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There are many reasons why we can feel tight and closed in the area of our heart:  the chest to the front and the mid (thoracic) spine at the back of our bodies.  On a structural level, poor posture caused by too many hours spent slumped in front of a computer will round the upper back, draw the shoulders forwards and collapse the chest.  In this position is it impossible to breathe properly and allow our lungs to function optimally.  If left uncorrected, eventually the soft tissues around the ribcage will become tight, making proper breathing even more difficult.

In yoga, the term heart centre relates not to the physical beating heart, but to the place in the centre of our chest that is home to emotion and feelings.  When we look at a closed heart centre from a psychosomatic  perspective, it is common to see this rounding forwards of the shoulders  when a person is in self-protection mode, as this creates ‘armour’ around the heart region.  If this pattern of holding the physical body becomes chronic, it can be hard to shift these feelings of wanting to protect ourselves unless we learn to break down this rigid armour. 

Yoga postures that open the heart and chest area include shoulder and chest opening stretches, spinal twists and spinal extensions (back bends).   Here are a few simple ways to undo tension in this area, making way to better breathing, improved posture and an open, receptive heart:

Conscious deep breathing

Sit in comfortably in a chair with your spine upright, shoulders relaxed and the back of your neck long.  Alternatively, lie yourself down placing support under your head if you need to.

Close your eyes and become aware of your breathing.  Notice if your breath is high in your chest; is there any movement in your ribcage or abdomen?  Is the breath irregular or shallow? 

Now place a hand on your upper abdomen, between the navel and the sternum.  Breathe slowly into your abdomen so that as you inhale, you feel the hand rising and as you exhale the abdomen softens.   Remain here for several deep breaths.

Now place each hand on the lower portion of your side ribs and encourage your breath to expand the ribcage sideways into your hands on the inhalation, and allow the ribcage to soften again on your exhalation.  Perhaps you can also feel your breath in your lower back ribs.  Remain here for several deep breaths.

Bring one hand to rest lightly on your upper chest underneath your collarbones and practice deep breathing into the upper chest, feeling the breath expanding and releasing this area.  Take several deep breaths.

Then rest your arms by your sides and recreate this feeling of expanding the upper abdomen, ribcage and chest with each inhalation.  Allow a feeling of releasing and softening on the exhalation.  Try to remain aware of each inhalation and exhalation.  

After a few minutes, relax.  Allow your breath to become natural and spontaneous, noticing if there is a change in the rhythm and depth of your breath from before you began this conscious breathing exercise.  Notice if you feel more calm and relaxed.

Note:  Always breathe in and out through your nostrils.  Never force or strain your breath.  It may take some time before you can fully expand your ribcage and chest, but with practice it will become easier.

Benefits:  conscious and correct breathing is one of the most important practices for good health and managing stress levels.  Your respiratory muscles will be fully utilised, undoing areas of chronic tension and rigidity in the thoracic area. 

Simple supported chest opener

Roll up a towel or blanket into a cylinder shape and place across your yoga mat or on the floor.  Lie down on your back so that the support is positioned underneath your shoulder blades.    

You may need to experiment with the thickness of your support – if you are very tight in your chest and upper back then you need a slimmer support to begin with.  You should feel that your chest is gently expanding.  Check that your neck feels comfortable; you may also need to place some support underneath your head.  Find a comfortable position for your arms.

Relax and close your eyes.  As you rest here, breathe deeply and notice how your heart area feels expanded, open and light.

Stay for at least 3 minutes.

Benefits:   A restorative way to correct poor posture of rounding the upper body forwards.   The effect is gently uplifting and refreshing.

Written by Ginny Haswell, Yoga Instructor

You can find Ginny on the Coast website as well as her own personal site www.one-yoga.co.uk

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February sees Cupid draw back his bow and shoot an arrow straight through the heart, or so the song goes. Love is intrinsically good for us and good for our hearts. It is one of the things that make us human. You could even say consciousness is love, or love is a large part of consciousness; love of sweethearts, love of family, love of friends, love of what we do, love of being alive, and of course love of the self.

 

 

In Chinese medicine joy is the emotion of the heart, and the spirit (or shen) is said to reside in the heart. This aspect of spirit refers to emotional intelligence, or the intuitive feeling part of consciousness which is stored in the heart. So often we treat the heart and pericardium channels in acupuncture to affect problems with the spirit or mind.

 

Problems such as depression, panic attacks, forgetfulness, anxiety, palpitations and insomnia, all show that the heart organ, or the fire element is out of balance.

