Good Health Centre clinic

Good Health Centre Leeds – COVID-19 update

COVID-19 UPDATE

We are offering free consultations, advice and exercises during this period. Get in touch.

For 25 years, our mission has been to restore health, alleviate pain and uplift lives.

Please rest assured, we will continue to do so.

We may be temporarily closing our clinic door to hands on treatment, but we will be available for you through every step of this uncharted and challenging journey.

As ever we are also available by phone (0113 237 1173) and email ([email protected]) to answer questions, or just to chat, and you can find us on Instagram and Facebook where we will be sharing updates.

We know the coming days and weeks will be filled with uncertainty but you can be sure that we will help support you to the best of our ability.

When the time is right, we look forward to welcoming you back into our clinic.

To support new and existing patients, our osteopaths are offering FREE online consultations, advice and exercises during this period. To book this session in, please click here.

Back to School With Better Posture!

For many children and young people sitting in a classroom or at a desk at home brings about back and neck pain. As schools and colleges across the UK come back from Half Term, here are six ways you can help your child avoid poor posture every day of their school life.

Vary where you sit in the classroom.

Continually angling the head or craning the neck to the left or to the right can cause poor posture and bring about discomfort. If possible, change seats for different lessons to sit sometimes on the left of the classroom, sometimes on the right.

Chair Height

Try to ensure the height of the chair is appropriate for the height of the desk to promote good posture. Your feet should be flat on the floor and your elbows should be in an open position with your wrists and hands straight and supported by the desk. Click to read our tips for arranging a computer work station.

Move Around

Take breaks from sedentary activities. Encourage your child to move around in their breaks between lessons, rather than simply moving from one seated position to another. Joining a sports club will help keep them off their behinds in their lunch break or after school.

Writing Posture

Take care with your posture when writing. We have a tendency to slump forward with the upper back and neck when resting on a desk to write. This poor posture overuses muscles and increases the load on the cervical spine.

Walk or Cycle

Where possible – and where it’s safe to do so – encourage your child to walk or cycle to school. The benefits of moving more are widely known and a short walk to school, as opposed to sitting in a car or on a bus, is a healthy way to start the day.

Weightload of Bags

And be aware of how much weight your child is carrying daily. Encourage them to get a locker at school or college and only carry around what they need for their next lessons. It’s worth spending money on a sturdy backpack that, when worn with both straps, will distribute the weight evenly across the back. Or if your child studies a subject that requires a lot of kit, consider getting them a wheeled case. Read more on our tips for bag carrying.

Ten Tips for a Healthy Heart

There’s nothing like Valentine’s Day to focus the mind on matters of the heart. And while we at the Good Health Centre are looking forward to the cards, flowers and romantic sentiments of the day, we’ll also be thinking about the heart as a vital organ. This 14 February, why not show your heart some love? 

Here are the top 10 things you can do to promote good heart health.

Reduce stress

It’s easier said than done, when it can sometimes feel like life does all it can to keep our stress levels high. But nothing puts the heart under greater pressure than stress, so it’s important to find a stress-management technique that works for you. It can be something structured like yoga or meditation, or something unstructured, like going for a walk somewhere away from it all – the important thing is to find something that helps you relax and de-stress.

Ditch the added sugars

Sugar is highly inflammatory, and that’s never a good thing when it comes to the heart. A high-sugar diet can contribute to a range of cardiovascular conditions, so reducing your total sugar intake is a simple strategy for promoting good heart health. Ditch the processed meals (which are often full of ‘hidden’ sugar) and fill your plate with heart-healthy vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats instead.

Cut down on salt

Salt is another major contributor to cardiovascular problems – and another reason to ditch the ready meals. Too much salt in the diet can lead to increased blood pressure, which puts unnecessary stress on the heart. Many of the processed foods on supermarket shelves contain high levels of salt, so try swapping them out for wholefoods like mineral-rich vegetables, nuts, seeds, bananas and avocados.

Limit alcohol

The health implications of excessive alcohol intake are wide and varied, but the effects on the heart can be substantial. Not only does excessive alcohol consumption contribute to damage to the heart tissues themselves, but the process of detoxification required by the liver can raise the heart rate and act as a stressor. Public Health England recommends a maximum of 14 units of alcohol per week. Reduce your intake in line with that, and you’ll be on your way to a healthier heart.

