Most of us recognise those achey, crunchy, tight and weak feelings we often get during or after a long journey. Whether it's cramped behind the wheel of a car, squished into an airplane seat with little to no legroom, or hanging around on the hard seats of waiting rooms and departure lounges, sometimes all you can hope for is a little relief. Well, why not try a few of these Pilates Exercises, (all of which can be performed seated!) and see how you feel…
by Elisabeth Carlsson
How many times did you press the snooze button this morning before you finally dragged yourself out of bed? Once on the tube or train did you slowly start waking up, but was it still a struggle? Having arrived in the office, is coffee the only thing keeping you going during the morning until lunchtime? Come mid-afternoon, do you feel like you are ready for bed again and you really can’t keep your eyes open? Leaving work, do you have a second wind, go out for a few drinks and then once home, feel exhausted but somehow can’t manage to get to bed before midnight when your mind is racing and you can’t switch-off? If this sounds like a day in your life read on for some simple tips about how to boost your energy.
Continued fatigue decreases the immune system, making us more susceptible to depression and illness. Relying on caffeine and energy drinks makes us feel worse in the long-run by causing our system to crash. Sluggishness can be caused by many things, but poor nutrition is one of the biggest culprits. Food is truly the body’s fuel, and what we choose to eat absolutely impacts the performance on our bodies.
Here are some simple tips about how to maintain steady energy throughout the day.
Protein. Not consuming enough protein during the day can be a primary reason for fatigue so add some to every meal. Because protein takes longer to breakdown in the body than carbohydrates, they provide a longer-lasting energy source. We need protein for preserving lean muscle mass, repair and build tissues, maintain cells, transport vitamins and minerals and help with efficient liver detoxification. Examples of protein include fish, eggs, red meat, poultry and dairy. Vegetarian proteins include beans, legumes, tofu and nuts.
Don’t ditch breakfast and don’t start your day on just coffee. Skipping breakfast is going to set you off on an energy rollercoaster for the rest of the day and it can be a struggle to catch-up. Choose healthier options such as porridge, fruit, eggs or a smoothie. Sugary options such as pastries or cereal lack fibre and protein and will keep you hungry and restless for the rest of the morning.
Daily dose of exercise. This could mean going to the gym or just increasing your step count during the day. It doesn’t mean spending hours on the treadmill as research show that you can get your work out done in only 13 minutes. Research show that doing only 13 minutes of resistance training during an 8-week period, could increase both strength and endurance (1).
Get some shut-eye. Good night sleep is crucial for memory, learning and weight management. Research shows that partial sleep deprivation (as opposed to chronic sleep deprivation) leads to problems with attention, especially vigilance and that the ability to recover from sleep deprivation decreases the older we are. (2) The day after a poor night’s sleep, avoid the caffeine, stay hydrated and front load your day, i.e. make sure you get the important stuff done at the beginning of the day as your energy will wane quite quickly as the day go on.
Avoid alcohol. Ditch the drink before bed as it can affect your sleep and your energy the next day. If you are having alcoholic drinks, make sure you have water in between the drinks as alcohol makes you dehydrated which in turn can really lower your energy levels. Sip on water throughout the day and add some slices of cucumber or lemon to keep it fresh.
If you are doing all of the above and you still feel tired during the day, it’s a good idea to go to the doctor to make sure there are no underlying issues that are affecting your energy levels. For example, they can check if you are low on iron, which is very common especially in women.
Schoenfeld BJ et.al. (2019). Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men Medicine and Science in Sport and Excercise. 51 (1), 94-103
Paula Alhola & Päivi Polo-Kantola. (2007). Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatr. Dis. Trial. 3 (5), 553+567
by Elisabeth Carlsson N.T Dip CNM, MBANT, RCNHC
Did you know that the body recognizes low blood sugar as a threat to its survival?
Have you ever experienced any of the following?
Irritability – where you want to shout very loudly at anyone who bumps into you on the tube or at your kids when they complain about homework.
Anxiety – when your mind won’t stop racing and you keep on turning over the same conversation with your boss over and over again.
Insomnia – when you can’t go to sleep or you wake up at 3am with anxiety and just can’t go back to sleep.
Cravings: where you easily can eat two donuts, half a packet of biscuits and six sweets you just found at the back of your drawer. In only one minute.
