Traditional treatment for chronic back pain has always involved rest, inactivity and prescription drugs. However, over the past decades, it is becoming widely recognised that a multimodal, lifestyle-centred approach to treatment including exercise intervention and stress management has significant results in reducing pain and improving quality of life.
Below is a summary of evidence-based advice that can help to improve your quality of life.
The increased energy to be gained from sleeping also encourages those living with chronic pain to spontaneously engage in more physical activity further reducing negative symptoms. Increased sleep also improves mood and perception of stress making day-to-day tasks easier.
We all know that we need to sleep- it is in fact the strongest natural urge humans experience after breathing- but in practice it isn’t always that simple. For a personalised sleep report and tips on how to improve your sleep, head to Sleepio, an online, science based sleep improvement program.
NHS UK guidelines on managing stress include being active, setting time aside to do something that makes you happy, spending time with loved ones, setting yourself new challenges and avoiding unhealthy habits. Head to Mind Tools for more detailed tips on how to manage stress.
Maintaining a healthy weight is also important if you suffer from chronic back pain as obesity is a risk factor for developing an injury itself. A recent study, where participants that suffered from chronic lower back pain were put on a nonsurgical weight loss program, found that along with a reduction in body fat, a reduction in pain and disability occurred simultaneously.
Graduates of our pain-free program receive access to our nutritional coaching which is an excellent tool to maintain a healthfy weight and lifestyle.
If you find that don’t easily incorporate much movement into your day taking a walk can be one of the easiest ways to increase this. Walking has been found to improve pain, disability and quality of life and is a free, easy and accessible form of activity. It is recommended to walk at a moderate pace for 10 minutes building to 30 minutes, up to 5 times per week (NICE, 2015).
This information may feel overwhelming if you aren’t incorporating any of this advice into your day-to-day life already. However, pick one thing, master it and then move onto the next. You will find that one thing feeds the other for example, once you have improved your sleep, you will have more energy to exercise and when you are exercising you will be more motivated to improve your diet.
For more information about anything covered in this article or if you feel like you may benefit from our pain-free program email firstname.lastname@example.org
Malfliet, A.; Ickmans, K.; Huysmans, E.; Coppieters, I.; Willaert, W.; Van Bogaert, W.; Rheel, E.; Bilterys, T.; Van Wilgen, P.; Nijs, J. Best Evidence Rehabilitation for Chronic Pain Part 3: Low Back Pain. J. Clin. Med. 2019, 8, 1063
Meucci, R.D.; Fassa, A.G.; Faria, N.M. Prevalence of Chronic Low Back Pain: Systematic Review. Rev. Saude Publica 2015, 49, 73
Geneen LJ, Moore RA, Clarke C, Martin D, Colvin LA, Smith BH. Physical activity and exercise for chronic pain in adults: an overview of Cochrane Reviews. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 4
IBS is one of the most common types of gastrointestinal disorders with around 1 in 5 people in the western world reporting symptoms concurrent with IBS. IBS can be subtyped according to the changes in stool pattern which is one of the main signs and symptoms of IBS being present.
IBS can present with constipation (IBS-C), diarrhea (IBS-D), mixed stools (IBS-M) and un-subtyped IBS where there is insufficient abnormality in the stool consistency, but other IBS symptoms are present. Bloating, pain and gas are often also reported.
IBS also has several non-gastrointestinal features which include painful menstrual cycles, urinary symptoms such as frequency, urgency, incomplete bladder emptying; back pain, headaches, bad breath, poor sleep and fatigue.
It is believed that the biopsychosocial model is particularly relevant to IBS and its causes. Triggers of IBS that fall into this category include depression, anxiety, stress and trauma.
Past antibiotic therapy, gastrointestinal infection, pelvic surgery and eating disorders are also associated triggers. Dysfunction in the brain-gut axis is also thought to be a cause of IBS whereby communications between the CNS and enteric nervous system are disrupted perhaps due to abnormal function or low levels of serotonin.
How can sports massage help?
Massage has been found to be a beneficial tool in the treatment of IBS for two reasons. Firstly, massage around the abdominal area can help to stimulate digestion, expel painful trapped gas from the intestines and soothe pain. It is important that massage on the abdominal area is only used in cases of IBS C as in IBS D, digestion is already at an increased rate.
