Category Archives: Got Pain?

Mel Collie | No Pain No Gain

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 is the norm…

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 when the breath is held.

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”

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 muscles.

If this means you may only do one rep in the beginning, whats the point in doing one right and 3 – 5 wrong? do you think that will make you stronger? It only strengthens the compensation patterns.

 

  1. 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 need to get assessed and see what your compensations are. You may just be surprised that your core isn’t as strong as you thought.
  2. 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 an intermediate level, I went twice a week and I attended other fitness classes..every day, sometimes twice a day. When I trained to be a Pilates teacher, I was upset to learn that I was back at beginner level because I knew nothing. I had no stability in the easiest of moves. I had to start over. Weak glutes. Weak Core. Tight neck. Tight shoulders.
  3. Speed hides need. If you are speeding through an exercise with no attention to form, you are compensating. Your speed hides your compensation. Slow down, Take it ultra slow, its really hard ..and thats where the magic happens.
  4. Listen to your body. What does that even mean? well, if your hips are tight, they could be compressing for stability because you have none from your core. Same goes for your lower back and shoulders.
  5. Final top tip – core exercises –  If your head is tilted back and your ribs are lifted , even if your toes are scrunched up- you aren’t doing core work – you are doing future pain work, compensation work. Re check your compensation patterns by building your awareness.

Mel

Pilates & NKT therapist.

Mel Collie | Is your neck stronger than your core?

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…?

  1. Do a core exercise you are familiar with.
  2. Now do it again and be aware of the following – clenched jaw, tilted head position, lifted shoulders, tight diaphragm, clenched toes.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

www.melcollie.com

Core Strength & Your Jaw

Core Strength & Your Jaw

Sit ups, planks and push ups- all favoured as core exercises, and core strength is supposed to be enhanced by practicing them for many reps or keeping the position held for a few minutes, I used to go to a Pilates class where they insisted you Core & Your Jaw wern’t strong if you didn’t hold your plank position for more than 5 minutes, in fact they wanted you to do it for 8 minutes…

However..

A little bit smarter and wiser , I wish I could go back to that class with the knowledge I now have to see what was being used as compensation – a tight jaw, held breath, tight shoulders, tightness in the back of the neck. All of these are used as compensations, cheats by the body when its searching for strength because its failed elsewhere, usually in the core.

The jaw is a common one. With todays anxieties, worries and fears, tension in the jaw is commonplace when the brain seeks stability, especially if it isn’t getting it from the core muscles.

So next time you are doing your core exercises, check what is happening and where you are compensating.

  1. Breathe out through the mouth to avoid jaw clenching.
  2. Keep the back of the neck long to avoid using this area for strength.
  3. Watch you aren’t breath holding, the diaphragm can become facilitated for a weaker core.
  4. Ensure the upper shoulders are away from the ears
  5. Watch your toe position and that they aren’t clawing at the ground, a classic compensation for a weaker core.

If you’ve been doing these for a while, your compensations may also be present in everyday life, you may find you hold your breathe often, your toes might already prefer the clawed position, your upper shoulders may find they like it near your ears and are always tight..

What can you do about it?

Awareness is a great start, you might not like it, but regressing your reps and take it slow. Record yourself with a camera/mobile and see whats happening when you play it back, are your shoulders in a good position, when does that begin to falter? Do you hold your breath, at what point is that?

That is where your neural edge is, the brain compensates, thats when you stop and rest until you are ready to go again.

You can also practice your breathing as this can improve a  load of issues, if the brain is happy with the oxygen amount, its happy giving you extra strength to a certain degree.

Stabilising from the centre out is always a good place to start.

Melanie Collie

www.melcollie.com

 

 

Pain in my right lower back

Pain in my right lower back

 

Lower back pain , almost everyone has it, or has experienced it at some point.

The most common issue I see is a tight or weak (though muscles can also be weak and tight) lower back muscle, known as the Quadratus Lumborum (QL)

Mel Collie | Quadratus Lumborum

Usually one side can be working for the other so one side will feel tight and painful, the other side can be weaker, but also painful, how do you decide which one to stretch and which one to strengthen? if you decide to stretch the painful side and thats already weak, you are stretching a weak muscle, which can and very often does, create further instability in this part of the body, which will mean the brain has to compensate elsewhere in the body.

However, without guessing or hoping it will go away, I test it against its synergists, and one of those is your glutes.

We sit on them a lot, they don’t function well, so something has to do that work, there are other muscles that can come into play like the Piriformis, but also look to the lower back.

Thats why its wise to get these muscles tested against each other, so you aren’t guessing at what is working and what isn’t.

Once the glutes have been tested and we’ve got them working, the QL can get back to doing what it does , which is side bending , rotation and helping with exhalation.

So, if lack of rotation is an issue, you could have an issue with your obliques, neck, shoulders,m but also get your QL muscles tested too.

You have an amazing computer in your head, the brain will always find another pathway so you can keep moving, no matter how obscure. So you can see, that where the pain is, isn’t always where the problem is, it can be telling you that the muscles in this area are carrying an extra load from an area thats underworking.

Sounds a little confusing doesn’t it. So if you do have back pain, find a therapist who has knowledge of Neuro Kinetic Therapy under their belt, as they will not guess whats going on, but actually test, and as we are all unique, thats the best thing you could ask for your body, not a cookie cutter approach, but an individualised session.

Bliss.

Melanie Collie

www.melcollie.com

melcollie@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

Mel Collie | Feet and Knees

Mel Collie | Feet and Knees

Gait

Feet and knees – very important joints in your body, yet two that are neglected until they are painful. The feet have 33 joints in each, thats a lot in one little foot. ..each foot has 26 bones…how much time to you spend on your feet?

If the big toe isn’t landing when you walk, the rest of the leg wont be working too well, leading to other compensations up the body, in the hip, back, shoulder and neck.

We overlook the foot because we have been told the sight of pain is the problem when in truth, the sight of pain is telling you there is a problem , its working too hard, you need to look elsewhere for the issue.

Take a look at your shoes, where do they wear out the most> On the inside edge? Outside edge?

Take the shoes off and stand up, close your eyes, where do you feel you place the most of your weight, where do you feel you are touching the floor more, front foot? back foot? right toe? left mid foot?

These are all clues to help you understand where your body compensates as you stand, walk, run.

When the knee hurts I look at the foot.

When the hip hurts I look at the foot.

I check the ankles movement, does it know how to pronate and supinate?

Usually its doing one more then the other, this will affect the knee and hip joint, all the way up into the neck.

You are amazing.

Your brain is an amazing thing, it knows how to move and how to compensate, even if it brings you pain, it doesn’t care, all it wants to do is survive.

Look at your feet, understand them more, or get assessed and walk pain free using the whole of your foot.

Mel Collie

www.melcollie.com