Flourish and Stay Fresh: Natural Healthcare Tips for Safe Summer Gardening

Gardening in the summer is rewarding but can be challenging due to heat and sun exposure. Here are some concise tips to stay safe while integrating natural healthcare practices.

Hydration and Nutrition

  • Herbal Teas: Drink cooling herbal teas like peppermint or chamomile to stay hydrated.
  • Infused Water: Enhance your water with cucumber, mint, or lemon slices for natural electrolytes.

Sun Protection

  • Natural Sunscreen: Opt for sunscreens with natural ingredients such as zinc oxide.
  • Aloe Vera: Use aloe vera gel to soothe and protect your skin from sunburn.

Timing and Activity

  • Early/Late Gardening: Avoid midday heat by working in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Take Breaks: Rest in shaded areas to cool down and avoid overheating.

Natural Remedies

  • Essential Oils: Repel insects with natural oils like lavender, eucalyptus, or citronella. Dilute with a carrier oil and apply to skin.
  • Herbal Salves: Treat minor cuts and scrapes with salves made from calendula or comfrey.

Insect Protection

  • Natural Repellents: Create your own insect repellent using essential oils mixed with witch hazel or a carrier oil.
  • Companion Planting: Plant insect-repelling herbs like basil, marigold, and rosemary around your garden.

Soil and Plant Care

  • Composting: Use natural compost to enrich your soil and promote a healthy garden ecosystem.
  • Organic Mulching: Mulch with materials like straw, leaves, or grass clippings to retain moisture and protect plant roots.

Mental Well-Being

  • Mindful Gardening: Focus on the present moment, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of your garden.
  • Gratitude Practice: Take a moment to appreciate the beauty and growth in your garden, fostering a positive mindset.

By incorporating these natural healthcare practices, you can enjoy a safe and healthy gardening experience this summer.

Celebrate National Picnic Month with Healthy and Delicious Tips from The Vale Practice

Hey there picnic lovers!

We at The Vale Practice are thrilled to share some fantastic tips and suggestions to make your National Picnic Month not only enjoyable but also nutritious. Picnics are a wonderful way to enjoy the great outdoors, spend quality time with loved ones, and indulge in some tasty treats. We believe that picnics can be both fun and healthy. So, let’s dive in!

  1. Pack a Rainbow of Veggies When it comes to picnic baskets, veggies are a must! They add color, crunch, and a burst of nutrients to your meal. Think vibrant bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, crunchy cucumber slices, and carrot sticks. Don’t forget to pack a delicious hummus or yogurt-based dip for a tasty, nutritious pairing.
  2. Opt for Whole Grains Swap out white bread and refined crackers for whole grain alternatives. Whole grain wraps, pita bread, and crackers not only taste great but also provide essential fiber that keeps you feeling full and satisfied longer. Pair them with lean proteins like grilled chicken or turkey slices for a balanced meal
  3. Pick Foods Carefully If you plan to prepare food that will be enjoyed outdoors for several hours, choose foods that will not wilt, melt, or spoil easily in the heat. Good choices include fresh vegetables (raw or cooked), chopped fruit, whole grains, pasta salad, beans, and nut mixes!

    Vegetable kebabs are a great choice and can feature raw or lightly grilled courgettes, summer squash, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms. These can be tasty served with heat-friendly dips such as salsa, pesto, hoummos or baba ganoush.

  4. Protein, protein, protein: Plant proteins including beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, or tempeh hold up well in the heat. These can also be mixed into salads, grain dishes, and casseroles.

  5. Keep an eye on the grill: If you plan to barbecue, remember to avoid charring whilst cooking or wrap meat or fish in baking foil which can speed cooking time and protect the food from the smoke.

  6. Something Sweet: Sliced  peaches, mango, melon, strawberries, and pineapple, or any other combination of fruit create a brightly-coloured and delicious fruit salad.

    Do not forget to hydrate by drinking enough water!

Optimizing Baby Gut Health: A Nutritionist and Medical Herbalist’s Guide to Successful Weaning”

The 13-17th May is National Weaning Week and the motto this year is ‘Wean wise – Gut thrive’. Whilst there are many resources available online and in book form on how to wean and which foods to give to your baby, I wanted to highlight the importance of a healthy gut microbiome from birth. The gut microbiome is the collection of bacteria and other microorganisms in the digestive tract and forms a significant part of the immune system.


An infant’s gut is sterile at birth but very quickly becomes colonised by many different kinds of microorganisms. This is influenced by the mother’s microbiome, whether the birth is vaginal or via C-section, whether the baby is born at full term or premature and whether the baby is breast or formula fed. Antibiotics after birth and even stress can also affect the formation of a healthy and diverse gut microbiome. The most efficient and quickest way to colonise the baby’s gut is through vaginal birth followed by breast feeding but of course this is not always possible so fortunately bacterial colonisation can be supported with the intake of a probiotic supplement. Babies can be given specially formulated probiotic drops which can be added to the infant formula, for example Optibac baby drops.


Weaning is recommended from approximately 6 months of age and at this stage parents can start to include probiotic and prebiotic foods in the baby’s diet. Plant foods are great prebiotics and introducing a good range of different vegetables, fruit and legumes will help to support the baby’s gut and to strengthen their immune system. In order to slowly get baby used to different foods and not to overload the still sensitive digestive system, it is recommended to introduce new foods one by one. Natural live yoghurt is a probiotic food which can be given to babies if there is no allergy or intolerance to dairy. Choose full fat, unsweetened plain yoghurt with live cultures and mix with some stewed and pureed fruit.


The bottom line: As the gut microbiome forms a significant part of our immune system, nurturing it from a young age can help to reduce the risk of allergies, asthma an other immune-mediated diseases.

By Marion Colledge

Smooth Transitions: Nurturing Weaning Week with Parent and Baby Osteopathy

Navigating the journey of weaning with your little one can be both exciting and daunting. At The Vale Practice, we recognize the significance of this milestone and are here to provide valuable support through our specialized parent and baby osteopathy appointments.

As a parent it’s essential to ensure both you and your baby are comfortable and well-supported. Our experienced osteopaths Nagma and Jacqs are trained to address the unique needs of both parent and baby during, before and beyond the weaning period.

For parents osteopathy can help with the physical rigours of parenting in the early years and for mothers specifically, help alleviate any physical and pain discomfort associated with postpartum changes.
For babies, osteopaths use gentle techniques to help promote optimal physical digestive adaptation during the transition to solid foods.

By choosing mother and baby osteopathy appointments at The Vale Practice, you’re investing in a smooth transition for both you and your baby. Our compassionate and skilful team is dedicated to ensuring that you feel informed, supported, and empowered as you navigate the early years of parenting.

IBS Friendly Recipe: Kimchi Wild Rice Breakfast Bowl

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Nourish your gut with a delicious and IBS-friendly recipe recommended by our nutritionist, Alexandra Rock, inspired by Dr. Mark Hyman. Start your day right with a flavorful Kimchi Wild Rice Breakfast Bowl. Packed with gut-friendly ingredients, this savory dish is designed to support digestive health while satisfying your taste buds. Don’t miss out on this nutritious and delicious way to kickstart your morning!

(Credit Dr, Mark Hyman) 


• 2 cups cooked wild rice (cooked according to package instructions)
• 2 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
• 4 strips pasture-raised turkey bacon, thinly sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
• 4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts divided (green parts saved for garnish)
• 2 cups grated broccoli, including peeled stem
• 1 pound oyster mushrooms, divided using hands
• 1 cup kimchi, chopped into bite-size pieces 
• 2 tablespoons kimchi liquid
• 4 large pasture-raised fried eggs
• 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds, to garnish (optional)
• 1 package plain Seaweed Snacks, shredded, to garnish (optional)
1. In a large saucepan, cook rice according to the package instructions, this could be made up to 2 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator until ready to use.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add avocado oil and turkey bacon. Stir until crispy, about 2 minutes, and immediately add garlic, ginger, and the white parts of the scallions, stirring frequently for 2 more minutes.
3. Add grated broccoli and mushrooms. Cook, stirring constantly, until mushrooms are tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in rice, chili flakes (if using), and coconut aminos. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes, remove from the heat. Add kimchi and kimchi liquid and stir well. Set aside.
4. Using a non-stick sauté pan to make the eggs. On medium-high heat, add avocado oil, then add the eggs and cook until the whites are completely set and the yolk is still soft. Plate kimchi rice individually, top with an egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds and seaweed. Add the green parts of the scallions on top.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories: 390, Total Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 208mg, Fiber: 6g, Protein: 21g, Carbohydrates: 34g, Sodium: 1025mg, Sugars: 5g 

Unlocking Relief: Japanese Acupuncture’s Surprising Benefits for IBS




If you’ve been battling the discomfort of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), relief might be closer than you think – in the form of Japanese acupuncture. This ancient practice offers a fresh perspective on managing IBS symptoms, focusing on holistic healing that goes beyond just soothing physical discomfort.


