Posts Tagged ‘back pain’

Training During Pregnancy: Prevent Postpartum Back Pain

Posted on: October 8th, 2018 by Bryce Twyman No Comments

Sarah Barker first started training with Aspen Coaching shortly after the birth of her second child. It was after a taxing pregnancy that she was experiencing a fair amount of postpartum back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain. This was causing a persistent discomfort carrying out the simplest of everyday tasks.

Seeking relief for her pain, Sarah was referred to Aspen through her Osteopath, Robert De Maio, and began training with Aspen’s Emma Robson not long after.

The cause of Sarah’s post-pregnancy pain mainly stemmed from the common imbalances that result after a pregnancy.

After just weeks, Sarah’s pain had diminished, giving her the ability to go about her daily life without the burden of constant discomfort.

Despite solving the problem she had initially set out to address, Sarah proceeded to work closely with both Emma and Rob for the years that would follow; continuing to develop strength, mobility, and a deeper understanding her body.

Sarah had discovered that the positive impact of training with Emma extended well beyond the initial goal of treating her pain, and inadvertently improved other aspects of Sarah’s life too, making these sessions a great companion to the commotion of everyday life (and motherhood!)

 

Training Balance During Pregnancy

Sarah squats while balancing on a rail one week before giving birth.

 

In late 2017, Sarah announced that she was pregnant with her third child!

Among the excitement was an ounce of worry for Sarah. She had expressed her concern about repeating the past. Emma reassured her that as long as they stayed attentive the changes that the body is experiencing during this time, Sarah should be able to avoid the aches and pains that plagued her previously.

This would be achieved by simply maintaining the movement practice that Sarah was already familiar with, primarily focusing on balance and strength; something Sarah had understandably neglected to address throughout her previous two pregnancies.

In addition to Emma’s sessions, Sarah continued to see her Osteopath. Robert would provide Sarah with the manual therapy Osteopaths are known for, including the release of any skeletal and muscular tension that Sarah would potentially experience. Details from these appointments would be communicated to Emma, which in turn would help shape and guide the subsequent movement sessions.

Having built a relationship with West Perth Osteopathy and their practitioners over the years, our ability to work collaboratively with them to ensure a refined and efficient resolve is something Sarah has come to be familiar with throughout the duration of our relationship with her.

As Sarah’s pregnancy progressed, Emma would slowly adapt these now prenatal training sessions to accomodate the changes that Sarah’s body was going through during each particular period; taking into account Sarah’s hormones, sleep, and mood.

 

Prenatal training session at Aspen Coaching

Emma guides Sarah through a series of movements intended to relieve tension during pregnancy.

 

With consistency being of great importance, Sarah attended every one of her sessions up to the very day she gave birth. Just hours after her session on July 24th, she would go into labour, giving birth to Georgia, a healthy baby girl.

Funnily enough, Emma passed a comment to Sarah earlier that day, saying that she was moving a little differently, and making a prediction that she would go into labour that afternoon. Turns out, she was right!

 

It’s all smiles with Sarah and Emma after a training session!

 

“It’s been 2 months since Georgia arrived and my body is still pain free despite the physical demands of having a newborn (not to mention the heavy toddler who wants to be carried around). All the issues I had after the birth of my first two children seem like a distant memory and the pain in my upper back, neck and shoulders has no sign of returning!”

Sarah’s effort to remain consistent with her training meant she need not repeat the aches and pains she had experienced during and after her previous pregnancies. The ability to communicate closely with both Emma and Robert was a perfectly fitting recipe for this scenario.

“Training with Emma not only has my body physically stronger and balanced post-partum, it has also given me the body awareness and the tools I need to counteract the physical strain of constantly being in that forward loaded position that all motherhood duties require.”

Spinal Waves: Ease Back Pain and Alleviate Spinal Tension

Posted on: July 17th, 2018 by Emma Robson No Comments

On Saturday mornings Aspen Coaching run three Physical Exploration classes back-to-back. This triad of classes commences at 8am with the first session focusing on Spinal Mobility and Coordination Patterns. Those of you who have been awake early enough on the Saturday to experience this session will know how frustrating some of the spinal movements can be to interpret and follow due to their complexity, but I can assure you, the value of such movements is priceless.

