The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games might be over. But that won’t stop one particular moment from going down in history.

When Simone Biles – the four-time Olympic gold medallist gymnast – withdrew from the team final in a bid to ‘focus on her wellbeing’, followed by the individual all-round, vault, bars and floor finals, it made headline news across the world.

Some accused the American gymnast of using ill mental health as an excuse. While others praised the 24-year-old for putting her total wellbeing first.

Striking the balance between physical and mental health

At the time, Simone told journalists: “I have to focus on my mental health.

“I just think mental health is more prevalent in sports right now… we have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do.”

This is something Osteopath Robin Kiashek agrees with.

Robin, who has 25 years’ experience in helping his patients achieve physical and emotional wellbeing, is a big believer in taking a holistic approach when it comes to your health.

“Simone wasn’t the first athlete to take a step away to protect her mental health and overall wellbeing – and I’m sure she won’t be the last,” Robin says.

But whether you agree with Simone’s decision or not, striking the right balance between your physical and mental health is a necessity.

“This is because you are more prone to physical injury if you aren’t in the right mental state,” Robin adds. “And once you are injured, rehabilitation can be a long road to recovery. “You only have to watch tennis champion Andy Murray’s touching documentary to witness this. In the documentary we see Andy’s struggle with chronic hip pain, which resulted in many attempts to ‘fix’ the problem, including an unsuccessful surgery.”

 

R is for rehab and rest

We’ve spoken before about how the ‘Next Day Delivery’ culture of expecting results at the click of a button is becoming increasingly prevalent.  And our approach to recovery from injury is no different.

But many patients who have a sports-related injury feel that by ‘keeping calm’ and ‘carrying on’, it can help combat their disruption and control stress.

“When in fact overdoing things can often be a factor in causing the initial injury,” Robin says. “Which is why it’s so important listen to your body.

 

R is also for rest

However, this can be easier said than done. As carrying on as normal is something we are all guilty of doing – Robin included.

Robin recently tore his medial knee meniscus doing excessive breaststroke, which he acknowledges was his own fault.

He said: “As soon as my local swimming pool reopened after the long lockdown, I quite literally dived straight back in to doing the 60 length sessions I was doing prior to this.

Which is why Robin is encouraging everyone to ease back into exercise safely. And be intuitive of your mind and body.

Perhaps when exercising, the words to keep in mind come from the 32-time Olympic and World Championship medallist, Simone, who said: “Physical health is mental health.” Or as the ancient Greeks once said: “Mens sana in corpore sano”, which means: “Healthy in mind, healthy in body”.

 

Robin Kiashek is an Osteopath with 25 years’ experience in the industry. If you are struggling with any condition affecting your body and struggling to find a solution, don’t hesitate to reach out.

 

 

By the title of this blog, you might be thinking this article has something to do with the overly colourful and sugary array of treats designed to tempt you into filling up a carton (or two) on your trip to the cinema.

But it hasn’t. This blog is in fact talking about a taking a ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ approach to exercise. Stick with us…

 

Exercise is for everybody

No matter your age, there is a form of exercise for everybody. Whether it’s cycling, boxing, swimming, the once-popular step aerobics or perhaps the more sort after HIIT training. The list goes on.

But with exercise options being limited last year, after the temporary closure of gyms and postponement of in-person exercise classes due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people have turned to running.

“Which is great,” Osteopath Robin Kiashek, says. “It’s certainly much better than sitting on the sofa.”

“I see patients who run 10K, four times a week and have been doing so for years. But I understand that it’s not just about the cardio benefits that it brings. People use exercise time to destress mentally too. Perhaps to mentally switch from work brain to home brain, or vice versa.”

According to the latest stats, an estimated 7 million people across the UK turned to running or jogging in 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to boost their mental health.  With one in seven people in the UK saying running had helped them deal with stress.

But with our love affair with running seeing no signs of slowing down, there is of course the risk of injury.

“Such a high impact exercise will affect your joints,” Robin says. If not now, it will happen at some point later.

“I’m not picking on running. We all know how many positives come from it. And you only have to look at the stats to confirm this. But in the case of our 10k runner, that’s a lot of weight through those knees. And that’s assuming you’re not carrying any extra weight to start with.”

 

So what exactly is the answer?

With restrictions being lifted on July 19th and more and more exercise options opening up, the key is to make sure that your weekly exercise regime is varied.

“Just like pick ‘n’ mix,” Robin adds. “So why not strike a balance with high impact exercises and introduce some low impact cardio workouts into your exercise regime?”.

