Tag Archives: toes

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.


Pilates & NKT therapist.

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:


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


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