Pinpoint Precision: Forget the stereotype of acupuncture as a one-size-fits-all solution. The particular Japanese approach adopted at the Vale hones in on specific reflexes related to digestion. These reflexes indicate that certain constitutional energies within the body are out of balance, and then treatment aims at restoring balance, thus tackling IBS symptoms like bloating and abdominal pain head-on.


Gentle Touch: Worried about painful invasive treatment? These Japanese techniques might just change your mind. Using gentle but focussed palpation and really fine needles, it’s a far cry from the intimidating images you might have in mind. This gentler approach makes acupuncture accessible to even the most needle-shy individuals. The palpation also gives you, the patient, a real sense of what needs to be treated, and reassurance when painful reflexes improve or disappear during treatment.


Tailored Treatments: No two IBS sufferers are alike, and Japanese acupuncture understands that. The way the illness presents itself is always different, as is every patient’s medical history, so treatment is customized to your unique needs. Whether your symptoms are mild or severe, the treatment will be tailor-made, maximizing the chances of success.


Stress-Busting Benefits: Stress and IBS often go hand in hand – but Japanese acupuncture is here to break that cycle. Treatment will help your body relax, dialling down stress hormones and making it easier to cope with life’s pressures. In time you will be able to say goodbye to stress-induced flare-ups!


Beyond the Needle: Acupuncture and oriental medicine are not just about needles – it’s a whole lifestyle approach. Your practitioner might offer dietary advice, lifestyle tweaks, and stress-reduction techniques to complement your acupuncture sessions. It’s all about giving you the tools to allow you to take control of your health.


By James BoothJapanese Acupuncturist 

Optimizing Hormonal Health: The Impact of Nutrition on Women’s Well-being

This March is National Nutrition Month and International Women’s Week! What better time to look at how good nutrition can support women’s hormonal health.

 What we eat every day has a direct impact on many aspects of our health, including our hormones. We need healthy fats for the production of hormones, protein for the detoxification of hormones and fibre rich foods to help elimination and excretion through the digestive tract. We also need a wide range of vitamins, minerals and amino acids for these and many other processes in the body. Nourishing our bodies with a wide range of nutritious foods is a good starting point for a healthy menstrual cycle, perimenopause and menopause. Are you experiencing fatigue, sugar cravings, energy dips, poor sleep or PMS? Start with the basics:


  • Ensure you are getting proper nourishment with 3 regular meals per day plus a snack if you get hungry between meals. A nutritious meal consists of protein, fats, carbs and plenty of vegetables.
  • Fibre from vegetables, fruit, legumes and whole grains is essential for gut health. Fibre feeds the gut microbiome and helps to avoid constipation, both of which are essential for effective elimination of hormones, especially oestrogen. Ensure plenty of fibrous food with each meal and aim for 30g of fibre per day.
  • Protein is made up of amino acids which we need to get from our diet and which are required for the production of hormones and neurotransmitters as well as lots of other processes in the body. Protein with every meal also helps to balance blood sugar levels which can stop sugar cravings and support mood and concentration. As a rule of thumb aim for 1g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. So if you weigh 70kg aim for 70g of protein per day.
  • Hydration: Drinking at least 1.5 litres of water or herbal teas is essential for hormonal balance. Water helps to flush out waste products from the body, helps with regular bowel movements and it also helps blood flow and nutrient supply around the body. Lastly, dehydration places stress on the body which can negatively affect hormonal balance.

By Marion Colledge

Resolve your Resolutions: Harness the Power of Achievable New Year’s Resolutions with CBT!

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Ready to make this year truly transformative? Embarking on a New Year is not just about resolutions; it’s a promise of personal evolution. Imagine crafting goals that aren’t just aspirations but actionable steps toward a better you. In this article, The Vale unravels the secrets to setting achievable New Year’s resolutions using the transformative lens of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Say goodbye to fleeting wishes and hello to a year where your goals become triumphs!

  1. Self-awareness and Self-monitoring:

TIP: Begin by identifying patterns of behaviour, thoughts, or feelings that have hindered past resolutions.

TO DO: Keep a journal or use an app to track progress, setbacks, and emotions related to the resolution.

  1. Setting Specific and Measurable Goals:

TIP: Instead of vague resolutions like “I want to get fit,” be specific: “I will exercise for 30 minutes, five days a week.”

TO DO: Break larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks. For instance, if the goal is to read more, start with reading for 10 minutes a day.

  1. Identifying and Challenging Negative Thoughts:

TIP: Recognize any negative self-talk or limiting beliefs that might arise, such as “I always fail at this” or “I’ll never be able to do it.”

TO DO: Challenge these thoughts by asking evidence-based questions like, “What evidence do I have for this thought?” or “Have I ever achieved something similar in the past?”

  1. Developing Coping Strategies:

TIP: Anticipate challenges and develop coping strategies ahead of time. For example, if trying to eat healthier, plan for situations where unhealthy foods might be tempting and prepare alternatives.

TO DO: Utilize techniques like mindfulness or deep breathing to manage stress or cravings that might derail progress.

  1. Creating a Supportive Environment:

TIP: Surround yourself with supportive individuals who encourage your efforts.

TO DO: Consider joining groups or communities related to your resolution, such as fitness classes, book clubs, or support groups.

  1. Rewarding Progress:

TIP: Celebrate small victories along the way. Rewarding yourself for achieving milestones can reinforce positive behavior and motivation.

TO DO: However, choose rewards that align with your resolution. For instance, if the goal is to save money, the reward shouldn’t be an expensive purchase.

  1. Flexibility and Adaptation:

TIP: Understand that setbacks are a natural part of the process. Instead of viewing them as failures, see them as opportunities to learn and adjust.

TO DO: If a particular strategy isn’t working, be willing to adapt and try a different approach.

  1. Regular Review and Adjustment:

TIP: Regularly review your progress and adjust your strategies as needed. This might involve revising goals, seeking additional support, or refining your approach based on what you’ve learned.

By approaching New Year’s resolutions with a structured, CBT-informed perspective, you can increase your chances of setting realistic goals, maintaining motivation, and ultimately achieving sustainable change. Remember, the journey towards change is a process, and it’s essential to be patient and kind to oneself along the way!

Balancing the Body Clock: How Osteopathy Helps Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

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When the clocks turn back, signalling the end of daylight saving time, it can lead to a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in some individuals. This change results in shorter daylight hours and can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythms, potentially leading to mood disturbances and various physical symptoms. Osteopathy can play a supportive role in managing SAD during this time:


Circadian Rhythm Regulation: Osteopaths understand the importance of circadian rhythms in overall health. They can provide treatment and guidance to promote healthier sleep hygiene habits.


Pain and Physical Symptoms: The end of daylight saving time can lead to musculoskeletal discomfort, possibly due to changes in daily routines, reduced outdoor activities, or disruptions in sleep patterns. Osteopathic treatment can help ameliorate physical symptoms in combination with  exercise recommendations.


Stress Reduction: Osteopathy can help reduce stress and tension in the body. Stress reduction is essential for individuals with SAD, as the time change and reduced daylight can contribute to increased stress and mood disturbances.


Sleep Improvement: Osteopathy can focus on improving sleep quality by addressing physical factors that may be affecting sleep, promoting relaxation, reducing tissue tension and pain, thereby  enhancing overall comfort, making it easier for individuals to adjust to the time change and maintain a healthy sleep schedule.


Comprehensive Approach: Osteopathy takes a holistic approach to healthcare, considering how physical, emotional, and psychological factors are interconnected. Osteopaths often work in collaboration with other healthcare professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists, to provide a comprehensive approach to managing SAD.


It’s important to note that while osteopathy can provide valuable support, SAD may require a multifaceted treatment approach.. Osteopathic care can be a beneficial component of a comprehensive and integrated strategy, helping individuals adapt to the changes and reduce the impact of SAD on their overall well-being.

Unlocking Inner Peace: How Stress Hypnotherapy Can Transform Your Life

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Navigating The Storm: Getting A Handle on Stress with Hypnotherapy

The key, is to understand that it is not the event that causes stress but the way in which you react to it. With hypnotherapy you can learn skills and techniques that can help you change your response to challenging situations.

How does it work?

