AND relax!

And relax

Are you a twitcher?! Read on to find out!

twitch

Are you a twitcher?!!

I don’t mean do you carry round a set of binoculars and some bird seed!

 It’s more to do with your muscles! (Tenuous link maybe? Read on and find out! )

I am in the business of muscles! Muscles fascinate me!

We have 3 types of muscles in our body; cardiac (heart), smooth (intestines) and skeletal (the ones that make our body move!)

Let’s concentrate on skeletal muscles, approx 640 of them! They usually sit in pairs as it’s a ‘pull me, pull you’ deal!

Muscle-anatomy-Male-and-Femalemusclemove

What are muscles and what are they made of?

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Imagine the muscle is like bundles of straws wrapped in a nylon stocking. The ‘straws’ are muscle fibers encased in fascia; the nylon stocking. Those fibers are like the telephone lines that deliver messages from your brain to the muscle. Some are ‘fast twitch’ fibers and some are ‘slow twitch’ fibers.

What does that mean and how do they work?

Well, simply put, imagine you are standing hanging out the washing (I know, the glamour), the motion of holding your body upright will use lots of muscles from all over your body. You brain will subconsciously send a message to those muscles to fire them up! This is known as a slow twitch response. The muscles will use energy slowly and keep going for a long time. They need lots of oxygenated blood to keep them working. Now imagine you drop a pair of smalls! Quick, grab them before they hit the dirty floor (no time to be re washing stuff right!) Your arm shoots out quickly to catch the falling knickers, your brain has sent another message to your muscles and this time as fast twitch signal. A burst of activity that takes up a lot of the muscle energy quickly. Most muscles will be made up of fast and slow twitch fibers.

Why do they get tense?

Try this:

Take a deep breath, roll your shoulders back, take another deep breath and gently turn your head from side to side. Can you feel those muscles stretching and relaxing? Are your shoulders moving down, away from your ears!? Does your neck feel less stiff? That is you consciously telling those muscles to take a load off! Have a break! If our muscles are over used in a repetitive way or held in a certain position for a period of time, that nylon stocking gets tighter and causes tension. The muscles fibers are then constricted and don’t have enough of the oxygen they need to function effectively. I guess you know that feeling sometimes.

What can we do to encourage our muscles to release tension and keep in tip top condition?

Regular massage!

Stretching

Vary your movements and exercise

Drink plenty of water

Pilates/Yoga

Heat and ice

Mindfulness

Nutrition

Mindfulness – try a body scan mindfulness session. Scan each part of your body from your head to your toes. Imagine those fibers firing away, take a breath and imagine them settling down and releasing the tension. Take your time and really feel each muscle releasing. Don’t worry if other thoughts come into your mind, just watch them float away and re focus your attention on your body. Enjoy taking the time to chill out for a few minutes!

 

Lovely feedback #grateful!

“Jo is just the right mix of down to earth, friendly and professional. As someone with a chronic pain condition I was really reassured by the way Jo listened to me and adapted my treatment accordingly – she really knows her stuff. The treatments I have received have been amazing, so relaxing and such a luxury to have in my own home. She truly has magic hands!”

Are you a twitcher?! Read on to find out!

twitch

Are you a twitcher?!!

I don’t mean do you carry round a set of binoculars and some bird seed!

 It’s more to do with your muscles! (Tenuous link maybe? Read on and find out! )

I am in the business of muscles! Muscles fascinate me!

We have 3 types of muscles in our body; cardiac (heart), smooth (intestines) and skeletal (the ones that make our body move!)

Let’s concentrate on skeletal muscles, approx 640 of them! They usually sit in pairs as it’s a ‘pull me, pull you’ deal!

Muscle-anatomy-Male-and-Femalemusclemove

What are muscles and what are they made of?

muclelookslike

Imagine the muscle is like bundles of straws wrapped in a nylon stocking. The ‘straws’ are muscle fibers encased in fascia; the nylon stocking. Those fibers are like the telephone lines that deliver messages from your brain to the muscle. Some are ‘fast twitch’ fibers and some are ‘slow twitch’ fibers.

What does that mean and how do they work?

