Grow Your Own Happiness: Can Meditation Physically Change the Brain?

As Osteopaths, it’s not uncommon for us to see patients living with chronic pain. Studies have been done that show meditation, or mindfulness, can be used as an effective management strategy and now there is research that shows meditation may also be able to increase your levels of happiness. The article claims it can be done by “exercising” part of the brain that deals with happiness called the “precuneus”. This is because the study found that people with a larger precuneus tend to rate themselves as being happier than those who are found to have a smaller one.

By using meditation techniques and actively seeking the best in as many situations as possible the precuneus increases in grey matter. Put simply: it grows. This means meditation can have a double benefit for patients dealing with chronic or intense pain – pain management and increased happiness. To find out more, read the full article here!

It’s important to remember that meditation and mindfulness can take a bit of practice before you start feeling any difference within yourself or with your pain levels, for some people it just isn’t for them. Why not try it out and decide for yourself?

Is Walking Really The Best Way to Lose Weight Fast?

It’s not long before we start thinking of our New Years’ resolutions and in our lifetime, at least once, we have caught ourselves planning our new exercise regime that will start with enthusiasm on January 1st. Within the week we are found to have scrapped the idea all together. However, new research suggests people who have a 30 minute brisk walk once a day also tend to have a lower BMI. It is thought that this is because this form of exercise is easy to engage in and stick to within your normal daily routine and is suitable for people of all ages.

Does this mean we don’t need to pay for those gym memberships and invest in a supportive pair of walking trainers instead? Two personal trainers were asked for their opinion on the new research, click here to read their answers!

Don’t forget to speak to your health care professional if you are considering changing your exercise program. At Body Foundation Osteopaths we are happy to discuss your health and fitness needs in order to help you decide on the best exercise plan to meet your requirements.

Is Juicing A Cure-All or Just Another Health Fad?

Juicing! Yum yum.

Juicing! Yum yum.

Juicing has become a popular trend within the health and fitness world, with claims that it can help you burn fat, improve your complexion and boost your immune system. It’s claims to be a convenient way to get the nourishment your body needs in a handy drink ‘to-go’ . But is juicing really the miracle health habit we’ve been waiting for?

If you’re thinking of changing your diet and exercise program then speak to your health care professional. At Body Foundation Osteopaths we are happy to provide you with advice tailored specifically to your requirements.

Have a look at this article by New York Post to find out more!

 

Have I got a chimpanzee spine?

low back pain and spinal shape

Low back pain

According to popular news reports, some people have spines that are similar in shape to a chimpanzee’s, and this puts them at risk of developing back pain.

The similarity in spinal shapes is thought to illustrate the evolutionary process, whereby the common ancestor of chimps and humans started to walk upright instead of on all fours. This change would cause the spine to alter over many, many generations.

The news reports are unfortunately full of all sorts of inaccurate terminology, included the dreaded “slipped disc”. Spinal discs do not slip, although they can bulge, and the researchers looked at vertical bulges known as Schmorl’s nodes where the disc bulges into the top or bottom of a vertebral bone. However, as the authors mention, the relationship between disc bulges and pain is unclear — some people have bulges without pain, and some people have pain without bulges.

If you have low back pain, or any other sort of musculoskeletal pain, can be produced by many causes – not just the shape of your spine. Your osteopath has trained to understand these causes and to determine the best course of action for you.

If you have any questions about back pain the contact us to discuss or to make an appointment.

You can read the BBC news story, and the original research paper.

How to structure my workout routine

Cardio before Weights or Weights before Cardio?

 

UK guidelines for exercise state that it should include both cardiovascular and resistance training¹ but what is the best way of organising your routine?

It’s a question I often got asked as a personal trainer and the answer may surprise some of you.

Many people will combine their cardiovascular training and their resistance training in one routine (this is known as “concurrent” training). However,  you may be interested to know that the order in which you perform these exercises can have an effect on the results you will achieve.

Traditionally, most workouts have started with a gentle warm up and a good solid cardio set to ensure that you are “fully warmed up” before hitting the heavy stuff.  New research published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)  however, suggests that the order of your exercises should be dictated by the main goals of your exercise plan².

It seems that for most people under the age of 65, the exercise you choose to perform first reduces the quality and effectiveness of the exercise you choose to perform afterwards, probably due to residual fatigue interfering with the quality of subsequent exercises.

Barbell_Group_Fitness_Class2

Therefore, if your main goal is to improve cardiovascular performance then you should perform this first in your routine. The reverse is also true – if gains in strength and power are your main goal, you should perform these first. Both types of exercise have important health benefits so you should decide which is more important for you.

What if I’m over 65?

 

Interestingly, this seems not to be the case if you are over 65, especially if you are a woman.

It seems that this group of people should always be performing their resistance training first, since this order seems to maximally increase both cardiorespiratory and strength fitness.

It’s thought to be due to the fact that by age 65, we are all losing some of our lean muscle mass, which is still required for cardio exercise, so prioritising an efficient strength training routine is actually more effective for both cardio and resistance training for people in this age group.

