The One Relationship that Lasts Your Whole Life.......

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Relationship with your body is the one relationship that lasts your whole life.

Relationships affect us on a daily basis, and most of us pay attention to how we relate to our family, our spouse or partner, our friends, colleagues and pretty much everyone come into contact with. But how many of us prioritize our relationship with our own body?

Our bodies are amazing!

When I look back on the abuse I put my body through, especially in my late teens and 20’s, with too much partying, not enough sleep, probably enough exercise and certainly no thought, I am sometimes amazed at how good my health is now. But our body is designed to be healthy, and designed to recover from trauma and injury be it accidental or self-infliecte. Anyone who remembers SuperSize Me, knows that healing is possible.

But as I grow older, it has made me reflect on how little I paid attention and what the consequences of not looking after my body, compared to now.

What does it mean to “have a relationship with my body?”

You can have several different kinds of relationships with your body including:

  • Conflictual – I want to do something but my body lets me down, or I judge my body, it’s the wrong shape or size, it disappoints me

  • Distant – I ignore my body, I don’t listen to it’s signals, I don’t honour my body’s needs such as basics like nutritious food, exercise, sunlight, rest and instead power through with mental energy

  • Congruent – I recognize that there is wisdom, information, inner guidance and knowing and I listen to my inner voice and act respond

It’s not like you have to listen all the time, but most of the time would be a good idea. We all have times when our body let’s us down a bit, or we ignore the call from our body to do something different like take a break. But if you want to be the best you can be, there is a lot to be said for having a congruent relationship with your body.

Many still follow the old thinking that body and mind are separate, yet without a body the mind has no where to go. How do you relate to your body and does anything need to change?

If you want to change and improve your relationship to your body, you can explore your relationship with your body through our Somato Respiratory Integration workshops and with Network Spinal Analysis, our chiropractic approach.

How Fear Affects Your Body and What to do about it

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Whether you’re pro-Brexit or against, the reporting in the media seems to be creating so much fear in people currently. And it’s showing up in people’s bodies and in their language in ways that I’ve not seen for a long time.

So how do you know you’re affected? What are the signs that you’re more fearful than normal?

When I talk to my clients and also observe how their bodies are, I’m observing several things currently.

  1. More people seem close to tears than normal
    Notice if you are more easily upset that normal. Do you feel like crying, when you'r logical brain says there is no reason to.

  2. Old symptoms seem to be coming back for no reason
    If you can’t explain your pain, it is probably because you’re tensing up unconsciously and “activating your weak spots”.

  3. You can’t switch your brain off at night
    Lots of people are reporting weird dreams, busy brains, thoughts, unexplained worries.

  4. Your Anxiety Levels are Up
    This is the most easily attributable to Brexit. So many people are worried about the uncertainty, about what may never happen, and it’s infectious. It’s like you can catch “fear and worry”.

So what to do?

The first think to do is to observe yourself. Are you more irritable than normal? Are you worrying? Are you fixated on the news? Is your body tense, tight or painful? Is it more so than normal? Are you consciously worrying about Brexit?

The best things I know for releasing tension from your body are:

  1. exercise - something you enjoy

  2. get out in nature

  3. spend time with a friend and consciously talk about things you are interested in and bring you pleasure / avoid people who just want to talk “fear”

  4. watch the news with caution, checking in with how it makes you feel (mind and body)

  5. meditation - great for calming mind and body

  6. somato-respiratory integration (if you don’t know this, come to a Discover workshop)

  7. Get adjusted - NSA Chiropractic helps to take stress out of your body, calming body and mind


Setting Your Health Goals for 2019?

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So January is here. Have you set your New Years Resolutions yet? Are you doing a “dry January”? Have you joined a gym (again) to try and get fit? How are you bringing in the New Year?

Personally, I used to set “resolutions” every year, and then spend January working out how I was going to break them and feeling what really mattered to me. And generally within a few weeks, they’d all be forgotten until the next year.

But what about health resolutions?

Obviously my passion is health and wellbeing. It’s my work, it’s a big part of my life. I spend time outside of work reading research on nutrition, listening to podcasts on the latest research. It’s definitely “more than a job” to me.

