fitness for sport

A window of opportunity

February 14th, 2019 by Phil Brown

Treating people at Muscle and Movement Health Anglesey involves two things: The first is soft tissue therapy to release tight muscles and stretch connective tissue. This treatment brings new freedom to clients as they find movements that were restricted by pain restored. The effect can be immediate and the feeling of relief wonderful.

The second thing is movement retraining. Everyone who comes for treatment will be given their own exercises to do. These are usually two or three movements or stretches that are given to help “reprogramme” your body into more efficient movement patterns. Without establishing these longer term changes, the older, non – optimal movement patterns will simply reassert themselves. It is these movement patterns that, in many cases, have led to the ultimate expression of pain and limited movement.

Old habits…..

In this way, soft tissue therapy is the window of opportunity for a client. Treatment opens up movement again, where it was restricted. Once that movement is regained however, the body needs to be taught to use that freedom in new ways. Old habits die hard and formal retraining is required to lay down new “pathways” of movement that the body will eventually keep to in a more intuitive way. These new patterns, if movement retraining is successful, become new habits.

Willpower is not enough

It is not enough to tell someone to “sit up straight” or to keep their shoulders back or their chin higher. Postural habits that have become established over years cannot be overridden by willpower alone, just as lifting a barbell from the floor in perfect form cannot be done without consistent practice.

Imbalances in posture and movement involve inhibitions in the neuromuscular system – the system made up of the relationship between the brain and the muscles of the body. A common example is tightness and pain in the upper shoulder muscles. Very often, this is due to the mid and lower muscles of the upper back and shoulder girdle being inhibited. Simply put, it is as if they have forgotten how to work effectively. The result is that the muscles in the upper shoulders and neck end up doing the extra work to compensate.

Sleeping Beauties….

Inhibitions like this establish themselves all the time and can only be re-established by a kind of  ”rote learning” achieved through repetitive movements and muscle contractions that will “wake up” the “sleeping” muscles and bring them back to life.

Use it or lose it

Once these muscles become more responsive again, training must be maintained, otherwise regression occurs: the muscles will return to being lazy. Here, the old saying really is true….if you don’t use it….

Onward and upward

The second stage of movement retraining is actually the ground for a long term, life changing choice for many people. The choice is whether to make progress from here by building on a more balanced foundation of movement. Once range of movement and postural balance has begun to be restored, regular and appropriately scaled exercise can gradually increase and improve these elements as well as increasing strength, cardiovascular fitness, agility, co-ordination, balance and muscular reaction time. These qualities make re-injury and pain less likely, make physical work easier and improving performance in sport.  There are also far reaching, beneficial effects on the heart, lungs and blood pressure.

Duracell Bunnies

The one single basic reason for many, many of the injuries and pain syndromes I work with at Muscle and Movement Health is this: a lack of regular physical exertion that stresses the body enough for it to adapt by becoming more durable and maintaining that durability.  As we get older, if we do not have some form of regular physical activity to encourage upright posture, balance, co-ordination and strength, we will become bent, ungainly and weak.  As we do, risks of falls become greater and our confidence begins to drop.  Aging is unavoidable, but maintaining the fitness of our muscles and our movements can help see us into old age with far more vitality.

An end of pain but only the beginning of the cure

When a client comes for their last treatment at the studio, it is more and more common for us to spend at least as much time on exercises and movement as it is on the treatment couch. My aim with all my clients is to see them walking out of the door, upright and balanced and ready for making exercise part of their lives.

If you want to discuss how Muscle and Movement Health can help you improve your fitness and vitality, for life and sport, visit us at the website and read more about what we do, or call to chat with Phil Brown on 01248422260.


CrossFit beginner’s WOD #3

March 14th, 2012 by Phil Brown

Run 1 mile

50 0r 75 or 120  box jumps or jumps to a static object – around 16″ high will work fine to begin with. 12″ if you find that too difficult.

Run 1 mile

NOTE: box jumps options for reps are scaled from beginner to more advanced in number. Pick what will enable you to keep going without ending up taking a big break between each single rep!

You can also scale the distance of the run if you wish, to 0.5 mile

Box jump video worth a look here

box jumps


CrossFit Beginner’s WOD #2

March 8th, 2012 by Phil Brown

OK chaps – here is another basic WOD for you to try at home or at your gym. Again, it requires no equipment except your body.

3 rounds of:

20 tuck jumps

30 sit ups

Tuck jump: Jump up from a standing position, bringing your knees as high as possible towards your chest each time.  When you land, you must straighten up to full hip and knee extension, then repeat the jump.

