running technique or ease those niggles, Biomechanics can help.

So if you have an issue that is not being resolved elsewhere or simply want to move more freely then please get in touch.

No Time To Train? No Problem…

Research has found that weekly resistance exercise sessions of 1-3 times per week OR the total amounting to 1-59 minutes were associated with approximately 40-70% less risk of total cardiovascular disease events.

And this was also regardless of aerobic exercise!

One of the things they also showed was that there was no significant risk reduction for more than four times per week or greater than 60 minutes of resistance exercise.

In a nutshell, even one time OR less than one hour per week of resistance exercise is beneficial (independent of aerobic exercise).

This is great news for those of us who struggle to fit in training sessions at the gym.

Even a few squats, press ups or pull ups each day can be of benefit to our health.


Referencehttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30376511/

26 Things I Wish I Known When I Started My Business (From Those Who Have Learned The Hard Way)

A while back I asked Therapists and Coaches what advice they would give to someone just starting out in the industry. And after collaborating (and adding my own take on parts) here is what we came up with. Thank you so much to everyone who commented*. You ROCK!

And so, if you are a new Coach or Therapist (or are looking at becoming one) here are a few bits of advice that hopefully will help you on your journey….

1. Listen to your clients. I mean TRULY listen. Don’t just ‘hear’ them. Listen to what they may not actually be saying with words but want you to understand.

2. Be sure to enjoy what you do. If you enjoy what you do you will never work a day in your life.

3. Continue being curious. Never stop learning. Always be a white belt. You do not know enough. Ever.

4. Don’t assume that having a large number of skills, treatments and qualifications will bring you more clients. Sometimes the opposite is true. Find YOUR thing and do it well. Specialise in that. Become the best in that field. Don’t just have a bunch of skills that you’re half good at.

5. Remember that what you love and have a personal interest in will change over the years. This is ok. Follow your heart.

6. Meet all your clients with curiosity, never judgement. EVER!

7. Remember that your clients know themselves better than you or anyone else ever can. Help them to believe that too and facilitate their self learning.

8. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know. If a client has a condition you’ve never heard of, ask them about it. Ask what it is like for THEM. Ask how it affects THEM. Once again, your client knows best. They will be grateful that you want to understand their side.

9. Be true to yourself. Know what is right for you and what isn’t. There is nothing wrong with changing your mind. Follow your gut.

10. Don’t listen to anyone that doesn’t have their own SUCCESSFUL business. Everyone is an ‘expert’. Trust in those that live it every day.

11. Remember that there are no quick fixes or short cuts to gaining experience. Serve your time. Build your knowledge through experience.

12. Don’t stress about lack of clients to begin with. Have patience. They will come. Trust the process.

13. Treat every client like they’re the first person you’ve seen that day. Even if you’ve seen 10 other clients. Each person deserves to be treated with your FULL attention and enthusiasm. If you can’t manage this then you need to see less clients per day. Quality matters more than quantity.

14. Keep things simple. Simple works. We all have a tendency to believe that complicated is better. It’s not.

15. Understand your WHY. Why you do what you do? What drives you to want to help people feel/ move better? Knowing your why will help when times get tough and you doubt your choices.

16. Spend money on the best education you can afford. Spend time researching that education. Make sure the education will give you tools for you to use in the real world, not just a piece of paper.

17. Challenge everything. Question everything. Then question and challenge again. Never stop. And if something doesn’t feel right don’t just accept it because someone told you. Question it. Challenge it. And research what you don’t know. Take everything in with a grain of salt. There is as much good advice as there is bad, but take it all in and learn from it.

18. Be your authentic self. And never trade your authenticity for approval. Be YOU. After all, you are what makes what you do original. We can all do the same treatments or therapies yet it is what YOU bring to your work as an individual that is most important.

19. Remember that YOU are the thing that makes your business work. No-one else is doing what you’re doing, because no one else is you. Don’t be put off by the competition – there is none! Learn to sell what YOU have, not what you think people want.

20. Mistakes are inevitable. You will make them. Embrace them. The more mistakes you make the more you learn, the more you grow. Just make sure you learn from them. Adapt.

21. Listen to your elders. There’s nothing like experience. But remember to absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. And add what is specifically your own.

22. Give equal attention to your personal development as well as your skills development. This really is non-negotiable. Or at least it should be. Sometimes even coaches need coaching and therapists need therapy.

23. Unsure of where to start? Start by writing a list of all the things you need to do to help you reach your goal. Then for each item make another list of steps to get there. If each step still seems to big, then break it down again. And again…until you’re finally at a level you can handle. Then do the first thing on one of the lists.

