Fighting Fit in Pregnancy & Beyond: Part I The First Trimester

Those who know me from my clinic will know how passionate I am about getting our bodies aligned so that they can resist the strains and pressures of our active lives, keeping us feeling well and pain free.  It is especially the case with women who have had children.  I cannot count the number of women I see who have musculo-skeletal problems, pelvic floor dysfunction or pain that link back to how they hold their bodies.  We dig a little deeper and they often trace right back to when they were pregnant.  ‘Oh my body is just trashed since I had the baby’ is not an acceptable state.  Either are Tena Lights for life – no ‘Oops’ moments please.   Yes, your body goes through huge amounts of change during those 9 months but how many women have the time or inclination to get their real ‘pre baby’ body back?  Focus is on weight loss, but focus needs to be wider than this.  We need to get aligned again so we can stand tall and strong against gravity and all that life throws at us.

Continue reading Fighting Fit in Pregnancy & Beyond: Part I The First Trimester

CROSSFIT: A Therapists Perspective

Not a day goes by in my clinic where I don’t see clients presenting with pain or injury which is caused by an imbalance in their body.  Whether that be from sitting all day, repetitive daily activities or the demands of their sport.  We work together to relieve the symptoms but with a longer term view to resolving the imbalance at the root cause.  This is all well and good and generally with the right corrective exercise we can get them back to the best.  Alas, there are a set of clients where the demands for their activity or sport will be one sided or imbalanced (think golfer, tennis player etc.) which means that as their activity level increases their problem will ultimately return.

Continue reading CROSSFIT: A Therapists Perspective

Knee Pain: Clear MRI but Knee Still Hurts?

I had the pleasure of spending a day with Claire Robertson the Consultant Physiotherapist at Wimbledon Clinics yesterday focusing on Patellofemoral Pain, the potential causes and rehabilitation.  You can read Claire’s biography here but it is safe to say she knows her stuff leading and releasing ground breaking research in this area.  This leads me to today’s blog, what do you do if you are suffering from knee pain, the MRI is clear but your pain is very real?

Continue reading Knee Pain: Clear MRI but Knee Still Hurts?

The Ankle Series: Floppy Ankles, Sore Shins? Maybe it is Time for a Rethink!

Floppy ankles… I see them on an almost daily basis, calves so tight that as soon as my clients lay down on the treatment table their ankles flop forward as if preparing to dance for  ‘The Royal Ballet’.  For many reasons it appears that our calves have shortened up.  Be it the high heels we wear, the amount we train or simply the time we spend on our feet, what is certain is that tight calves prevail.

So what have these floppy ankles got to do with sore and tender shins?  Shin splints, for any of you have suffered from this painful condition, are caused by the muscles and tendons that attach to the shin bone (the Tibia) pulling on the bone and causing ache and sometimes acute pain.   Its generally not the bone that is hurting but the tendons themselves from being overly tight and strained. This muscle that attaches to the front of the shin is the Tibialis Anterior which dorsi-flexes the ankle (pulls your toes towards your head) and also inverts the ankle.  Treatment can focus on releasing the tension in this muscle, massage, stretching and the like to relieve the pressure and pulling on the shin bone.  But have you been doing this yet not seeing any results?

Continue reading The Ankle Series: Floppy Ankles, Sore Shins? Maybe it is Time for a Rethink!

Knee Pain: A Complex Problem to Solve

It is not uncommon for a client to turn up at my door and state they have been told by friends, colleagues, team mates and sometimes other therapists that they have ‘Runners Knee’ and don’t know what to do about it.  ‘Jumpers Knee’, ‘ITB Syndrome’ and many other complaints present but all have one thing in common – a knee that is in pain!  Personally I think these name’s are misleading, non specific and not very useful in terms of identifying for the client what exactly the problem is and more importantly what the client needs to do to heal. 

Continue reading Knee Pain: A Complex Problem to Solve

Power Tennis, the ‘Grunt’ and your Core

After a thrilling day at Wimbledon on Friday, my own little tennis ‘victory’ and some pretty tender ribs for the last week, I have been inspired to think about why my ribs hurt, why we ‘Grunt’ under pressure and how we can get more power in our tennis shots.

I myself can be guilty of the ‘Grunt’.  It comes at two stages for me.  Firstly when I am completely overstretched for a shot, the ‘Grunt’  makes an appearance – the result of me digging deep to get the power to return the ball with at least some pace when in this weak, lengthened position.  Secondly, it seems to appear on even the tamest of shots when I am in the third set and feeling weary.  So it’s clear that for me at least the ‘Grunt’  helps me to find power where there is none.  So why do so many women tennis professionals grunt on almost every shot?   Am I missing a trick?

