Get your Cholesterol under Control Naturally

The average total cholesterol level in the UK is 5.7. Current guidelines state that everyone’s total cholesterol level should be 5 or below. 

So how do you lower cholesterol levels?

While we all need to keep our LDL (Low density lipoprotein) levels down we should also be making dietary and lifestyle changes to raise HDL (High density lipoprotein) levels – the so called “Good Cholesterol”

What to Eat of, What to Eat More of………….

Saturated fats and Trans fats are most likely to raise LDL levels in the blood. Saturated fats are found in full-fat dairy foods, meat such as beef and pork and their products. Margarines processed or fried foods and commercially-baked goods usually contain Tran’s fats.

Olive oil, rapeseed oil are better options, as these are monosaturated fats. Omega-3 fats in oily fish can help regulate heart rhythm and reduce blood clotting. 

It’s important  to have foods such as oats, beans, lentils, fruit and vegetables. These contain soluble fibre that can help lower cholesterol, as the fibre binds to cholesterol so that it is excreted rather than absorbed into the bloodstream. An alternative to high-fibre food is the supplement Psyllium powder. 

Sterols and stanols occur in foods such as vegetable oils, nuts, grains, and seeds. Studies suggest that daily consumption of plant sterols or stanols can reduce LDL cholesterol levels, although there is considerable variation between individuals. 

Cholesterol and Statins.

Statins are class of cholesterol – lowering drugs that work by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which plays a central role in the liver’s synthesis of cholesterol.

They are widely prescribed to patients with Cardio Vascular Disease, people with elevated cholesterol levels and / or other risk factors like diabetes and hypertension.

Lifestyle Changes

If you are overweight, its likely that you will not have enough HDL and too much LDL cholesterol. Obesity also increases your likelihood to have type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which are linked to heart disease.

Smoking and high cholesterol both increase your risk of atherosclerosis. Anyone with high cholesterol should make a concerted effort to quit smoking. 

Doing more exercise raises HDL cholesterol and lowers LDL cholesterol, so it’s a good idea to either keep up regular aerobic exercise, or to start doing it. As well as specific activities such as swimming, jogging and cycling, doing the housework or gardening also count.

Stress can cause cholesterol levels to rise, and increases heart disease risk. Consider different methods of unwinding – for example pilates, yoga, t’aichi or meditation.

How Statins Work

Statins lower cholesterol by slowing down the production of cholesterol produced in the liver and by increasing the liver’s ability to remove the LDL-cholesterol in the blood.

Studies have found natural statins to be effective and well tolerated, even by people who do not tolerate synthetic cholesterol lowering drugs.

 Written by Dr Zeeba Sharrif, qualified as a Medical doctor in 1988. In 2002 she obtained her Master’s degree in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey, followed by training in applied Nutrition and Herbalism from the Centre of Nutritional Education.

She is a full member of BANT, NTC, CHNC, The Nutrition Society, Candida Society, Cambridge Nutritional Science and Genova Diagnostics.


British Heart Foundation

Cam lifestyle

Naturally Healthy News

Six Tips to avoid Lower Back Pain

Back pain is the most common symptom we treat at the clinic in Croydon. However there are exercises and simple changes a patient can do avoid symptoms getting to out of control.

Follow my simple tips below:

  1. Practice a regular physical activity to help maintain flexibility and muscle strength in the back and abdomen. Try to aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise 3 times per week where you are getting your heart pumping a bit harder than when you are at rest.

  1. Maintain a good posture (standing and sitting). In prolonged sitting, it is advisable to take breaks and get up regularly. Ask for a suitable chair (which supports the lower back).

  2. Make sure to bend your knees when picking up a load (heavy or not).

  3. Stretch daily

  4. Preventive osteopathy: if you are prone to back and sciatic pain, do not wait to see an osteopath. It is advisable to consult at least once or twice a year, in order to maintain a balance and thus avoid the appearance of acute pain on a "false" movement.

  5. If you are suffering from back or sciatic pain, consult an osteopath who will determine the origin of the pain and provide effective evidence-based treatment (including advises on appropriate exercises and self-management strategies.)

3 Stretches to Relieve Low Back Tension

1) Knee hug stretch

Start position: Lie on your back. Bend your knees and keep your feet straight and hip-width apart. Keep your upper body relaxed.