Or you might have experienced brain fog, feeling jittery, problems with memory, bloating or poor concentration? Yep, I’ve been there. My earliest memory was that that badminton tournament in my teens, when I nearly fainted, my heart was racing, I was white as a sheet and shivering and I thought I had got some horrible disease. No, that was just a blood sugar crash. Or only last week when my kids wouldn’t get off their gaming devices and I went from calm to blowing my top in less than 30 seconds.
I think we can all relate to these situations. They are all symptoms of low blood sugar levels. Every cell in your body needs energy to function. The main source of energy might come as a surprise: It’s sugar, also known as glucose.
Hypoglycaemia is the medical condition of having an abnormally low blood sugar (glucose) and can be responsible for all the above but also triggering or exacerbating migraines and other headaches. It’s usually a result of not eating enough of the right food throughout the day in order to keep your engine running and your blood sugar stabilized. If you have diabetes for example, a headache may be a sign that you need to boost your blood sugar levels.
In order to thrive in life and deal with the demands being placed on the body we must support the body’s physical, nutritional and emotional energy needs. Stress breaks the body down while nourishment to the body and soul restores us and keeps the body and mind well and thriving.
Your body is hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect you against threats from predators, of course such threats are rare today, but it doesn’t mean your body is not experiencing stress. With busy life style, huge workload, taking care of your family we all have minor ‘hassles’ that are perceived by the body as stress.
Quoting James B. LaValle ‘controlling stress in your life as it happens is the most important measure of optimizing metabolic function’.(1) Simply put, if you know you are going to have a stressful day or you are hitting the gym straight after a busy day at work, making sure that you are eating nourishing food to support yourself should be a priority as otherwise, you just won’t perform as well.
Humans are highly adaptable, meaning, just as we adapt into a state of chronic stress (when given the right environment), we can just as easily adapt out of stress (when given the right environment).
So how do you adapt out of stress? Through nourishing yourself in ways that works for you and your body and that suits your life style and the demands you have in our life.
What you can do right now? Swap your afternoon coffee for a cinnamon tea. It’s widely used in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda and studies show that cinnamon can help to control blood sugar. (2). Cinnamon is also naturally sweet so can help to stop those 4pm craving. Pukka does a nice tea or make your own, see below.
Eating healthy is no simple task these days and most are confused about what to eat which does not come as a surprise given the amount of conflicting information.
If you want to find out more how to balance your blood sugar with foods that works for your body and how to understand the ways that your body tries to communicate it’s needs, get in touch via the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms. I offer a free 15-minute chat before booking your appointment.
1 cinnamon stick (Ceylon cinnamon)
250ml hot water
1 tea bag (regular, decaf or Rooibos)
Add the cinnamon stick and water to a mug and let steep for 10 minutes. Add the tea and steep for an additional two minutes. Remove the teabag and sweeten with honey. Instead of tea you could add some slices of fresh ginger for a spicy kick.
Appointments are available with Elisabeth by arrangement at the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms. Click here for more information: https://www.honoroakwellnessrooms.com/nutrition
Cracking the Metabolic Code; 9 keys to optimal health: The Nine Keys to Peak Health and Longevity by James B. LaValle (2004)
Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis Davis PA, Yokoyama W, Journal of Medicinal Food (2011)
by Marion Colledge
What is Abdominal Sacral Massage and what does it do?
In a nutshell this is a nourishing and relaxing massage of the abdomen and lower back. It aims to enervate and oxygenate all tissues within the abdomen, pelvis and sacrum and is a slow and gentle treatment that helps to relieve muscular as well as emotional tension. It aims to increase blood flow and nutrients to the organs and tissues in the abdomen as well as working on the abdominal muscles and deeper ligaments. The massage lasts 30 minutes as a stand alone treatment or can form part of a longer massage.
Where does Abdominal Sacral Massage come from?
Abdominal-sacral massage originates from South America where it is called Mayan Massage and it has been adapted into this particular style in the UK over the last few years. Different bodywork techniques are combined to achieve a massage that is gentle and deep at the same time.
What can Abdominal Sacral Massage help with?
