Along with runner’s knee and Achilles tendinitis – shin splints are thought to be one of the most common health injuries runners incur.

Shin splints – which are often more formally referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome – are a very common overuse injury. The term refers to a pain that occurs in the front or inner parts of your lower legs, along your shinbone.

According to the latest data, shin splints account for around 11% of injuries in male runners and 17% of injuries in female runners. It’s also prevalent in dancers and those who work in the military.

What are the symptoms?

If you suffer from shin splints, you’ll most likely have a dull pain, ache or throbbing feeling along the front or inner part of your shinbone. But you might notice a few other symptoms including:

  • A pain that gets worse when you exercise
  • Tenderness to touch
  • In some cases, mild swelling can occur
  • The pain seems to go away when you rest

What is the cause of shin splints?

Shin splints are caused by repetitive stress on your shinbone and the tissues that attach your muscles to the bone.

They occur because you are putting too much stress and strain on your shin bone and the tissues around it.

 

Why do shin splints occur?

Usually, shin splints flare up because you have overexerted yourself or have pushed your usual exercise limits that little bit further. Generally speaking, you are more likely to get shin splints if you:

  • Have started exercising after not being active for some time
  • Run or jump on hard surfaces
  • Have a poor running technique
  • Are wearing shoes that don’t offer you enough cushioning and support
  • Don’t rest enough between your exercise sessions

How do you get rid of shin splints or prevent them?

In many cases, shin splints can go away with rest. According to the NHS, if you suffer from shin splints you could also try:

  • Wearing trainers that cushion and support your feet properly
  • Building up to the exercise intensity gradually
  • Warming up before any exercise and stretch after exercising
  • Putting an ice pack on your shin for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
  • Switching to gentle exercise such as yoga or swimming whilst it is healing
  • Exercising on soft ground, if and when you are feeling better

 

How osteopathy can help with shin splints

Osteopathic treatment can help to reduce the tension deep in the muscle of the leg.

Osteopath Robin Kiashek, who has more than 25 years’ experience in the industry, said: “I take a holistic approach when it comes to assessing any problem my clients are suffering from. For shin splints, I would look to reduce the tension in the leg muscles and make sure there are no other underlying mechanical problems.

“You might be suffering from the pain in the shin, but other predisposing factors  – like your gait or posture – might be the root cause.  Only after a full biomechanical assessment can we come up with a treatment plan.  If left unchecked these pains might develop into something far more serious.”

Robin Kiashek has dealt with numerous running injuries – including shin splints. Get in touch if you would like to book a treatment or find out more.

 

Optimal Health & Wellbeing

Maintaining optimal health & wellbeing has always important. But never before has there been such a focus on its significance.

“The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has changed all aspects of life – health & wellbeing included,” Osteopath Robin Kiashek said. “The closure of gyms and restrictions on non-essential travel has forced us all to find new health habits.

“At the start of the UK’s first lockdown, we saw a rise in the number of people going for daily walks, the lucky few converted their garages and spare bedrooms into make-shift gyms and there was a boom in virtual workouts in front of our laptops. And to help keep us in check, many people turned to smart tech and fitness apps which can monitor every aspect.”

There’s an App for that

According to the latest stats*, health and fitness apps have seen a ‘steep rise’ in users during the pandemic. Trackable fitness service, Strava now has 73 million users world-wide. Whilst, fitness app Freeletics – which has more than 2 million UK users – saw a 50% increase in its use during the first 2020 lockdown between March and June.

Nowadays there’s an app for everything. You can monitor your sleep with Sleep Cycle, chart your mindfulness with mediation app Headspace and even check your blood oxygen levels with Pulse Oximeter.

But is all this tracking causing more harm than good?

 

Staying active is always good

It’s a well-known fact that regular exercise brings with it huge benefits. In today’s society where sitting in front of the TV, or working at home from a desk all day has become the norm, being active helps to build and maintain strong muscles.

It can also boost energy levels, increase productivity and promote healthy sleep. Staying active also helps to reduce the risk of injury and diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease.

 

Positives of health and fitness apps and smart tech

And these health apps and tracking tools can help keep us on the move and off our sofas. That’s because they have the ability to:

  • Help you set achievable goals
  • Track activity levels – like counting your steps
  • Give you a nudge when it’s time to ‘get active’
  • Give you incentives to work harder or push yourself
  • Keep you motivated – some even show you what your other fitness friends have achieved
  • Show you progress over time and give you the stats to back it up
  • Track your heart rate

Robin says: “The ability to track your heartbeat is of course an important measure in health of fitness. Especially with the spotlight that coronavirus ** has placed on achieving better cardio health. However, as with anything, balance is required.”