Action: Bend both (or one) knee up towards your chest and grasp your knees with both hands. Slowly increase this stretch as comfort allows.

Hold for 20 seconds with controlled deep breaths.

Repeat 3 times.

2) Lying Piriformis stretch

Start position: Lie on your back. Bend your left leg and rest your right foot on your left thigh.

Action: Grasp your left thigh and pull towards you. Keep your tailbone on the floor throughout and your hips straight. You should feel the stretch in the right buttock.

Hold for 20 seconds while taking deep breaths. Repeat three times on each side.


Use a towel around the thigh if you can’t grasp your thigh.

3) Lying Gluteal muscle stretch

Start position: Lie on your back. Bend your knees and keep your feet straight and hip-width apart. Keep your upper body relaxed.

Action: Bend one knee up towards the opposite shoulder. Slowly increase this stretch as comfort allows.

Hold for 20 seconds with controlled deep breaths.

Repeat 3 times on both sides

Written by: Sabrina Peyandane, Osteopath at the Osteopathic Clinic in Croydon.

Sabrina practices both structural and cranial osteopathy.

Sabrina has extensive experience treating newborns to teenagers and worked in neonatal intensive care wards treating premature babies. She also has experience treating expectant and post-partum mothers and she believes it is important to treat both mother and baby during pregnancy and beyond.

Sabrina also has a strong interest in sport and sport injuries and is a qualified and experienced sport massage therapist.

Sciatica and Lower Back Pain

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is actually the name given to sciatic nerve pain.

The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve of the human body.

It originates at the level of the last two lumbar vertebrae and the sacrum, and descends to the back of the thigh and knee before dividing into two nerves (Tibial and Fibular) which will innervate the leg and the foot.

What Causes Sciatica?

The pain is due the to pressure or irritation of the sciatic nerve at its root or along its passageways.

Its origin can stem from a variety of musculoskeletal problems such as muscle spasm, herniated disc, spinal joint degeneration (bony spurs) ....

Symptoms of Sciatica

Sciatica is characterized by pain radiating along the pathway of the sciatic nerve: buttock, back of the thigh, calf and ending in the foot. The pain can sometimes stop at the knee.

There is often associated weakness, numbness, and tingling in the leg and foot.

How can Osteopathy help

Your osteopaths will first determine the exact cause of your symptoms.

In some cases, your osteopath may decide to refer you to your doctor for further investigation (X-Ray, CT and MRI scans) in order to accurately diagnose your problem and eliminate any pathological causes.

Sciatica, when there is no associated pathology, may be due to loss of joint mobility especially in the lumbar spine and pelvis.

The resulting tensions and adaptations of the musculoskeletal system will be responsible for the pressures exerted on the nerve.

Your osteopath will perform a thorough clinical assessment exploring the areas where the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated.

The aim of osteopathic treatment is to settle down the acute pain, release the areas of pressure / irritation on the nerve and encourage normal movement of the body using gentle manual therapy techniques, such as soft tissue massage and manipulation of the joints.

Written by: Osteopath Sabrina Peyandane


It’s backcare week with the theme being golf this year. I see a lot of golfers in the Pilates studio with all of them admitting at some point to never warming up before a round of golf. The majority of golfing patients present with lower back pain symptoms, thoracic tightness and hamstring tightness. 

Dynamic stretches for golfers

So here are a few dynamic exercises to ensure you are warmed up and mobile before hitting the course. Each exercise targets key golf muscles and joints. Hold each one for 2-5 deep breaths or to a count of 10.

 Standing Pelvic Tilts:

Stand tall with feet hip width apart and tilt pelvic back and forth. Imagine tipping water out the front of a bucket and then out the back.This will mobilise the lower back.

Standing pelvic Tilts .jpg
Standing pelvic tilts 2 for golf .jpg

Trunk Rotations with Club:

Stand in a putting position and rotate the body from left to right, feeling a stretch around the spine and into the Oblique waist muscles.

Trunk rotation Club golf.jpg

Standing Glute Stretch

Trunk rotation club 2 .jpg
Standing glute stretch .jpg
Standing glute stretch 2 .jpg

Place one foot on the opposite knee and squat back as if sitting down on a chair. Feel the stretch though the hip and into the buttock.

