'The Flow' Blog - Movement is your Medicine
Eat Well, Move More and Live Longer
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Eat Well, Move More and Live Longer

Column #124, 16th July 2011

July is ‘Change 4 Life’ month and the motto is to “Eat Well, Move More, Live Longer".  Change 4 Life was set up to provide opportunities for children, adults and families to make changes to their daily diet and exercise routines to live a longer healthier life.  At the Northern Integrative Health Practice (NIHP) we’re doing our bit to share great information on nutrition and help you get the most out of exercise, sport and activity.

What is Change 4 Life?

‘The ‘Change 4 Life’ initiative was set up by the NHS and if you visit their website you will get a whole host of resources to help you make positive changes.  Anyone who wants to improve health can get something from this campaign.  As described on the website “these days, ’modern life’ can mean that we’re a lot less active. With so many opportunities to watch TV or play computer games, and with so much convenience and fast food available, we don’t move about as much, or eat as well as we used to.

At the NIHP we work with many people to support and enhance their health and wellbeing.  That’s why we welcome this campaign and enjoy our own unique way of helping people Eat Well and Move More.

Top Tips to “Eat Well”

Before we start talking food and nutrition – have you written your goals down yet?  This is a great way to choose what you need to do to achieve your goals and provides motivation to get there and monitor as you go.  It might seem too simple and unnecessary, but this can be a powerful first step.

In my experience of working with people on nutrition, the key to successfully ‘Eating Well’ is two-fold.  The trouble is I see many people only embracing either one or the other of these important points.  This tip will put you ahead of the game and help you achieve your desired results.  First lets look at two common Mistakes that I see:

  1. Getting too specific too soon.  I call this ‘top down’ nutrition, because if we get too specific too soon we are attempting to build something from the top first and work our way down.  We often see this in the form of an extreme/fad diet, latest superfood, wonder drug, surgery or specific vitamin or mineral.  Not that any of these doesn’t have its place, but should they be the first thing that you try when looking to achieve a health or fitness goal.  The usual result is short term and can often be detrimental to long term health.
  2. The second mistake is almost the opposite to the first one.  This is when we fail to see the fact that we are all individual in every way including the food and nutrition we do well on.  We might be eating what are termed ‘healthy’ foods, but we are still following a one-size-fits-all that unfortunately may never enable us to optimise our health and fitness.  If we are aware of this it suddenly becomes clear why we often see some of our friends and family get great results eating on one diet, whilst others experience totally opposite results.  You are left confused, wondering why one thing works for one person but not for the other.

So the secret is to actually get the best of both worlds – Build a strong Foundation and then make it more specific to your individuality.

Build a Foundation: The foundational principles that I teach and need to be aced early on are factors like:

  • Hydration
  • Getting the right amount and quality of macronutrients (fats, proteins and carbohydrates) at each meal and snack.
  • Shopping, Preparing and cooking techniques.
  • Creating nutritious Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners and Snacks.
  • Learning the truth about healthy fat.
  • Avoiding inflammatory foods such as gluten, cow’s milk, alcohol, soy and sugar
  • Getting the most out of raw foods
  • Enhancing Digestion
  • Controlling blood sugars.
  • A lot of this is cost and time effective and can really make a difference on your health and energy levels.

Metabolic Typing: Here’s how to get to the next level and build on the foundation with your individual nutritional needs.  Metabolic Typing is a fantastic way to do it.  Metabolic Typing is a process that finds out what foods you do well on.  And also the foods you do not.  Have you ever noticed that other people, friends, colleagues and family might be successful when following a particular diet, whilst you feel worse on it?  Or the opposite way round?

Metabolic Typing is all finding the individual foods that should be on OUR plate, whether that is breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack.  We are all built differently.  We have different hair colour, heights, weights, sense of humour…….everything about us is unique and individual.  Including the nutrients we need.

