The power of positive thought through injury

Lady receiving treatment for an injured ankle
Injuries can occur at any time

It’s awful being injured isn’t it?  Seeing all your friends off doing the activity that you all love whilst you’re stuck at home.  Seeing their sporting successes pasted all over social media (Oh, we all do it!) and the longer the injury goes on the worse everything seems to get.

Are you aware that chronic injury-related pain could be influenced by psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and stress?  Let’s look at that in more detail and find something that we can do about it.

Chronic pain is an acute and/or intermittent pain that persists for more than three months duration and has become a major health problem due to the high number of people affected. Apart from individual suffering, chronic pain is the cause of many social and financial pressures on society.

The causes of musculoskeletal chronic pain vary and are in several patients unknown. Some of the most common causes reported are injuries related to traffic accidents (whiplash), falls, or sports injuries. Chronic injury-related pain may be influenced by different physical and emotional factors that also affect daily life. During the last decade, attention has been paid to psychological factors such as depressive symptoms, anxiety, and negatively coloured cognitions that could be associated with future impairments.

In the athlete, this can manifest itself as fears of returning to the sport,  fear of letting down themselves or their teammates and fear of the injury reoccurring.  Thus, a vicious spiral ensues.

In terms of soft tissue therapy, there is much anecdotal evidence to show that the soft tissue tension is influenced by the emotions as much as the training and so injured athletes in effect risk prolonging their injury with their own negative emotions.

What can we do?

Goal setting is one of the easiest places to start.   The athlete should set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time measurable) events appropriate to their training goals and the expected injury recovery progress.

It is important that the goals should self-determined by the athlete so that the athlete has  ownership  and adheres to it. Effective goal setting during rehabilitation should include making different levels of goals relating to overall recovery and beyond (long term), stage of healing goals (medium term) and day-to-day aims and objectives (short term).  The simple task of  ‘ticking things off the list’ when the goals have been achieved and to look back and see the progress made  helps the athlete create a more positive frame of mind.

Mindfulness techniques are also useful.  Being able to decipher what it is that we can control and letting go of what is beyond our control is for centuries been used to create a calm environment. Headspace do a great free app for your phone that will get you started and teach you the techniques.

Sports Massage ‘Lite’ offer – just £20

If you made it your New Year’s resolution to go to the gym for the first time and you’ve been working really hard to keep it, it’s about this time of the year when you’re feeling pretty sore and your motivation begins to wain. Fear not – as I’m here to help.
If you’ve never had any kind of sports massage and therefore don’t know how good it feels and how it can help you recover after your training session then I’m offering you the chance to try it out!

A Sports Massage ‘Lite’ appointment is 30 minutes long and costs just £20!

Woman exhausted on the treadmill
Is this you at the gym?

You can choose to focus on either your legs or back/shoulders – whichever you’ve been working on. This isn’t for those who have an issue that they would like looked at – for that you’ll need to book a full Initial Assessment. But if you want to try out a general flush and loosening then this is a great opportunity. Appointments are available both day and evening (subject to availability) and if you decide you like it – you’ll get 10% discount off the price of a full Initial Assessment appointment too!

Terms and Conditions
1: New customers only
2: Only 1 Sports Massage Lite appointment per customer
3: These are a general taster session and won’t treat any specific problem.
4: Offer runs until 8th Feb 2019

Jaw Tension

We’ve all seen people who display jaw tension by clenching their teeth, sticking out their tongue or biting their lip when their trying really hard at something. If you recognise that’s you when you’re exercising then it usually means that you’re lacking a bit of control.  Yes, we read them as signs that we’re concentrating but they can also reveal a lack stability that you’re trying to overcome. These appear when we’re not using our stability mechanisms correctly. 

As my lovely clients will hear me say regularly, “Everything’s connected” and so fixing the face and jaw has a knock on effect throughout the body. The shoulders and neck tighten, the upper limbs lose their range of movement and the rib cage is so tight that it can affect breathing patterns. It’s like trying to exercise which wearing a suit of armour!   In practice you can see that performance can be affected quite a lot. 

So just relax the face yes?

Well, as with everything it sounds easy, but the reality is often not quite so simple. As mentioned at the beginning, the act of face fixing can be a coping and enabling strategy allowing you to perform an exercise at a level higher than your body is actually capable of.  By taking away the tension and keeping a soft mouth and jaw, you may find that you struggle to perform the exercise at the same level. However, stick with it as you’re now having a better base on which to build your performance in order to take you to the next level.  

Help! What can I do?

If you’re struggling with letting go, a simple exercise you might try when you feel you’re fixing your jaw is to take a deep breath and upon letting it out, allow the jaw to drop and the mouth to open. Take a couple more breaths in this position and then close the mouth again.  Take another deep breath and again let the jaw drop and this time, you should find that it drops to a lower position than previously. Keep repeating until you feel the tension has gone.

The benefits of a relaxed face are numerous. Runners should be able to gain a better stride length, Lifters and Tennis Players should have better shoulder range, Desk Jockeys may find that their headaches reduce and everyone should be able to get more air into their lungs as the rib cage is allowed to expand wider.

Go on – try it and let me know how you get on at @recoverKerry 

Thanks to @JEMSMOVEMENT and Susan Findlay ( from NLSSM.  

Plantar Fasciitis for Runners

Runners often suffer from Plantar Fasciitis which affects the sole of the foot and the heel.

Those poor feet! Every time you take a step, the tissues in the feet must absorb forces several times your body weight. It’s no wonder that sometimes the system breaks downs. 

The Plantar Fascia is a thick elastic band of tissue that stretches from the heel to the base of the toes but don’t forget mantra #1 ‘everything’s connected’, so works with the fascia of the back line to store and return energy making us springy. 

PF tends to produce pain during the push off phase whilst running as, due to its powerful attachment, part of it’s job is to stabilise the forefoot during the large forces produced during this part of the stride. 

Recent research has shown that it’s actually more of a tendinopathy (rather than a tendinitis) where there is a degenerative process involved including collagen breakdown, hence why you may hear of it called Plantar Fasciopathy. 

The symptoms can include:
A sharp stabbing pain or deep ache in the arch of your foot or in the middle of the bottom of your heel

Stiffness or pain first thing in the morning that tends to lesson with a few steps but worsen as the day progresses.

Pain that worsens when climbing stairs or standing on one’s toes.

It can be  caused by a variety of factors such as over-training, performing repeated hill workouts or speed work, wearing unsupportive shoes or a general lack of foot strength. 
It can also be triggered by bio-mechanical factors such as fallen arches, pronation or tension held further up the facial chain. 


Unfortunately it’s one of those conditions that niggle around for a number of months (3-6 typically but possibly longer if you’re on your feet for long periods or lifting heavy objects.)

So how do we improve things?   Somethings you can do yourself are:

Try gently mobilising the fascia by rolling your foot over a hard ball is an easy win as it can be performed whilst sitting in front of the TV! Or manually pulling your toes back especially first thing in the morning may help. 
Continue to mobilise the ankle (and therefore the Achilles tendon) and calf frequently by drawing circles in the air with your toes.

Then it’s time to bring in the professionals. 
Have your shoes checked by a specialist running shop to ensure they are offering the correct support. 

Seek treatment from a therapist to assist you in reducing the tension along the whole of the back facial line (including hamstring length, lower back and right up to the shoulders and neck.)

To stop it reoccurring, make sure you run on a variety of surfaces and look to strengthen the muscles your foot. Keep as much range within the hips as possible and avoid continual low back pain. A therapist can help with all of these but do keep moving!  

Extracts taken from Co-Kinetic Advice Handout July 2018