 Shoulder Stretch with Club:

Hold club behind neck and pull outwards on it.

Hold club behind neck and pull outwards on it.

Upper Back stretch with Club

Reach forwards with a club, pushing it away from your body

Reach forwards with a club, pushing it away from your body

Neck Stretch

neck stretch .jpg
neck stretch 2.jpg

Drop one ear to shoulder and apply a gentle over pressure.

So before your next round of golf try these simple warm up exercises and see if you can hit that ball a few extra yards by being more mobile!

Written by Rhea Malkin BSc (Hons) Sports Therapist and STOTT/APPI Pilates Instructor. Rhea runs clinical Reformer Pilates sessions at the Osteopathic Clinic in Croydon.

Rhea specialises in

Sports injuries 

Triathlon Functional Rehab – Pilates

Lower limb strength, running, cycling. 

Sports massage

Chronic Lower Back Pain and Magnesium

Back and neck pain are the most common chronic pain conditions

Back problems are the most frequent cause of activity limitations in working-agee adults. Each year 13 million people go to the doctor for chronic back pain. It is estimated that the condition leaves 2.4 million chronically disabled.

Back and neck pain is the most common chronic pain conditions. Back and neck pain can arise from soft tissues, bony parts of back and neck, and joints holding the spine in alignment. It can arise directly or indirectly from the discs in the back or neck. It can also occur when nerves and nervous tissue, usually protected by the bones of the spine, are compressed by those bones. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that leaves the individual suffering and/or incapacitated. Back pain can be acute (immediate) or chronic (long-term). Acute back pain usually gets better on its own without treatment. However, chronic back pain may require medication and/or surgery.

Study: The effect of Magnesium

Magnesium (Mg) is found in large amounts in the human body and is involved in more than 300 chemicals reactions. Mg sulphate has a long history of use for the treatment.

In the randomised study , scientists evaluated the potential effects of Mg for reducing chronic back pain. They enrolled 80 subjects who suffered from chronic lower back pain and nerve pain, all of whom received traditional treatment such as physical therapy, antidepressants, and pain relievers. Also, half of the participants received Mg through an intravenous (I/V) infusion for two weeks and Mg capsules taken by mouth for four weeks, while other half received placebo during those six weeks.

The Results

The result suggested that the Mg group reported significantly reduced pain, compared to the placebo group. They also reported significant improvement in spine range of motion during the follow-up.

The research team concluded that receiving Mg through IV for 2 weeks and taking Mg capsules by mouth for 4 weeks may help reduce pain, and improve mobility in people with chronic low back and nerve pain.

Written By Nutritionist, Dr Zeeba Shariff who currently treats patients at the Osteopathic Clinic in Croydon .

Dr Zeeba Shariff qualified as a Medical doctor in 1988, in 2002 she also obtained her Master’s degree in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey. She then did further training in applied Nutrition and Herbalism from the Centre of Nutritional Education. She is a full member of BANT, NTC, CHNC, The Nutrition Society, Candida Society, Cambridge Nutritional Science and Genova Diagnostics.

Reference for the lower back pain:

1. Natural Standards. The Authority on Integrative Medicine.

2. A Double blind randomised controlled study of the value of sequential I/V and oral Magnesium therapy in patients with lower back pain with neuropathic component. Anaesthesia- March 2013 68 - (3).

How to Look after your Back on Holiday or Camping

Holiday season is here and many of you will be taking some much needed time off. We get a lot of our patients asking advice on how to look after their back whilst on holiday so we thought we’s share our Osteopaths TOP tips:

  1. No 1 tip, Bring your own pillow, it actually works, your body is so used to sleeping with your own pillow so why not take it with you and pop it in your suitcase or take it camping with you. (Paul Morrisey)

  2. Bring a towel in your hand luggage, it can be rolled up and used as a lower back or neck support and it doesn’t take too much space. (Lydia)

  3. Keep moving - on a plane or at the airport try to get up and move gently every half an hour and try to get an isle seat so you don't have to disturb the other passengers. (Mark)

  4. Lift your suitcases or camping gear with care – always bend at the knees when lifting and remember to engage your core muscles. If you suffer problems with your disc, politely ask someone to help you. (Paul)

  5. See your GP or pharmacist before you travel and make sure you have enough pain killers or anti-inflammatory tablets, you don't have to use them but its better to have them and not need them rather than searching for a pharmacy in a foreign country.

