Monday, 16 December 2013

Homeopathic Winter Warmer

‘Tis the season to be jolly – unfortunately some of us get a little bit too jolly a bit too often during the festive season!!

Our poor livers have to cope with an excess of alcohol, sugar& fats. However by taking a good Milk Thistle herbal supplement daily for the next few weeks we can minimise any damage. For those nights where you really overdo it a few doses of Nux Vomica 30c every 2 hours will set you up again!

As the winter cold sets in we are surrounded by people spluttering,sneezing & coughing and a dose of the cold or flu seems inevitable. At the first signs of feeling run down take Aconite 30 every 2 hours and this might just hold it at bay! If however the shivers & aches set in take Gelsemium 30 every 2 hours. For bad nasal congestion take Kali Bich30 every 2 hours. Drink lots of fluids and take extra Vitamin C & Zinc.

SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is something that can be felt in these dark winter months. We can however trick our bodies into thinking we are getting more sunshine than is available. Light boxes and a natural light waking alarm can both be very helpful. Vitamin D as a supplement can be taken daily & is now made in a convenient spray form. Homeopathic remedies can also help with specific emotional issues.

Have a very wonderful Xmas and a Happy Hogmany!

Laura x

Laura Kenyon is availble for consulation at the Octagon Chiropractic Clinic every Thursday 11 am till 5.30 pm. For more on Laura and Homeopathy in general see our Q and A with Laura here.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Exercise of the month - Inner thigh stretch

This is a great stretch to add to your stretching sequence after a workout. If these inner thigh (adductor) muscles get tight you may feel some tenderness around the medial knee or groin area.

Getting into a good start position is important with all stretches - have both legs straight and wide apart with your toes pointing forwards. Bend one leg forward at the knee (you are stretching the leg that stays straight), as you bend this knee you will go sideways towards the bent leg - as you do this keep your body facing forward and don’t let your pelvis twist around.

You will feel this stretch on the inside of your leg from just above your knee and upwards to your groin.

Always stretch after any physical activity as this helps keeps the muscles lengthened and supple after a workout.

Hazel Dillon is a Chiropractor at The Octagon Chiropractic Clinic

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Introducing Hot Power Yoga

The practice of yoga has long been associated with improved physical and mental health and more and more people are taking up the practice of yoga as a way to de-stress and increase energy. But what happens when the words “power” and “hot” are added to yoga? In this guest blog entry for the Octagon Chiropractic Clinic, Elina and Ari from the newly opened Lumi Power Yoga in Hammersmith share their views about Hot Power Yoga.

At Lumi Power Yoga, we teach Hot Power Yoga aligned with Baptiste Yoga methodology. Each class follows a standard structure with each teacher adding her / his twist to the practice. In a class poses are synchronised with deep breathing, creating a flowing style of yoga that delivers a full body and mind workout. The power element comes from the action of working the muscles (it’s a squeeze!) and breathing in a way that strengthens the body.

Classes take place in a heated studio where the temperature hovers around 32 to 35 degrees. The specially designed ventilation and humidity system will make sure that the heat is pleasant with plenty of fresh air circulating around. The heat allows the body to be more supple and increases joint lubrication and flexibility in the muscles. We find that practicing in a hot studio emphasises the cleansing, rinsing and energising impacts of a yoga practice. And yes, you will sweat!

The practice delivers results in a short amount of time starting from the first class. The yoga poses strengthen and stretch you, the heat rinses out toxins and activates the cardiovascular system, and the breathing oxygenates the body and creates space – the combination creates energy and calm in all areas of your life. Often our students share how the practice has profound impacts on their lives as they break through physical and emotional barriers into more freedom and joy*.

Starting hot power yoga is easy; you don’t need to be flexible, strong, lean or anything but yourself, just the way you are. The only thing you need to do is to turn up, have an open mind and be prepared for physical and mental transformation!

Ari and Elina demonstrate a tandem high plank!

Lumi Power Yoga is the creation of Chiswick residents Ari and Elina Iso-Rautio. You will find Lumi Power Yoga at 121 King Street, W6 9JG-walking distance from the Octagon Clinic! Check the website at for the latest class schedule and workshops.

Octagon Chiropractor Hazel Dillon will be giving a 'Care for Your Back' Workshop at Lumi Power Yoga on Friday the 22nd of November 7.15-8.15 pm where she will be giving advice on how to keep your spine healthy. Hazel will take you through some basic anatomy to help you understand why you may be suffering from pain and discomfort and what you can do to get your body functioning at its best. She'll conclude with some practical tips on posture, movement patterns and some stretches. Lumi yogis will also be on hand to show you how Chiropractic and Yoga can compliment one another to bring about optimum holistic health! The workshop costs £15 and participants are entitled to a discount on their first appointment with Hazel. Click here for more information and to sign up!