Massage can also help patients with IBS by promoting relaxation, reducing spasms and managing stress and anxiety - one of the key mediators of development of IBS. In this case, regular whole patient massage would be recommended as a preventative measure to reduce the chance of development of symptoms by managing daily stress.
Clinical Medicine, 9th Edition
As every seasoned runner knows, regular sports massage should be scheduled into your program just as you schedule in your sprints and recovery runs, but how exactly does sports massage negate the potential negative impacts of running?
1. Muscular Trauma
As your miles ramp up, so does muscular and soft tissue (ligaments and tendons) trauma. Trauma causes muscles to tighten up, affecting gait and running economy. Without proper recovery, overuse injuries such as strains and sprains arise.
Sports massage speeds up the rate at which muscles recover by increasing circulation; this brings blood, oxygen and other vital nutrients to the area that is being targeted. Lymphatic drainage is also promoted which removes waste products such as lactic acid. Specific massage techniques such as cross fiber frictions promote optimal collagen healing specifically in finer structures such as tendons and ligaments keeping joints strong and supple.
Everyone has felt sore after a run- it may not be the searing DOMS you experience after a maximal squat test, but muscle tightness is to be expected after pounding the pavement. Muscle tightness has a direct impact on biomechanics due to the way muscles span joints and attach to bones. If a muscle is shortened (tight) then so is our available range of movement. When the training ramps up in preparation for a race, volume demands often limit our recovery time, pair this with our modern lifestyles involving lots of sitting down and suddenly your stride length, toe off and propulsion are affected.
Sports massage lengthens shortened muscles by implementing advanced stretching techniques, breaking down adhesions and realigning muscle fibers. This can improve our biomechanics by removing joint restrictions, improving mobility and increasing flexibility allowing us to run with proper form. Massage also increases the suppleness of the muscle by releasing surrounding fascia (the connective tissue that encases muscle, allowing it to glide past nearby structures). When muscles become stiff, so does the fascia and then restricted fascia becomes ‘sticky’. Sticky fascia can bind muscles together inhibiting their ability to perform to their potential!
3. Mental Fatigue
Training for an endurance event involves so much more than just sticking to your training plan. You have to ensure you are eating the right foods and in the right amount, you are hydrating adequately, you are sleeping enough, you are supplementing as required and unless you are a professional athlete, you are probably doing all of this alongside a career, family, social events and daily chores and tasks.
Constantly ticking off your to-do list can leave you in a state of mild to moderate panic and when there is no time to switch off, we can end up in a constant fight, flight or freeze state. Our bodies cannot tell the difference between the threat of a lion chasing us versus the threat of being late to a meeting and so the nervous system reacts in the same way. To restore calm and quiet a busy mind, we need to trigger our parasympathetic nervous system. Alongside meditation, breathing exercises and yoga, a sports massage is one of the quickest ways to enter this state by activating sensory receptors and increasing oxytocin. Monitoring and lowering the bodies stress response allows us to be primed for further activity meaning harder and faster training sessions and improved ability to handle daily pressure.
So in short, if you're not already incorporating Sports Massage into your running routine, then you should definitely think about starting to. Decrease your risk of injury, improve your biomechanics and performance whilst distressing and priming your body for training. It's a no brainer!
To find out about Sports Therapy and Massage services at Faultless Fitness, simply message us on Facebook or email email@example.com to start a conversation!
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease. The condition affects the central nervous system, specifically the brain and spinal cord and can cause a wide range of visible, invisible and cognitive symptoms.
In MS, the immune system attacks the myelin sheath which not only protects but enables nerves to do their jobs. This leaves areas of scarring or plaques on the nerves, therefore disrupting their ability to carry impulses to and from the brain.
There are three main types of MS;
Visible symptoms of MS include loss of balance and dizziness, stiffness or spasms in the limbs, a tremor and speech problems. MS symptoms also include fatigue, pain, bladder and bowel problems, visual disturbances and difficulty swallowing. MS can also have an impact upon memory, thinking and emotions, as well as the emotional strain of dealing with the disease itself which can cause depression and anxiety.
