Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Keeping as fit as a fiddle

Keeping as fit as a fiddle

Progress Health physiotherpist, Sarah Upjohn specialises in helping musicians, provides tips on why we could all benefit from improving our posture 

34% of adults and 69% of children in the UK play musical instruments.[1] The sound of an orchestra tuning up before performance brings a sense of anticipation and excitement to any audience. It is the accumulation of hundreds of hours of practice by the musicians brought together by the skill of the conductor. Unfortunately, like many professional and keen amateur athletes, this dedication can result in playing-related musculoskeletal injuries. Young musicians, professional orchestral musicians and conservatoire students can all suffer and, at worst, an injury can mean they are prevented from playing again. 
Sarah Upjohn is a specialist physiotherapist at Progress – The Cambridge Centre for Health and Performance, and Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital and her particular expertise is in treating musculoskeletal disorders through the analysis and re-education of movement and posture.  She uses an analytical approach to successfully treat a wide variety of musculoskeletal disorders.
She believes we should all follow these simple tips and look after our posture:
1.      Be mindful of your posture and position as you sit at work
2.      Aim to maintain symmetry, or return to a position of symmetry.
3.       Let go of accumulating muscle tension, particularly in shoulder girdles
4.       Move from one fixed position (ie sitting at a desk) and do gentle stretches regularly throughout the day.
Sarah’s specialism outside of her work at Progress is helping young musicians at the Purcell School for Young Musicians and for BAPAM (the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine). She has more than nine years’ of experience of treating instrumental musicians.
She explains:
“In basic terms we are all fully aware repetitive strain can lead to injury. It is important we understand the risk factors of any activity we chose to undertake and minimise injury. This is especially true in younger people who spend hours doing the same exercise or practice.  Some sports have addressed this; for example, rowers have two oars until they are 15 years old when they can row sweep (one blade) and ballerinas cannot use pointe until their feet are fully grown. There are no such measures in music and as musicians often play or practise for between two and seven hours a day, they are at risk from acquiring playing-related injuries, which, with appropriate care, are mainly preventable.”
Sarah supplies some tips to keep people playing longer. 
1.       Increase playing time gradually
2.      Introduce a new repertoire gradually
3.      Be aware that stress can produce tension in muscles, increasing the workload that the muscle is doing
4.      Remember to adjust stands and supports as the child grows
5.       Do not add additional stressors immediately after a growth spurt when children are particularly vulnerable to soft tissue injury
[1] ABSRM, 2014

[1] ABSRM, 2014

Friday, 3 March 2017

Preparations going well for Cambridge Half Marathon - 5th March

What a difference a competition makes

Preparations going well for Cambridge Half Marathon - 5th March


Lauren Thomas from Ely will be running the Cambridge Half Marathon this year. She was a Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital and Progress competition winner back in October, beating over 2500 other athletes to £1000 of physio and training support and shoes from the running shoe sponsor Saucony.

We caught up with Lauren in the final days of preparation.

Why enter a competition?

“I’ve been running for seven years and entered the competition because I’m known for signing up to events but then letting my anxiety get the better of me. I’m not good in crowds and find the final hour leading up to a start, surrounded by all the participants absolutely agonising. I thought some support might help.

I did my first half marathon in 2011 and did the Cambridge half marathon in 2014 and 2015, but not in 2016 due to injury. I did enter the race last year, but dropped out because I hurt my back three days beforehand. My anxiety had also gotten really bad. It was such a blow to my confidence.”

How do you engage with Progress?

“I started seeing Lauren Bradshaw, a sports physio at Progress, last November, initially for an assessment and review of previous injuries and my running technique. She gave me a programme of exercises and then I saw Matt Matcham, the strength and conditioning coach at Progress, who gave me a strength programme to follow.

The team at Progress talk through with me what I’m trying to achieve and tailor programmes to suit me, which you don’t get from a website or app. Even though you can get some great advice online, I wouldn’t recommend trying to understand an injury without seeing a professional in person. Just because you have a pain somewhere doesn’t mean that’s where the problem is – I’ve learnt that the hard way!

One of the most important things to get assessed when considering long distance running is your running technique - without that, the potential for injury is massive.  You can either be heel striking or flat footed. Lauren found that I was too high up on my toes which was making me a bit ‘trotty’ - I needed to bring my foot down a little bit more, which we have been working on.”

Has it helped to work with Progress?

“The best thing about the advice and support I’ve been given has to be the bespoke, tailored programme that is developed. If you are going to commit to doing it properly, you are going to push yourself a bit harder and you need that support around you. Thanks to the programmes they’ve given me my core is noticeably stronger and I feel like my legs aren’t tiring as much on the longer runs.

I’ve also been working on the anxiety a lot with the help of Lauren and Hannah Crighton a sports massage therapist. They help with the mental as well as the physical preparation for the big events – we chat a lot and they really understand as they both compete themselves at a very high standard.”

How are things going now?

