5 reasons to NOT sit down!!!

February 22nd, 2019 by Phil Brown


Unfortunately, most of us spend a large portion of our time on planet earth plonked on our backsides. This is undoubtedly due to the sedentary nature of modern work and the rise of the computer, but we learn a bum-based lifestyle from a terribly early age when we start school. We carry out most activities there from a chair, apart from break time and PE classes. Add to that the hours and hours of video gaming, social media-ing or TV watching that a huge percentage of the young engage in and you have a whole generation of spines suited ideally to office work…………

Depressing? It’s enough to make you want to sit down, but here are 5 reasons NOT to!



When we sit, we are not standing. Yes, obvious, but the weight of our upper body has to be supported somewhere and that becomes hard on the spine as the lower back takes the weight of the torso and the upper back takes that of the arms, as they tap away on that keyboard to meet a tight deadline. Meanwhile, the cervical spine – neck to most of us – strains to hold the head in a balanced position.

When we stand, we are designed so that the load of our own bodies is held in a wonderful tension that spreads from our feet up to top of our heads. Granted, many of us stand and move like we were stored in a small drawer wet and left to dry there, but standing and moving is still better than sitting. In most computer based jobs, the lower back becomes the workhorse in a seated position that looks like the Hunchback of Notre Dame playing Fortnite just after having his cataracts removed.
There are ways to sit better for sure, but nothing beats taking a break from bell ringing, er, I mean computer work/the classroom/the Playstation every 20 minutes or so…….



Many, many of us have shallower breathing patterns due to the stress of our busy lives already. When we sit, the already hampered movement of our breathing muscle – the diaphragm – becomes even more so. The other muscles that help with breathing get shorter and tighter as our upper backs and shoulders tense up in long periods of sitting at work, or driving for example.

On rising to our feet, it’s like a weird transformation as we curl out of our almost foetal positions to become the majestic Atheneans we were always meant to be………hmmmmm well maybe  that’s over egging it, but the diaphragm gets a lot more room to move and the shoulders have a better opportunity of finding a balanced position on the ribcage rather than slumping off like a walrus slipping into the sea and constricting the chest. The constriction in the thorax/chest area from sitting clearly affects our breathing patterns and shallow, tight breathing has an adverse effect on our emotional, mental and physical health overall.



Sitting for long periods puts the muscles behind the thighs and the muscles that flex the hip in very short positions. Put a muscle into a short position for even 30 minutes and it tends to stay short and need a bit of coaxing back by gentle stretching (think how often, when you get up from your chair, you instinctively streeeeeetch…….). Think about the effect of sitting for hours at school or at work. It is what one can call “profoundly deleterious” on the body. It is why children, at the age of 10 and upwards, can resemble very old people in their movement and posture. This is not a very good thing. At all.

Getting up and moving around regularly at work and avoiding sitting as much as possible outside of work means you will move better – this is what your body is designed to do of course. When relaxing, I like to say RECLINE rather than sit….



Sitting switches OFF the gluteus maximus muscles. These are the muscles that give shape to your rear end. Muscles switch off when they are not being used. If they are not being used, well, they tend towards looking like used tea bags over time…..
Even worse, if you sit all the time then it is really really difficult to wake up those sleeping beauties again, which leads to a stooped posture at the hip, a lack of power and stability at the biggest joints in the body and the potential onset of  hip problems in the future.
But if I just tell you you will look better in those jeans, that should be enough to get you out of that chair…….shouldn’t it?



Ok so this last one isn’t really a reason NOT to sit, but if the first 4 REASONS aren’t having an effect, then I don’t know what will………….get up, get out, move around, use it or lose it, save yourself while you still can, play hooky from school……ok, ok, DON’T play hooky from school, but maybe spend your break times up on your feet, join the gym club, take up jiu jitsu rather than Call of Duty…….you get the picture……..

The CrossFit prescription for eating.

February 22nd, 2019 by Phil Brown

Someone asked me about nutrition the other day. I was at my local big chain health club, saying hi to people and using the free weights section to practice some stuff (we have yet to install our new floor at The CrossFit Place. He got me thinking about how many people at my gym – paying clients, giving their money over monthly to the man – are simply not seeing any visible change in their body composition. The man who asked me advice was clearly somewhat overweight, yet he is a regular in the gym, putting time and effort into his training and simply not achieving the goal he wants. Yes, there are questions to be asked about the quality of  training in many people’s programs. Intensity, variety and frequency play a contributory role in affecting our body composition. However, putting ALL of that aside for now, let’s look at it very very simply: what you are eating is the most influential factor affecting your body composition. Look at what you are eating, change what you are eating, see change..

At CrossFit, we have a very simple prescription that can be used as a basis for good eating. If followed, change will occur. These guidelines have no reek of what many would term a “diet” (in fact, a we are all on a “diet” – the word simply describing what we eat). They simply offer a guide for those who don’t want to make things difficult  or complicated for themselves. For those who want to take things further, they provide a simple jump off point.

Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.

There you go. Boom. Try it. See the difference over a couple of months.

Eat meat
Get your protein from the best quality meat you can: lamb, beef, pork, chicken. It’s all good.

Leafy greens. Yum. Get your quality carbohydrates here, rather than from starchy foods like pasta, rice, sketty, spuds. Definitely avoid refined sources such as white bread, cakes, biscuits etc.

Nuts and seeds
Get yummy fats and oils from these babies. Good for snacks instead of chocolate or “low fat” crud that comes in a tub of some kind with lots of labelling (that’s another article)

Some fruit
One thing our government seem to have forgotten in their 5 – a – Day recommendation: fruit is sugar, albeit with added natural vitamins and nutrients……however, go easy. Think SOME. 1 or 2 pieces a day. An apple here or there…..berries rock.

Little starch
See above. Our bodies simply won’t use the amount of starch found in a “supermarket-based” diet – avoid starchy, dense carbohydrates. Think green, think lean.

No sugar
Our. Bodies. Don’t. Need. All. The. Sugar. We. Feed. Them.

Try it and see. Think 40/30/30 as a ratio for protein/carbohydrate/fat and give it a couple of months. For amounts, you could simply look at a standard dinner plate and fill  just under 3/4 with veggies, a 1/4 with meat and add a bit of fat for good measure.

Interestingly, I feel it is worth adding that before I discovered CrossFit, I was eating pretty near to the prescription. It works. What CrossFit suggest is nothing new. Many others before have proven that eating this way leads to good health.

More study:

Check out this interview with CrossFit founder Greg Glassman.


5 reasons to get your niggly shoulder sorted!!!

January 22nd, 2019 by Phil Brown



The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body. Over 15 muscles cross the joint and are active in it’s motion and stability. It truly is a marvel of engineering and balance. When it is working right that is……..

Most of us at some point or other in our lives will suffer from shoulder pain of some kind and to varying degrees. This is basically due to its high level of mobility, which makes the potential for injury higher than, say, the much deeper and stronger hip joint.

If shoulder pain results from a clear injury; with a significant loss of function (for example an impact injury in a rugby player), then the path of treatment and rehabilitation is pretty much a given. However, many of us carry shoulder pain that has not resulted in a profound loss of movement, but may have been caused by a sporting accident, a fall or a repetitively poor posture or movement pattern that is perhaps work related. If the pain is bearable and the movement in the joint not impeded too much, we can tend to grin and bear it and “wait till it gets better on its own”. It is true that the body needs time to heal and that one cannot force this process, but there are reasons why seeking treatment and advice from a professional will benefit us in the longer term.

Below are 5 reasons why seeing a manual therapist with a “niggly” shoulder is a good idea, rather than waiting for your shoulder to get better on it’s own.


1. Move BETTER!

When your shoulder is in pain, even a low level of pain, your movement will adjust to avoid it. It is very difficult to be aware of this and this new pattern, however subtle, can change the pattern of movement in the joint, making it less efficient and even prone to further injury. Seeing a professional who is experienced at assessing shoulder movement and shoulder health can prevent unhelpful and unconscious patterns from establishing themselves and hampering shoulder function long term. A manual therapist can spot such patterns and provide appropriate exercises to re-establish correct movement and strengthen the joint following injury.


2. Mmmmm RELIEF!!!

Some modes of manual therapy, such as deep tissue massage, can be
very relieving.
Deep tissue and sports massage are very effective techniques for reducing the stiffness in
muscles and connective tissue that builds up in a sore shoulder. The feeling of freedom
following such treatment can be profound. Pain and stiffness can be reduced quickly
so that rehabilitative exercises can then be prescribed for strengthening and re-establishing
normal movement.



If you have been suffering from low grade pain for a long time, it is a good idea to see your GP.
She will be able to check you over and make sure there is nothing that needs medication or
other forms of treatment. It may be that an x-ray would be useful to check the bones of the
joint. Other forms of imaging can also confirm the health of the ligaments that support the joint.



4. Better..stronger!

A good therapist will construct a programme of rehabilitation for you. This programme will be made up of exercises and perhaps stretches that  are designed to restore full range of movement and to improve strength and stability. Engaging with a professional in these activities means that your “niggly” shoulder will end up stronger and healthier than it was even before it was injured.



5. Win -win!

The experience of working with a good manual therapist can often stand you in
good stead in the future, as you will learn more about good posture and also how to keep your
shoulders being re-injured. This will often mean changing your lifestyle habits and engaging in
a programme of fitness that will result in a better posture and healthier and stronger
shoulders. Regular and appropriate fitness training will also have a positive effect on your
overall health!

So, don’t keep putting up with your “niggly” shoulder! Get in touch for a consultation today with a professional who can put you on the right track to being not only pain free but stronger and healthier!

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.


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