Sometimes this uniqueness is only slightly different to the next person and sometimes it can be a stark contrast.  It doesn’t really matter.  The only thing that does matter is that you can identify what is right for your type.  How do you do that?  My advice is that firstly you should ace all the above steps – hydration, macronutrients etc and then take the steps to find out your Metabolic Type.  Whilst you can get the book “The Metabolic Typing Diet”, the most effective way is to work one-to-one with a Certified Advisor.  At the Northern Integrative Health Practice we have everything in place to coach you to Eat Well.

Top Tips to “Move More”

The Change 4 Life campaign is motivating us to make a significant impact on our quality of life.  In addition to eating well, you can get great results from Moving More too.  A lot of people I speak to do not know where to start with exercise or have tried something that they could not sustain or actually led to injury.

As described earlier, our modern lifestyle may be contributing to how little exercise we are getting, however there are also many more choices of activities and sports to play then ever before.  There is great availability of exercise classes, childrens’ fitness groups, outdoor activities, teams, clubs and private support.

So the trick is to choose the right one for you.  In my opinion here are a few things to consider;

  • Enjoyment and Fun
  • Appropriate for your Ability Level
  • Sustainability – travel, cost, effort, motivation
  • Is it in line with your goals?

Of course enjoyment is key to anything we do and it makes sense that it is practical and sustainable.  However, the two biggest reasons that I see people slip up on are the fact that it is not in line with their goals and it isn’t appropriate for their ability.  So what we need to do is take the time at the very beginning to write goals that are important to you.  What is it that you really want to achieve and when do you want to do it by?

When choosing the activity make sure it is appropriate.  If it isn’t you may experience short term results, but suffer from burn-out or injury, taking you right back to square one.  We all like a challenge, but we must take responsibility to gauge that challenge and realise when it is actually pushing your goals further away.

It depends on your starting level, but lets say you have very low activity levels to start with, you might want to progress from:

  • Walking, gradually more each week.  Set yourself some targets
  • Swimming
  • Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong or Pilates.  Try a group with a good instructor to coach you through.
  • Exercise Coaching to design a program specific for your needs and keep you injury free.
  • Build up your walking into different terrains.
  • Cycling.
  • Try a sport that you can participate in at light activity levels.  Great to do with partner at first, so choose something like badminton or table tennis.
  • Sports and Bootcamps are fantastic, but for the greatest benefit you should be conditioned for them.

Progress and combine the above to reach your targets.  Be creative and enjoy the process and experience how Eating Well and Moving More can really make the difference to your quality of life.


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Cancer Research UK - Race For Life
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Great Day at the Cancer Research Race For Life helping the Runners and Rabbits prepare and recover from the run.

Trevor Rutherford, from the Northern Integrative Health Practice, with one tired bunny rabbit.

The Trail World Championships
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The IAU Trail World Championships which will take place in Connemara, Ireland on Saturday 9th July 2011.  Off the back of some great results and form, Craig Stewart has been selected in the GB team.

Athletes cover a distance of 70km on a course over mountains, grassland trails, compacted gravel trails, hard packed trails, bog, loose rock trails and open countryside. Runners' backgrounds are usually in 100km ultramarathons, long distance mountain runners and 24 hour runners as well as dedicated trail athletes.

You can keep track of race updates on the day at: http://www.runconnemara.com/live/

All the Best Craig.

NIHP 2nd Birthday
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The CHEK Approach to Health - A Bowen Therapist's Perspective
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The CHEK Approach to Health - A Bowen Therapist's Perspective

Column #123, 2nd July 2011

I suspect that this article will be of most interest to bodyworkers, soft tissue therapists, Bowen Technique therapists and Exercise Specialists.  However, if you have a passion and inquisitive mind for health, performance and all-round wonder of how the human body functions, then read on…..

The first time I heard about The Bowen Technique I was actually on an Anatomy Trains Meridians weekend course.  As a Corrective Exercise Coach I was looking to expand my skills to include bodywork to complement the work I was doing with therapeutic and athletic clients and was initially intrigued about what I had heard.  There was something about the ‘less is more’ and ‘superficial fascia focus’ that struck a few chords.  A few months later I attended Gil Hedley’s 5-Day Dissection course and as the chord continued to resonate I realized that the majority of people attending were Bowen Therapists……….. and great company too of course.