With many years of experience in massage therapy and a special interest in all aspects of women’s health and wellbeing, I have come to realise how important the abdomen and sacrum are to our general health. The abdomen holds several important internal organs and can be a sensitive and sometimes difficult area for women. This may be due to reproductive or menstrual cycle related issues, digestive problems such as bloating or IBS, or simply because we feel uneasy about being touched in this area during a massage.
Common complaints which can be addressed by abdominal-sacral massage include: Constipation IBS Bloating / cramps Painful or irregular menstrual cycles PMS Miscarriages Fertility problems Ovarian cysts Stress Held in emotions
Who is it suitable for?
This massage is for anyone experiencing any of the above but is also a great relaxing treatment without any specific concerns. There is always a short consultation at the beginning where any issues or questions can be discussed. It is a very safe massage and suitable for all ages except during pregnancy.
Can I get an appointment?
Abdominal Sacral Massage appointments are available throughout the week with Marion at Honor Oak Wellness Rooms. You can book appointments online:
by Elisabeth Carlsson (N.T Dip CNM, MBANT, RCNHC)
Nutritional Therapy appointments with Elisabeth are available at the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms by appointment only.
As a Nutritional Therapist I have an essential first aid kit of herbs and minerals/vitamins and essential oils at hand when colds and sniffs starts but sometimes you have to rely on food to help you fight of the bugs. The first signs of a cold often appear when the weather shifts from warmer to colder, we haven’t got our head around the drop in temperature and get caught out without a decent coat or jumper, and then you experience that little shiver which lets you
know that you might be coming down with something. So when you have nothing at hand, head to your kitchen and you can knock up some top immune boosting remedies straight from your pantry.
Onion (Allium cepa) - Onions are a natural antibiotic since Roman times and is great for relieving chesty-cold coughs. You can use is as a poultice or trying out a honey / onion home remedy for colds and sore throats. Including onions in your diet regularly is fantastic as they contain many health benefits other than being used for colds / congested chest / coughs. Suggestion: chop an onion, place in a bowl and cover with honey. Let steep over night and then take a teaspoon at regular intervals. This is great for clearing up a congested chest.
Garlic (Allium sativum) It’s the garlic’s active ingredient, Allicin, we can thank for it’s antibiotic, antimicrobial (1) , antifungal and antiseptic properties making it perfect for respiratory infections. Chopped and eaten raw, steeped in Manuka honey, used in cooking warming soups and stews garlic is one of the best and most easily accessible natural immune boosters. Suggestion: To bring out the Allicin even more is that you need to chop it up in tiny piece (or use a garlic press) and leave it out for 5-10 minutes before using. (2) Consume or cook right away and your garlic won’t live up to it’s full, protective, disease fighting potential.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) Ginger is not only eases nausea but it’s great at raising the body’s temperature and helping to break a sweat, since in order to kill of pathogens, the body needs to generate enough heat to kill the bacteria or virus. This is why we want to avoid using painkillers like Nurofen which does the opposite. If we stop the body’s natural system of killing off pathogens, the infection just takes longer to shake. Using spices like ginger and chili, warm baths, keeping warm, drinking hot drinks helps the immune system do its job and get rid of the infection quicker. Suggestion: Chop some ginger in some water and let simmer for at least ten minutes (20 for a zingier tea). Strain and enjoy. If you find the taste a bit strong then add some Manuka honey (but let cool slightly before adding) This is also great if you are feeling a bit nauseous.
Turmeric root – (Curcuma longa) The turmeric root look a bit like a gnarly, skinnier cousin of ginger and when you peel back the skin the vibrant orange flesh is revealed. Be careful as it’s stains very easily. Turmeric is powerful herb that has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine, for healing wounds and treat skin conditions such a psoriasis. Turmeric also contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. An easy way to use fresh turmeric is to add it to curries, grate some onto eggs to take the breakfast to a sunnier level, into yogurt dressings or why not brew some punchy immune boosting tea.
Suggestion: Slice or grate about 1 inch of fresh turmeric, 1 inch of fresh ginger, 1 cinnamon stick (or 1 tsp of ground Ceylon cinnamon) to 3-4 cups of water and let simmer (not boil) for about 15 minutes. You could also add some pepper corns and a pinch of cayenne for extra boost. Leave until room temperature and add 3 tbsp of lemon juice and some Manuka honey if using.
