Wellbeing, Health, Corporate, Fitness, Dublin 6

Wellbeing Weeks and Fruit Friday’s don’t work!

Too often, we have seen the corporate wellbeing world be a storm in a teacup. ‘Wellbeing Weeks’ or ‘Fruit Friday’s don’t work! If your employees don’t feel valued, a guest speaker once a year and a free basket of fruit here and there, won’t change their productivity or happiness.

Stress is an enigma. we all know it’s there but we can’t always identify it. What does it look like ? Or how is it measured? We are in a data driven age and non measurables tend to be under valued.

In our experience dealing with the corporate wellbeing world, we have noticed that some issues repeatedly become a stumbling block. The ultimate goal is for wellbeing initiatives to actually improve wellbeing ! At the very least there ought to be a reduction in stress levels.

The problem for HR

In our experience, the difficulty for innovative and enthusiastic HR managers is implementation. That’s why initiatives like ‘Fruit Friday’ exists. It’s a gesture that can be achieved. It’s also coming from a very well meaning place.

But in a target driven environment, punctuated by End -of -Quarter stress avalanches, the wellbeing philosophy becomes a distant ideal. The idea that the Sales team might take a 30 minute break for a mindfulness session during the avalanche is outlandish.

Ironically, it might be the perfect time to do it, but let’s face it, it is highly unlikely.

Can Lifestyle change actually reduce stress?

Well in terms of exercise the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend 150 minutes of light exercise per week. This is a non specific recommendation, and indeed slightly less than 150 minutes can suffice if done at a moderate to vigorous intensity. Let’s not focus on the content for now. Let’s simply look at the duration;

  • 2 x 30 minute sessions in a week amounts to 1/168th of our week
  • A whopping 0.006% of our week !!

Time Management and Lifestyle Change

Can we spare 0.006% of our week to help reduce stress levels ? We all know we can. But we still regularly don’t. Perhaps we are not truly framing the benefits in a relevant way.

It can specifically improve our performance in work.

Neurological benefits are rarely highlighted, but the scientific community have proven that exercise can improve concentration, memory and decision making under pressure! How good is that ?!

Due to the vascular (blood vessels) change that occurs during/post exercise there is an associated change in blood flow inside the brain. Why not tap into this ?

Behavioural Change and Wellbeing

For the HR managers out there it is important to manage your own expectations and the barriers facing your implementation of wellbeing.

0.006% of the week doing exercise is of course achievable for your employees. However It may be time better spent to have a regular check in / reminder to simply encourage employees to adopt new behaviours. Ultimately they have to do the exercise themselves. So, raising awareness about lifestyle benefits can be a powerful message if done in a strategic way. It gently lets your most important resource (your people) know that you value their lives outside of the job, and you value their time while on the job. You don’t have to provide the actual activity for lifestyle change, you just have to constantly encourage the change in behaviour.

Movement, Hips, Arthritis, exercise, Fitness, Dublin

Disaster at the Masters…….Before the competition even starts!!

The Masters

Golfers all over the country will be tuned in with keen interest considering the Irish representation in the US Masters today. Already there has been some notable incidents with tournament favourite Dustin Johnson suffering a fall at home and injuring his back. We’ll wait and see what emerges here but something tells me that he’ll be alright on the night!

The traditional Par 3 competition on the eve of Day 1 has been a washout and abandoned for the first time ever. Players may be forgiven for not being too upset as a winner of the Par 3 competition has never won the US Masters in the same year.

As a physio and a golf fan, the US Masters is the unofficial start of the domestic golfing season. Players all over the country begin to get the appetite for the game back coinciding with the change in the weather.

Inevitably, this brings with it a few interesting challenges. The golf swing is a complex beast no matter what a player’s handicap or ability is! Biomechanically there is a huge amount of force being created and that can have a major impact on some of the structures in the body – Just ask Tiger!

traning for golf physiotherapy

The Great Golfing Conundrum….

Recreational Golfers

In reality, the majority of recreational golfers would be really well served by committing a small amount of time and effort into a short routine performed 2-3 times per week in an effort to keep the body supple and strong.

There is a myriad of opinion on what is the best routine and exercises to focus on. I’m a firm believer that the best exercises to focus on are the ones that get done!
Designing a manageable and time efficient routine is very achievable. Small changes to a weekly routine can lead to a significant increase in both improving performance and preventing niggles and injury. Strength training and mobility exercises are largely the key ingredient in this process. Tailoring the program to either the living room floor or the squat rack in the gym depends on the individual.