During this week, something clicked into place and the next week I was booked onto Part 1 with Paula Esson.  The reason why it felt like the right bodywork therapy for me to train in was because it married so well with my existing approach to exercise coaching.  When designing exercise programs I always aimed to work with the whole person and on an individual level.  As far as I was concerned integrated movement was the key and we did not function in isolation, the body knows movements not muscles, so the Bowen approach was a perfect complement.

Similarities between Bowen and Movement Therapies

Fortunately I have been able to work with some of the world’s best exercise and movement teachers.  One of which is Paul Chek, the founder of the CHEK Institute.  Today I will share with you a small part of the CHEK Approach in the form of a method of assessment.  As bodyworkers, soft tissue therapists and Bowen Technique Therapists I hope this will bring value to your practice in that it looks at the body as a whole and integrated system of systems, which all influence each other.  Just as fascia runs continuous and the mouth is connected to the heart, I will speak from my experience.

Assess for Success

In my opinion the assessments we make are an essential part of the process of helping our clients reach their goal, whether that is pain management, enhanced recovery, athletic achievements or any other health and performance goal.  I have witnessed many effective assessment techniques from muscle testing, physical and physiological measurements, verbal to pure intuition.  In fact there are so many that we need some sort of strategy to be able to use the right ones at the right time for the right person.  Each therapist will have their own strengths where this is concerned, but here is strategy that will be new to many – The Totem Pole of Survival.

The Totem Pole of Survival

Developed by Paul Chek, this is a holistic model that enables the identification of the root cause in order to apply effective therapy.  I’m not suggesting we all switch to using it, just to be intrigued and interested, so here is a (very) brief summary of how it works in practice.

The essence of the model is that the body’s main concern is for survival.  We’ve all witnessed the amazing ability of the body to compensate and make changes to enhance the chances of survival.  After all we are creatures of habit and often look for the path of least resistance.  When something is not quite right, the body will adapt and make a change.  For example if we have an infection, the body will create a high temperature and fever, or if we sprain an ankle the body will shift weight and change gait (otherwise known as a limp).  All in the name of preservation and survival.  The Totem Pole applies a layer of theory to this survival instinct.  What if the body prioritised certain functions, organs, tissues, thoughts or values more than others?  What if it ranked the lungs as more important than the fingers?  Would it override lesser important functions to ensure the efficient function of greater priorities?

Here’s a look at the Totem Pole, in descending order of priority:

  1. Respiration
  2. Mastication
  3. Vision
  4. Vestibular
  5. Axis/Atlas
  6. Visceral Organs
  7. Emotions (floating position)
  8. Pelvic
  9. Slave Joints

Each requires more indepth explanation in the future of course.  Whilst we could debate the specific order here for evermore, for me the principle is what holds true and that is; “Unless we get to the root cause, we will not fix the problem”.

Consider this example:

Person A is suffering from symptoms of pain and recurring trigger points in the upper thoracic.  We identify that they have a posture of increased kyphotic spine and significant forward head carriage and feel this structural imbalance may be contributing to the pain.  Bodywork and structural exercises just may be exactly what this person requires to reach their pain-free goal if this posture has been caused by occupation sitting, inactivity, poor exercise technique etc.  However, what if the actual cause is something less obvious?  What if the cause is a low level intolerance of dairy in the diet leading to a build up of mucus and a constriction of the airways?  At this point the ability to breathe and get oxygen into the body is compromised, the survival is threatened and it is the most important issue that the body is concerned with.  Given that Person A will typically be unaware of this mild intolerance they will continue to eat dairy until such time they are enlightened to change.  During this time if the body did not adapt in any way then we would suffer the consequences of severely limited oxygen supply.  Fortunately due to the innate importance of oxygen for life, the body does adapt and compensates with a typical structural shift forward.  The head is moved forward to open up the airways.  All the posture exercises and bodywork in the world will unlikely correct this, as it is a necessary posture for the body in this situation.  Maybe in the future when the root cause of dairy was removed, the body would be happier to accept a postural change.  As far as the body’s reptilian brain in survival mode is concerned it would much rather compensate and suffer postural aches and pains, than the much less desirable alternative.

