Shoulder Stretch – ‘The Elephant’

This is a very nice stretch for the early stages of frozen shoulder, rotator cuff injury and other shoulder problems.  It stretches the back of the shoulder joint.

The Elephant shoulder stretch

1. Sit or stand upright.

2. Cross your ‘bad’ arm in front of your body.

3. Bend your other arm around the first arm’s elbow as shown above.

4. Use your good arm to bring the stiff arm closer to your body.

5. You should feel a stretch across the back of your shoulder.

6. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.

- Keep breathing normally while you stretch. Do not hold your breath.
- Stretch gently and slowly. You should be able to feel a stretching sensation but it should not hurt.
- If a stretch becomes painful, stop immediately and seek advice from your therapist.
- Only perform stretches which have been prescribed or approved by a qualified individual such as your GP, physiotherapist or osteopath.

Weekend Reads: July – Swimming, Feeling Fabulous and Andy Murray

Piriformis Stretch Cartoon


1. 5 reasons to take up swimming

2. 10 ways to feel more fabulous in 10 seconds.

3. Heart disease and diabetes can shorten your life by up to a decade.

4. Andy Murray received some osteopathywhile playing at Wimbledon.

5. Depression damages part of the brain – but the change is reversible!


What I’ve Been Up To

Outside of work I seem to have been mostly going for walks on the marshes and eating ice cream!


We went to visit a friend in Copenhagen for the weekend and had a great time!  I expected it to be a ‘nice’ city  but it was much lovelier than I imagined.  We also took a day trip to Malmo and Lund in Sweden, which are a short train ride away.

copenhagan sunset

Nyhavn, Copenhagan


This weekend I am off to IndieTracks festival to enjoy ales, indie music and steam trains.  I’ll be back at work on Wednesday at 3pm.


What have you done this month?

Habitbull: App Review

Every month I’m testing a health and fitness app so you don’t have to.  This month I’m reviewing Habitbull which helps you develop good habits by keeping track of what you do.

HabitBull App Review

App Name: HabitBull

Platform: Android (Google Play)

Cost: Free on Android

Size: Varies with device

Tested on: Google Nexus 5 running Android 5.0 (Lollipop)

What they say:

“Habits are no more than routines which you perform subconsciously. To build one – train yourself. To break one, find another one which is similar, yet different and nicer, and repeat it until it sticks.
To assist you with this HabitBull lets you set reminders for each habit and displays them on days when you need to be successful. This is especially useful if you have a to do list with repeating tasks or if you want to be reminded to do the same thing every day. It can also be used as a calendar planning tool or checklist, but also as a very effective repeating reminder (e.g. to drink water every 2 hours).”



What I say:



+ Reminders help you stick to new habits and record them.

+ Visual representation of successful days is very encouraging!

+  Colour coding each habit makes it easy to keep track of your progress

+ Very flexible – you can pretty much set this to record anything.

HabitBull App Review


– I couldn’t get it to link up with Google Fit so had to put in my number of steps manually.

– Too many options when setting up a new habit.  It’s a bit confusing at first.




The bottom line: 

Once you get started this is a handy app.  It’s been helping me stay on top of my emails and Spanish practice, but sadly I need to try a bit harder to relax every day.  They say it takes 21 days to make a new habit. Give it a go for 3 weeks and see how you get on.

Download it from Google Play.

A Beginner’s Guide to Pain Free Cycling

Do you cycle? It’s a great way to get around town, a fun pastime and excellent exercise.  I love feeling the wind in my hair when I’m whizzing down the road or around Walthamstow marshes.


However, cycling can lead to muscle and joint problems.  I’ve been seeing a lot of patients with bike related pains this summer so it seems a good time to share a few tips.

image by Aaron Kuehn

image by Aaron Kuehn

Common problems associated with cycling are knee pain, low back and hip pain, neck & shoulder tension, wrist & hand pain and tingling.


These can all be managed by:

1. making sure your bike fits.

2. maintaining good posture on your bike.

3. stretching regularly and strengthening your core muscles.

4. seeking treatment where necessary.


 Making Sure your Bike Fits

We have 3 contact points with a bike; our hands on the handlebars, bottom on the seat and feet on the pedals. These three points need to be in the right position for a comfortable ride.

The ‘right’ position will depend on your body shape, the style of your bike and the sort of riding that you do.  There are lots of things you can change in your bike but it is usually best to start with the position of your saddle and handlebars.

image adapted from Ergotec

image adapted from Ergotec


As a general rule:

Knee and foot pain is down to your saddle being too low, using the wrong gear or poor positioning of your feet on the pedals.

Hip and back pain is down to your saddle being too high above the handlebars or at the wrong angle.  You may notice wobbling from side to side when you pedal.

Hand pain is down to leaning on the handlebars too much or gripping too hard.

If you decide to adjust your bike yourself, change one thing at a time.  See how you get on over a couple of rides before you make any other changes.  You may find it easier to book a fitting at your local bike shop, where they will be able to assess you and your bike and suggest relevant adjustments.


Maintaining Good Posture on your Bike

There’s no point having a perfect bike if you sit on it badly.  While riding try to:

– Sit fairly upright.  Only about 20% of your weight should be going through your hands, with the rest placed on your hips and feet.  There should be a gentle hollow in the small of your back.

– Try to keep your shoulders and hands relaxed.

– Pedal with the ball of your foot, not your toes or heels.

– Gently engage the muscles of your back and tummy to hold yourself upright.