Nutritional Therapy appointments with Elisabeth Carlsson (author) are available at the
Honor Oak Wellness Rooms by appointment only.
1. Antimicrobial activity of fresh garlic juice; (S.Yadav, N.A Trivedi, J.D Bhatt) AYU, 2015
2. World’s Healthiest Foods, G. Mateljan (p.261)
by Candice Habershon
Candice teaches Vinyasa Flow on Tuesday & Friday mornings at 9.30am, and is running a Winter Wellness Workshop this Saturday 24th November. Book your spot via our Events Page!
Winter can be a trying time both mentally and physically. The days are darker, colder and shorter and our bodies become more susceptible to all kinds of nasties like colds and flu. Top all that off with the stress of the silly season in the run up to Christmas and it might become tempting to stay inside and hide away from it all. Being proactive at this time of year will help ensure you stay calm, happy and well. Below, Candice offers her top tips to supercharge your winter wellness.
Make sure you’re getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day that raises your heart rate. Research has shown that increasing your heart rate could help to speed up the circulation of white blood cells in the body, making it more likely they will seek and destroy germs early on. Just be careful not to overdo it as that will have the opposite effect.
Open your heart
It’s our natural instinct in cold weather to hunch our shoulders. But at this time of year we should be actively doing the opposite. Heart-opening poses such as sphinx, cobra, fish and bridge pose stimulate blood flow to the thymus an organ situated behind the breast bone that is instrumental in the growth of germ-killing T-cells.
Let’s twist again
Twists are brilliant at helping the body deal with stress or anxiety – two emotions that tend to surface at this busy time of year. Opening the chest, shoulders and back through twisting can help to release stored tension in the body, leaving you feeling calmer mentally.
Get upside down
Because inversions increase the flow of blood moving toward the heart, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to circulate oxygenated blood properly throughout the body. Inversions are also great for moving lymph around the body strengthening the immune system.
Strike a (warrior) pose.
Grounding poses, like warrior 1 and 2, help to calm the frenetic vata energy of this season, and gives us durability and stability through the winter. They develop concentration, balance and groundedness and help to energise the entire body.
Create an internal fire
Ujjayi breath, where you exhale through the nose using a slight restriction at the back of the throat, helps to generate internal body heat. This form of pranayama, or breathing exercise, can help to alleviate headaches, relieve sinus pressure, decrease the production of phlegm, and strengthen the nervous and digestive systems.
Spice up your life
Make sure you pop these immune boosting spices into your shopping trolley this month
Turmeric - beneficial for its antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Ginger – stimulates digestion, boosts immunity and alleviates coughs and congestion.
Cinnamon – great for drying up runny noses
Black pepper - revitalises circulation, respiration and digestion.
Winter is cold and windy so in ayurvedic practices it is known as the vata time of year. Massaging oil into the skin after a bath or rubbing some into the feet before bedtime is a great antidote. Lavender or clary sage are both excellent for calming vata.
Running around trying to get things sorted for Christmas affects your body’s ability to fight germs. Studies have shown that meditating helps to reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body, slows the heart rate and decreases blood pressure. At the same time, resources that were directed to support fighting or running are now directed to support healing and immune system functions.
Plan a date with friends, book a movie or enrol in a pottery class. Studies have shown that looking forward to an event boosts immunity, while loneliness can have the opposite effect. If you’d rather be at home, get a friend to come over and watch a comedy with you. It’s true what they say about laughter being the best medicine: not only does it boost the immune system, it protects the heart and burns calories too.
Want to find out more?
Come along to Candice’s Winter Wellness Workshop at the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms at 1:30pm this Saturday 24 November. Just a few spaces left!
by Tatjana Gretschmann
Appointments are available with Tatjana at the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms on Friday mornings or by arrangement only.
What is a Migraine?
Migraine is a neural condition which is characterised by recurring headaches which usually last between 4 to 72 hours where the pain ranges from a moderate to a severe intensity. A migraine attack may be accompanied by nausea, noise sensitivity, and photophobia, sometimes preceded by sensory disturbances (aura). Triggers of migraine episodes vary widely and may include routine physical activity, allergic reactions, diet, alcohol, and bright lights. Migraines can have a serious effect on a person’s quality of life, affecting productivity and draining happiness and well-being. Research shows that more than 70% of migraine sufferers experience impairment in interpersonal and work relationships, and that anxiety and depression are significantly more common in people with migraine than in healthy individuals.