*Editors Note: I recently took a class at Lumi and can testify to its benefits! I have tried various classes, styles and teachers of yoga over a period of five or so years and found Elina's class to be one of the most enjoyable and rejuvenating yet. It really resonated with me-Emma Silverthorn Receptionist and Marketing Manager at Octagon Clinic

Friday, 1 November 2013

Hamstring Stretch

Hamstrings - the muscle group at the back of your thigh - are a very important group of muscles to stretch as they attach to the bottom of your pelvis and so have an effect on stabilising your pelvis and back.

If you have short or tight hamstrings it can affect how you walk and run. If you play sport you may find a hamstring strain can easily occur if they are tight.

Children and Teenagers can develop tight hamstrings as their bodies grow - the bones grow 1st and then the muscles need to catch up.

You can see from the picture that the hamstrings attach at the pelvis and then on the leg below the knee - so we need a straight leg to stretch the hamstrings effectively.

There are several ways that you can stretch this muscle group by straightening your leg and bending forward which tips the pelvis.
Chiropractor Rachel Hodson demonstrates the hamstring stretch
The easiest way that I have found to perform a hamstring stretch is to stand with your feet apart with the leg you wish to stretch in front. Bend your back leg at the knee keeping the front leg straight and bending forwards at the hips (see our previous post hip hinge). You can lean back and down at the same time to increase the stretch as if you were going to sit on something behind you.

Hazel Dillon is a Chiropractor at the Octagon Clinic

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Vegan Month-November 2013

November 2013 is World Vegan Month!
 As next month is World Vegan Month it seemed like the apt time to try and dispel some of those pervasive myths asssociated with the diet and those who enjoy it! Vegans do not eat animals or any animal products, the list of what vegans can eat would exceed the limitations of this blog! For an idea of some of the types of food vegans do eat click here. Other common misconceptions include the idea that vegans are phyiscally weak, anaemic and/or calcium and protein deficient, also that we are deprived of chocolate and cake!

Check out PETA's infographic for inspiration on animal-free food sources that are high in iron, calcium and protein. Ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll, named amongst the top 25 of the worlds fittest men, is a good example that counters the myth of vegan fraility! Vegans can eat most dark chocolates, as well as other specialist ones, and it is possible to make many delicous plant-based treats, my favorite for parties and birthdays are rumballs! Whilst living in Melbourne, Australia, in fact a friend and I started a vegan cookie company, and Tinkernicks is still going strong!

Being vegan is an induldgent Western fad is another one I've heard fairly fact veganism existed in ancient India and Greece and is a worldwide phenomenon.

I have been vegan for seven years and vegetarian for twenty-nine, my experience of veganism has been almost wholly positive and I am in good health! I find living in London as a vegan very easy (Mildreds in Soho is an especially good vege/vegan restaurant) but have also been plant-based in the English countryside, as well as in in Australia and on travels across Europe, America and Asia. Mostly this has worked though some countries are more challenging than others and at times I have felt like Elijah Wood in the film Everything Is Illuminated, being presented with nothing more than a plain boiled potato for dinner! Aside from these odd occassions of deprivation the vegan diet is one of abundance.

For some great recipes I love the American website Post Punk Kitchen and by the same chef the cook-book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World! . I have made 99% of the recipes in vege/vegan Australian cook-book Martha Goes Green and would thoroughly recommend it. Rose Elliot's Vegan Feasts is a wonderful British one.

Reasons for going vegan are diverse, for me it was the obvious next step on from being vegetarian and was for compassionate reasons. Some people make the choice due to environmental concerns and others for purported health benefits. Vegan or not hopefully you will enjoy some plant-based feasts next month and beyond!

Emma Silverthorn is a Receptionist and Marketing Manager at the Octagon Clinic

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Exercise of the Month-Figure of Four

This month we are back with a stretch rather an exercise. A lot of patients with lower back and pelvis issues find this stretch really helpful.

It stretches one of the deep muscles in the buttock called the piriformis - sometimes if this muscle is tight it can put some pressure on your sciatic nerve and cause a strange sensation down your leg.


As you can see from the above pictures there are 2 ways that you can do this stretch,

Picture 1 - start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet placed on the floor, bring the leg on the side you wish to stretch across to rest on the knee of the opposite leg, then lift the leg still on the floor towards your chest. You should feel the stretch across your buttock and down the side of your leg.