24. Take care of yourself. Learn to say no. As a new therapist/ Coach you think you have to take EVERYTHING that comes your way. You don’t. Set and decide your working hours as well as you-time in the very beginning. We give so much of our energy, emotion and time to our clients which needs refuelling. You will get busy and you will earn money but make sure that YOU are in control of your business and not the other way around. Take care not to burn the candle at both ends.

25. Don’t compare your Day 1 to somebody else’s Day 100. It’s easy to get lost comparing ourselves to those that have been in the business a lot longer than we have. Never compare yourself to anyone. YOU are unique regardless of how long you have been in the business.

26. Treat everyone you meet like they could completely change your life. You never know who you are talking to. They could just be the gatekeeper to your destiny.

 


Again, a huge thank you goes out to: 

*Tanja Foy – Lisa Rowley – Jason Croucher – Samantha Dean – Rory French – Louise Huntley – Huw Buckley – Louise Clancy – Tracy Swindell – Rachel France – Julie Makarewicz – Sharyn Doris Oldman – Laura Inglis – Kirstie Wilton – Sarah Melton-Whitelam – Stevie Barr – Senae Mitchell – Martin Meredith – Jessica Cajka – Mairi Taylor – Nick Lngrd – Melanie Jones – Helen Vickers – Debbie Ross – Sally Sisson – Fiona Higgs – Debbie Ross – Caroline Toshack – Susie Cubitt Cooper – Jeni Broughton

Stress & Healing

I cannot repeat enough how stress reduction (or maybe more appropriately, stress management) is an essential part of the healing process.

Over and over again I have seen that if we have two clients/ patients with a similar diagnosis, the client/ patient who works at reducing their stress levels (either by removing the stress or by increasing their resilience to it) will have a faster recovery and better results than the one who does nothing about it.

And this is not just my observation.

The reality is that studies have shown time and time again that stress slows healing. The more stress we have or rather the less we are able to cope with stress, the slower the healing within our bodies.

Stress can also lead to inflammation so even if there is nothing that needs healing in the first place (as in an injury), the body can still be responding the same.

Another thing that really makes a difference is a positive attitude.

Yes this may be a tough one to have especially if you are frustrated and are in pain, but if you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, if you know that what you are doing really will bring about change, the body responds in a positive way.

The evidence regarding the power of the brain is mounting up by the day.

Let’s not ignore the impact that our thoughts, whether positive or negative can have on the physiology of our body.

We simply cannot separate one from the other.

So I ask you, what are YOU doing to make yourself more resilient to stress?

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17709956-stress-and-wound-healing/?from\_term=stress+slows+healing&from\_pos=1

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22548859-the-impact-of-psychological-stress-on-wound-healing-methods-and-mechanisms/?from\_term=stress+slows+healing&from\_pos=4

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28932967-psychological-stress-inflammation-and-coronary-heart-disease/?from\_term=stress+causes+chronic+inflammation&from\_pos=2

Cupping Therapy: An Introduction

It may look like some kind of torture (1) and may temporarily leave strange circles on your skin (cup-kisses), but it’s so unbelievably effective.

For thousands of years, cupping has been practiced in countries like China, Egypt, and Greece. Using cups to create a negative pressure on the skin, therapists can encourage healing, reduce pain and inflammation and promote good health. The cups used may be glass (using fire to create a vacuum), plastic (using a pump) or silicone and can be used dynamically or statically.

The science behind the suction is fascinating and something I will be delving into further (and sharing with you guys obviously!) over the next few months.

So what can it help with? Well to start it helps with inflammation, pain and blood circulation.

As well as:

  • Lower back pain & Sciatica
  • Tennis elbow & forearm pain
  • Wrist pain / Carpal tunnel
  • Neck pain / whiplash
  • Shoulder & rotator cuff injuries
  • Sore hamstrings / Hamstring strain
  • Knee pain / injuries
  • Shin splints
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Reducing Scars
  • Cellulite

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Cupping is used for so many systemic conditions and ailments, although that’s for another post!

I’m so excited to share this information with you. As therapists there is only so much we can do with our hands. And we certainly can’t create the negative pressure that the cups provide.

And it’s this negative pressure that can allow for the separation of adhered or “stuck’ tissues which can help clear out any interstitial debris (2), improve circulation, clear congestion or stagnation and rehydrate the tissues.

It’s really no wonder that its been passed around for generations and being used by Olympic athletes and Hollywood stars. But more importantly…everyday people!

—–

(1) Please do not bother googling….it’s nothing like the horror stories you see!

(2) This is any material that the body can not dispose of on it’s own such as old blood from an injury, cellular waste, lactic acid, medications and toxins.

Foot Pain & The Calf Muscles

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A client I had came to me with disabling pain in the arches of her feet. She found that resting helped but the pain would start as soon as she started walking again. Even a short distance would cause the pain to come back.