How can Sports Massage help?
According to the MS trust, massage has been found to lower anxiety, improve mood, self-esteem, body image and image of disease symptoms. A recent study also found that hour-long, weekly massage sessions, over a 4-week period, improved self-efficacy and that regular treatments were required to maintain these changes (effects appeared to wear off 4 weeks post treatment). Better self-efficacy is believed to improve well-being and ability to cope with the stress of living with MS.
As for physical symptoms, massage may help to reduce spasms by relaxing soft tissue structures. Massage can aid with pain management through mobilising tissue, reducing contractions and impacting upon the pain gate theory. Massage may also improve circulation and alter, even if only in the treatment, any sensory disturbances to the skin.
The MS Society runs a free MS Helpline, Monday-Friday, 9am-7pm, providing emotional support and information to anyone living with the condition. They also offer a direct messaging service through Facebook that can be accessed via https://www.mssociety.org.uk/care-and-support/ms-helpline
Clinical Medicine, 9th Edition
We’ve all done it! We get to the last 3 months of the year and look at January looming and all of us go “yep, I’ll do it in January!”. All of the gyms start to target us for the January “New Year, New Me” campaign, we sign up to 12 month contracts to get a good deal and then end up spending the best part of £300-£600 and sat in the same position we were when we started, if not slightly more deflated!
The January campaigns are a legacy of the days before progressive, evidence based interventions, where gyms could make enough profit locking people into those contracts for a year, that they didn’t have to provide people with results. Each year, when we were at our guiltiest the gyms would put an offer on and watch the £’s flood in!
Luckily, we aren’t as gullible as we used to be and the gym market has flooded causing these predatory practices to mellow in search of finding differentiating unique selling points to win business. Now, the chain gyms went for cheapness of membership, attracted a lot of people who feel at home in the gym, feeling they know what they need to do to succeed and get on with it. Then some went for the luxury experience and went for high membership rates that focus on wallowing around in spa-like gyms that make us feel great but arguably demonstrates little in the way of health improvements. However, one of us, me, went the way of investing the money needed to find a true answer to people's issues of eating, mental health and physical activity!
For the last 8 years, I have been studying and developing the Health Transformation Program. Every year we have looked at what works and then honed it. 2019 provided us with our best results yet. Scores of people leaving incredible reviews, joining the Faultless Family and seeing us move to our shiny, safe and gleaming Strength & Conditioning Facility with great new facilities and in house sports therapy for our clients!
However, as we know, you can have a great facility but that won't get you anywhere! Where we are different is the investment in our framework. This is the program we run that provides the results for you guys, our clients and friends.
As a sports scientist and exercise physiologist, I am used to working with anyone. From athletes to normal people who are either unwell or don’t want to be unwell in the future. So, using this skill set I put our Health Transformation Program together to provide us with an easy step-by-step progress to run clients through a cost-effective but highly efficient manner!
First, we start with focussing on you:
The HTP puts you first. We need to understand your motivations, your history, where your health and fitness is right now and we need to then figure out how we are going to get you to where you want to be.
Once you are on the program we go through a 15 week program consisting of 4 blocks and 3 sets of health appraisals where, if you stick to the program, you will see considerable changes in strength, fitness and quality of life!
Alongside the exercise program, we run a parallel nutrition program starting in your 5th week that provides you with calorie, protein, fat and carb goal and meal and supplement timings (only if you need them!). This not only guarantees that you get fitter, stronger, and healthier from the exercise you do with us, but that you also recover between sessions, lose body fat, gain muscle tone and regress any diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes mellitus type 2 through controlling your carbohydrate intake.
The program is also run in sessions of up to 8 people. This means that you book into a session, using our app, at a time that suits you and up to 8 other people will also have booked in and you will all go about your plans with a strength and conditioning instructor looking after you in a low 1 to 8 ratio. By the time you finish the 15 week program, you will be exponentially more proficient at lifting weights, using cardio equipment and lots of other types of exercises.
More importantly, is our attitude towards your safety. With myself training in clinical science as a physician associate, I take the safety of my clients incredibly seriously. In the history taking, and throughout the sessions, I look for anything that could place you at risk and regress the exercise or send you to GP appointments to mitigate any potential harm. Here, you come first!