Picture 2 - this is the best way to do the stretch if you have problems with your sacroiliac joints as this puts less pressure on these joints of the pelvis as you do the stretch. You can also use the technique shown in picture 2 with your bottom leg bent up.

Make sure you keep your back flat to the floor as you do the stretch and don't twist over to the side as this can put some pressure on the lower joints of your back.

Hazel Dillon is a Chiropractor at the Octagon Clinic

Sunday, 15 September 2013


It’s that time of year again when children go back to school and all those lovely weeks of relaxation are forgotten almost instantly.

While at school children are learning large amounts of information, but this comes with a price – a giant textbook, a musical instrument, a laptop. All of these essential school items needing to be carried to and from school each day soon add up to a rather heavy load.
A backpack is a practical way to carry several items although you need to take care not to overload. It has been suggested that the maximum recommended weight for any child to carry in a backpack is 15% of their body weight.

Our body will compensate for any load applied to it over an extended period of time – but an overloaded backpack may lead to:
       Leaning forward to change centre of gravity in order to bear the heavy weight – leading to a reduction in  balance
    Rounding shoulders to try and cope with the weight exerted on them 
               Distortion of the natural curves in the back – which can lead to irritation of joints in the spine and ribcage and strain on muscles

Carrying a backpack on one shoulder or any other type of one shoulder bag can lead to a change in posture as the body tries to even out the weight distribution, the body (and spine) lean to the opposite side of the load – adding extra strain to the mid back, ribs and lower back on one side more than the other, this imbalance in muscles can cause short term back pain.

How to Choose Your Backpack:

    Shoulder straps – straps should be wide and padded – this prevents digging in and discomfort in the shoulder muscles and a more even weight distribution. They should also be easily adjustable so that the bag can be fitted optimally at each wear.
     Waist strap – this can help distribute some of the weight of the backpack more evenly from the shoulders and back to the pelvis.
      Contoured back – this can help the backpack sit better over the curves of the spine and can also allow airflow, helping keep the back cool
      Lightweight material – the lighter the backpack empty the less chance of weight overload
     Internal compartments and straps – this helps an even distribution of load and prevents items from shifting around in transit

Tips on Packing Your Backpack

   Pack heavier items first so that they are lowest and closest to the body
     Evenly distribute the load by filling compartments
     Make sure sharp or bulky items don’t poke into the back
     Adjust the shoulder straps so that the backpack is snug to the body and carried high – don’t carry the backpack low and loose.
    If you need to lean forward when carrying the backpack it is likely too heavy.

All of this information can relate to adults carrying heavy items on their daily commute to work as well – this advice is not just for school children.

If your child has been complaining of back pain or you are concerned about their posture please give us a call on 020 8563 2608 and book your child in for a free back to school back check with Chiropractor Hazel Dillon, these are being held after school on Tuesday 22nd and  Wednesday 23rd October between 4.30 and 6.30 pm, slots are fifteen minutes long. 

Hazel Dillon is a Chiropractor at the Octagon Clinic

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Exercise of the month - Curl Up

The curl up is the best way to perform any type of 'sit up' abdominal exercise - if you do the curl up correctly you will challenge your core muscles whilst imposing minimal compressive load on your spine. You will be placing half the amount of compressive load on your spine from doing a curl up instead of a full sit up

The curl up

Always warm up before doing any core exercises - the cat camel stretch as shown previously on our blog is a great way to warm up - do it slowly with a view to limbering up your spine rather than stretching it out.

When you perform the curl up all the effort needs to come from your abdominal muscles. The muscle you are looking to work is the 'Rectus Abdominus' (muscle labelled 2 and only shown on 1 side of the body) this muscle attaches at the top to your ribs and sternum and goes down attaching at the bottom to your pubic bone - this is the muscle that gives the look of a 6 pack!

When you are performing the curl up focus on squeezing this muscle together from top to bottom to make it shorter - as you do this your shoulders will naturally lift from the floor but the movement should be lead by the shortening of the muscle not by actively lifting up your shoulders. When you get the technique for this exercise correct you will  find it much harder to do. If you feel tension in your shoulders or back then go back to the starting position and try again - keeping your focus on the abdominal muscles doing all the work.

When performing this exercise keep your chin tucked in and when starting out bend your knees as shown in the picture - this helps to keep your back in a neutral position - as you progress on with this exercise you can 1st straighten 1 knee and then both as your abdominal muscles become stronger.

Start by doing 1 set of 6 reps and build up to doing 3 sets of 15 reps.

Enjoy the search for that exclusive 6 pack.

