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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jul 18 2018 08:00AM

Sports massage specialist - and dance - Lauren O' Sullivan considers how injuries can become more entrenched without listening to them at first, sharing a personal experience for you to avoid!

Injuries. Nobody wants them but almost everybody gets one. At some point in our lives we will injure ourselves. No matter how small that injury may be it can affect our everyday lives and prevent us from being the active and busy people we are. Things we take for granted, like running for the bus or walking uphill, can suddenly prove impossible and our injury becomes annoyingly inconvenient. Put on top of that a love for the gym, sport, or any highly physical career and it can put a big part of our life on hold.

So what do we do about it? Well, I can certainly give you a personal account of what not to do! I have been suffering with high hamstring tendinopathy since November last year. This means that I have damaged the hamstring tendon that originates from the ischial tuberosity (the ‘sit bones’); basically it’s a pain in the butt. I was working as a dancer in rehearsals for a very demanding show and the pain came on gradually. At first I just thought that my hamstring was tight from previous days’ rehearsals, but it soon became clear that the pain was concentrated at the top of my hamstring at the attachment point. The pain became more concentrated and my range of movement started to decline. I knew something was up.

Off I went to the physio and he told me it was most likely hamstring tendinopathy. The best treatment? REST. The one thing I couldn’t do as we were about to open the show. From then on it would be performing every day, most of the time twice a day, meaning repetitive movements and the worst of all: high kicks. I wanted to keep performing, or to put it another way, I needed to keep my job! The physio gave me some shock wave therapy, taped me up and said to sit on an ice pack whenever I had a break in the dressing room. Does that sound like the way to a speedy recovery? I can tell you that it wasn’t. Here we are in July and although my range of motion is slowly creeping back (thanks to my wonderful Osteopath), I am still suffering with the injury and its associated pain. As I sit here now writing this I can already feel pain around my right sit bone.

I hope that most of you reading this don’t have a dance career or other elite sport that restricts you in your recovery from any injuries. If that is the case then you have no excuse but to REST any acute injuries. I truly believe that rest is the most important thing at the very start of recovery. Most likely the injured area will become inflamed and red and you must let your body do this. It is its way of protecting the area and ensuring that blood flow is maximal to kick start the healing process. Let it happen. Anti-inflammatory drugs will inhibit this and while on the outside it may look better, the pain lessens, and you are able to go on with your day, it is not actually helping the problem. After about 3 days of TOTAL REST you may venture outside of your hermit-like existence and seek professional advice from either a doctor, physiotherapist, osteopath or someone similar. I know I may seem like a bit of a hypocrite, but I am so aware of proper healing because of the fact that I am dealing with a chronic injury. All injuries are different and need different things, but the one thing they have in common is benefitting from rest. It certainly doesn’t do any harm.

Perhaps the most irritating thing when you are an active person with an injury is the feeling that all your hard fitness work is just going to reverse itself. It doesn’t have to. Depending on what the injury is you can still train other parts of your body in isolation or take up a less impactful method of exercise. My favourites when injured are swimming, Pilates and yoga. Swimming is so great for injuries involving the foot, ankle or lower leg because there is no weight bearing involved. Pilates is always good to incorporate in your training regime no matter what, because a deep core strength will support your body in everything you do and help with proper alignment. I would say that Pilates is actually great for injury prevention! The last one, yoga, I still couldn’t do for a while into my recovery. With tendon injuries it can be difficult because they shouldn’t be stretched or strained, and yoga is all about flexibility. However, for injuries in the belly of a muscle, most physiotherapists will advise a stretching programme and yoga will do wonders to complement this.

Ultimately it is about listening to your body. If something hurts, don’t do it! Some people talk about good pain and bad pain…for example if you are stretching a muscle it can be painful but not in a harmful way. Most people can recognise when the pain becomes too much or ‘bad’, indicating that they have gone too far. On the flip side of that, we often cannot stretch certain muscles enough by ourselves. I would suggest seeing a sports massage therapist (such as myself!) or a physio to help you out with passive stretching. Particularly post massage, when all of your muscles are warm and adaptable, an assisted passive stretch can hit the spot.

Take care out there and rest up! (Just think of it as an excuse to have a 3-day long Netflix marathon #injuredandwinning).

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jul 11 2018 08:00AM

Sports massage expert, Tessa Glover, shares some info about the all-important powerhouse that is the glutes and suggests how you can stregnthen them and use them more effectively to improve your running and reduce the chance of injury. Helpful stuff!

