Introducing Pregnancy and Postnatal Physiotherapy at Fix

Mummy MOT Fix London Fields

We're so excited to welcome Niamh Burn to the Fix London Fields team. She is a specialist Pre & Postnatal Physiotherapist and uses her knowledge and experience to create bespoke service for mums and mums-to-be, because they deserve it! 

Niamh is from Dublin and has 3 boys. She therefore spends a lot of time in the park. She qualified from the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin in 2003 and is interested in all things pelvic, including its floor! Passionate about treating women during pregnancy and post-baby, she loves guiding women into mumhood with confidence and strength.

She will be offering the following services at Fix London Fields: 

 

Pregnancy Physio

Pregnancy is a huge physical change for your body. Sometimes this can lead to aches and pains as your body has to adjust quickly to its new state. This is totally normal and pregnancy physio is great for treating common pregnancy-related conditions such as pelvic girdle pain, SPD and back pain.

After a thorough assessment, we can address any pain by changing the way you use your body during pregnancy; creating awareness of where you may be overloading your body or pulling yourself out of balance.

Manual therapy can help to rectify the problem and correct an imbalance that may be present. You will then be given strategies to practice at home which make the changes necessary to get you back to normal.

Treatment techniques can involve soft tissue massage, gentle joint mobilisations, muscle energy techniques and providing you with a safe and effective program to regain function, strength and reduce pain for the rest of your exciting journey - making you feel like you again!

 

The Mummy MOT check

The Mummy MOT postnatal check came about due to the lack of care that existed for Mums after baby arrived. Pregnancy and delivery (vaginal or c-section) can take its toll on the body and women need to know how their body is recovering after the event and how to get back on track. So the Mummy MOT check is a good first stop to check in with your body before moving on.  Mumhood needs strength!

The Mummy MOT (1 hour session) is a physical check of your body (pelvis, abdominals and pelvic floor) and how you are using it post pregnancy/birth. You will be given advice and exercises unique to you to promote recovery and strength.

The Mummy MOT check can happen from about 6 weeks, 6months or 6years! After your baby arrives, not matter how your baby arrives. Once postnatal, always postnatal. It will give you a baseline to work from and help you feel confident about taking recovery to the next level…

 

Postnatal Physio 

Postnatal Physio is there for any conditions that can come about after your baby arrives. If you are concerned about any physical issues after birth such as pelvic floor dysfunction, abdominal divide, pelvic pain, C-scar discomfort, urinary leaks, painful sex, prolapse or exercise related problems, then postnatal physio is for you.

 

For more information about Niamh, you can find her bio here.

You can book an appointment online or by calling our London Fields clinic on 0208 986 5551.

Client Spotlight - Vicky Fabbri

I had a place at 2017’s London Marathon but after getting pregnant and realising I'd be 6 months in by the time the big day rolled around, I decided that was a bit ambitious and deferred my place with the goal of getting marathon ready for 2018, roughly 9 months after giving birth.

Was it doable? Possibly.   

I ran pretty comfortably during pregnancy up to about 5 months. I was fortunate not to have bad sickness and fatigue at the start, and raced a season of cross country and completed half marathon without losing too much pace. However not long after my body rejected running entirely I had no energy in my muscles, or oxygen in my lungs and I could barely go for more than a minute at a time. I’d already started to get pain in the pelvis area, but had so far been able to run through this. Alongside running I was still doing strength and conditioning, yoga and walking as much as I could but also noticed that my belly was coming to a point when doing certain exercises and after some googling realised my abdominal muscles were already beginning to tear. I wanted to continue to exercise as much as I could for both physical and mental well being, and knew this was safe for the baby, but didn’t want to put myself at risk of further injury or discomfort or permanent damage.

I'd been going to FIX for massage and physio throughout past marathon training so they were my first port of call to see if there was any way I could continue running. Sam the osteopath diagnosed Pelvic Girdle Pain due to the hormone relaxin making my ligaments looser and pelvis more unstable, as well Diastasis Recti.

We made some simple adjustments to make things more manageable and I continued exercising regularly but moderately. I knew plenty of mums that had ran the whole way through pregnancy, and being fit arrogantly thought that could be me, but pregnancy affects everyone differently and my time was up.

Vikki Fabbri marathon FIX London

When daydreaming about the marathon before giving birth, I hadn't factored in an emergency cesarean, and how returning to running may be delayed further. My c-section recovery took longer than I thought and it was weeks until I could even walk comfortably.  

Under the advice and training of Alice Sims (teacher of Pelvic Floor Galore classes at FIX), I started doing exercises to gently help strengthen and repair my abdominal muscles and then started running around 9 weeks after giving birth. My first time out was a slow 1 mile run / walk but I was ecstatic just to be able to run again. I built it up, running a couple of times a week, and ran my first 5km at my local Parkrun at 12 weeks (creeping in just under 30 minutes).

6 months to go until marathon, I knew building up the mileage was most important and had the aim of getting to 10 miles by the end of the year ready to start training properly in January.

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For the first two months of the year my boyfriend took shared parental leave and we went travelling with the baby.  We spent the first 3 weeks hiking on El Hierro in the Canaries, and 5 weeks backpacking around South Africa. Neil was also training for the marathon so we made running a big part of the trip. El Hierro is basically an old volcanic crater and thus finding anywhere flat to run for longer runs was a real challenge, but we’d analyse elevation on all hiking paths, run down every street in small villages and do family speed sessions along the port harbour wall. And where it wasn’t possible, the long mountainous hikes kept me fit and strengthened my legs.  

In South Africa we did Parkrun in nearly every city we were in, sometimes puncturing every wheel on the buggy on an off road course! Although we had lots of time to run, conditions in South Africa were certainly non optimal, and my level of dedication to find ways to get out was greater than any other training I had done. It was often over 30 degrees which meant plenty of very early starts to avoid the heat (sometimes 6am, so a 4am wake-up for breakfast). Again it was rarely flat, and some places not safe to run alone so we had to do lots of asking around, or planning to be in safe or flat areas for long runs.  

However the hills and the heat all made for good training, plus all the hiking, YouTube yoga and baby carrying improved my fitness quickly. When I returned to London (to Arctic conditions) I started using a running buggy and continued my training following a slightly more traditional plan, trying to run about 5 times a week. I continued doing mum and baby yoga and Strong Mother classes at Fieldworks. I was fit, injury free (despite little stretching or rolling) and soon realised I was almost in marathon PB shape.

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Five weeks before the marathon I ran our club’s 20 mile Championship race (8 figure of 8 laps round Victoria Park on one of the coldest days of the year) and despite a good run where I sped up for the final 3 miles, when I finished my knee had totally gone, hurting to walk on and getting shooting pains when walking down the stairs.

I had a massage booked at FIX anyway for after this run and the massage therapist noted my extremely tight quads and hip flexor. However when I still failed to put pressure on the knee when attempting a jog, I returned to FIX seeing Paddy Joyce another Osteopath, who treated my patellofemoral pain with a mix of manipulation, massage and dry needling and we discussed why it had happened and what I could do to avoid it continuing. Pain improved but I had to take 2 weeks off running at a really crucial time in training and missing my final long run. I feared my marathon dream might be over, but Paddy was confident that the pain would go and I should be able to run enough beforehand to get round on the day. 