If you are suffering with back pain and would like to come and see us for treatment and advice please get in contact.

Hazel Dillon is a Chiropractor at the Octagon Clinic

Friday, 16 August 2013

Chiropractic Gardening Tips

We know what it's like in the UK with summer - we take what we can get! So when the weather warms up and the plants start to grow everyone dashes outside to do their gardening.

This can be a cause of many emergency visits to the clinic over the spring and summer months as people go straight out into the garden and then spend their whole day gardening. The repetitive motion that your body undergoes during gardening can cause mechanical problems within the body.

Gardening is a great workout for the whole body with all that bending, twisting, lifting and pulling and so it is important to treat gardening as a form of exercise, you need to warm up at the start and cool down afterwards. The back, upper legs, shoulders and wrists are all used a lot when you are gardening so these are good areas to focus on when you warm up and cool down.

Warm up
A warm up is important to stretch and warm up your muscles before you start to use them for manual labour. You can start with the lighter jobs before moving onto the heavier jobs, alternatively you can do a more formal warm up:

  • Side bends                                       
  • Shoulder circles
  • Wrist circles
  • Hamstring stretch          
  • Stretch to the sky       
    Side bend

    Hamstring stretch
Stretch to the sky

Don't throw  yourself into a whole day gardening without many breaks to start with - ease your body gently into this great form of exercise and build up to spending longer in the garden as you get more accustomed to the movement and exercise.

Cool down
At the end of your gardening session it is a good idea to do some gentle stretching again - these can be the same as the ones in the warm up. This can also be a good opportunity, if it is later in the evening, to slowly walk around your garden and water the plants - helping you to slowly cool down after the exercise of gardening without suddenly stopping and sitting down. Hard exercise and then just stopping and staying still can leave you feeling stiff and achy.

Tips for safe happy gardening
  • use easy grip garden tools - so that you don't put excess strain on your hands, wrists and arms from tightly gripping heavy tools.
  • Don't just yank those weeds out of the ground - dig them out. This can help prevent a sudden jarring of your back or shoulder when the weed finally gives.
  • Kneel - don't bend
  • If you do need to bend - bend at your knees and not in your back
  • Alternate your stance and movements as often as possible to keep your muscles and body balanced
  • Vary your activity every 20-30 minutes as well as taking regular breaks.
If you have done your gardening and experience pain afterwards then place an ice pack over the area - this helps reduce inflammation around the area and in turn reduces the pain, (it is also lovely and cooling when the weather is hot). Keep mobile and don't stay in any one position for too long - this will allow your muscles to stiffen which will increase any discomfort you feel when you get up to move.

Hazel Dillon is a Chiropractor at The Octagon Chiropractic Clinic

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Exercise of the Month - Heel Dips and Raises

Achilles Tendonitis can be a real challenge for many athletes and it is important to take steps to prevent or deal with this early so that it does not lead onto something more serious such as an Achilles rupture. 

The Achilles tendon is the tendon at the back of your heel which attaches your calf muscle to your  heel bone. Tendonitis is the term used when a tendon becomes inflammed (itis). Inflammation causes the area around the tendon to become red, hot and swollen and is a product of the bodies healing process which takes place when an injury occurs in the tendon.

There are many reasons a person may suffer with achilles tendonitis and these are often related to overuse - either through increased exercise or postural strains throughout the body.

Whether you already suffer from achilles tendonitis or are interested in prevention then the following exercise has been shown to be beneficial.

 Stand on a step on the balls of your feet with your heels off the back, push your weight through your heels and you will feel a stretch in your calf, you can do this with both feet together (picture 1) or separately (picture 2), from the lowered position then push up on your toes as high as you can (picture 3).

Hazel Dillon is a Chiropractor at the Octagon Clinic

Friday, 12 July 2013

Bicycling Part One-Reasons to ♥ Your Bike!

Welcome to the first part of the Octagon cycling blog. You may already know that we are particularly keen on cycling here at the clinic by the number of bicycles you have to manoeuvre around when you arrive for your appointment. We love cycling for good reason and over the course of these occasional ramblings we hope to inspire you to dig out that bike from the back of the shed and go riding.

As Chiropractors we are often asked what form of exercise we would recommend and indeed there are merits in all forms of exercise. However if we were to look at the cost to benefit ratio, cycling is right up there with walking and swimming. If you can use the bicycle as an alternative to the car it becomes even more attractive.

Chiropractor Rachel Hodson and her bike!