Now, you must be sat there saying to yourself that this program has thought of everything, nutrition, exercise and socio-mental health, but how on earth am I going to afford it? A program like this surpasses the norm and must be priced more than the norm? Yeh? NO.
When we designed the program one of our main goals is that it must be accessible and cost effective. There were several considerations with pricing:
What this added up to was a program that delivered better standards and results than the industry standard for personal training, but also 87% cheaper than the equivalent Personal Training Package!!!
The Health Transformation Program is not for those of you looking to make ridiculous transformations that are healthy for no one. This is a 15 week program designed to make sure that you make exercise and nutrition a long term part of your life. Once you finish the Health Transformation program, You can graduate onto our Advanced Health program. This is a 6 month course which is even more specialised into your needs now that we know you have the foundation of the Health transformation program to build upon.
Now you know about the Health Transformation Program, I hope I have empowered you with an alternative option that can finally break the chain in declining health year on year for you!
Hopefully speak to you soon,
Step 1. Assessment
Assessment begins with our first conversation with the client, where we gather as much information as possible about their physical health.
We find out about their wellbeing, nutrition and hydration, existing medical conditions and their daily routine. The body is complex so the more information we can gather, the more clues we have to figure out what is causing the discomfort. At this stage, I always ask my clients to rate their discomfort out of 10, then, each week I will ask them to give me their new score so we can get a quantifiable result.
We then begin our physical assessment which begins the second you step into our sports therapy treatment room. The way you walk, stand, remove your coat and sit can all indicate the areas that aren’t quite functioning correctly.
Following this, we will carry out joint and muscle testing, movement tests and proprioception tests. At this stage, we will have gathered enough information to discuss our findings and develop your treatment plan.
Step 2. Soft Tissue Treatment
This is the hands-on part of the appointment, your therapist will begin to treat all types of soft tissue in the areas suspected to be causing the issue including muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and fascia. They will use techniques such as massage, trigger point therapy, soft tissue release and myofascial release to correct any dysfunction they found during the assessment.
Throughout the treatment your therapist will ask for your feedback and will assess what they are finding - which muscles are tight or congested, are there any imbalances etc.
Everyone reacts to treatment differently, some experience cold and flu symptoms for a few days, others jump off the couch feeling a million dollars. Both are normal and your therapist will discuss aftercare protocol that you need to adhere to. It is important to recognise that the rate of recovery is related to the length of time you have been experiencing your symptoms- you will see an improvement quite quickly but the journey to becoming symptom free varies from person to person.
Step 3. Corrective Exercise/ Rehab
Depending on the stage of the injury or dysfunction, be it chronic or acute, you will be prescribed some simple corrective exercises to complete between your sessions. These will rapidly improve your condition and are designed to support the work the therapist does in session, correct compensatory movement patterns and improve strength and stability.
You may also be recommended to start one of our tailored rehabilitation programmes. This gives you access to our strength and conditioning suite, a personalised rehabilitation program, coaching from sports and exercise scientists and the lead sports therapist and nutritional guidance.
If you have any questions about our sports therapy and rehabilitation services or you would like to make an appointment , please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org, via our Facebook page or contact page here on the website.
What is it?
Proprioception is the sense through which we perceive the position, movement and action of the parts of our body, including our sense of balance. It incorporates our perception of joint position, movement, muscle contraction and effort. Proprioception arises from signals created by sensory receptors found in the skin, joints and muscles.
Proprioception enables us to know where we are in the space we occupy, to judge limb movements and position, and to locate external objects relative to the body.
Can you remember the last time you stubbed your toe on the coffee table that’s stood in the same place for years and you swear it must have moved on its own accord? This is proprioception (or a lack there of). Other examples include how we know our arm is raised above our head even with our eyes closed or how we can move across an uneven surface without scrutinising the ground we walk on.
Why is it important?
Well, aside from (usually) preventing us from banging into tables/doorways/ walls, proprioception is important as it assists with coordination, posture and body awareness.
Improvements in these areas will improve the quality of your movement. If you ever find yourself wobbling when performing compound exercises such as the squat, you would benefit from improving your proprioception.