Continue reading Power Tennis, the ‘Grunt’ and your Core

Following the Foot Trail: Look Local, Think Global

Feet.  Something I avoided for years given a propensity to tickley feet myself and just simply blocking them from my mind.  It’s over the last 12-18 months that I have become OBSESSSED with feet.  They tell us so

much about the story of someone’s body and can act as great guide do identifying dysfunction in our clients.  What I want to give you today is an idea of what the foot could be telling you at the most basic level to give you an insight into why you need to look whole body, when you are suffering pain or dysfunction in just one area.  First time I see a client I like to do a ‘Toe to Top’ visual assessment.  What can I see just by looking at how my client stands or walks.  Is the arch overly high?  Are the feet flat?  If so what does that tell me?  Well it may not tell me anything definitively but it certainly gives me clues as to what to check next. Continue reading Following the Foot Trail: Look Local, Think Global

Muscle Imbalance: The ‘Long’ and the ‘Short’ of it.

Ever had an ache, pain or strain that no matter how much you stretch it out doesn’t seem to disappear?  Well you certainly are not the first or even last person who has expressed this frustration to me followed quickly by ‘Can you just give it a rub for me?’.  Well maybe all this stretching and rubbing is just making the problem worse.  It is important that when you do have muscular pain that you understand the cause of it so you can treat it effectively and get you pain free again.
Muscles work in pairs, a glorious evolutionary trait.  If we look at the simple joint in this illustration, when we want to flex the joint forward, the muscle on the inside (the agonist) contracts and shortens.  In response the opposing muscle (the antagonist) relaxes allowing the joint to move freely without much obstruction.  The Central Nervous System (CNS) works tirelessly to ensure that the messages between these muscles exchange helping us to move without thought or issue.

So what happens when we have chronically tight or shortened muscles?   If our posture is such that we have a muscular imbalance, and believe me I am yet to meet someone who hasn’t, this chronic shortening of a muscle can cause a problem.  At a basic level, if the CNS is busy sending the ‘contract’ signals to the shortened muscles, it may also be sending the ‘relax’ signals to the opposing muscle on a consistent basis leaving these muscles in a weak state. Where this leaves us is with a muscle group that needs to be strengthened, not stretched, and a group of muscles that may not be causing you discomfort but that need to be stretched. 
Let’s take the hip for example.  I commonly see clients who have a forward (anteriorly) tilted pelvis (common in those who sit a lot, cycle a lot etc.) but come to me complaining of tight, stiff and sometimes painful hamstring and how stretching has not helped release the tension.  In many cases this pelvic tilt is caused by tight hip flexors, quads and lower backs.  This pulls the hamstrings and glutes into a lengthened, weak position giving the client this feeling of being tight.  I like to think of this as being ‘taut’ rather than being ‘tight’, if we release the real culprit or ‘tight’ muscles it takes the pressure off the ‘taut’ hamstrings releasing the tension and restoring balance.  At the same time we add some strength work for the abdominals, glutes and hamstrings restoring balance and hopefully getting you to a place where you feel great and prevent re-injury.  Have you ever thought that stretching your hip flexors may sort out your ‘taut’ hamstrings?  Maybe this illustration helps this make sense to you:

Simples!  I hope you now understand why sometimes we as therapists work the areas that are not causing you pain to get you better quicker and for longer.  If you have a persistent ache or pain it may be worth seeing your local sports therapist for a bio-mechanical assessment to see what is going in for you and then working together on a rehab plan to get you back to balanced.  Full solutions for full recovery! 

Related Links:
Jandas Muscle Imbalance Syndromes: http://www.muscleimbalancesyndromes.com/what-is-muscle-imbalance/

The Experiment: Goodbye and Hello

I am sorry to hear that Carl Watts has decided to step down from the Experiment.  On the positive side though I am very glad to hear that he has decided to do so to spend more time with his family.  I completely believe in balance – in body and in life so this was the right thing to do.

‘ Apologies for the delay in this post
Carl spoke to me after Christmas and said that whilst he was striking the ball better than ever, he had been thinking over the Christmas period that he no longer felt he could commit to the experiment as he didn’t want to spend the time away from his children that competing again could lead to. As a father myself, I had brought this up at the start of our work together and always felt that this would be a problem and so we have brought to an end his experiment. Carl and myself remain good friends which is important to me.

As an aside to this I will continue blogging the progress of a couple of my other golf professional students and look forward to sharing this with you.’
Andy Traynor, Chingford Golf Club, PGA Professional

On another note, Andy has asked me to work with himself and a young golfer a view to getting him on Tour in 2 years time.  I am very excited to be part of this team and look forward to documenting our progress in the coming months.
You can follow Andy’s blog at http://www.andytraynor.co.uk/ and I will blog on the biomechanical aspects here.
Releated Links

One Leg Longer than the Other?

Many clients come to me with this issue but it’s rarely because their leg is physically longer and it’s something we straighten up pretty quickly.

This is a thoughtful article on the issue and might be a useful explanation for you:

http://www.massageworld.co.uk/massage-articles/a-myofascial-approach-resolving-leg-length-discrepancy-and-pelvic-misalignment