Who Suffers from Migraines?
Migraines are very common. According to the Migraine Trust, migraine is the third most common disease in the world, affecting about one in seven people. More than three quarters of sufferers experience at least one attack each month, and more than half experience severe impairment during attacks. It often starts at puberty and most affects those aged between 35 and 45 years, but it can trouble much younger people including children.
Are Migraines Hormonal?
Chronic migraine affects three-times as many women as men, this higher rate being most likely hormonally-driven. It has long been recognised that some women are more sensitive to hormonal fluctuations within the menstrual cycle and around 50% of women find that their migraine attacks are linked to their periods. The perimenopause can also be a difficult time for women who suffer with migraines as the irregularity of periods makes is it more difficult to predict. Some women will experience more frequent and severe attacks than before the perimenopause while others will find that their attacks continue to follow a cyclical pattern years after their last period and the onset of menopause. Menopausal issues, such as hot flushes and night sweats, result in disturbed sleep, add to stress levels and therefore also increase the likelihood of an attack.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a therapy in which thin sterile needles are inserted into the skin at particular points. It originated in China and is now used in many countries to treat people with a wide range of conditions, including migraine. It is considered a very safe treatment when practiced by a fully qualified traditional acupuncturist.
How Can Acupuncture Help with Migraines?
Many people with migraine can be treated when their attacks occur, but some need prophylactic interventions as their attacks are either too frequent or are insufficiently controlled. However the drugs that are used in an attempt to reduce the attack frequency, (such as betablockers, amitriptyline or sodium valproate) are associated with negative side effects.
Acupuncture can help in the treatment of migraine by:
Providing pain relief, by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, leading to a release of endorphins and other factors thus changing the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.
Reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.
Reducing the degree of cortical spreading depression, an electrical wave in the brain associated with migraine.
Modulating extracranial and intracranial blood flow.
Affecting serotonin levels, in the brain. Serotonin may be linked both to the initiation of migraines and to the relief of acute attacks.
Increasing local microcirculation, thus aiding the dispersal of swelling.
Does It Work?
There is a large body of evidence to suggest that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of migraine. Research has found that adding acupuncture to symptomatic treatment of attacks reduces the frequency of headaches, with trials suggesting that acupuncture may be at least similarly effective as treatment with prophylactic drugs.
The National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE) recommends that patients are offered a course of up to 10 sessions of acupuncture as a treatment to prevent migraine if neither topiramate nor propranolol, which are commonly used as migraine prophylaxis, work well.
Can I Book a Session?
Yes you can! Tatjana (author of this blog) offers Acupunture appointments at the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms on Friday mornings, or by arrangement. You can book online, or contact the clinic to make an appointment.
British Acupuncture Council (www.acupuncture.org.uk)
Migraine Trust (www.migrainetrust.org)
The National Institute for Care and Excellence (www.nice.org.uk)
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ACHIEVE GOOD POSTURE – START WITH YOUR PELVIS
by Roisin Woodford
WHAT IS THE PELVIS FOR?
The basin-shaped structure at your body’s centre is responsible for supporting the weight of your trunk and head above as well as transferring the weight to your legs below. It also receives stresses from your legs during movement. You could say that the position of your pelvis is pivotal to whether you have good or faulty posture.
HOW DOES THE PELVIS AFFECT ALIGNMENT?
Your pelvis connects to your spine via the sacrum (the lower part of your spine made up of 5 fused vertebrae) and to the legs via the hip joints. Neutral alignment of the pelvis is the most balanced position for the pelvis to be in relation to spine and hip joints. It encourages your lower back to retain its natural curve and it is the best position for shock absorption. It also provides a good foundation for efficient movement patterns. Ideally, we want to be able to achieve neutral alignment of the pelvis and to be able to move freely in and out of neutral without holding it fixed.
HOW DOES THE PELVIS MOVE?
The fused bones of the pelvis move as one unit and they can move through neutral to a posterior pelvic tilt which flattens the arch in the lower back and in the opposite direction to an anterior pelvic tilt which increases the arch in the lower back. The pelvis can tilt from side to side and rotate clockwise or anti-clockwise.