Sit ups: Anchor your feet under a static object and extend fully to touch the floor with your hands behind your head. Bring your arms back over and lift your chest up towards your knees until you can easily touch your shins. Keep your abdominal muscles tight throughout to stabilise your lower back.


NOTE: this WOD will take you by surprise as it works the abdominals and the hip flexors intensely. SCALING options include lowering the number of repetitions by five or even half, if you are very unfamiliar with sit ups or not confident with tuck jumps.



CrossFit beginner’s workouts

February 29th, 2012 by Phil Brown

As promised at last night’s community class class, the first of the beginnner’s CrossFit workouts. These WODS are bodyweight workouts for everyone and are designed to simply get you used to the basic mixture of the WOD without having to go to the gym or try to find weights. I will post options if you have a set of dumbbells at home.
If you are a complete beginner or returning to exercise after a long period, try to fit one of these into the week alongside our class at Friars. If you are used to circuits and have a reasonable level of conditioning, try 2  and see how you go.


3 rounds for time of

10 burpees – or, if you have a real struggle with burpees to begin with, try up and downs

20 squats (weight into the heels!)

30 sit ups (as practiced in class first week)

A good burpees video here – go to the burpee demo on the list

Up and downs are demoed in this video

Post your times/comments in the Facebook entry.


Knee pain in my bottom: A guide to the Iliotibial Band.

May 4th, 2011 by Phil Brown

The iliotibial band. No, it’s not some turn of the century musical outfit. It is a part of the body whose name is often banded about by runners, cyclists and triathletes as the reason for their niggling aches and pains…..”Oh, yeah….got a bit of ITB tightness…….yeah, it was all ok until I got ITB Syndrome…”  However, I get the feeling that  that the iliotibial band remains something of an enigma to many, even those who claim it as the culprit in their pain….

It is common for me to treat runners at  Muscle and Movement Health who are suffering from pain involving the ITB, but who are completely unaware of the existence of this part of their anatomy and how influential it can be in the progress of their training…..

Where is it?

Down the outside of your thigh. It’s the slightly flatter bit on the outside of your thigh. It  runs from the side of your hip to the side of your knee, tapering as it descends.

What is it?

The iliotibial band is a strip of something called fascia. Fascia is a network of connective tissue that invests all the muscles and organs of your body and wraps them all up in the shape of a human being. Among many other things, the job of fascia is to transmit the movement and force created by muscles through the joints of the skeleton. This particular job is important to remember when we are discussing problems connected with the ITB.

What does it do?

The iliotibial band maintains what we can call a dynamic tension between the hip joint and the knee joint. It is constantly tight, but sometimes gets even tighter. The iliotibial band is actually part of a longer band of fascia that runs from the base of the feet through the outside of the leg, spiralling up into the oblique abdominals, upper trunk and back and into the back of the neck.

When we walk or run, movement at the hip joint is translated through the thigh and into the knee and then ankle and foot. And back again! This happens all the time very quickly when we are walking. When we are running it happens very VERY quickly. ALOT of shock and movement is transmitted through the ITB by the muscles that it merges with at either end…..

How does it go wrong?

The muscles that merge with the ITB at the hip can get very tight and tired from training or overuse, or sometimes simply by the way we walk or our choice of shoes.

When the iliotibial band is too tight, it stops moving so freely over the tissues and structures that lie underneath it. This can cause friction and inflammation at  the knee end or the hip end, or both. A tight ITB can also pull on the structures around the knee joint and cause pain.

How does it get too tight?

The  powerful gluteus maximus (buttock) muscles that take such a powerful role in running merge with the iliotibial band at the side of the hip.  A smaller muscle at the front of the hip called Tensor fasciae latae also merges with the band.  When these muscles become too tight, this tension is communicated to and through the band.

Below the knee, the front and outside of the shin can also become tight and sore from overuse. This tension can also translate into the ITB, which we must remember is part of a longer, continuous band of longitudinal fascia.

Strenuous exercise, such as training  can cause overtightness and overuse in these muscles, as can injury to the hip, knee or ankle in the form of strains or sprains.

What does it feel like?

Tension problems in the iliotibial band can cause different sensations. Most of these can make you feel like you have an injury or problem in the knee or hip and sometimes the ankle or foot.

A common symptom of an overtight iliotibial band is pain on the outside of the knee and just below the kneecap. It is not uncommon for a client to attend the clinic at Muscle and Movement Health complaining of knee pain and a little worried that they have a problem in the joint itself.  This is totally understandable. ITB pain at the knee can literally stop you in your tracks.  The distal (bottom) end of the band merges with the lateral part of the patellar retinaculum, which is an area of retaining and supportive connective tissue at the knee.  Tension from a tight gluteus maximus (or bum muscle) will translate through the ITB and cause pulling and pain here at the knee.

