Alex Coleman's Top 6 Pilates Tips

Pilates Teacher, Alex Coleman breaks down her top 6 Pilates tips!

  1. Its about more the principles of movement less about “just doing” the movement

  2. Sets and reps don't matter, its all about form. (Everyone says Pilates teachers can’t count, its really because they are waiting for good form, and them maybe they’ll make you do 10 good ones )

  3. Sucking in your tummy doesn’t give you a strong core. This closes down the trunk and doesn’t promote core stability through movement, which is what it REALLY means to have a strong core. Its about finding and maintaining space in the body in all dimensions under load. What does this mean?... come to class

  4. Pilates is slow not because its boring. Its slow because you are re patterning your body to move correctly. And actually in this fast paced world its nice to go slow and focus deeply on your moving mechanics for an hour from time to time.

  5. If you’re not feeling it it’s because you’re not doing it right.

  6. Breathing is essential but don’t get too caught up in the choreography of breath and movement. When you are new just move and maintain whatever a normal breath is for you. The pattern of breath will come over time as you move.

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“No matter how different people are in their day to day living, there is one thing they all have in common. They want to look and feel better!”- Alex Coleman

Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Release

Massage Therapist, Cécile Dumont explains Fibromyalgia and the benefits of Myofascial Release!

Fibromyalgia (FMS) is an umbrella term used for a collection of physical, mental and emotional symptoms which include but are not limited to widespread pain in joints, muscles and soft tissues, fatigue, sleep disruption, digestive disorders, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, mood swings/irritability and depression. This syndrome evolves on a daily basis and its unpredictable nature makes it long and difficult to diagnose.

Fibromyalgia is charactersed by the sympathetic nervous system going into overdrive, a phenomenon referred to as Central Sensitisation (CS). What does this mean? That even though there is no actual injury or damage to the tissues, the nervous system stays in a constant state of Fight or Flight. The reactivity scale goes through the roof and the brain’s response blows out of proportion. There might not be a physical cause to the pain experienced by a patient but it is absolutely real for the body. And one of the direct consequences of CS is chronic muscular tension leading to pain and fatigue. This sometimes also leads to hypersensitivity to touch – during a flare up, the touch of a feather for example can be perceived as excruciating by some patients (a phenomenon called allodynia).

When dealing with such complex syndromes as FMS or chronic fatigue/myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), it is essential to bring the nervous system back to a calmer state, switching it from sympathetic (‘fight or flight’ mode) to parasympathetic (‘rest and digest’ mode). So when it comes to treating fibromyalgia and this hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, LESS IS MORE. And this is where Myofascial Release (MFR) comes into play.

More important than recounting the details of a traumatic event, is how your body responded to those events. Your body gives the roadmap for healing.

If a multidisciplinary approach and a network of care around the patient are essential when dealing with fibromyalgia, MFR has an important part to play in managing the symptoms day to day and in bringing emotional support - the power of touch and of a safe and caring environment should never be underestimated. Fibromyalgia can be very isolating and the person often disappears behind their symptoms in the eyes of the medical world. Body work in general but MFR in particular with the instinctive listening touch it offers can prove to be not only an ally to deal with the symptoms but a great way to recreate space for the person at the heart of it all.

MFR is a form of body work where the therapist doesn’t impose anything on the body but acts as a facilitator for it to release itself – through gentle sustained pressure into the tissues, the fascia progressively releases itself and the tissues regain more mobility, a phenomenon often accompanied by lesser pain, an improved range of movement and a deep sensation of relaxation. The fascia ‘melts’ from gel-like and restricted back to its more fluid nature (this 3D web of connective tissue is composed of elastin, collagen and grounding substance. It connects and interpenetrates every structure in the human body and solidifies as a reaction to physical and emotional trauma). It is interesting to underline here that fascia contains more nervous endings than muscles, making it it the main culprit for CS - as the latter is mainly triggered by an inflammation of the fascia - but paradoxically an essential ally in fighting the nervous wind up it generates.

It is recommended to keep treatments quite short (30 min of active release followed by more gentle techniques) and to keep the environment as neutral and comfortable as possible – unscented room, dim lights, blankets and pillows galore, etc. Everything should be aimed at soothing the Central Sensitisation and avoiding any unnecessary stimuli.

It is also essential to create a true connection and a relationship based on trust and comfort between client and therapist. The treatment room should be a safe space of understanding and nonjudgemental listening, a place of support in the difficult and challenging journey they embark on together.

MFR will not cure fibromyalgia but it helps lighten its burden and can prove a great source of progress, positivity and empowerment for the patient.

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When we try to understand and ease pain, we set in motion a wave of infinite love and possibility.

Understanding Pain

Osteopath Paddy Joyce explores the different reasons we feel pain and how he helps people move through pain in his practice

As an osteopath the most common reason people come to see me is because they are in pain. Neck pain, Hip pain, Low back pain, Knee Pain….  But what is it??

We often think of pain being the result of an injury: Maybe you’ve torn a muscle, or sprained a ligament. Maybe you might have even broken a bone. However, with pain, this isn’t always the case….

Yes, an injury will usually result in you feeling pain. But it is important to understand that pain is not purely a physical phenomenon. Pain is an interaction between the mind and body, the physical and the emotional. How we experience pain will depend on our beliefs surrounding it, our past experiences and our emotional state, as well as of course the injury itself.

When talking about pain in a diagnostic sense, we tend to categorise it into two main types:

  1. Acute pain is a severe or sudden pain, or pain of recent onset that resolves within a certain amount of time.

  2. Chronic pain is persistent, lasting for months or even longer. Chronic pain is considered a health condition in itself.

Acute pain correlates more clearly with tissue damage/injury. We know how the injury was caused, where the pain is, and it tends to get better with time. The purpose of pain of this sort is to act as a warning system, to protect us against further damage.

