'The Flow' Blog - Movement is your Medicine
Great North Run with Hannah Bayman
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Great North Run Conditioning Testimonial

I met Jack during my training for the Great North Run 2010 last year. I was running to raise funds for St Oswald’s Hospice and the hospice put me in touch with him and the team at NIHP (Northern Integrative Health Practice). My goal was to finish the race in under two hours, which meant shaving 12 minutes off my time from the year before.  As well as getting faster I was keen to avoid injury and improve my running style.

Jack gave me a routine of conditioning exercises for my core, legs and back, which he worked with me on at the clinic and then I did at home in between seeing him. He also taught me breathing techniques and showed me how to use a giant ball (swiss ball) to do more training on my core. We built up the routine so it got more challenging over the months before race day. In the final week, Jack showed me Active Isolated Stretching exercises for my quads and hamstrings to do the night before and on the start line.

The day could not have gone better. I finished in 1 hour 57 minutes and 45 seconds, which was even faster than my target time! I felt strong and stayed injury-free and I am sure that all Jack’s work with me really helped in that.

Hannah Bayman

BBC Look North Presenter

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Nutrition for Conditioning

Find out how to apply individual nutrition and functional medicine to enhance your health and performance.

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Sports Injuries - Integrating Bowen and Corrective Exercise
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Sports Injuries Management - Integrating Bowen Technique and Corrective Exercise

Column #116, 9th April 2011

As The Bowen Technique continues to make successful in-roads in enhancing health and wellbeing for seemingly infinite situations, here we look at a working example of how athletes are benefiting from integrating Bowen with Corrective Exercise and Strength Coaching for Sports Injury Prevention.

The mantra “No Pain, No Gain”, so deeply engrained in athletic conditioning has had a powerful and overwhelming affect on the conditioning methods used, from sports psychology and nutrition to manual therapy and exercise.  Not that it doesn’t have it’s place of course, because you wouldn’t get far as a Rugby professional who wasn’t prepared to take the ‘Big Hit’.  However, the merits of teams and individual athletes who can also embrace an approach that states “Less is More”, might be on to a winner.

At the Northern Integrative Health Practice (NIHP), working with athletes and sports conditioning with integrated therapies has been a major focus and task.

A Familiar Situation for the Athlete:

It’s a new year and you are ready for a hard pre-season, you have planned your yearly schedule, you’re feeling positive, strong and motivated, everything seems to be right then wham! You get a pain in your hip, knee or ankle, you try changing your schedule but still this nagging pain continues to hamper your progress.

In frustration you go to the doctors’, where the doctor prescribes rest and anti-inflammatory drugs. After a week of rest you feel better so you start to slowly going back to your schedule.  Motivation is high yet again and you are feeling positive about getting into top shape.  Yet just when the training is back on track, that nagging pain starts again, so reluctantly you regress back to a lighter week, which helps to reduce the pain but does not take it away.  So back to the doctor who suggests more rest, but all this resting is taking away from your athletic progress, making you feel de-motivated, sluggish and weak. You know deep down that if this keeps up you may as well write off the full year, knowing in the back of your mind that you will be a year older and a whole year behind.

Sports Injuries Perspective

This Merry-Go-Round situation is familiar to many athletes.  Who really has the time and inclination to keep this injury cycle up?  What can be done to prevent injuries in the future and how do we overcome injuries like this?

Trevor Rutherford and Jack Walton of the NIHP often ask their runners: Should you be getting fit to run, instead of running to get fit?  In other words, are you an athlete/recreational gym goer that has good postural alignment, strength and function to do the task?  Ideally the athlete should be biomechanically assessed before adding additional loads to the musculoskeletal system.  In a world where gym owners really cared about their gym members, running clubs really wanted longevity with their runners and if doctors had more time for their patients then their first thoughts would include postural awareness.

Posture and Sports

Ideal posture is the position from which the musculoskeletal system functions most efficiently, so if you’re a top level athlete or an average Joe wanting to improve yourself, then it’s absolutely essential that you exercise in good biomechanical alignment. Because whenever you’re out of ideal alignment the resting and active position of your joints is faulty, which means the joint surfaces are being loaded in positions which aren’t optimal, encouraging the breakdown of the joint which encourages faulty adaptation of connective tissue which results in poor muscular length tension relationships, compensatory movement patterns, muscle imbalance and finally ending in injury. This is where the merry-go-round injury cycle starts!

Why Rest Alone won’t Work.