As a golfing Physio, my mind is always analysing practical ways to try and help with the enjoyment of one of the best and worst games around. The fact that you can get better as you get older is a unique attraction with this game and maybe why it’s so appealing??

If you want to discuss any of your golfing ailments feel free to contact me at ronan@personalhealth.ie or you can phone the clinic on 01-4964002.

physiotherapy Dublin 6

The Golf Physio – Ronan Fallon

Ronan Fallon (MISCP) Personal Health Director of Physiotherapy

 

 

Balanced approach to your Personal Health

Redress the Balance……By Susan Duffy Counselling Psychotherapist

As a counselling psychotherapist I meet a lot of people who are struggling with the balancing act of life; workload, children, ageing parents, relationship and friends are among the many responsibilities we try to juggle daily. All of this juggling on a regular basis before even thinking about ourselves, our diet, fitness and general health.

Media and social media can appear full of ‘successful’ people. Supposedly  ‘just like us’ but with perfectly toned bodies, a stellar career and beautifully turned out children. They run marathons before breakfast and roll out a Nigella style roast for 20 close friends at lunch. If we compare ourselves it can be hard not to feel overwhelmed.

  • Are we coming up short….?
  • Or could these images be constructed with ‘perfection’ styling before we clap eyes on the finished product?
Dublin 6 mental health services

As resilient as a bubble or……

feeling tired and depressed

….A spent force?

 

Impacts on our Health

All of the above add to feelings of overwhelm, anxiety and just not being enough. When we are spinning plates and have such high expectations of ourselves, something’s got to give. Usually because we are busy with work and trying to live up to the perceived expectations of others, the first thing to give is our health and our self-care.

If we are tired, feeling depleted and ragged, it shows in our work and relationships. We can feel demotivated and under-appreciated in work. Anger and resentment can be directed towards loved ones taking us for granted. The basic concept of caring for ourselves in a healthy way underpins how well and whole-heartedly we can care for others, and do our jobs to the best of our abilities.

Surely the correlation between stressed, overworked individuals who strive for perfection and their incidence of back pain, is too high to be a coincidence?

Could it be possible that our tired unsupported bodies are screaming at us to look after them. Sometimes the physical pain we feel can be a symptom of something deeper emotionally. Ironically, lower backs (lumbar spinal) often seem to ‘go’ around stressful landmark life events, when we feel least ‘supported’.

Pausing to ask what your body feels like in this moment, could be the first step in your journey to appropriate self care.

  • What do you truly need right now? (as opposed to what you ‘should’ be doing).
Counselling for Health

What’s going on in there..

It could be deciding to talk to someone about the stressors in your life. What impacts on your relationships and general health?

It could mean taking a step towards a stronger healthier body through exercise, diet or relaxation.

Regardless of detail, pursuing something suitable, exclusively for you, can help positive change.

Come and ask Personal Health how we can help……it’s time to redress your Personal Health balance….

Thanks,

Susan

pain, chronic pain, exercise, physio, physiotherapy

Do you really understand your pain? by Dee Ryan, Chartered Physiotherapist

Pain is often misunderstood, and as a result can cause fear. This fear and confusion can drive our pain experience. This blog explores the true meaning of pain with you. It might facilitate a different approach to your pain management, and hopefully can improve your coping strategies.

Pain is the body’s alarm system. It is designed to be a helpful response to protect you. This alarm system is assisted by your vision, hearing, smell and taste. For example, at halloween you see a bonfire, hear the wood crackling, smell/taste the smoke and feel the warmth. These sensory cues are helping your brain decide how best to respond to a given situation.

FireBeachPain
A key point to understand about pain is that once the brain decides you’re in danger, you will feel pain with or without the presence of tissue damage.

YOUR BRAIN DRIVES YOUR PAIN

Pain can be straight forward. But like most things in life, it can also be a complex process requiring some patience. Pain from direct tissue damage is clearly understood – an ankle sprain for example, see our Rory McIlroy blog:

Here, for example, the ligaments are sprained and in an attempt to protect you (how loving!) your brain decides the ligaments are at risk and need healing. Subsequently pain is felt in order to allow ligament repair and remodelling.
Pain can also be reflective of behaviour, emotions, memories, belief systems and what the pain means to you. A nice analogy for this is to imagine the ingredients of emotion, stress, memory, belief and behaviour are mixed together and make up the batter to a special kind of cake called pain. This cake is cooked in a particular oven called the brain. How the cake of pain turns out is very much so dependent on the oven – what temperature it is cooked at, how long it is cooked for etc. So it is clear the brain directly influences the end product- the pain cake.