Chronic pain however often serves no purpose. Our warning system is malfunctioning. Chronic pain does not necessarily correlate with tissue damage/injury and often stays long after the original injury (if there was one) has dissipated. Essentially, there is an error in our pain processing. To understand this phenomenon better it is important to understand how pain is created in our bodies.

PAIN PROCESSING:

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If we look at the pathway for pain (sorry for all the science!), it begins with stimulation of specific types of nerve cells (called nociceptors), which lie in skin, muscles, ligaments, tendons and organs. Like the pin prick shown in the picture. When these nociceptive nerves are stimulated it results in an electrical signal being sent towards the spinal cord along peripheral nerves. If the stimulation is strong enough, chemicals called neurotransmitters will be released, and this electrical signal will be passed further up the spinal cord towards our thalamus located in the brain, and from there to our sensory cortex where the electrical signal is processed.

It’s important to emphasise the word ‘processed’ ! Up until now the stimulus is just an electrical signal. Once it reaches the brain it is then the job of the sensory cortex to decipherer what this signal means. This will depend on a whole range of factors. How strong is the signal? Where in your body has it come from? Is it sharp/dull? Are you stressed/anxious? Have you experienced this before? Are you happy/sad? Based on the answers to these questions and indeed others, it will only be then that your brain determines if you are in pain, and in how much.

Have you ever suffered an injury when you’re on your own? Or in a unfamiliar place? It can feel entirely different in its intensity compared to a similar injury in a familiar environment where there’s lots of help at hand. Have a think about that for a minute or two. Interesting stuff, huh? Its also worth remembering that we evolved our ability to feel pain primarily as a way of protecting ourselves from danger, and from the risk of further injury. So, though it certainly doesn’t feel like it at the time, pain can sometimes be your friend.

FAULTY PROCESSING:

However, this pain pathway I described above can become faulty. Under certain conditions it may become sensitised, meaning pain is felt more readily or with greater consistency.  Sometimes this may progress to a point where we feel pain without really any painful stimulus. This can occur if we have previously had negative experiences with injuries or pain, are anxious or depressed, or have unresolved pain for a long duration. At this point our pain can become chronic. When that happens its of little or no use to us.

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RESOLVING PAIN:

As I first alluded to, people often come to see me because they are in pain. Perhaps the key role I have as an osteopath is establishing if this pain is acute or chronic, and what factors are at play. Osteopaths take a holistic approach to this, and as such can benefit patients in dealing with their pain to a point of resolution. It may not just be through the physical treatment and advice given, but also through the recognition of psychosocial factors at play in the pain pathway.


If you or someone you know is in pain, pay your local osteopath a visit as they might just be able to help….

If you are interested in exploring the topic of pain further then I highly recommend the following videos:

On the benefits of Prehabilitation

Ewan Cameron came 23rd in the mass race at The London Marathon. FIX Osteopath, Sports Massage Therapist and avid runner, Joe Dale speaks to Ewan on the benefits of injury prevention.

In the last 3 years, Ewan Cameron has gotten more serious about running; improving from a finish time of 3.25 to 2.25. Through consistent training and generally enjoying the running social scene, he put in place a plan of focus sessions to learn about the different types of runs he could partake in.

Steve Hobbs at FIX helped me out with that and lots of coaching over the years, so that’s been huge. Staying fit and healthy has been key aswell; you can’t get that consistency without pushing yourself but not over the edge. FIX has definitely helped with keeping me fit and healthy, both prehab and rehab.

For Ewan, a major factor in his injury prevention was being acutely aware of how he was feeling and responding to training and then seeking help when he sensed that there was tightness or a little pain, even if he wasn’t injured per se. When asked if he thinks prevention was better than cure on his journey so far, Ewan expressed that it definitely was and he’s learnt a thing or two along the way.

“I think in the past I failed to learn that lesson and took chunks of time out which, no surprise, leads to loss of form and loss of speed.”

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Throughout his journey, Ewan made a conscious shift to see Joe every few weeks to make sure things were ticking over well.

The London Marathon last year, I remember coming to you [Joe] on the Friday and you sorted me out and I remember another cross country race; the day before I got some last minute help and that was hugely useful but probably longer term improvement from 3.25 three years ago to 2.25 this year, was around prehab and keeping the training up.

Going forward, Ewan dreams of completing a sub 50 minute 5k run and taking a bit more time off the 10k, as well as exploring where he can get with the marathon.

FIX will be cheering from the sidelines of course, and will be here for all of Ewan’s prehab, rehab and fix’in!

For run coaching with Steve Hobbs - Book here

For Osteopathy and Sports Massage with Joe Dale - Book here

Cultivating Your Internal Environment

Fix Studio yoga teacher Ashley Handel talks about the practices she uses to create a balanced internal landscape.

We may not always be able to control the external circumstances in our lives but we are all capable of tending to our internal environment. These three practices - ritual, routine/consistency, and commitment to boundaries - are central in shaping the way that I approach my thoughts and feelings and the way I see the world.

The rituals, thoughts and musings I present have been influenced and adapted from material I am learning with Francesca Cervero, a private yoga teacher and teacher trainer based in the Washington DC area. She has a program, called The Science of the Private Lesson. Through this training I am not only learning how to teach better one-to-one yoga lessons, but I am learning how to take care of and cultivate my inner world. This work has been vital in my development as a grounded, articulate and fully present yoga teacher. 


First, Ritual. Every morning I drink a coffee, take between 5-10 minutes to journal (sometimes based on a prompt or question, sometimes letting whatever is on my mind guide me), 10-20 min of movement, and then 10 min of seated meditation. I like this ritual because of it's well-rounded nature: mental and emotional expression through writing, physical and energetic work through movement, and then a practice of stillness, which is necessary to integrate the work that's come before, and to be a grounded and consistently present yoga teacher. This ritual has helped me to check in with myself, befriend myself, and be more able to channel my energy throughout the day in useful and supportive ways. What's a ritual that you love, that's helped you? 