PAIN AND RESTRICTED MOVEMENT IN THE PELVIS
All of these movements directly affect the spine in some way and in everyday movement there will be a combination of pelvic positions. However, if any of these positions are held for long periods this may lead to muscle imbalances and a loss of the natural curves of the spine reducing the spines shock absorbing abilities.
Pain and injury can set in in the spine, pelvis and lower limbs due to stress and strain on the body’s supporting structures.
HOW CAN PILATES HELP?
We want the pelvis, spine, shoulders and head to be stable and controlled against any unwanted movement, to provide a base from which the arms and legs can move. We call this ‘Core Stability’. Pilates teaches good alignment of the pelvis and spine so that you are able to move with ease through your daily movement patterns. Tight muscles are lengthened and weak muscles are strengthened, encouraging muscles to work in balance. Emphasis is placed on the deep stabilising muscles of the core, consciously engaging them to increase lumbo-pelvic stability. Imagine wearing a wide belt or corset: muscles that control the pelvis are balanced at the front, back and sides.
Many professional athletes use Pilates to increase their athletic performance, address muscular imbalances caused by the repetitive movement required by their sport and to protect against injury. In contrast, many desk workers with back issues use Pilates to mobilise their back and strengthen their core to manage their various back complaints.
If you would like to explore the ideas discussed in this post, such as learning to connect to your deep core muscles, how to align your pelvis for good posture, establishing healthy movement patterns and strengthening and lengthening muscles to create balance, then it’s time to
This weekend with Roisin Woodford (author).
Saturday 27th October 2018 from 1.30pm - 3.30pm.
References and Sources
1. Calais-Germain, B., Anatomy of Movement. US: Eastland Press, 2008.
2. Kendall, F. P., Muscle Testing and Function with Posture and Pain, US: LWW, 2005.
3. Stott Pilates Training manual
4. Isacowitz, R., Clippinger, K., Pilates Anatomy. Human Kinetics, 2011.
5. Paterson, J., Teaching Pilates for Postural faults and injury: Elsevier Ltd, 2009.
6. Robinson, L., Bradshaw, L., Gardner, N., The Pilates Bible. Kyle Cathie Ltd 2009.
It’s BackCare Awareness Week! This year, from 8 – 12 October the National Back Pain Association is encouraging everybody to take care of their backs, providing advice and resources for those affected. In light of new research revealing that people in London are experiencing this pain more frequently, the team here at the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms can offer you simple, effective advice for preventing back or neck pain,
The consumer research, undertaken by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), analysed trends in back and neck pain over the last five years. The findings showed the proportion of people in the region experiencing pain each week has risen from 39% to 44%.
The most common triggers for back and neck pain, a condition affecting 79% of Londoners, have also changed.
The number of people pointing to their job as the cause of their discomfort has risen, now affecting almost a fifth (19%) of the London population. The number of people who find driving contributes to their back pain has also increased by 6%.
Meanwhile, lifting and carrying heavy items, a trigger for 46% of Londoners’ back pain, remains the most commonly cited cause of the condition for the fifth year in a row.
Simon, chiropractor and founder of the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms and member of the BCA comments on the findings:
“I think many of us will agree that the increasing numbers of people experiencing back or neck pain each week are concerning, especially given how simple it can be to protect ourselves from some of the most commons triggers.
“Our lifestyles are becoming increasingly more sedentary, and in London many of us spend hours at a desk or stuck in traffic behind the wheel, contributing to people in the region experiencing pain more frequently. For the 44% of adults in London who are experiencing back or neck pain on a weekly basis, I would urge you to consider incorporating more exercise and general movement into your routine where you can to help combat the effects of sitting still.”
Simon provides six top tips to get people in London moving and to prevent back or neck pain:
1. Take a break: When sitting for long periods of time, whether you’re at work, driving or just catching up on box sets, ensure you stand up and move around every 30 minutes. Simple activities such as stretching and shoulder shrugging can also help to keep your body moving when you’re sitting for longer periods of time
2. Drive in comfort: When in the car for long periods, you can keep muscles active with buttock clenches, side bends, seat braces (pushing your hands into the steering wheel and your back into the seat) as well as shoulder shrugs and circles
3. Stay active: Physical activity can be beneficial for managing back pain, as a stronger body can cope better with the demands you make of it, however it’s important that if this is of a moderate to high intensity that you warm up and down properly to get your body ready to move! If a previous injury is causing you pain, adapt your exercise or seek some advice. Activities such as swimming, walking or yoga can be less demanding on your body while keeping you mobile!
