Wednesday, 4 January 2017


I suffer from a condition called Spondylitis, a painful form of arthritis that when flares up at it's worst causes me to become immobile. It's caused by my hyper mobility and I've had it for over 30 years. I've learnt over time how to control it however, sometimes just the slightest wrong move can send my joints into a spasm and leaves me basically stuck, and in a lot of pain.

I'm an avid fan of exercising when I can, as movement helps. I've also had access to the best physios, rheumatologists and neurologists in the UK, as well as osteopaths and chiropractioners. However, the one thing that I always use and always have in my bag and medicine cabinet is Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel. Many people assume that when they get injured, have a flare up of back spasm, sprains, strains or swollen joints that they should use heat. I've learnt from these professionals that you must always ice first as ice brings down the inflammation from the muscle, which in turn will relieve a trapped nerve and is the quickest way to reduce the spasms. So when ice is not to hand, then this is the one product I carry with me as it appears to be the strongest one I've tested - and I've tested many!

Once applied to the affected area, Biofreeze reduces temperature, blood flow and inflammation. The active ingredients mimic a form of cooling known as Cryotherapy and it's completely drug free, so can be used in conjunction with oral painkillers.  It comes in a handy roll on, gel form and also a spray, which makes it ideal for reaching lower back and neck pain, and once massaged or sprayed on doesn't leave any sticky residue.  It also comes in a variety of sizes so won't take up space in your gym or hand bag.

There are times when I've been in such pain, that I cannot move but as a single mum to 2 children, I have to do school runs etc and have no choice but to grin and bear it. I can hand on heart say that this is the one product that has helped me, and is a must for everyone to have in their first aid kit!

It costs from £3.49 and is available from

Monday, 2 January 2017


Taken many moons ago! My incentive..
There's a huge increase in the fitness industry every New Year with most of us wanting to start up a fitness regime. Running seems to be on the agenda for the majority, as it's free and the biggest hurdle is stepping out the front door (it really is). Before you download your play list and work out your route etc, if you're new to running then you need to check out the following to avoid injury.
  • Never buy 'off the shelf' trainers by just trying them on. Go to a specialist shop where they look at how your foot strikes, lands and whether you pronate (roll in) or over-pronate (roll out). Trainers are designed to be supportive and have shock absorption (the innersole and heel provides this), but every trainer is designed differently according to your gait. 
  • I have always used made to measure orthotics as I am incredibly hyper-mobile (double jointed and out-stretch beyond the norm). Orthotics are great but there is an argument that you don't need them, as you're natural run-stride is forced into an un-known position, which your foot is not used to. I'm on the fence with this argument purely as I found they helped me. 
  • Make sure you have comfy clothing - whilst it's great to get a new running kit if your leggings are falling down, your top riding up you'll feel self conscious. Go for comfort over fashion and support. For both men and women avoid wearing just shorts, these ride up and can cause chaffing. 
  • Girls make sure you have a decent high impact bra on, it doesn't matter what size you are, support in this area is a must.
  • In this weather choose light breathable layers, so you can remove if you get too hot. 
  • If you are taking your phone and headphones, then invest in a running band you wear around your waist. The cases you wear on your arms tend to fall down, whereas a running band keeps things held in place and your arms free to move! I personally love my FlipBelt
  • Next choose your play list. Make sure you choose a mixture of upbeat songs alongside some slower music so that you can lower your pace when you're struggling.
  • Choose your terrain wisely, if you're running through mud it's easy to slip and same with ice (in fact I would personally never run when icy unless along a gravel path).
  • Always warm up first - don't stretch first. You want to warm your muscles with a 5 minute fast walk and then break into a natural stride. 
  • Don't go all out, try a 2 minute jog then 1 minute walk and build up. Set your alarm for 30 minutes and begin with a simple programme. Every week just reduce your 1 minute walk by 10 seconds so that by 6 weeks or so you'll be jogging for 30 minutes without a break.
  • Don't expect to be able to run fast straight off, your body isn't used to this and you'll need to build up.
  • A running partner is great, but you may have different strides and so a group or on own is usually best. 
  • Keep safe - if you are running when it's dark make sure you have light reflective clothing on and stick to well lit areas.
  • Always stretch after - there are lots of images on Google etc that will help you stretch but make sure you stretch all your major muscle groups such as hamstrings, quads, glutes (backside muscles) and neck/shoulders.
  • You want to enjoy this, if it feels like you hate it then go onto another form of exercise - the point is to get fit and you won't if you don't enjoy it.
  • If you do slip or twist your ankle then ice, ice and more ice - never use heat. 
  • Make sure you strengthen your ankles and one of the best exercises is to simply stand on one foot and close your eyes. You'll feel all your muscles trying to stabilise you and it's a great exercise to supplement any type of exercise.
  • You will of course ache however, any sharp sudden pain then stop! However, many issues are simply as you need to stretch, especially your 'Iliotibial Band'. If you get pain from your hip down to your knee then this is often caused from your IT band. This band connects many major hip muscles to the knee and is there to stabilise the knee when your foot strikes. Again another reason to check your running gait before starting.
  • When running downhill you'll need to go slower and make sure you hold your core (inner stomach muscles) tighter. You need to use all your stabilising muscles to prevent injury.
  • Keep arms and shoulders relaxed as many new runners 'hunch up', which can lead to neck pain.
  • If you have any underlying health issues always check with your doctor before you start any new fitness regime. 
That's it for now - have fun, don't push yourself at this time (you can do that when you start to improve)!