‘The glutes’ are three muscles of the hip called the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. The minimus is located beneath the medius and the medius partially beneath the max and their actions are the following:

The glute max has an upper and a lower part. The upper abducts (lifts the leg away from the side of the body) and laterally rotates the thigh. The lower extends (takes the leg behind the

body) and laterally rotates the thigh and extends the trunk of the body.

The glute medius and the glute minimus both abduct the femur at the hip joint and rotates the thigh medially (inwards and towards the other leg)

So now you know where they are and what they do why is it so important to know how to engage them and to feel them being used when running?

A simple explanation is to think of your glutes as the powerhouse of the lower body. If you can run with your glutes activated then you are not relying on your hamstrings as much, therefore reducing the risk of injury in these three overused muscles of the posterior thigh. You will run faster and more efficiently.

Two ways to activate your glutes

1. Hold on to something for balance then stand on your left leg. Stand up straight and lift your right leg behind you without bending your knee. Now, lower your leg and squeeze your right glutes. Then do the same movement again and see if you notice a difference. You should feel a warm ‘burn’ feeling in the glutes as you lift the right leg for the second time. Try this experiment on the other leg now.

2. Hold on to something for balance with your right hand, raise your left leg with your knee bent and lift it as high as you can until you feel that warm burn sensation in your right glutes, hold that pose for up to a minute, then externally rotate your left hip and hold that for a further minute. Repeat on the other leg.

Now that you know the feeling that you are looking for, try to keep that burn feeling as you walk, very slowly and pronounced with the thigh raised and knee bent (a little like a dressage horse would do) for about 10 paces. Now try it with a slow run. Do these as part of your warm up before running and see what a difference it makes.

Strengthening the glutes

Because many of us work in sedentary jobs, the glutes become lazy so you may find that even though you now know how to activate them, they may start to fatigue quickly.

Here are some simple exercises to begin to strengthen the different glute muscles.

Glute maximus

Lie on your front with your head resting on your hands. Keeping your front hip bones flat against the floor, lift your left leg,keeping it straight, approximately 6 inches (15cm) off the floor, then abduct the same leg (taking it slightly sideways away from your body) approximately 4-6 inches (12-15cm), then return it to the raised but straight position and then lower it to the floor. Repeat until tired and then do the same on the right leg.

Glute medius and minimus

Lie on your left hand side, with your left arm extended above your head and your head rested on your arm. Bring both knees up to a 90 degree angle to your body and with your ankles staying together, externally rotate your right hip (open up towards the celing) and then return to the first position. Continue until your hip is a little fatigued. Then change sides.

To feel the muscles being used, rest the palm of your right hand on the side of your hip as your externally rotate it.

Images from “Atlas of the Skeletal Muscles” by Robert J Stone and Judith A Stone

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jul 4 2018 08:00AM

Yoga teacher Emma Klein shares how yoga can positively impact your sleep - and therefore the rest of your life.

When my little one was a tiny baby, I never really appreciated the fact that even though we were waking up every hour or two to feed her, the rest of the time she was pretty complacent. Fast forward to now and we have a little terror who never sits still.

Going into this motherhood thing, I was fully expecting to be tired (mostly just for the first few months), to have days where it all got too much, but overall, to just be able to continue on pretty much as normal. Even though I knew from friends and family how time consuming and exhausting being a mother is, I still don't think I really understood it until I've had to do it!

As kids get older, they fight against you more and try and assert their will at strange times. I have discovered that the tired crazy monster that appears when my daughter is refusing to sleep is like a belligerent drunken tornado who lies on the floor screaming, “I’m not tired!” until she suddenly passes out dead to the world for anything from 30 seconds to 2 hours.

So, let’s talk about sleep.

As an adult, we expect to get between 5 - 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. We dream of the days when we were able to have naps during the day and often can think of nothing better than snuggling down in bed with a book and a cup of tea (or at least I can't).

When we are short on sleep, we start to become short on a lot of other things too. Patience often is one of the first things to go, closely followed by concentration. When this happens we take longer to do simple things and the next things to go out the window are diet and exercise.

As an adult, having a toddler isn’t the only reason we become short on sleep. Being tired can be caused by many different things from worry and stress all the way through to serious health conditions. And these causes can all be treated in different ways. But one thing that can help you to feel refreshed and give you a little bit more energy without any caffeine is Yoga.

The exercise can help tire out the body and quieten the mind.

Often when we can’t sleep it is because we are stressed. This is also regularly accompanied by sitting at a desk all day. Getting the body moving and focusing completely on these movements helps work off the excess muscular energy and gives the mind a mini break to not think about everything else in your life.