Now here’s the shift in the paradigm.  Resting and taking time off is not going work.  It is well documented in the Journal of Sports Medicine that if you’ve been injured before you are much more likely to get injured again. Here’s a great analogy; if your car wheel is out of alignment and you notice a strange noise or sound when driving it, putting it in your garage for a few weeks will stop the wear of the tyre or the strange knocking sound but it would do nothing for the underlining problem.  As soon as you drive it again, within a few miles those symptoms will start again. Your body is the same, resting may take away your pain but if you have an underlining problem as soon as you start clocking up those miles, lifting weights or aerobic classes chances are according to research your aches and pains will return.

Integrating Bowen and Corrective Exercise

At the NIHP in Sacriston Durham we routinely see runners, cyclists, swimmers; badminton players and other fitness enthusiasts with postural issues on the frustrating injury merry go round. The majority of the treatments these athletes have received in the past are only treating the symptoms of pain, anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone injections, ultrasound etc.  Useful, but not all the pieces of the puzzle.

We educate our clients that pain is merely a signal that something is wrong. Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is out of balance.  Success has come from the use of the Bowen Technique combined with Corrective Exercise Coaching. As usual the key is to begin with assessment focusing on:

  • Posture Analysis / Body Reading
  • Functional Movement Screening
  • Muscle Length-Tension
  • Core Function

Now the treatment protocol can be designed to address the underlining cause of the person’s problem instead of treating the symptoms.  First port-of-call will be Bowen and all Bowen Therapists will be aware of all the effects and mechanisms at work to enhance autonomic nervous system balance, soft tissue health, postural alignment and re-wiring back to the blueprint.

Muscle tissue based pain originates in the muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia tissue. These tissue type pains are often seen and felt by the skilled hands of a therapist as tension or knots. You may have given your partner a shoulder massage while they are watching the television and noticed neck and shoulder tension or knots. This tension causes a lack of blood flow, oxygen and a build up of waste products / toxins. When this is allowed to continue for long periods of time the result is that the body develops pain signals.

You may know from watching survival programs on television that when water is stagnant it causes disease. In the healthy body, blood, oxygen and nutrients flow freely throughout your veins and arteries, supplying all your organs, while removing waste products.  Tension and imbalance restricts blood flow, oxygen and nutrients, resulting in a build up of waste products, injury and pain.

“At the Northern Integrative Health Practice we have been getting great success with the use of the Bowen technique combined with Corrective Exercise. Once an assessment has evaluated postural faults a treatment protocol can be designed to address the underlining cause of the person’s problem instead of treating the symptoms.”

Corrective Exercise

Following several Bowen Sessions the body will be closer to its ‘blueprint’.  For example the sports injury inflammation may be reduced, the tight muscles are be relaxed, the stress levels have normalized, movement patterns are corrected, postural alignment is improved.  Now we have the opportunity to strengthen all of these factors.  At the NIHP the idea is now to consolidate this blueprint by implementing Corrective Exercise principles.  We complement the bodywork with programs that further enhance factors such as:

  • Postural alignment
  • Breathing Patterns
  • Autonomic Nervous System Balancing Exercises
  • Integrated Flexibility
  • Movement development
  • Correcting compensation patterns
  • Core firing patterns
  • Structural Balance for Strength
  • Sport Specific Conditioning

True to the principles of Bowen, this functional approach appreciates that the body is an integrated system of systems and is individual-specific.  It is a far cry from following the latest one-size-fits-all workout in a magazine, pounding the treadmill or the slaving through the same, mind-numbing resistance machine circuit.  Real movement for real people.

UKA 100k Champion - Craig Stewart
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UK Athletics 100k Championship - Anglo/Celtic Plate

Another fantastic result for Craig Stewart

Craig Stepped up to the Plate in March 2011 and raced for Scotland in the UKA 100k, finishing 1st in 7hrs 1min and 36s.  Great dedication to peak perfectly for this competition.  Having worked with Craig in the past I can imagine the motivation and determination he showed to train over the last few months.  Continue to watch this space..........

Congratulations Craig.

FREE Climbing Conditioning Articles
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Over 30 Pages of Published articles on Climbing Conditioning....

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Cutting edge topics on Climbing Conditioning.

It's important that we ALL have this information....that's why you can have it for Free.

Click Here and it will be sent to your email


Metabolic Typing®

"Applying Customised Nutrition for Enhanced Health and Performance"

What is Metabolic Typing: Watch this video to get a snap-shot of what the Metabolic Typing Diet is all about.  If you, like me, feel that an individual approach to nutrition is essential and you want to know more input your email address on the right and I'll send you 4 more free videos.  Watch the first one now to take the first step towards customising your nutrition:

Customised Nutrition Blueprint

Find Out your Customised Nutrition Blueprint

At 'Functional Health and Performance' Metabolic Typing is just one of the methods that we apply to find out your Nutritional Blueprint.  Your body has a blueprint of the foods that it needs to achieve optimal health and this integrated program coaches you to customise your nutrition and put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Want to know even more About Metabolic Typing?

