Camino de Santiago – yes!

Camino de Santiago – we did it!

On Sunday 29th September myself and Den reached the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela – having set out 6 days earlier and walked the final 72 miles /117km of the Camino de Santiago to get there.  To get there was not just the culmination of 6 days walking, but also a year of slowly building up strength and endurance, after my spinal operation.

Over the course of 6 days we walked 78 miles (which included some detours to visit monuments), with a cumulative ascent of 7,871 ft (2399 m) and 8,201 ft (2499m) descent.  We clocked up 193,099 steps!

So we got there but how did it go?

Day 1: We set out from Sarria on 24th September with an early start in the dark and wet, which made it a bit slippery in places. Slowly it dried up and the sun came out. There was an ‘evil’ staircase at the end to take us up to the ‘Chapel in the Clouds’ at Portomarin.  We walked 14.6 miles / 23.5km and it was hard going in places and our feet were sighing with relief by the end.

Day 2: 18.2 miles / 29.3 km today, which included a little 4.6km detour we added on to visit a 13th century monastery! Getting the hang of this today. Good pace plus made sure we took on enough but not too much fuel and ‘listened’ when our feet told us to take a break. Arrived feeling better than yesterday even though there was much more elevation climb (over 2000 ft!). Said ‘Hola’ and ‘Buen Camino’ to most people we passed! Loved it! 

Day 3: Palas de Rei to Melide. ‘Short’ day – only 9.5 miles but hard on the feet and legs with a lot of steep downhill and loose gravel today.   Found ‘Jesus’ in a lovely church near Leboreiro. At least the American pilgrim thought so enough to take his photo – but we let him be.   Leapfrogging with a young girl walking it in Vibram 5 fingers barefoot shoes today which I though was amazing!

Still loving it – felt like we can keep on walking forever; was almost disappointed to stop.

Day 4: Another wet one! Melide to Arzua. Rained the whole way – which meant we pushed on to complete. 9.5 miles / 15 km. Again, lots of hills and steep downs – felt a bit tricky in the wet. Hardly saw a soul today – where did all the pilgrims go?

Day 5: Arzúa to Amenal – 14 miles. The sunshine after the rain! Started in the dark at 7:40 (UK 6:40) because we really like setting off early. Went from hearing an owl to listening to the dawn chorus. Fantastic!

Loads of walking in woods and countryside – even though the main road was never far away. Hip (arthritis) gave me some grief but ibuprofen helped. Pretty cold and misty at first but then the sun broke through and it was a lovely day! I thought, from what I had heard, it was going to be really busy but we had long stretches where we never saw anyone ahead or behind. It may be because we started early and didn’t stop too much.

Things we found today included:

  • What to do with old trainers and walking boots – flower pots!
  • A new take on ‘beer garden’
  • It only takes a beer and Galician tuna pie to make you feel like you can walk another 5 miles! 

Day 6: Amenal to Santiago de Compostela.
‘What would you like to do today?’
‘Go for a walk?’
‘What again?’
‘Why not?’

We started  in the dark again and after 10:8 miles, in the rain, we’d made it! We were there! The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is a magnificent and emotional sight! 

Unbelievably when we arrived at the Pilgrims Office at 12:30 to get our Compostela– we were the 1210th and 1211th to arrive that day!  

Things I learnt on the Camino: 

  • I can do more than I think – I really wished I’d pushed on on day 3 and walked 19 miles through – but that’s hindsight!
  • I could have packed a lot less. A bit of soap and a hairdryer are amazing at freshening up clothes smelly bits!
  • Merino is amazing – 3 days in the same socks – it’s going to be merino pants, merino tops, merino everything – from now on.
  • Every day is different – weather, terrain, people.
  • Never judge a book by its cover – seen people of all ages, shapes and sizes – it’s amazing just how people push on!
  • How many different aches and pains I can feel in one day and keep going. 
  • It’s appreciated when you try and speak the language.
  • I love walking 🙂
  • I have the best walking partner 🙂

Thank you to everyone who donated to Aspire – helping spinal cord injured people to live independent lives; it is very much appreciated.

Visit our fundraising page if you would like to donate:

https://www.justgiving.com/fu/vivdencaminodesantiago

 

 

The sun has got its hat on! Taking care in the hot weather

With the particularly hot weather we’ve had this week it’s a good idea to be cautious about what activity we do and take care.

The heat can affect anyone but certain people are more vulnerable and you may not know until its too late.