“The running has been going well. I’ve been doing my strength work (a programme drawn up by Matt) alongside weekly interval training and mid-length runs (around 10k) and weekend long steady runs. I run with the Ely Runners which provides great support in training, and I also have a running coach who likes to put me through my paces! I did 11 miles on Saturday which I plan on being my last long run before the half marathon itself.

Training has generally been good - thanks to Hannah and Lauren my foot has been niggle free since the start of training back in November/December. My lower back has been complaining a bit about the increased distance so I saw Hannah yesterday and she gave me some active stretches, and I'm seeing her again first thing on Thursday.

In addition to Lauren and Hannah giving me advice on the physical side of running, they've both been so brilliant at talking through the mental side of running - I feel like I've reached an epiphany in the last couple of months, whereby I've decided I don't care about my times. 2017 is the year where I fall in love with running again (cheesy I know, but totally true)”.

What are your future aspirations?

“I am only 34 and in distance running terms that’s quite young. I just want to enjoy running again after the injuries and anxieties of the past. I want to move past comparing myself to other runners and just see what I’m capable of when I take the pressure off. I’ve already signed up to some more unusual races in 2017, including joining a team for the “Spitfire scramble”, a 24hr race in London in the summer – that should be a real challenge”.

Lauren Bradshaw, specialist physiotherapist, who has been working with Lauren, mentioned “We have really enjoyed having Lauren as our sponsored athlete. She has been extremely committed and dedicated to everything we have thrown at her and I believe she has come a long way both mentally and physically on our journey together. We would like to wish her the best of luck for the Cambridge Half Marathon and hope that she can enjoy being a part of the atmosphere knowing her body is probably in the best shape it has been in. See you on the start line Lauren!”


Spire Cambridge Lea and Progress have given Lauren the option to receive up to £1000 worth of free kit, treatments and use of the Anti-gravity treadmill. She is on twitter as @girlrunninglate and is an active blogger.

Here is an introductory YouTube video about Lauren and how she got into running.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Pelvic Floor Health at Progress, Cambridge

For some people dancing, laughing, coughing and sneezing can all lead to the embarrassment of accidentally leaking urine, but there’s no need to let a pelvic floor problem ruin this festive period.

•       Pelvic floor disorders are known to affect 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men in the UK
•       It is currently estimated that there are 3-6 million people in the UK suffering with some form of incontinence

Kathryn Levy is a Women's Health and Postnatal Specialist Physiotherapist at Progress. Kathryn believes people shouldn’t ignore such symptoms as:
•       accidentally leaking urine when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze
•       needing to get to the toilet in a hurry or not making it there in time
•       constantly needing to go to the  toilet
•       finding it difficult to empty your bladder or bowel
•       accidentally losing control of your bladder or bowel
•       accidentally passing wind

“These can all be indications of a pelvic floor problem, but there are treatment options available that do not necessarily involve surgery. So do not ignore your symptoms, seek professional advice and be proactive about your pelvic health.”

What exactly is your pelvic floor?
“The pelvic floor is a sling of muscles between your tailbone and pubic bones that help support your pelvic organs, namely your bladder, bowel and uterus. They also help play a role in controlling bladder and bowel continence, so if they sustain trauma, become overstretched and weakened, or overactive and tight, you can develop problems such as stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse.”

Who can have problems?
Kathryn explains:
 “It’s not just women who experience pelvic floor problems after childbirth or after menopause.  Both men and women can experience problems for a variety of reasons – your general health, trauma to pelvis or pelvic floor, repetitive heavy lifting at work or in the gym, prolonged periods of standing (nursing or restaurant work), ongoing constipation and/or straining to empty the bowels; being overweight or obese, a chronic cough and ageing. Even young elite athletes (both men and women) who engage in regular high impact activities such as running or heavy weight lifting are at risk for developing problems due to the excessive downward pressure on their pelvic floor muscles.”

Do not ignore your symptoms
“Do not ignore your symptoms. First and foremost, it is important to rule out any medical condition that may be contributing to your symptoms. Depending on the cause of the problem, there are a number of medical and healthcare professionals who can help including: specialised physiotherapists with experience in pelvic floor dysfunction, urogynaecologists, urologists and colorectal specialists to name a few. Discuss your symptoms with your GP or Consultant who can refer you to the appropriate specialist.”

Significant improvements are possible by undertaking a tailored exercise program for your pelvic floor muscles and as well as incorporating bladder and bowel retraining, nutritional counselling, stress management and improving general fitness.

Start now with exercise
Most people do not know how to perform a pelvic floor muscle contraction properly. First you need to find the right muscles.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip width apart. Inhale to prepare. Exhale to lift your pelvic floor first by closing around your back passage like you are holding back wind, and then towards the front like you are holding back water. Try and hold that lift for 10 seconds. Relax completely and then repeat 10 times. Make sure you do not clench your buttocks or thighs and do not hold your breath.

You can progress this exercise to sitting or standing.