Reduce caffeine intake

Most people know caffeine is a stimulant – that’s why so many of us reach for a pick-me-up coffee first thing in the morning. But too much of anything can be a bad thing, and caffeine raises the heart rate and acts as a stressor. Limiting your caffeine intake will mean your body is better able to benefit from specific phytonutrients, as well as reducing cardiovascular stress. Swapping out all but your first coffee of the day for a decaf alternative will do wonders for your heart.

Be active

The heart is a muscle, and all muscles benefit from being gently overworked from time to time. One of the easiest ways to promote good heart health is to undertake gentle daily exercise that gets the heart working a little bit harder. Walk to the shops instead of driving. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Anything you can do to add a bit of movement into your day will improve your cardiovascular health and boost your heart’s output.

Laugh and smile more

Who doesn’t love a good laugh? That’s because laughing is one of the best stress relievers there is. It’s also contagious, so try and surround yourself with smiley, happy people. Social studies have shown that those who smile more are not only more likely to feel less stressed, but they generally have improved blood pressure.

Breathe!

It might sound like a silly thing to recommend, because you’re not about to stop your involuntary breathing. But it can be incredibly beneficial to really pay attention to how you breathe. We’re often unaware of how we’re breathing and can revert to taking short, sharp breaths or gasps. Concentrating on your breathing and taking long, slow, deep breaths can be a great way to wind down and relax, which will make for a much happier, healthier heart. Try to introduce some breathing techniques into your daily routine and you’ll feel the benefits immediately.

Sleep well

Poor sleep – and even insomnia – is associated with increased cardiovascular disease, so getting a good, restful night does more for you than simply letting you wake up feeling refreshed. Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep. Try making your bedroom as dark, cool and quiet as possible, as this will promote restfulness. It’s also a good idea to stay away from all digital devices for at least two hours before heading to bed, as they are prone to whipping us up into a state of heightened stimulation. You could also try meditation or calm time, and even a magnesium-based drink like prune, passion fruit or pineapple juice.

Consider supplements

With the best will in the world, it’s difficult to ensure we’re getting as much of everything our bodies need on a regular basis. Food supplements are a great way to plug any gaps in your nutritional intake, and can help prevent a range of ailments and diseases from developing. Health professionals may even recommend a therapeutic amount of a certain nutrient for some conditions. If you’re predisposed to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or other heart conditions, it might even be that you require a greater amount of specific nutrients than your diet is ever going to provide. Your doctor will be able to point you in the direction of the right supplement for you.

How we can help:

Here at the Good Health Centre in Leeds, our practitioners offer a range of services to help you on your way to better heart health. Our osteopaths, massage, reiki and reflexology therapists can help you find a way to relax, de-stress, and head back out into the world feeling refreshed and re-energised. Maybe you need help to kick a bad habit or overcome a phobia that is causing you distress? An appointment with our hypnotherapist might be just the thing you need. Or for guidance on implementing all-round healthier eating habits, our nutritionist will be able to help you plan a diet that is good for your heart – and your peace of mind.

Our osteopaths will improve your physical wellbeing, improving your mobility and reduce muscle restrictions which in turn will allow you to perform more cardiovascular exercise.  The GHC osteopaths also have bespoke treatment plans to reduce stress and improve overall wellbeing.

Book an appointment with us today, and let’s start showing your heart the love it deserves.

Tinnitus Week and Osteopathy

This week in the UK (3-9 February) is Tinnitus Week. Here at the Good Health Centre in Leeds, we want to do our bit to raise awareness about this often-isolating symptom that affects about 30% of people at some time or another in their lives.

WHAT IS TINNITUS?

Tinnitus is the symptom of an underlying condition affecting the auditory system, and is often characterised by a persistent ringing, whistling or buzzing in the ear or ears. It is not actually a problem with the ear itself, but points to an underlying condition that affects the way the brain is able to process auditory information. Tinnitus can affect people of any age, including young children. Oftentimes it will go away over time, but approximately 13% of people will suffer with the symptoms long-term.

WHAT CAUSES TINNITUS?

Tinnitus is not a disease or illness, but is rather a symptom relating to some type of mental or physical change. They can include:

  •             Jaw problems of misalignment
  •             Glue ear
  •             Ear infections
  •             Exposure to loud noise
  •             Stress and anxiety
  •             Head trauma

Many of these potential causes are, at their root, an interruption to the amount and clarity of information being sent from the ear to the brain. The brain responds by trying to get more information from the ear, and the extra information sent is the sound we call tinnitus. 

WHAT COULD WE DO TO TRY AND HELP TO RELIEVE IT?