 

Insomnia is a very common problem people seek acupuncture for and is a classic sign the heart energy is not settled. In Chinese medicine the shen is said to be anchored by the yin of the material blood. i.e. when you fall asleep there is enough blood to pull down and ground the spinning yang activity of the mind and produce that delicious moment where you fall asleep. When there is a lack of heart blood, the thoughts continue to spin around and around for hours, or one falls asleep but for an insufficient time and the shen pops awake again at 3 in the morning bright as a button. Heat can also be involved in agitating the shen or depleting the yin (fluids and blood) and contributing to insomnia.

 

So treating the heart is often key to insomnia and most problems where we feel too much or too little. The heart is known as the Emperor in Chinese medicine because it is where the spirit resides. It is through our spirit that we perceive ourselves and others and interact with the world around us.

 

So if my heart is happy, I love myself and my experience of life is better.

 

So more love the better right? Why not take the next 30 seconds out to complete this life changing exercise! It’s simple and free and nobody will know you are doing it so you won’t feel silly! Just close your eyes (after you`ve read this) sink your awareness down inside your chest, midway between the breast bone and spine and just become aware of your breath. Just focus on the rising and falling of the chest and relax. Then, when you’re ready, just look down with your mind’s eye and smile. Not with your mouth but just with the same feeling a smile would create. An inner smile. Smile at your heart and feel good. Now you have connected to your heart energy feel free to affirm anything you want. Don’t forget to say I Love you, it is Valentine’s Day soon after all!

Written by Jeremy Marshall, Acupuncturist

Out of all the muscles in your body, the hardest working of all is your heart. It beats around 70 times per minute which is about 100, 000 time per day as it continuously pumps blood around your body delivering oxygen and other essential nutrients to your organs and tissues. It also helps remove waste products so your body can function properly.

How exactly does your heart work?

Your heart consists of four chambers and operates as a double pump. Deoxygenated blood is returned to the right side of the heart via the venous system where it first enters the right atrium and then the right ventricle, which in turn pumps blood to the lungs via the pulmonary arteries.

 

On reaching the lungs, a process known as gaseous exchange occurs where carbon dioxide is removed from the blood and replaced with fresh oxygen. This newly oxygenated blood returns to the left side of the heart via the pulmonary veins and passes through the left atrium into the left ventricle from where it is pumped into the aorta. This artery then divides into smaller and smaller branches so blood reaches every part of your body.

 

To have good cardiovascular health, both your heart and your blood vessels need to work efficiently.

 

As any plumber would tell you, plumbing has a tendency to go wrong over time. Pipes fur up, spring a leak, get blocked and can, in the worse case scenario, lead to expensive boiler problems!

 

Frankly, many parallels can be drawn between this and your cardiovascular health, which also needs regular maintenance and annual check ups. As we get older our arteries can also fur up and narrow leading to high blood pressure. This puts more stress on the heart and makes the vascular system more prone to damage increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. So is there anything that you can do to prevent this happening?

 

There are certain things about you and your lifestyle that can increase your chances of developing heart problems. These are called risk factors, which can be divided into two groups – those you can do something about and those you can’t.

 

The risk factors that you can’t change include having a family history of cardiovascular disease, your ethic background and your age.

The good news, however, is that there are lots of ways of reducing this risk. Prevention really is the key and by making some lifestyle changes now you can help keep your heart healthy. Here are some ways that you can start to do this.

 

By eating a healthier diet

A healthy diet can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease and stop you gaining weight – reducing your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. A good diet should include plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish and pulses and restricted salt, sugar and fat intake.

 

By getting up and moving

Regular exercise will not only help your heart but has many other health benefits. It will give you more energy, relieve stress and help make you more supple and protect against osteoporosis.

 

By giving up smoking and limiting the booze

Stopping smoking can significantly reduce the risk of having a heart attack and has huge health benefits as can reducing your alcohol intake to within the recommended daily allowances (or below).

 

By de-stressing

While stress is not a direct risk factor, it is possible that it may contribute depending on your coping mechanism. For example, when you are stressed you may be more likely to smoke, over eat or drink more – all of which can increase your risk of heart disease.

 

By being aware of the dangers of having high blood pressure

High blood pressure is often referred to as the silent killer as many people who suffer from this condition may not have any symptoms. One way to find out if you are at risk is to have your blood pressure taken regularly.

 

As February is the month of lurve, we are offering FREE cardiovascular checks.  

Not sure what your blood pressure is, why not book an appointment and come in and have it checked.

If you want advice on how to start making some lifestyle changes, we can help with that too.

 

You can also follow us on Facebook. Each day this month we will be posting tips on how to improve your cardiovascular health so we can help you keep your heart healthy!

