Mel Collie

Assessing Movement. Not Muscles.


Mel Collie | No Pain No Gain

Mel Collie | No Pain No Gain


Posted on Feb 19, 2017

Mel Collie | No Pain No Gain If you are of a certain age and go to the gym, you will have heard the “no pain no gain” phrase..and believed it. However, the more I practice as a therapist and Pilates teacher, the more pain I see as a result of too much gain. That means that the lie the fitness industry has fed you for years that you have to feel pain, push harder and do more reps to get results, has been swallowed and accepted..hook line and sinker. In my therapy clinic I often see inhibited core muscles. This means they arent working as you think they should be, this means that something else has to work harder to stabilise, like the neck (neck pain doing core exercises anyone?) or the diaphragm. Try this. Lie on your back. Lift the legs and arms like in the picture below. Move the opposite arm and leg away from each other, now bring them back, then change sides. Note how many reps you can do with the following: A relaxed jaw-  so you arent clenching your teeth. Shoulders down your back so you aren’t using your shoulders Glutes relaxed so you aren’t clenching Breathing fully as you move so you aren’t holding your breath Tip – place a folded towel under your lower ribs, ask someone to hold one end and to pull it as you work, that towel should not move… Note when your body has to move into a “cheat” ..and be honest. We lie all the time. That fact may hurt you and make you feel defensive, but there you have it. Human beings are biased liars. So, regress to progress, if you want less pain in your neck, back, hip, shoulder, stop using them as compensation patterns and start to do the exercise correctly with the correct muscle. If this means you only do one rep, then so be it. Whats the point in doing one right and 3 – 5 wrong? do you think that will make you stronger? Well, it will, stronger in using your compensations.   And to end my rant : If you have pain, stop going to a general class in a gym with 30 people in it and a teacher that doesn’t correct or spend time with you. If the pain is persisting, you nee to get assessed and see what your compensations are. You may just be surprised that your core has gone AWOL. Years ago I attended a Pilates class for 2 years in a gym, that sometimes had 30 people in it. I thought I was at...

Read More

Mel Collie | How can you improve your arm movement in Pilates? In this mornings class we practiced arm stick ups – so named as it looks like you have a person holding a gun at you and been told to stick your arms up..   Elbows bent at 90 degrees. back of hands as close to the floor as you can get without cheating..so no lifting of the ribs ( we did this on the floor with knees bent) and no lifting of the chin so you arent looking behind you, the eyes are looking up or slightly towards your knees. So if you tap at a keyboard or have a job that tightens up the front of the body as you sit, the pec minor gets tight. Its tight in many shoulders, however, that doesn’t mean it should be released, it may be tight, and weak, of course I’m going to recommend that you  best get it checked by someone who knows muscle testing. So both clients had restricted movement in both arms, but more on the right side. I had a lightbulb moment – and if you have read my FB post today about me thinking it was Thursday, (its not…its Wednesday..) ..I’m amazed this happened in class today…doh! Wednesday morning class is only meant for a maximum of 3 people, as are most of my sessions, but Wednesdays has a deeper focus on rehab aso I include more NKT (neurokinetic therapy)corrections I was able to test and release both right sided pec minors in both clients at the same time , as we had only 2 clients today in class, whilst they were doing the stick ups with both arms. Over the space of about 5 – 8 reps of the stick up, the arm gradually “let go” and moved back further, allowing more space in the shoulder joint, so movement was improved. This is fast because the brain was happy it had enough stability to allow this to happen. If its not happy, it wont allow it. Amazing stuff , but just identifying a relationship between a tight front muscle and a weaker rear shoulder muscle, which could have been a mid or lower trap or a rotator cuff, who knows what it was or what it was called, it worked and thats all that matters. Homework – of course, as self care is vital to maintain results – release the pec minor with gentle slow massage with your fingers for about 30 seconds, ( I did the right side as its common that its this side..do the other side if its tighter on...