Second, routine and consistency. As someone with a spontaneous and impulsive nature, routine and standing weekly appointments have always been a difficult thing for me to imagine or sustain. As I get older, I have begun to embrace consistency, this showing up on a daily basis is comforting, supportive, and necessary. When my classes and appointments are consistent, I am able to be more playful and intuitive with my actual teaching. Routine was not something I looked for or wanted in my 20s, but it is now vital to me because it allows me to be more intentional with my energy. I don't always succeed at consistency, but I keep renewing my commitment to it. What is your relationship to routine/ consistency and has it evolved or shifted over time? 

Third, boundaries. It's not just about what and who you say "no" to, but what kind of support you give to yourself when you do say "yes". I'd say that consistently showing up grounded and present for all of my classes and private lessons is a boundary I've set for myself. To help me show up in this way, I try to get 8 hours of sleep each night. Eating the foods that nourish you can be a boundary. Practicing kindness and compassion for yourself when you "mess up" is a boundary because it asks you not to beat yourself up, which is often the easier option. So I'm thinking about how the boundaries we set for ourselves can help us live more freely rather than more restricted. What boundaries have you set for yourself that feel nourishing?  

The environment I've created within myself through ritual, routine, and boundaries has had such an impact on how I feel, on my perception of my internal and external environments. Being intentional about the practices and ways in which I care for myself and cultivate my internal world will continue to have a profound effect on the world around me because I will see it differently, and thus will make different choices about how I engage with it. Taking care of myself is a powerful thing because it is an act of love, and loving myself over and over again is and always will be a lifelong process.

Introducing Women's Only Yoga @ FIX Studio

London is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world.  In Hackney alone, it’s estimated 89 different languages are spoken.  At Fix, we believe in making the therapeutic benefits of yoga accessible for everyone.  We are introducing a Women's Only Yoga class to create a space where women can exercise with privacy, comfort and modesty.  The class will be open to all women and is suitable for all levels from beginner to advanced.

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How does yoga sit with religious faith?

Many people question whether yoga is compatible with having another faith, be it Muslim, Christian or Jewish.  Although yoga shares historical roots with Buddhism and Hinduism, the modern practice of yoga is not inherently a religious activity.  Yoga is an umbrella term that encompasses many different forms, some of which are more spiritual than others, for example Bhakti yoga is the practice of devotion. Even when the practice is spiritual, it does not specify a religious faith, and there are many groups around the world that have woven the practice of yoga into their own religious faith, for example, PraiseMoves and Jewish Yoga Network.

What is the Fix approach to yoga?

At Fix, our goal is to share the therapeutic benefits of yoga in a way that is safe, accessible and inclusive.  The classes are kept small to make sure you get individual attention and are supported in your practice.  Our classes use physical poses (asana), breath techniques (pranayama) and body awareness to develop strength, flexibility and balance.  The practice also helps to bring stillness and calm to our busy minds through relaxation and mindfulness.  It is the kind of therapy we can all benefit from, whatever your belief system.


About the teacher

Bryony has a background as a doctor and is training to be a yoga therapist with the Minded Institute.  Since being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and becoming a mum of 2, she has learnt to adapt her yoga practice to the changing demands of her life.  In her teaching, she brings a deep understanding of how the body works as well as a sensitivity to individual needs.

Join the Fix community

A 5-week course of Women's Only Yoga starts at Fix Studio on Wednesday 24th April 11am-12pm.  To find out more about the course or to sign up, please email Bryony (greenleopardyoga@gmail.com) or book online via Fix London website (www.fixlondon.co.uk

Massage, emotion and the body

Massage therapist Lara Ozturk on the potential for massage to be a tool for self care in the modern world

When you’re sad, where do you feel it?

In your heart? Throat?

When you’re anxious where does it manifest in your body?

Stomach? Joints? Neck? Numbness?

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When we go through something that is a stressor for us, be it deadlines, family issues, mental health problems or simply a crap day, we can feel it in our body. You might read this and be thinking “uh.. no I don’t”, but we rarely stop in those moments and think “this moment is stressful, I can feel a tightening in my stomach and a seizing in my breath”. Those moments of “fight or flight” are a relic of times when we had to run away from a predator to protect ourselves, as useful as they were then they are (mostly) useless now.

So going back to times when we feel stress, let’s say at work. Perhaps you have a stressful journey to work crammed on the tube; your boss pushing for more paperwork on top of deadlines; it may be an important meeting you don’t feel ready for, or shameful feelings because you cannot stay on top of your workload.

This list can be endless and cyclical. With each of these stressors prompting emotional reactions, which then translate into our body, it’s no wonder we can end up so “clam-like”, as one of my clients put it. These days can stack up into weeks, months and years of deepening the groove of stressful cycles and, like limescale in the shower, it builds up in the body. This build up can develop into postural problems, chronic pain etc, in return we get stressed and upset about this pain as it impairs our movement and day-to-day life, deepening our stressful cycle even more!

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With all of that said there are ways to break this cycle; having a treatment, doing yoga, cardio or even meditation brings us back to the body, we can begin to soothe our over-stimulated nervous system. We bring in a sense of space and perspective to all the zipping thoughts and emotions whilst also allowing those tightened areas in our body to soften and “let go” of the need to be prepped and ready for “running away”.

It’s all too often in treatments that clients find themselves overwhelmed with emotion and may begin to cry when a lot of muscular release is happening. I try to welcome this reaction for the clients as a way to say to themselves “okay...I have to take care of myself”, it’s nothing to ashamed of but a gentle invitation to turn towards more self care.

Self care is not a luxury, especially not in the rush of the modern world.

Practitioner Spotlight | Cristina Betto

Acupuncturist Cristina Betto talks about her work, her inspirations and what she wishes people knew about acupuncture.

How did you first become interested in studying Acupuncture?