A question that comes up for me over and over regarding health is how to achieve my goals around my health. So having talked to many people over several decades about health goals, most of you included, I wanted to remind you of some of the principles that make the biggest difference:

1.       Make sure you state what you want, not what you don’t want!

Do you know how many people write goals along the lines of:

i)                    Lose Weight

ii)                   Get out of pain

iii)                 Stop beating myself up

The problem with this is you’re focusing on losing something, but the brain hears:

i)                    Weight

ii)                   Pain

iii)                 Beating myself up

 

2.       What do I want to be able to do?

So the first thing is to decide what you want, not what you don’t want.

I’ve also found a great way of looking at my health is look at what I want to be able to do. For example personally, I still play hockey at least once a week. To do that and get the most from it I need to be fit, focused, my back needs to be flexible and strong and I need a clear head (because at my age, I cannot play hockey well if I’m fuzzy or hungover).

So what do you want to be able to do? And how does your body need to be to achieve that?

3.       Ask yourself - how do I want to feel/how do I want to think?

Another area I find really helps me to set my goals is to ask this question. Because personally that’s really important for me too? Because true wellness is not just about my physical body, it’s about my emotional state, my mental state and my spirit. So knowing what I want in all of these areas helps.

 I want to feel relaxed, at ease but also energized and motivated. I want to feel happy, satisfied and excited. And I want to make a difference in the lives of others. And to do that, I have to look after my body to the best of my ability so that I have the capacity to give more.

 So ask yourself:

  1.   How do I want to feel? Physically? Emotionally?

  2. What does my mental state need to be like?

  3. Do I have things that are bigger than me that I want to achieve?

 
4.       Participate in achieving your Goals

I personally believe that a healthy functioning nervous system (through a healthy, functioning spine) takes you a long way towards any health goals. And NSA is one approach that will take you a long way in that direction.

I also know that you have to feel self-empowered, which is where the SRI comes in.

But there is more to wellness than NSA and SRI. What you eat, what you think and how much you move/exercise will also make a difference.

So what do you need to do in 2019 to help move you forwards to a better, healthier version of you?

So if there were a recipe for me to achieve my health goals in 2019 it would contain elements of all of the following:

  • Food/nutrition

  • Exercise

  • what I think/emotional state (SRI or other modalities that empower me)

  • regular care of my spine and nervous system (NSA or subluxation based chiropractic)

  • Things I really enjoy doing that bring me pleasure

  • Things that make a difference to others 

Have fun creating a healthy 2019.

Why does Back Pain "come from no where"?

I’ve had this conversation a thousand times….. it goes something like this…

“Well I’ve had the odd grumble in my back before, but all I did was bend over to pick up the paper and BOOM my back went…it just doesn’t make sense”

What they did varies but this happens over and over and over.

So was really going on, and can this be applied to most people?

What shows up first?

When you actually get down to it, most people with rapid onset low back pain had plenty of warning signals. They often have a history of low grade back pain. They just hoped it would go away (because normally it does), or they were too busy with life to stop and rest or change the activities that were aggravating. Or sometimes, life just simply doesn’t allow us to stop.

If you examine the spines of most people you will find tension and areas of the spine that are either very tight or don’t move properly. Most people actually have areas in their spine that aren’t working to full capacity. So actually, spinal dysfunction often shows up way before the painful injury. But most people are aware of it to some degree in that they may feel a reduction in flexibility or certain things become harder to do, or they feel “stiff and old”. It’s very individual.

And what we tend to do with low grade irritation is we ignore it or take painkillers. We rarely see it as something that should be sorted out before it becomes a problem.

So what triggers the injury? What is the tipping point?

Many people with an acute injury have just gone through or are in the midst of multiple stresses in their life. It may be emotional such as illness or loss of a loved one. It may be work stress, with pressure to perform or earn. Or postural stress with a body not coping with hours at the computer or driving for too many hours. A poor diet lacking in vitamins and minerals can also be a stressor, as can obesity. Lack of exercise, over excising or the wrong kinds of exercise can also put inappropriate stresses on the spine.

So over time tension and dysfunction builds up in the spine. But we are amazingly good at adapting and some people will go for years without experiencing symptoms, and then BOOM!

So what can you do?