Most tinnitus will go away once the underlying condition has resolved, such as the ear infection has cleared up. Depending on the cause of your tinnitus, there are several ways osteopathy might be able to help relieve your symptoms. 

  •  If your tinnitus has been caused by temporomandibular (jaw) dysfunction, easing tension in the muscles around the jaw and improving the movement pattern of the joint could help alleviate symptoms.
  • Glue ear is a condition whereby the Eustachian tubes fill with fluid rather than air, usually due to an infection. Our osteopaths will work on the affected temporal bone and the muscles and tissues around the Eustachian tube, which could resolve the problem and associated tinnitus.
  • Tinnitus brought on by head trauma could be relieved with a programme of cranial osteopathy, which gently targets stresses held within the tissues covering the skull.
  •  Tinnitus brought on by stress or anxiety could be improved by osteopathic treatment aimed at improving respiratory function and rebalancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems that are so vital for healing.
  •  In our experience, tinnitus due to damage to delicate hair cells in the ear as a result of exposure to loud noise does not respond well to osteopathic treatment.

 

BOOK AN APPOINTMENT 

Think you might be suffering from tinnitus? Book an appointment with one of our osteopaths today.

A Happy, Healthy Vagus Nerve

WHAT IS THE VAGUS NERVE?

The word ‘Vagus’ means ‘to wander’. So it’s a fitting name for the Vagus Nerve, which wends its way from the brainstem to the abdomen and passes through many of the body’s vital organs on its way. 

The longest nerve in the body, the Vagus Nerve is an integral component of the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which helps the body re-regulate following periods of heightened stress and anxiety. It carries anti-inflammatory signals between the brain and vital organs like the heart, gut, lungs, liver and spleen, and is a key player in the body’s in-built ‘rest and digest’ response system. 

So it’s pretty important that the lines of communication are kept open at all times.

But what happens when the Vagus Nerve’s ability to function is impaired or restricted in some way? 

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY VAGUS NERVE IS IMPAIRED?

Because the Vagus Nerve passes through so many of the vital organs, the symptoms of vagal nerve impairment are wide-ranging and varied. If you suffer from any of the following, it could indicate that your Vagus Nerve is not functioning optimally:

  • Regular heartburn
  • Digestive issues
  • Acid reflux
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Weight gain
  • Migraines

HOW CAN I HELP PROMOTE OPTIMAL FUNCTION AT HOME?

There are loads of things you can do at home to help the Vagus Nerve function optimally. Because it is central to the body’s stress-response system, lowering or limiting stress is one of the most important things you can do to keep the Vagus Nerve working at its best. Anything that helps you relax is going to have benefits in this respect. You could try:

  • Regular exercise, while maintaining a strong breathing pattern through your nose
  • Undertaking relaxation activities, such as meditation or yoga, while breathing deeply through your nose
  • Getting monthly or fortnightly massages to promote relaxation and fluid movement
  • Eating your meals in a relaxed environment

WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?

There are small things you can do daily to keep the Vagus Nerve functioning well:

  • Activate your gag reflex using your toothbrush
  • Gargle with salt water after brushing your teeth
  • Practice humming, deep in your throat
  • Breathe through your nose, especially at night
  • Laugh lots, and often

 

HOW COULD OSTEOPATHY HELP?

Here at the Good Health Centre, there are lots of things we can do that might help you find homeostasis in your body – and this is going to be key to promoting optimal vagal nerve function. We understand there’s a perfect balance to be found between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and our practitioners may be able to help you find that important equilibrium. If your body is in sympathetic overdrive, we will try and help you re-engage your parasympathetic nervous system, which could help the healing begin. If your parasympathetic nervous system is working too hard, we may be able to help you regulate it. 

Potential benefits include:

  • Helps manage blood pressure
  • Helps with heartburn
  • Helps limit digestive problems
  • Helps maintain body temperature
  • Helps decrease heart rate
  • Helps suppress inflammation
  • Helps boost your immune system

 

BOOK AN APPOINTMENT

We have a variety of tools to measure heart rate variability (HRV) which does give an indication to vagal tone. We use visualisation, breathing and biofeedback to improve vagal tone. This particular useful with patients with chronic pain and PTSD. Every patient requires a bespoke approach to improve resilience via accessing the autonomic nervous system.  Reducing sympathetic arousal and hyper vigilance and at the same time increasing the parasympathetic nervous system.

Ready to start your journey towards a happier Vagus Nerve? Book an appointment at the Good Health Centre today.