With these classes lasting only an hour each, I don’t really have time to go into detail about why we teach these movements. I feel that once I elaborate on the purpose of this type of movement training, your understanding of the benefits will ultimately help subdue the frustration.

 

Group doing Spinal Waves against wall

Students use a wall to progress spinal mobility.

 

Why do we neglect the spine?

We can’t function without our spine. Yet many of us under-appreciate it. Why?

We focus on legs, arms, chest, back, heck – at Aspen we spend 5 minutes of every class simply warming up our wrists! Those little joints at the end of our arms get love, but our spine – the joints that hold our entire body together, the channel for our spinal cord, the thing we use every single moment of our life to support our head, brain, and our organs – is taken for granted!

This could be, in part, due to fear. Anyone who has suffered any sort of back-pain will know it’s not fun. We may avoid or simply paralyse particular movements out of fear of hurting ourselves further. Any trauma we may have had in the past will undoubtably create some neurological rigidity.

Such was the case for my mum. A traumatic car crash in her younger years left her with decades of chronic pain in her back, knee, and neck. This caused an underlying fear of moving which ultimately made matters worse.

Another reason we may neglect to care for our spine is because, well… it’s not sexy.

Having freedom in the spine doesn’t feel as impressive as being able to hold a handstand or banging out some chin ups. Therefore it may not be on the radar as something we should be focusing on.

Lastly – and perhaps most commonly – it’s complicated!

We often struggle to coordinate the most basic of movement patterns. Think about learning to squat for the first time, or learning to push up, or marrying the components of a muscle up – learning to coordinate particular areas of the body is tricky.

We will never be as adroit with our spine as we are with our arms and legs, and therefore the process of learning how to move it is very frustrating and complicated.

But given how instrumental our spine is in our daily life, and how common back-pain is, care of the spine shouldn’t be forgone for something sexier.

It’s for this reason that we offer classes that focus on Spinal Mobility. Movements like Spinal Waves reduce tension in tight muscles by gently encouraging movement in areas that have remained rigid for years. Left unchecked, the spinal tension we’re working to dissipate can result in back-pain over time. As they say; prevention is better than cure.

 

Spinal Waves against wall

Emma Blockey demonstrates Spinal Waves to participants during a class.

 

How can we care for our spine?

Caring for our spine doesn’t need to be a daunting task. To simplify the process, I’ve split it into four steps – education, movement, complexity, and environment.

 

Education

Educate yourself on how the body works, and specifically, what your spine is designed for. This will reinstate a sense of trust. Trust that your body is strong, adaptable, and has a natural instinct to move. Know that moving your spine is essential.

 

Movement

When you wanted to improve your shoulder mobility you started with some shoulder exercises. The same needs to happen with the spine.

We start with exercises that encourage movement in basic planes – flexion (Jefferson Curl), extension (leaning back over a roller), and rotation (lying on your side and open the chest toward the roof). These three exercises are the perfect place to start and can easily be done at home every day.

 

Complexity

Come to class and jump in the deep end. It’s not so much about large movements of the spine than it is about varied, small movements in all directions. Add small increments of flexion, extension, side bend, and rotation to all intersections of the vertebrae. Small, precise, varied movements.

 

Environment

I cannot stress enough how important your environment is, not just in terms of spinal health, but every aspect of your body.

Where are you all day? What do you do all day? This, and this alone, will shape your health inside and out. If you spend time locked up indoors, chained to a desk, under florescent lighting, surrounded by WIFI, screens, pollution, while sipping coffee, drinking wine, eating poor quality food, it will not matter how much training you do, this will have more of an impact on your health than anything else.

I understand we all need to work, and if your job includes any of these things I would highly encourage you to look at ways to have regular breaks. Get up, go for a walk, get some fresh air, leave your phone behind, look up, smile at people. When you get home, sit on the floor to eat dinner, go find a park and hang on some monkey bars, mix up your day, get an early night, don’t turn on your TV for a week. Mix up your to daily routine and get your body moving frequently.