Hypnotherapy is an approach based on modern psychology and neuroscience. Hypnotherapy has been approved for use by the British Medical Association since 1955 and is also recognised by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Hypnosis is a common sense and down to earth therapy. It is a state of heightened suggestibility (focused attention on a dominant expectant idea) where through thinking positively and using visualisation, it enables a desired response to take place which helps in achieving a desired goal.

Did you know?

We all go into natural hypnotic trances every day without even knowing it. It’s comparable to being so absorbed in a book or film that the hours seem to fly by, or being in a meeting where your mind has wandered. It is this natural state of mind that is used in cognitive hypnotherapy. Which can aid in alleviating stress.

You never lose control and are certainly never put under the control of anyone else. Hypnotherapy, directly influences the negative thoughts or irrational fears that prevent us from experiencing the full flavour of life!

Japanese Acupuncture and Digestive Health Problems



Chinese medicine and the practice of acupuncture came over to Japan with Buddhism in the 6th century. For centuries, practitioners followed Chinese methods though from the Middle Ages home-grown techniques started to predominate, including the use of ‘guide tubes’ for needles in order to make insertion almost pain free.

Acupuncture has always placed an emphasis on treating the stomach and digestion partly because the stomach and spleen belong to the Earth ‘element’ and are central to the creation of Qi (energy or ‘ki’ in Japanese) and therefore central to immunity and acupuncture energetics, maybe also because China’s regular episodes of famine (generally coinciding with the political chaos associated with dynastic change) led to an obsession with food and digestion. Today in China, instead of asking if someone is well when you meet them, you will ask, “have you eaten?”

Whatever the reason, acupuncture has developed a range of treatments to help digestive issues and modern Japanese acupuncture is no exception. The type of treatment I use at The Vale Practice has been handed down by a modern Japanese master, Kiiko Matsumoto. She trained and worked with several post-war masters and developed a unique system of abdominal diagnosis and treatments based on her experience, studies and training.

Out of this, various protocols have evolved to treat:

  • Gastro-intestinal problems caused by stress (one of the most common causes of stomach problems is sympathetic nervous system dominance). These might include salivary and acidity issues along with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and IBS; stomach or duodenal ulcers.
  • Excess gas and bloating.
  • Constipation and piles.
  • Problems in the mouth and gums.

Because of the digestion’s key function supporting immunity, digestive points will also be used for any case of inflammation.

On another level, acupuncture points on the Stomach pathway or ‘meridian’ are used to support the body’s structure, (it is viewed as something akin to a pillar keeping us upright), while more subtly we use digestive points to improve self-esteem, helping people ‘stand up for themselves’.

One famous acupuncture point you can try for self-help: Ashi no san ri. This is located one hand’s width below the knee (try the left first), and one finger width outside the shin. Massage this point for symptomatic relief if you are tired or suffering from any of the stomach issues mentioned above! A bruised or sore place will be most effective.

Written by James Booth – MAcS


Migraine Awareness Week

The 1st September marks the start of Migraine awareness week. Migraines are the third most common disease in the world with it affecting around 1 in 7 people globally! Anyone can get a migraine, including young children. There are 9 different types of migraine, including vestibular (affecting balance) and abdominal. The most common migraine is migraine without aura, this is usually a moderate-severe unilateral (one sided) headache, that often can last up to 72 hours. An aura, the symptoms that precede a migraine, generally lasts for less than an hour and mostly consists of visual disturbances, such as, zigzag flashing lights, loss of focus in vision and dark spots. Most migraine sufferers generally take the aura as a warning of the onset of a migraine. A migraine may give other symptoms such as, sensitivity to light and odours (photophobia and hyperosmia) and nausea and vomiting. The true physiology behind migraines is not fully understood, but it is thought to be caused by vascular inflammation in the cranium (head) and susceptibility has a strong genetic correlation.  

Migraines have a number of triggers, with the most common being: stress; sleep deprivation and certain foods such as chocolate, coffee and alcohol. Hormones often play a major role in migraines, and is thought to be why women are almost 3 times more likely to suffer with migraines than men, as fluctuating oestrogen levels during the menstrual cycle have been found to be a strong migraine trigger.

There are many medicinal and non-medicinal treatments that have been found to be effective for the treatment of migraines. Many of the non-medicinal treatments are offered at The Vale Practice, such as: Reflexology, which can help to improve the flow of Qi through the head which is thought to cause migraines; Osteopathy and Massage can help relieve restrictions in the neck and and help with relaxation, which may reduce the risk of a migraine attack; Acupuncture has also been found to be significantly effective for the treatment of migraines, with it growing in popularity and now being offered in some areas of the NHS.

If you have any questions about any of the treatments mentioned in this post, please email on info@thevalepractice.co.uk or phone: 0208 299 979. If you want to find out more about migraines, then head over to https://www.migrainetrust.org/


Written by the Osteopathic Team at the Vale Practice 

What is Dry Needling?

The terms “dry-needling”, and “western medical acupuncture” are synonymous. This form of therapy involves the insertion of fine needles, similar to traditional Chinese acupuncture, from which it evolved. In the field of dry-needling, the sites of insertion include muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, and scar tissue; and may also be inserted in the locale of peripheral nerves and/or neurovascular bundles in order to address a variety of neuromusculoskeletal pain syndromes.

There are two important concepts that render dry-needling distinct from traditional acupuncture. Firstly, the concept of yin and yang and the circulation of qi/chi are not encapsulated in this modality. Secondly, dry-needling is a complementary therapy ,to be used in conjunction with conventional medicine to promote health and well-being of the patient, and not an alternative approach.

The physiological effects of dry-needling are purported to be produced via affecting the taut band(of tissue)/ “trigger point”, local hypoxia and ischemia, peripheral sensitisation, and central sensitisation.One of the ways in which dry-needling is said to alleviate peripheral and central sensitisation is via an increase in endogenous opioid release

Another way that dry-needling influences the endogenous opioid system is by increasing the number of opioid receptors, as found in trials targeting fibromyalgia. The most widespread use of dry-needling is for pain relief, both acute and chronic, particularly that of the musculoskeletal system

Dry-needling often elicits an uncontrollable spasming of the targeted muscle. This is known as the “local twitch response”, and recognised as indicator of particularly potent treatment.

Aside from treating trigger points, there is evidence from studies of sufficient rigour recommending the use of dry-needling in addressing plantar fasciitis,  temporomandibular joint disorders and fibromyalgia. In the USA, a double-blind randomised control trial concerning the efficacy of dry-needling in knee osteoarthritis is currently underway.

Written by the Osteopathic Team at the Vale Practice


Butts, R., Dunning, J., Perreault, T., Mourad, F., Grubb, M., 2016. Peripheral and Spinal Mechanisms of Pain and Dry Needling Mediated Analgesia: A Clinical Resource Guide for Health Care Professionals. Int. J. Phys. Med. Rehabil. 4. https://doi.org/10.4172/2329-9096.1000327

Cagnie, B., Dewitte, V., Barbe, T., Timmermans, F., Delrue, N., Meeus, M., 2013. Physiologic effects of dry needling. Curr. Pain Headache Rep. 17, 348. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-013-0348-5

ClinicalTrials.gov identifier (NCT number): NCT02373631 https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02373631

Dunning, J., Butts, R., Mourad, F., Young, I., Flannagan, S., Perreault, T., 2014. Dry needling: a literature review with implications for clinical practice guidelines. Phys. Ther. Rev. PTR 19, 252–265. https://doi.org/10.1179/108331913X13844245102034

Eftekharsadat, B., Babaei-Ghazani, A., Zeinolabedinzadeh, V., 2016. Dry needling in patients with chronic heel pain due to plantar fasciitis: A single-blinded randomized clinical trial. Med. J. Islam. Repub. Iran 30, 401.

Harris, R.E., Clauw, D.J., Scott, D.J., McLean, S.A., Gracely, R.H., Zubieta, J.-K., 2007. Decreased Central μ-Opioid Receptor Availability in Fibromyalgia. J. Neurosci. 27, 10000–10006. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2849-07.2007

Hong, C.Z., 1994. Lidocaine injection versus dry needling to myofascial trigger point. The importance of the local twitch response. Am. J. Phys. Med. Rehabil. 73, 256–263.

