Sleep- Are you a gold medalist or a runner up? Do you sleep peacefully or toss and turn all night and wake up grumpy?
Sleep – Are you a gold medallist or a runner up?
As a gold medallist do you sleep peacefully or toss and turn all night and wake up grumpy and a runner up?
As March is National Bed Month, I thought I had better focus some attention on it for you!
It was introduced by the Sleep Council ( who knew they even existed?) and the National Bed Federation. This is an annual event held every March to promote sleep, the importance of a decent bed and of course why it impacts your sleep.
Your bed / mattress can make a huge difference to your sleep.
So are you a gold medallist?
I definitely am not!
A poor runner up would be my classification and a comment like “Must try harder” would be applied!
So let’s dive under the duvet and see what we can learn.
What is sleep?
Sleep is time deliberately spent at rest or inactive.
There are 2 main sleep cycles.
REM – Rapid Eye Movement occurs about 60 -90 minutes after falling asleep, this is when you may your most have vivid dreams.
Non REM – Non Rapid Eye Movement is when deep sleep normally occurs.
By the way we need both types.
Why do we need sleep?
This time allows the body to repair, recycle and clean out unwanted information and waste products.
Doesn’t your body, health and mind deserve to rest in comfort?
A disturbed night doesn’t allow your body to do it’s job properly when you are awake.
How much do we need?
We spend a third of our lives asleep.
Average adults should have 7 – 9 hours
Children 9 -13 hours
Wouldn’t you like to wake up refreshed and full of beans and with a smile that makes people wonder what you have been up to all day long?
Your bed and mattress matter
When did you buy a new mattress?
Did you know you should change your mattress every 7 – 8 years?
On average a mattress is subjected to more than 20,000 hours of wear and tear in its 7 year life*. (*National Bed Foundation)
Remember to include your pillows and duvet in your checks and the base your mattress sits on. They work hard for you too, so check them for wear and tear, support and warmth on a regular basis.
Take the Bed MOT using the link and discover the destiny of your current mattress.
Most bed companies offer trial periods when you buy a new mattress and will usually take the old mattress away on delivery saving you a job.
Yes, they are expensive but aren’t you worth a gold medal’s night sleep?
A peaceful / restful night of sleep allows your body to focus on healing itself. The muscles will repair themselves making you stronger and fitter from all the exercise you have done that day.
The brain can do its valuable filing and defragging of the information you have taken in during the day.
The digestive system can get the most out of your nutrition making you healthier.
Your immune system can rest after defending you all day.
Now you can start to see the importance of regular good quality sleep.
The odd bad night here and there is less of an issue. In general, these can be attributed to something you are concerned about before you go to bed.
Now, I have been know to get up in the morning and physically kick the bed in total disgust, hence being a runner up.
However, it was not really the bed’s fault.
Causes of being a runner up
You may not like some of this section.
Too much alcohol or coffee before bedtime. They are both stimulants and their job is to wake you up or keep you awake!
Overuse of digital devices before bed. Again, it is thought the ‘blue light’ emitted can interfere with your sleep rhythm
Eating a large meal before bed. Apart from possibly being uncomfortable, your digestive system will have to work harder, requiring more effort, using more calories and keeping you awake in the process.
Uncomfortable – a survey by the *NBF cited that 21% of people say their bed is uncomfortable.
Top tips to become a gold medallist!
Allow yourself time to unwind before you go to bed. Treat it like a powering down phase in your body. This will give your body time to adjust and slow down before you hit the pillow.
Daily exercise, you don’t have to run a marathon, just move your body, go for a walk, dance around the kitchen, go swimming any activity that you like doing and do it for long enough to get out of breath and raise your heat rate for several minutes.
Go to bed and get up at the same time. This will establish a routine and your body will thank you for it. (I know there are exceptions and it is difficult with shift work and young children for example but try even a couple of nights a week will make a difference.)
Have a warm bath a couple of hours before you go to bed. This will induce sleepy hormones and allow your temperature to lower after the bath.
Check the temperature of your bedroom, ideally it should be about 18 degrees centigrade.
Use a sleep app to help you get to sleep.