Furthermore, increased awareness of where your limbs are can reduce your risk of injury. For example, it has been shown that rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament is associated with poor sense of joint position. Proprioceptive senses deteriorate with age, which is associated with an increased risk of falls. Additionally, if you’ve ever had an ankle sprain, it is likely that your levels of proprioception are impaired, increasing your risk of incurring the same injury a second time.
How to improve your proprioception?
Proprioception training starts with a few simple exercises that are gradually scaled to become more difficult, recruiting more of the proprioceptors in your body. Exercises can be completed at home or in the gym and will improve the quality of your movement.
1.Standing on one leg
Sounds simple but this is one of the easiest ways to both test and improve your proprioception. Stand tall with you legs together. Shift your weight to your right leg but keep your pelvis level. Begin to slide your left foot up the inside of your right leg until your knee is bent and you are standing on only one leg. Stay in this position for 10 seconds and aim to increase the time each time you practice.
- Do not slide the foot but bend your knee as you lift it up instead
- Close your eyes and cross your arms across your chest- this removes visual cues and reduces your ability to counterbalance with your arms.
2. Standing on one leg on a Bosu Ball or Balance board
Once you have mastered balancing on the ground, we can introduce an unstable surface to the exercise. This forces the proprioceptors in your ankle to fire even more as they work to support your body and fight the instability of the balance board.
- Close your eyes and cross your arms across your chest- this removes visual cues and reduces your ability to counterbalance with your arms.
3. Bosu ball or Balance board plank
This exercise improves the strength and stability of the shoulders, chest and core muscles. By placing your arms on a bosu ball or balance board the basic plank is boosted by incorporating an element of proprioception. Keep your neck aligned, engage your core, and extend your legs straight back. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
After the success of our Autumn sports massage offer, when we saw lots of new faces visiting the Faultless Fitness Sports Therapy wing for treatment, we discovered that there was a degree of confusion around the differences between sports massage therapy and sports therapy. Read below as Rosie answers some of the most frequently asked questions.
What is sports massage and how does it differ from a normal massage?
Sports massage can be anything from basic techniques used on non-pathological or uninjured tissue through to injury treatment requiring a greater knowledge of anatomy which allows the therapist to treat a wider range of muscle dysfunction. The difference between a sports massage and a regular massage is less candles and relaxing music and more targeted muscle release. You can probably expect more pain as well, but it will be necessary, and your therapist will communicate with you to ensure they are working within your limits. Sports massage therapists are required to have a thorough understanding of the different systems of the body such as the musculoskeletal, myofascial, lymphatic and neural, meaning every treatment will be prescribed to your needs as an individual, rather than just focusing on relaxation.
What is the difference between sports massage therapy and sports therapy?
At even the highest level, sports massage therapy is not the same as sports therapy. Sports therapists have to study a much broader range of treatment modalities to receive their qualification, these include:
After studying such a wide range of highly effective techniques, sports massage often becomes a very small part of a sports therapist’s treatment. Although sports massage is excellent, using a combination of techniques is the quickest way to restore functionality for a client.
Which should you choose?
If you suffer from any sort of chronic or recurring pain or injury, whilst sports massage will provide you with some relief, you will benefit the most from a series of sports therapy sessions. I would recommend sports massage for general aches and pains sustained from an active lifestyle, if you want to minimise your chance of sustaining an injury or if you are feeling a bit tight and tense. If after reading all the above you still aren’t sure which treatment modality would benefit you the most, drop us a message on Facebook and book in for a telephone consultation with Rosie!
Sports therapy is specifically concerned with the treatment of pain, prevention of injury, and rehabilitation of a patient back to optimum levels of functional, occupational and sports specific fitness, regardless of age and ability. Sports therapy utilizes a variety of techniques to have an impact on soft tissue, joints, posture and functional movement patterns.
Do you need to play a sport to benefit from sports therapy?
In short, no. The techniques used can be applied to improve functionality in day-to-day activities. Everyday movements put stress on the body, much the same as playing sport does, these stressors can manifest in dysfunction or pain. Whether you sit at a desk, play a team sport, are on your feet all day, are training for a marathon or want to support a busy lifestyle, regular treatment will ease and prevent pain allowing you to live life to the fullest.