  6. If you want to try a natural anti-inflammatory try taking some ginger tea with you, as ginger is natural anti-inflammatory, also its can stop nausea, which might help if you are taking any boat trips! (By Nutritionist Zeeba)

  7. Laying on a sunbed or the sand can often lead to lower back pain from over curving and over extending the spine whilst reading your book. Use a rolled up towel and place it under your knees when lying on your back and between your knees when lying on your side. (Sabrina)

  8. You cannot change the bed in the hotel I’m afraid but if you have a hard bed put and extra duvet under the sheet so its more softer. If you need more height, ask reception to give you and extra pillow or put a towel underneath.

  9. Whilst its important to relax on holiday its also very important to move around, our spine in nourished by movement, so if you are having some aches and pains, go for a nice stroll on the beach or do some stretching.

  10. Swimming is good for the back, if I were to recommend a stroke I would recommend back crawl, its great for the back and loosens all the muscles. Try to avoid breast stroke as it doesn’t support your back. (Lydia)

  11. Wear sensible footwear that is going to support your spine, or if you need to wear high heels go for wedges that don't over extend your spine as much. (Rhea)

If you are due to go on holiday and having some niggling aches and pains why pop into our clinic for a quick check up.

Why Take My Baby To See an Osteopath?


Cranial osteopathy is a very gentle and holistic approach which focuses on the root of the problem.

The aim is to remove any tensions that may have occurred during pregnancy and/or delivery and restore proper balance and alignment of the body to optimise health and wellbeing.

With gentle and appropriate techniques, the osteopath will re-balance the baby's tensions by working on the whole body (skull, spine, abdomen, pelvis, lower and upper limbs.) It can also release the tensions around the mouth (jaw, throat, soft palate) to allow your baby to breastfeed and bottle feed easily if having difficulty.


Newborn and infant treatment eases the physical stresses from pregnancy and birth and is effective for:

  • Trauma from difficult delivery (very long or short delivery, ventouse or forceps interventions.)

  • Breastfeeding challenges (latching difficulty, preference for feeding on one side.)

  • Crying, fussiness, difficulty settling, colic, sleep disturbances.

  • Digestive issues (reflux, gas, constipation)

  • Head shape asymmetries and congenital torticolis. 

It is beneficial to have your newborn checked by your osteopath, even if no symptom has appeared, so as to anticipate future disorders.  

Indeed, some of the problems developed in childhood can be anticipated.


There is no minimum age. You can take your baby to an osteopath from birth.

If you have any particular concern, the sooner the better.

The sooner the baby is seen, the easier it will be to detect and release the tensions that may upset the balance of his body and eventually create various inconveniences.

But it’s never too late for your baby have an osteopathic treatment.


For toddlers and older children treatment can help with:

  • Immune strengthening

  • Recurring ENT disorders (ear, nose and sinus infections)

  • Asthma

  • Behavioural and learning difficulties

it’s particularly beneficial after significant falls, and head or tailbone injuries, to release strains in the tissue and prevent compensatory postural changes.

The onset of puberty can exacerbate trauma experienced during birth and childhood, manifesting in structural or functional disturbances such as scoliosis, headaches or difficulty concentrating. 
Sports, carrying heavy schoolbags, and computer and video game use can also lead to injuries and imbalances.


Your babies first appointment will be one hour. We will take a comprehensive case history, asking you questions about your concerns, the pregnancy and birth history, baby’s medical history and family history.

Then we will perform a gentle examination of your baby looking at your babies joints and muscles throughout the body, we will also examine the cranial bones of the skull, look inside your baby mouth for a tongue tie for exemple (and refer to a specialist if needed)...

Then we treat accordingly by gently correcting areas of tension to allow baby to continue its good development and prevent future malfunction.

In some cases, we might refer you to your GP or paediatrician for further screening or treatment if needed.


The treatment rebalances certain dysfunctions in your baby’s body and he then will be adjusting to his new equilibrium.

After the session, your baby will certainly be tired. Each baby will react differently.

Some babies will be very sleepy after their session, others will be agitated, will have a transit disrupted for a few days, or will be hungry ..