Read More

Mel Collie | Why does the neck hurt in Pilates? In this Pilates mornings class we practiced side lying legwork using the Pilates Circle/Ring. Both clients said their neck hurt after just a couple of repetitions. Why would the neck feel pain when we are actually working the leg? We all have an amazing back muscle called the Quadrates Lumborum ( to me it always sounds like the name of a Bond villain) on each side of the spine, that allows us to side bend extend and rotate, when it isn’t functioning well, the brain has to find stability somewhere else. So, in this case, the neck wasnt the issue, it was one of the back muscles. It was in a different place in the neck in each client, but a simple 30 second massage on the tight neck muscle activated the weaker back muscle. Stabilising the position became a lot easier as the neck wasn’t having to do all of the work. The above picture of your side/lateral line show the line starts in the foot, so any lateral ankle sprains can also affect the back and the lateral neck as the body loses stability, it has to find it elsewhere. Interesting …if you are a geek like me that is… Thanks to this mornings Pilates girls for being amazing! Homework to correct this would be to gently and slowly release the tight neck area that was compensating, followed by a few reps of a standing side bend, bending towards the same side as the released neck. Mel www.melcollie.com Level 3 Pilates Instructor Lev II NKT therapist. Appointments from my home studio in Portreath, North Cornwall, UK....

Read More

Mel Collie | Is your neck stronger than your core? Core exercises are all the rage and have been for years, they’ve been embedded into our heads from fitness classes, magazine articles and celebrities shouting that you should all the doing core strength exercises, however.. if you are, and seeing minimal results, why is that and what can you do about it…? Do a core exercise you are familiar with. Now do it again and be aware of the following – clenched jaw, tilted head position, lifted shoulders, tight diaphragm, clenched toes. Why those in particular? Well, these are a few compensatory ways of using what we believe is our “core” when in fact, the connection between brain and “core” isn’t as strong as we believe. It takes a brave person to admit they have a weak core,  I see it a lot os weak “core” muscles in my NKT sessions. If you aren’t stable in your centre, the extremities will take up the slack, you will experience tightness in arms, legs, jaw, neck, pelvic floor or diaphragm. A simple example : Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Now lift both arms up to the ceiling, palms facing each other. Now lift your feet, knees stay bent at 90 degrees, so the knee line is above the hip bones. Breathe in Exhale as you, slowly lower the right leg towards the floor(leg can stay bent or straight, depends on your current level of core connection)  and the left arm back Keep the arm straight, keep the knee bent. Inhale come back with arm and leg. Change sides as repeat. Compensation points to check: Chin lifts as your head drops back Shoulders lift Breathe holding Toes lifting or clawing at the ground Pelvic floor clenching Ribs lifting Glutes squeezing Eyes closing   It doesn’t have to be a check list of all of these, but it could be one or two that you may notice. Work on correcting those and your core exercises will take off. Stick with the compensation patterns and they will get stronger, not your core. How can you tell? Get assessed by an NeuroKinetic Therapist (NKT) or have your compensation check list as listed above and listen your brain. Be your brain. Where does your brain go to when the core isn’t connecting. What does your brain do? Mel Collie...

Read More

Mel Collie | Back Pain?


Posted on Jan 16, 2017

Mel Collie | Back Pain? Theres many causes of back pain which is why I use a method that tests whats going on in your body, because you are unique, but, here are  three things that sometimes show up: Scars. Abdominal surgery, C-sections, appendix scars, can inhibit the abdominal muscles. This means some or all of the abdominals can be weak, and not contract well, stability has to be achieved elsewhere, possibly the neck and shoulders, so if you have an ab scar, and neck tightness and pain, then there could be a connection. Feet. Your foot placement can also be a cause of back pain. If you have toe pain, especially the big toe, this can jam the sacrum leading to tightness and pain in the back. Rotation. Lack of rotation in the thoracic spine, thats the mid spine from the base of your neck to the top of your lumbar spine. Reduced movement in this area means that the back jams up. The neck and shoulder may also have issues. So, you can see that its not just a lower back issue. Your lower back depends on the other parts around it to be working in harmony, it has no option but to tighten up to create stability. Being assessed means the world of difference, you may have stubbed your toe, you may have had surgery , you may have had dental work, you may have tight hips, you may have a compensation strategy you aren’t aware of, until the pain starts to really bug you and you need to check it out. Lower back pain is so common. Looking outside the box however, isn’t. So if the usual strategies of rest, cream and pills and even some exercises aren’t helping, its not you thats broken, its the information you are listening to. Try something different and get assessed, be ready to list your history of injury, accidents, surgery, as far back as you can remember. One clients back pain came from when he fell off the slide as a youngster, and the brain strategy to help him move was to compress the lower back. He was still moving, but with pain in the back. Decompressing the lower back , in his case, was key to switch back on the muscles to stabilise the centre, so the arms and legs could move well. However, that may not be your issue, because you probably didn’t fall off a slide.. Mel Collie NeuroKinetic Therapist Level II www.melcollie.com Assessments and treatments from my home studio in a North Cornish village by the sea. 9 Tregea Terrace Portreath Cornwall UK TR16...

Read More