Thursday, 26 March 2015

Exercise of the month - Chest Stretch

Following on from the shoulder stretches last month we are staying in the same area and looking at chest stretches - if you are having shoulder pain it can be important to stretch out through the chest as well; as tension in the chest muscles - the pectorals - can cause the shoulders to roll forward.

The pectoral muscles, or pecs as they are commonly known, are the large muscles of the chest which we would associate with doing press-ups.

An easy way to stretch this muscle is with the help of a door frame - you want to place your elbow against the door frame so it is level with your shoulder (picture 1 below) - then take a step forward with the leg which is closest to the wall and as your body moves forward you should feel the stretch in the chest, if you feel the stretch more in your arm than your chest you may be twisting your body to compensate for the step forward so make sure as you step forward you keep your torso straight. 

Picture 2 shows how to stretch the smaller pectoral muscle which is underneath the larger one (as seen in the muscle picture above) - this is the Pectoralis Minor, to stretch it you need to lift your elbow slightly higher than your shoulder and then repeat the stretch as before.

Picture 1
Picture 2

If you feel a stretch in the Pectoralis as soon as you place your arm against the door frame then you don't need to take the step forward, just feel the stretch at the start point, as the muscle loosens you will be able to stretch further.

Happy Stretching and we'll be back next month with another stretch or exercise for you all to try out. If you would like to visit the clinic and find out how Chiropractic could help you then you can book a free 15 consultation by calling 02085632608 or via email;

Hazel is a Chiropractor at The Octagon Chiropractic Clinic

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

I Quit Sugar! ...and this was my experience... Part 1

First of all what is this madness (!) and why?

So I first got interested in quitting sugar when I read a book called 'Anti-Cancer A New Way of Life' by David Servan-Schreiber. In this book he talks about how we can make our bodies as uninhabitable a place as possible for cancer.

To over-simplify, he talks about how cancer feeds on sugar and how sugar increases the acidity levels in our bodies - not a good thing. More on this book here. I highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with cancer, in fact, just anyone. 

There is also a history of diabetes on one side of my family and I just knew for myself that I was quite sensitive to sugar. If I ate too much or particularly had it with coffee (latte and chocolate - perfect combo!) I could get quite jittery, dizzy and light-headed.

Some time after reading the anti-cancer book a friend told me she had started Sarah Wilson's 8 week plan - aptly named 'I Quit Sugar'. I was astounded. How could anyone ever possibly consider not having even a bit of sugar for the rest of their life?! Well it turns out the plan wasn't that severe but was created to help you break your sugar addiction and find your body's balanced 'blank state'. Let's face it, sugar is so addictive, if you eat it every day you're probably addicted and for me I wanted to see if I could rid myself of that.

I made a note each week of how I felt and here's my journey through..

Week 1 (started January 5th)
This first week is about reducing sugar intake so that when you go cold turkey it isn't such a shock to the system and the withdrawals won't be so bad. I'm over half way through the week and so far so good - only a few days in but each one feels like a triumph! Without doing this plan I would be on mission to reduce my sugar intake anyway after consuming my own body weight in Christmas food over the holidays. Speaking of which this reminds of how ill I felt on a couple of occasions over Christmas from eating too much rich and sugary food and has fired up my motivation to see this plan through.

The only refined sugar I had this week was a couple of biscuits (left over clinic xmas gifts!), salad cream (which I didn't previously know was full of sugar - damnit) and some fruit.

I was umming and ahhing about whether to cut out fruit completely but for me I agree with Sarah Wilson on this one, that for the purpose of this experiment it has to be all or nothing, if only for a few weeks - just psychologically for me that's easier and clearer. There's no blurred lines to cross. Simple.
Discoveries this week: Tackling one thing at a time. I am not trying to overhaul my diet completely, I don't eat very badly anyway, but it is so much simpler when you crave something bad that, yes I can eat a bag of crisps, or replace a sugar craving with a piece of cheese and know that I can deal with other not-so-healthy food choices further down the line. I'm not even stressing about exercising loads at the minute either. Just as and when it suits. I'm making sugar-free my priority for now and getting on with my life.

Week 2 
Passed without too much event, other than a moment where my husband was happily tucking into a bar of chocolate after we'd been out for a meal (serious sugar craving time for me) and I felt an incredible urge to snatch it and his hand off! A momentary thing. Interesting though to see how psychological and habitual sugar is for me and how strong the cravings can be! 
Discoveries: I had a couple of other strong cravings this week so devised ways to distract myself. Making a herbal tea (peppermint's a good one - leaves the same feeling as when you don't want to eat after brushing your teeth). If it was really bad I'd make an avocado and cacao smoothie (recipe below), which is lovely and nutritious but I am trying to break the go-to-chocolate connection so I've avoided this if possible. Another tactic was just to acknowledge it, do something else and wait for it to pass (which it normally would in a bout 20 minutes).

So far not too grueling. Check out Part 2 of this blog for how I got on in weeks 3-5 (when the withdrawals and detox are supposed to happen - oh oh!)

Some food for thought...

Sugar-free Chocolate smoothie
Blend all ingredients until smooth:
1/2 Avocado
1 tbsp of Raw Cacao Powder
200ml unsweetened Almond Milk
1 tsp of Stevia or 1 tbsp Brown Rice Syrup (to taste)
1-2 tbsp Chia Seeds (optional - for a thicker consistency)

Tip: in summer swap a little almond milk out for a handful of ice cubes for an ice-cream, choccie slush!

Ruth Worth, Clinic Manager