4. Be computer compatible: When at work, make sure your desk is set up to support a comfortable position. This is different for everyone so if you don’t feel comfortable in your current set up, try altering the height of your chair or screen
5. Carry with care: While maintaining a strong body can help to prevent injuries, lifting and carrying in a safe way can help to prevent the leading cause of back and neck pain in London. Just as an athlete has to train to lift heavier weights, we should all only attempt to lift objects that we are able to without too much strain. If an item is particularly heavy then try to make use of available equipment which can help to take the load off your back, or reduce the load to smaller more manageable chunks
6. Straighten Up!: The BCA has created a programme of 3-minute exercises, Straighten Up UK, which can be slotted in to your daily schedule to help prevent back pain by promoting movement, balance, strength and flexibility in the spine
The BCA recommends that, if you are experiencing pain for more than a few days you should seek professional help, for example from a chiropractor, who can assess you and help you to get moving again without pain.
by Lynne Fugard
As forward-facing animals it’s not surprising that we humans get overly concerned with what’s in front of us. As a consequence, a lot of our daily routines and exercise regimens can become restricted to very linear, one-directional patterns of movement, creating imbalanced and uncomfortable habits of tension and weakness in our bodies.
Days spent hunched over a desk, phone, or steering wheel; carrying heavy bags or children; driving, walking, running or cycling; always going forwards, forwards, forwards… It all has the effect of closing up the front of the body, tightening the muscles of the chest, shoulders, waist and legs, whilst weakening the muscles of the back: those bigger muscles either side of the spine, but also the tiny postural muscles that provide vital support and mobility within the spine itself.
As these patterns and habits become ingrained, it becomes impossible to fully realize the healthy range of mobility that should be available to us. Muscle pairs can become imbalanced – some increasingly tight and tense, whilst others weaken and fail to switch on. These sorts of imbalances can potentially even pull the skeleton itself out of natural alignment. The normal, neutral curvature of the spine becomes exaggerated, resulting in an excessive rounding in the upper back (kyphosis), or over-concaving in the lower back (lordosis). We feel hunched over, tired, stressed and tense, and over time chronic pain in the neck, shoulders or lower back can result.
How Can Yoga Help?
One of the joys of a regular yoga practice is the transformational rediscovery of our deep-seated potential for multifaceted motion. We have a spine that can maneuver 360 degrees through 3 planes of alignment - not only forwards and backwards, but also from side to side, in rotational twists, and then through all sorts of combinations of those movements. The yoga practice flows through all of these planes, exploring a healthy range of mobility in each limb, whilst also working to balance and enhance a strong, supple, interconnected musculature that supports and allows such motion to feel safe and stable.
Which Poses Should I Use?
In particular, the yoga poses that most obviously break with linear, forward-facing patterns are twists, side-bends and back-bends. In my classes, I incorporate these movements to mindfully explore the space above and behind us, encouraging new perspectives and creative ways of moving, strengthening around the spine, enhancing posture and breath-capacity, and all whilst brightening the mood, stimulating the nervous system, and clarifying the mind. Suddenly the body feels more alive, supple and buoyant, you wake up every morning more comfortable and spacious, and you begin to challenge your preconceptions about what is possible and maybe even what is normal!
Then it’s time to BOOK YOUR SPOT in our Yoga Improvers: Explore From Your Core! workshop this weekend!
We will build through an invigorating sequence in preparation for the body to weave itself into deliciously deep twists, binds, back-bends and beyond. Whilst opening the shoulders, chest, and side body, we will also cultivate a strong and powerful core, the centre, from which and around which we can move, expand and explore our natural range of motion with intention and curiosity. Using props and partner-work there will be time to break down and work towards those more challenging twists, binds and backbends from the yoga asana practice - including standing, seated, balancing and inverted poses - leaving you plenty of ideas to take back to your self-practice, weekly classes and daily life.