15 years ago I was experiencing frequent sinus infections accompanied with a persistent blocked nose. Nothing helped and nasal sprays were causing more damage; nose bleeds, nasal irritation etc.

Running out of options and feeling hopeless, I turned to Acupuncture. After just 5 weeks of regular treatments I cured and my sinuses have never bothered me again!

Following this transformative experience, I carried on getting regular Acupuncture as I found that my stress levels reduced enormously! At that time I was working as a TV Producer and running a few productions at once with crazy deadlines. I realized how much Acupuncture was helping to keep me calm and how much it improved my sleeping pattern. My fascination for Chinese Medicine grew and I decided to quit my life long profession in television to embark in a degree in Acupuncture.

What, today, keeps you excited about Acupuncture?

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Acupuncture is a lifetime of learning, an ongoing journey that is constantly changing. I’ve done multiple advanced trainings over the years that keep my knowledge fresh and up to date. Most recently, I’ve been incorporating a new technique call Motor Point Acupuncture.

More than anything, I love connecting with people. Each person is so unique, with individual experiences, struggles and goals. I believe it’s incredibly important to listen to each patient to develop trust and honest communication and help guide them through their healing process. I want to help people feel empowered and give them information, so that they can make educated choices about how they manage their health and well being on their own terms.

I find when people begin to feel improvement, they then begin to feel hope for a new reality and there’s a momentum that develops when someone feels hopeful! Hope keeps people motivated to continue treatments and this hold huge potential for deep, long term healing.

How does Eastern medicine philosophy differ from Western medicine?

I find that western medicine focuses on treating the symptoms without addressing the root cause of the issue.

Eastern medicine is concerned with treating the whole person. All the symptoms, even the ones that may seem related to the primary complaint, are taken into account. Along with: lifestyle, diet and daily stressors. It’s a very holistic approach and relies on the bond between mind and body

Needles intimidate a lot of people, what would you say to people who may be feeling nervous?

The fear of needles is one of the biggest hurdles acupuncturists strive to help their clients overcome. Some people are nervous around needles; I never push anyone into using them unless they feel comfortable, confident and ready to do so.

However, acupuncture needles are ultra thin compared to hypodermic needles, which makes for a completely different experience.

I take great care in needling gently and quickly. Once the needles are in clients may experience what we call a ‘di qi sensation’ – a feeling of fullness, distention, tingling, warmth or movement around the needles. It can be a little surprising the first time someone feels it but that sensation is one of the indicators that the needling is doing it’s job.

What if I don’t have any health problems, can Acupuncture enhance my health or prevent future problems?

Yes! Acupuncture has traditionally been used as a preventative medicine. Recent research has now verified that Acupuncture stimulates immune function, which increases resistance to bacterial and viral infections.

Acupuncture can dramatically increase overall vitality and energy. It treats underlying causes, resulting in a deeper kind of healing. It brings about profound changes in people’s lives on an emotional level as well as physical.

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What is one myth about Acupuncture you wish would go away?

I wish that people understood that Acupuncture isn’t just ‘hocus pocus’ or just a placebo. In fact, it is a scientific based medicine with a history of more than 2000 years.

Research into Acupuncture as a medical treatment has grown exponentially in the past 20 years, increasing at twice the rate of research into conventional biomedicine. A wide variety of clinical areas have been studies, including pain, cancer, pregnancy, mood disorders, strokes, sleep disorders and inflammation to name a few and many of those studies have shown Acupuncture’s effectiveness in the hands of a well-trained practitioner.

Can you give us some tips on how to get the most from Acupuncture treatments?

I would start by making a list of all your symptoms and major life events before coming into your appointment. The more information you can give your practitioner upfront, the better they can tailor the treatment to your needs.

Wear loose and comfortable clothing.

Turn off technology! Your treatment time is one of the only moments you get to shut the world out and focus on yourself.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol before and after your treatment.

And get regular treatments. Some issues respond more noticeably to weekly treatments. Other times you might only need to go once every month or so for a ‘tune up’.

Barnes Myofascial Release and the Mind-Body Connection

Cecile Dumont, massage therapist at Fix London Fields, on what Myofascial release is and how it can make space for healing in the body.

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To ask how the mind communicates with the body, or how the body communicates with the mind assumes that the two are separate entities. Mind-body awareness are two sides of the same coin, inseparable, connected, and communicating constantly.

It is obviously time for us to change our view of the human as a machine – we are an integrated totality, a mind-body network of information flowing throughout every system and cell of the body. And I believe the body remembers everything that happened to it.
— Myofascial Release, The Search for Excellence by John F. Barnes, PT

John F. Barnes has spent the last 50 years developing Myofascial Release (MFR), a deep and intuitive form of body work. At its core, the belief that the therapist needs to treat a whole person and not just symptoms. MFR eliminates pain and restores motion through the release of myofascial restrictions. It allows its recipient to return to a state of connection, balance and freedom of movement. But what is fascia, and how does MFR work exactly ?

Fascia is unlike any other system in our body – it is a three-dimensional network of connective tissue that spreads throughout the entire body. A liquid crystalline matrix made of elastin and collagen, it has the ability to stretch and move without restrictions. It surrounds and attaches every muscle, bone, nerve, artery, vein and organ. If you’re having trouble picturing it, think of a body suit made of spider web! And it is the new rage in the medical world. Ignored for a long time and discarded as this white layer of fuzz underneath the skin, it is now thought to be a direct extension of the brain. Some of the latest research has referred to it as a new organ. Some go as far as saying it might be the seat of the subconscious.

So what of myofascia? Myo means muscle. Myofascia is therefore the fascia that interpenetrates and connects muscles. It determines the length and functions of each muscle in the body. Fascia is liquid by nature but when the body goes through any trauma, inflammation or surgical procedures, the myofascia loses its pliability, tenses up, and solidifies - or rather becomes more gel-like - therefore limiting movement and creating pain patterns. Unravelling these patterns and restoring a mind-body balance is what Myofascial Release does.

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Barnes defines Myofascial Release as “the three-dimensional application of sustained pressure and movement into the fascial system in order to eliminate fascial restrictions and facilitate the emergence of emotional patterns and belief systems that are no longer relevant or are impeding progress“. In simpler terms, MFR is a deep, gentle and non-invasive application of pressure into the restricted tissues. The combination of time and sustained pressure encourages the elongation of the viscous tissues and the fascia goes back to its more fluid state, which in turn allows the tissues to lengthen and free up movement. The recipient can feel the myofascia move like butter melting or taffy stretching, and the therapist is then guided to the next area of restriction. In MFR, the therapist very much acts as a facilitator – it isn’t the therapist actively moving the tissues, it is the tissues moving themselves and therefore the therapist. MFR is done without any oil or wax, directly skin on skin, and without a towel – the therapist needs to see the whole body at all times as it will give signs of where restrictions can be found (usually through a vasodilation response where tissues turn red and hot or through movement). The recipient is therefore encouraged to come in shorts or underwear they’ll be comfortable moving in.

Is the skin the outer surface of the brain or is the brain the deepest layer of the skin ? [...] If the body does not view [the techniques] as intrusive, it is not compelled to resist. Instead, the techniques are accepted as assistive, allowing the organism’s self-corrective mechanisms to be facilitated.
— Myofascial Release, The Search for Excellence by John F. Barnes, PT

Why movement will you ask ? As the myofascia goes back to a more fluid state, elongates and moves the tissues around, the body might need to move itself to help facilitate this release. This phenomenon is called unwinding, and it is a recommended and necessary part of the treatment. It is natural for the body to want to move, twitch or shake as the release happens as it is likely that it was in motion when the trauma occurred and created the restriction patterns. In order to get a full release, the body often needs to move itself through similar movements. Unwinding is an enlightened movement that will only occur when the recipient feels safe to let go and allow the release of the trauma pattern trapped within the fascial network.

Which brings us back to the mind-body connection. You will have understood it by now, Myofascial Release is a different approach to body work. It requires the recipient to be present in their body to feel and experience this waking up or healing process. Every session is a journey where the recipient has to be willing - without judgement or analysis - to connect and let go, to take the brakes off and to let their body heal itself through the release of long held emotions or patterns of movement that contributed to creating pain.

This is intuitive work achieved through connecting to the proprioceptive senses of the creative and instinctive right side of the brain, not the analytical and logical left. The recipient is invited to use their breathing and intuitive focus to soften and connect with their body and its pain patterns. And the cause of the pain is likely to be elsewhere. Which is why in MFR the therapist looks at and treats the whole person, not just the symptoms. Through hands on work (and hands on work only), the therapist facilitates a return to a better mind-body balance. But this cannot happen without the recipient fully embracing the capacity that their body has to heal itself. Resilience – your body feels, and feeling is healing.

Better Sleep, Better You

Karin Hilfiker, Physiotherapist at Fix London Fields, on why sleep is so important and how to get some good shut eye.

Who doesn’t love sleep?  What doesn’t feel more glorious than climbing into bed after a long day?  

That said,  many of us don’t get the amount of sleep we need.  Did you know that  more and better sleep can not only increase concentration, enhance motor performance and mood, it can also help prevent or reduce persistent pain? (1).  There are several possible mechanisms of how this might happen including changes in dopamine and opioid levels in the brains as well as reduced inflammation and changes in neuroendocrine levels.

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If you’re an athlete, sleep is even MORE important as it can enhance performance, promote tissue recovery and reduce risk of injury, as shown by numerous recent studies (2).  Lebron James, Usain Bolt, and  Roger Federer famously sleep 10-12 hours per night! (3)

Getting enough sleep is both about the quantity of sleep as well as the quality of your sleep.  Below are are some tips to for a great night’s sleep:

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1. Getting enough sleep: the average person needs between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, athletes in training likely need a bit more.  If you are getting much less than the recommended amount, start small and just try turning off the lights a half hour earlier each night.

2. Going to bed and waking at the same time each day helps normalize your circadian rhythm and can help you fall asleep faster when you get in bed.

3. Establish a night time routine:  dim the lights,  drink a cup of caffeine-free tea, take a warm shower or listen to soft music. Meditation or a gentle yoga practice can help relax your body and your mid.  

4. Create your Cave: your sleeping area should be quiet, cool and dark.  Optimal room temperature is 16-18 degrees centigrade.  Use blackout blinds, eye mask, or ear plugs if you need to.  Ideally avoid using your bedroom to work, watch television or eat before sleeping.

5. If you cannot sleep within 15 minutes, get out of bed and try performing a mundane task.  Don’t work or watch TV as this might be too stimulatory.  Similarly, if you regularly wake during the night and have a hard time falling back to sleep, go to another room and read or do other quiet activities until you feel sleepy.

6. Avoid coffee, alcohol and nicotine in the hours before bed.  Some people are very sensitive to caffeine and should avoid caffeine after 12pm.

7. Napping has been shown to have benefits on cognition and motor performance! (4) If you have trouble sleeping, however, you may want to avoid daytime naps or because it can interfere with sleepiness at night


1. Finan PH, Goodin BR, Smith MT. The association of sleep and pain: an update and a path forward. J Pain. 2013;14(12):1539-52. 
2. Bird, Stephen P. PhD, CSCS Sleep, Recovery, and Athletic Performance: A Brief Review and Recommendations.1,2
3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2017/06/09/this-is-how-many-hours-of-sleep-lebron-james-gets-a-day/#5d4e781279b2

4. Lovato, N, Lack, L. The effects of napping on cognitive functioning. In: Gerard A.Kerkhof and Hans P.A. van Dongen, editors: Human Sleep and Cognition, Vol 185, Oxford: Elsevier Science; 2010, p. 155-166.

Hay fever - How Acupuncture can help

Cristina Betto, Acupuncturist at Fix London Fields, talks about the ways Traditional Chinese Medicine can help hay fever sufferers this season

Have you had enough of the tablets and nasal sprays and you want something more natural as a treatment ?

 Despite its name, hay fever is seldom caused by hay and this medical condition does not lead to an elevation in body temperature. The term “hay fever” was originated in England in the early 1800s when doctors noticed that some rural residents experienced sneezing, itchy eyes and coughing after being exposed to cut hay or grass.

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Hay fever, also known as seasonal rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to pollen and therefore is common in spring and summer. Typical symptoms include itchy eyes, blocked or runny nose, sneezing, watery, red eyes, blocked sinuses and tiredness. However, while grass pollen is the most common (May to July), there are pollens specific to trees (February to June) and weeds (June to September) which can also cause the allergic reaction.

While this disease is not life-threatening, it is definitely life-altering and, if left uncontrolled, allergic rhinitis can seriously impair a person’s quality of life.

According to Allergy UK, allergic rhinitis is the most common form of non-infectious rhinitis affecting between 10% and 30% of all adults and as many as 40% of children (https://www.allergyuk.org/information-and-advice/statistics).

Most suffers rely on anti-histamines and intranasal steroid sprays to manage its symptoms. But in the long term hay fever can lead to more complicated health conditions such as nasal polyps, chronic sinusitis, and significantly increases the probability to develop asthma (https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/pollen/)

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In looking at alternative remedies, studies suggest that acupuncture can help with symptoms of hay fever (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23420231).

From a Chinese Medicine perspective hay fever is seen as an inability to produce enough energy for a healthy immune response to wind and allergens. When the immune system is depleted through poor diet, worry, stress and lack of exercise, it cannot produce enough protective energy (wei qi) which is important to defend against outside wind and pollen. Without healthy wei qi,  wind penetrates the body to produce hay fever symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, coughing, running nose etc.

Acupuncture works to balance the body, helping it stay strong and resilient. By inserting fine needles just below the surface of the skin, a reaction is triggered to promote homeostasis. In addition to promoting a calmer nervous system, acupuncture points are chosen to address symptoms as they present, so, in peak allergy season we work on unblocking noses and clearing out lungs. Better yet, prior to allergy season we try to create a stronger healthier respiratory function so when the pollen count gets high, the body can handle it better.

With hay fever season just around the corner it is important to get in front of it and start making the changes now. Perhaps, instead of deciding which cocktail of medicines will be taken this year, a course of acupuncture should also be something to consider.

Fix has acupuncturists at both our London Fields and East Village clinics. Click here to book in with them.

The importance of Change

Nick Warner, Physiotherapist, talks about the importance of progressive loading for injury recovery, strength and a well-functioning body.

Change, it’s a word many of us are wary of, whether that be everyday tasks or our training and exercise habits. Without change, our bodies will plateau, leaving us continually fighting against those niggling aches and pains. Too much change to quickly? Well we all know what that can lead to…

This brings us on to the topic of progressive overload, the science of getting change right.

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Overload is a training principle used in exercise in order to allow for adaptations in our muscles. We can see these adaptations as increases in strength, power and endurance, for example. When we perform a certain exercise above or beyond what we have has done before, our body will undergo physiological changes to enable us to complete that exercise with greater ease and efficiency. If we continue to work at the same intensity of that exercise, we will soon reach a plateau, where that movement or exercise no longer stresses the body and further improvements will stop! By making our exercise harder, or increasing the workload on the muscles, we can then again induce these adaptations, which then allows for further progression.

Post injury, we can often find ourselves lacking strength in certain muscles groups. This can be due to lack of mobility and altered mechanics due to pain, decreased training loads due to injury and pain inhibition of certain muscles. Therefore, on the road to recovery, overload can be used to safely return to movement and is critical to return these muscles to optimum function, with decreases in pain and lower risk of re-injury.

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Overload can occur in a number of different ways. The five simplest ways of achieving overload are listed below:

  1. Increase the resistance or weight lifted

  2. Increase the total volume of work (sets and/or repetitions)

  3. Change the exercise

  4. Modify the order of the exercises performed

  5. Modify the rest period between exercises


In order to safely achieve progressive overload, without overtraining or running the risk of increasing the risk of injury, it is important not to rush. You don’t need to try and do more every time you exercise! Unfortunately there is no magic number on how much or when to overload. Small increments can be made weekly if manageable without any increases in pain or soreness. When increases are made, it’s fundamental that you are able to complete that exercise with the same technique.

Give yourself time, stay consistent and happy loading!

Postnatal Yoga @ Fix Studio

We have a new ‘Postnatal Yoga’ class joining the Fix Studio timetable on Tuesdays, 11am at London Fields.  This is a new addition to Fix’s specialist team of physios, massage therapists and movement teachers here to support women every step of the way through pregnancy and into motherhood. 

Q&A with Nuria - The Fix 28 Day Full Body Reset

Nuria Rodriguez, Nutritional Therapist at Fix East Village introduces the online 28-day nutrition & movement programme

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Nuria, tell us, what is the '28-day Full Body Reset' programme?  

It is a 28-day programme that allows people to have a total body reset over a 4-week period.  It’s a fully supported nutrition that gives participants the chance to access unlimited yoga and Pilates classes for four weeks.

All the evidence shows that regular exercise and good nutrition are key to improving your long-term health outcomes, and also that they boost day to day happiness.  We wanted to create a structure where people can get a lot of daily support as they make positive changes to their lifestyles. February can feel like a long month at the end of winter, and we wanted to give people something really positive to help them enter the Spring feeling really great.    I’m really excited!

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What can you achieve in the 28-day programme?

Everybody's biochemistry and physiology is different.  So the end results won't be the same for all the participants.  However the programme has been designed with the following goals in mind.  To:

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  • Establish healthy lifestyle habits

  • Restore energy levels

  • Reset your metabolism for a fat-burning boost

  • Improve body composition

  • Boost your immune system

  • Support your exercise and fitness goals






And Nuria, why create a programme that combines good nutrition and movement?

I am very excited to be able to deliver this programme in collaboration with teachers at Fix as I am passionate about the great results you can get with with a combination of good nutrition and movement.

It is also an opportunity for you to try many the different styles of yoga and Pilates taught at Fix. Regular yoga and Pilates has been shown to offer a range of health benefits including reducing blood pressure, increasing upper body strength and endurance, flexibility, and creating improvements in perceived levels stress and health perception. However the improvements differ for the type of yoga.(1) This is a unique opportunity to try all types and discover what is the best one for you.

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In addition, if you want to lose those extra kilos, this programme is the right one for you. Research says that the best way of managing weight is not getting on a diet or doing exercise but combining both.  Carefully planned nutrition and exercise together will really help people see and feel significant gains in a relatively short space of time.(2)

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What can people expect to receive during the programme?

By signing up to this programme you will receive a resource pack including a flexible meal plan with simple recipes and a shopping list. You will be part of a private facebook group/online community and I will give you the support to go throughout the programme and implement changes to achieve your health goals. On the first and last days of the programme I will measure your body composition so you can track the physical changes in your body. For this I will meet you at Fix East Village, but don’t worry if you cannot make it, the body composition analysis is optional.

So I hope you will join me and take the chance to Reset your metabolism and Reboot your body in 2019!

  1. Cowen VS, Adams TB. Physical and perceptual benefits of yoga asana practice: results of a pilot study. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2005 Jul 1;9(3):211-9.

  2. Mayo Clinic (2017) Weight Loss. Accessed: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/weight-loss/faq-20058292, 15th January 2019

The Fix 28 Day Full Body Reset runs from Sunday 3rd Feb until Sunday 3rd March and costs £89. For more info and to book please contact us.

Strength and Conditioning for Triathletes

Alice thomas, team GB TRIATHLETE AND Fix Strength and Conditioning Coach, talks about the importance of strength and conditioning for boosting performance and injury prevention.

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OVERLOOK STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING AT YOUR PERIL

Let’s be honest, Strength and Conditioning (S&C) is all too often the training session that first gets dropped or overlooked by many sports people, not least triathletes. However, the evidence is pretty overwhelming that regular S&C forms vital part of any successful training programme. The musculoskeletal system provides form, support, stability, and movement to the body. Strengthening this system as a triathlete is key. S&C will improve your performance and lessen your chance of injury.

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SO WHAT IS STRENGTH & CONDITIONING, AND WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR ATHLETES?

The two elements of S&C work hand in hand to maxmise your potential. Strength training boosts the power and endurance of muscle groups to boost your performance. Whilst the conditioning element might be said to focus a little more on the mobility to key joints, on the fluidity and timing of movements to improve efficiency, and to minimise muscular imbalances and weaknesses to help avoid injury.

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Swimming, cycling and running use repetitive movements over long periods of time creating load on muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. If there are weaknesses or imbalances in your body this can cause other more dominant muscles to become over worked, often leading to injury.  Often the site of pain may not be the root cause of the problem, which is why at times its essential to work with a team to fully understand the context of your pain.

Good quality S&C has exercises and movements that are specific to the movements in your sport and tailored to your training level and goals. This type of focussed conditioning work is sometimes called functional training.  I'd recommend any athlete to have a good quality, coach-led S&C weekly session all year round. It's about focussing on flexibility, mobility, plyometrics (practising explosiveness movements of the muscles), balance and more. It's also important to remember that a S&C plan needs to be specific to the individual and that having someone lead the session can really help you understand key areas for you to focus on.

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Some reasons why S&C should be incorporated into your weekly training plan.

  • Improve triathlon performance - efficiency in all 3 disciplines.

  • Injury prevention - S&C can help to avoid overuse of muscles by minimising imbalances in the body, and smoothing out imbalances in muscle activation.

  • Improve muscle recruitment for when you need it during races.

  • Creating a strong but dynamic inner support system (or ‘core’) will stabilise the body and maintain a good posture, on the bike in the water as well as running.

  • Having weaknesses & imbalances in your body can lead to a decreased power production in the legs, overuse of injury, poor posture and muscular imbalances.

  • A subtle balance of both core strength AND flexibility is important to hold a good aero position on the bike

  • Improving joint range of motion, and power through range, allows you to maximise you muscles when you need them.

In my view, it’s not about lifting and smashing out generic super-heavy KGs but rather focus on building a well conditioned body that will allow you to pursue your sport with more efficiency, power, strength, and avoid injury, improve musculoskeletal imbalances and strengthen weaknesses

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MOBILITY & ACTIVATION

Mobility and activation exercises activate specific muscles being used in your training, firing up your neuromuscular system and increase range of motion. Ultimately prepping your body for the exercise it's about to do. It offers huge benefits to your workout, and it's something often disregarded. A few examples include:  

  • Glute activation exercises before cycling prepares the muscles before ride (clams, bodyweight squats, lunges and jumps)

  • Resistance band work before rides activate the muscles eccentric and concentric ranges

  • Foam rolling before rides and runs can help with soft tissue restrictions and boost blood flow.

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EXAMPLES OF STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING EXERCISES

There are many exercises and this list isn't exhaustive. Check out this article on S&C I wrote for Liv Cycling and Bike Radar for some fuller examples. 

  • Lat Pulldown - great for swimmers, working those latissimus dorsi muscles. This is my staple weekly shoulder, arm and back exercises. Important to focus on good technique to avoid shoulder injury

  • Single Leg Squat - fantastic for building strength and neuromuscular control

  • Squat - Ideal to work on those glutes. Often cyclists have relatively weaker glutes, and bias their hamstrings and quads. This exercise helps to protect the back and knee joints by building strong glutes.

  • Lunges - forward and back to work acceleration and decceleration / eccentric and concentric

  • Core stabilisation exercises such as Dead Bugs and Planks to help access the body’s deep musculature

  • Box Jumps - works on explosive power through the legs and core - great for giving you that kick when you need it.

  • Kettlebell exercises, these dynamic loaded compound movements are fantastic (when coached correctly and safely) for working large numbers of muscle groups.

I’m really thrilled to have joined the team at Fix and to be able to offer focussed sport-specific S&C in their new Studio in London Fields. Come and give it a go!

Yoga for MS, Parkinson's and other Neurological Disorders

by Dr Bryony Hughes, yoga teacher at Fix Studio

Earlier this year, I was invited to teach yoga to a small group of students with Parkinson's Disease.  With my background in medicine and a passion for making yoga accessible to everyone, I jumped at this opportunity.  It was been wonderful sharing the practice of yoga with this group.  Each week, I learn something new about how the condition impacts on my students' lives, and together we explore how different practices can help them manage their symptoms.  Since moving the class to Fix Studio, I am now looking to expand the class to include students with multiple sclerosis and other progressive neurological conditions.

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What are the benefits of yoga?

Practising yoga and mindfulness can give people a sense of control over their body and mind.  In Parkinson’s Disease (PD), the uncertainty over how symptoms will change over time can be challenging.  Changing how the body feels through breathing and movement practices can give back a sense of self-efficacy.

Postural instability is a hallmark of PD.  Yoga improves balance through standing poses (as well as the more advanced arm balances and inversions). Balance poses are modified to the individual with support from a wall or a chair as needed.  Practising balance within the safe and supported class environment can help address a fear of falls. Yoga postures help to develop strength, specifically in the lower body, spinal extensors and the core muscles.  This is beneficial for postural stability and functional mobility. 

Those with PD may face difficulty initiating and controlling voluntary movement such as standing up, walking and sitting down.  Yoga involves bringing awareness and attention to movements that automatic in everyday life.  It is thought this form of ‘attention retraining’ may help improve functional movement.  

Studies have shown a regular yoga practice can improve flexibility and range of motion in the shoulders, hips and spine.  This supports people with PD achieving a more upright posture and addressing rigidity. 

Yoga can be beneficial for mood and sleep.  The practice triggers the ‘relaxation response’, increasing vagal tone and enhancing output from the parasympathetic nervous system.  This can alleviate anxiety as well as equipping people to manage stressful situations in everyday life.  Improving mood can also be beneficial for motor symptoms.  Research has shown that mindfulness can also alleviate low mood and help to manage stress.  For those with PD, learning to be present can help with acceptance of a diagnosis as well as living with the daily challenges of the disease. 

Studies have shown that the practice of ‘yoga nidra’ is associated with a short-term increase in dopamine levels (Kjaer TW et al, 2002).  This suggests that it may be beneficial for those with Parkinson’s Disease where dopamine levels are low.

Attendees during one Bryony’s classes. The use of chairs and props, plus careful programming help make the sessions accessible and safe to all levels.

Attendees during one Bryony’s classes. The use of chairs and props, plus careful programming help make the sessions accessible and safe to all levels.

What to expect from the class?

This is a class specifically for those living with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and other progressive neurological conditions.  It is accessible for different mobilities - Some students use the floor to practice, but the class can also be practised entirely from a chair.   Through breath work, physical postures and deep relaxation, the class aims to give inner calm and stillness as well as to help manage symptoms and side effects of medications.  It is a safe and supported space to practice yoga and explore what it can do for you.

In the class, you can expect: 

To be treated as an individual.  Recognising that conditions affect each person differently, the yoga practice will be adapted to your needs on that day. 

To feel part of a community.  By attending a class, you can meet other people who share some similar challenges and get support from being part of a group.  During the class, we practice in silence, but there is an opportunity for discussion at the end.

To begin with relaxation.  This may involve a guided body scan meditation, breathing exercises or visualisation.  Relaxing can help reduce motor symptoms and allow you to get more from the physical practice.

To learn physical poses (or asana).  Yoga postures help develop strength, flexibility and balance.  Every pose is modified to the ability of the individual with the use of the wall, chairs and/or blocks for support.

To link movement with the breath.  Simple movements are practised with the breath, moving in and out of postures as you breath.  It can be easier to control movement in flow rather than longer holds.

To practice mindfulness.  Throughout the class, you will be guided on being aware of body sensations and keeping your attention on the present moment.  The practice of yoga encourages acceptance, non-judgement and compassion for yourself.    

To end with guided relaxation or yoga nidra.  Yoga nidra is a deep relaxation practice.  This meditative state has been shown to have many benefits for brain function.

Happy Yogis! With class teacher Dr Bryony Hughes.

Happy Yogis! With class teacher Dr Bryony Hughes.

Yoga for MS, Parkinson's Disease and other Neurological Conditions is on Fridays 11am-12pm at Fix Studio, London Fields.  For more information, please do get in touch by email (hughes.bryony@gmail.com),  I am always happy to answer any questions about the class before you attend. 

You can book online here, or check out Bryony’s bio for more details.

MOVE MORE... FIX STUDIO OPENS IN LONDON FIELDS OCTOBER 2018

FIX STUDIO is now open for group classes, workshops, teacher trainings and 1:1 movement sessions.

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Nestled just next to our London Fields clinic, FIX STUDIO will offer a safe and accessible space for the highest quality, clinically informed yoga, Pilates and movement therapies.

We’ve put together some thoroughly tempting opening offers to whet your appetite this Autumn. These will only stick around until the end of the year, so…

  • Any first yoga class £5

  • Unlimited two weeks £25

  • 10-Class Pass £80

  • Drop in (45min/60min/75min/90min) £8/£10/£11/£12

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We’re really excited about bringing you workshops, teacher trainings and courses in the coming weeks and months.

Hope to see you there soon….