Well, simply put, imagine you are standing hanging out the washing (I know, the glamour), the motion of holding your body upright will use lots of muscles from all over your body. You brain will subconsciously send a message to those muscles to fire them up! This is known as a slow twitch response. The muscles will use energy slowly and keep going for a long time. They need lots of oxygenated blood to keep them working. Now imagine you drop a pair of smalls! Quick, grab them before they hit the dirty floor (no time to be re washing stuff right!) Your arm shoots out quickly to catch the falling knickers, your brain has sent another message to your muscles and this time as fast twitch signal. A burst of activity that takes up a lot of the muscle energy quickly. Most muscles will be made up of fast and slow twitch fibers.

Why do they get tense?

Try this:

Take a deep breath, roll your shoulders back, take another deep breath and gently turn your head from side to side. Can you feel those muscles stretching and relaxing? Are your shoulders moving down, away from your ears!? Does your neck feel less stiff? That is you consciously telling those muscles to take a load off! Have a break! If our muscles are over used in a repetitive way or held in a certain position for a period of time, that nylon stocking gets tighter and causes tension. The muscles fibers are then constricted and don’t have enough of the oxygen they need to function effectively. I guess you know that feeling sometimes.

What can we do to encourage our muscles to release tension and keep in tip top condition?

Regular massage!

Stretching

Vary your movements and exercise

Drink plenty of water

Pilates/Yoga

Heat and ice

Mindfulness

Nutrition

Mindfulness – try a body scan mindfulness session. Scan each part of your body from your head to your toes. Imagine those fibers firing away, take a breath and imagine them settling down and releasing the tension. Take your time and really feel each muscle releasing. Don’t worry if other thoughts come into your mind, just watch them float away and re focus your attention on your body. Enjoy taking the time to chill out for a few minutes!

 

The Witching hour and Cortisol.

The Witching hour and cortisol.

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So for the last 2 weeks, I have woken up between 2am and 4am EVERY morning! Falling back to sleep takes an age and then it’s time to get up anyway! My very own witching hour!

Ring any bells with you?

I have caught a cold that won’t shift? Anything loaded with refined sugars seems to be calling my name and I am having trouble concentrating on 1 thing at a time?

Those bells ringing yet?

Time to listen to what our bodies are telling us! Self-care time!

It could be a hormone called Cortisol causing these symptoms. Also known as the ‘fight or flight’ hormone as it has a higher secretion rate when our body encounters stress.

Here comes the science bit:

Cortisol is an important hormone, it is secreted from our adrenal glands and is involved in:

  • Regulation of blood pressure
  • Insulin release for blood sugar maintenance
  • Immune function
  • Inflammatory response

The positive effect that cortisol has when we need it is:

  • A quick burst of energy for survival reasons
  • Heightened memory functions
  • A burst of increased immunity
  • Lower sensitivity to pain
  • Helps maintain homeostasis (balance) in the body

Life these days is hectic and can lead to the cortisol tap never being turned down or off! Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream have been shown to have negative effects, such as:

  • Impaired cognitive performance – can’t concentrate, won’t concentrate?!
  • Blood sugar imbalances – becoming a cookie monster!
  • Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses – that cold that won’t shift.
  • Impaired sleep – the witching hour! Even if you sleep well you are still tired.
  • Increased fat around the abdominal area – hmmm, doing everything right and still got a thicker waistline?
  • Decreased libido – onesie and EastEnders rather than ‘an early night’
  • Anxious and feeling down – that lovely serotonin that makes you feel happy is decreased!

So, as the silly season starts and we are concerned with parties, Christmas shopping, half term, end of term, family visiting, finding the last packet of sparklers, re arranging whole days as kids are off sick from school and so on!

To have an awareness of what our body is telling us is useful and valuable.

Listen to your body, stop, take a moment and make a promise that you will be kind to yourself. It will help lower those cortisol levels and in turn you will be able to survive the madness with utter serenity and calmness (OK so that last statement was a bit of wishful thinking!)

Ideas:

Take a swim, read a book, eat veggie 2 days per week, increase water intake, treat yourself to a new lipstick, have a massage, do an extra yoga session, sit in a steam room, warm bath with Epsom salts, mindfulness sessions, buy a new album, smile, hug more, listen to music really loud and have a dance around the kitchen, romantic night in, roll in the autumn leaves with the kids, ring an old friend for a gossip, take a walk along the river, get out in the daylight, say no – often, be still, early night and anything else that allows you time to regroup and relax!

Before you know it that ‘witching hour’ will be no more and there will be an air of ‘good fairy’ around you!

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