The week before the marathon was not ideal prep. Our son Nico had developed a fever, cold and cough, as well as teething. His sleep became worse than it was already, and he was waking every 1-2 hours at night all week. I was more exhausted and mentally drained than I had been all motherhood. He also had a bad fall and we ended up visiting A&E three times that week (he was fine, all precautionary!) including the afternoon before the race. I developed his cold the day before the big day,  and with the forecast predicting the hottest London Marathon on record, I couldn’t decide whether attempting it was bravery or complete stupidity. However my final leg loosener run had been completely knee pain free, and unlike nearly everyone else, we’d had some training in the heat so I still had a smidgen of optimism left. And I had endured a 42 hour labour, a feat of endurance where you don’t know where the finish line is, so surely this marathon was doable.

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Logistics of race morning are somewhat more complex with a baby -  especially one that doesn't take a bottle, eat solids really or drink water, so my parents had to accompany me to the start area, where I fed him in the queue as late as possible, before doing my last minute prep.

My aim was 3.40, and I decided I’d give it a go, which meant running around 8.20 minute mile pace. However I planned to take the first mile a bit slower and see how I felt, and give myself time to catch up if need be. It only took a couple of miles in the heat to realise going any quicker would be really hard work and I didn’t want to burn out, so gave up looking at the watch and decided to see how I felt at 6 miles, 10 miles, half way, 20, 22. And by doing so I enjoyed a marathon for the first time, smiling, waving, cheering, actually noting the landmarks, dousing myself in water to keep cool. Only at 25 miles did I realise I was close to another ‘good for age’ qualifying time and started to speed up very slightly, but it was out of reach and I really didn’t care.

I finished in 3 hours 47, in a relatively comfortable run, with my second half only 7 seconds slower than my first. And as soon as I walked through the finish line, Nico’s arms were opened wide to greet me - it was time to feed to again.

 

Vicky Fabbri, 39, Mother of a 9 month old.

Marathon PB 3:34

More to come.

Sleep tight - Sleep Awareness Week March 11th - 18th

sleep hygiene FIX nutrition Stratford London Fields

So many people we see in clinic struggle with the effects of poor sleep. So, in aid of National Sleep Awareness Week this week, our Nutritional Therapist Nuria talks about why a good sleep is so important and how you can go about getting one!

A good night’s sleep is as important to health as eating the right things and exercise. Your physical and emotional wellbeing depend on getting enough. Yet we’re living in sleep-deprived times. Some people are even competitive about how little sleep they’re getting, like dragging yourself through the day on four hours’ rest is a badge of honour. Scientists even say we’re now getting an hour or two less sleep each night than we were 60 years ago. And the effect on our bodies is not good.

The amount of sleep each person needs varies. Waking up feeling refreshed in the morning is a good indicator and so is being able to wake without an alarm. If you need an alarm to wake up, you are not getting enough sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, you may not be able to concentrate properly, and become irritable or agitated. You may also have blurred vision, be clumsy, become disorientated or slow to respond, and have decreased motivation. And, on top of that, if you’re tired and cranky, you are significantly less likely to make the best food choices.

You might be surprised to learn that, in a computer simulated driving test, those who had had just a few hours sleep were more dangerous on the (virtual) road than the people who had had a few drinks! In fact, the majority of road accidents are caused by tiredness.

The purpose of sleep is to rest and recover – and to allow the body to repair itself. These maintenance and repair processes take time and adults need between 7 and 9 hours sleep per night – regardless of what you think you have trained yourself to get by with.

But just how do you get a good night’s sleep?

The most common cause of insomnia is a change in your daily routine. For example, travelling, change in work hours, disruption of other behaviours (eating, exercise, leisure, etc.), and relationship conflicts can all cause sleep problems. Establishing good sleep hygiene is the most important thing you can do to maintain good sleep. It might also be helpful to keep a sleep diary to help pinpoint any particular problems. Below are a couple of pointers on how to help clean up your sleep hygiene and get a better night's rest:

DO

... Try to go to bed at the same time every day. Your body thrives on routine.

... Keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable; not too hot, nor too cold.

... Use your bed only for sleep and sex. This may help you completely switch off.

... Keep the bedroom completely dark, so you’re not disturbed by light, which your brain detects even when your eyes are closed. Eye masks can be useful.

... Spend time outdoors to soak up the sun.

... Try to take some gentle exercise everyday. There is evidence that regular exercise improves restful sleep. This includes stretching and aerobic exercise. A brisk walk ticks both boxes.

... Make an effort to relax for at least 5 minutes before going to bed - a warm bath, massage, meditation.

... Keep your feet and hands warm. Wear warm socks and/or mittens or gloves to bed.

... Consider getting a traditional alarm clock so your smartphone can stay out of the bedroom (see below). Better still, work out how much sleep you need by going to bed 15 minutes earlier until you find that you wake up naturally before your alarm. That’s your personal sleep requirement.
 

DON’T...

... Use smartphones, tablets or computers before going to bed. They emit the same kind of light as the morning sun and they interfere with your sleep.

... Engage in stimulating activities – like playing a competitive game, watching an edge-of-the seat film, or having an important conversation with a loved one.

... Eat a heavy meal within four hours of going to bed.

... Drink caffeine after lunch – like coffee, ‘normal' and green tea, and colas.

... Use alcohol to help you sleep. Alcohol can make sleep more disturbed.

... Go to bed too hungry. If needed have a snack before bed – a glass of milk or banana are ideal.

... Nap during the day

... Get frustrated if you can’t sleep. Try to go to bed with a positive mood – “I will sleep tonight”.

 

References:

1.     The Telegraph (2014) People sleeping two hours less than in 1960s risking serious health problems. Accessed: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/10826999/People-sleeping-two-hours-less-than-in-1960s-risking-serious-health-problems.html, 4th March 2018

2.     Chatterjee R (2018) The 4 Pillar Plan: How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life. 1st edn., London, Penguin Random House UK

3.     Journal of pioneering medical Science  (2013) Sleepy Teenagers More Likely to Make Unhealthy Food Choices. Accessed: http://blogs.jpmsonline.com/2013/06/26/sleepy-teenagers-more-likely-to-make-unhealthy-food-choices/, 4th March 2018

4.     Natural Sleep Foundation (2018) How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?. Accessed: https://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need-0, 4th March 2018

5.     Healthline (2014) The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body. Accessed: https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-deprivation/effects-on-body#1, 4th March 2018

6.     Harvard Medical School (2013) Importance of Sleep : Six reasons not to scrimp on sleep. Accessed: http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_ health, 9th December 2013.

7.     Centre for Integrated Research and Understanding of Sleep (2013) About sleep. Accessed: http://www.cirus.org.au/about/sleep/index.php, 9th December 2013.

8.     American Psychological Association (2013) Why sleep is important and what happens when you don’t get enough. Accessed: http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx, 9th December 2013.

9.     Psychology Today (2013) Better sleep found by exercising regularly. Accessed: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleep-newzzz/201309/better-sleep-found-exercisingregular-basis-0, 9th December 2103.

FIX is for lovers

Valentine's day massage offer E20 London

Time to spread the love at FIX with a week of discounted massage at our East Village clinic. Whether is a gift for your sweetie or a self-care treat, we're taking 30% off 60 minute massages for E20 residents throughout Valentine's Week. What's not to fall in love with?

Book online here (don't forget to mention the Valentine's deal in the notes) or give us a call on 0208 555 7165 to book your place.

Sports massage and Marathon Training

By Neil Franklin

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Marathon season is nearly upon us. Whether you're training for London, Boston or Berlin, as you start to increase your mileage leading up to your marathon, you should consider a good sports massage as part of your training.

Although many people think of sports massage as a luxury, it should be an integral part of your training and is just as important as your easy run, steady run, fartlek, interval training and long run. Massage can improve your training and help you feel strong and limber, ready to run your best 26.219 miles on the day.

A programme of specialised manual therapy and functional exercises can: 

Improve flexibility. Massage involves stretching the muscles and re-aligning the muscle fibres, which allows you to stretch more efficiently and increase your range of motion for an injury free training programme.

Decrease recovery time. Massage increases the flow of blood and oxygen to your muscles whilst removing waste products, releasing scar tissue and adhesions to keep your muscles working efficiently.

Injury prevention. Detecting any short, tight muscles and scar tissue or adhesions at an early stage, then treating these areas using various techniques and demonstrating good stretching practice will help keep you on track to your goal and prevent injury.

Injury treatment. Of course, nobody wants to get injured during training but with a good sports massage, and a programme of active, functional exercises you will regain confidence, mobility and strength resulting in a speedier recovery.

If you're in training for a marathon this spring/summer, Neil Franklin is offering a special deal to help you get the most out of your training:

Book 3 x 60 minute sports massage treatments

Receive 1 FREE post-event massage

You can call our front of house team to book on 0208 555 7165 or book online  - just mention that you're booking the marathon deal.

The Osteopath's approach to sports injuries

by Chris Stevens, B Ost

Chris Stevens Osteopath FIX East Village

Many patients often ask what the difference between an Osteopath and Physiotherapist is. Many are surprised to find that, when it comes to sports injury treatment, both professions in private practice offer a similar experience. 

Osteos and Physios will both assess your general health, enquire about the mechanisms of injury, assess whole body function in relation to your injury and treat accordingly. 

We all use soft tissue techniques, manipulation, stretching and adjunctive therapies such as kinesiotaping, western acupuncture and electro therapy. Prescription of exercise is a fundamental component of rehabilitation and in my experience, this expertise can be dependent on the experience and specialism of individual practitioners, so it's worth enquiring about this with your Osteopath directly.

Exercise prescription is something I’ve been involved with since the beginning of my career as a Personal Trainer and Sports Therapist, and the last 12 years as an Osteopath with a special interest in Sports Injury Rehabilitation. I have a key interest in winter sports injuries, having lived in the mountains in America, France and New Zealand, working on ski and snowboard competitions and treating pros and local legends alike!

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These days the wealth of information and evidence base created for treating sports injuries is known across professions. This is a really great thing for the patient as having evidence and varying approaches can help tremendously in finding your way from acute injury to full function again.  

Osteopaths are now a key part of medical care at the Olympics and widely employed in professional sports teams

Over the last 20 years in manual therapy, the more I work with colleagues across the main musculoskeletal professions, the more I realise a multidisciplinary approach to patient care is key to injury recovery.

So why not try an Osteopath's approach to your sports injury? 

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You can find more on Chris, and book online here.

Back up and running-Steve Hobbs on recovery from ankle injury

Way back in November 2017 (or as I prefer to think of it - a few weeks ago) I ran the Florence Marathon. It rained, constantly, was freezing cold and was hard, as marathons tend to be, and I ran slightly slower than I planned to, finishing in 2h38. But I was delighted. Why?

A few weeks prior at the Beachy Head Marathon, a trail race across the South Downs and Seven Sisters near Eastbourne I landed awkwardly on my left foot after about 5 miles and my ankle folded underneath me. It was pretty sore - swearing out loud sore, hobbling for the next mile sore and running gingerly on more rocky and uphill terrain for the next 2 or 3 miles sore. As I was considering my options the pain eased and I settled into a rhythm. I was in fifth place at this point, and before halfway became reconciled that that would be my best finish position and resolved to enjoy the amazing scenery. Then, we had a nice long flat section on soft, forgiving ground that I knew preceded a downhill section and as my ankle eased on the soft ground, I just ran, and was surprised as the people ahead starting going backwards such that by the time we reached the seven sisters, I was up to 2nd!

Steve Hobbs marathon Florence injury recovery

Now, determined to get a podium place even when faced with at least one runner behind me taking a bit of a shortcut, I pushed on (relatively speaking) and held my place but to what cost? My ankle was sore and swollen. The good news was that, being a trauma rather than a classic running injury, I felt that if the pain and swelling could go, I should still be able to run in Florence, 4 weeks later. But I'd need help.

 The wonderful folk at Fix London did exactly what they say they will do, and took a holistic approach to my treatment. Everyone was extremely positive and supportive throughout. Cate Boyle gave me acupuncture to reduce swelling and bruising in the ankle, and reduce stiffness in the calf that had been overworking as a result of an under-functioning ankle. Acupuncture is essentially designed to interfere with the pain signals that the body sends to the brain to protect you, and to help you distinguish what is real damage and what is your body telling you to protect yourself.

I had damaged the ligaments and tendons around my ankle for sure, but the advice from Helen O'Neill (Physio) was that with sprained ankles, the quicker you can perform proprioceptive exercises, the quicker AND stronger you will recover - sprained ankles are notorious for repeating themselves if they don't heal properly first time. This involved a lot of hopping, jumping and balance exercises, and the acupuncture enabled me to do those exercises with less pain, which freed me up to do them sooner than I might have done otherwise as well as do more of them which speeded up my rehab.  I didn't run at all in this time, and nor could I even swim, but I trusted my training of the months prior and tried to relax. Within nine days I was gently jogging and by two weeks I was confident of doing some tempo work (in this case running at or slightly quicker than my marathon pace for sustained periods).

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On discussion with my coach (me!) I selected the flattest, smoothest, least bendy, basically least stressful surface imaginable and did a session of tempo work for 30 mins in the west end of Victoria Park - roughly 5 laps on a Sunday morning. That went well, so the following week I did 70 minutes in 2 x blocks of 30 minutes, and 1 x 10 with rest in between. I was actually hoping to do 90 minutes in total but despite the ankle being largely pain free, it still wasn't functioning perfectly and my calf was overworking as a result so I stopped at 70 minutes as the calf was starting to tighten too much for my liking. I then had massage and a general working over by Joe Dale (massage therapist and Osteo) to ease that tightness and I felt as ready as I could possibly be.

Sure enough, in the race, I set off with no trouble but the calf was still compensating for the still under-functioning ankle and started to tighten around 15 miles and the the last 10k were tough on the limbs. I felt like I was going backwards, and my pace slowing to a limping shuffle, so I stopped paying attention to pace and time and completion was the only goal. I was surprised and delighted to see 2h 38 minutes on the clock as I approached the finish line, just 3 minutes outside my PB. I hadn't slowed any where near as much as i had imagined.

The delight was in part due to completing a tough race, but in the main it was because my body had managed to get through a road marathon, despite the significant trauma just a few week prior. Acupuncture + Physio + Massage + Osteo + empathetic support made ALL the difference.

At the end of the race though, walking was troublesome, both my calves were extremely tight. Guess who I visited on my return to the UK? 

 

Steve is the Running Coach at Fix, he offers bespoke 1:1 running assessments and tailored training plans, as well as the Mums, Dads, Babies and Buggies run that leaves from Fix East Village Tuesdays at 10am.

Long time FIX regular Becky Horsbrugh's Bangla Swim

It's the New Year and many of us are taking on new challenges and feeling the need to push ourselves a bit. Perhaps by signing up for a run or maybe just having a dry January- and all credit to us!

Qualified swim coach and keen amateur athlete Becky Horsbrugh is taking it a step further and kicking off 2018 with a 16km swim across the Bay of Bengal!!   In doing so, she will be the first British person to swim from Teknaf, off the southern coast of Bangladesh to St Martins Island and is undertaking this massive swim challenge to raise awareness and funds for the swim teaching schemes there which are run by the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research (CIPRB). 

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Becky has been kind enough to tell us a bit more about her upcoming swim and what led her to take the challenge head-on.

"This time last year i was recovering at home from major surgery, and all but bedbound. I had spent two months in and out of hospital and was far from my usual fit self. Twelve months on from that, I am now training for a ten mile sea swim and have two half marathons - my first ever - under my belt.  I had been a regular fixture at Fix for years before my operation as I have dabbled in all sorts of sports - running, cycling, swimming just for starters .

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Whether osteopathy, massage, pilates - I think I have just about met every single practitioner at the Richmond Road premises. They have saved me on many occasion, even when I slipped a disc bending over to stroke my cat goodbye before going to work. The last 12 months though the help I have had has been invaluable. I had abdominal surgery and had greatly weakened abs. I decided on a whim 6 months after my op to run the Hackney half. Seeing Luke at Fix before - and then when my back went after the race (oops) - after, got me back on track, even though I was frustrated I could not be as active as I had been before. 

As much fun as it was running 13 odd miles, swimming remains my greatest passion. It was so hard when I was ill having to stay away from the pool - 5 months in total. But while I was recovering I had plenty of time to read - and just by chance found out about the appalling drowning figures in Bangladesh. Fifty children a day die there in the water, which is terrible. In the UK it is around 5 a year. I am a qualified swim teacher and I felt I had to do something somehow.

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So I got in touch with a village north of the capital Dhaka called Sreepur Village which is run by a British charity as a refuge for women and their children who need to escape either prostitution or homelessness for example. To cut a long story short, in July I found myself there helping to teach the children some swimming skills. The whole experience was quite lifechanging in a sense and gave me a different perspective on life. Since that visit I have learnt a great deal more about drowning prevention schemes in Bangladesh and other countries, and have had extensive contact with the RNLI who partner with local groups in various countries, helping with training and other assistance.   

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Not one to ever take things easy, I have also decided to do a ten mile sea swim across the Bangla Channel in the Bay of Bengal the end of January, to help highlight the issue of drowning and raise money for the swim teaching scheme there. I will be the first British swimmer to attempt the swim, which is really quite exciting. The training is hard work, just fitting around all the other things you have to do on a day to day basis, but I am hoping to be as fit as I can possibly be on the day. Fingers crossed so far I have had no major injuries and I think that shows the importance if you are aiming for something big like this to get the right training advice and training plan. But also too I have to thank in particular the massage therapists at Fix as their great handywork has also ensured any niggles are taken care of before they become a major issue. I'm determined to enjoy my swim in January and even if just one child is saved from drowning thanks to the money I raise with my swim, then the hard work will have definitely been worth it. "

 

Becky's swim takes place on the 29th January. If you would like to sponsor her please visit www.gofundme.com/my-bangla-swim

 

Avoiding injury with Prehab - a conversation with Luke Selby

We've been seeing more and more talk about 'prehab' in movement circles lately so we decided to have a chat with Osteopath Luke Selby about what that actually means and the different ways that we can incorporate it into our physical activities and lives:

Hey there Luke, can you start off by telling us what 'prehab' is exactly?

At Fix we really live by the mantra that 'Prevention is better that cure'. Prehab is about addressing any imbalances in your body and making sure you're strong and stable so that you can get ahead of any injuries before they occur. It's all about knowing your body and working at your physical best.

The Fix team can help assess any functions deficits you may have; build strength and stability around vulnerable areas; and improve mobility, balance and flexibility to decrease your chance of being injured. Each person's prehab will be different - sometimes it's helping correct a slight niggle before it develops into a full-blown injury, at other times we help with boosting performance for a committed athlete preparing for an event, or guiding someone when they take up a new physical activity.

 

So what can Fix do to help people to get more 'prehab' into their life?

Initially, we usually start with an assessment with one of our Physios or Osteopaths to discuss your individual needs and work out the plan that's right for you. Our mission is to get the people we work with to understand more about their own bodies and give them tools to improve.  When someone feels something new - and empowering - for the first time, it's kind of like a light being shone into a place that was previously dark. And when the lightbulb goes on they're totally bought into their own journey to getting better, faster.

Building the capacity for truly functional movement is where our bodies operate most happily. We might suggest some Clinical Strength & Conditioning to pinpoint any vulnerable areas and then help you build strength and increase your mobility.

We're also big on movement as a therapy in itself, and not just a means to an end. So our approach to both Yoga and Pilates - either 1:1 or in dedicated small group classes - will help increase flexibility, build stability around your core, and improve strength and balance.  These are all important factors in injury prevention, not to mention the health benefits of helping combat stress, anxiety and a range of long term systemic health conditions.

 For runners, we have one-off running assessments or more comprehensive  preventative training packages, which will help you get out in front of injury by catching any weaknesses in your gait and show you how to literally run your problems out, and to train smarter for better results.

Sometimes there are underlying hormonal, environmental or lifestyle factors that also come into play. In fact, let's face it, in the modern world there's almost always this stuff in the background, holding us back.  Often people seek the help of one of our acupuncturists to help find deeper balance, or manage some short term pain.  

Nutritional Therapy and advice can be an invaluable piece of the plan as well - it's definitely true that 'we are what we eat'! It's amazing to see people get some guidance on their diet - the when, how and what of their nutrition - and watch their results sky-rocket.

 

So is this just for marathon runners and sports people? Who really benefits from 'prehabbing'?

Gosh. Injury prevention and striving to be our best selves is something we all need to think about. We have one body to live our whole life with and keeping it supple and strong is how we make sure it lasts us all the way through!

It's really so varied.  We've worked with a range of elite and professional athletes preparing for everything from channel swims, to desert marathons, and from football and rugby tournaments to skiers and snowboarders.  But to be honest we get just as much of a kick helping an older person get up and moving again, realising that their world can open up again in ways they maybe felt were no longer possible. Or it might be a teen or tween has a concern around their growth or development that their parents, coaches or teachers can't quite get to the bottom of. Working with them to address something BEFORE it becomes an issue later in life is a real joy.

Occasionally it's the case that people do need to have a surgery, and in these instances we work with them to get as fit and strong as possible before the operation. That way their recovery will most likely be quicker, less problematic and more enjoyable.

So yes, prehab is important for people who are using their body intensively - like marathon runners, climbers or professional dancers - but it’s also for people with desk jobs, or those who have a little niggle that isn’t yet an injury but could become one, or for anyone who is getting older (which we guess means all of us!).

Yoga for Cyclists

I love cycling! Whether it is getting around London as my mode of transport, doing a day ride out of the city or a long tour across Europe, my bike will get me there. What an amazing sense of freedom you can have from two wheels and a little leg power.  It is an incredible sport, at whichever level you choose to engage with it at.

Although, the possible down sides include; tight hips, sore lower back, painful neck, weak core, dodgy knees and aching shoulders. Cycling is mostly in one fixed position, the back is rounded over the handlebars, the shoulders hunched forwards and the head is often thrown backwards.

To add to this, in contemporary life we spend a lot of time doing things forwards and backwards (in the sagittal plane) putting pressure on the body, cycling is one of these repetitive movement patterns. So I would encourage cyclists to try some yoga to counteract the specific weaknesses cycling creates in the body.

