Wednesday, 6 April 2022

April already!

 Just checked, and this is my first post in 2022! How did three months fly by so quickly?

Well, the first reason is this distraction arrived in our household! She is called Daisy and is about two years old; full of beans and keeping us busy as we learn each others ways. I have really missed having a dog; they are a huge commitment but an equally huge source of joy.

A big part of having a dog in the house is the training, of course. With a dog like Daisy positive reinforcement is the way, and this got me thinking about how we train ourselves. So often I hear clients being down on themselves which can lead to a cycle of negative thinking - which for many of us actually means we feel even less like achieving our goals. Much better to focus on what you are achieving - note what you did do and how you felt - and then set realistic and achievable short and long term goals for where you want go next. Be kind to yourself; if you're having a stressful time or sleeping badly, recognise that you will have less left over for your exercise goals and tweak accordingly. Small, achievable steps can get us a long way.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Goodbye 2021, here's looking at 2022!

The 919 Clinic is now shut for the holiday, we'll reopen on Tuesday 4th January.

Thank you to all my clients for your support over the last year; I really appreciate people following our guidelines so willingly. I have not had a single cold or other illness since February 2020 - very unusual for me - and this is largely due to my clients being so responsible and thoughtful, not only wearing masks and washing hands (as I do) but also contacting me to reschedule if feeling unwell. 

A reminder that the Exercises page on my website contains links to various videos I've made, demonstrating simple exercises to help keep you moving well exercises.

Wishing everybody health and happiness for 2022!

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Some simple neck stretches

 I am often asked for these so have at last got round to making a video - at home on my day off, so please forgive the lack of clinical presentation!

As ever, keep to a comfortable stretch that you can relax into. You can do all or some of the stretches shown as often as you find comfortable and useful.

neck exercises video

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Where is that tension locked up....

 Whilst indulging in my new pastime of spinning wool, I have been monitoring myself for habits that may end up limiting how long I can spin at a time - because of course I want to spin for hours, effortlessly! One habit I noticed is that I tend sub-consciously to create tension in my lower back; this gives me a nice, solid feeling of support - but is it actually going to help? 

- sustaining tension there is tiring and will probably give me back ache, limiting how long I can spin (and I don't want to associate my lovely new hobby with pain!)

- creating tension in my back affects other parts of me, for instance how easily my arms and shoulders move as I handle the wool.  

This is not a habit limited to new spinners; as I sit here typing this I notice I am beginning to do the same tensing up. So, how to support myself effortlessly as I sit at desk or wheel?

- visualise deep inner support to encourage using your postural muscles that are designed to do this kind of work all day without growing fatigued. Imagine a helium balloon is attached to the crown of your head and gently drawing you up so that your front and back lengthen equally (you may feel a slight tightening around your stomach). I also like to imagine an inner tube running up the centre of my body and being pumped full of air, or that my vertebrae are gently expanding up. Check your chin - is it remaining level? As your neck lengthens the vertebrae will move into a more neutral position, still keeping the curves of the spine but less exaggerated than when your chin pokes forward.

- take some time through out the day to allow your attention to travel through your body, identifying areas of tension. Allow that tension to ease away - easy breathing helps this - and explore how you can carry yourself with minimal effort instead.

- have a look at these videos by the physiotherapist and movement coach Joanne Elphinston (much shorter than the ones I make!) for tips on freeing up the back: 

Thigh slides to free up the upper body, great to build into your day for instance if you are sitting down at a computer:

This one really gets the upper body moving - Joanne made this video at home during the first lockdown:

This one explores easy posture with that inner support:

Sunday, 8 August 2021

A new obsession....

 As many of my clients know, I have a slight (ahem!) obsession with wool and knitting. I have loved everything about wool from a very young age, and have always sought out quality woolen textiles. I did learn to knit aged eight, but then forgot about it until my 30s when I was inspired to take up the needles again by younger friends who took their knitting to the climbing crag and on camping trips. One thing led to another, I became obsessed with learning about sheep breeds and sourcing wool from small, sustainable non-intensive UK farms and began to fill every moment of spare time with knitting or reading about knitting and all things wool related. From there it was a small step to spinning on a spindle, and then this happened:

Wheel on the day of arrival (excuse the mess!)

My lovely sister-in-law and her mother loaned me a spinning wheel! I am now practicing on it every day.....

My first spinning effort

.....and of course this has opened up another delicious world of spinning techniques, raw wool, combing and carding.....

On a professional note, I am going to have to watch out for my back and hamstrings. As a beginner I tend to tense up with concentration which tightens up my muscles; experienced spinners recommend learning to relax as you want to be able to sustain the momentum for hours(!) Also, as with driving, there is a tendency for the leg that is doing the work to tighten up through the hamstring, just as drivers often notice happens when they are having to change gear and speed frequently. I am working out how to become more relaxed and will report back once I have found a solution...

Sunday, 11 July 2021

How to help your knees when walking downhill...

Image: Frantisek Duris

I often hear from my clients that they experience pain at the front of the knee when walking downhill, especially steep slopes. It's worth having someone look at you when this is happening, to see if you are leaning backwards; this pushes your weight through the knee and puts it under pressure. It also makes it harder for your gluteal muscles to do their share of the work, and you're more likely to slip as your weight is not over your feet.

These two videos from Joanne Elphinston, a wonderful physiotherapist and movement coach, demonstrate and explain this beautifully (the first link is to a post on her website, but if you read through you will find the link to the video; the second is an instagram post). She shows how to flex at your hip so that your torso stays up and over your hips and feet, allowing the gluts to do their work whilst the hip, knee and ankle joints flex to absorb the load.

JEMS knee pain walking downhill

You can also find my own video on Vertical Hip Release on my website, if you scroll down this page:

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Hours update and a useful link for runners looking for home exercises.

I hope you are well and enjoying the long June days. 

First, a quick update: I am now working Mondays as well as Tuesday - Friday (early closing on Wednesday). I am continuing to arrange my own bookings so please use the contact details on my website to book an appointment:

I am often asked about exercises; I do give these as part of my treatment plan for my clients but I thought I would include this link to a blog post by Mike James, a physiotherapist specialising in endurance sport, where he looks at the value of strength training for runners, and then gives six exercises you can do at home with no or minimal equipment: