Mel Collie | Your Nervous System is All Powerful!

Mel Collie | Your Nervous System is All Powerful!

Whilst the planet is still stretching hamstrings, expecting them to “let go” (which they wont , because they are tight for a reason…ever wondered why?) ..theres a small section of the fitness industry that searches for the truth and asks “why” and searches for the truth, trying to change the industry to avoid the untruths that still abound on the internet.

Anyhow..heres the thing, I went searching for more answers, mainly to help my hamstrings lengthen, help my glutes work (squats do work, but only if the muscles are responding well)  and to understand exactly how the body responds to exercise and nutrition.

Heres what I discovered : the body is a complex system ( No surprise there) but at the same time, it responds to simple ways to re-boot it.

Heres one – your nervous system is in charge, you know that I am sure, but if you didnt, it means to check with your brain that its happy before checking with your muscles.So, with that in mind, heres one way to get your brain to let go of your restrictions…(see your brain at the CEO, and the rest of your body as the departments, if the departments are short of staff or have issues, their reports back to the CEO will warn it of a reduction in the workforce, which means reduced production which means reduced performance )

Quantum Scone | Climbers Brain

So…the CEO see these things as a threat :




Spatial Awareness


(not necessarily in that order)

Whats a threat to the brain? Now thats the question, because it varies from person to person as your are unique, so a threat can be :

Financial worries


Nutritional Stress

Family stresses (getting the kids homework done, cooking, planning holiday, car needs an mot, keeping everyone happy etc etc)

Lack of Sleep

Judgemental comments from other people


Failure at work

Past Injuries (the brain doesn’t forget you broke your toe at 5 years old or fell over at 2 years old)

Athletic performance (worried about strength, falling, stamina, failing)

Its a little known fact that something as simple as lack of hamstring length can be improved by massaging the head and forehead, a focus on deep breathing for a minute x 10 a day, improving vision with simple exercises and spatial awareness drills.

All of this and more you can find in an hours assessment, online or at my home studio in Llanberis, Snowdonia.

Its so fast and so amazingly simple, its like that illusionist, Dynamo, looks simple, happens quickly, leaves a lasting impression.



Mel Collie | Stick Your Neck Out

Mel Collie | Stick Your Neck Out

Since moving to Wales, my hair has grown so fast, it needed cutting, the fringe was really driving me crazy, getting in the way, and when my hair gets too long, it bunches out at the sides, hate that look…

Anyway, besides the fact that the heaves opened on may way back from the hairdressers, so I walked home in a massive hailstorm, it was a lesson for me about me neck.

Reminded me about this little video, a simple way someone taught me on how to prevent neck pain, as when you are in the hairdressers, you move our head this way and that, but then keep it still for a moment , as you sit there patiently, trying not to fidget like a little kid

Here is the link, have a watch, only takes up 2 minutes of your time, and best done at the laptop or mobile, as your head is in a weird position right now as well.

Mel Collie

Mel Collie | Check your own posture

Mel Collie | Check your own posture

This very simple exercise to help you check your spine, ribs, shoulders and pelvis is the bird dog or the Superman, its known as both of these, and can be made really hard if you put a wooden dowelling rod on your back so it touches the back of your head, the middle of your back (bra line for girls, heart line for guys)and the sacrum and tailbone. The only gaps are at the neck and the lower back.
As you move you keep the post on this line, you will realise if your hips move, the post will fall off…so focus and connect traction on how you move and what is moving will be highlighted.
Don’t forget to breathe and smile, your face tells a story of what you are doing to your brain.
Visualise that you are lengthening your spine through your fingers and toes as you lift them and reach.
Its not how high you are going with the limbs, but what you use to get there, so start small before you jump in and think you can do the whole thing and have to start agin. When you train with bad posture, your brain remembers this and will repeat it, so start as you mean to go on.

Mel Collie
Pilates & Level 4 Kinetic Chain Assessor

Mel Collie | Posture & Your Story

Mel Collie | Posture, Back Pain, Your Brain

I saw a couple of clients at the weekend for posture assessments, and one of them sits all the time, drives a lot, uses the laptop a lot, but her posture was pretty good.

Why was that?
We are constantly bombarded with information that sitting is bad for you, and well, it is, but you can change your seated posture as much as you like as sitting perfectly straight is not what you want to do, but move and fidget as much as you can.

Her posture was pretty good because she meditates…

Her most constant repeated muscular contraction was with her diaphragm, as is the same with all of us.

Breathing is your most repeated “movement”. 25,000 times a day ( or there abouts)

With a focus every now and then on your respiration during each day, help the mind and body.

Start with just acknowledging the breath, so you can hear it, feel it, dont try to control it, you might find that its quite fast and shallow, by and by your breathing will slow a little more, it will settle.

Mechanically, you are breathing into the lower belly, as if you had swallowed a balloon and each breath , each inhalation was inflating the balloon, and each exhalation was deflating it.

That means it uses the diaphragm and the whole core to breath, the sides and the back.

This allows the mind to calm, the thoughts to settle instead of racing around.
It allows the shoulders to settle, to relax.
Many of us think our shoulders relax when we tell them to or arent sure how to relax shoulders.

Simple breathing helps them let go. It allows us to stop using those smaller shoulder and neck muscles for breathing, and instead use the body as intended.

Breathing into the lower belly can help strengthen to core, the back, let go of tight back muscles, release tight shoulders, help digestion, help calm the mind so a great habit to introduce before bed if you have trouble calming the mind before sleeping.

You dont have to meditate to watch the breath, you can do this at any time, for me, I like to watch my breathing when Im feeling scared, judgemental , think I cant do something, that I will be rubbish at something, Its when I hear that negative voice in my head, thats when my breathing really helps me.

Sounds a bit cuckoo? To some it does, maybe its because they have never tried it, or are scared by the realisation that they can be powerful beyond measure, and a way to get there is to know yourself first, know when you are lying to yourself.

And we do that all the time – too tired, too busy, too stupid, not ready, not enough money, not enough knowledge, etc the excuses we tell ourselves are lies we believe from past conditioning.

These can all change your posture, more so than just sitting at a laptop.

Your beliefs change your posture.

Anxious fearful people can have a stooped posture, always thinking about the next thing, worrying about what others think or that they aren’t good enough, posture can close in, being protecting.

Posture tells a story of our beliefs.
What do you believe?
How are you telling others your story through your posture?
Mel Collie

Posture Assessments online and inhouse

£50 for your initial assessment

£40 thereafter

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Mel Collie | She just wanted to be stronger…

Ouch… Older and wiser yet more tight and stiff when moving is a common story.

Getting up from the sofa and feeling stiff in your lower back was my client, Dianes, story, getting in and out of the car was a problem, feeling tight in the lower back after walking to dog too. She came to me wanting to have more flexibility and feel younger again, have more spring in her step like Tigger!

So, what did we do, well, we released her joints, and it didn’t take that much time either. and in doing so, her lower back pain went.

Released her knees, ankles, hips, shoulders and helped her breathe and feel free in her body. It wasn’t quite like this, but this is a great video from Dr Eric Cobb from Z Health showing how joint compression can inhibit movement, and yes, it really can be that simple, and is just one of the things I include in a posture and movement analysis from my home practice in Llanberis, Snowdonia.

These simple releases can help your movement, mobility, flexibility, release old injuries, even as far back as to twisting an ankle at the age of two, which is just one of the injuries Diane discussed in her injury history, and yes, we discuss your injury history too.

She has homework to do, 10 minutes a day, and she tracks her responses, her brain feels secure and happy, allowing her to move more freely.

One way you can help your shoulders move more freely is to release your wrists Shake out your hands as if you had water on your fingers. Push your arms away from you, and your hands, as if you were pushing a wall, hold that position. With your little fingers draw circles away from each other x 5 and towards each other x 5 Then do the same but with your index fingers.

Really feel the movement with this fingers. Make it work for you. Repeat 5 times today, and tomorrow, and the next day.

Simple wrists releases help shoulder strength, really useful if you are exercising and doing push ups, for example, as that position can create compression the wrist, a simple release can help your strength, rather than decrease it, which means you have more power and better form, and we all know the body releases more energy when the skeleton is in alignment.

Who doesn’t want that?

Mel Collie

Posture & Movement Correction Specialist


Mel Collie | Are you worried about bending over backwards?

How often do you look at the ground…?

A few years ago, I remember a friend calling to me from across the road as I walked to the shop , she couldn’t get my attention because I was in a world of my own, and I was looking at the ground as I walked.She told me off for looking at the ground too much..and you know, I did that a lot, she was right…

Now, I see this all the time in clients with tight lower backs and painful shoulders and necks, they look down a lot, its as though their head weighs too much to lift it up and keep it there, and in a way, thats true..but it runs a little bit deeper than that..

Theres something called the green light reflex, and it looks a little bit like this, and call also be known as a classic Swayback Posture:

Posture and Back Pain Reduction in llanberis Mel Collie

Posture and Back Pain Reduction in llanberis Mel Collie

Is that you? What does it mean though? Its my posture for sure!
Hips pushed forward, extended knees, weight in the heels ( you feel as if you would lose balance if you shifted your weight forward to the front of your foot)

A green light posture can show that your mind, your beliefs, is for someone whose mind is always on the go, always doing something next, rather the a focus on the here and now. Worry and anxiety can also be a part of this posture.

If you look at the lower back, and the rib cage just above it, most of the pressure rests on the first couple of your
lumbar vertebrae, creating a painful, tight lower back, its not weak, its being over worked.

Yes, this is an extreme version of the posture, and it can vary, but this is just one way of seeing whats going on in your body and mind. There can be a restriction in the pelvis and shoulder region, pain in the lower back and hips is very common as is breathing into the upper chest.

You can work your glutes all you like (these are usually “weak” in a green light posture) but if you don’t address the cause, then you are just putting a plaster on it, glutes , like abs, don’t just work because you are doing an exercise for that specific muscle.

You can do loads of squats, but your brain might be using the wrong muscles to get there and back, and you can then look at your bum and wonder why it isn’t tight ! the same can b for abs, you can have a great 6 pack, but have a rubbish abdominal connection, usually because the neck is doing the work of stabilising, rather than the “core”.

So…if you do look at the ground a lot, if you worry about what others think of you, and find it hard to get your hand behind your lower back if you stood against a wall and the lower back was flat against the wall, then this is for you.

You look up to the sky a lot, you look at the sun, the clouds, the stars, the wind, the trees. the rain, taking washing off the line, getting a glass from a high shelf in the cupboard, and when you do, its called extension. Yet in a Pilates class, you might feel scared or worried about doing an extension exercise (In Pilates its called “swan dive” and is done lying on your front but can also be done standing)

We worry about extension because we think it is going to hurt our backs, but the opposite is true,a lack of extension will hurt your back, and using the wrong muscles too, as I say in sessions, its not how you get there, but what you use to get there.

How can you extend without pain?

1. Lengthen the spine first, create space between the tailbone and crown of the head, as if you had to create space for an extra vertebrae at your mid back, the heart line. (or the bra line for girls.) This lessons pressure on this area of your back and creates more strength for your spine.
2. Lift from the chest, rather from your lower back, as if, ladies, you were sticking out your boobs, and guys , as if you were lifting up your heart to the sky.
3. Eyes. use the signal from your eyes to switch on the muscles that help you extend, and look up with the eyes, not the head, just the eyes, if you look up and reduce the space from the back of the head to your shoulders, you are compressing the neck, which is what you don’t want to do very much of. Just look towards your eyebrows with your eyes as you extend. See what happens.

Embrace extension, it can bring a lot of freedom and strength to your back, shoulders and neck.

Mel Collie
Posture and movement assessments online and from my posture studio in Llanberis, Snowdonia. Each takes 60 – 90 minutes and is a load of fun, because you move more freely in each session, its simple, easy, and unbelievable , and yes, sometimes people cry, me too, because you can now have more movement, without pain. Nice.

Mel Collie | How Can Your Eyes Improve Your Press Up?

Mel Collie | How Can Your Eyes Improve Your Press Up?

The press up, you either love it or hate it. personally I love them, mainly because we rarely do many pushing moves these days, unless your chosen sport includes a lot of pouching, the average office worker will be sat at a keyboard for 8 – 10 hours a day, and usually the only thing they will be pushing day to day will be opening a door.

In your body, your nervous system runs the show. That being the case, the position of your cervical spine, your neck, will change how you execute a press up.

Think about a squat, for example, if you are in a gym, lifting a weight, using the squat technique, the neck usually compresses back, closing the gap between the base of the scull and the upper back. But thats only part of the story, as when we do that, the eyes follow. Why is that a big deal?

Eye positioning can decrease strength. Think about it…

There are small nerve endings around the eyes that give the brain & spinal cord proprioceptive feedback that go towards guiding movement, creating full body muscular responses.

Why? well, mainly to aid the vestibular system, the inner ear and the eyes work together.

How does that help you?

Well, when you look up with the eyes, just the eyes, keep the head still, those nerve endings in the muscles around the eyes, facilitate the extensor  muscles and inhibit the extensors – the muscles opposite the flexors.

The same is true the other way around, so if you are flexing the elbow in a press up for example, using the eyes to look down creates more strengthen the flexors and inhibit the extensors.

So next time you do a press up, don’t move the head, keep it neutral, and just move the eyes. The same is true of any movement, like a squat for example.


So, make it simple next time you are training, eyes down when flexing, eyes up for extensors with a neutral neck position.


Mel Collie is a Corrective & Performance Exercise Specialist Working in Llanberis, Snowdonia. She currently has daily postural assessments from her home posture studio, where she combines neurological science and kinetic chain assessments to keep clients out of [pain and improve their performance.


Mel Collie | Discover simple ankle mobility in seconds

Mel Collie | Discover simple ankle mobility in seconds

Have you seen that advert for a foot scraper? It was on a lot over Christmas, I think a company was selling them as a gift idea…for a loved one…something that looked like a cheese grater for your feet.

Maybe you never have massaged your feet let alone thought about shaving off the hard skin yourself. Why do we neglect our foundations?

And do you know, your feet are your most valuable asset, your foundation, and we all know how important foundations are for properties.

And thats where we, as adults, fall short, so to speak, we dont play anymore.
Im not going to tell you to get yourself a swing or a roundabout, though it would be fun if you did, but show you some simple ankle exercises that release jammed joints and tight fascia.

Simple exercises that take seconds, can be done at home, in the office, at the gym between sets, at the climbing wall between routes or problems, before yoga, pilates, whatever you love to do.

Just so you can imagine what area we are focusing on – put a finger on one ankle bone (the outside of the foot, not inside of the foot) move it about an inch down and 1/2 inch back towards the heel. . This is the area you are going to focus on as we do the first exercise.

a. Standing, place one leg forwards. Toes facing forward on both feet, keep a tall posture and don’t hold your breath. Gently roll to the outside edge of the foot, so the inside edge of the foot will lift. Its ok that the toes will lift, except the little toe.
The area where you placed your finger is the area you are aiming towards the floor.
Return to neutral, repeat 5 times. Then change feet.

b.This time we are stretching the same area but on the inside edge of the ankle. 1 inch down and 1/2 inch back.
Do a sideways lunge. Your focus is on the straight leg.
The area where you are focusing is the area you are wanting to stretch, so do exactly the same move as before, but its the inside edge you now want to stretch.
c. Finally, this is for the front of the foot, the cuneiform bone.
This video talks you through it, 3 – 5 reps on each side. You are focusing on feeling a stretch in the toes. Don’t do this on a hard surface, its painful ! If necessary place the foot on a rolled up towel. If your balance feels wobbly, then hold onto the wall or a chair.

When you’ve practiced all three mobility drills, do them often.
What happens in the ankle affects the knee and hip. Take advice from your GP if you have had an ankle injury before doing these mobility drills, just to be safe :)

Mel Collie

Mel Collie | How long you been stretching those hamstrings?

Mel Collie | How long you been stretching those hamstrings?

It seems hamstrings get a poor press – especially in the athletic world, they are always being stretched (usually badly at the expense of the lower back) or being strained.

Where are those hamstrings?  You will find them from the back of your knees to the base of your pelvis, and theres 3 of them, its been suggested that one of the inner thigh muscles, the adductor magnus,  is the 4th hamstring.

Your glutes also play a part in hamstring effectiveness also, in fact the calves and feet do also..but so does you brain.

Simply stretching it deals with the issue doesnt it…?
Well, lets look at whats going on first…because its not just a short hamstring you are dealing with, we want to know why, because we are assessing, not just guessing.

The hamstrings don’t work just on their own, no muscle does, they all work like an orchestra, in harmony with each other, well, thats the plan..but the way we move, sit walk, stand, the food choices and hydration all affects the inner system, the nervous system, the software, as well as the hardware, the bones, muscles and fascia.

Simply stretching them doesnt last, other stuff has to happen too. The nervous system has control over how the muscles move. Its job is to protect the muscles from harm, so a stretch can be seen by the nervous system as a threat, so it will make sure that stretch doesnt go too far, in order to do that the nervous system simply makes those hamstrings tighter and more sore to stop you from stretching outside the perceived area of safety .