The meditation aspect, whether actual seated meditation or the 2 minutes in savasana can help give the brain a mini rest.

Savasana is the most important and difficult pose to work on in Yoga. Lying completely still and thinking of nothing is much harder than it seems. But after a good yoga practice the body is tired and the rest is welcomed and with practice the mind learns to focus on the breath and eventually on nothing. This comes with time and patience but the lessons can be taken into a meditation practice and as this practice develops, eventually you will be able to find calm and moments of stillness where ever you are, whether that is in a quiet space or a busy tube.

Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep) is extremely beneficial and just 1 hour of Yoga Nidra can be the equivalent of 4 hours sleep to both body and mind.

Yoga Nidra is a practice all on its own. It is something that can be done in a Yoga Nidra class or you can download a track to play at home. This practice taps into the Alpha brainwaves and takes you to a place of neither sleeping nor wakefulness. Where sleep can be a rest for the body and meditation a rest for the mind, Yoga Nidra tries to merge these together and bring rest to both the body and mind. This practice can be extremely profound and has been shown to help with many different types of tiredness and insomnia, as well as PTSD and other mental health issues.

It can be really hard to find the few minutes a day to have a daily practice, but even attending a class once a week can have longer lasting benefits and is worth the effort. And if you really can’t find the time for the hour of yoga, then download a 15min Yoga Nidra and play it while you are lying in bed at night. You will be amazed at how well you sleep.

Namaste everyone and happy sleeping!


Class Schedule can be found either on West Norwood Therapies website or my own Yoga Flo-ga website

Contact details if you have any questions: www.yogafloga.com OR info@yogafloga.com

Source for Yoga Nidra Tracks: http://www.yoganidranetwork.org/

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jun 27 2018 08:00AM

Osteopath and yoga teacher Yinka Fabusuyi considers some self-care steps you can take to support yourself during this hayfever season.

Finally Summer is in full swing. Unfortunately this is not good news for everyone, hay fever sufferers are entering a tricky time of year, and South London air is certainly not fresh.

Symptoms can be miserable. Wheezing, stinging runny eyes, congestion of the nose and chest, and itchy throat and lots of sneezing.

The breathing challenges which can be associated with hay fever and asthma can contribute to tightness in the chest, and associated constriction in the neck and shoulders. The muscles around the upper ribs and collar bone can get stiff and achy as they assist in breathing mechanics.

Breathing exercises and postural advice

There is poor evidence to suggest that poor posture causes serious problems, but poor posture will not help pre-existing pain and stiffness. If you are feeling wheezy and tight in these areas focusing your breath in the abdominal area can help. To do this: Pull your shoulder blades back and drop your shoulders. Lift your chest slightly but do not puff it out or arch the lower back. Breathe in as you gently push your abdomen out. As you do this try to keep the area below your collar bones fairly still.

Breathe out and draw your abdomen towards your spine gently, Feel the air being gently expelled. Whenever possible breath through the nose. (Not always easy if you are suffer-ing with hay fever). Without straining or forcing the breath, try to breathe out as fully as you can before you begin to take your next breath in. This can help to relax the muscles of the upper chest. Tension in the upper part of the neck and back of the head can lead to headaches. Avoid jutting your head forward when sitting at your computer or laptop, and keep your shoulders down.

Seasonal bedding and mattress advice

Now is a great time for a good old spring clean and clear out. Lifting your mattress and vacuuming the bed base and mattress can help get rid of some allergens such as dust mites which may trigger asthma. (Get help with this as you do not want to strain your back). Turning your mattress can help preserve the life of your mattress, as well as stop wear in one spot. A mattress topper, and pillowcase protectors can also help minimise dust mites, as they can be washed regularly at high temperatures, along with any bedding.

Help with hay fever

There are several ways to manage hay fever and seasonal asthma and whether you choose to use natural or medical remedies, start early. Don’t wait until your symptoms have escalated.

1. During the hay fever season wash or rinse your hair before going to bed. This helps to get rid of any pollen and stops it being rubbed onto your pillow and causing further irrita-tion.

2. Line your nostrils with a thin layer of petroleum jelly on days when the pollen count is high.

3.If you have a smart phone download a pollen App.

4. Try not to dry your clothes outdoors on days when the pollen count is high.

5.Wear wrap around sun glasses.

6.Ask your pharmacist for advice about remedies and medications for hay fever.

Welcome to our blog where we share tips, advice and thoughts from our fantastic team of experienced practitioners