  1. Stop. Pay Attention. Listen to your Body.

  2. Find a healthcare professional, such as a chiropractor, who is an expert in the spine and can help you to heal from the injury, not simply mask the pain with drugs and hope it will go away. Because function is rarely restored without changing how your body works. And painkillers mask the problem, and may buy you time for the pain to reduce, but they rarely change the underlying pattern.
    Network Chiropractors not only help your body to release built up tension, but over time they can help you change how you respond and react to stresses so actually your capacity to handle stress can increase - something many of us need in the modern crazy world.

  3. Look at your lifestyle and ask - what can I do to promote healing in my body? You may need to look at diet and nutrition, exercise, stress triggers which may include things you can’t change.

So if you have the warning signals of spinal problems which include back pain, headaches, fatigue, stiffness and so much more, think about dealing with it before the crisis hits. And if the crisis has hit - call us now.

But we live in a culture where you look after your teeth, but only look after your spine when it screams loudly at you.

Getting your Brain Back Online - or How do you change unprofitable or addictive behaviours?

This is a topic that was discussed in a well known journal recently and here is an abbreviated version that may help a few of you look differently at your addictive behaviours and approach them in a different way….

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The part of the brain that deals with impulsive behaviour is the pre-frontal cortex. It’s located in your forehead and is responsible for what’s know as “executive function”. Or put in simple words, it’s responsible for self-regulation, organisation, planning, short term or working memory, strategising/planning and impulse control.

When we have poor impulse control it can be an indicator that this part of the brain is under-performing. It is however possible to exercise or train this part of the brain to work better.

A recent study in the Netherlands trained people over a month in executive function. To their surprise not only did executive function improve, but people spontaneously cut alcohol consumption by approx 10 glasses per week. The placebo group saw no change. The changes in both working memory and alcohol were still in place a month later.

One way of improving executive function is aerobic exercise. A 2013 review showed there was ample evidence to support this. As little as 3 hours per week of aerobic exercise improved the areas of the brain associated with executive function compared to a control group that did flexibility exercises only.

If you go online you can easily find apps that will boost your executive function. Examples include:

  • Luminosity

  • Elevate

  • Mensa training

  • Memorado

So whether exercise appeals or training your brain or both, there is plenty you can do to curb impulsive behaviour.

Refs:

PsycholSci 2011; 22:968-75
PsycholBullRev: 2013;20:73-86

The Network Wave of Healing

Most people who have experienced Network Spinal Analysis love how it makes their body feel.

However, some people find it easy to observe the breath wave that moves up and down their spine, others know that they feel better but because we can’t see our own spine find it hard to relate what is happening (after all we put things we don’t want to deal with to “the back of our mind” which is where the spine is…..).

In this short video observe the movements and listen to the commentary as to what is happening. Then next time you get adjusted (entrained) observe your body with this extra knowledge or if you get a chance as if you can watch someone else for a few minutes. So many people have said – once I saw what was happening I became aware of it. Is this you too?

When is the pain in your foot something to do with your back?

So obviously the first thing to do when you are experiencing pain in your foot is to check your foot. It could be a problem with ill fitting shoes, corns, plantar fasciatis, etc. But have you thought of checking your back, specifically your lumbar spine?

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You might be surprised to find out that irritation of your sciatic nerve can cause intense foot pain.

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body and extends from your lumbar spine down to your foot. Pressure on the nerve in your lumbar spine can cause leg and/or foot pain. Most commonly there is both leg and foot pain, but in some cases foot pain is the only symptom.

The sciatic nerve is made up of two nerve roots – L5 and S1. When the primary nerve involved is S1 you are likely to experience pain on the sole of the foot. When the primary nerve root involved is L5 you may experience and heaviness or even a loss of function of the foot known as foot drop, where you struggle to lift the front part of your foot or it simply slaps the floor as you walk (some of you will remember hearing the noise when John Thaw walked as inspector Morse, he had a foot drop)

Sciatica is commonly caused by Lumbar Disc Herniation, Canal Stenosis, Spondlylolithesis, though there are other less common causes.

So what do you do about your pain? And how do you address the cause?

Most people will start off by getting over the counter pain relief and if that doesn’t work stronger medications from their Doctor.

To address the cause however, in many cases the function of the lumbar spine also needs to be addressed, and this one area a chiropractor can commonly help…

So if you’ve tried everything else and your foot pain is not going…. consider that is may come from your lumbar spine and get help.


How to Correct Poor Posture?

Why is Posture Important?

