the muscle and movement health clinic

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.


Massage – the “feel-good” foundation.

January 25th, 2019 by Phil Brown

My initial training was at the London School of Sports Massage. There, I learned to use my hands – my whole body really – to improve the well being of the people I worked with. That training remains, 10 years on, the strong foundation of how I work in my clinic today.

Massage forms the basis of all of my treatment sessions; whether there is a lot of time spent with it or a little; it is the therapeutic tool that provides the environment for promoting well being and recovery from injury.

What makes massage such an effective basis for manual therapy? In the simplest terms I can think of right now, massage makes us feel really good and feeling really good is a powerful ground for recovery from injury and for general well being.

Even if you are not currently nursing an injury or struggling with some kind of chronic pain pattern, book in for a deep massage. If the therapist knows their stuff, you won’t leave feeling the same way you did when you arrived. A good massage session can make you remember what it feels like to feel better, to feel good. Then, you can take that feeling out into your daily life. Massage can be a deeply relaxing experience. Hands-on work on the body can have a direct and profound effect on the nervous system. As muscles are worked and relax, breathing can relax to into its more natural rhythm. Blood pressure can lower and the mind slows down from its usual constant chatter. All of these effects are healthful, beneficial.

There are times when the effects above are the central reason for a treatment session. A sense of well being is restored as the body is relaxed and enlivened by deep tissue massage. When the client gets up and moves, they often feel of lighter and freer in their movement. When the body is relaxed and moving more naturally, the mind and emotions are also affected positively and some balance is restored where before there may have been tension and stress holding sway.

Often, I have worked with patients who have injured a joint or area of the body through overuse or accident in sport or training. Here, massage and soft tissue manipulation techniques can be very effective in restoring range of motion quickly to a stiff and sore joint. If the level of pain free movement can be restored initially by sports massage techniques, this is a very hopeful sign that rehabilitation will be successful and that the injury is not too serious. Using massage in this way is a great indicator of the likelihood of recovery through movement and exercise. Obviously this gives great encouragement to the patient and they are more likely to engage positively with their exercise programme of rehabilitation.

In both types of treatment – massage for overall well being and massage as part of a treatment plan and programme for rehabilitation – massage brings the very definite effect of making us feel better, feel good. To feel relaxed and calm is a wonderful feeling. To feel increased freedom in the body can be a relieving and liberating feeling. The massage techniques that I was trained in 10 years ago achieve these feelings in the people I work with. That is why they are such a powerful ground for the therapeutic and rehabilitative work I do.

Non’s Great North Adventure

October 17th, 2011 by Phil Brown

Non Gwyn is a 27 year old teacher from Anglesey who this year has begun competing in half  marathons. She began with a little race in the North called The Great North Run and is  absolutely loving her new passion. Muscle and Movement Health took the time to ask her  about her running, her training and how she has worked with the clinic and training studio  to help her with her sport.

Hi Non, tell us a how you got into running in the first place… was actually by walking first wasn’t it? I’d always wanted to run and had done a few Race for Life’s but always gave up afterwards.

This year I signed myself up to do the Moonwalk with a group of girls from work. For those who don’t know the Moonwalk is a 26.2 mile power walk that’s done over night. I completed that in 5:33:37 in May and realized that with a little effort I could turn the power walking into running, and decided to sign up for the Great North Run & Royal Parks Half Marathons in September and October.
What led you to contact Phil Brown at Muscle and Movement Health?

Whilst training for the Moonwalk I found myself with pain in my left knee, my legs ached and felt heavy and my feet where really sore from blisters. I spoke to a friend who’d done a lot of training over the years and she recommended I go for a sports massage straight after the event. That’s when I came across Phil Brown at Muscle and Movement and Health.
Did you find the treatment you were given helped your training and competing?

I walked into the treatment room after the Moonwalk not being able to bend my left knee and could hardly put any weight on my feet as they were stiff and sore. I walked out ready for my first run.
Had you ever received any sports massage or soft tissue therapy before?

I had never received any sports massage or soft tissue therapy before and realized there and then how beneficial it was going to be to my training.

You and Phil Brown have started developing some complementary training strategies to improve your running times and keep you fit for running. Can you tell us what you were doing and how you feel this training made a difference?

I have stuck to three runs a week since starting training with Phil and have been doing some strength and stability work which includes………as well as explosive training which includes squats, running a 100 meters and then lunges.  When I added the Strength and Stability work into my routine I found within a couple of weeks I could utilize certain muscle groups like the hamstrings and glutes to power myself up hills much quicker.  Then after introducing the explosive training I found I had that extra bit of energy at the end of a run to finish strong or to push to the top of the hill stronger.
So – The Great North Run! How was it?? An exciting day yes?