Although she wore heels for work a lot of the time and many people were telling her that they were causing the issue, when she did change to smaller heels they actually made things worse!

She felt so upset as she was wanting to get back in to her running (which she had stopped 6 months previously as she thought that could be the cause).

When we assessed her lower legs we found that there was an extreme limitation in her range of motion.

And so her homework was to apply Soft Tissue Releases (self-massage or trigger point therapy) twice a day as well as stretches throughout the day in order to help with her foot pain.

We discussed how the limitations in her calves can cause foot pain and that often where the pain is, the cause is not.

After a few days, pain stopped being a problem and she was actually able to wear smaller heels with no issues (which are better for her body).

So if you’re having issues with foot pain give these a try and see if they help*

Self Massage: https://youtu.be/8BjLWdjkLow

Stretches: https://youtu.be/jrHhdWw8UB8

*If it doesn’t or the it keeps returning then there may be something else going on such as a leg length discrepancy, pelvic issues or even a shoulder problem that will be worth getting checked out.

QL Trigger Points

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According to The Concise Book of Trigger Points, issues with the Quadratus Lumborum (a deep ‘core’ muscle responsible for side bending) can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Renal tubular acidosis (accumulation of acid in the body)
  • Scoliosis
  • Mechanical low back pain.
  • Hip and buttock pain
  • Greater trochanteric pain (side of your hip)
  • Pain when turning in bed
  • Pain when standing upright
  • Persistent deep lower backache at rest
  • Pain on coughing and sneezing
  • Pain on sexual intercourse

Holy moly? Seriously?

Actually I can agree with a number of these especially as it’s an area I can have trouble with (if I sit too much or neglect my body/ movement).

Using Tennis balls is a great way to help with Trigger points. Just ask my clients who have a love/ hate relationship with them 😉

Check out this video to find out how to release the QL:

Factors That Influence Pain

IMG_0136The majority of people that come to me with pain will involve some kind of neuromuscular problem. This means that there is an issue with the muscles, the nerves and connective tissue as well as the adjacent areas. And so it is essential for me to have a good understanding of these issues as well as how best to treat them.

However, in addition to uncovering and treating whatever neuromuscular impairments are driving a client’s symptoms, I believe that it is also vital for me to work with my clients so that can we figure out what OTHER systems might be influencing their pain.

This might include looking into nutrition, sleep, stress, lifestyle, behaviours, thoughts and feelings, hormonal health and so on.

Sure, it’s a big time commitment (which is why my initial appointment can sometimes take up to 2 hours or more). Yes it would be easier to just treat the painful area and send them out the door.

But what I’ve observed in my practice is that if you want to successfully treat a person for the LONG TERM, then at the end of the day, it’s what works. I’m not looking for a quick fix.

I don’t want to have to see my clients on a regular basis*. I want to educate them on how THEY can look after their own body. It’s not about fighting fires. It’s about ensuring that they are aware when the match is lit and what they can do about it.

*Yes there are some clients that need regular attention. But these are exceptions and not the rule!

Explain Pain: 10 Key Concepts

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Here are the 10 key concepts from Explain Pain Supercharged extracted by Lorimer Moseley and David Butler. Explain pain is a life changing book for those of us helping people in pain and I highly recommend it.

1. Pain is normal, personal and always real:

All pain experiences are normal and are an excellent, though unpleasant response to what your brain judges to be a threatening situation. All pain is real.

2. There are danger sensors, not pain sensors:

The danger alarm system is just that there are no pain sensors, pain pathways or pain endings.

3. Pain and tissue damage rarely relate:

Pain is an unreliable indicator of the presence or extent of tissue damage – either can exist without the other.

4. Pain depends on the balance of danger and safety:

You will have pain when your brain concludes that there is more credible evidence of danger than safety related to your body and thus infers the need to protect.

5. Pain involves distributed brain activity:

There is no single ‘pain centre’ in the brain. Pain is a conscious experience that necessarily involves many brain areas across time.

6. Pain relies on context:

Pain can be influenced by the things you see, hear, smell, taste and touch, things you say, things you think and believe, things you do, places you go, people in your life and things happening in your body.

7. Pain is one of many protective outputs:

When threatened the body is capable of activating multiple protective systems including immune, endocrine, motor, autonomic, respiratory, cognitive, emotional and pain. Any or all of these systems can become overprotective.

8. We are bioplastic:

While all protective systems can become turned up and edgy, the notion of bioplasticity suggests that they can change back, through the lifespan. It is biologically implausible to suggest that pain can’t change.