Resulting pain can feel sharp and local at the side of the knee, front of the hip or side of the hip and bottom. Sometimes this pain transfers as an ache or pulling at the side of the knee and into the outside of the shin.


How can I get rid of it??????


Using  stretches for the gluteus maximus and the tensor fasciae latae muscles can be effective to release tension here as well as prevent recurrence in the longer term. General stretches to maintain healthy hip, knee and ankle mobility are obviously crucial for runners. Tightness and imbalance in these areas can result in movement patterns that encourage ITB tightness to develop.

The right footwear

Make sure you have made the right choice of running shoe for the shape of your feet and the way you run. ITB pain resulting from your gait (the way your body moves and your feet strike the ground as you run) is very common.  Go to a running shoe shop that offers gait analysis from experienced staff.  A change of shoes can sometimes completely cure an ITB related pain problem.

Don’t overtrain

A sensible training programme does not result in overtraining. Proper rest periods between training sessions and race events, plus some creative cross-training can ensure safety from injury and overuse.

Sports massage

Regular deep tissue massage can not only release you from the sometimes chronic cycle of  ITB problems, but also enhance your training progress and performance by speeding recovery between sessions and preventing build up of the tension in muscle fibres that leads to pain and injury.

Self – treatment

If you are suffering from tightness and pain in the areas discussed, there are some small and simple things you can do which may ease and sometimes clear up the problem. Try massaging deeply and slowly using a tennis ball or the heel of your hand into the outside of your buttock near your hip bone. You can also work in the same way into the “pocket muscle” tensor fasciae latae, which sits just below the crest of your hip at the top and outside of your thigh.

Foam rollers can also be effective if you use them slowly up and down the ITB from hip to knee.

Both these techniques can often clear up low level ITB gripes very quickly.

Strength and stability training

A very common factor in the development of ITB related pain is weakness in the gluteus maximus muscle. A weak bottom can ruin a good runner!

When these big buttock muscles are not firing in an optimum sequence, the stability of the hip is compromised. This results in a tightening of the muscles that stabilise the hip during dynamic movement. Also, weaker muscles tire and tighten quicker than trained and strong ones.

Many runners suffer from iliotibial band pain as a result of weak gluteus maximus muscles. Using isolation exercises to get them contributing more effectively to the movement of running can address a root cause of many running-related aches and pains.

For more information on how to address iliotibial band issues or if you have a chronic problem that is stopping you progressing in your training, contact us at Muscle and Movement Health to discuss how we can help!



Muscle and Movement Health for golfers.

April 11th, 2011 by Phil Brown

The Muscle and Movement Health treatment for golfers



Now that The Masters has come to it’s incredibly exciting finish – well done to Charl Schwartzel! – the traditional beginning of the golf season is upon us. The inspiration of Augusta has no doubt left many of us eager to improve our swing and lower our scores. Even the weather of the last few days here on Anglesey has been encouraging us to get out there and enjoy some of the many great golf courses in the North Wales area.

I am sure, like me, many of you will be on the phone to your golf pro to book a refresher course to warm up those joints and get the swing out of the broom closet.

With that in mind, it may be useful for you to know that we at Muscle and Movement Health now offer treatment and fitness training for golfers. The golf swing is an incredibly athletic movement that demands the effort of all the muscles in the body to execute smoothly and powerfully.  Unfortunately, most of us are not professional golfers with physios and sports masseurs at our beck and call. Our bodies carry the postural tensions and imbalances from work and daily life that – even if we are generally fit – establish restrictive movement patterns that are hard to identify because we have become so used to them.

Coming to any sport with these restrictions already well established means our bodies are never fully free enough to do what we wish they would. Restrictions in the rotation of the body caused by short, tight muscles and connective tissue will directly affect the outcome of our golf swing. We may know what we want our bodies to do, but if they are locked up, they won’t be able to do it!

Restrictions and imbalances like these are often the fundamental cause of overuse, injury and pain in golf. The nagging aches and pains that golfers feel in the shoulders or elbows are commonly the result of lack of movement in the hips and lower limb.  That lower back pain that always seems to come on after that front 9 at Henllys golf course is often because of  chronic tightness in the hips and lower back that has been there for some time!

Muscle and Movement Health works with golfers to address these basic imbalances in tension and control. We identify where your body is not moving and help you to release the restrictions so you can translate that improved movement back into your golf swing! Our sports and conditioning coach can also work with you to develop a personalised programme of exercises to keep you fitter for your golf and fitter for daily life.

Give us a call or visit the website to learn more about what we can do for your body and your golf game!

Unlock your body – Raise your game!


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