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When we think about exercise, it can often be in the form of assuming “No Pain, No Gain”.
What about when you are affected by back pain (as are 2.6 million adults in the UK alone today??) Do we still feel we can only get results by pushing through?
What about being able to prevent back-pain...can we really push our bodies with gruelling exercise after it has been hunched stiff over a desk all day? Or do we need some elasticity & flexibility to keep us safe??
What might be music to your ears, is the leading-edge science in the field of easing chronic pain, proves that doing movement which creates EASE in the body, actually creates more healing & MORE RESULTS, and a more youthful body.
As we age our connective tissue loses its elasticity, dries out, and starts breaking down. That is why we get wrinkles, but it is also why we start feeling so stiff.
Joints become compressed when we lose hydration & elasticity.
By hydrating the tissues, we ease tension & chronic pain, as well as improving lymphatic drainage (aka bloating & cellulite be gone!) This post is not about drinking water though – its about getting that fluid to the muscles & tissues correctly & flushing them.
In fact, these 3 moves are THE MOST EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES for my clients self-care homework...and it comes in at as little as 5 minutes a day. So before we start thinking about massive overwhelming goals, know that you CAN get huge benefits for your joints and your spine from small well-formulated exercises each day....that takes up less time than a social media scroll.
These 3 moves are key elements behind my revolutionary ‘Back into Balance’ 28 day online Pilates plan, starting on 21st May:
1. Self Massage (using myo-fascial release techniques)
Keeping the spiky ball still, whilst moving your body creates a ‘shearing’ in the connective tissue to gently break up adhesions. This should not cause any pain, but actually feel pleasant!
This works wonders on the piriformis muscle (which plays a part in some low back pain symptoms)
There is that famous saying about those that prepare, succeed.
Have you ever experienced this?? The idea of prep used to make me run for the hills, thinking it would be the end of my spontaneous days!!! Now I have experienced that when I prep ahead, I actually get more freedom.
And this couldn't be more true than for our physical bodies.
So many 1:1 clients come to see me because they don't feel as resilient in their muscles as they used to...and I abolutely love letting them know that there is soooo much we can do to get the bounce back into their body. We don't have to accept most of the ageing processes ;-)
So what are these golden nuggets that could expand the youth of our muscles? Grab your mat & a big glass of water...let's get down to a couple of my most useful strategies of preparing your body for your best day ever...the night before. (For morning routines see here.)
If there was one supplement I recommend to most clients, it is Magnesium. Magnesium helps in over 300 reactions in the body, including muscle repair, recovery & good sleep. It is vital for anyone who works out, or has a lot of stress, or isn't sleeping well. The types of magnesium I often recommend is either powdered - like the one I take 'Fem-Balance' by Nutri. Powdered magnesium is very 'bio-available' which means your cells know what it is & can uptake it really well.
For some, I recommend a magnesium spray directly onto their muscles. I love the range by Seven Minerals as they add specific organic essential oils to the magnesium to help with different ailments, like headaches, PMS, aches & pains or anxiety.
For those of you in the UK, you can grab yours from our store here.
For even more nutritional repair ideas, download my recipes for easing back pain here.
"No matter how much I get done, or is left undone, at the end of the day I am enough" Brene Brown (my favourite Author, ever.)
Night time is a time for healing & regenerating. When was the last time you allowed yourself to a lovely calming bedtime routine? I have to conciously tell myself to stop doing the chores....because I know the impact it has on my sleep, and therefore my repair.
If you are questioning whether winding down a little earlier could help, try #3 for a week & let me know the result of how bouncey you feel the next morning!!
Mindful moves before bed are wonderful for preparing for a easier morning. Studies show that when we relax our muscles before bed, we hold those new relaxed patterns for longer, and are more eased out when we step out of bed in the morning.
The current Government NICE guidelines advise movement methods like pilates to help in the mangement & recovery of low back pain. Whilst I always advise you seek confirmation from your GP 1st, they may agree that these moves that our clients have benefited from, may help you too!
Check out the moves I love the most on my YouTube channel by clicking the picture below:
In an ideal morning, perhaps we would wake up naturally with the sunlight, spring out of bed and go do a workout to feel mobile, energized & mentally lifted.
Or maybe waking up mindfully & padding over to your kitchen to pour a hot lemon/cup of tea & take it back to bed is your thing....
For most though, or first few minutes of the day is our noisey alarm clock, or an equally noisey little one jumping onto your bed!
Mine is definitely the latter! Then add in the stiffness perhaps - that statistically 75-85% of people experience in their lives...it can make for a groggy morning!!
So, realistically, knowing that our mornings can be hectic, whilst also really wanting to feel energized...is there a way to factor in something to nourish our muscles & mind??
Being in business now for over 13 years (I know....its getting harder to pretend I'm 25!) I've worked with 100's of clients to get them out of pain and back into balance.