 Sun Salutation - low lunge

Sun Salutation - low lunge

 Boat Pose

Boat Pose

A targeted Yoga class can offer a mix of stretching & strengthening; helping the body recover quicker and cope with the demands placed on the body by the two wheeled metal machine. Areas like the lower back can be released through poses such as; ‘Child's pose’ or ‘Legs up the wall’, whereas the upper back and shoulders can be stretched with ‘Thread the Needle’ or ‘Puppy pose’. The hips can be targeted with ‘Pigeon’ variations and ‘Sun Salutations’, which could be incorporated into a regular warm up to sustain your muscles on long rides.

Yoga also strengthens the core, helping to support the body in healthy movement patterns. Postures like ‘Plank’ and ‘Boat pose’ will engage the abdominal muscles, which in turn support the lower back. Practicing ‘Bridge pose’ or ‘Warrior three’ strengthens the glutes and gives you more power to pedal through stabilising the hips. Whereas ‘Chair pose’ will strengthen the quadriceps and muscles surrounding the knees, encouraging stability and safe alignment whilst peddling.

 Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose

 Warrior 3

Warrior 3

Yoga is brilliant for the body and mind, a really beneficial counter balance to cycling, helping to prevent injury and improve performance.  Everyone has different stress points from being on the bike and a cyclist-focused class can unravel some of this tension.  With options and modifications for all, you will really feel the difference on and off the bike. Stretching out after cycling can alleviate a lot of the common aches and pains cyclists feel and I would encourage anyone who cycles regularly, whether for commuting or pleasure to incorporate stretching into their routine and give Yoga a go.

Helena Crabtree - Yoga teacher at Fix East Village

Where Pilates and physiotherapy intersect. A Q&A with Michelle Lee

Michelle is a fairly recent addition to the Fix family; she joined us in July and is a highly skilled physiotherapist and a Pilates instructor. Today we're chatting to her about where her two specialities overlap, how she ended up in London and what Pilates instructors get up to in their spare time.

Oh hey Michelle! First off, can you tell us where you're from? What brings you to London?

I hail from Toronto, Canada! However, I was living in Amsterdam prior to our move to London in June.

My husband and I both wanted a change in scenery, and London was a city where we could both continue to work our careers. We have always loved London when visiting it in the past, so when two great job opportunities came about we jumped on it.

Awesome. Lucky for us! So tell us a little about your training; how did you get interested in Physiotherapy and Pilates? Which came first?

I am a former gymnast and dancer, and from the wee age of 8 years old I had various sports injuries. I was sent to a physiotherapist/osteopath who worked miracles, and ever since then I decided I wanted to become a physiotherapist. I completed a Bachelor of Science Honours degree with a subject of specialisation in Life Sciences in 2007 from Queen's University in Kingston, Canada. Following this, in 2009 I graduated from the University of Toronto with a Masters of Science in Physiotherapy and have worked in private musculoskeletal practice since. 

I discovered Pilates when I was living in Toronto, simply passing by a studio. To be honest, I was most fascinated by all the crazy equipment I saw! I am always been interested in trying new workouts so I gave it a go. After trying out only a couple classes, I was hooked. My body felt stronger, longer and more mobile than ever! I really appreciated the attention to detail that is required with the practice of Pilates and with the focus on inner core stability, I noticed that the niggling low back pain that had been bothering me or years went away, as did my runner's knee. As a physiotherapist, I had been utilising many of the same concepts within my practice, but I was limited in my repertoire. When I moved to Amsterdam, I enrolled in a year long program where I completed my Comprehensive Mat and Equipment Teacher certification. 

Michelle pilates.jpg

Do you find that Pilates influences your physiotherapy work?

100%! As a physiotherapist, I combine manual therapy, modalities such as dry needling, and exercise rehabilitation into my practice. I have found that utilising the concepts of Pilates has greatly benefited my patients' outcomes as it targets the inner core musculature and local stabilisers of the body. 

So what's your favourite part of your work?

I love watching my clients' progress overtime. There's nothing better than a day when every single client takes a step forward towards reaching their goals.

What do you like to do when you're not at Fix?

I love staying active. I practice Pilates, go for runs around the beautiful green spaces in London, and enjoy checking out different fitness studios to see what they have to offer. 

The irony is, if you don't find me working out, I'm probably stuffing my face with the amazing food and wine that London restaurants have to offer! Eating delicious food can be a hobby, right? 

And last but not least, tell us something surprising about you...

I don't always practice what I preach to my clients...

 

You can find Michelle at our London Fields and East Village clinics. Book in with her online here or give us a call: London Fields 0208 986 5551 / East Village 0208 555 7165

Little and often

Laura 3dog.jpg

Yoga is everywhere. Images of beautiful bodies doing headstands on beaches scroll pass on your Instagram feed, women in expensive leggings folding themselves into seemingly impossible shapes, tales of hours-long sessions culminating in enlightenment on the top of a mountain. You know the deal. It can be intimidating, especially if you're not a hugely bendy person and don't have hours to dedicate to your practice.

But yoga is not about attaining the perfect handstand. At it's core, it's about linking movement and breath, and the mental and physical benefits that come from doing so. Whether you're wearing £70 leggings or 10-year-old trackpants, taking the time to bring your attention to your breath and move your body will open you to the increased strength, flexibility and balance that yoga can bring, as well as the mental relaxation and focus. This is why it's an integral part of the Fix philosophy.

For a little more about the benefits of a regular yoga practice, check out this TEDx talk by Jim Kambietz.

Finding the time to practice little and often is the easiest way to start working some yoga into your life. That's why we've recently made the lunchtime classes at our East village clinic just 45 minutes; so you can pop in, connect with yourself, move your body and still have time to be back at work for that 2 o'clock meeting (feeling infinitely more refreshed than if you'd spent your lunch hour clicking through the internet while eating a damp Pret sandwich)

You can check out our full yoga timetable and book online here. We're looking forward to practicing with you soon!

What do Osteopaths do? A Q&A with Fix East Village's Osteopath Laura Maidment

 What do you do as an Osteopath?

Hopefully try and help people reach a goal, which they are being prevented from by a physical obstacle or pain. I treat various ailments from lower back and neck pain to headaches and overuse type injuries. I also see babies and pregnant women. My main aim is to get the body moving better and become more functional for what people want to use it for.

 

How did you get into Osteopathy?

I used to be a sports acro gymnast and was forever injuring myself and had a lower back injury when I was about 11. I started seeing a very inspirational osteopath, the late Johnaton Betser, and went to him for regular treatments. It was from there that I became very fascinated in how the body works and was always so intrigued how he could treat my foot and it would affect my back! Coming from a sporting background and being interested in the mechanics of the human body meant osteopathy was a natural career path for me.

osteopathy

 

What is your top tip for lower back care?

Movement is key! I cannot tell my patients enough how important movement is. We are not designed to sit for 12 hours a day. Many people say that they have a great ergonomic desk set-up, which is better than a rubbish set-up, but if you just aren’t moving from it then things start to stiffen and muscles start to shorten. Even when people are in pain movement is vital for recovery, gone are the days when a neck brace or bed rest are prescribed!

 

What is the difference in your opinion between Physiotherapy and Osteotherapy?

This is the most commonly asked question I get from patients. There is a huge crossover between the types of complaints we see and many techniques we use.

However I would say the biggest difference is that osteopaths are very much holistic in their approach. We assess the body as a whole and evaluate whether one part of the body is affecting another. We mainly use hands on examinations to palpate (sensation of touch) joint mobility, muscular tension, weakness and imbalances. Osteopaths are trained to diagnose pathologies within the body and can examine other body systems. I also incorporate exercise rehab into every treatment plan, although this is where physio’s specialty is. Physiotherapy evaluates movement dysfunction by observation and functional assessment. Physios are trained more in exercise rehab and functional recovery. At fix it is great to work alongside each other as we can cross-refer when a patient is more appropriate for either type of approach.