Within 1 to 3 days, once he has fully recovered from the session, baby's behavior will be normal again.

The result may be immediate or take few days after the session to be complete.

In some cases it may need a couple of sessions.

Written by Sabrina Peyandana, Paediatric Cranial Osteopath.

Sabrina runs a Mum and Baby Clinic every Tuesday with Lactation Consultant Katherine Fisher from 9:30-11am at the Osteopathic clinic in Croydon.

Study: Effectiveness of Osteopathic & Lactation Consultations for Babies

Though the World Health organisation recommend breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months, a lot of mothers stop due to difficulties with feeding in the first three months. This ranges from sucking difficulties to latching on correctly. Some Osteopaths have described cranial dysfunction and restrictions in the skull sutures being linked to breastfeeding issues. If there is an imbalance in the skull or misalignment of the skull this can affect the palette, tongue, and other structures of the head and make the facial muscles too tight and so breast feeding difficult for the baby.

The study

The Fryman study in 2000 explored the effect of birthing on 1,255 newborns, the results showed that more than 88 % of infants had cranial restrictions. Another study in 2009 Lalauze Pol tested 1000 babies identified different restrictions in the sutures and their potential effect on cranial nerves involved in the sucking process.

Another study in 2014 that was held for one year, tested the effectiveness of Osteopathy coupled with a Lactation Consultant took place at a Mum and baby support group in Quebec City, Canada.  The primary group had three Lactation consultants three days a week and an Osteopath. there was a total of 100 mums and babies that took part in this experiment. The babies that took part had biomechanical sucking dysfunctions.

The Results

The findings were:

  • Significant improvement in sucking skills (measured by the Latch score) found in treating new-borns with Osteopathy compared to non-Osteopathic care group.

  • Mothers of babies receiving the Osteopathic treatment reported that their infants also slept better, appeared soothed, and enjoyed lying on their back, whereas they had been perceived as uncomfortable before Osteopathic treatment.

  • Mothers also noticed an improvement in breastfeeding their babies in terms of comfort and the baby ability to latch and feed.

The study highlights that Osteopathic treatment coupled with usual care (Lactation Consultations) for infants with biomechanical sucking difficulties is more effective to improve latch and sucking than usual care alone.

This study highlights that the combination of Lactation and Osteopathic consultants seems to be promising.

At the Croydon Osteopathic Clinic we run a Breastfeeding Clinic every Tuesday from 9:30-11am with Lactation and Tongue Tie Consultant, Katherine Fisher and Cranial Osteopath, Sabrina Pedayana.

Ironman Training and Time Management

How to fit training into your busy schedule

Hello to you all reading this. A few of you may know that I have entered an Ironman triathlon this coming July. The reason I entered this crazy test of endurance is purely to get a tick on the bucket list.

 I have been involved in endurance events on and off for around 20 years.  At times I’ve been quite fit only to let it all slip and get out of shape again. I’m sure that’s a familiar story to some!

 However, the whole time I’ve had this ironman monkey on my back, as it’s the only distance I’ve never attempted.  For those who don’t know an Ironman is a long distance triathlon consisting of a 3.8k swim, 180k cycle and 42.2km run.

 Now it should be said I don’t consider myself special or amazing in any way by entering an Ironman, I believe most people could complete it if they wanted to and trained enough.

 I decided to write this blog as I often hear from patients that they never have time to exercise or go the gym or do the rehab they’ve been prescribed. In practice I encourage people to move more everyday as I feel a lot of the problems patients visit us with are often due to being too sedentary or not being strong or flexible enough.

 I’m writing this blog as I sympathize with the time pressed people I talk to as I now find myself in the same boat. 

How I Manage my Time

 I work around 45 hour per week, which isn’t too unusual, and having hired a coach to help me train for the ironman I currently have to fit in approx. 10-12 hours training per week as well.  I have to fit the training in around my fatherly and spousal duties.  Hence it leaves little time for much else e.g. socializing and house projects are facing further delays I’m sorry to say!

 I find myself fitting in training where I can e.g. early morning, late in the evening or lunchtime if time allows. Yesterday being a fine example, I pressed snooze once too many times so that ruled out an early morning run.  Thankfully I managed to fit this in at lunchtime before returning to work (don’t worry I showered.) I finished work at Cheyne walk at 8pm, got home around 8.30 then it was straight on the bike trainer for an hour before eating enough but not too much.