Most people agree that it’s good to have poor posture.

Good posture helps your body to function better. If your posture is good, you will require less effort and energy

when doing physical tasks. You will have a better mechanical advantage and reduce strain on your body. With good posture you are less likely to fatigue as your body will be working optimally. At another level, others perception of you is affected by your posture. Someone with upright, open posture is often seen as more attractive, more employable and more agreeable than someone who is stooped and closed. Whether we like it or not, we tend to make snap judgements on people and posture comes into that.

Poor posture is associated with a whole host of conditions from depression, to poor heart health and decreased longevity. The state of our posture does affect our qualtity of life.

We tend to accept that as we age our posture will get worse. What’s frightening is we are seeing more and more really poor posture in people as young as 10 or 11. So what’s happening?

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Causes of Poor Posture

The majority of postural problems are related to lifestyle and to life events. There are a few people with spinal deformities, often present from birth, that cannot be reversed but for the majority of us our posture is within our control.

So what causes are posture to collapse?

  • Habits – we may be constantly bent over because of work. We may sit for hours at a computer or use our smart-phone excessively. Whichever one it is, it can create lasting problems which need to be rectified before they become irreversible

  • Psychological factors – our self-esteem can have a big impact on how we posture and present ourselves

  • Degeneration of the spine – we see this more in the elderly, particularly women

  • Spinal pain – leading to muscle guarding and protection, basically a way of avoiding feeling pain and doing further damage

  • Muscle spasm

  • Joint hyper or hypermobility

  • Excess weight – this can put significant pressure on the spine changing the spinal curves and often creating painful areas

  • Poor body awareness or loss of proprioception – the inability to perceive the position of your body

  • Over reliance on a passive support such as a back brace or supportive chair

 

Physiology of Posture

Posture is affected by the following:

  • Vision – because you will constantly adapt to your surroundings to ensure your eyes are aligned to the horizon

  • Proprioception (joint position senses) – which tells you where your body is in space and relative to the environment

  • Vestibular apparatus (in the brain/inner ear) – coordinates balance

  • How you have experienced the world and how your body remembers it – take the bullied child, she/he will have very different posture to the child who has been loved and praised.

The function of your spine has a big impact on all of these. All the messages from your body have to pass through the spine to reach your brain, so if there are distortions or tensions in your spine it can affect this message highway. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen balance and posture improve with chiropractic care. As the spine (or nerve message super highway as I like to think of it) becomes more flexible and clear, it makes sense that function of the nervous system and hence posture would improve.

Furthermore, the dorsal horns of the spinal cord are one of the densest for the receptor sites for emotional chemicals. So poor posture can reinforce negative beliefs and hold people in a less than optimal state.

What can you do about your posture?

  1. Own it: Firstly, be honest. Own your posture. I cannot count the number of times that people have told me their posture is fine, only to use photo analysis to demonstrate how far their posture has deteriorated. Use your smart phone and get a friend to take a picture of you from the side. Take a look. What do you see?
    Once you recognize your postural problems you will be able to start to change it by actively correcting your posture when you notice yourself dropping.

  2. Exercise: When posture if poor we often find that the muscles on the front of the body are short and tight, and those on the back are weak. Many men in the gym focus on biceps and forget triceps. Many people slump because sitting upright is hard work.
    So you can join a gym and train. It will take time and effort but for some people they can solve their posture problems all on their own.

  3. Chiropractic: Chiropractors are experts in the Neuro-Musculo-Skeletal system. That means they can analyze your spinal function and using specific adjustments help to correct tension and stress in the spine that may be stopping you from standing up straight. Many people with back problems see huge improvements in their posture over time. So find a chiropractor that chimes with you and let them use their expertise to help you attain your goals.

Posture often reflects the life events people have had to deal with and sometimes correction of posture can take a long time and input from several practitioners, plus personal ownership. I’ve found over the years people who get involved in their healing rather than expecting someone else to fix them, get significantly better results than those who expect to be fixed.

Make a decision now to have the best posture possible and reap the benefits.


How to Recognise and deal with the effects of Stress on your Body

Many people don’t understand or recognize Stress. As chiropractors we study the human nervous system in depth and have an in-depth understanding of how the body responds and adapts to stresses.

In this short video we explain what Stress is, how it affects your body and what you can do about it.