 

What do you get up to when you’re not in the clinic treating?

I am a big foodie! I love cooking, experimenting with food and baking and trying out different restaurants and food markets. ‘You are what you digest’ is so true, so I keep to a fairly clean healthy diet and have a real interest in nutrition, although a cheeky glass of wine sneaks its way in there too!

I also love to move with yoga and pilates and keep to a regular routine, which is good for the body and soul.

 

Laura Maidment works at our East Village clinic in Stratford, if you would like to book in for Osteopathy at Fix, please visit www.fixlondon.co.uk for further information.

The Ultimate Tummy Soother - Gingeroot, Mint and Red Date Tea

mint tea

This tummy soothing tea is guaranteed to leave you feeling refreshed, unbloated and balance out your PH levels. It’s great to consume it daily -  morning and night - especially before or after a meal.

Herbs and foods have been used for centuries to heal the bodies ailments, so if you suffer from conditions such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), chronic constipation or cramping, introducing this tea to your diet may help you find some relief to your symptoms. Here’s a quick list summing up the health benefits of each ingredient.

 

In a teapot place:

2 stalks of Fresh Mint

2 dollops of Honey (or enough to suit your taste!)

A square inch of Ginger

A handful of soaked Red Dates

A squeeze of Lemon juice

 

Proceed by filling the teapot with boiling water. Let brew for 7 minutes and serve.

 

Mint

It is suggested that in Morocco mint has been used as an appetiser, digestive and palate cleanser since the 12th century; it’s benefits being multifarious. Mint promotes digestion and soothes stomach discomfort, therefore if you suffer from bloating after a meal the herb can help to subdue inflammations and discomfort. Similarly, it is also effective in clearing up congestion of the nose or throat, and particularly beneficial in treating the symptoms of asthma. In Chinese medicine mint is used as a cooling agent to counteract the overproduction of heat in the body, which is said to be linked to nervousness, agitation and a hot temper.

 

Honey

If you’re used to two spoons of sugar in your tea, honey is a great alternative to satisfy your sweet tooth. Honey is a powerhouse of antioxidants, a natural cough syrup and a long term energy booster, two dollops in your teapot and you’ll be buzzing about your day like a busy bee! However, it's also great at inciting a good night's sleep, how? The sweetness of honey causes your insulin levels to rise, which in turn releases the neurotransmitter serotonin. Then, the body converts serotonin to melatonin – a chemical that helps your body sleep. Ancient Ayurvedic practice speaks of a medicinal drink called Golden Milk that uses turmeric, honey, almond milk, and pepper to help reduce inflammation and calm the body for a good night’s rest.

 

Gingeroot

Ginger first appeared in the southern parts of ancient China, where it has long been used to treat nausea and motion sickness. In Chinese medicine ginger is said to have a warming effect, promoting digestive fire and soothing gas troubles. As well as being a carminative, ginger acts as an intestinal spasmolytic and relieves stomach upsets.

 

ginger tea

Red date

Red dates or Jujube are one of China’s most popular health foods, the Chinese swear by them for curing any ailment. They are hard on the outside and soft on the inside and are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to balance the Qi. Letting the dates soak and then adding them to a tea is a great way of extracting all their goodness and this will increase the body’s serum protein levels, which in turn helps protect the liver and detoxify the body.

 

Lemon

Lemon, is a great source of Vitamin C and is also famed for supporting digestion. It is said that is also contributes to brightening the skin and maintaining fresh breath. A cup of lemon water a day promotes hydration and the intake of water. If drank first thing in the morning before any food in a tea lemon is a great substitute for your morning dose of caffeine, as it is a natural stimulant for waking up the intestine and encourages morning bowel movements.

 

Now all that’s left to do is give the tea and go and let it work it’s magic. We hope you enjoy.

Love, Fix.

red dates tea

4 step self-care routine from a Pilates professional

selfcare

International Self-Care day is all about learning to treat ourselves with love and compassion in order to improve and maintain our health. Therefore, we thought, who better to talk to about self-care than our fantastic and inspirational Pilates teacher, Eleah Waters?

Pilates is all about self-care, as it teaches people how to move mindfully and with awareness through poses and exercises. For this reason, it is great to practice Pilates alongside other more physically straining sports, as often, when we play competitive sports - such as racing or matches - we forget to listen to our bodies because we become so focused on the goal of winning. The problem being, when stop to listen to our bodies we tend to push ourselves too hard, making us more at risk of injuries. Therefore, whether you are a dancer, footballer or athlete, Pilates can be an invaluable tool in both the rehabilitation and preservation of your body.

Eleah is an amazing fount of knowledge for everything health related, so we decided to pick her brain for all the juicy details of her personal 4 step evening self-care routine that she does every night without fail. She swears by it and says it keeps her energised and bright everyday.

With these top tips and 3 pints of filtered water a day, you’ll be glowing like an Australian Pilates professional in no time!

 

STEP 1.

Decide what time you want to be in bed by early on in the evening so you can give yourself time to prepare accordingly. Eleah says she sorts out her clothes for the morning and does her laundry well in advance, so she isn’t rushing or doing it just before bed.

 

STEP 2.

If you want to be in bed by 10pm, set your alarm for the following morning an hour before and once you’ve done that put your phone on flight mode. Alternatively, you can buy an analog alarm clock and charge your phone outside of your bedroom, this way you know you really won’t touch it!

 

STEP 3.

Commence your hour of screen-free time, no phones, no Instagram, no TV or computers! Read a book, draw, write or practice a cool down Yoga Sequence, we recommend Yoga with Adrienne. Do anything that gets you relaxed and ready for bed that isn’t digital.

 

STEP 4.

Light an oil burner full of lavender, ylang ylang and chamomile and if you’re into calming teas, make a brew!

 

This wind-down time is now Eleah’s favourite part of the day, “You’ll feel less flustered and stressed and sleep much deeper” she says. “On an evening where I still feel a bit tense, I’ll do the ‘legs up on the wall’ pose for 10 minutes”, a gentle and relaxing yoga inversion. She also uses Pukka Night Time herbal supplement i she’s feeling particularly jittery, “2 capsules and I’m out like a light, and I find I wake up really refreshed.”

 

Eleah’s next 1:4 group Pilates course starts on the 3rd of August at our London Fields clinic. If you’re interested in signing up and giving it a go please give us a call on 0208986551. She also runs Pilates retreats, her next one is from the 13 - 15th of October. For more info go to http://www.eleahwaterspilates.com/retreat/.

Haul yourself up from the multitasking rabbit-hole: take time out to breathe

Have you ever felt yourself not being able to engage in a conversation without feeling distracted? At some point, each one of us has and we have our smartphones to blame. In the technological age we multitask with such unbridled adamance that it has become common to always be somewhere other than the present moment, enslaved by endless notifications and emails, restlessly awaiting the next ping and buzz from friends or colleagues; meaning all we have left for each act or person we encounter is partial and divided attention.

It's become a little too easy to accept that multitasking is the only possible way to navigate our chaotic and busy lives. But, ironically one of the most robust findings of cognitive science has been to discover that our attention is in fact limited in its capacity and that if we allocated undivided and focused attention to one task at a time our performance improves greatly.