 Luckily my wife Martine didn’t mind as it meant she had control of the TV last night!

The Importance of Sleep 

Another important aspect of this heavy training regime is making sure I get enough sleep. I have recently read some research which stated that for every extra hour of training we do we need an extra hours sleep to help our body recover from it. 

What this Training has taught me  

To sum up this process has taught me that it’s very possible to find a few spare minutes each week to move more and exercise. Your body will thank you for it in the long run and it will mean fewer trips to see us in clinic.

 Anyway I’m off for a swim now, I shall try check in again soon with an update on my progress.

 Mark Bolton, Osteopath at the Osteopathic Clinic


Why Omega 3 is So Important during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Pregnant and breastfeeding women are eating for 2!

Healthy eating during pregnancy and breastfeeding includes getting the right omega-3 fats. There are different forms of omegs-3s; that are crucial. The main one is Docosahexaenoic (DHA), an omega-3 found in oily fish like mackerel and salmon, seafood, nuts, plant oils and the right supplements.

DHA is an essential nutrient during pregnancy and breastfeeding as we don’t produce it ourselves, so we must get it from food or supplements.  It is crucial during pregnancy for proper growth and development of the baby’s brain, eyes, central nervous, and immune system.  Research shows there are critical times when DHA is needed during pregnancy and if the mum does not get enough DHA during these times, the effects can be long-lasting.

  • Problems associated with getting too little DHA are: 

  • Decreased verbal IQ

  • Inferior communication skills

  • Suboptimal behaviour

  • Compromised fine motor skills

  • Social development in primary school-age children 

  • Mums who don’t get enough DHA are more likely to experience postpartum depression

How to get enough DHA 

Eat 2 portions of fish 150gm per week, of oily fish.

Choose quality fish oil products.  If you are pregnancy or breastfeeding and you don’t eat fish, or you don’t eat enough fish, you can choose to take fish supplements.

Please contact Nutritionist, Dr Zeeba Shariff at Osteopathic Clinic for more details and to get advice  on quality fish oil products that are certified and sustainable. 


Nutritious Pancake Day Recipe

If you are currently trying to cut carbs or on a strict diet, you might be looking for healthier alternatives this Pancake day.

Dr Zeeba, our resident Nutritionist, gives some nutritional advice allowing you to have your pancake still and eat it!

  • Use wholewheat flour instead of white flour to boost your fibre intake.

  • Use skimmed milk instead of full fat or semi-skimmed milk, the consistency of the pancake will still be the same, and you won't notice the difference in the flavour.

  • Add coconut oil when cooking instead of butter, as it contains half the fat.

  • Add fruit and nuts for the fillings, blueberries (for cancer flighting anthocyanin, raspberries for vitamin C and fibre, lemon for vitamin C and chopped nuts, i.e. walnuts for healthy fats.)

  • Go easy on the toppings instead of chocolate that has very little nutritional value opt for a small spoonful of maple syrup that is packed with vitamins and minerals, some include, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6, but remember its still high in sugar so not too much, or try honey which has natural antibacterial qualities.

  • Try not to mix the pancake too much as it will go a rubbery texture and try to let it settle for 15 mins before cooking to break down the flour.

Dr Zeeba currently works at the Osteopathic clinic every week and offers allergy and intolerance test.

Better Sports Performance through Reformer Pilates

If you’re an athlete or training for a major sporting event like a marathon or any field sports like rugby and football or hockey you know what it takes to keep improving past your personal best. You’ll train so much and so hard for even the slightest benefit. It’s the nature of competition wanting to keep surpassing yourself, and giving your best performance each and every time.

The Importance of Tapping into different Training Styles 

This is why it’s so important to experience training styles that others are not using. When the traditional athlete trains, they think of coaches, gyms, and the outdoors.  Few of them consider the Reformer, and how Clinical Reformer Pilates can activate muscles that traditional exercise sometimes misses.

Many athletes suffer from the same-old-same-old style of training:  They have found something that works, so they’re, understandably, sticking with it while they continue to get results.  But the body needs go much deeper than that kind of repetition.  Having a different physical platform and a different path-of-motion can go a long way for any person that is needing to stretch the muscles and re-establish the core balance necessary to excel.