Jung, A., Shin, B.-C., Lee, M.S., Sim, H., Ernst, E., 2011. Acupuncture for treating temporomandibular joint disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, sham-controlled trials. J. Dent. 39, 341–350. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdent.2011.02.006

Tough, E.A., White, A.R., Cummings, T.M., Richards, S.H., Campbell, J.L., 2009. Acupuncture and dry needling in the management of myofascial trigger point pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Eur. J. Pain 13, 3–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpain.2008.02.006

Zollman, C., Vickers, A., 1999. What is complementary medicine? BMJ 319, 693–696. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7211.693

Sun Safety

Staying safe in the sun is extremely important, as too much sun/heat exposure can lead to serious problems, such as heat stroke, and with the summer holidays just around the corner, let’s talk Sun Safety!

As humans, we are made up of 60% water, so keeping hydrated at all times is key to staying healthy. We are at greater risk of dehydration in the summer when we sweat more, so we need to drink at least the recommended 2.5L for men and 2L for women of water a day, with 80% hydration coming from liquid and the rest coming from the food we eat. Some great hydrating foods are: cucumber; watermelon; strawberries and spinach. These fruits and veggies also contain salts that help to replace essential electrolytes that can be lost through sweating. Alcohol, although being a liquid itself, dehydrates the body as it speeds up the time that we process water and increases urination, so it’s best to avoid or drink less alcohol during hotter weather. If you do become dehydrated in hot weather, it can lead to Heat Exhaustion. This is the body’s response to loss of water and salts and a warning that the body is getting too hot. You may feel dizzy, nauseous and thirsty. Heat Exhaustion should be treated as soon as possible by cooling down with shade, drinking water and possibly a cool/tepid shower/sponge bath and lying down with the feet raised if you are feeling faint. If left untreated, this can progress to Heat Stroke. Heat Stroke is a serious condition in which a person is unable to cool themselves down. It is considered an emergency if someone is hot, dry and not sweating, confused, has a temperature of over 40 degrees Celsius or loses consciousness. To prevent Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stroke, stay hydrated, stay out of the sun during the hottest part for the day (11am-3pm), wear loose fitting and light clothing and avoid alcohol. 36513E7F-2BA4-4D8A-AA11-BC396C5A0D28

No one likes a sun burn, making it crucial to wear sunscreen daily in the summer time. Sun damage can speed up the ageing process of the skin as well as cause skin cancer. It’s recommended that you stay out of direct sunlight between the hours of 11am-3pm in the summer months, and use a sun cream of at least SPF 30. The best sun creams to look for are those that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as their UV filters, rather than a chemical called Oxybenzone. This is a chemical used in many sunscreens as a UV filter and it has recently been linked to endocrine (hormonal) disruption and contributing to the bleaching of coral reefs when washed off the skin in the sea. However, don’t let these facts deter you from wearing any sunscreen at all! If you do, unfortunately, get sunburned, get to shade immediately, hydrate and use Aloe Vera products to help cool and soothe the skin until the redness has gone down and even after that to help with any peeling or blistering that may occur.

A lot of people take the opportunity during the summer to do some travelling, however, flying to far away exotic places can cause jet lag. This is when you move between time zones, and your sleep pattern does not adjust to the new time zone immediately. When moving between time zones, preparation is key to being able to adjust quickly and get more out of your holiday. A good place to start is a week before you go away, start going to bed and getting up an hour or two earlier or later that your normally would, depending on if you are flying east and west or forward or backwards through time zones. Symptoms of jet lag generally only last for 2-4 days, so if you are staying in a different time zone for only a few days, it may be easier to keep yourself on home time, rather than the new time, so that you aren’t losing too much sleep at either end of your trip. 

Many people struggle to get sleep on long haul flights, which can make adjusting to a new time zone even more difficult. Some easy ways to help with relaxation on a long flight are: drink plenty of water; keep active and move about the cabin when possible; try to sleep if it is normal sleeping time in your destination- using an eye mask and ear plugs may help with this. If you do struggle with sleeping on long flights, try using some essential oils on pulse points, such as: bergamot; lavender;  chamomile; ylang ylang and sandalwood to help you to relax. Switching off electronic devices is also a good place to start if you’re trying to get some sleep, as the blue light given off by devices stimulate the brain into thinking it is day time and keeps us awake. Instead, try reading a book, playing mini board games or even giving meditation or mindfulness a go. Drinking alcohol may help you to fall asleep faster as it relaxes the body, however, it disrupts sleep quality, making you feel groggy and unrested when you wake up. Plus, as mentioned previously, alcohol dehydrates the body, which will make you feel even groggier on the plane. Finally, don’t stress! Stressing about not sleeping will only increase your chances of not sleeping at all, plus, no one wants to be stressing at the start of their holiday! Just use the long flight as an opportunity to relax, catch up on reading and try some meditation.

Written by the Osteopathic Team at the Vale Practice 



How Stress Affects Adolescents and How to Manage it

Stress, in the right amounts, is necessary for growth and well-being. For example, exercise is a form of stress, and it’s beneficial effects are indisputable. Deadlines, too, exert their own unique pressures, but would we be as committed to handing in work (or homework) without them? However, over-exercising can lead to injury and rhabdomyolysis (break down of muscle fibres) and too many deadlines pave the way to exhaustion and burn-out. Stress can soon becomes distress.

The human brain continues to mature throughout adolescence, and is particularly sensitive to stressors. Studies show that the negative effects of stress last longer in the adolescent brain, and elicit a stronger response. In 1F0D0D7B-C976-4E6C-9BDE-FADB56EE4183animal studies, these effects were also linked to compromised emotional and functional skills. The brain of a 15-17 year old, when compared to that of an early adolescent, and adult, is much more vulnerable to stress. Children and adolescents can experience many chronic sources of pressure, such as: social media, parental expectations, peer pressure and exams. In a recent survey of 1,000 schoolchildren, 61% of the respondents said teachers managed stress well, 29% said children and 10% said parents.

It is clear that children and parents could use some help in learning to manage stress, as the stressors themselves are unlikely to go away. Children often look to their parents as role models, yet one survey found that most feel that their parents are “not there” as they spend time on their phones instead. As a parent, addressing the anxieties of offspring can be difficult, particularly as they face novel forms of tension. This in turn causes the parent to become distressed, with knock-on effects on workplace performance, as well as increasing the potential for emotionally fraught confrontations with their child(ren).

Osteopathy and massage may be beneficial for not only parents, but also children in addressing the physical manifestations of stress. Some find yoga, alongside pranayama (breath exercises) to be helpful. Parent coaching can empower parents to develop skills to help and guide their children. Lorraine Thomas is the Chief Executive of The Parent Coaching Academy,  has over 20 years’ experience of working with executives within the corporate, public and voluntary sectors, and holds a first-class honours degree in education from Cambridge University. Lorraine works from The Vale Practice and can be contacted on: lthomas@theparentcoachingacademy.com. 

For more information on parent coaching, click: http://www.theparentcoachingacademy.com

Written by Jackie Tan, Osteopath at the Vale Practice 

Side effects of Sitting

It’s well known that prolonged periods and inactivity can be detrimental to our health, but to what extent?

We all know that prolonged inactivity slows down our metabolism of sugars in food, which can lead to increased risk of obesity and therefore high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. As long ago as 1950, it was found that bus conductors were far less likely to suffer from a heart attack than their sedentary bus driver colleagues! A sedentary lifestyle also means that our digestive tract isn’t moving as much as it should be, this means less efficient digestion and an increased chance of bloating, reflux and wind. 

When sitting, we inhibit the movement of our diaphragm and therefore reduce the amount of oxygen we breathe in. If the diaphragm is reduced in its movements, we begin to engage our Accessory muscles of respiration which are in the neck and shoulders to aid our breathing. This can contribute to tightness in the neck and shoulders, increase stress and reduce productivity as the brain is not getting the right amount of oxygen. 

We should not forget how prolonged periods of inactivity can affect us physically in that sitting for hours on end contributes significantly to upper cross syndrome- which causes neck and shoulder pain and headaches. It can also lead to tightened hip flexors, weakened gluteal and lower back muscles. All of this can contribute to increased episodes of lower back pain and lower limb injury. Pain when sitting

There is hope! Remember, human beings are social animals that are designed to move! An Ergonomically designed desk and work station will help to reduce some risk of musculoskeletal injuries, but it won’t completely eliminate the risk. Recent research has found that regular Microbreaks every 30-40 minutes can be very effective in not only reducing the risk of physical problems, such as lower back pain, but also boost productivity and reduce stress. A Microbreak is a short break lasting between 30 seconds to 2 minutes and can be anything from getting up out of your chair to fill up your water bottle, leaning back in your chair to speak to the person next to you or even going for a walk in the corridor!

There are many ways to remind yourself to get up and move, so why not give Microbreaking a try next time you find yourself glued to your desk!