 

pain management Personal Health Dublin 6

Is your pain getting out of hand?

Regardless of analogies, there is a proven science to this…..

Our body house these incredible sensors which continuously send messages to the brain via electrical impulses (neural pathways). Some sensors report on temperature, some respond to mechanical change, others to chemical change. There is a certain type of wire called a nociceptor which delivers messages of danger to your brain. They respond to any form of stimulus which is considered a threat. Remember nociception is just the delivery postman of the message, not the message itself.
Not every message being delivered from the sensors reach the brain. At the level of the spinal cord there is a sorting process, and the number of messages being passed is under control. Similar to a bouncer manning a nightclub. The danger messages can sometimes be granted access and are delivered to the brain. Here the brain has to make a decision how best to react to all this information it has been given.

Dee Ryan Chartered Physiotherapist in Dublin 6 discusses the complexity of pain

Those shoes are quite nice mate…..

Next week

Next week I will discuss the various systems which the brain calls upon in its response to these issues. Similarly I will expand on the effects of pain over a prolonged period of time- known as ‘chronic pain’.
Be a friend and tag a friend who you feel will benefit from further understanding the processes involved in the pain experience!

And now my parting gift to you until next week….a superb video which explains pain in less than 5 minutes:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWMKucuejIs

 

Cycling, physio, physiotherapist, movement, fitness, health

Summer, Sunshine & Spandex by Tim Ahern, Chartered Physiotherapist

We cyclists call it Lycra and there is a lot of it about lately. Here on Rathgar road we see hundreds of commuters and leisure cyclists pass by our clinic on their way to and from work every morning. This is great to see. All sorts of people are cycling now on all sorts of machines. Some new, some old and many ill-fitting.

IMG_1189

New to Cycling?

For those of you who are new to cycling and training for that first triathlon, charity cycle or are just beginning in the sport, bike fit is important. The usual hotspots of discomfort for the beginner include the lower back and the back-side. This is a normal and temporary phenomenon. But often times pain and discomfort in these areas persists. Knee, neck and wrist pain are also common. Therefore having a bike that is comfortable and suitably set-up for your requirements is a must in order to minimise or indeed prevent such injuries. Appropriate bike set-up is key to enjoying injury free cycling and this becomes more pertinent as time in the saddle increases. Despite the myriad of different bike designs and new technologies available, a bicycle remains a bicycle.

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Rider and bike have 5 contact points, both hands, both feet and the one bottom! The bike is a symmetrical machine. Many of us are not. Parameters such as handlebar reach, handlebar type and angle, the degree of knee flexion in pedal stroke, shoe cleat position and saddle position are the main interfaces between the rider and the bike. That results in a huge number of possible position permutations. Many people are now measured and fitted for their bikes before they purchase them. This is very useful. As with clothes, not everyone can buy “off the peg”.

MLF cycling

 

Assessment

Personal Health offer an individualised assessment of the individual’s anatomy and injury history. We take into account the type, the intensity and the volume of cycling of each client. We don’t try to make radical changes to set-up or position, rather we look at making micro adjustments to the bike set-up. This may stave off injury and reduce discomfort based on our physical assessment of the body first, and then the bike.

Based on our findings, we will provide a relevant exercise programme for the body. This is a bespoke service and some clients require more focus on the physical and others require more attention on the bike set-up. Most often though, it is a combination of the two.

Tim Ahern is a Chartered Physiotherapist, an Exercise Physiologist, and a hugely passionate cyclist. He is an integral part of Personal Health, providing a valuable link between our clinical expertise and the practical aspects of exercise prescription. 

Mobility, Flexibility, fitness, movement, health

The Pursuit of Flexibility

As the years go by, the pursuit of flexibility can be a wistful bygone goal. In reality we stiffen up a fair bit as time flies. So, what seemed to be regular flexible movement at one stage, now seems difficult to attain. Why do I groan all of a sudden when I’m standing up from a chair ???

Let’s be kind to ourselves here – mobility and flexibility are often impossible due to our lifestyle demands. Similarly, if we do find some free time, is stretching a priority? It seems so boring… Perhaps not?

Well, there is a lot more to flexibility than static muscle stretching…. A lot more!

And best of all, it can genuinely provide relief, positively affecting your mood.