Wriiten by Anne Marie Margetson, Osteopath.

Craetegus was regarded as a valuable heart remedy as far back as the Middle Ages. The Hawthorn was considered sacred in early times and believed to furnish the Crown of Thorns. Legend has it that between 30-63 AD Joseph of Aramathea came to England and planted his hawthorn staff in Glastonbury soil.

Hawthorn’s therapeutic actions come from the berries, flowers and leaves. The plant constituents are considered valuable as a remedy for those with circulatory and cardiac problems, improving blood flow to the vital organs. By dilating vessels, Hawthorn decreases blood vessel resistance and lowers blood pressure. In addition, by improving oxygen utilization the heart is more effective.

Homeopathic remedies are prescribed on the principal that ‘like cures like’, in a tiny dilution. Craetegus is a well established Homeopathic remedy used for a multitude of heart conditions.  If your symptoms fit with the symptoms of Crataegus, then it may be of benefit.

The uses for Craetegus include the following symptoms: general heart weakness, bouts of anxiety that result in a weak feeling of the heart (a sinking heart), symptoms of angina pectoris, hypertension (high blood pressure) and also hypotension (low blood pressure), pain under left scapula, and insomnia. A low potency such as 3x or 6x can be taken to maintain a regular heart action and remove associated symptoms.

Craetegus is also used for serious heart disorders and has been found to be of specific use for post stroke and heart attack conditions regulating the heart and strengthening its muscle. However this would be best prescribed with the support of your homeopath or health professional.

Where to buy Homeopathic remedies – Homeopathic remedies can be bought from healthfood shops, chemists or pop into the clinic.

Homeopathic remedies are often used as self-help for simple conditions, however for more serious complaints a homeopath, GP or health professional should be consulted before using homeopathic medicines.

Written by Sarah Allenby-Byrne, Homeopath

The United Kingdom, as a whole, is becoming more obese and therefore more at risk to fatal illness. That may sound like a harsh message, but it is the undeniable truth with statistic after statistic supporting such claims. It has been reported that HALF (50%) of men could well be obese by 2030 if the current trend continues (NHS, 2012). It has become such a stark realization, that there are many calls for governments around the world to make immediate and dramatic policy change to reverse a pandemic of obesity (The Guardian). But this goes deeper than just the man or woman on the street. There is a need to change the attitude and education right down to the children that are around right now, as this is where the problems are developing into real concerns. It has got to the point where, this generation of children, maybe the ones that have shorter life expectancies than their parents.

 

The Harsh Truth!

  1.     One out of 6 children under 14 yrs can’t swim
  2.     One in 10 children can’t ride a bike
  3.     33% have never owned a bike
  4.     79% have owned a games console
  5.     One in 4 have never run more than 400m

 

One study assessed 315 ten year olds in 1998 and 309 10 year olds in 2008. A total of 5% of the 1998 group could not hold their weight when hanging from a bar. In 2008 this had doubled to 10%. During the same period of time, arm strength fell by 26%, grip strength by 7% and functional sit up by 27% (Sandercock et al., 2011).

 

The average CV fitness level is declining in the UK at a rate of DOUBLE the global figure. These figures are collated from a study that used 600 ten year olds over a 10-year period!!

  •         Boys – 7% drop
  •         Girls – 9% drop
  •         Equivalent to 0.8% per year
  •         World predicted figure 0.4%

Research shows that young people spend an average of (Dunford, 2010):

  •         1.7 hours online per day
  •         1.5 hours playing games consoles per day
  •         2.7 hours watching TV per day

This ‘X-box’ generation are suffering, not only in the short-term with diseases such as rickets becoming more common, but their entire lives are becoming at risk to disease, poorer quality of life due to posture issues and an over all reduced quality of life.

Further to that, our sporting achievements as a nation are also at risk due to basic, fundamental movement literacy and skills such as running, jumping, throwing, kicking, catching and striking not being performed enough. These basic skills underpin any high performance development programme. Without these in place, the next Olympic Champion is going to be hard to come by with a GBR vest on.

The Truths

  1.     You can’t exercise your way out of an unhealthy diet
  2.     You can’t diet out of an unhealthy lifestyle

You CAN’T transform yourself:

  •         In 3 minutes a day with no sweat
  •         By making new years resolutions
  •         By substituting ‘Lite’ for real
  •         By exercising your ‘problem areas’
  •         By joining a club
  •         By dieting
  •         By paying the exercise guru

Research shows 

  •         Research has discovered a link between computer use in children and chronic musculoskeletal strain
  •        A rapid increase in computer use by children has exceeded the development of knowledge about the complications for the health of children.
  •         The more children use games consoles and revert to texting, the greater the incidence of joint pain (Yaziki, New York Hospital for Joint Diseases)

The positives of exercise

  •         Children taking part in 5 hours of vigorous physical activity a week had stronger academic performance in math, English, natural sciences and French than children with only 2 hours of physical activity per week!!!!
  •         Children taking part in dance activities improved their reading skills by 13 % over 6 months. This was compared to sedentary peers, who showed a 2% decrease.
  •         Children who spend an extra hour a day exercising, did better on exams than students who didn’t exercise.