 

Health and Fitness – All things in moderation

Recent stats*** revealed by the Office for National Statistics showed how stress and anxiety levels have soared because of the pandemic.

The stats from 2020 showed that 19 million adults in Great Britain reported high levels of anxiety. This was said to be a result of the challenges of home-schooling, work worries and health – in addition to all of life’s other stressors.

 

The key message to keep in mind

Robin added: “So, instead of focusing on the stats and adding another stressor to your plate, try to focus on the here and now.

“How are you feeling? How does your body feel? Do you feel tired? The key message to keep in mind is that these stats are a far more beneficial tool if you use them alongside your natural intuition. Rather than heading outside because your smart watch says you should, do it because you want to. You are still moving – whether that’s to walk around the block and back or going for a 20-minute run.

“We are all learning to live during this very strange time, so don’t let your apps rule you. Make 2021 the year you take back charge of your health and fitness.”

Osteopath Robin Kiashek has more than 25 years’ experience in the health and wellbeing industry. As a leading osteopath, Robin believes in getting to the root of your problems and restoring, healing and developing the body and mind. Get in touch today to discover how Robin can help.

 

* https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-55318822

** https://www.hriuk.org/health/your-health/lifestyle/covid-19-and-heart-health

***https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/articles/coronavirusandanxietygreatbritain/3april2020to10may2020***https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/articles/coronavirusandanxietygreatbritain/3april2020to10may2020

‘What is the difference between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?’

A frequently asked question for many Osteopaths.

There are a handful of similarities between the two professions, but also differences in terms of their philosophy, patient assessment and the way they treat patients. And it’s useful to understand how each operates when you are considering treatment.

 The philosophy of Osteopaths

Osteopaths deal with the whole body.

They take on a more holistic approach, treating musculoskeletal disorders relating to muscles, ligaments, joints, nerves, cartilage, tendons and the general skeletal system.

They also identify underlying, causative factors.  So, Osteopathy can not only help to heal specific conditions but also work towards improving your overall health.

Osteopaths will consider where the root cause of your problem may be originating.  For example, a patient may be suffering with facial pain, but this could be stemming from a problem in their neck.  Which is, in turn, related to the function of the upper back, which is dependent to some extent on the biomechanics of their lower back. And their lower back is linked to the pelvic area – so they could be suffering with possible issues in their knees or feet.

Osteopath Robin Kiashek, who has more than 25 years’ experience said: “To help my patients understand the difference, I encourage them to think about house subsidence. London’s housing stock is built on clay, and during the hot summer months it is not uncommon to find the older properties developing cracks in the upper floors. One option is to fill in the cracks every year. But the problem is to do with ground movement below the house.

“Therefore, to solve the problem once and for all, Osteopaths generally address those underlying factors. In other words, they will, of course, fill in the cracks. But they will also address the movement below the house.”

The philosophy of Chiropractors

Chiropractors primarily focus on the spine.

Generally speaking, Chiropractors believe that spinal misalignment is the root cause of their patient’s back symptoms. The spinal cord is simply an extension of the brain, and according to chiropractic belief, slight misalignment of a vertebra will affect the spinal nerves coming off the spinal cord.

Chiropractors believe that manipulation of the displaced vertebra, will address the spinal nerve compression and hence associated muscle or organ involvement.

Assessment with Osteopaths

At the initial consultation, Osteopaths will take a case history of the patient’s problem. This is followed by a physical examination during which they will ask the patient to undergo various movements in a bid to reproduce their symptoms.

The Osteopath will use a combination of visual analysis and touch (or palpation) to understand the problem at hand. They may also use orthopaedic tests and occasionally refer for further x-ray or MRI investigation to help form a diagnosis.

Once a diagnosis has been reached, an Osteopath will give the patient a full explanation and a treatment plan. A treatment will be included in the initial Osteopathic consultation, assuming it is safe to do so.

The treatment plan will let the patient know what aggravating factors to avoid and will include lifestyle advice to help them do so.