Of course regular massage treatments can help too!
So there you have it, a good night’s sleep is underrated and we should all try and be better at it.
Haggis doesn’t seem to have a problem with it though!
The summer sporting season is in full swing, will you be staying on the pitch all summer or on the side lines?
Unless we leave sufficient time between playing, training or matches an overuse injury will occur.
The use of rehab and fitness products can often help get you back on the pitch more quickly too.
Stay on the pitch all summer long, reduce your injuries and up your game
I want to maximise your health so you can stay on the pitch all summer long, reduce your injuries and stay on top of your game!
The warmer weather is here, the summer sporting season is in full swing will you be able to stay on the pitch all summer long?
How is your season going?
Are you still swinging that golf club or tennis racket as well as you were at the beginning of the season?
Are you slightly off your game when kicking the ball?
Just feeling fatigued?
Is that niggle becoming more troublesome?
Feeling the strain already?
Let’s face it, we abuse out body every single day. Poor sleep, nutrition, dehydration and stress are the main culprits.
Add a regular sporting activity on top of that and something has to give.
Read on to find out the main issues I see regularly and how to avoid them so you can play all summer long and not sit on the side lines.
What is an RSI / Overuse Injury
When we use the body in a repetitive way over time, fatigue, aches and pains creep in.
Every sport has its own techniques and actions. The more we practice or play the more we are going to repeat certain actions over and over and over ….
Unless we leave sufficient time between playing, training or matches an overuse injury will occur.
If you are learning a new skill or sport the stress on your body will be increased.
Most of the time we ignore them but in the longer term, they come back and bite us BIG time!
This is when we really start to feel pain or we acknowledge we have an injury or ongoing condition.
Your next step is whether to seek help and get back to your sport asap or abuse your body even more and ignore the injury or condition, playing on, using pain relief, strapping and doing even more damage to an already damaged area.
Even worse your body is incredibly clever and will compensate when there is an injury which often results on another injury. So, you now have 2 injuries or more!
Skills and techniques
Master your techniques before progressing in level of difficulty in your game.
Get the basics right, these will form a solid foundation for everything else to be built on.
Rest days are the important days. This is when your body naturally heals and strengthens itself ready for the next game or match. By incorporating non playing days, your body has more of a chance to keep you on the pitch without any injuries.
This includes sleep! Sleep is underestimated in its powers to heal and restore.
I know you will all laugh at my next comment but really try and get 7 -8 hours good quality sleep every night.
Check out my blog about being a gold medallist sleeper for sleep tips.
Always perform some kind of warm up at the start of your game, match or training.
This can be in the way of aerobic exercise, specific movement rehearsal and dynamic stretching.
In general, a small raise in body temperature will increase blood flow, muscle temperature and lubricates the joints ready for action.
Mental rehearsal and mindset preparation also key areas of a warm up and can make a huge difference to your performance.
Post activity, where appropriate, reduce your activity gradually and incorporate stretches to encourage the muscles to return to their normal functional length.
Stretching has been shown to reduce that nasty tight and sometimes painful feeling 24 – 48 hours after exercise know as DOMs. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.
Ice baths are quite popular at the moment and again research shows it may help some people to recover more quickly but it is not conclusive.
Common Issues I See
They are susceptible to overuse injuries and chronic conditions (issues that annoy you for a long time!) in racket sports, golf, cricket and even weight lifting.
What’s the Difference?
Tennis elbow will affect the outside of the elbow and forearm.
Golfers elbow affects the inside of the elbow.
Both conditions are annoying, painful and can stop you from playing.
The action of swinging the racket or the club continuously with force against an object leads to stresses in the joints.
These conditions are not confined to their namesakes. Any sport or activity involving throwing, hitting or lifting repeatedly even housework can lead to the condition.
Symptoms such as heat, sometimes swelling, aching or a sharper pain accompanies both issues. The condition affects daily movements like gripping, bending and straightening the arm.
In fact, a lot of the movements that you make throughout the day and probably in your work as well. Hence while these are tiresome issues!
Rotator Cuff Injuries
The rotator cuff is made up of 4 muscles that work together to stabilise the shoulder.