Furthermore, considering we never actually clock off from our jobs all this technological multitasking can really take its toll on our brain function. Concerned neuroscientists say that our tendency to divide our attention, rather than focus, is hampering our ability to perform even simple tasks and this can have a very detrimental effect on our mental health, notably our attentiveness in the long term and our ability to learn. Prolonged inattentiveness due to multitasking can lead to mental health conditions such as anxiety, dementia and depression and once a person is suffering from a mental health disorder their physical health is likely to plummet too.

So, what is actually happening to our brains while we multitask?

Most actions that are performed mindlessly result from the basal ganglia, also known as the reptilian brain, which is the most primitive part of the human brain. The reptilian brain governs your physiological processes, such as the need for food and shelter and is concerned about the physical plane of existence e.g the body. However, in addition to our most basic needs, the basal ganglia also governs several other functions, such as motor control and eye movements, habits and learning through cause and effect.

reptillian brain

When we are under stress - or in a fight or flight situation - the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated by the reptilian brain and the prefrontal cortex shuts down from over stimulation, making it harder to make rational decisions. As we multitask we overstimulate our brain, reach peak levels of stress and override our rational behaviour. This inhibits us from completing tasks properly and methodically, which in retrospect can cause us to feel frustration with ourselves and become self-deprecating.

If this mechanism is allowed to happen over time it becomes ingrained through repetitive reinforcement and neurological pathways are formed creating bad habits. It can therefore seem as though conditions such as anxiety or depression were part of us from birth as opposed to being the result of our actions and choices.

Habits that persist from mindlessness are hard to break, but it is not impossible. Discoveries in neuroplasticity have confirmed that the brain does not have a strict time frame of development as it was once thought, but is in fact rhizomatic and can be rewired through mental exercises. Our minds remain the most powerful tool to combatting our struggles, therefore practicing mindfulness - as opposed to letting rogue thoughts navigate our daily lives - is key to maintaining a strong and healthy mind. Reaching this goal however, may mean taking time off from work to dedicate solely to detoxifying the brain from negative and pervasive thought patterns. After all, it’s wiser to spot fatigue or high stress levels early and take time off to fix the issue rather than letting the condition persist to full blown burnout.

Unfortunately, the majority of us don’t have the luxury to take time out so the next best option is to develop a yoga or meditation routine that you stick to. In Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Yoga is described as, “the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind” or as Pattabhi Jois says it, “Yoga is mind control” which is exercised through controlled breathing, awareness of movement and a strict routine. You may have noticed that when people suffer from panic attacks they breathe into paper bags or are asked to deepen their breathing, this is because the breath is the first point of call for regaining control over your thoughts. Breathing is the gateway between the conscious and subconscious mind.

Two great Kundalini breathing exercises you can do when you first wake up are Breath of Fire and Nadi Shodhana, or “alternate nostril breathing”. The latter restore balance in the left and right hemispheres of the brain and clears the energetic channels. The former strengthens the nervous system to resist stress.

kundalini breathing

In this way, by making the decision to get up early to do half an hour of breathing or yoga practice first thing in the morning, you start the day on your terms instead of letting the fluctuations in life gain control. There are various apps available like Headspace, Calm or Breathe that can help you develop a routine, but if you struggle with a technology addiction perhaps it’s best to organise yourself manually. Social media detoxes, meditation retreats, or talking therapy can also all be fantastic for mental health, as a reminder to exist within the present as opposed to trying to escape.

By applying these practices and avoiding multitasking frenzies each day (especially first thing in the morning) we tune into our surroundings as opposed to trying to ignore them, which in turn will benefit our minds greatly in the long term. Those who are mindful are able to do more than just pay attention; they do so on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally. This is perhaps the most advanced form of attentiveness, and it can result in optimised decision-making made in a stress-free and less reactive environment.

Fix offers a variety of weekly Yoga classes as well as talking therapy sessions with our friendly counsellor Sally. Click here to see the schedule for more info.

East London's top water-sport activities to try this summer

Improve your balance and strengthen your core by having a stab at Paddle Boarding along east London's glorious waterways.  Jason from Urban Recovery will guide you through the key techniques for gliding your way through some of London's most historical regions.  Or if you prefer to sit-down to enjoy the waterways then do so for just £9.00p/h from an impressive-looking swan pedalo, located on the Regent's Canal in the Olympic Park.

water sports swan pedalo
water boarding sports

If you prefer a bit more speed from your water-sports, then head to the Lee Valley White Water Water Centre where you can select from a whole host of daring and adrenaline-junky sports that take place in the Olympic Park's rapids.   Choose from 'tubing' where you'll be twisting, bumping and screaming your way down the white water; 'hydrospeeding' - where you'll dive head first down the rapids on a board with fins to propel and navigate.  Or, why not get a group of friends together and charter your very own raft down the white water. Prices start at £35.00 per hour. 

water boarding sports
london reservoir sports

Stoke Newington Reservoir Centre is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of east London and pretend you're in the depths of the British countryside.  Here you can try your hand at open water swimming, sailing, canoeing and kayaking or just enjoy the action on the lake from dry-land with a cup of tea and a slice of cake from the beautiful terrace cafe.  

london watersports

Nature’s Top Three Remedies for Hay Fever

nettle alergies tea

Sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes, sound familiar? It probably does, considering the sun is out and the pollen is rife!  Sadly the festival weather isn’t all fun and games for the quarter of Londoners who suffer from Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever.

Allergic Rhinitis is an airborne allergic reaction that occurs when substances called allergens connect to allergy receptors in the nasal cavity. The body reacts by releasing a compound called histamine, which in turn causes a cascade effect of itchiness, runny nose, sneezes, watery eyes, and headaches.

13 million people in the UK are affected by the condition - which amounts to a lot of antihistamines sold each year! Antihistamines are the over-the-counter medicine most commonly used to counteract the symptoms of hay fever but often come with a series of nasty side effects, notably drowsiness, dry mouth, rapid heartbeat, difficulty with urination, weight gain and rapid mood changes.

Although many people take these medications with no problem, it’s worth considering that nature might be both the cause and cure for the condition. Therefore, the team here at Fix have compiled a list of the best natural remedies that have been proven to combat the pollen, so you can keep fighting nature with nature!

 

1. Nettle Tea

After hearing from one of our patients that Nettle tea cleared up her partner's powerful seasonal allergies, we brought it to the festival to try it out in the fields! Ironically, it turns out that 4 cups of nettle tea a day, mixed with honey and mint, tempers the ‘prickly’ sensations around the eyes and nose. Magic! For extra brownie points you could pick the nettles fresh yourself, as long as you make sure to wear gloves!

 

2. Become at one with the Bees

A great way to boost immunity to pollen is by acclimatising yourself by eating the local honey. James Hamill a 4th generation beekeeper says “Most people aren't coming in contact with local pollen and where would they ever eat it in their daily diet unless they can eat fresh local honey?”

If local honey is consumed year round, by the time the pollen season hits you’ll have boosted your body's tolerance to the pollen. For natural local honey check out Hackney Garden Honey based in East London.

 

3. Treat yourself to some Acupuncture

Acupuncture has extremely positive results in helping hay fever. Melanie Hackwell, our acupuncturist at Fix East Village explains that “In Chinese medicine hay fever corresponds to a deficiency in the Lung and Kidney’s defensive Qi systems, with a retention of Wind in the body. For best results it should also be treated out of season, with some practitioners preferring to treat one month before the season begins. However, I do both and find there are great improvements in treating just after the season as well as before”.

honey.jpeg


For information on booking acupuncture at Fix, please go to www.fixlondon.co.uk 

The road less travelled: Exploring Chinese Medicine at Fix

Just over a month ago we said goodbye to Cate Boyle, learned master in the art of Traditional Chinese Medicine, generous friend and one of our most treasured practitioners here at Fix London Fields in Hackney, as she searches for new adventures on her 6 month sabbatical. Although she will be returning to Fix soon, for the time being she has left us in experienced hands and we are proud to welcome Andy Levy and Cristina Betto to the Fix team at London Fields. Katherine Stewart, our Front of House and blogger decided to catch up with Andy last week and seize the opportunity to pick his brain about his approach to the ancient Chinese practices of Gua Sha and Cupping.