Assessment with a Chiropractor

At a Chiropractor’s initial consultation, they will usually come to diagnosis from the use of x-rays, focussing largely on the spinal integrity. On the second visit, the patient will be informed of the Chiropractor’s diagnosis and on the third visit, treatment will commence.

Treatment: what to expect with an Osteopath

After the initial consultation, treatment will begin, and most Osteopaths will then see patient once a week for half an hour.

Treatments may include gentle soft tissue release through massage, joint mobilisation and gentle conservative spinal manipulation. In addition, Robin Kiashek may use a range of allied therapies including Western Medical Acupuncture and Low Level Laser Therapy.

Treatment: what to expect with a Chiropractor

Chiropractors are more well known for focusing on the spinal adjustments or clicking which may not be as gentle as Osteopathic treatment. The Chiropractor will focus primarily on the lower and upper back and neck.

Chiropractors tend to see their patients ‘little and often’. Treatments themselves normally last around 15 minutes. But they may see their patients two to three times a week.

A final word from Robin

Robin added: “In addition to the difference between Osteopathy and Chiropractic outlined above, it’s important to remember that each Osteopath and Chiropractor will practice in their own unique way.  They may have particular specialisms or areas of interest.  So, don’t’ be afraid to do your research – practitioners will be more than happy to answer your questions.”

If you are in pain or have any questions about how Osteopath, Robin Kiashek, could be of benefit,  then please get in touch. Osteopaths are deemed as essential workers. Therefore, they can continue to treat patients through lockdown and patients are permitted to seek medical help. Robin Kiashek is fully compliant with Government regulations re PPE.

Osteopathy face-to-face

This year, the healthcare sector (along with many other industries) has been forced to embrace online technology in a bid to stop the spread of COVID.  GP surgeries and hospitals have conducted video diagnoses.  Some Osteopaths and physiotherapists have provided virtual exercise sessions. Telemedicine – caring for patients remotely without a physical therapist and patient present in the same room – is all around!

There are certainly some positives to telemedicine. It has enabled providers to see more patients in a shorter amount of time. It has also cut down on travel for patients and has been crucial in stopping the spread of COVID.

But as an Osteopath with more than 20 years’ experience, I have no doubt that Face-to-face appointments, a physical examination and hands-on treatment is preferable.  In many cases, I believe that arriving at an accurate diagnosis is compromised when the medical practitioner is unable to physically assess the patient.

Osteopathy and face-to-face contact

At an initial consultation I spend around 30 minutes taking a detailed patient history.  I note the patient’s lifestyle factors, both physically and emotionally.  Then I move on to a physical examination. This is very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve with Telemedicine

Just last month, the value of face-to- face and hands-on contact was reinforced.  Patient X visited me after two trips to a local hospital with lower back and abdominal pain. Both times she was sent home without being examined.  Painkillers were prescribed.

I conducted a physical examination and it was immediately clear that this pain was not going to be cured by painkillers.  I wrote a letter referring the patient to A&E. The diagnosis was eventually a stone in the urethra.

The power of touch

Another reason why physical examination is key is because palpation  and touch can help with recovery.

This can be seen in the recent case of Patient Y – who fell and fractured her arm in two places earlier this year.

Bone fractures heal of course. But it’s the soft tissue aspect of the injury that can take longer to repair. However, palpation, moving, stretching and massaging the soft tissue, combined with remedial exercises can help with the recovery and range of movement.

In fact, Patient Y came to see me because she was struggling to complete the home physio exercises prescribed virtually by the hospital.  She was also experiencing some discomfort.

The next day she emailed me: “Following my appointment with you I had a virtual physio session as a follow up to my hospital treatment. The physio asked me to move my arm to check the range of movement,  She was astonished to see that I could raise my arm to its full height.

“She said she was extremely surprised to see such a recovery in the movement after only eight weeks.  I explained that following my treatment with my osteopath, Robin Kiashek, my range of movement had significantly improved and that I had certainly not been able to raise my arm to its full height before I visited you.  Thank you, as always, from one very satisfied patient!”

How we are keeping you safe

My osteopathic clinics are able to remain open despite the tiered approach England finds itself in. This includes Tier 3.  So, we can continue to provide hands-on treatment and psychical examinations in a safe environment.