Theres many reasons the brain can put a halt on a stretch, those hamstrings are tight for a reason, could be to reduce range in the knee, maybe because of a previous  injury for example.

So should you stretch?
Well, you might get a better result, and I do get better results from clients with a few simple fascial release techniques:

1. Massage your forehead all the way up to the hairline, gentle fingertip massage, for a couple of minutes
2. Massage your cheekbones down to your jaw for a few minutes
3. Massage the head. And if you have got a full head of hair, gently grab a handful of hair, and pull it very gently, you should not feel pain at all, but a gentle pull and circular motion, all over the head.

To assess it, check the length of your hamstrings first, do a forward bend, touch the toes, or lie on the back and lift one leg up, without moving your pelvis from a neutral position, or you are cheating and wont see a true benefit.(keep your bum on the floor)

Further, in using your brain and your senses, I also have great success, on my own hamstrings by seeing the type of person i am, the thoughts I have, and the effect the brain has on your muscles.

I will follow on from this next time, as we go into the nervous system, vision, proprioception and spatial awareness and how it all affects your movement, tight muscles and pain.

For now, if you are into fascial release, one of the best ways to have more flexible fascia is to be hydrated, drink more water and less caffeine.

Enjoy your Hamstrings :)



Mel Collie | Bingo Wings & saddlebags

Mel Collie | Bingo Wings & Saddlebags

I was watching a programme last week on weddings, being filmed last Summer, everyone was in a short sleeved dress (apart from the guys obviously..)

When they waved goodbye to the bride, those underarms flapped..and even though we think it means you should do more exercise to tone up those arms, we’ve jumped the gun a bit and ned to go back to basics, work on the foundations, then you can work on the training.

Heres where to begin:

Tricpes – Fat being stored here is telling you something, it doesn’t sit here for a laugh, its here for a reason.Its your body way of telling you that you are low in Testosterone.

Stress kills testosterone levels as does lack of sleep, so instead of adding in extra training, start by looking at what you are already doing to help you out.

1. Stress levels – easy for me to tell you to reduce them isn’t it..I don’t know what your lifestyle is like. However, we all have stress, and its normal, its good to have, however, look at it like this – you have a bucket, and in it is some water and a few levels of pebbles, the bottom layer is financial, the next is hydration, the next is family, the next is work, the next is fitness – for example…now as we have more issues in one of those areas., the levels rise, we start to see the bucket overflowing, it can be a simple as getting a bill in the post on a Monday morning when you have to be at work on time and get the kids to school early. Sound familiar?  De- stressing can be simple things like having a monthly massage. Having a bath with the candles lit and the door locked. Having a walk with a loved one. Walking 10 minutes every day. Reading a chapter of your book in peace and quiet. Its re charging your batteries. It helps you cope, gives you a clear head and focused mind to tackle the crap when it hits and not have road rage…

2.Sleep – be in bed by 10pm love nights a week. Deep breathing to help you fall asleep. Reduce caffeine after mid day to help it release from the system. Hot bath before bed to help relax and calm you. Dark bedroom, black out blinds if the street lights bother you, no electrical appliances on standby – TV for example, move the mobile away from the bed, something as simple as the electro magnetic field can disturb sleep patterns.

3. Take a good quality Zinc supplement.

4.Reduce alcohol levels, so if you love a glass or two of red wine after work, try reducing the amount by drinking from smaller glasses, or help detox your liver by taking green supplements like a quality greens drink every day.

Love Handles

Fat stored on the love handles can mean your body is struggling with Insulin levels.

1. Good quality Fish Oil supplement. Watch out for cheap fish oil, the oil is sometimes rancid, and won’t be effective, it will just leave you with fish burps, not nice!

2. Eat good fats like avocado, coconut oil, almonds.

3. Training? Eat carbs after you train. Eating starch with the last meal of the day, and protein with each meal. Reduce the amount of starch though, like rice and potatoes, don’t get rid of them completely, just add an extra spoon of been veg like peas, spinach, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage. Roasted Veg taste lush, as does par boiled veg, drained, kept in the pan with a knob of butter , salt and pepper and coated with the butter. Yumski…


So there you go…start with the foundations, get your body working for you, not against you and watch the fat begin to melt away. This doesn’t mean you will have remarkable toned arms as training does come into this, but as the say, you can’t out train a bad diet..

Start with your fuel, lets talk training next time.

Mel Collie

To book an assessment for posture and whats going on with your body fat, check the websites for details.