How can sports therapy improve my performance?
By having regular appointments with your therapist, you can ensure that your body is functioning optimally, reducing your risk of injury, allowing you to train with consistency. Additionally, regular maintenance treatments will reduce your recovery time, allowing you to train with more intensity.
Your sports therapist will work with you to ascertain your performance goals, but they will be able to assist with increasing range of motion, specific to your sport, through advanced stretching techniques, increasing efficiency of musculoskeletal and joint function as well as taking care of your body pre and post event.
What is the value of sports therapy?
The main goal of sports therapy is to eradicate pain and discomfort, in as few sessions as possible whilst also targeting and fixing the root cause of the problem but your treatment does not start and end in the therapy room. Before you visit us, we will arrange a telephone consultation, when we will take the time to understand your individual case, offer advice that may help you to take steps towards reducing your pain straight away and talk you through a potential treatment plan. On your first visit, your therapist will carry out a full, detailed assessment ensuring that your treatment is safe and tailored to your specific needs. After your treatment, you will be provided with exercises and stretches to continue the healing process and your therapist will always be available to answer questions via phone or email.
Is sports therapy the right choice for you?
If you have any of the symptoms below, sports therapy techniques will help;
Alternatively if you are an athlete, or partake in sport and exercise as a hobby, In:Motus can assist with:
A visit to a sports therapist can be one of the quickest ways to get you back to optimal health. If you still aren’t sure if this is the right style of treatment for you, send us a message and Rosie will get back to you as soon as possible.
The arm is attached to the rest of the body by one, relatively small joint, called the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. This joint comprises of the top and front section of your shoulder blade, which is called the acromion, and the collarbone (the clavicle). The collar bone is the first bone to start ossifying (hardening) in a human fetus, but it is the last bone to completely develop- often around late teens/early twenties. You can break your collarbone, sprain the ligaments of the AC joint, and dislocate the joint all together. But the main joint where the majority of injuries occur is the glenohumeral joint, the main shoulder joint, made up from the humerus and the shoulder blade (scapula).
The glenohumeral joint is a ball-and-socket joint consisting of cartilage, ligaments and the capsule. The muscles which control the movement of this joint are called the rotator cuff muscles. There are many other muscles which control scapula movement and provide stability of the shoulder, including the deltoids and trapezius.
Some may see the shoulder as one joint, but the complex consists of the main glenohumeral joint, the acromioclavicular and the sternoclavicular joint. These work together with the scapulothoracic joint to achieve normal shoulder range of motion. If these joints are not able to work together sufficiently, it leads onto many different injuries.
The shoulder, upper back and neck pain is a common problem for many people, one of the reasons is due to having a lack of thoracic spine mobility (upper back). It has become increasingly popular for us to develop a posture which we call upper crossed syndrome. This posture can develop from many reasons. We usually tend to see it due to being slouched over whilst on a computer, chilling on the sofa, and being on our phones.
So what is Upper Crossed Syndrome?
With UCS, we typically tend to see a rounded shoulder posture/‘kyphosis”, causing a lengthening of your back muscles such as your ‘Traps’ and some of your Rotator Cuff muscles, and a tightening of your anterior muscles such as the chest/’Pecs’. In order to compensate for a lack of mobility in our thoracic spine, we start to overload structures within the shoulder, neck, and even the lower back. This can lead to a whole new world of other problems!
SO, it’s important to aid your thoracic mobility for the prevention of future injuries. We particularly need a movement called thoracic extension (leaning backwards). Here’s a few little exercises you can do in your own time. For safety, if you are aware of any injuries within your spine, or if you have been advised not to do exercises like these from a medical professional, please do not carry them out.
1. Thoracic foam rolling (NB, if you don’t have access to a foam roller at home, you are able to perform this through leaning over a soft step such as the stairs). Lean against the foam roller with your upper back, where you can roll up and down, and can start to lean backwards when you feel some tightness. Don’t hold your breath!
2. Thoracic stretching, if you find kneeling on all fours too uncomfortable, follow the last image where you are lying on your back! Aim for 10 rotations each side, if you’re going for the stretch, hold for 20-30 seconds.
Aim to do these at least once a day, even better if you can achieve more!