Or, as the ACSM say,

“It seems that, by emphasizing the strength element of concurrent training, the elderly may experience a greater gain in aerobic capacity because their V˙O2max is largely limited by the aging-related loss of muscle mass and strength.”

Girl with dumbell

The bottom line:

 

So there you have it. If cardiorespiratory fitness is more important for you, perform that first. If strength gains are your goal, perform that first instead, unless you are over 65, in which case you should always start with your resistance training. Remember also that we should all be performing both types of exercise.

Happy training,

Neil Price, MOst.

 

  1. NHS guidelines on physical activity: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/physical-activity-guidelines-for-adults.aspx

  1. Full article from ACSM here:

http://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2014/01000/Which_Comes_First__Resistance_Before_Aerobic.5.aspx

We now accept payments made using Barclay’s Pingit

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Anyone with a smartphone can now pay for osteopathy appointments at Body Foundation in Paddington by using the Barclay’s Pingit app. It’s a piece of cake. Simply use our mobile number 07732 006691 to send us payment for your treatment. You can even pay for your appointment in advance – just let us know beforehand.

Pingit can be used by anyone, even if you’re not a Barclay’s customer. Download the app from www.barclays.co.uk/pingit

Is there such a thing as incorrect movement?

old poster showing alignment of skeleton

There’s a recent blog post over at Better Movement that tackles a question osteopaths and their patients face every day: is there such a thing as incorrect movement? And of course we are often asked similar about posture. Can it be incorrect, and can it be changed?

Patients often feel that pain must be a result of something being “wrong”, whether that’s a disease process in the muscles and joints, an injury, or their posture and movement. And sometimes this is the case. One of the reasons we ask so many questions during our consultations is to determine exactly what’s going on.

But sometimes pain and dysfunction stem from less obvious causes. And in these situations we sometimes have to experiment with slight variations in posture and movement, muscle and joint coordination and flexibility, and so on. The reason I say “experiment” is that there is very rarely a straightforward recipe that we can apply to everyone; the body is too complex and variable for such a simple approach. This is one of the reasons that we may alter or add different stretches, exercises and mobilisations over a course of several treatment appointments. There may be general guidelines that will apply to most people, but details will require fine-tuning.

Over the course of these appointments we aim to determine what is an effective approach for the patient – and what is effective for one patient may not be effective for another. Everyone is different!

We also work out, with the patient, which movements and postures are “advantageous adaptations” and which are “compensatory compromise”. Over the course of two or three weeks we aim to discover those advantageous movements, and learn how to avoid or alter the compromises.

If you have any pains that you feel relate to your movement, or any aches that seem to linger regardless of your posture, give us a call on 07732 006691 or email [email protected] to book an appointment at our Paddington clinic.

Mediterranean diet prevents dementia

Mediterranean food may help fight dementia

Mediterranean food may help fight dementia – photo via flickr.com/photos/garryknight

The so-called Mediterranean diet is crucial to fighting dementia, say a group of doctors on the first day of the G8 summit on dementia. Experts from the G8 countries are in London this week to plan fresh approaches to dementia. They have written a letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt calling for the government to stress the importance of exercise and a healthy diet.

Dementia is likely to become increasingly problematic, although older people may be healthier than previously suspected. As with many healthcare issues the advice is refreshingly simple: exercise regularly, eat well, get enough sleep. This simple recipe really does seem to be a magic bullet for a wide range of problems.

If you’re worried about your memory, or that of a relative, always discuss it with your GP. If you need advice on physical activity then Body Foundation Osteopaths are very happy to help you out. With an athlete, a martial artist, and a dancer in our team, we’re well placed to give you the best advice. Contact us on 07732 006691 or email [email protected] for advice or to book an appointment.

Chris Mount who ran from John O’Groats to Land’s End visits Body Foundation Osteopaths in Paddington

Chris Mount who ran from John O'Groats to Land's End, visiting Body Foundation Osteopaths in Paddington

Chris Mount who ran from John O’Groats to Land’s End, visiting Body Foundation Osteopaths in Paddington

We first met Chris when he was working behind the bar in our local, and that’s when we heard about his plans to run from John O’Groats to Lands End. Astonishingly several weeks later, and with a painful blister now just a memory, he completed this mammoth task, raising thousands of pounds for charities.

We gave him a thorough check-up today, and we’re glad to report he’s in good working order. Chris’ determination and perseverance are a testament to what you can achieve if you have the courage and will-power necessary.

He’s still accepting donations, so have a look at his website here and see if you can chip in: http://www.chrisjoglerun.co.uk/

 

Fat but fit? Health not size predicts risk of serious illness

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Fat but fit? Photo via flickr.com/photos/twon

Can you be fat but fit? Apparently so, according to several recent pieces of intriguing research. And fitness is what keeps you healthier for longer, regardless of how lean you look… or not. So it really doesn’t matter how you are on the outside, it’s what’s going inside that matters.

Remember, always consult a healthcare professional if you’re intending to start or change an exercise routine. Here at Body Foundation in Paddington our team of osteopaths and sports massage therapists include an ultra-marathon runner and a martial artist, so we know a thing or two about exercise and fitness!

Here’s a link to a piece from the Huffington Post on the latest study to confirm this notion:

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4305622?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009