Written by the Osteopathic Team at the Vale Practice 


Healthy Gut, Healthy Body

The human gut contains 1013–1014 microorganisms, much more than the cells of our organism, and 100 times more Human gut illustration genes than our genome! These microorganisms have evolved to have a symobiotic (win-win) relationship with the human body over millenia: We provide them with a place to live, and they help us with a host of functions. These symbiotic microorganisms, chiefly bacteria, are also known as probiotics.

A healthy gut is indispensable in immune tolerance, intestinal homeostasis, amino acid and vitamin synthesis (processing) of the host, leading to a healthy metabolism. Symbiotic bacteria help inhibit intestinal colonization by pathogens, which can cause illness. A happy and healthy gut microbiome helps to boost energy levels, which can translate into better performance by:

  • Reducing fatigue through better lactic acid breakdown.
  • Controlling redox function, which can delay fatigue symptoms.
  • Increasing ATP levels, your molecular energy.
  • Modulating metabolism.
  • Supplying essential metabolites to your mitochondria – your cell’s powerhouse.
  • Regulating energy harvest, storage, and expenditure.

Poor gut health may be a contributing factor in some diseases and conditions, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, anxiety and depression, autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis), necrotizing enterocolitis, skin disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. One study by The Human Microbiome Project found in stool samples that people with a less diverse microbiome were more likely to be diagnosed with irritable bowel disease, supporting the idea that the human microbiome really does have a significant impact on health.

Gut health can be compromised by stress, which in turn increases gut permeability (leaky gut syndrome). Antibiotics eliminate bacteria indiscriminately, and have been identified as the culprit in post-antibiotics Clostridium Difficile infections.

You can support your gut by feeding it Prebiotics, which are typically fibers that are fermented by your gut bacteria and may also affect brain health. One study found that taking a prebiotic called galactooligosaccharides for three weeks significantly reduced the amount of stress hormone in the body: cortisol. Other foods that can help support gut health are:

  • Omega-3 fats: These fats are found in oily fish and also in high quantities in the human brain. Studies in humans and animals show that omega-3 can increase good bacteria in the gut and reduce risk of brain disorders
  • Fermented foods: Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and cheese all contain healthy microbes such as lactic acid bacteria. Fermented foods have been shown to alter brain activity
  • High-fiber foods: Whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables all contain prebiotic fibers that are good for your gut bacteria. Prebiotics can reduce stress hormone in humans.
  • Polyphenol-rich foods: Cocoa, green tea, olive oil and coffee all contain polyphenols, which are plant chemicals that are digested by your gut bacteria. Polyphenols increase healthy gut bacteria and may improve cognition 
  • Tryptophan-rich foods: Tryptophan is an amino acid that is converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin. Foods that are high in tryptophan include turkey, eggs and cheese.

Probiotics are also available in supplement form, and studies have shown a moderate beneficial effect in addressing the symptoms of depression and anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory disorders.

Written by the Osteopathic Team at the Vale Practice




https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3417654/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5131718/

Rankin, Alan, Ciara O’Donavon, Sharon M Madigan, Orla O’Sullivan, and Paul D Cotter. “‘Microbes in Sport’ – The Potential Role of the Gut Microbiota in Athlete Health and Performance.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 51, no. 9 (May 2017): 698–99. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2016-097227.

Clapp, Megan, Nadia Aurora, Lindsey Herrera, Manisha Bhatia, Emily Wilen, and Sarah Wakefield. “Gut Microbiota’s Effect on Mental Health: The Gut-Brain Axis.” Clinics and Practice 7, no. 4 (September 15, 2017). https://doi.org/10.4081/cp.2017.987.

TMJ Troubles and Treatment

TMJ anatomy The Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is where the mandible (lower jaw), meets the temporal parts of the skull. The TMJ has an articular disc between the two joint surfaces and behind that is the retrodiscal tissue, which is covered in nerves and blood vessels. The TMJ also has many small muscles to allow for its complicated movements of chewing (mastication), speech, yawning and swallowing.

 One of the most common problems to occur with the TMJ is Bruxism (teeth grinding). Bruxism is thought to have several causes, the main one being stress and anxiety which accounts for almost 70% of all Bruxism! It has been found that particularly work stress can play a big factor in causing Bruxism, possibly due to different coping strategies with stress. Other causes of Bruxism are sleep disorders such as: sleep apnoea; snoring and sleep walking/taking, and lifestyle factors, such as: smoking; caffeine intake and high alcohol consumption. Bruxism doesn’t just occur when you’re asleep, it can also occur when you’re awake and other habits such as nail biting, pen chewing and jaw clenching are also considered as forms of Bruxism. 

Disc displacement is also another common problem to occur with the TMJ and is when the articular disc gets stuck outside of the socket when we open our mouths wide. As the disc is stuck outside of the socket and we open and close our mouths, it can produce a clicking sound as the mandible slides over the disc. The retrodiscal tissue can also get stuck in the socket and due to its neurovascular innervation, is the source of the pain experienced with clicking. Without treatment, this can then go on to disc displacement without reduction or ‘locking’. This is when the mandible stops sliding over the disc and reduces the range of movement of the TMJ and causes pain.

Both Bruxism and disc displacement can lead to headaches if left untreated. A TMJ headache is commonly misdiagnosed as a tension headache, however there are a few signs and symptoms to look out for that can differentiate the two, such as: cracking/grinding in the jaw; earache and facial tenderness and swelling. Due to the muscular attachments of the jaw in respect to the neck, prolonged protrusion of the head can also cause problems in the jaw by putting pressure on the retrodiscal tissue which can cause pain.

The good news is that TMJ problems are treatable, not only at the dentist with braces and mouth guards, but also with an Osteopath! Osteopaths are able to treat tensions and dysfunctions in the jaw with gentle soft tissue release techniques and mobilisation techniques to help rebalance the TMJ. There has been significant evidence to support manual therapy in the treatment of TMJ disorders. The osteopath will also give postural and lifestyle advice as well as rehabilitation exercises to maintain the results of treatment and to help prevent the same problem from happening again. 

If you have or think you may have a TMJ problem and would like an appointment, please call 02082999798 to speak to our reception team or use our online booking system.

Written by Helen Reeves, Osteopath at the Vale Practice

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a term used to describe inflammation of a joint and around 10 million people in the UK are affected (source NHS website), including children. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, affecting around 8 million people in the UK. OA is when the cartilage in a joint is damaged or is thin, causing the bone underneath to thicken which can sometimes grow into boney spurs outside of the joint (osteophytes) and increase fluid in the joint. The body will also thicken the ligaments around the affected joint to stabilise it. All these changes can give the appearance of swelling and reduce range of motion of a joint, but they are attempts by the body to heal the damage. These changes to a joint can force them out of their normal position, which can cause pain when using the joint, such as walking. OA is more commonly known as ‘wear and tear’, as it affects the most frequently used joints in our body, such as, the neck, lower back, hips, thumbs, fingers and big toes. 

The second most common type of arthritis is Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), affecting around 400000 people in the UK. RA is an auto immune disease (when the body starts attacking its own cells and tissues instead of unwanted foreign cells) that causes inflammation of the joint fluid and degeneration of the joint surfaces and is most commonly seen in the hands and feet. It is unknown as to what actually causes RA, but there is increased risk if you are female and if RA runs in your family. As RA is an auto immune disorder, there are normally other symptoms that accompany the joint pain and stiffness, such as fatigue and fever.

Manual therapy such as Osteopathy, massage and acupuncture can help with the side effects of arthritis, as they can help maintain joint mobility, reduce fatigue, improve circulation and therefore reduce swelling in the joints and help reduce muscle soreness.

Joint arthritis


Basics of Breathing

Breathing is something we all take for granted as it is something we do without even thinking. Our diaphragm contracts and pulls down to inflate our lungs with air, and then relaxes and our lungs deflate as we breathe out. Human7EA38CD2-6034-4550-B6C7-BB90F354BECBs do this on average 20000 times a day! We have different types of breathing for different activities, such as forced breathing which happens when we sing, exercise or are panicked. When our breathing is forced, we engage other muscles located in the neck and shoulders to breathe in and abdominal muscles to breathe out. These are called the Accessory Muscles of respiration. Both relaxed and forced breathing are regulated by our autonomic nervous system which means we generally don’t think twice about our breathing pattern. However, did you know that most of us only use a third of our breathing capacity? This means our bodies aren’t functioning at their full potential. You may notice signs such as holding your breath for no reason and feeling the need to take a deep breath often.

