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Functional Breathing – What, Why, How

On my daily walks, I cannot fail but be impressed by the number runners of all ages and levels of fitness that now populate the park. It may be my imagination, but it seems as though more people have taken up running since Covid-19  arrived on the scene. Apart from running technique (more on this in another blog), I notice their breathing as they plod/shuffle or soar past maintaining (mostly) social distance. So, is there a correct way to breathe and why does it matter? How you breathe affects every area of your physical and mental wellbeing. Whether it is premature ageing, dodgy digestion, weight gain, disturbed sleep, anxiety or reduced athletic performance, poor breathing is usually a factor. If you suffer from asthma,  hay fever or...

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Why Young People Should Stretch

Whether you are an athlete or have an average level of physical activity, I believe stretching should be an integral part of your daily life. Often, young people focus on building muscle and developing aerobic fitness, but flexibility is equally important. Why Stretch? Stretching is necessary - it helps keep muscles and fascia flexible, strong and healthy, thus maintaining range of motion in the joints. A short tight muscle is a weak muscle. For example, young people who are office based or in full-time education sit in a chair for a large part of the day. This tightens the hip flexors and hamstrings making it more difficult to extend the legs and knees fully, which affects walking. Now imagine what could happen when more stress is placed on...

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Benefits of Stretching at Work/Workstation Stretches

Benefits of Stretching at Work/Workstation Stretches In previous blogs I have mentioned how sitting creates compression in the spine, increasing pressure on the discs and shortening the pelvic muscles. Stretching throughout your work day will help you avoid injury to your low back, shoulders, knees, elbows and wrists, reduce your stress levels and potentially increase your productivity. Often clients are self-conscious about stretching at work, but consider the importance of maintaining blood flow and nutrient supply maintaining elasticity and energy levels of your tissues, to enhance your flexibility joint mobility reduce muscle tightness and discomfort improve muscular balance posture muscle co-ordination and you just might feel the odd side-glance is worth it. Who knows you might start a new wave of body awareness in your office. Although the main areas to...

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Understanding Your Spine & How to Keep It Healthy Part 3 – Lumbar Spine

The lumbar spine refers to the lower back, it starts about 5-6 inches below the shoulder blades and connects the thoracic spine to the sacral spine. Consisting of 5 vertebrae (L1 - L5) the lumbar spine is designed for power and flexibility - lifting, twisting and bending. The lower the vertebra the more weight it must bear, therefore the two lowest spinal segments L4 - L5 bear the most weight and are most prone to degeneration and injury. The lumbar spine meets the sacrum at the lumbosacral joint L5 - S1. This joint allows for considerable rotation so that the pelvis can swing when walking and running. The spinal cord travels from the skull through the spinal column to where the thoracic spine meets the lumbar spine at...

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Understanding Your Spine & How to Keep it Healthy – Part 2 (Sacroiliac Joint)

The sacroiliac joints (SI) connect the sacrum, the triangular shaped bone at the base of the lumbar spine to the left and right iliac bones, the large bones that form your pelvis. The SI joints have several functions They support the weight of your torso when you are upright They help maintain balance as you walk They act as shock absorbers for your spine They act as a hub for the transfer of force between your legs and your torso They are designed as a stable joint with limited mobility. Movement includes Nutation or anterior tilt (flexion) of the sacrum between the ilia Counter-nutation or posterior tilt (extension) of the sacrum between the ilia Small movements of the ilia themselves Stability of an SI joint depends primarily on the stout...

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Understanding Your Spine & How to Keep it Healthy – Part 1

The spine is complex and is one of the most important components in the body. I think it is important for everyone to have some understanding of its anatomy so that they can make appropriate decisions about treatment if they suffer from back pain, or want to maintain a healthy spine. The spine is made up of 33 individual bones (vertebrae) stacked on top of each other in 5 areas: Cervical Spine - consists of 7 vertebrae C1 - C7. C1 is the atlas vertebra; your skull sits on top of this. C2 is the axis vertebra.C3 - C7 comprise the neck. Thoracic Spine - has 12 vertebrae known as T1 - T12 and forms your upper and middle back. Lumbar Spine - consists of...

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Foot Anatomy, Problems and Top Tips for Functional Feet

As summer approaches I often teach a series of classes dedicated to “unloved body parts” as we prepare to peel off extra layers and get ready for the holiday season. For many, feet fall into this category, yet as the foundation of our bodies they are a really important part of our natural balance-keeping systems. Humans have a unique foot shape that allows us to walk, run, climb and do many other activities. Although hands have a similar structure, feet, because they bear more weight, are stronger and less mobile. The bones of the foot are organised in rows, named tarsal bones, metatarsal bones and phalanges. These make up the toes and blade of the foot. The largest bone of the foot is the heel (calcaneus), it...

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Knees – Anatomy & Health

Knees are something of a hot topic in the studio at the moment. I thought you might benefit from understanding their anatomy, typical problems, why they occur and tips for maintaining knee health. Knee Anatomy The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. It is a synovial joint which connects the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone) in the lower leg (tibiofemoral joint). The fibula (calf bone), the other bone in the lower leg is connected to the joint but is not directly affected by the joint action. There is a second joint where the knee cap meets the femur ( patellofemoral joint). These two joints work together to form a modified hinge joint that allows the knee to...

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Spring Cleaning (Lymphatic System)

Spring is one of my favourite times of the year; Increased daylight, crisp mornings that develop into warm days and the first delicate blossoms prompt me to clear out the clutter that has accumulated during the long winter 'hibernation”.  Husband and children run for the hills as I turn out every cupboard, and drawer before tackling the attic and cellar. My body too seems to want to take advantage of this special awakening time, and as many of you have asked me about Lymph flow recently, I thought it timely to write about the body’s behind-the-scenes cleaning system. The Lymphatic System has long been recognised in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for its importance in preventative health care. Why? Because it supports every other system in the...

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Time to Detox

In an ideal world we would all grow our own organic food, eat according to nature’s bounty and breathe clean air. In reality we try to eat healthily, get too little sleep, drink alcohol and live in an urban environment full of unavoidable toxins. Our bodies naturally have a great way of detoxing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t support it from time to time. Spring is a great time to detox; here are my 8 top tips to help you boost that internal ability:  Alkalise your body  - The body’s pH is closely regulated and when it drifts out of balance so does our health, because the body’s natural detox pathways work better in an alkaline environment. Spring and Summer are times when there is an...

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