A tear will often occur after a sudden overhead movement.
Associated with sports like volleyball. swimming and tennis.
Symptoms include heat, limited movement, severe pain and a weakness in that shoulder.
Daily movements like washing your hair will be really difficult.
A common condition in the hip is a Bursitis.
The hip joint becomes inflamed, overworked and really grumpy.
Pain travels across the hip joint, lower back and down the outside of the leg on that side.
Pain maybe in the form of burning or aching and it is uncomfortable to lie on that side.
A groin strain is caused by over reaching when sprinting or kicking a ball and can also be from a sudden changes in direction.
Sports related to these injuries are of course, football, hockey and tennis.
Muscle strains can be caused by any of the following sports that involve sudden or explosive twisting or rotation. For example golf, cricket and gymnastics.
Pushing or pulling in a rugby match or even just a hard work out in the gym on the bench press could cause a potential back injury.
Fatigue can lead to injury as well.
As the muscle loses power and energy, it has to work harder to deliver . Therefore it actually becomes weaker and more prone to injury.
Can be felt as a dull ache and tenderness down the front of the leg during exercise.
Any activity that makes you walk or run faster than normal during a spell of movement can bring on this sensation.
A change in surface can have a similar effect.
Help! What do I need to do?
For any of these conditions or injuries the first thing is to stop the activity immediately.
Protect the area from further damage and support it to alleviate the weight and prevent further compensation or muscle fatigue.
Then rest the area!
Yes unfortunately, as reluctant as you are, you should stop the activity that is causing the issue.
Alternative ways of training / exercising may be possible depending on your situation.
In my experience, ice can help to reduce the pain and by using an ice pack several times during the day, you can alleviate the sensation of pain around the area.
Never apply ice directly to the skin always wrap in a tea towel or similar and for 10 mins maximum every 3 – 4 hours.
Can limit the amount of swelling to the area. A good old TubigripTM type bandage will do the job.
Ideally you want the compression to extend at least 6 inches above and below the injured area.
Any change in sensation or pins and needles in the compressed area, remove immediately and seek medical help.
Raise the area where possible to lower blood pressure and encourage drainage and reduce swelling.
Ensure the affected area is well supported with pillows, cushions chairs and so on.
Over the Counter Pain Killers
I cannot recommend the use of these medications as it would be unprofessional but I want to give you the information so you know the differences and can then make an informed decision.
Always follow the dosage guidance contained within the product.
Pain killers such as paracetamol may also help to reduce the pain and can take up to an hour to work.
Ibuprofen and similar medications may help to reduce the inflammation in and around the joint and muscles and can have an affect within 30 minutes.
Beware of stomach irritation though!
Ibuprofen gels may also be effective but take longer to work and you are less likely to overdose on it. Use every 3 – 4 hours and never apply to broken skin or sensitive areas.
Hands on Therapy
Correct massage therapy can have a really positive impact on your recovery. I highly recommend incorporating specific stretches and strengthening exercises to prevent recurrence of the problem.
The use of rehab and fitness products can often help get you back on the pitch more quickly too.
For example, I supply and use physio balls, resistance bands, arnica gel and ice/ heat packs to enhance your recovery programme and prevent the problem coming back.
Along with the appropriate corrective exercises you can continue your recovery at home.
A regular monthly massage treatment can help keep you in good nick and iron out any issues before they become a larger problem.
I love this using this within my treatments for a variety of conditions and injuries. it can also be used as a preventive measure.
A Few Benefits
The tape is non invasive and non pharmaceutical and hypoallergenic.
It helps to naturally assist the body to heal, drain and recover more easily and usually more quickly compared to not using it.
As a result, once taped, the affected area feels more stable, supported and secure.
It promotes healthy circulation by increasing blood flow and allowing more unwanted waste products to be removed.
Pain can be reduced when wearing it.
It comes in all sorts of colours and patterns too!
My favourite mobile device in my armoury!
A highly effective but gentle and relaxing treatment.
Negative pressure = positive results!
A small bag of magic that gives big results and is currently the only one* in private practice in the North East of Scotland.