Breathing deeply and slowly does more than bring plenty of fresh oxygen into our bodies and expel carbon dioxide, it also improves our cardiovascular function and can help to decrease blood pressure; reduce our sympathetic nervous system activity which gives us the flight or fight stress response and therefore keeping us calmer; help improve digestion as the diaphragm is just above the stomach and the gastrointestinal tract and therefore encourages intestinal movement. 

There are various techniques to slow down breathing and make it more efficient. The best place to start is an exercise called Belly/Diaphragmatic Breathing. Start by sitting down comfortably and putting one hand on your chest and the other on the lower ribs, from here you can assess your breathing mechanics and see how much of your breath movement comes from the chest and how much from the abdomen. Ideally, the majority of movement will come from the abdomen, as this means that the diaphragm is engaging well and there is no need to use the Accessory Muscles. From here breathe in deeply and push out your abdomen as much as possible, but keep your top hand movement to a minimum. Try to do this exercise daily or at times of stress and breathe for up to 2 minutes. Belly/Diaphragmatic breathing may feel strange and give some light headedness initially, as your are engaging more of your lung capacity and therefore are getting more oxygen to the body and brain and therefore increasing your potential! 

Written by Helen Reeves, Osteopath at the Vale Practice 

Plantar Fasciitis – Don’t Sell Your Sole For Fashionable Footware

The Plantar Fascia is a connective tissue on the sole of the foot that provides stability for the foot and acts as a shock absorber during walking. Plantar Fasciitis is a painful condition when this connective tissue becomes inflamed, causing pain in the heel with weight bearing, especially if barefoot and walking on hard flooring.

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Plantar Fasciitis is most commonly seen in runners and can be caused by ill fitting footware and excessive pronation of the feet when moving. People who have high or flat foot arches or have diabetes are also more prone to this type in injury. If left untreated Plantar Fasciitis can lead to lower leg and ankle problems.

The good news is that Plantar Fasciitis is very treatable with self help techniques and treatment! A few self help methods include rolling a frozen water bottle on the sole of the foot while wearing socks and stretching the calf muscles and Plantar Fascia before and after exercise. This can be done by letting the heel gently drop off the back of a step. If you’re unable to relieve the pain with ice and stretching, the team at the Vale Practice are trained not only to provide treatment and give advice to help you manage at home, but are also trained to assess your gait and prescribe Orthotics to help support flattened or high arches and feet that over pronate when walking or running. For further information about our gait analysis and orthotics clinic, Click Here

Written by Helen Reeves, Osteopath at the Vale Practice 



Piriformis Syndrome – A Pain In The Bum


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The Piriformis muscle is an external rotator of the hip joint and also a stabiliser of the sacroiliac joint. When this muscle goes into spasm, it is called Piriformis Syndrome and can cause pain in the buttock and occasionally neurological symptoms into the leg (sciatica) as the sciatic nerve is in close proximity to the muscle. 

Most commonly, the causes of Piriformis Syndrome are due to external factors causing muscle spasm, such as overuse in sport or direct trauma. Altered biomechanics is also a key factor in causing Piriformis Syndrome, this is most commonly seen when there is pain on one side of the body, causing an antalgic posture or gait (standing/walking differently to avoid pain), which can then overload the piriformis muscle on the good side. Another common cause of Piriformis Syndrome is regular microtrauma such as direct compression, this can happen if you keep a wallet or a phone in a back pocket of jeans and sit on it frequently. This is where the term Wallet Neuritis comes from!

There are several ways to help yourself if you’re suffering with Piriformis Syndrome, sitting on a spiky ball is a great way to help alleviate the pain and the contraction of the muscle- this works as a type of self massage technique. The Pigeon Pose in yoga is also a great way to help stretch out the piriformis muscle (see link at bottom for guide and more info). However, if you’re unable to get relief from stretching or self massage, the massage therapists and Osteopaths at the Vale Practice are trained to assess the problem and to provide advice and treatment to help get you moving! 

Written by Helen Reeves, Osteopath at the Vale Practice





How To Have a Super Ski Season

Are you hitting the slopes this season? With ski season well and truly upon us, the Vale Practice practitioners have put together a Ski guide for information on the most common injuries and how to prevent them. 

The most commonly injured areas are knees due to the prolonged flexed position adopted when skiing, combined with the forces of changing direction and consequent twisting motion. This can put huge pressure on the ligaments, cartilage and muscles that support the knee.

Click image for source

Click image for source

In the event of a fall when your boot fails to release, you catch an edge on a bump or, as is often the case, someone else skis in to you, excessive torsional load is put through the knee as it rotates outwards. This can result in ligament and cartilage injury, commonly the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament or the cartilage (meniscus). Or, if you are unlucky, all three. This unfortunately is usually the end of your skiing for the holiday. Skiing can also cause pain on and around the knee cap (patello-femoral pain). This is generally caused by overuse and lack of quadricep strength before hitting the slopes for a week but is less likely to cause long term dysfunction. 

Whether you’re a seasoned skier or new to the slopes, everyone is bound to fall at some point. Sometimes falling can cause a neck whiplash injury, so of course it is extremely important to wear a helmet at all times! Lower back injuries are also common for the unwary, or just unlucky skier, usually as a result of trunk rotation in a fall, or even just getting up after a fall. Skiers are also prone to low back pain just through overuse associated with technique and poor core stability. 

Commonly, ski injuries associated with falls happen either at the beginning of the week as your technique and reactions may be a little rusty or at the end of a days skiing when you your legs are fatigued and therefore your reactions and control are not 100%. Of course the fitter you are prior to your holiday the better, but try to resist the temptation of getting the last lift at the end of the day for ‘one last run’ as it may turn out to be your last of the week if you are fatigued. Don’t forget there is less oxygen at altitude so you will fatigue earlier. 

As we have hinted at, physical preparation is important before going skiing, as this will help to prevent injury and enhance your experience on the mountains. As the most force goes through the knees, quadricep strengthening is essential and  wall squats, normal squats and lunges are great ways to improve this. Just remember though, strength is less protective if there you have limited flexibility which is why it’s also important to stretch the calves, hamstrings, quads and hip flexors to ensure good flexibility and range of motion in the lower limb.  

9B2160E3-72D9-40A4-90A2-270006400715Core stability is also very important when skiing as maintaining good control of your movements and your form are key to preventing accidents on the slopes as well as helping to improve your technique. Using a wobble board for a few minutes  at various points throughout the day combined with a pelvic tilts, superman pose and abdominal crunches, if you are feeling good, will help keep you stable and improve your movement transitions when skiing. 

Finally, avoid alcohol during the day.  The effects of alcohol can make people clumsier than usual, making it easier to have an accident while on the slopes, plus there is the altitude to contend with which increases the effects of alcohol. So ideally try and avoid it until you have finished for the day! 

If you’re concerned about an old or current injury, make sure you get it checked out by a professional. Our osteopaths and massages therapists at the Vale Practice are trained to assess injuries, treat them  and recommend rehab to get you fighting fit and ready to either hit the slopes or return to post Alpine life with confidence.

Busting Blue Monday

D318CD44-B0CE-4619-98A0-16C30261A7B8The third Monday of January has been given the title of Blue Monday as it is (supposedly) the most depressing day of the year! With the cold nights, short days and post Christmas-blues, it’s easy to see why we start to feel a little low. It’s also the time where a lot of people are starting to fail in their New Years resolutions and feeling low motivation levels. However, the team at the Vale Practice are on hand to help! Did you know that recent studies have found that acupuncture can have a strong positive effect on patients suffering with depression and stress. It’s been found that acupuncture is effective in lowering activity in our HPA axis (Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenaline) which gives the fight or flight response- our physical and psychological reaction to stress. 

Massage is also great for elevating mood. It works by increasing activity in the parasympathetic nervous system which calms the body and brain during times of stress. Research has found that after massage, cortisol (stress hormone) levels reduce, meaning that massage can have a positive effect not just physically, but also physiologically! Did you know, that as a result of relaxation, the immune system also boosts. Meaning having massage can also help to fight off those nasty winter colds! 

Counselling can also help with coping with difficult feelings, such as depression and anxiety associated with Blue Monday. Counselling has been found to be effective in helping people with mental health issues in numerous reports and studies. 


A Quick Guide to New Years Resolutions


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For many of us, the new year seems like the perfect time to turn over a new leaf and get into new habits to help ourselves grow. Researchers have named this the ‘Fresh start effect’, which means a particular landmark can motivate a person to aspirational behaviours. It’s no surprise that one study found that people who set a New Years resolution are 10 times more likely to change their behaviour than those who don’t make yearly goals. However, it’s been found that 80% of New Years resolutions fail by the second week of February and only 9% of people who make New Years resolutions felt that they were successful in achieving their goals! So how do we stick to our New Years resolutions, so we can look back on our year and feel like we achieved our goals and expectations? 