Frequent and consistent effort will outdo intensity. There are opportunities to move more everyday, we just need to look through a different lens.

Overcoming Chronic Pain: Treating The Results Of A Horrific Car Crash

Posted on: July 15th, 2018 by Bryce Twyman No Comments

At the age of just 17, Sandy Blockey was involved in a serious car accident that saw her sustain a plethora of serious injuries – primarily on the left side of her body. The impact of the crash shattered the lower region of her left leg, an issue that – to this day – never healed completely.

As a result, Sandy had been living with unexplained Chronic Hip Pain, Chronic Back Pain, and Chronic Knee Pain, all of which surfaced in her late twenties. To make matters worse, Sandy was told that this accident had triggered early onset arthritis.

“I spent countless hours and a lot of money searching for answers and relief. I started in the usual place, with Doctors, Chiropractors, and Physiotherapists. I participated in Pilates and went to all the referrals I was recommended, including seeing Bone Specialists and Rheumatologists. I’ve had X-Rays, MRI’s, Dry Needling, Blood Tests, and Cat Scans, all in search of some answers to my pain.”

This seemingly endless search yielded no relief for Sandy. The only concrete answer she was given was that her chronic joint pain was caused by the accident, and that it was also responsible for her early onset arthritis.

By this point, Sandy had accepted the severe discomfort as a normal part of her life, often bed-bound for days and relying on the band-aid solution of hard pain-killers as a means of managing the chronic pain and intense migraines.

As her condition worsened, she decided to leave her job and focus entirely on regaining her health and improving her wellbeing.

Yet another MRI on Sandy’s knee showed the extent of the problem. A Bakers Cyst, Ganglion Cyst, Tibial Spurs, Lack of Cartilage, and the thickening of tendons all making contributions to her knee pain. She was informed by a physiotherapist that the only option was to undergo cortisone injections until she felt she could no longer endure the pain, at which point she would be given a complete knee replacement.

At around the same time, Sandy began working closely with Emma and informed her of the MRI results and the direction in which she was headed.

Uncomfortable with her mother going under the knife, and confident she could help, Emma requested 8 weeks to make a difference. If she was unable to alleviate Sandy’s pain, she could go through with the operation.

With her options few and far between, Sandy was open to the suggestion.

Emma provided Sandy with a tailored training program. Sandy would follow this personalised program religiously every single day for the following 8 weeks. This program was complimented by a couple of private sessions each week where they would meet and exchange valuable feedback. These sessions would reinforce the importance of the movements, and how integral it was to be consistent with them in order to expose potential relief to her chronic pain.

In just 8 weeks, Sandy experienced promising results. So promising, in fact, that she would continue following the program for another 6 months.

“Those 8 weeks are now well behind me and I have progressed leaps and bounds above what I ever imagined possible. I was only searching for some relief but never thought I would regain my movement ability.”

“It was not an overnight fix, and I can tell you now it meant doing the work every single day, but after years of spending money and being on medications I was willing to do anything. I am now in control of how I feel and have been completely medication free for 4 years. My migraines have gone, and when my hip joint pain does flare up occasionally I now know how to alleviate it and fix it without dangerous medication. As for my knee, a replacement isn’t even on the radar, and I can run, squat, lunge, handstand, climb, play, and more. I feel confident joining in with the classes at my facility and I know how to make my body and mind feel good day–to-day.”

In addition to her movement practice, Sandy has overhauled her diet, learning a lot about feeding the body, fighting inflammation, and avoiding toxins.

“With all the specialists I had seen, no-one once spoke to me about the role nutrition can have in combating the arthritis and chronic joint pain.”

Today, armed with a deep understanding of her own body, Sandy continues to work privately and in small groups with Emma to maintain her health, and challenge the limitations she’s placed on herself over the years.

“I can honestly say that none of this would have been possible without the knowledge I have had passed onto me through my training with Emma. I am 52 years old and feel better than I did at 30.”