Both clinics are operating under a strict COVID-10 health and safety policy. This includes:

  • Use of face masks, disposable apron and gloves during consultations which are changed between patients.
  • Internal cleaning of clinic
  • Full sanitisation and disinfection fogging throughout the week
  • Social distancing
  • Regular deep cleans of touch points like buttons, light switches and door handles

If you’re struggling with an issue and perhaps not able to get a face-to-face appointment then please do get in touch.  I’d be delighted to see if I can help to relieve your symptoms.

 

 

TMJ disorders

According to a survey 68% of us confirmed that our stress levels have continued to increase over the course of 2020.

And it’s no wonder. This year has tested us all.

As a trained Osteopath with more than 20 years experience in the field, I know that stress can manifest itself in the body in many different ways. More recently, I’ve seen a number of clients suffering from a (TMJD).

What is the main cause of TMJ?

TMJD or TMD is not necessarily a well-known term, but it affects around one in 10 people in the UK.

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. This joint connects the lower jaw to the skull (or upper jaw) in front of the ear. A TMJ disorder is a condition affecting that joint and the muscles involved in chewing. It can also importantly affect the Trigeminal nerve, which is situated next the TMJ, giving rise to facial symptoms:

It has no definitive cause but can be brought on by over-clenching of the jaw and teeth, wear and tear of the inside jaw, injury or surgery, and stress, all of which has a physiological relationship to the neck and upper back.

According to Bupa, women tend to develop jaw conditions more often than men. It can occur at any age, but most people have them when they’re between 20 and 40.

TMJD symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Jaw pain
  • Headaches
  • Clicking, popping and grating noises when chewing or opening the mouth
  • Earache
  • Neck/shoulder pain
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Locking of the joint
  • Facial and eye symptoms (see illustration of Trigeminal nerve distribution above)

It goes without saying that these symptoms can have a significant impact on a person’s lifestyle if left untreated. So, it’s worth seeking medical advice if symptoms are severe or long lasting.

It may be possible to alleviate the symptoms of a TMJD by eating soft foods, avoiding chewing gum and nail biting. The same could be said by completing daily Rocabado exercises, taught by Robin Kiashek, which helps to alleviate TMJ stress.

But Osteopathy can also be effective in easing the pain of TMJD by understanding the factors which may be causing the TMJD. Whether they are physical factors in the patient’s upper back, neck and/or emotional factors. Dental factors should be taken into consideration.

TMJ disorder treatment testimonials

But don’t just take my word for it. I have worked with dentist David Cook, BChD, at the London Holistic Dental Centre for more than a decade. David has referred his clients suffering from TMJ to me to help alleviate the pain.

David says: “I have worked with Robin for over 15 years and his skill and dedication have been demonstrated countless times. I treat a lot of facial pain and TMD and I have found his holistic approach is of enormous benefit to my patients, those that see him can expect a smoother, faster recovery and better long-term stability.

“He is an excellent diagnostician and his knowledge and approachability make him a valued member of my clinical team. As a dentist, I am subject to major spinal strain and can also vouch for Robin’s superb support in keeping my body straight, mobile and pain-free.”

If you’re a sufferer of TMJ, or have been suffering from the symptoms associated with this disorder, please don’t hesitate to get in touch or book an appointment.

Osteopathic Clinic London

My Central London Osteopath clinic has been based in Linen Hall on Regent’s Street for 14 years.  So, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve recently moved into a much bigger, brighter and roomier clinic in the building.

Osteopath Treatments in Linen Hall

The fabulous new-look clinic provides me with additional space (particularly relevant in the current circumstances) to deliver my full range of Osteopathic treatments and allied therapies.  These include Low Level Laser Therapy and Western Acupuncture.  Also my new Bespoke Ergonomics service.  This is where I review clients’ home working set up via Zoom and provide recommendations for improvements.

COVID-19 health and safety policy

Linen Hall Osteopathic Clinic London is equidistant between Oxford and Piccadilly Circus.  The Crown Estate manages the building as part of a large UK real estate portfolio.  All profits are returned to the Treasury for the benefit of the nation. Linen Hall has a strict COVID-19 health and safety policy in place to ensure the wellbeing of its users.  This includes:

  • Signage reminding people to abide by the social distancing rules
  • Use of face masks inside lifts
  • A sign in and out system
  • Hand sanitiser stations dotted around the building
  • Extra cleaning of all common areas
  • Internal cleaning of the clinic
  • Full sanitisation and disinfection fogging throughout the week
  • Regular deep clean of touch points like buttons, light switches and door handles
  • Patients are no longer required to obtain passes at Reception upon entry but are given a paper visitor’s sticker (to attach to their lapel)

I also continue to follow enhanced health and safety protocols in the clinic to prevent the spread of coronavirus by adhering to government PPE and General Osteopathic Council guidelines.