Time and time again, the results come in when we combine manual therapy (massage) with Pilates & anti-inflammatory nutrition protocols.
This method is working so well, I just know I have to share it, so everyone can benefit.
Do you want to diminish your low back pain?
Do you want to get back into exercise, but you are nervous, or unsure of what to do?
If so, I really hope my top morning rituals can help you too!
Here are my top 3 morning rituals to get your daily off to an easier start:
1. Activation Triggers
These strategies here, start off with my daily 'activation triggers' (things that I put in place beforehand to make it easier).
My 1st activation trigger starts off with my work-out clothes being hung over my bed the night before. These work-out clothes need not be 'insta-worthy' BUT they are the most powerful thing I do to feel my best every day. All I need to do is crawl out of bed to get them on!
2. Taming the flames of Inflammation
Once my work-out clothes are on...I then go and down 500mls of water to get rid of toxins & revitilise my blood, whilst the kettle is boiling for my hot water & lemon. Lemon is actually really alkaline (which our bones, blood and basically our whole body loves!!) The massive amount of water here has been clinically proven to shift our metabolism to work 30% higher for at least 1 hour afterwards. How cool is that!!
3. Mindful Movement
Everyone is unique, so the correct programming for back-pain is absolutely essential. Always check with your GP before embarking on an exercise program. We follow the NICE guidelines here at Vitality for our 1:1 clients - which is the latest government guideline that states that manual therapy (ie - massage) as part of a treatment package that includes Pilates is an effective way to treat low back pain.
Our classes are small groups so we can pay close attention to everyone. The following video is some of our most mindful & useful of movements, that I hope can start your day off to a day filled with Vitality! If you have non-specific low back pain, these could be ideal. These movements are physio approved for disc-issues, but please do check with whoever is taking care of your back before doing a new routine - click the picture to join in:
Alex has a tool in his massage techniques that is getting a lot of attention...
So here is a spotlight on the techniques that has been helping rehab our Pilates Instructor Dan.
Dry Needling: Can it get me out of pain?
Dry Needling uses the same needle as an acupuncturist uses, but the application is very different:
Dry needling is used to de-activate trigger points, restore motion & function, and increase repair in the area.
You may know if you've had a trigger point as it can feel sensitive & lumpy to touch - it can refer pain out to other areas of the body. For example, Common trigger points in the neck & shoulder could be referring as a headache.
The history of dry needling dates back to the 1940s with Janet Travells ground-breaking work on where she mapped out most of the trigger points in the body & their referal patterns - her work is the foundation of a lot of physical therapy & remedial work today. Travell found that 'Dry Needling' effectively de-activates the painful triggers and eases the muscle in a very time-efficient way. (1)
Here at Vitality, Alex finds combining dry needling with stretching techniques highly effective & often uses this skills with clients from his football teams through to clients with chronic pain.
Perhaps you've been hunched over a desk all day?
Maybe you are considering dusting off the trainers and heading out for a run or a HIIT session now the weather is (slightly) improving?
Then comes the big question, to stretch or not to stretch as a warm-up?
In my clinic I see A LOT of recreational runners, who for most of their day, sit at a desk.
I get asked A LOT about how to warm-up to prevent pain & injuries
Rather than the out-dated 'holding' of static stretches in obvious muscle groups before a dynamic exercise like running, I ask you to INCREASE their range of movement in areas that have been stiff - like doing slow and steady lunges across the field before running.
Static stretching has been proven to actually SLOW us down, whereas dynamic stretches get the blood pumping & joints moving.
I've also been asking clients to notice the areas that they may have 'muscle amnesia' - for example - do we think the glute max will spring into action if it's been sat on & lengthened all day?
I think not.
Get your roller or spiky balls out to stimulate & get oxygen & blood flowing into the tissues.
A fired up glute is a HAPPY glute that will support your lower back much more!
you can get my PDF of 2 of my FAVOURITE warm-up drills here.
IF you enjoy running or indeed power-walking, but keep getting repeat niggles and injuries, our 'Rehab 4 Runners' workshop is 'running' on Friday 18h March at 6.30pm.
I have collaborated with the powerful minds of Alex (our remedial therapist) who is HOT with knee issues, and Dan (our PT) who is the go-to-guy for gait analysis.
we have a limit of 12 spaces, which you can book here.
The workshop at 6.30-8pm entails:
- Gait analysis & myofascial assessment
- Specific stretching to prevent injuries & rehab current issues
- Strength & conditioning protocols specific to rehabing the hip, knee & foot
- A manual of top key stretches/strengthening protocols unique to you
- A pre & post workout refreshment with recipe to take home
sending you love,
Michaela has touched my heart this year - it is heart-warming to see such an inspirational lady! Well done Michaela - your commitment truly gives hope to everyone who is thinking about embarking on their own empowering journey to health, and your story has been a joy to watch unfold this year. WELL DONE!!