– If your wrists and hands hurt, try wearing padded gloves.

I also recommend breaking up long rides with short walking breaks as this gives your muscles some time to recover.


Check back next week when I’ll be discussing stretches for cyclists and when to seek treatment.  In the meantime you can read the Ergotec guide to adjusting your bike and book a cycling lesson (FREE if you live or work in Waltham Forest).

Shoulder Stretch – Resetting the Shoulder

Here’s a great exercise for those of you with frozen shoulder or stiffness in your shoulders.

This is originally an Alexander technique exercise which is excellent for resetting the shoulder position. This is good to do everyday:
1. Place a duvet or thick towel on the floor and lie on it, face up. Place pillows under both elbows and forearms. Rest the hands on your stomach, palm downwards (if that is not possible just rest the arms on the pillow).
2. Very slowly allow the muscles at the front of your chest to relax, allowing the shoulders to drop backwards, towards the floor.
3. Stay in this position for twenty minutes. (Listen to the radio or relaxing music).
Gradually try to lower the pillow to a few towels and eventually nothing.


- Keep breathing normally while you stretch. Do not hold your breath.
- Stretch gently and slowly. You should be able to feel a stretching sensation but it should not hurt.
- If a stretch becomes painful, stop immediately and seek advice from your therapist.
- Only perform stretches which have been prescribed or approved by a qualified individual such as your GP, physiotherapist or osteopath.

Weekend Reads: June. Walking, Halloumi and J-shaped Spines

June is one of my favourite months; the days are long, the weather is warm(ish), the festival season begins and I celebrate my birthday.   While I’m sad to see the end of June, I’m looking forward to July.

Here’s my round up of this month’s health news and an update on what I’ve been up to.


Health benefits of walking

1. An interesting read, even if I’m not totally convinced: Why Indigenous Cultures Don’t Have Back Pain 

2. Dehydration isn’t causing your muscle cramps

3. Would you try any of these 12 bizarre beds?

4. Love the sound of this Halloumi and lentil salad

5. The Guardian brings us 5 exercises for good posture.



What I’ve Been Up To

The real highlight of this month was a 6 day break in Dubrovnik.  It is such a beautiful and historic part of the world – definitely comes highly recommended by me!


A view of the sunset from Dubrovnik’s cable car:

Sunset view from Dubrovnik Cable Car


View over Dubrovnik



The beautifully clear Adriatic sea.
Very clear Adriatic Sea



Boat on one of the Elaphite Islands


We hosted an E17 Art Trail exhibition at Ashlins which was a lot of fun.
E17 Art Trail 2015 at Ashlins
Had a nice walk along the canal from Hertford to St Margarets where we met this duck and her ducklings.
Duck and Duckling


What have you done this month?

Festival Pain Prevention – Essential Stretches iPhone Wallpaper

Are you going to any festivals this summer?  All that walking, standing, camping and carrying heavy bags can quickly lead to neck and back pain.


Don’t let it ruin your weekend! I’ve put together a short routine of essential festival stretches to keep you fit and pain free.  You don’t need any special equipment or clothing, just space to lie down and 3 minutes a day.


Save the image as your phone wallpaper so you always have it to hand!

Festival stretches for pain prevention - iphone wallpaper


Download full size (640 x 1136 px)  With Text | Images Only



– Do not stretch to the point of pain.  Discomfort during stretching is to be expected but it should not hurt!

– Move slowly and gently when you stretch. Don’t rush.

– Don’t ‘bounce’ during a stretch.

– Perform 2-3 times a day for best results.

– Seek professional advice if you are suffering with back or neck pain.


p.s.  how to deal with a bad back at festivals

No Appointments Weds 17th and Friday 19th June

Just a quick note to say that there’ll be no appointments with me available on Weds 17th and Friday 19th June.  I’m taking some time off for a little holiday over my birthday.

I will be back on Monday 22nd June, and Ashlins will be open as usual.  You can ring to make an appointment on 020 8520 5268.





3 Minute Office Stretching Routine

Regular stretching is great! It helps keep your muscles lovely and supple and can prevent aches and pains.  Combined with good posture and regular breaks, stretching helps keeps your body in good condition.

I’ve shared lots of stretches on here in the past, many of which are great to do at work.  To make things even easier I’ve created a 3 minute stretching routine.  Book mark it or print it out and repeat every hour or so.





Stretching routine for office workers and computer users


Try it for a couple of days and see how you feel.  Which stretch is your favourite?

Stretch – Seated Spinal Twist

Here’s another great stretch for those of you who work at a desk.
Stretch your back at your desk

1. Sit upright in a chair with your feet on the floor.
2. Cross your right knee over your left leg. Place your left hand on your right knee.
3. Turn your upper body to look over your right shoulder. You can hold on to the chair or support your low back with your right hand. Take care not to lean forwards or backwards.
4. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
5. Return to your starting position.
6. Repeat on the opposite side.
7. Perform 3 times on each side, once a day.


Keep breathing normally while you exercise. Do not hold your breath.

Move gently and slowly. Exercises should not hurt.

If an exercise becomes painful, stop immediately and seek advice from your therapist.

Only perform exercises which have been prescribed or approved by a qualified individual such as your GP, physiotherapist or osteopath.  This information is provided for reference only.

Download a pdf of this stretch ▶


If you suffer with neck pain, Osteopathy may help you! Call me on 020 8520 5268 to find out more or to book an appointment at my East London clinic.