 

Examples of low impact cardio workouts

Low impact cardio is brilliant for keeping you moving, while being gentler on your joints. But don’t have any doubt – this form of exercise can still get your heart rate up. It allows you to reap the benefits of cardio, without placing stress on your joints.

Some low impact cardio exercises to try include:

  • Cycling – whether it’s static cycling or road cycling, this is a superb form of cardio but less high impact than running or HIIT. It virtually has not impact on your joints. Just remember: the faster you cycle or the more hills you climb, the higher your heart rate will get.
  • Swimming – this form of low impact cardio can help strengthen muscles in your whole entire body. Although, here’s a word of warning about breaststroke. This form of swimming style can place stress on both your hips and knee by the propulsive kicks of the legs that power you forward. So take it slow – or practice front crawl instead.
  • Strength training – this form of low impact exercise is just as important, especially as we age. Why? Muscle-strengthening activities help maintain the ability to perform everyday tasks. Strength training, like lifting weights, also slows down the natural rate of bone and muscle loss associated with ageing.
  • Yoga – depending on the pace and the style of yoga you choose, you can increase your heart rate. Along with its cardiovascular benefits, yoga also helps you to build flexibility and strength. Two things we all need. Plus, did we mention its de-stressing ability?

 

Robin Kiaskek is an Osteopath with 25 years’ experience in the field. Robin is a big believer in taking a holistic approach when it comes to your health. If you are struggling with any condition affecting your body and struggling to find a solution, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Plunging yourself into cold water might not necessarily be on the top of your to-do list (and who can blame you?!).

But with the recent lockdowns forcing the temporary closure of indoor swimming pools, there’s been a rise in the number of people turning to open water swimming.

As shown by  recent stats, 45% of swimmers increased how much they swam outside in 2020. The same stats estimated that outdoor swimming in the UK has increased by between 1.5 and 3 times since 2019. And there’s good reason. According to a small number of studies, celebrities and athletes – cold water therapy has a myriad of health benefits.

What exactly is cold water therapy?

Cold water therapy – which can sometimes be referred to as cold hydrotherapy – is the practice of using water that’s around 15 degrees to treat health conditions or stimulate health benefits.

Despite the recent hype around the practice, cold water therapy is nothing new. It’s actually been around for a couple thousand years. But recent modifications of this practice include short and sharp cold showers, outdoor swims and cold-water immersion therapy sessions.

 

So, why the buzz?

The exact benefits of cold-water therapy are long disputed in the health industry. But according to certain enthusiasts, taking a cold water dip is the answer to many things.

On a recent episode of Gwyneth Paltrow’s The Goop Lab, the actor and entrepreneur sent a group of her employees to Lake Tahoe in Nevada to experience to popular Wim Hof method.

 

The Wim Hof method

This method is based on a combination of extreme cold-water therapy and specialised breathing techniques. It was the brainchild of Mr Wim Hof – a former athlete – who swears by this regime and raves about the many benefits it can bring.

In the episode he says: “Cold water is a great way to learn to deal with stress. If you learn how to breathe deep, you can go into the cold water and adapt. You become the alchemist of life itself.”

 

So, what exactly are the benefits of cold water therapy?

According to Mr Wim Hof, cold water therapy can:

  • Improve your circulation
  • Reduce inflammation in your body
  • Higher energy levels
  • Deepen your sleep

 

However, it’s important to note that not much research has been done to solidify these claims. But science does suggest that it can:

  • Lessen muscle soreness – a 2011 study found that cyclists who took part in intense training sessions had decreased soreness after they immersed in cold water for 10 minutes. A later 2016 study reported the same thing.
  • Ease symptoms of depression – some studies have suggested that cold open water swimming has helped to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. In one study, a woman who had experience anxiety and depression from the age of 17 turned to open water swimming aged 24. The study confirmed that over time, her symptoms decreased significantly.
  • Cold water can boost your immune system – A handful of studies have suggested that daily doses of cold water could bolster your immune system over a period of weeks or months.

 

To take the plunge or not to take the plunge

Keen swimmer and Osteopath Robin Kiashek says: “The jury is still out on whether cold water therapy is the answer to a wide range of health problems.

 

“But as highlighted above, there are a handful of health benefits that cannot be disputed. I myself have been swimming for as long as I can remember. With indoor swimming pools now reopening, I can’t say I will be practicing my front crawl in my nearest lake – but I might try turning the shower temperature down a few notches.”

 

Robin Kiashek has more than 25 years’ experience in his field. He believes in taking a holistic approach when it comes to treating his clients. If you are suffering from a series of health issues – whether it’s headaches, aches and pains or long covid – don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

NB: Cold water swimming should be done with guidance from a professional and consider that certain medical conditions and ages should be taken into consideration.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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