9. Learning about pain can help the individual and society:

Learning about pain is therapy. When you understand why you hurt, you hurt less. If you have a pain problem, you are not alone – millions of others do too. But there are many researchers and clinicians working to find ways to help

10. Active treatment strategies promote recovery:

Once you understand pain, you can begin to make plans, explore different ways to move, improve your fitness, eat better, sleep better, demolish DIMs, find SIMs and gradually do more.

Rotator Cuff Tears

Screen-Shot-2017-02-23-at-15.13.21-800x500_cSo many people have heard about Rotator Cuff tears. And so many people fear them. But actually, tears in the rotator cuff have been found to be more common than we realise. And not only that, but they can happen without us even knowing about it especially as we age.

In the research below, people who did not have any shoulder pain or dysfunction were given a scan. What they realised was that rotator cuff tears, must to a certain extent be regarded as a “normal” degenerative change. Just because someone has a rotator cuff tear does not necessarily mean that it is the main cause of pain or functional impairment.

The reason for this conclusion?

They found evidence of a rotator cuff tear in:
13% of those aged 50 to 59 years
20% of those aged 60 to 69 years
31% in those aged 70 to 79 years
51% in those aged 80 years or more

This is an astonishingly high rate of rotator cuff tears in people with asymptomatic shoulders and also demonstrating that these changes increase as we age.

Of course there is much more research needed as it is still unclear what actually changes an asymptomatic rotator cuff tear into a symptomatic tear. But as always we need to treat each individual case separately.

Source: [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10471998]

MRI & SLAP Lesions

IMG_0127Following on from the last few posts about MRI and shoulder abnormalities (here and here), SLAP lesions or tears have been found to be another normal age-related change.

In the study below, 72% of the study group (aged 45-60 years old) were found to have SLAP tears. And just as in the previous studies, these were people who were asymptomatic and therefore not experiencing pain or any other dysfunction.

The reason this needs highlighting so much is that we need to realise that so many of the so called abnormalities that are found during scans, are often normal age-related changes. MRI cannot and should not be used alone to explain why someone has pain or dysfunction in their shoulder. After all, these people in the study had SLAP lesions but did not even know about it.

It also means that when someone identifies as having a SLAP lesion then this again does not mean that surgery is necessary. Everyone is different.

Sometimes the finding we see on scans can be likened to wrinkles…but on the inside. They are normal and happen to pretty much everyone.

Sidenotes:
1. SLAP is an acronym for Superior Labral tear from Anterior to Posteior
2. The labrum is the cup-shaped rim of cartilage that lines and reinforces the ball and socket joint of the shoulder.
3. Asymptomatic means that there are no symptoms including pain or dysfunction

Image: Complete Anatomy 19

Source: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2325967115623212

Bursa Thickening: A Normal Adaptive Process

Shoulder joint structureHere is another piece of research to suggest that changes within the body such as bursal thickening are (often) painless adaptive processes. Which is why, seeing these on scans should not assume that they are the cause of someone’s pain.

After all, in the study below, bursal thickening was shown to increase as the amount of swimming increased, with no correlation between bursal thickening and shoulder pain.

And this makes sense. A bursa is a fluid filled sac which is there to help reduce the effects of friction. More training means more friction. More friction means the body will adapt and so increase the thickening of the bursa.

This is normal!

The body is super amazing at adapting to whatever we put it through. But these changes are nothing to be afraid of.

However it is important to note the difference between bursa thickening caused by an acute episode (which usually is painful) and the thickening caused by an adaptive training programme (which is usually painless).

As always, every client is different. Which is why an MRI is only one part of the puzzle.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24907190

Ultrasound Of The Asymptomatic Shoulder

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Many of my clients have asked if an MRI or Ultrasound can explain why they have pain in their shoulders (and anywhere else that they are experiencing pain).

And the more I research, the more I believe that the findings from scans such as MRI or Ultrasound are only one part of the jigsaw and should be interpreted closely with clinical findings to determine the cause of symptoms. After all, we now know that pain does not correlate with damage (or abnormalities).

According to the research below, shoulder abnormalities were found in 96% of the subjects. The thing is that all these subjects were those that had NO pain at all. They were what we refer to as asymptomatic.

And in looking further at the findings in more detail:
– 78% of these had thickening of bursa
– 65% had joint osteoarthritis
– 39% had supraspinatus tendinosis

So again, these people had something that many medical professionals believe is an issue (and some believe issues that require surgery), but they are experiencing no pain or dysfunction.

How on earth then can we take a scan of someone who is in pain, who have the findings of those people above, and determine that it is the reason for their pain.

Surely if that was the case then EVERYONE who had those findings should have pain, right? Wrong. Again, see the results above!

Everyone is different. For some, their findings may actually be the cause of their pain. For others, it may not be quite as simple.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21940544