Monday, 18 January 2021

Walking not slipping...


It's been pretty slippy out there recently; when it hasn't been icy, it's been muddy, and sometimes it's been slushy mud over ice. All a bit of a challenge to our balance! At this time it's very important to look after yourself and not end up injured so you may be using studs or other footwear to improve your grip, but there are also movement strategies to remember:

  • Relax! Let your body stay relaxed so it can monitor what is happening underfoot and make minute adjustments to help you adapt and balance. Your nervous system will be working with your musculoskeletal system far faster than you can consciously control!
  • Remember to breathe; as well as being generally a good idea this will help you keep relaxed.
  • if you slip but recover your balance before you fall that is amazing - your body is looking after you!
  • Look at my blog post on vertical hip release; this movement strategy will help your body absorb and respond to the challenges posed by slippy conditions.
  • Look at my blog post 'Hunting in the Forest' which is about keeping your centre of gravity over your feet as you walk; again this will help with keeping your balance and feeling secure as you move forward.
You can find the two blog posts on the 'exercises' page of my website, scroll down to the bullet points where you can find the links to the posts.

I sometimes find myself nervous about going out in icy or frosty conditions as we live on a steep hill, but if I use these strategies plus maybe some grips that I can pull over my trainers then I find I cope just fine - and feel so much better for getting outside! Obviously I am not you so do use your own judgement to keep safe out there - especially when there is black ice.

Friday, 8 January 2021

Retraining the brain around persistent pain.

There has been a great deal of research into pain in recent years; it is now much better understood that perception of pain, as in how much pain we feel, is mediated by the brain rather than the tissues. Many of you will have seen a short talk on pain, 'Why Things Hurt' by Professor Lorimer Moseley made back in 2011. Here is a recording of a more recent lecture by him that as well as explaining what is going on when we feel pain also explores (from 48 minutes in) how we can manage our pain and retrain our pain response.  

One of the things that I really like about how he talks about pain is that he emphasises that many of his patients with chronic, persistent pain are some of the bravest people you could meet. He understands that persistent pain can get us down, that we can begin to worry that people don't believe us or that they think we are 'weak', or we may begin to be frightened of what is happening with our body to create all this pain. This is why he is so keen to educate about pain and as well as watching the video I recommend having a look at the two websites linked to below. 

In summary:
Pain is there to protect us, but it can become oversensitised and turn from a useful tool to something that is controlling and restricting us.
It is influenced by context and meaning - past history/associations; our mood, fears, thoughts and health; our beliefs, knowledge, culture, social circle and so on (listed in the video).
Inflammation elevates the pain response.
Perception of pain can be dampened down by:
- understanding what is happening, and being shown understanding.
- having patience and persistence as retraining something that has developed to protect us will take time.
- having someone to support and coach you through the process.

He also emphasises that movement and activity is good especially once a safe baseline has been established to build from; not moving (where chronic pain often takes us) is not good. We need to retrain the brain that movement is safe - something that many movement therapies such as JEMS embrace.
My own journey with chronic pain turned a corner when I discovered two different yoga teachers, teaching very different types of yoga, who provided a safe context for me to explore - gently, over many weeks so that my brain could listen to my body and recalibrate - movement that I had learnt to avoid, and to learn that movement was not only safe but felt helpful and liberating.

Useful links and resources:
- These two sites are mentioned by Lorimer Moseley and have been created to provide help for people experiencing chronic pain:

- This is a link to a pamphlet on persistent pain, produced by the Tasmanian health system. It is very simply but thoroughly explained.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Beginning 2021 with a lockdown

As expected, we are in another lockdown and I have had to postpone in person appointments until the infection level allows them to resume. 'Sports and massage therapists' are listed by the government guidance as one of the close contact services that must close. 

The following paragraph is from the legislation and lists some of the exemptions. Some have suggested that Level 5 Soft Tissue Therapists could be meant by 'other medical or health services' but I believe this to be a misinterpretation. Soft Tissue Therapists are not at present officially recognised as a medical or health service and are not included in the Allied Health Professions.

'Paragraph 17: dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services which incorporate personal care services and treatments required by those with disabilities and services relating to mental health,'

I am still here for you; many people have found 30 minute zoom sessions helpful for exploring exercises and breathing, and to generally off load about anything on their mind - I am here to listen! If you would like a zoom session or a phone call you can contact me by email or phone to arrange. I am at present not charging for these sessions - they are my way of offering some support at this time

Wishing you all the best as we continue to go through this difficult time. All of us will be experiencing challenges, do make use of the help out there including from charities such as Mind that have helpful advice on their website on coping strategies. Martin Lewis' website 'Money Saving Expert' has lots of helpful advice on financial aspects of the crisis from universal credit to help for the self employed and small companies.

Take care,