Using variable negative pressures similar to cupping, tissues can be lifted allowing an increase in healthy blood flow which boosts healing and recovery. In response, the waste products are encouraged into the lymphatic system for faster removal, reducing excess swelling and pain.
Try not to be an ostrich and stick your head in the sand if you have an issue, niggle or injury.
Stop the activity, follow PRICE in the advice above, seek professional help and prevent recurrence by warming up and cooling down and of course booking a regular therapeutic massage session with me!
If you have any questions or would like more specific advice please contact me, I’ll be glad to help.
Wishing you all a safe and happy summer of sport and stay on the pitch not on the side lines!
* currently the one LymphaTouch in private practice in the NE Scotland as of June 2022.
Headaches! Delving deep into headaches and beyond.
We have all had them to varying degrees, intensities and frequencies – yes I am talking all things headaches. Types, causes, recognising symptoms, how to avoid them and what to do when you get one so you can be your best again as quickly as possible.
Headaches! Delving Deep into Headaches.
Causes, signs & symptoms and self help advice
Headaches! Delving deep into headaches and beyond. Types, causes and cures. Self massage advice to help you at home or in the office.
We have all had them to varying degrees, intensities and frequencies – yes I am talking all things headaches.
I am on a mission to lift the lid on the most common types of headaches for you, signs and symptoms and most importantly how you can deal with them at home or at work or on the road. Along the way you might see an overall improvement in your wellbeing too with just a few simple changes.
My aim is to give you some self help advice so you can start feeling your best again as quickly as possible.
Let’s get started
A headache is one of the most common health complaints and can last from 30 minutes to several hours.
They are generally not serious and can be easily treated at home or at work and usually affect more women than men.
They can be an indicator of an underlying issue or linked to an ongoing health condition so never ignore a bad headache.
Please, always seek medical advice if you have any concerns about your headache.
That goes for a bump to the head as well. Minor or major accidents, whiplash and injuries should be assessed by medical professionals as soon as possible.
What is a headache?
A pain originating in the head, face and sometimes the upper neck.
Muscles in the shoulders, neck and head can become tired, fatigued or weak and lead to discomfort and pain.
Nerves, muscles and blood vessels can swell and tighten causing pressure on other structures which in turn cause pain.
4 Main Types of Headache
Causes of Headaches
Infections – ear ache, sinus pressure, viruses
Lack of sleep
Lack of physical activity
Accident / injury / whiplash
Check your mattress and pillows
This list is not exhaustive!
Symptoms of Headaches
Tight feeling around the head
Dull ache around the forehead, nose and eyes
Pain around the eyes and sinuses
Sharp and or throbbing sensation around the temples
Blurred / double or distorted vision
Hypersensitivity to light and noise
Who can be affected?
Migraines can be hereditary
Women can suffer from hormone headaches at certain times during their cycle and during the menopause.
Hydrate! Probably the most important one. Grab a glass of water as your first line of defence.
Hot or cold pack to the affected area for a few minutes. Heat will open the blood vessels improving blood and oxygen flow to the area. Cold will have the opposite effect and reduce blood and oxygen flow. See which one helps you the most. It may depend on the type of headache you have that day.
Massage, gentle circles on the temples with your fingertips to reduce tension and improve relaxation.
Take some slow deep breaths as you do this too.
Firstly, you will slow your heart rate which in turn will lower blood pressure.
Secondly, deeper, slower breathing will allow more oxygen into your body and improve feelings of relaxation.
Take regular breaks from your screen or laptop. Eye strain can lead to tired eyes and eye muscles leading to headaches.
Easiest step to stop looking at your screen! Go for a walk, whether you are at home or in an office. Get up and move away from the screen.
Even just closing your eyes will have a similar effect if you can’t leave the screen. Dedicate 5 minutes every hour and see how it helps.
Posture when working at a desk. Check if your screen is at the right height. Looking down will cause neck muscles to tire and result in a headache over time.
Rest, if you are struggling with a cold, you may need to take extra rest to fight the infection and let your body’s immune system do its job!
Hunger. Avoid skipping meals and eat regularly. A drop in blood sugar levels can trigger headaches.