Fundamental to achieving health and well-being is the food we eat.  Metabolic Typing® recognises that we are individuals on all levels, including our nutritional requirements.  By investigating and balancing our fundamental control systems vitality is strengthened and restored.

If you are fed up with one-size-fits-all or fad-diet approaches to nutrition, work with a L2 Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor to:

  • Manage Weight
  • Control cravings
  • Eliminate hunger between meals
  • Increase physical energy
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Functional Medicine University
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A New Paradigm in Health - for Practitioners

While most health professionals are busy focusing on an archaic paradigm of diagnosing and managing illness, a powerful new trend in healthcare is slowly spreading around the world causing people to question the status quo and that includes alternative medicine practitioners too.

But more important, people are waking up to this emerging new trend and scouring the internet looking for healthcare professionals who practice it.

I am currently attending Functional Medicine University, learning how to get to the root cause of health and performance challenges.  The system I can now implement integrates the best in allopathic and complementary, conventional and alternative, medicine and natural, together with all types of practitioners and specialists.

Find out more, or even enroll in the next class Here.

Anyway, take a few minutes to read a new book on arthritis that Dr.Grisanti and Dr. Weatherby, the teachers of the Functional Diagnostic Medicine Training Program have written. The book is entitled "How to Prevent and Treat Arthritis Pain with Nutritional Medicine." This book is a real eye-opener and I believe you are going to be amazed at what you will read. It is yours absolutely free.

Here is the link to get your free copy of this Arthritis book:

New 2011 Workshop Schedule
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The 2011 Functional Health and Performance Workshop Schedule has been updated

So What's on?

  • ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Health and Wellbeing Workshops
    • Specially designed for ME North East members, providing a holistic approach to health that includes immune, digestive, hormonal and detoxification systems.
  • Fat Loss Secrets Workshops
    • 12 week curriculum with current health and performance strategies to make real changes and build health and achieve body development goals.  At the pioneering Northern Integrative Health Practice.
  • Climbing Conditioning Workshops
    • Continuing the successful winter series of climber conditioning at the Durham Climbing Centre.  Topics still to cover include building a strong shoulder girdle, core conditioning and a holistic approach.

Click Here for more information

What's your next step to Enhanced Fitness?
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What's your next step to Enhanced Fitness?

Column #62, 31st January 2009

When concerning our individual health and fitness, we are all at different levels. Indeed there are also many levels to consider, from physical to emotional. Below is some advice relevant for all on how to take the next step to enhance health and fitness.

We all vary in how much we prioritise health, what areas we focus on, what we enjoy and how we go about it. Our goal may be to increase endurance, improve immune strength, reduce pain, avoid pain, enjoy activity or enhance sporting performance. Whichever it is there are many stages involved. At ‘BodyGuards Gym’ in Jesmond the team are well-equipped to handle your needs, whatever stage you’re at:

1. Consultation and Advice

For those who are looking to begin prioritising areas of health and fitness it is extremely beneficial to seek advice from the relevant expert. This may include your Doctor, Bodyworker, Nutritionist, Homeopath, Chiropractor, Osteopath, Sports Coach or Exercise Coach. However, the focus should always remain on what you want and how you can work together to achieve it.

2. Investigation and Evaluation

Working with practitioners with experience and a desire to succeed with you will enable you to investigate areas that may be of benefit. This may simply be that you want better quality sleep, or that you are fed up with that continuous back ache. Using exercise as therapy or doing some work with a Bowen Therapist may just be the answer. Whatever the desire, it is extremely important that you do some form of analysis or investigation into the problem.

3. Motivation and Enjoyment

When you’ve sought advice and evaluated your needs, you’re well on your way to making advances. Maybe that’s where you are now. What is key at this stage is that you maintain enjoyment, interest and motivation to carry on achieving. Most importantly, this requires communication with the team around you. Often people find working with a partner or personal trainer gives them that boost.

4. Support and Expertise

Throughout the process, it is of real value to have the experts by your side guiding you. This could be for hands on physical manipulation, exercise prescription, program design or advice on many levels. Without their input, progress can take longer and even regress.

5. Getting to the next level

For those of us who have prioritised their health and performance for many years, this will all be fairly familiar. You may be looking to take it to the next level. Ask yourself what you could be doing or who you could be working with to get you their. It might even mean making the bold step back to Stage 1, above.

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Coaching and Therapies

Take the Next Step to Enhancing your Health and Performance

Core Function Exercises
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Core Function Exercises

Column #63, 15th February 2009

Core muscles are often referred to as the deeper abdominals or the inner unit. They are important for functions ranging from daily activities like hanging out the washing and athletic performance such as maintaining balance whilst wind surfing. The following is an introduction to building a strong core.