Recommendations

The department of health (UK, 2004) recommends that children and young people should achieve:

  1.     A total of AT LEAST 60 minutes of AT LEAST moderate intensity each and every day.
  2.    It’s the attitude and desire to change that promotes a permanent change to lifestyle.
  3.     You have to WANT IT!
  4.     It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet or new regime that can begin to turn these statistics around.
  5.     Anyone can achieve, you just have to have the mental toughness to begin that change.

Wriiten by  Richard Husseiny

Richard Husseiny is a fully qualified and experienced Sports Therapist and Strength and Conditioning Coach, and he has extensive experience in youth athletic development. Encompassed in that is the skill to identify movement deficiencies, that can lead to not only athletic limitations, but also lead to a potentially reduced quality of life.  Richards work has helped athletes at all levels – from youth sports to the professional and Olympic ranks – achieve their highest levels of performance in a variety of sports.

Richard is strength and conditioning coach for the English Institute of Sport, working with the Olympic diving squad in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic games as well as being right on your door stop, here at Coast. Why not take advantage of his skill and expertise while you can.

What can we do at Coast?

Our approach at Coast, not only covers the physical symptoms of your pain or dysfunction, but also aids in the change of lifestyle needed to improve your quality of life. However, the only person that can make that change is you. Make the most of the opportunities that are around you, such as those at Coast. Change can only begin if you want it to. We are here to help you in your goals whatever they may be.

Feeling sluggish after all the Xmas holiday over endulgence? Why not give your system a re-boot for the new year! Boost your circulation with a massage!

 

How does massage work?

In order for the body to work efficiently it needs a good supply of blood. Blood delivers everything required by the cells for their growth, repair and nutrition.

 

If the cells have suffered from inflammation or any tissue damage, waste material is created. Waste is also created when the body produces energy e.g. lactic acid, therefore, the body requires an effective waste disposal system. Both nutrition provision & waste removal are involved in the healing process and are vital to the healthy function of cells. Massage assists this process.

 

There are various different types of massage techniques e.g effleurage, petrissage, friction, soft tissue & neuromuscular technique etc. to name but a few. In particular the stroking massage techniques such as “effleurage” act like a pumping system which help to stimulate the circulation of blood. Fresh blood brings fresh nutrients which are absorbed by the muscle fibre cells, whilst at the same time also removing waste from the cells.

 

When pressure is applied with long sweeping massage strokes towards the heart, the blood is pushed up along the vein, a vacuum is created behind the vein and this space immediately becomes filled by fresh blood from the arteries.

Re-boot with a massage

In order to allow the absorption and filtration of nutrients and waste, it is important that the blood vessel walls are soft and pliable. The pumping action of massage strokes forces blood through the arterioles and capillaries, this stretches the walls of the blood vessels and this in turn can assist in increasing their size, capacity and function.  

Massage not only has a positive effect on local tissues it also boosts the circulatory system as a whole, this in turn helps to improve the health and recovery of most of the other systems of the body.

 

In summary, by boosting the circulation massage plays a very important role in keeping the cells throughout the entire body healthy and functional.   (ref: sport & remedial massage therapy, mel cash, 1996)

Written by Jeanette Mahoney – massage therapist, ba (hons) lcm lssm ocm thai (dip) btec higher sports dip.

 

Watch out for the further benefits of massage Part II explained in the next Coast newsletter!

 

A variety of massage treatments are available at Coast clinic from Monday-Saturday with Amanda, Elke, Jeanette & Richard.

 

Now the positive effects on the circulation have been explained why not start the  New Year with a new health regime boosting your system with regular massage treatments. Can you dedicate 30 minutes out of your weekly schedule for a healthier YOU! If the answer is YES!!! then take advantage of Coasts special MASSAGE TRIO OFFER!!! running throughout February 2012.

MASSAGE TRIO OFFER

(valid until 28/02/12)

3x  30 minute massages for £60

 

choose 3 treatments from the following:

deep-tissue / sports / chair

reflexology / therapeutic

 

massage trio gift vouchers available

 

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