In practice if we used this method with Person A as soon as they walk into the clinic and describe their symptoms and needs, then we could reach a solution quickly.  I love this method as it keeps my feet firmly on the ground and reminds me that we are never treating the symptoms or chasing pain around the body.  Symptoms are of course important and part of the puzzle, but often they are confusing the matter.  This method comes into its own in clinical practice because if you start at the top with number one and rule the possible causes out, then we can streamline our work and always be working at the right level.

In this way we might identify that a lower back pain is caused by a TMJ issue and we may apply our bodywork at the TMJ and the site of pain.  If the cause of a particular dysfunction for the person is an emotional issue, it is imperative for the client that this is part of where we work or refer out.

Granted it isn’t exactly realistic to have all clients do food sensitivity tests and thoroughly examine all the systems in the body in order to provide a treatment for them.  Furthermore I do not advocate the use of a method that a therapist is not trained in.  For any non-practitioner, this information and discussion is not for self-diagnosis, always refer to your health practitioner for advice.  But, as a therapist even small changes to your initial intake paperwork can be sufficient to benefit your clients.  In addition if we can educate the client as to the significance of the foods we eat, the water we drink, the movement we do, the thoughts we have and the toxins we consume, our Bowen work can resonate even more.

Week 1 - 90-Day Half Marathon Conditioning Program
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The All-New 90-Day Half Marathon Conditioning Program.

I'm proud to have finished writing and launch the New eBook for training for a Half Marathon.

    What's Included in the 90-Day Program?

  • Assessments for Success
  • Running Program
  • Exercise and Strength Programs
  • Conditioning the Athletic Mind
  • Recovery Strategies
  • Integrative Health Therapies
  • Nutrition for Performance
  • Get Ready if you are doing the GNR 2011 - Day 1 starts Monday 27th June

    Benefits to following the Program

  • Beginners to Advanced achieve Personal Bests
  • Track your progress to peak for Race Day
  • Daily Step-by-Step guidance for first time runners.
  • Avoid the biggest mistakes of many runners.
  • Successful Injury Prevention.
  • Progressive Running Program from Day 1 to Day 90.
  • Find out what foods you need to eat....and foods to avoid.
  • 4 Exercise Programs for you to follow.
  • Learn Advanced Stretching Techniques.
  • The where, when and who of Podiatry, Massage, Biomechanics and Soft Tissue Therapy.

    Who is the Program for?

  • Includes 90-Day Plans for half marathon target times of <2.5hrs, <2hrs, <1.5hrs.
  • Would you benefit from an easy to follow training program?
  • Do you need advice on nutrition for performance.
  • For anyone needs effective ways to Recovery.
  • Even for elite, experienced runners looking to push their performance to the next level.
  • Have you left it quite late to start your training?  This structured plan helps you reach your targets.
  • If you haven't included everything from setting goals, assessments, athletic mind set work, running training, exercise and strength programs, nutrition, therapies, to recovery strategies......then there will be something for you.
  • Anyone who is looking for cutting edge training and performance advice.

How to take advantage of the Program:

  1. 'Like' the Running Conditioning Facebook Page for FREE Daily Training Tips
  2. Sign up for Weekly Training Tips and FREE Special Reports
  3. Follow it in Full.  Buy the 90-Day Half Marathon Conditioning Program eBook.
  4. Exclusive One-to-One Training Packages only available via the eBook.


Be one of the First to Buy the eBook - First 50 Get 50% Discount

Regular Price £20.00

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This is an eBook | Please allow 24hrs to receive | Ensure you Submit your Email Address

Exercise and Back Pain Research
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Latest research indicates the use of Exercise for back pain prevention and rehabilitation

  • Physical exercise has a positive effect on the formation of cells in the intervertebral discs. This is shown by a study from the Sahlgrenska Academy presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine (ISSLS), which is currently taking place in Gothenburg. Read More

To help maintain a healthy spine it seems that movement promotes the health of the discs in our spine.  It encourages their growth for healthy function.  Disc degeneration has been linked to back pain, so choosing the right exercise is a great preventative step.  Exercise, movement and activity should always be for fun and enjoyment and to increase our happiness, but to add another layer to this would be my thought that in addition an element of our exercise should be how we are conditioning ourselves for all these activities.  Exercise is as individual as you are and sometimes it requires a little bit of programming.