          Accompanied by a growing popularity in the holistic practices of Yoga and Tai Chi, traditional Chinese medicine has begun to attract considerable attention in the West. Hailed for its more natural health care system, it offers a holistic, ‘mind-body’ approach to our otherwise compartmentalised and sometimes alienating medical practice. The increase in its demand demonstrates that many of us are choosing to be in control of our minds and bodies, in preference to being offered pills for problems we know little about to begin with.  As a result of this popular intrigue, I decide to book myself in with Andy - our new therapist of Chinese Medicine - to get to know two of the more obscure practices we provide at Fix, Gua Sha and Cupping.

Before entering my appointment I feel rather apprehensive, as a mental image of the rather severe looking marks left from Gua Sha creeps into my mind. However, once I’m settled on the massage table, Andy’s knowledge and passion comforts me. He begins the practice by using a blunt-edged tool to press down in one-directional strokes between my shoulder blades, over which he has already applied a thin layer of massage oil. Promptly, we get onto talking about how he came to be involved in the practice of Chinese medicine, notably Acupuncture, Gua Sha and Tui Na.

“I started off my career with a Tui Na course, a form of massage therapy and one of the five limbs of Chinese Medicine” he says, “The word Tui Na actually came to me in a dream and at the time I had no idea what it meant. I thought it was a type of Italian pasta! Then one day my friend, who is a GP and also practises Chinese Medicine, mentioned it to me in passing and the hairs on the back of my neck immediately stood up, on hearing the word. I decided to embark on a course in Tui Na and then realised that the Chinese Medicine theory was the same as Acupuncture so I did the two in tandem.”

Common knowledge suggests that Gua Sha has been practiced since the first century AD. The practice is intended to create transitory therapeutic petechiae called ‘Sha’ that represent the blood cells moving to the outside of the vessels – this is called extravasation of the blood and reveals itself in marks on the skin. Although the marks from Gua Sha may look harmful sometimes even to the point of looking like lashes of a whip, the scrapping does not damage the capillaries and instead activates them.

 Cupping therapy was popular with swimmers at the Beijing Olympics.

Cupping therapy was popular with swimmers at the Beijing Olympics.

The colour of the ‘Sha’ much like the colour of the mark left after a session of Chinese Cupping therapy, reveals insightful information regarding the condition of the patient's blood. In Chinese medicine this is commonly referred to as searching for ‘Sha’ stagnation. If the mark is pale red it may suggest a blood deficiency, dark red suggests static heat in the body and purple or black ‘Sha’ is a marker of chronic blood stagnation. Gua Sha and Cupping therapies work towards removing the stasis and acts as catalyst for anti-inflammatory processes to occur within the body.  The general effects of Gua Sha are to reduce inflammation and pain (sometimes instantly), increase range of movement, minimize inflammation of the liver and enzymes, improve breathing and circulation, as well as protect the body from oxidative stress and boost immunity.

As we talk, I discover that Eastern medicine has never been an entirely foreign topic to Andy, whose father was an Acupuncturist and mother is an Astrologer. “I remember being a ten-year-old and having acupuncture performed on me” he says laughing. I ask him whether he believes in the practice, and his answer is, “It’s less about belief and more about coming to realise that Western medicine is far from the be all and end all of medical practice. In the West we tend to look at symptoms and define and refine until we find our mark and ultimately kill, whereas in Chinese and even Ayurvedic medical practice everything is approached holistically. In Chinese medicine there is no absolute, everything is Yin and Yang and within the Yin is Yang and Yang within Yin.”

 Light marks remain on the skin after a session of Gua Sha or Cupping. These will generally disappear within 3 to 5 days.

Light marks remain on the skin after a session of Gua Sha or Cupping. These will generally disappear within 3 to 5 days.

By this stage, Andy has finished scraping and the Gua Sha therapy has left a tingling sensation on the surface of my skin. Whereas I entered the room rather cool, my extremities are now feeling warm and comfortable and my body is emanating a newfound heat. I give Andy’s last sentence some thought and come to realise the profound nature of his statement. In the West we tend to dismiss Eastern Medicine as being wholly reliant on a belief system as opposed to empirical fact, without realising that Allopathic medical practice came about in a very similar way, preserved and proliferated in the name of ‘scientific knowledge’ but ironically, no less dependent on a system of belief than its Eastern counterpart.

While we continue to discuss the shortcomings of modern medicine, Andy begins the second part of the treatment, the Cupping therapy. “We end up looking too much at tests rather than our own observations” he says, as he places four suction cups onto what he refers to as the ‘detox points’ on my upper back. Yet, the gold standard of Allopathic medicine continues to reign notwithstanding the fact that Chinese medicine provides more holistic solutions to our problems”.

Andy explains that Cupping can be carried out in two ways, either with plastic cups and a suction pump that creates negative air pressure in the cup, or the more traditional method of fire and glass cups whereby the fire removes the air in the cup and creates suction; we were using the former. “It differs from Gua Sha in that it has more to do with muscles rather than blood therapy and skin” he explains. The cups are left to do their work for about 15 minutes, throughout which I feel the heat in my body move centrifugally towards their location. The suction force feels strong but not uncomfortable and after a while I relax into the sensation.

The ‘detox points’ are prime areas for revealing daily wear and tear of the body, as many of us retain trauma and tension in our backs, be it from bad posture or physical strain. Thus, the darker the colour of the marks left behind the greater the severity of the strain in that area. I leave the treatment room feeling relaxed and relieved at the fact that the process was not in the least bit painful. The marks on my back from the Gua Sha are visible but those of Cupping have yet to appear.

Later on, once I’m home and the blood has had the time to settle on the surface of my skin, I notice that the Cupping marks on my right shoulder are darker than those on my left. I think back to what Andy had said about the value of observation in exercising self-preservation and grab Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal from the bookshelf. I flick through to one of the phrases I had underlined, “We always hope for the easy fix: the one simple change that will erase a problem in a stroke. But few things in life work this way. Instead, success requires making a hundred small steps go right - one after the other, no slipups, no goofs, everyone pitching in.”

When it comes to exercising awareness Chinese medicine can be an infinitely valuable tool in teaching us observational techniques as opposed to being primarily - and often solely - focused on an ideal of health and an endpoint of survival. Furthermore, Chinese medicine does show physical results, as Andy tells me that about 80% of the acupuncture induced births he has carried out have been successful and I myself have heard positive feedback from patients at Fix.

Perhaps, the reason that non-Western medicine is dismissed so easily in our corner of the world is due to the fact that we have been conditioned to remain stagnant in our thought, convinced of the myth that medicine is an orderly and professional procedure as opposed to a process that relies to equal extent on our own independent intuition. On that note, I was left with something very positive to take away from my session with Andy. This being, that the value of Chinese medicine is twofold, as it not only has the ability to release us from the toxins in our stagnant blood but from our persistent, boundaried patterns of thought.

You can catch Andy Levy at Fix London Fields on Friday afternoons. For bookings please visit https://fixlondon.co.uk