Built in Stabilisers

If we can appreciate that certain muscle groups have specific functions, then we can understand the function of the core muscles. Whilst the outer abdominal muscles’, that you can see, main objective is as prime movers that move the body, the deeper, core abdominals generally serve to stabilise. Milliseconds before the goalkeeper actually moves and launches them self to catch a ball, the deeper core muscles will fire in order to stabilise the spine and pelvis.  

Lower Back Pain

The requirement for strong core and back muscles isn’t limited to sports. The same stabilisation is needed as we bend down to pick up something heavy. Without it there is undue force typically through the spine and the risk of injury increases. A common cause of lower back pain is weak or uncoordinated core muscles and great success can be achieved with some careful exercise programming.

Lower Abdominal Coordination

Try this exercise to see how your lower abdominals are functioning:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place your hands under your lower back.       They should be under the natural curve of your lower back, directly under your belly button.       Position your spine so that it fits snug over your hands. This is ‘neutral spine’.
  3. Lightly, draw in your belly button to your spine. This engages the core. Ensure you lightly draw in from the pelvic floor as well.
  4. Now you have stabilised your neutral spine.
  5. Maintaining your right knee bent at 90degrees lift it up until your thigh is vertical. This is the start point of the movement.
  6. As you lower the leg breathe in.
  7. As you raise the leg breathe out.
  8. You should be able to maintain the pressure on your hands all the way through the movement.
  9. The knee should be kept at 90degrees all the way through the movement and you should be breathing with the abdominals.
  10. Perform up to 10 repetitions on each leg and build to 3 sets.

Try this over a week and let me know how you get on. The key is to be strict with your ability to maintain the pressure on your hands. When you can do this you are ready for the next level.

Read More Articles

Coaching and Therapies

Take the Next Step to Enhancing your Health and Performance

A Focus on Posture
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A Focus on Posture

Column #7 9th December 2006

In an attempt to achieve greater levels of health we have recently looked at the initial importance of assessing for success.  Today we will focus on Posture, which has been described as the basis of our power.

What is Good Posture?

Posture can be described as static and dynamic.  Generally, this means standing or sitting in one position and also moving, while walking, bending and throwing for example.  Our ability to maintain ideal alignment in various positions is essential for well-being.  Postural defects also have major affects on sporting performance, joint pain, muscular injuries and even digestive disorders and other, seemingly unrelated influences, such as mood and headaches.

With good standing posture our body is stacked upright correctly.  In this position our muscle lengths and strengths (tension) are balanced and our joints are in the correct position for initiating movement.

Think of a tent pole that needs strong, balanced guy ropes to maintain an upright position.  If one guy rope is too tight and the opposite, too long, then the pole will move out of position and the result is poor structure.  Consider that this happens to your spine when some muscles are too tight, long or weak.  In a compromised position the spine may be injured and the whole muscular-skeletal system will not be able to function as efficiently as possible.

Are We Training Blind?

If we do not assess our posture before we embark on a training program then we are likely to exacerbate any existing imbalances and problems.  Many of our occupations encourage a flexed position (sitting at a desk).  When accompanied by a program that has too much focus on flexion (crunches), then we will probably encourage this postural defect.  Taking us further away from neutral spine/biomechanical efficiency and typically leading to lower back and neck problems, from which we may already suffer.

Furthermore, a problem with one area of the body (for example at the pelvis) can cause pain or dysfunction somewhere else in the body (for example the knees and ankles).

Try this:  Stand up and feel where the weight is through your feet.  Tilt your pelvis forward (arch your lower back) and feel the weight fall onto the inside and your ankles turn inwards.  Now, tilt your pelvis back (flatten back), and feel the weight on the outside of your feet.  This illustrates the influence of the pelvis on your posture.  If the pelvis is not in its ideal position as you sit, stand, walk, run or jump then it is clear that forces will be distributed through different parts of the body.  This is a common cause of injury.

Why does posture get out of line?

There are many answers, but a key area to focus on is our daily actions and activities.  Do we have an occupation in which we have a repetitive movement, is there heavy lifting involved, do we play a one-side dominant sport?  A classic example is a checkout assistant, who may repetitively move a weight (groceries) from their left to right all day.  This twisting motion may cause a muscular imbalance and the person is left with a twisted posture as they are being pulled out of line.

Hopefully you can appreciate the importance of perfect posture.  Even if we just raise our awareness of the way we stand, sit, walk and move throughout the day, we will see improvements.  Of course, a great place to start is with an assessment.  One thing’s for sure, everybody will have different stretches and strengthening exercises to perform to bring their body back in to alignment.

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