Groups that are vulnerable include:

Older people, especially over 75, babies and young children, people with serious long-term conditions, particularly dementia, heart, breathing or mobility problems,  people on certain medicines, including those that affect sweating and temperature control, people with serious mental health problems, people who misuse alcohol or drugs  AND people who are physically active – for example, labourers or those doing sports, including hiking.

Advice for coping in the heat.

The best way to prevent problems is to:

  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol and make sure you carry water with you if you are travelling, walking or doing sport.
  • Stay out of the heat, particularly between 11am and 3pm, cool yourself down, keep your environment cool or find somewhere else that is cool.
  • Look out for neighbours, family or friends who may be isolated and unable to care for themselves; make sure they are able to keep cool during a heatwave.
  • Get medical advice if you are suffering from a chronic medical condition or taking multiple medications.
  • Avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day.
  • Wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes.

Public Health England have a handy advice leaflet

What about running?

Runners, particularly those training for a particular race – even if in the autumn, often don’t want to miss training and it can be quite frustrating, particularly if you don’t have access to a gym where you can train in a cooler environment.

Read More »

Thoracic disc surgery – my journey.

 

2017 Romsey Relay – no idea what was to come

Many of my clients know I’ve been through a difficult time over the last few months, I thought it was time to share my story, for others out there that are going the same or a similar experience; its a long read so make yourself a cuppa!

I’ve been a runner for a lot of years and also like to swim a couple of times a week and cycle (indoors and out). During 2017 my running fitness seemed to have dropped off though, with a number of things going wrong. I’d sprained my ankle in March and then fell over in 10-mile race in April- flat on my face and had to have my head wound glued. It was an unusually hot April day and a lot of runners were suffering in the heat, I was tired at eight and half miles so just put it down to lazy feet. After, I felt a bit unsure of my footing when running trail but just put it down to mentally getting over the fall. I also noticed I was getting slower in my parkruns, nothing significant and I just put it down to age (I was 56 at the time). In June I took part in a team relay event running from London to Cardiff and all seemed OK, even though I only had 20 minutes sleep in 24 hours, so I wasn’t overly bothered at this stage. Then in July, I got a niggly ‘injury’ which persisted and meant several weeks off running and I struggled to get back. But I did a lot of swimming, completing a 22-mile pool swim challenge over 5 weeks, and I started going to the gym to work out a couple of times a week. Towards the end of the year I’d done a few races, including some cross country and a 5-mile race which I enjoyed, and was only 3 minutes off my best. So, there was nothing significant and I thought things were picking up. I was certain that if I could just get back to some longer runs and get some more mileage under my belt I’d be back to my usual race fitness and distance in no time. I just needed to train harder!

Still some how managing hilly cross country in November 17
Enjoying Christmas parkrun with Santa!
New Years Day 2018 in neon – Friends help me celebrate my 100th parkrun

So, at New Year I was looking forward to 2018. No reason not to, things could only get better…

Except…

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Do you take it in your stride?

Recently some runners have told me that they are trying to increase their stride length while they run.  Some even saying they’ve been advised to do this.

This always concerns me as I can see the injury potential so I thought it might be helpful to have some understanding about what governs your stride length and what happens when you try to increase your  stride length in the wrong way.

The length of your stride is influenced by a combination of your skeletal structure, your muscular strength, and your flexibility.  As muscular strength and flexibility decrease as people get older (if they don’t focus on strength training)  their stride length often gets shorter. New runners may not yet have developed the necessary muscular strength for a long stride. Also often overlooked is the influence of your daily activities and posture!   Trying to increase your stride length without taking into account flexibility and strength will only encourage you to over stride and strike with your heel first ahead of your hips with your knee locked out – and this is a shortcut to injury. Over striding leads to greater braking forces (so will slow you down) and excessive impact. You will tire earlier and move your legs at a slower rate. Read More »

Knees, ankles, feet and toes

Bridge to fitness word cloudI’ve just returned from a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting and weekend seminar learning about treatment of knee and foot dysfunction and the connection between the foot, knee, ankle and the hip.   

The course was delivered by Dr Evan Osar who is a chiropractor (all the way from Chicago) and expert in assessment and corrective exercise to stabilise how individuals move to solve chronic postural and movement dysfunction.

Over the weekend the seminar covered the functional anatomy of the knee and ankle-foot complex, how poor stabilisation and biomechanics can lead to degeneration in joints such as the knees and hips and other conditions such as plantar fasciitis. Also, how exercises commonly given to ‘improve’ stability are more likely to reinforce bad habits, thereby leading to further injury; if these are carried out incorrectly without making sure correct alignment, foot function and breathing are addressed first. Read More »

F is for Fascia

Since becoming a soft tissue therapist I’ve become more and more interested in fascia, its role in the body and what a therapist, can do to effect it.

