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