So the benefits.....improving ones core strength. Perhaps not quite as good as Pilates, yoga, or intensive rehabilitation but definitely beneficial. Cardiovascular health and lung function, certainly. Balance and coordination, stamina, joint mobilisation, the list goes on, and if you get to leave the car in the drive way, you get to save the planet too.

OK the objections to getting out on a bike....never learnt to ride one. OK, fair enough but there are some excellent adult beginners classes out there often sponsored by the local council.

'I'll get cold and wet and ruin my hair'. If you wait for good weather in Britain before venturing out you'll spend an awfully long time indoors. The right kit really helps. Quality, lightweight waterproofs are a good start and soon you wont even notice whether it's raining or not. Portland in Oregon is the city with the highest density of cyclists in the world and being in the Pacific Northwest they average 300 days of rain a year. It makes West London feel like the Sahara!

'I'm going to get killed if I go out on the road'. OK this is a more serious issue. The roads out there are dangerous, there is no getting away from that fact, be it in a car, on a bicycle or by any other means, this will almost certainly be the most dangerous thing you do all day, unless perhaps your job involves bomb disposal.

For cyclists there are several ways of reducing the risk. Taking an advanced cycling course will teach you a lot about potential danger and how to avoid it, London also has a vast network of cycle routes which avoid busy roads and as a major capital city we have an enviable amount of green space and canal and river towpaths, much of which is accessible by bicycle! So go on dig that trusty machine out from behind the lawnmower, oil the chain, blow up the tyres and get out there and ride.

Next time: How to choose the right bicycle

Stephen Hughes is a Chiropractor at and founder of the Octagon Clinic

Monday, 1 July 2013

Exercise of the Month - The Lunge

This month we have chosen the Lunge as our exercise of the month. Traditionally we associate the Lunge with 80's fitness instructors on daytime TV encased in spandax!! However the Lunge is not just an 80's fashion throw back but a great exercise for toning buttocks and thighs and also aids stretching of the hip flexors.

When performing a lunge you don't actually want to come forward as the name would suggest but to go downwards. The word lunge describes a sudden movement forward and in the case of this exercise that relates to the step forward you do with your foot as you go into a standard lunge as apposed to a static lunge.

Chiropractor Hazel Dillon demonstrated the lunge
When doing a Lunge it is important to remember that the leg that is taking all the weight is your front leg - this works the buttock and thigh on that side. 

You may find it easier to develop your lungeing technique by starting with a static lunge next to something that you can support yourself with as you go down so you can get the feel of the exercise.

To perform a static lunge start by standing with your legs wide apart one behind the other - make sure your body is straight facing forwards and that you haven't twisted.

Taking the weight on the front leg lower yourself straight downwards (rather than forwards) so that the back leg bends and the knee of your front leg does not go forward of your toes (see picture).

You will feel the tension in your front leg in the thigh and buttock and you can feel a good stretch in the front of the hip on your back leg.

Once you have mastered the technique of the static lunge you can move on to doing a moving lunge - starting with your feet together you take a large step forward and then go downwards (as with the static lunge) before coming back up and pushing yourself off your front foot back to standing with feet together.

If you would like any advice on how to improve the function of your body and how Chiropractic may be of benefit to you, then give us a call on 020 8563 2608 and book a free 15 minute consultation with Hazel.

Hazel Dillon is a Chiropractor at the Octagon Clinic

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Octagon Chiropractic and Podiatry Open Day

We had a very successfull and rewarding open day last Saturday (June 8th) here at the clinic with a great turn out of people. On offer were free spinal and posture checks from Octagon Chiropractors Hazel Dillon and Rachel Hodson and lower limb and gait assesements from Octagon friend, and Lille Road Active Life Podiatrist, John Durkin. For some John suggested getting their foot x-ray-ed for others dry needling and others the possible need for orthotics. Some claimed to have perfect feet!

Active Life Podiatrist John Durkin
Following the checks everyone enjoyed the delicious carrot cake with cream cheese icing and healthy seed topped flapjacks from our favorite local bakery Upsy Daisy.

Additionally we raised £45.00 from voluntary donations for Octagon chosen charity Indigo Touch. The Indigo Touch is a children's charity which offers holistic healthcare for children with special needs, as well as offering treatment to groups of children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Overall we had a great, informative and rejuvenating day and are extremley grateful to John Durkin for joining us at the Octagon. If your feet are in need of some TLC then call John's clinic on 0207 381 6682.

If you'd like to check to see if Chiropractic is right for you call the Octagon clinic 020 8563 2608 for a free consultation and spinal assesment.   

Many thanks to all who attended! 

Emma Silverthorn is a Receptionist at the Octagon Clinic