Take a bath
A warm relaxing bath can help to reduce the tension in the muscles around the neck and shoulders.
Try adding some bath oils with delicate essential oils to really encourage the body to let go.
Assess your mattress and pillows. Are they providing you with enough support in the right areas? Is your mattress more than 8 years old? If so, it may time for a change.
Room temperature this can affect how well you sleep and if you are waking up with a headache.
Check if the room is too hot and stuffy, you may need to lower the temperature or open a window to let some fresh air in.
Take a glass of water to bed with you so if you wake up in the middle of the night you can hydrate and prevent a early morning headache.
Regular physical activity has been shown to reduce the frequency of headaches and should be encouraged on a daily basis.
Even a short 10 minute walk can have a positive impact on your headache and your overall health and wellbeing.
Outdoors is best but if that is not possible even moving around your house or office will have similar benefits.
Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi encourage relaxation, mindfulness, meditation and the opportunity for your mind and body to take time out and let go of some of the stresses and pressures of your daily life.
Therapies – get hands on!
Targeted massage can help to reduce muscle tension which can lead to headaches.
Products can be used to enhance the calming effects of the treatment. Scents of lavender, sweet almond and coconut oil can help to induce relaxation.
A 30 minute session also allows the body to unwind, relax and switch off for a while.
Benefits of a treatment include lower blood pressure, more efficient breathing patterns and better sleep.
If you nod off during a treatment it is one of the biggest compliments you can give therapist! Go on – let go!
Your immune and digestive systems will benefit from a massage as well. Hence the noisy tummy during a massage – it is normal and a good thing!
When was your last eye test?
It may be over due.
An eye test is not just the size of the letters and the distance you can read them.
The test should include checks for the the health of your eyes and can be an indicator of future health problems.
Consider it an investment in your health!
Over The Counter Medications
A common pain killer for aches and pains.
Can help to lower your temperature and is a common ingredient in cold and flu medications.
It can take up to an hour to work.
Paracetamol should NOT be used in conjunction with any other product containing paracetamol.
Generally safe for most people to use.
Safe to use during pregnancy and breast feeding.
Available to buy over the counter.
Belongs to the family of NSAIDs – Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs
Used for general aches and pains
Used to reduce inflammation – muscle strains and joint sprains as well as joint conditions like arthritis
Also found in common cold and flu medications
Can work in 20 -30 minutes
Avoid taking on an empty stomach
Works by reducing hormones released that cause the pain and swelling
It does NOT mix well with other medications
If you are interested in saving money and having regular treatments have a look at the link below for my subscription service.
Hot or Cold Therapy? How to use them? I am often asked about this
Hot or Cold Therapy? How to use them? I am often asked about this and in my experience both have a place in rehab.
March Top Tip
Hot or Cold Therapy? How to use them? I am often asked about this and in my experience both have a place in rehab. My advice is to experiment. Find what works best for you in the situation and circumstances you find yourself in.
Do you have an injury? Is it acute or chronic? What type of pain or sensation is it? What do you naturally want to do? Rub it or hold and support it? The list goes on!
Cold therapy, will cool an area down by lowering the temperature, reducing blood supply to the affected area and therefore preventing swelling or helping to reduce the swelling and bruising. It is believed the lower temperature helps to block pain receptors in the brain switching off the sensation of pain in that area.
To use cold / ice safely, always wrap it in a damp tea towel and then place it on the area. Leave it in place for 10-15 mins, probably no more than 20 minutes at a time. Never place ice directly on the skin because it can cause an ice burn. Repeat every couple of hours as necessary.
Heat therapy, will increase circulation and blood supply to the affected area. This increase can bring comfort and reduce the sensation of pain. As a result, heat is good for muscle aches an joint pain.
To apply heat safely: wrap the hot water bottle in a towel or cover before placing on the skin. Make sure it is not too hot to burn yourself and set the timer for up to 15 minutes. Repeat every couple of hours. Be careful not to overuse heat as it can cause congestion and more discomfort in the affected area.
Both have their place in first aid, rehab and prevention. Try them both and see which one you benefit from the most.
Stay safe and if you need any help or rehab information, please get in touch.