Yes! Amazing! One of the best experiences of my life. The whole event was just fantastic and I’m definitely going back next year! The course itself took you from Gateshead in the City of Newcatsle all the way to South Sheilds, I didn’t see a part of road or flyover with out people cheering and showing their support. The atmosphere was fantastic and being part of such an event with proper athletes starting the race off and 54,000 runners all up for the same challenge was over whelming and by the end of the race I was an emotional wreck finishing in 1:53:35. 

How did the run turn out for you…? Was the experience similar to what you had discussed with Phil at the studio? Did you have an idea of what to expect or was it all a big surprise?

The run was fun, hard, easy and challenging all at the same time.  From discussing the race with Phil I went there with a plan of starting off slow and gradually picking up pace but I got lost in the atmosphere and completed the first mile at the fastest pace I’d ever ran a mile and as a result was tired by the end. Also in Newcastle I had a drop in energy levels and was so glad to come across the Bupa boost zone at 10 miles. Top tip always carry something like jelly babies with you during a race – I had never needed anything during training but you naturally push harder during a race and need to keep your sugar levels high to perform better. I was also quite shocked during the race to see people collapse around me and need proper medical attention because they were de-hydrated or had just pushed themselves to hard. I got quite un-nerved by this during the race and kept thinking is it going to happen to me? You just have to think about all the training you’ve done, that you are hydrated and that you can finish. Keep focused on your race and no one else is. Someone once told me “pain disappears with time but achievements last forever”. That’s one thing I tell myself when I hit a hard/dark patch when running and it always gets me through as it’s so true!

Do you have any advice for people training for their first competitive event?

Put in the hard work before the event so you can enjoy the day, don’t train too much 3 runs a week has been more than sufficient for me even though at times I would have loved to go out more. Your muscles need time to repair between runs and you’ll perform much better because of it. Also think of investing some money in a sports massage / soft tissue therapy during training, before and after a race. I can’t emphasize how much it’s helped me and I’m not just saying this because it’s an interview for Phil it really has! You walk into the studio with heavy tired legs and walk out feeling like you’ve been on a two week holiday to somewhere nice and hot. Think of it as an investment – you would never run in an old pair of trainers that have holes in them or in a ripped t-shirt would you?

How do you fit your training around the rest of your life? You are a teacher on Anglesey, so obviously really busy! Does training take up loads of time?

When I decided to start running I made myself a promise that I wouldn’t make up stupid excuses like “having no time to train” – I’ve made myself find time to train. If I know I can’t fit a run in after school I get up an hour earlier in the morning to do it then. No matter how tired you are going out you come back feeling 100% better, plus you then know your on track and don’t get fed up and angry as you’ve missed one of your training runs. Plus as I’ve only been doing three runs a week it hasn’t been taking up too much time, the more you run the faster you get so the good news is it takes up even less time unless you start contemplating a marathon like me! On average I spend an hour twice during the week training and then a long run at the weekend which I tend to do between 10-14 miles so two hours at the most. Obviously when I started my long run was 5 miles and it’s built up over time.

I believe you have just finished another half marathon in London? How do you feel your performance compared to The Great North Run?

My mission in London was to get a sub 1:50:00 time as the course was flat in comparison to Newcastle and I’d learnt from my mistakes in the first half. I set off on a 8:20 minute mile pace in London and kept a close eye on my Garmin watch all the way round to make sure I wasn’t picking up too much pace and also wasn’t slowing down. I carried jelly babies with me during the Royal Parks half and had one before each water stop so at approximately 5, 7.5, 9, 10.5 and 11. I also ditched the water bottle I’d carried round with me during all my training and the Great North Run as I felt it was weighing me down. It was my comfort blanket if you like during the first half but having let go of it now I’m so glad. If you go into the race fully hydrated you have plenty of adequate water stops on the way round. The combination of no water bottle and jelly babies helped me to no end during the second half. Keeping my sugar levels high meant I was more focused on the race, could push harder and felt stronger during the run itself. Also starting off steady and pushing towards the end was much better than crossing that line with nothing left in the tank. I completed the Royal Parks in 1:49:51 and felt fantastic! 

What are your plans for the next few months? How are you shaping your training?

I have another half in November and then one in March. Over the winter I’m going to keep my running to three times a week trying to increase the pace slowly and steadily. I’m also going to be working with Phil on building muscle so I have more power during longer runs and tweaking my diet so I get more sustainable energy for running from my food.

Many thanks for your time Non and good luck with your running!!

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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