Fascial release is a powerful treatment in restoring range of movement and you may like to know more about how  it can help you.

What is fascia and where is it?

Your superficial fascia lies just under your skin and contains dense connective tissue as well as fat. It provides shock absorption, space for accumulation of fluids and metabolites, stores fat and provides insulation.Read More »

More that just sports massage

What I love most about my job is how rewarding it is when I can share in the happiness of someone able to return to pain free running or other sport after treatment has helped them recovery from injury.  As a runner myself, when someone gets a PB or achieves their challenge because treatment and exercises have helped improve their strength, range of movement and allowed them to stay injury handsfree, I understand how much this means to them.

I am a BTEC Level 5 Soft Tissue Therapist*, trained at one of the UK’s most prestigious schools (LSSM) and also a UKA Running Coach. This combination helps me to understand how technique, training, stability and movement pattern impacts on the body. So as well as good hands-on treatment which works well, feels good and can produce instantly noticeable improvements, I can offer rehab, exercises and even training advice that really will help you get better. Like trying Read More »

Don’t let injury foil your fitness plans

New year, and many of us are planning some races, signing up for challenges, making promises to get fitter, keep fitter, do the strength Bridge to fitness word cloudwork and remember to stretch.  All of that is great! New year is a brilliant time to take stock of what your priorities are.  Life is often so busy, and distractions are many, that we often get fixated on the activity itself and end up  side lining important supplementary work and treatment, that we know will help us to achieve these goals.

As  a Soft Tissue Therapist, Running Coach and also a keen runner,  I know that making time for strength and stability work is a key ingredient in becoming a stronger, less injury prone runner, but I manage to find umpteen ‘distractions’ to put it off and not get round to it.  Equally I know the benefits of regular massage and soft tissue techniques, not just when injury strikes, but as a preventative treatment and to help recovery from training, but often struggle to ‘make time’ to go for treatment myself.

Read More »

Give your body a service

It’s that time of the year when you think about switching on the central heating, and remember that you need to get a service, to make sure that your heating doesn’t break down in the middle of the coldest spell, when you’re expecting it to work hardest.Bridge to fitness word cloud

Now think of the soft tissues in your body (muscles, connective tissue/fascia, tendons, and ligaments) in the same way.  If you work your body harder and put it under greater strain through exercise or your job, then eventually it could break down as a result of overuse and muscle imbalances. A regular ‘service’ could help prevent that happening!

Overuse injuries can occur from any repetitive activity which could be exercise or occupational actions. During exercise micro-tearing occurs in the muscle fibres and regeneration and remodelling takes place in response, which along with other physical adaptations in the blood vessels and connective tissues allows the body to get stronger. However as the microscopic wounds heal the scar tissue may not completely reabsorb and the tissue may be weaker and stiffer than previously. Subsequent training loads these muscles before they are fully healed and overuse injuries can develop slowly from repeated micro-trauma from overloading in a specific area of muscle.

Overuse can also occur in daily life in repetitive occupational activities such as driving, sitting behind a desk or using a mouse. It can be caused by poor postural habits where muscle imbalances cause overload of muscles.

Because the body is remarkable at adaptation it will lead to imbalances, with other muscles compensating and you can often remain blissfully unaware that there is ‘trouble brewing’ until you feel pain or sustain an injury at another site (which could be remote from the problem). The weakest link in the kinetic chain breaks down!

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What can kinesiology taping do for you?

This week I attended a kinesiology taping master class run by John Gibbons as part of his Body Master training courses.  I was really taping plantar fasciaitiskeen to learn more about the benefits of kinesiology taping application and how I could use it to help my clients with their injuries.

During the day we learnt about the history of kinesiology taping,  how it works and how to use and apply it. Most of the day was given to watching demonstrations and practicing application.  Kinesiology taping has become popular with athletes  (first evident in the 2012 Olympics) but its benefits can equally help those not involved in sport.  We learnt and practiced application of kinesiology tape to help relieve ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, hamstring strains, piriformis pain, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder pain, illiotibial band syndrome and a whole host of other painful conditions.  I am quite exciting to be adding this to the toolbox of treatments I can offer my clients.  Below are the answers to some of the questions you may have.

How does Kinesiology tape work?

Kinesiology tape has been clinically shown to help with the body’s response to inflammation. It decompresses the space Read More »