  1. PLAN how and when you want to achieve your goals. This will mean that you’ll also consider tactics to overcome obstacles along the the way, making it easier to stay on track.
  2. Making your goal specific will mean that it’s also measurable. This will make it easier to track your progress and  where you can improve. eg. ‘i want to exercise more’ changes to ‘I want to be going to the gym 3 times a week’. 
  3. Start slowly and acknowledge every victory- at some point, we have all bitten off more than we can chew when it comes to challenges and goals, however starting slowly and making small changes often will increase the likelihood of achieving your long term goals.
  4. Acknowledge failure and move forward- everyone will all have ups and downs, and it’s good to reflect on a bad day so you are able to identify the problem and act on it. Any goal should allow space for mistakes, and we all know how easy it is to beat yourself up about it. However, instead of being harsh on yourself, focus on how far your have come and start afresh the next day.  
  5. Tracking your progress will help you to identify reasons for slip ups and also see how far you’ve come since starting. This can also be something you refer to on days when you’re feeling unmotivated.



Now the daylight is increasing again (hourray) here are three easy steps to ensure you have a good night’s sleep from leading nutrition expert Dr. Marilyn Glenville.

Health Tip from Dr Marilyn Glenville
3 easy things to try if you’re struggling to sleep
Poor sleep can have a detrimental effect on your health and wellbeing. These simple tips may help:
  1. Avoid all stimulants in the evening: these include chocolate, caffeinated soft drinks and caffeinated teas and coffee. The effect will be to rev you up when you want your body to calm down ready to switch off for the night.
  2. Keep your bedroom comfortable and restful: pay attention to the temperature in your room and make sure it’s not too warm and not too cold. Cooler is better than warmer. Keep the room restful; a quiet, dark, cool environment sends signals to your brain that it is time to wind down.
  3. Have a bath: a warm bath can help you feel more relaxed. Adding some essential oils like lavender, chamomile, marjoram and bergamot to your bath can aid the feeling of relaxation. A few drops of these oils can be sprinkled on your pillow; lavender is especially good for this.


Hydration Smoothie Recipe!

  • Peel aloe Vera fruit, remove the skin and put it into the blender. (Please use fresh Aloe Vera juice if you are unable to access plant)
  • Don’t throw aloe Vera skin away it’s a beneficial hydrator and lotion, rub it into your hands as a moisturiser.
  • Squeeze 1/2-1 lime to make lime juice or peel lime carefully and put it into the blender.
  • Take 2 pinches of Icelandic flake salt (recommended but you can use other natural salts) and place in the blender.
  • Use spring water or coconut – water keep in separate jug.
  • Put Macuna into the blender (used as stimulant not necessary but recommended) www.znaturalfoods.com › Herb & Root Powders
  • Add some honey into the blender.
  • now pour water/coconut water into the blender with all the ingredients.
  • Blend smoothie together.

Monday morning smoothie!


This Monday morning I have a super fast breakfast (or even snack) for you to try out, which could really brighten the beginning of your week. A chocolate and peanut butter “milkshake” (it’s actually a smoothie, I know, but that super creamy and indulgent taste is just too “milkshake” to ignore). That is actually good for you. Which is great, because much as I love berry smoothies, I feel that they’re more summer appropriate- I’m still in winter mode, where chocolate and nuts are required. But I still want those chocolate and nuts to be good for me.
This drink contains frozen banana (you wont really taste it; it just adds sweetness and ice cream-like texture when blended) for one of your ‘5 a Day’, potassium, fibre, and they’re also a source of tryptophan, which is a mood boosting hormone. Cacao is rich in antioxidants, having undergone less of a refining process than cocoa. However, if you cant get hold of this, then no worries! Just use a really good unsweetened dark cocoa. Cinnamon: it helps to boost the metabolism and also balance blood sugar. And finally, peanut butter…healthy fats, fibre, protein, and just the most amazing nutty flavour. What more does your Monday need?


  • 1 cup plant based milk (as always, I used my coconut-rice milk; feel free to use any milk you have. Yes, that includes cows milk, although I find that when I’m using milk in large quantities, say, in a drink, plant milk lies less heavily on my stomach)
  • 1 frozen banana (chop it into chunks and whack it in the freezer overnight)
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1tbsp cacao
  • 1 tbsp. smooth peanut butter (I used the Meridian peanut butter)
  • 2-3tbsp ice cold water


  1. Chuck everything into the blender, and blend. Pulse the blender at first to break everything up, and then for longer periods to smooth it all out.
  2. Pour it into a glass, add a straw, and sip away. Alternatively, if you have my level of finesse, then gulp it down in less than five minutes.

Tip! To make your smoothie with minimum Monday morning struggles: put the liquid ingredients in FIRST, closer to the blades, and then add in the solids and blend. The liquids lubricate everything, making the blending process easier.

10% OFF Chiropody & Gait Analysis in April

“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

GAIT ANALYSIS – This involves a biomechanical assessment of the way you run and/or walk giving us valuable insight into how your movement may be affecting your feet, legs, pelvis and spine, and predisposing you to or causing injury.  Armed with this information Gait analysis helps us tailor an individual treatment and exercise plan which may include orthotic (foot insole) prescription. It is also commonly used in sports biomechanics to help improve performance.
Gait Analysis is usually £90.00, reduced to £81.00 throughout April. (The session will take roughly 1 hour)

CHIROPODY – is the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of common foot disorders. Treatments include – corns & callosity, verruca’s, athlete’s foot, long, thick or ingrown nails, bunions and cracked sore skin.
All treatments are aimed at creating Happy, Healthy, and Pain Free Feet- like walking on air!
Chiropody is usually £40.00 for 30 mins, but reduced to £36.00 throughout April.

Call us too book in for your treatment now!

A little about Systematic Kinesiology

Amy_Stark - Kinesiology

Hello, I’m Amy, the Systematic Kinesiologist working at the Vale Practice.

What is Kinesiology, and what are its benefits?

Kinesiology is a fantastic and truly holistic therapy.  It focuses on rebalancing your bio-chemical, structural, emotional and energetic health – it’s not all about allergy testing which is what it is commonly associated to…

We use muscle tests, all over the body to test how well the nervous system controls its muscle functions, this method helps us find what muscles are reacting normally.  This could be a problem with the nervous system, lymphatic drainage, a nutritional excess or deficiency, a structural issue, an imbalance in the meridian system (energy) or an emotional issue.  We use muscle tests to determine the correct ‘fix’ to use, and then various treatment methods can be applied to restore balance and engage the body’s natural healing mechanisms.

If you are living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or other digestive illnesses, feeling run down and stressed, battling with allergies, aches or pain Kinesiology is a great tool to find out what is at the root of your symptoms and it will get you back on the road to optimum health.

If you have never tried a Kinesiology treatment it can be hard to understand – it’s also hard to pronounce!  This is why I am happy to answer any questions you might have about Kinesiology, and how it could work for you.  Please ask at reception to arrange a conversation either via email or on the telephone.

What do I love about my work?

I love Kinesiology, it’s a fascinating therapy to work with on clients, no one treatment is ever the same as another, reflecting the fact that no person is the same as another, everyone is different.  Kinesiology enables me to use these differences and really help people back on their journey of improved health.

Amy Stark, Systematic Kinesiologist

The Vale Practice, East Dulwich

You can book an appointment with Amy by calling or emailing us on 0208 29909798/ info@thevalepractice.co.uk
Amy works at The Vale Practice on Mondays from 12.30 – 3.30pm

March Running Clinic – pefect for getting back in the swing of things this Spring!

Taking place every month at the DLC, this is one in a series of video and gait analysis work that we offer to educate gym goers on training safely.  Our sports therapists will be on site to aid you in adjusting technique, offering advice and tips on getting started, maintaining your fitness and improving your performance.  Whatever your aim, there are always areas to improve. http://www.thevalepractice.co.uk/sports-specialist/

Come Along for FREE video analysis, biomechanical assessment of your running technique & FREE injury consultations Next Clinic Tuesday 15th March 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Put a Spring in Your Step with 10% off Acupuncture & Hypnotherapy in March

This March our therapy focus is on Hypnotherapy and Acupuncture, we are offering 10% off any treatment for the whole of March to existing and new clients.

Acupuncture appointments are available Monday 4–7pm, Tuesday 2-9pm, Wednesday 1-8pm & Thursday 2-9pm.

Hypnotherapy appointments are available Tuesday 6.30-9pm & 6.30-9.30pm.

