Tag Archives: neck

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 | How can you improve your arm movement in Pilates?

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 you) follow it with stick ups – 3 – 5 reps, depends on how many you can do before you begin to compensate.

Most of us are unaware of our compensations, as we are so used to them. So attending an exercise corrective class or seeing a physio/chiro/NKT professional (for example..) can help you understand where our brain is picking up the slack.

Mel

www.melcollie.com

Level III Pilates Instructor

Level II NKT therapist

 

Mel Collie | Why does the neck hurt in Pilates?

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.

melcollie@gmail.com

Mel Collie |Bunions

Bunion - BeforeMel Collie | Bunions

 

Bunions, or Hallus Valgus to you and me though..! Hallux means big toe , its often believed to be the case for Bunions that the big toe moves laterally when pressure applied from the side, so when ill fitting shoes are worn or shoes are worn too early from childhood.

Anyway, many of you have them..and many of you don’t like them, they change the shape of the shoes you are wearing, shoes don’t fit properly and you don’t really want an operation because it doesn’t change the foot mechanics, just removes the callous/bunion, and so they will come back if you foot mechanics don’t change. There photos are of my mums bunions, she had both of them operated on about 20 years ago now, they both came back, because her gait wasn’t assessed , she continued to walk the same way, she pronates, those bunions re appeared…thats normal, the brain just doing what its used to doing, an operation may not change that unless to show it a different way.

So, I used NKT on my mums foot

Two half hour sessions over the space of 3 days

An here was the result, a straighter big toe, which will help her use the inside line of that led more when she walks , which helps the glutes work better to help the hip extend as she walks, which helps the rotation of the ribs and the shoulders move well, which helps reduce tightness in the shoulder and neck. All of that in just 2 sessions, goes to show what can be achieved in 4 sessions, which we didn’t have time for as she was here on her holidays…time went by too fast!

 

Bunion - after

Assessments for your gait and bunion treatment can be booked here by emailing me:

melcollie@gmail.com

Call 07800 797300

4 x 30 minute bunion specific treatment sessions – £120

(course must be taken over the space of 4 weeks and from my home clinic in Portreath, North Cornwall)

Includes posture assessment and videos to follow on home treatment for continued success.

Call now to book your feet in and start correcting your gait patterning and foot function.

Mel Collie

www.melcollie.com

Mel Collie | Necking It

Heres what I used to do for my tight neck muscles – get them stretched…

Did they need stretching often ? yes…were they always tight? yes…

Why? Computer..stress..anxiety…forward head posture, clenched jaw..all that stuff means tight upper neck muscles.

Was I fed up with it..not really, after all it was my own fault right?   I knew what to stretch though, so I stretched them, I just told myself off for spending too much time on that computer

Is that you too? Hell yes I bet it is!

Years and years later…still stretching?

Here we go – the tight muscles are telling you a story, and you’ve just read it in a different language.

For all that time…

Remember the yellow fish in Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy?

I got me one of those fish when I started to understand the WHY

I began to understand the language

I stopped chasing the pain and looked elsewhere

What was that pain telling me? Tight muscles, overworking, tired, fed up, pissed off neck muscles.

Why?

Switched off core muscles…even though I’m a Pilates instructor, my abs were NOT working in a correct pattern.

When tested using NKT (www.neurokinetictherapy.com) my Psoas (hip flexor) TA (Transversus Abs) and Rectus Abs were unorganised…thats my polite way of saying they were inhibited. Their pattern of working was all jumbled up.

My left shoulder hikes up when I’m stressed, its been like that forever, it gets tight, I’m aware of it but I wasn’t aware those muscles were working to stabilise my core as well.

As soon as they were released and my Psoas and TA strengthened, stuff changed.

As soon as my Scalenes were released after testing to find they were facilitated (left more than right) and the left ones released (ouch! ) my diaphragm went whooosshhh…and my breathing was lighter.

Oh yes, the diaphragm is a commonly facilitated muscle too, you can practice deep breathing , but for some of us, it wont “let go” if its compensating.

I love testing core muscles when a client compensates by clinching jaw or breath holding, its a common cheat, and tells a story – do you do core work at the gym or in your Pilates class with a clenched jaw and no breathing for those tricky repetitions?

Want to stop that and do the same exercises with good form (check your neck position, if you need a towel under your head to keep it neutral, then use one or you are using your neck to stabilise , not your core)and breathe out with your mouth open, and eyes open, don’t close those eyes, that just means you are searching the brain for answers when it cant find your core muscles to do the work. Bet you are clenching the jaw and toes too …

Get yourself assessed to find out whats inhibited and facilitated, what patterns are unorganised , you will get homework to do thats specific for your unique patterning, which will involve a stretch or a massage with a ball in a tender/tight area, but what you do that follows that release is crucial to allow that “stretch” to hold, for the brain to relearn the new pattern.

It can take up to 3,000 reps for the brain to cement a new pattern of learning…thats a LOT of reps.

Its a lot of wrong reps if you are treating the wrong pattern. Guys thats why I was stretching for years and nothing changed. I was stretching the tight and not strengthening the weak. I didn’t know my patterns were unorganised.

So yes, there you go, get assessed, you can search NKT on You Tube too, to get an idea of how it works..

You will save a lot of years of stretching and chasing pain, you are unique, find out whats working..and whats not.

Phew…

Mel

www.melcollie.com