Life in central London

If you’ve not yet ventured back into town, it’s still very quiet in Central London.  And many shops are still operating reduced opening hours.  But Regent Street pavements have been widened and there are numerous hand sanitiser stations on the street itself.

Get in touch

Robin Kiashek is a London Osteopath and Naturopath with clinics in Central London, Soho and North London.

He is registered with The General Osteopathic Council.  Also The British Naturopathic Association.

If you are suffering with any aches or pains then don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0208 815 0979.  Or you can request an appointment online.

I recently spent a fascinating day at the Royal Society of Medicine for the 9th Annual Spinal Symposium which looked at the spine from a range of perspectives.

The spine is often the part of the body that people most readily associate with Osteopathy (although we can assist with many other issues and help you to reach your goals in mind and body).

I think it’s vital to remain up to date with current thinking and I regularly refresh my learning with CPD events such as this, where I am always interested to hear about new developments, opinions and practices.

Annual Spinal Symposium

We heard from six excellent orthodox medical consultants who covered topics including dizziness and facial pain, degenerative spinal diseases and sport and the spine. But, for me, the most interesting speaker was Rheumatologist, Dr Roger Wolman who talked about the different types and levels of pain that people experience, and then focussed on chronic pain.

This is an issue that fascinates me and Dr Wolman’s assertion that there is often a poor correlation between chronic pain and structural abnormality certainly resonated with my experiences in clinic. Pain is often a measure of distress , both physical and sometimes emotional and not necessarily injury.

Managing chronic pain

He spoke at length about managing chronic pain and the important role that we can play in educating people about it. According to Dr Wolman, even just understanding chronic pain can help to change pain levels. He also stressed the need for patients to understand the relationship between stress, anxiety, depression and pain; to know their pain triggers; and the limited role of medication in these situations.

I have written before about the approach I take at my Clinics and how I believe in treating the person and not just the symptom they present with. This ‘body-mind detective’ role – systematically locating and treating the root cause of often very complex problems – is one I greatly enjoy and I have been able to help a number of patients who have been suffering with chronic pain over long periods of time.

Review

I’ll leave you with the kind words from a patient: “Robin’s treatments have helped reduce my back and neck pain which had plagued me for years. He has taught me how to reduce re-occurrences through exercise and lifestyle change – I was very despondent before I came to see him and he continues to help me hugely; I’m very grateful.”

So, if you’ve been nursing a niggle or putting up with pain for a while then why not book an appointment?

 

Cats stretching out Robin Kiashek osteopathic clinics

Observe any cat and the chances are that they are sleeping, stretching or grooming. Cats really know how to look after number 1, ensuring

that their basic needs are met by their owners while treating themselves to plenty of R&R and time off to spruce up and look wonderful for every occasion! So, in honour of International Cat Day (on 8th August), let’s give it up for the world’s favourite pet.

Health-boosting benefits of owning a cat

While it may seem as if cats have got it all their own way it is, in fact, a two-way street. Research shows that the animals have a positive impact on the 1 cardiac health, of their owners and taking a quick catnap during the day can improve creativity, focus and productivity. Our feline friends can also help alleviate 2 stress, anxiety and depression – and teach us a lot about how to relax and live the good life.

Live like a cat

Sleeping – cats sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day, more than most other mammals and twice as much as humans, reports the University of Arizona’s Rubin Naiman in the Huffington Post. Because cats have few predators, they can sleep safely in the knowledge that they’re unlikely to be hunted while they’re dozing. We might not be able to sleep for as long as a cat but we can improve our own sleep by:

  • switching off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before settling down
  • getting comfortable in bed, with supportive mattress and pillows, and enough covers
  • Maintaining an ambient temperature and level of darkness in the bedroom

Being active – you may think that your cat spends most of its time napping and you’d be right. But when cats move – playing or stalking prey, for example – they can be surprisingly speedy, leaping and pouncing with great strength and agility. We all know the benefits of regular exercise to the human body – weight control, flexibility, cardiovascular and other health and boosting mood to name just a few:

  • Opt for at least 30 minutes’ five days a week, or more if you can manage it safely
  • Limit sitting time by taking regular breaks if you work at a desk or getting up and putting the kettle during TV ad breaks at home, for example
  • Build a healthy exercise habit scheduling in regular exercise and remembering to warm up beforehand and cool down afterwards

Me time – no animal is better at taking time out for themselves, whether this involves resting, playing or grooming. We can do a lot to keep stress at bay by emulating their ‘so what’ attitude (within reason, of course), and grabbing some R&R by:

  • Pursuing a hobby
  • Going out with friends
  • Reading a book or watching your favourite show (remembering to get up during the ad breaks)

Stretching – cats stretch every time they wake up from sleep, which is often! As well as feeling good, the act of stretching loosens and realigns muscles, readying the cat for activity. It stimulates alertness by increasing blood flow to the muscles and brain. It also gets the lymph circulation on the shift, flushing out waste and toxins, including carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Stretching does much the same for humans. Over time, it also reduces tension, improves posture, strengthens and improves the flexibility of muscles (benefiting the joints) and enhances the body’s range of motion.

Safe stretching (for humans)

  • Stretch on both sides of the body to keep things even
  • Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds – and don’t bounce!
  • Keep breathing – breathe out when going into a stretch and hold this while you inhale
  • Focus on each of the different muscle groups in turn – working your way through the shoulders, neck, calves, thighs, hips, arms and the lower back

If you’re still feeling stiff and strained in your neck, arms or lower body do get in touch to see how osteopathy can help release the tension and relieve tight, inflexible muscles and bad posture.

 

  1. University of Minnesota’s Stroke Institute’s 10-year study of over 4,000 Americans, 2008.
  2. A study by the State University of New York reported in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine (September/October 2002).

Stretch before exercise

It’s that time of year – the clocks have gone forward, the days are longer and spring is definitely in the air. And, as people ditch winter woollies for T shirts and cotton frocks, their thoughts inevitably turn to getting toned and fit for summer. It’s time to build a healthy exercise habit!

Some will dust off their trainers and enrol in a gym (or return to the one they joined in January!). But if the prospect of pounding the treadmill or sweating your way through a spin class leaves you cold, there are many other ways to achieve your fitness goals, whatever they may be.

The benefits of regular exercise are many and proven. Think increased energy, improved immune system function, lower risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, reduced stress and better mood.  Not to mention toning up and looking better.

Build a healthy exercise habit

But here’s the thing about exercise: achieving any fitness goal requires consistency (coupled with healthy eating), and the motivation to continue until it becomes routine. That’s not always easy so check out our eight top tips to help you build a healthy exercise habit:

Pick an activity you enjoy

You can burn a zillion calories on the rowing machine but if (and when) boredom sets in you’ll quit. Finding an activity that grabs you may take time and research but it’s worth it. Heading into spring, you can take advantage of the lighter evenings outdoors by walking, cycling, jogging, playing tennis or kicking a ball around with your children. Or if you like dancing, why not have a go at Zumba or salsa? For more sociable and/or competitive souls, a team sport like netball or football might be just the thing. Remember, too, that your chosen sport should align with your fitness goals. Yoga or weight training won’t increase cardiovascular strength, while running doesn’t build flexibility!

Indoors vs outside?

Various studies, including one in 2011 published by Environmental Science and Technology, have highlighted the health benefits of exercising outdoors, especially in a park or green open space. These include improved mood, increased energy, a more varied workout (based on your surroundings), and all for free!

Start exercising gently

If you haven’t exercised for some time (or at all), ease yourself into it by doing a few minutes at a time, gradually increasing the time and the intensity. Always warm up beforehand and stretch afterwards to avoid injury.

Schedule in exercise

Turning your chosen activity into a habit is all about regularity. Choose a convenient time and diarise the session just as you would a work meeting. Do allow enough time too. Some sports are more time-consuming, especially when factoring in travelling, showering and changing. If you lack time, consider exercising at home. You can do it at any time and you’ll never have to wait for the elliptical trainer – unless your exercise buddy (see below) or other half is hogging it.