Myofascial Release and the Treatment of Pain

My recent post about the magical world of fascia, today I explain myofascial release, how it works and why it can be so successful in treating injuries, pain and core dysfunction.

What is myofascial release?

 Myofascial release is a very gentle, no-invasive technique that works directly on the fascia to release tension and adhesions. When fascia is functioning well, it slides and glides, facilitates movement and supports the structure, like the guy ropes of a tent.

If one area is pulled too tight, the structure may unable to support itself fully, with some areas weakening and others being rigid and stuck. Over-use, under-use, injury, inflammation and scar tissue can all cause fascia to solidify, thicken and shorten, becoming restricted, less mobile and tight. As the body compensates, tissues and muscles adapt by over-working, weakening or tensing. One example of this is in a condition such as diastasis-recti. If there is significant tension along the outer abs, the inner abs and connective tissue may struggle to return back together. For pelvic floor injuries such as prolapse, releasing tension or adhesions in the fascia of the pelvis can often help the organs return to their optimal alignment. 

 As fascia is continuous, adhesions in one area can transfer to other places along the ‘thread’ and cause a distortion in the shape of the tissue (postural patterns) and restriction around the nerves (pain) in much the same way that a snagged jumper can change shape, or show a pull elsewhere in the fabric. Releasing any part of the chain can have a profound effect on the entire structure, allowing the fascia to unwind, regain its elasticity and release the pressure it may be placing on a nerve, organ or joint.

For Optimal Release:

In order to release and unwind, fascia requires the following conditions:

Warmth – ever noticed how bendy you feel after a warming yoga class?

A light touch – fascia tenses under force. The more rapid the force, the more it will thicken. 

Gentle, sustained pressure – no pummelling, blasting or elbowing: that will simply cause it to tense even more

Plenty of fluid – it needs to slide and glide, not drag and scrape

Correct application:

Unlike massage, which works by applying rhythmic and mobile pressure to the muscles to increase blood flow and soften the muscle fibres, myofascial release works by applying light pressure to the skin – fascia’s outermost surface –  and waiting for a sense of the tissues yielding or changing consistency. Once the fascia has ‘let you in’, applying gentle pressure and allowing the hands or fingers to follow the line of fascia will enable it to release, lengthen and regain its elasticity. 

There are many devices and techniques available that claim to release fascia. Using something like a foam roller may provide short-term relief from tightness in the muscles, as it increases blood flow and can mobilise some of the tissues. However, if the casing that runs in and around the muscle (i.e. the fascia) has not released, it’s like trying to squeeze into an item of clothing that’s too tight. Like cornflour solution, fascia yields under gentle and soft pressure, but will solidify to resist force. Pummelling tense shoulders, digging elbows into tight glutes or whizzing up and down on a foam roller to release tight hamstrings are more likely to cause more tension in the fascia, rather than release it.

The Benefits of Drinking Stout

7th November was National Stout Day!

While drinking too much can have detrimental effects on your health, as it was National Stout Day this month, we thought we’d take a look at the benefits of stout when this drink is enjoyed responsibly.

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Stout contains antioxidants!

Yes, that’s right! And although they’re in all beers, stout contains nearly twice the amount of antioxidants found in light-coloured lagers. Stout is packed with flavonoids, the antioxidants that give fruit and vegetables their dark colour.

Antioxidants are molecules that neutralise free radicals – unstable molecules that can harm your cells. We usually find them in foods such as raspberries, kale and artichokes – amidst many other fruits, vegetables and nuts. The health benefits associated with a diet packed with plants are at least partially due to the variety of antioxidants they provide your body!

Getting enough antioxidants in your system is great for your heart. Slowing down the deposit of cholesterol on artery walls, this can help reduce blood clots and the risk of heart attacks.

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Strong bones

Taking Guinness as an example, one pint is one per cent calcium, which can boost bone health. A study in 2009 found drinking beer in moderation can help improve bone mineral density, which is a large risk factor in osteoporosis. On top of building bones and keeping them healthy, calcium enables our blood to clot, our muscles to contract and our hearts to keep beating!

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Vitamins and Iron

According to an article from the Institute of Brewing, a pint of Guinness is full of nutrients, including all the B vitamins, except B12. Vitamins play a vital role in helping our bodies convert food into fuel. Three pints of stout will give you roughly the equivalent of a single yolk egg and contain 3% of an adult’s recommended daily dose of iron, which can help boost your energy levels if you’re feeling a bit sluggish.

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The lighter option

Although we don’t initially think of beer as a lighter option, stout is around 50 calories less than other beers – even with the average 8% abv!

