Friday, 23 October 2020

Recovering from Covid-19? Some useful info.

 I came across this webpage when looking into information on long Covid and thought I would share it here. It includes links to advice and exercises from the WHO, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Moving Medicine and Cresta Clinic and AWRC.

I haven't read through or watched everything yet (there is a lot!) but it seems to have helpful advice on managing different aspects of recovery including managing breathlessness, stress, fatigue and muscle weakness plus dietary tips.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

In memoriam: Tammy

Tammy in May this year

On Wednesday 14th October we very sadly said goodbye to our beloved dog, Tammy. 

Photo copyright Dan Money 2016

Many of my clients know all about this lovely hound and some got to meet her so I thought I would share this news on here. She was 13 years old and had been fit and healthy for her age although she had been slowing down over the last two years due to neural degeneration that affected her rear end, and more recently the onset of arthritis in her hips. Throughout 2020 her walks became steadily slower and more about the sniffing smells than chasing sticks but she was still pottering along happily enough.Then came October and a sudden, dramatic deterioration in her mobility and energy levels. A trip to the vet and blood tests revealed Acute Lymphoma Leukemia which has an awful prognosis. Her quality of life was going down so rapidly that we made the heartbreaking decision to have her put to sleep; the vet came to our garden and we were able to stay with her.

Tammy came to live with us in January 2011 when she was three years old and she enriched our lives beyond measure; she is missed more than words can say.

Monday, 21 September 2020

'Hunting in the Forest': moving smoothly forward... (video)

This exercise builds on Listening Foot, Knee Raises and Vertical Hip Release to explore taking your weight forward smoothly and efficiently onto a secure but springy and responsive leg as you walk. Your hip is the stable interface between your leg and your torso.

As ever, remember that being strong and stable as the hip takes your weight is not the same as bracing :-) Bracing resists movement whereas we want the hip to accept and respond to the weight transfer in a manner that keeps connected with the springs in our knees and ankles as well as movement in the torso. 

Click on the link below to see the video:

UPDATE: I am having problems getting the link to work but if you copy and paste it will take you to the correct page. Will update once I figure out the issue!

Thursday, 10 September 2020

A walk home


Curbar Edge

Sunday was lovely weather, just right for being outside, so I decided to walk home from Curbar Gap after being dropped off there. This is the kind of distance I used to do regularly (about 12 miles or so) but since my knee issues I haven't really done many walks of over eight miles; my thought was that this needs to change!

It is a really pretty route: Curbar and Froggatt Edges, then Longshaw Estate and Burbage South before heading to the Limb Brook valley via Houndkirk Rd and then Ecclesall Woods and head for home with the option of going through Lady Spring, Park Bank and Chancet woods. It has the advantage of a lot more downhill than uphill! Around Houndkirk Road I noticed that I was experiencing hip pain. This is something that began a few years ago and became steadily worse until it was keeping me awake at night. I eventually began a series of Pilates sessions with an excellent teacher and that sorted the problem out within a month; I had lost coordinated movement a few years earlier after an injury and was using a compensation pattern. 

Higgar Tor from Burbage South

So, what to do in the middle of a walk with no Pilates teacher to hand? I noticed that my upper back was braced and absolutely static, no counter rotation happening at all. With that in mind, I visualised my helium balloon supporting me from the crown of my head to gently ease my back into a helpful central longitudinal axis alignment that would also be relaxed and responsive. All well and good but no noticeable change in my back. Next, I paid some attention to how my foot was coming into contact with the ground and how that felt as the movement transferred up my leg and into the pelvis, how my pelvis carried my trunk forward over the foot - just noticed, didn't try to change anything. I continued to encourage my back to soften and the spine to ease upwards whilst checking that my sternum was staying in a neutral position - that I wasn't tensing up and sticking my chest out. Ten minutes or so passed and there it was - the back relaxed and the counter rotation returned, tuning in with the foot strike and the hip movement. My gluts were able to do their job and the feeling of easy propulsion returned. It felt good! I have been practicing this tuning in to walking exercise quite intensively over the last few months and at last it paid off. I will make a video to demonstrate and post it up here soon.

Looking towards Sheffield and home from Houndkirk Road


Saturday, 5 September 2020

So, how's the running going?

  (Tammy in the Peak District; sadly, too old to run with me now but still enjoys her walks.)

So, a while back I mentioned that I had begun running again. Well, it's been a slow progress but I am past the 5km mark and have been spending the last few weeks consolidating that. Sheffield is VERY steep and hilly so I find it wise to use the couch to 10k plan as a rough guide rather than an absolute training regime, not least because I am still building up from a long period of injury issues and at my grand age of nearly 49, I don't bounce back quite the way I used to. My knee has been fine on the whole although it still had its not so good days, but unfortunately I managed to irritate my Achilles tendon on the other leg last week so I am having to settle that back down again. Too much, too soon - I had begun pushing myself on those hills! 

I have found all the JEMS exercises I have been doing really helpful, both in my running and walking. I was making my way up some very steep steps out of a valley and I noticed that my trunk was staying upright but relaxed and responsive because I was flexing so well at the knee and hip, allowing my pelvis to carry my trunk whilst my gluts and legs did what they are supposed to. I think as well as the foundational exercises such as listening foot, hunting in the forest (explores how you are carrying yourself as you walk) and thigh slides, the frequent knee raises and vertical hip release practice have been a turning point for me, especially with keeping my weight over my feet whilst lowering my centre of gravity to keep relaxed control when going downhill. There are links to the exercise videos for these both on my blog and on the JEMS website: 

Go to the YouTube channel link.

The JEMS Facebook page also has useful videos such as this one, so much shorter than my explanation of vertical hip release! There is also another one on the YouTube channel.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Breathing during the time of Covid-19

Two interviews on the radio caught my attention this week. One was about a trial into providing singing classes with the ENO voice coaches for those experiencing chronic breathing problems after being seriously ill with C-19. Another was looking at the effect of stress on where we hold the tension in our body. In both cases the body tends to shift to overusing the accessory muscles for breathing, for instance the scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, pectorals and the abdominal muscles. This can cause a tense, braced posture with the shoulders coming in, and excessive neck tension. 

So, why singing lessons? A voice coach will help people to use the diaphragm; this is the muscle we use during passive breathing. The coach will also encourage people to move from just breathing into the upper part of the chest wall - a frequent stress response - to using the whole of the rib cage. I often notice with my clients who have very tight upper body muscles that they tend to gasp when asked to breath in, using great effort in the upper body muscles. Instead of this, the coaching encourages relaxed, deep, effective breathing. This relaxed style of breathing has another positive effect as it encourages letting go of the fight/flight/freeze stress response and moving into rest, digest and repair mode.

My blog post on 08/05/2020 includes two videos demonstrating breathing exercises.
There are also many online videos and articles by yoga, singing and breathing instructors. Let's all relax and breath easily.

Interesting massage article.

A colleague pointed me in the direction of this article and it is an interesting read. In particular, it addresses the now outdated concept that harder and deeper (painful!) is better. My own massage practice has shifted to concentrating more on the neural aspect of the treatment; the feedback to the nervous system from the massage treatment. This compliments the JEMS approach which is also very much about interacting with the nervous system. These days I think of massage as a conversation with the body; rather than charging in heavy handed, you ask nicely to be let in. The more relaxed the client is, the more effective the touch communication and hence the overall treatment.