  • In a recent study funded by a $1.5 million National Institutes of Health grant, Thomas and colleague Christopher France focused on a phenomenon called “fear avoidance.” In this self-fulfilling prophecy, people who fear reinjuring their backs after a painful accident move in restricted, unnatural ways that eventually can lead to re-injury—and further back pain. Read More

Following injury, the body and mind are typically and understandably very 'protective'.  Why risk performing a movement when it could lead to injury and knocking you back again?  What this study seems to suggest is that even though pain is no longer present we are consciously and subconsciously moving differently to prevent re-injury.  In my experience when we do not acknowledge, identify and address this, that this scenario can play out for days, weeks or even years.  We have in effect reduced our 'thresholds' for movement.  Our flexibility, stability and balance has all decreased as we attempt to protect our self.

So if we have 'fear-avoidance', what can we do.  Well research like this and raising our awareness of it is essential for a start.  In addition we can gradually and carefully start to increase our thresholds of movement.  When I assess movement in the clinic we look at functional movements, flexibility and muscle balance to identify those that require tweaking.  From this baseline and platform we can then go about increasing these.  After all your bodymind is usually doing something to help you.  If we respect this and work with it we will succeed.  Steadily working on your thresholds will lead to success as opposed to goin from one extreme to the other.

Meditation - the Pain Killer
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Recent research has revealed the powerful affect of meditation on pain relief.

This will come as no surprise to those who follow the pioneering work of people like Lorimer Mosely and who have an integrated and holistic view of human function.  However, if we look at how our society views pain and how it deals and treats pain then there appears to be a different approach.

The more we learn, the more we can apply.  But lets not forget that the power of meditation is not new, it has been known for centuries..........conventional methods have just been ignoring it.  Do not wait to be prescribed meditation practice, just take responsibility and try it for yourself.

Here's more information on the research.

Craig Stewart's UltraMarathon Tips
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Hats off to any UltraMarathon Runners out there.

Check out the latest blog from Ultramarathon Champion Craig Stewart.


Sharing his tips and secrets of his success.  I love the emphasis on Strength and Conditioning

"Yes, long runs and mileage play a part, but for me ultra training is also about finding your weakness and ensuring it does not stop you training.  Consistent training is critical. The injuries I have suffered in the past were because I ignored my weakness – all over body strength.  Fortunately I have worked with two really good strength and conditioning coaches over the past three year"

2 Weeks to Day 1: Great North Run Program
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Great North Run Training - 2 Weeks to Day 1 - Launching Soon

Are you ready for the 90-Day Great North Run Conditioning Program?

A comprehensive approach to achieving success in the 2011 Great North Run.  Includes:

  • Assessment for Success
  • Conditioning for the Athletic Mind
  • Periodised Running Training Plans
  • Corrective Exercise and Strength Programs
  • Integrated Health Support
  • Nutrition for Performance
  • Recovery Strategies

Get ready - Day 1 is Monday June 27th 2011.

The First 50 people get 50% off.

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Bowen Technique on the Radio
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The Chief Executive of  F.H.T. (Federation of Holistic Therapists), John French has asked Julian Baker (European College of Bowen Studies) to appear on the radio tomorrow - Friday 10th June.

The radio station is ONFM (on the frequency 101.4fm) and will be presenting a one-hour live show on Friday, 10th June, 2011. The discussion around holistic and complementary therapies for Arthritis will be 4:20 - 5 pm.

The programme will discuss Arthritis: what it is, symptoms, variations of Arthritis, lifestyle, genetics and so on.  Those in the London area, UK will be able to tune in.

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