 

Be kind to each other

Many components affect our flexibility including:

Joint Capsule
Muscle
Ligaments
Tendons
Nerves

I am going to focus on joint stiffness in the thoracic (mid) spine as this is a common presentation across office workers. It is also equally common in multiple sports including cycling, rowing, boxing, wrestling and hockey.  Here is why…

The thoracic spine is the area of our spine located between your neck and low back. Thoracic mobility is important for optimal movement. The mobility of spinal joints and their surrounding capsules adapt depending on the activities performed. Multiple sports require the athlete to move with their arms positioned in front of their body, this positional demands often result in the shoulders sitting forward and a round upper back consequently increasing the risk of developing stiffness in this area.

As the mobility of the thoracic spine affects the function of the shoulders, neck and low back, it is strongly recommended to spend time ensuring your thoracic mobility is being maintained. It is all about balance.

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The more time you spend sitting at your desk, or training, then the more time you need to invest in maintaining your mobility and flexibility. To prevent long-term changes the idea is to position your body in the opposite positions from what you train or work in. For most people this will involve mobilising your upper back in extension and in combined extension and rotation. In other words, straightening your spine.

Over the past years I have found the following thoracic mobility exercises to be highly effective in maintaining and restoring thoracic movement:

1.Thoracic extension on foam roller:

Stretches the pectoral muscles and forces extension in the upper back. Ensure your low back is flattened on the roller for most efficiency. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times. You can alter the position of your arms between 90 degrees and 120 degrees to bias different areas of your upper back. See image below.

IMG_3255 (1)

 

2. Segmental flexion and extension over the foam roller:

Place fingers on temples to promote thoracic extension. Position the foam roller horizontally and roll along your upper back. Stop at the segments which feel more uncomfortable and stiff. To bias the mobility at these segments, slowly extend over the roller towards the ground. Support your lower back whilst doing this by tucking your bum in. See pictures below as the athlete moves from thoracic flexion into segmental extension.

IMG_3256 IMG_3257

 

 

 

 

3. Bows and Arrows:

Position yourself in side-lying so that shoulders and hips are in line. Bend your knees so that your hips and knees are in line (this offloads your low back ensuring the movement is coming form your upper back). Outstretch both arms. Reach the top hand past the bottom hand and then pull backwards as though drawing the arrow on a bow. In this drawing back motion, aim to have the top shoulder facing up towards the ceiling. This is a slow and controlled movement and aim for 10 repetitions 2-3 times on each side. See the images below.

IMG_3258

IMG_3259

4. Shaking it all out:

Finally, if all else fails….Try loosely and gently relaxing your stomach, if you have ‘a belly’ (everybody does by the way) let it real and hang over your belt. Then gently allow some light  shaking through all the main joints, neck, shoulder, spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet. Just like the way Diego Maradona used to warm up for football games…..

 

 

Tag a friend if you feel this article is relevant to them, or that co-worker who constantly complain of upper back stiffness! If you have any further questions or queries regarding thoracic mobility or wish to purchase a foam roller contact us at Personal Health on 01 4964002 or email info@personalhealth.ie.

Andrew Dunne Managing Director Personal Health

The Orchestra & The Human Body

Dublin_Philharmonic_Orchestra_performing_Tchaikovsky's_Symphony_No_4_in_Charlotte,_North_Carolina

If you’re over 35…..Listen to your body instead of looking at it so much. All your vital internal instruments will thank you – you might even start to sound like a nice melody!

From the time you are born to around the time you turn 30, your muscles grow larger and stronger. But at some point in your 30s, you begin to lose muscle mass and function, a condition known as age-related sarcopenia. Nothing overly serious, but to summarise, it’s to do with nerve cells, brain signalling and hormonal changes.

We’ve all been down this road at some point….

  • Going for a run (too much too soon until it hurts)
  • Buying a new bike that gathers dust in the shed
  • Trying ‘High Intensity’ exercise
  • Abstaining from any of the good stuff in life

The truth is we have difficulty maintaining an ideally healthy lifestyle because of various factors (as above) and external stressors, such as job demands, cost of living and just being beautifully flawed!

But our health matters…..It’s frustratingly complex.

Personal Health

So what do we suggest at Personal Health?

  • Consult with our Medical team about your lifestyle choices
  • Exercise for 30 minutes with our Physiotherapists
  • Make small practical changes to your diet, with the help of our dieticians
  • Learn how to make behavioural changes to your sleep
  • Outsource your health concerns to an expert medical team