If you have any questions about Hypnotherapy & Acupuncture or would like to chat with a practitioner regarding a specific issue then please call us or drop an email across. 0208 299 9798/ info@thevalepractice.co.uk


The Vale Practice ​is offering a 10% discount on all massages for the month of February

The Vale Practice ​is offering a 10% discount on all massages for the month of February:

Deep Tissue Massage​ – penetrates into the deeper layers of muscle to release chronic patterns of tension in the body and is excellent for people who train regularly.

Sports Massage – is perfect for people who enjoy a deeper form of massage leaving the body feeling like it has had a fully body workout.

Aromatherapy Massage – uses pure oils extracted from the seeds, roots, flowers or leaves of fragrant plants (essential oils).  A specialised massage technique which relieves tension, drain lymph fluid and improves circulation, rejuvenating the body and promoting balanced good health.

Pregnancy Massage – reduces stress and promotes relaxation.  It increases the flow of blood and lymph around the body and can help with muscle and joint pain such as back ache and cramps.

Reflexology – Reflexology is a massage system based on working on reflex points of the feet, activating the body’s own healing mechanisms, improving circulation, increasing the removal of wastes and toxins and induces a state of deep relaxation.

Reflexology & Massage Combination – Massage and reflexology  go hand in hand.  Massage of course has a systemic effect, showering the body with relaxation, homeostasis and overall stress reduction. Massage also offers physical benefits, helping to reduce muscle tension and pain created by repetitive strain or general physical overload.

Reflexology has more of a systemic than physical effect. Yes, your feet will feel wonderful and light after a session but the ‘inner’ effects are far greater than we may realise. Reflexology works with a very powerful effect on the nervous, lymphatic and endocrine systems and the therapy allows the internal organs find a place of equilibrium so that great healing can begin to take place.


Indian Head Massage – is based on the traditional Ayurvedic principles of balancing energy, this stimulating massage of the head, neck, shoulders and face using specific massage strokes and pressure points releases tension and restores energy levels.

Holistic Massage – maintains our general health and fitness, compliments traditional medicine in the treatment of specific conditions and symptoms, and offers relaxation.


Running & Sports Injury Clinic for 2016

Taking place every month at the DLC, this is one in a series of video and gait analysis work that we offer to educate gym goers on training safely.  Our sports therapists will be on site to aid you in adjusting technique, offering advice and tips on getting started, maintaining your fitness and improving your performance.  Whatever your aim, there are always areas to improve.    

Come Along for FREE video analysis, biomechanical assessment of your running technique & FREE injury consultations
Next Clinic Tuesday 15th March 7:00pm – 9:00pm


How to stick to those New Year resolutions!










Do you want a fresh start this New Year? The Vale Practice share practical tips and suggestions to help those resolutions stick this time!

Begin at the beginning

‘Change is about breaking the habit of your old self and reinventing a new self’ – Dr Joe Dispenza [1].

According to Lyndall Cowie, hypnotherapist at The Vale Practice, it’s our beliefs and thinking which usually keep us stuck in old patterns and habits, and so that is where she starts with her clients. By discussing their core beliefs around an issue and helping them change the focus of their thoughts she helps clients understand how deeply unconscious behaviour patterns have become. She states that ‘if one is conscious about their behaviour, they usually would not choose it.’ By changing behaviour from an unconscious action to a conscious one, people can make better choices and choose a different outcome.
It’s not easy to unlearn old habits of a lifetime, and they’re not going to change overnight. So recognise that what you’re undertaking may at times be difficult, and that you may experience setbacks or come across obstacles along your way. But with increased awareness you can choose how best to deal with these, in order to overcome them and continue to make positives changes to your life.

Preparation is key

Devote plenty of time and energy to creating a good plan that will set you up for success. Acknowledge barriers that may hinder you in the future, such as time, expense, bother and fear, and create strategies which you can implement, should these begin to impact on your aims. Talking to a therapist or counsellor may help you recognise past stumbling blocks, and find solutions to avoid them this time around. If underlying aches and pains are holding you back from tackling a physical challenge, an osteopath may be able to offer advice and help with these, and a nutritionist can advise and tailor a diet to integrate healthy food into your lifestyle, not only to lose weight (if that is your goal), but in order to give you more energy and mental clarity for the tasks ahead.
Value yourself and acknowledge why you want to make the change, prepare properly, and you’re more likely to find success and make lasting changes.

Tell someone

Involving friends and family in your resolution, either to join in your activities or to provide encouragement and support, is a great source of motivation, which is essential for lasting success. Making a commitment to improve your lifestyle along with someone else will make you more likely to stick with it.If you’d prefer to not involve those close to you, you may find counsellors or GPs are not only a source of encouragement, but can offer advice and help along the way.

Be positive

Many of our resolutions state the negative, such as “I will give up junk food.” Instead, try to be more positive and focus on the benefits you’ll gain, by stating “I’ll eat more healthily so that I have more energy and feel healthier.” Don’t think about what you’re about to lose, but rather all that you’ll be gaining. And if you can include someone else into your goal, so that it benefits them as well, you’ll be more likely to keep to your resolutions. So, state “I’ll eat more healthily so that I’ll have more energy and feel healthier so I can play football with my son” and you’ll be even more likely to succeed.

Adapt and change

Always be willing to revisit your goals and adjust them if needed. This is very different from giving up on them. If your original enthusiasm to change your life lead to biting off more than you can chew, for example by resolving to run the London marathon when you haven’t run since you were a teenager, you may be setting yourself up for defeat. But by breaking your goal down to the smallest possible pieces, choosing to tackle more manageable tasks, you’ll create a habit that sticks.
Amberin Fur, osteopath and founder of The Vale Practice, suggests a staggered approach to building up a new exercise routine, which allows your body time to start conditioning without straining your muscles. As you begin to feel fitter and healthier you’ll look forward to achieving your next level of fitness.

Reward yourself

Motivation is a key factor in successful behaviour change and sometimes staying motivated requires a bit of a helping hand. Signing up to daily blogs and newsletters can keep you focused and encourage you to continue making positive changes to your life. But if you find your energy levels waning or you’re feeling a bit worn out, acupuncture and reflexology have been shown to combat feelings of exhaustion, and an Indian head massage helps to release tension and restore energy levels.
When you achieve one of your goals, reward yourself! A well-deserved relaxing or rejuvenating massage, a new fitness accessory or an evening out with the family is chance not only to celebrate your progress, but will also motivate you to keep working towards your resolution.

Find help

The Vale Practice therapy team includes counsellors, osteopaths, acupuncturists, homeopaths, NLP practitioners, hypnotherapists, maternity specialists, chiropodists, and more.
Open 9am-10pm Mondays to Fridays and 9am-6pm Saturdays at 64 Grove Vale, East Dulwich SE22 8DT. For a health MOT or to book an appointment, call 020 8299 9798 or go to www.thevalepractice.co.uk

CAMexpo clinic of the year finalists

We are very pleased to say we were one of the 4 finalists in the CAMexpo clinic of the year awards 2015. Unfortunately we didnt win, but still consider this a great achievement as we were up against some great clinics from all over the UK. Were so proud of our team here at The Vale, well done everyone!

Super Saturday Smoothie Recipe

fruit graphic





Our nutritionist Alexandra Rock, has shared one of her favourite smoothie recipes with us. Alexandra says ‘Great for a Saturday morning pick me up, it’s taken from from Dr. Mark Hyman’s Book 10 Day Detox Diet. I highly recommend this book, this recipe is packed with nutrients and fibre, tastes good and will keep you feeling great’

If you are interested in finding out more about nutrition or what Alexandra can offer then please get in touch info@thevalepractice.co.uk

Dr. Mark Hyman’s Whole-Food Protein Shake
75g frozen blueberries/strawberries/blackberries/cranberries

¼ Lemon with rind

1 tablespoon of almond butter

1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon hemp seeds

2 raw walnuts

2 raw Brazil nuts

¼ avocado

½ tablespoon extra-virgin coconut butter

120ml unsweetened almond milk

120 ml water.

  •  Blend all ingredients in a high power blender (a NutriBullet works brilliantly) and serve immediately. The nuts and seeds can be blended first so that they are creamy rather than crunchy Enjoy!
  • To activate the enzymes in the seeds and the nuts in any smoothie recipe for easier digestion you can soak the ahead of time in water and then blend as per the recipe. Soak preferably overnight.
  • Fruits, nuts and seeds in the recipes may be substituted for other varieties. The greater the variety in our foods the greater the array of nutrients.

Alexandra Rock Nutrition.

The Vale Practice 020 8299 9798