Buddy up

Several studies have shown that people are more likely to stick with an activity if they receive support from close friends and family* or if they partner up with a friend or family member. That’s as true for Zumba or team sports as it is for ‘solitary’ activities such as swimming, cycling, weight training or exercising at home. Buddies share your highs and lows, helping to motivate you to achieve your goals. You’re less likely to skip a workout if it means you’re letting your exercise partner or the team down. There are other benefits, too. A 2011 study published in in the American Journal of Health Behavior showed that exercising with a buddy increases feelings of energy, enabling you to keep going for longer, compared with exercising alone. The same study found that it elevates mood and reduces stress.

Give self-control a helping hand

Relying on self-control doesn’t work. Barbara Brehm, author of Successful Fitness Motivation Strategies, says that “self-control is a limited resource and that the stress we experience during the day gradually erodes our willpower to exercise”. This is why morning exercisers are more likely to stick to a workout routine. By the end of the day we don’t have enough self-control to exercise, especially if it’s raining or there’s something good on TV. So remove barriers to making the ‘right’ decision to exercise by… picking something you enjoy, diarising it, buddying up and so on.

Consider safety

Some activities aggravate existing injuries or illnesses so seek advice from a doctor (if you have high blood pressure, for example) or an osteopath. With hip, knee or ankle problems avoid running or jumping and opt for lower-impact activities. So try rowing, walking/hill walking, stepping, cycling, swimming or weight training instead. Don’t be fooled by the term ‘low impact’ – you’ll still work hard and burn calories! With an exercise class, talk to the instructor beforehand. They will advise about avoiding specific moves, possibly suggesting alternatives.

Be Patient

Sometimes it takes time to achieve your goals. You can’t build a healthy exercise habit overnight. It’s normal for motivation to dip when you get sore or don’t see quick results. Don’t judge yourself harshly. Simply acknowledge the obstacles and use the tips outlined above to help you achieve the outcome you want and deserve.

If you’d like advice on which exercise is right for you, why not book an appointment with osteopath Robin Kiashek.

*The influence of close others’ exercise habits and perceived social support on exercise – Susan D.Darlow and Xiaomeng Xu, Psychology of Sport and Exercise, Vol 12, Issue 5, September 2011, Pages 575-578

Happy, healthy kneesRunner’s knee, jumper’s knee, housemaid’s knee (yes, it does exist!) and so on – the list of painful complaints that can affect this complicated joint is as long as your arm. Problem knees are surprisingly common in people of all ages, placing severe restrictions on both movement and lifestyle as a whole.

Strong and stable joints

On a day-to-day basis, we expect great things from our knees. As the largest joint in the human body, the knee basically forms a sort of hinge  where the thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia), meet. This enables the leg to bend, straighten and generally move freely so we can run, twist, jump, fall over and so on. Knees must be also strong and stable enough to support our weight, even if it increases. These joints are ably assisted in their task by bones and soft tissue including muscles, cartilage, ligaments and tendons – all of which have the potential to go awry.

The knee joint may be a sophisticated mechanism but it’s still relatively easy to injure. For example, a sudden increase in intensity or duration of exercise can temporarily damage the bone, muscle or ligaments. Problem knees can lock, click, catch, give way or refuse to straighten. More gradually developing pain, especially in older people, points to conditions such as osteoarthritis. Here, the cartilage facilitating smooth movement between the femur and tibia gradually wears away, forcing both surfaces to rub together and resulting in pain and stiffness.

It’s all a bit of a catch-22. With persistent knee pain, most people’s instinct is to rest the knee and avoid putting any weight on the joint, therefore taking less exercise. While this would appear to be a sensible thing to do, if not diagnosed and treated, long-term weakness of the surrounding leg muscles can slowly develop.

Looking after problem knees

So, what should you do if you suddenly develop painful knees? Here are a few initial things that you can try at home:

  • The key is basically RICE: rest, ice, compression, elevation. This means, at the very least, not irritating the joint and, at best, giving the joint a chance to recover under its own steam;
  • When icing, use ice wrapped in a wet towel for 5 minutes and remove for 10 minutes, repeating twice more;
  • Sit, rather than stand, with the leg elevated, to avoid putting weight on the knee – rest as much as you can;
  • If suffering with acute or severe pain, in the short term, take painkillers such as Paracetamol;
  • If you feel up to it, try some gentle exercise, such as walking at a pace that does not aggravate your symptoms or non-weight bearing exercise such as swimming;
  • If your knee pain is still present after several days or is getting worse, why not book an appointment with Osteopath Robin Kiashek to see if we can find the cause of your discomfort and get you back on the road to recovery.