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Black Velvet – A weirdly delicious and royal cocktail

Taking a whopping 119.53 seconds (on average) to pour perfectly, it will definitely be worth the wait! If you’re a little more impatient you may want to try stout with sparkling wine. Yes, we’re serious. Commonly known as a “Black Velvet”, the drink was first concocted by the bartender of Brooks’s Club in London in 1861, to mourn the death of Prince Albert. Achieved with a champagne flute of sparkling wine, topped with flat stout to give it the dark, eerie look.

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Be responsible

Although we’ve discussed the benefits of stout, we strongly advise being sensible and drinking in moderation. To keep health risks to a low level if you drink on a regular basis, men and women are advised to not routinely drink more than 14 units a week.

world spine day

World Spine Day (16th October)

With an estimated one billion people worldwide suffering from back pain, it affects all age groups, from children to the elderly. It is the biggest single cause of disability, with one in four adults estimated to suffer from back pain during their lives. Prevention is therefore key and this year’s World Spine Day will be encouraging people to take steps to be kind to their spines.

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Who gets back pain?

Anyone can have back pain, but some things that increase your risk are:

  • Back pain is more common the older you get. You may first have back pain when you are 30 to 40 years old, depending on your lifestyle.
  • Poor physical fitness. Back pain is more common in people who are not fit.
    Being overweight. A diet high in calories and fat can make you gain weight. Too much weight can stress the back and cause pain.
  • Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that affects the spine, can have a genetic component.
  • Other diseases. Some types of arthritis and cancer can cause back pain.
  • Your body may not be able to get enough nutrients to the discs in your back if you smoke. Smoker’s cough may also cause back pain. People who smoke are slow to heal, so back pain may last longer.

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What can we do to help?

Here at the Good Health Centre in Leeds, we also recognise the benefits of osteopathic treatment for a wide variety of muscular and joint pains, and also problems caused by poor posture. As well as back pain, Osteopathy can relieve a number of other health complaints, including some that may surprise you:

  • Headaches arising from problems with the neck and migraine prevention
  • Generalised aches and pains including arthritic pain
  • Aches and pains during pregnancy
  • Work-related discomfort in the back, hands and arms
  • Joint pain, including hip and knee pain from osteoarthritis
  • General, acute and chronic back ache and back pain
  • Mechanical neck pain

Osteopathy treatment involves gentle, manual techniques. Our highly experienced Leeds-based osteopaths can ease your pain and improve your mobility by using these gentle techniques.

Take a look at our website for more information on Osteopathy and what it can do for you or a loved one today.

Osteopathy Leed

National Arthritis Week

This week is National Arthritis Week UK, so let’s look a little more closely at what arthritis is and how the Good Health Centre could help you, or someone you know who’s been affected by arthritis.

Arthritis is a common condition that can cause pain and inflammation in a joint. There are over 100 different types of arthritis, however, two of the most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It can affect one joint or multiple joints and symptoms are often worse in colder weather – so if you have arthritic symptoms, have a read below and see how we can help you to keep your arthritis under control as the colder months blow in. The symptoms of arthritis usually develop over time, but they may also appear suddenly.

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Who can get arthritis?

Anyone can get arthritis!

It often starts when a person is between 40 and 50 years old, but women are three times more likely to be affected than men.

Around 10 million people will seek help from their doctor with arthritis-related conditions each year! It is estimated that 8 million will have osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes the joints to become painful and stiff – it is the most common type of arthritis in the UK.

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osteopathy Leeds

Osteopathy and Arthritis

At the Good Health Centre, we offer a variety of treatments for patients with arthritis – the main one being Osteopathy. Osteopathic treatments can help to reduce pain, ease swelling and, most importantly, improve the mobility of someone affected by osteoarthritis. Treatment is not painful and can often relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis immediately.

Manual therapy, such as Osteopathy, could relieve pain, increase flexibility and improve the quality of life for people living with Osteoarthritis.

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What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a way of detecting, treating and preventing health problems by moving, stretching and massaging a person’s muscles and joints.

Osteopathy is a recognised way of improving the body’s own natural healing ability and is an established method of treating problems with muscles, ligaments, nerves and joints. Trained osteopaths recognise that much of the pain and disability we suffer stems from abnormalities in our body’s structure and functions.

At the Good Health Centre, we offer Osteopathy for both adults and children suffering from arthritis. Have a look at our website for more information on Osteopathy and what it can do for you or a loved one today.