At the Osteopathic clinic in Croydon we often see patients that are struggling with an injury due to taking part in a sporting event or more often suffering from injury whilst training. As an Osteopath I will also recommend Clinical Pilates, as I know it support my patients on many levels and it’s important to me that the patients are finding a way to prevent injury to avoid the same pattern. 

How Pilates supports you whilst Training

Pilates offers a unique take on the diverse needs of the muscles, and helps to promote the firing of deep, intrinsic core musculature.  The Pilates Reformer, as many athletes have reported, provides a wide range of different approaches to more classic exercises. Because of the engineering behind the Reformer, “balance muscles” are forced to cooperate and work synergistically, just the way that nature intended.  This is a far cry from traditional strength machines or athletic devices aimed at targeting one or two key areas.  While that approach has its merits for some, most athletes require a more holistic approach with more muscular involvement.

There are four key areas that a sports person can benefit from Clinical Reformer Pilates

  • Increases flexibility – If you are training regular and frequently taking part in sporting events your activity will naturally allow your muscles to shorten. It’s the shortened muscles that can cause injury. Reformer Pilates allows you to lengthen your muscles whilst simultaneously building strength preventing you from further injury. 

  • Increases Core strength - This is especially important because a strong core means your body doesn’t have to work as hard and it allows parts of your body like your shoulders and neck to be able to relax. This is crucial when taking part in a marathon or sporting event where endurance is essential. 

  • Increases muscle and balance As mentioned earlier it works on every muscle and helps build awareness of which muscles are working and how to stimulate the right muscles. If you are playing a sport that is particularly using one side of your body more often than the other, for example ‘tennis. or golf.’ Reformer Pilates allows you to strengthen the muscles in the arm you don’t use regular whilst allowing you to relax and stretch the dominant arm.

  • Increases Mental focus This is an important factor when training for a major sporting event, when your thoughts are paramount to the success of your performance.  Clinical Pilates allows you to really focus on breathing and movement. This enables you to stay focused when taking part in stressful and major sporting events. 

Long Term Athletic Development

Another concept that coaches are embracing is LTAD, or Long-term Athletic Development. With LTAD the training progresses from general to specific and from basic to complex. Since Pilates is traditionally based in using lighter resistance selections than what we see in more traditional strength-training, and since the multi-angular nature of Pilates is better suited for nearly any sport; Pilates is an excellent choice for coaches and athletes seeking the LTAD style of conditioning.  

The Reformer helps to keep the athlete in the prime position for their exercise. It requires the use of more muscles engaging and less momentum, as the muscles contract together to stabilize the moving limbs. With stability being one of the key components in both sport performance and injury prevention, Reformer Pilates is rightfully earning more and more merit in the world of athletic and sport conditioning.

If you would like to experience the benefits of Reformer Pilates then contact our clinic today to book your place. 

4 Key Pilates Exercises for Osteoporosis

More than 3 million people in the UK have osteoporosis.

You didn’t misread that.

Seriously, a whopping 3,000,000+ people in the UK are estimated to have osteoporosis and osteopenia a condition that leads to approximately 500,000 broken bones every year, according to the NHS.

Now, before people start whispering into your ear about how there is “no cure” and how it is “congenital” and “unavoidable as you age”, we need to gain a quick understanding of what leads to osteoporosis, or “brittle bones disease” as it is often called:

Osteoporosis means that the bones are brittle. Contrary to popular opinion, genetics actually have very little influence over this condition. It is lifestyle that determines how strong the bones are on a day-to-day basis, and every decision a person makes will shape the mineral density of each bone.

This is where you become empowered:  You’re not a victim to osteoporosis at all.  In fact, YOU decide just how strong your bones will be through nutrition, deep sleep, hydration, and of course…Exercise!

For example, Anne, Clinic Pilates instructor at Osteopathic Clinic Croydon says a “Pilates Reformer Squat has tremendous benefits to the heart, joints, leg and core muscles, but it has great benefits to the leg bones, as well. Brittle femur bones are common, especially in older women, but this comfortable, simple exercise puts just the right kind of pressure onto the femur bones to increase the bone mineral density.”

Leg Circles are another great Pilates Reformer exercise with huge benefits to the bones:  Here, your legs are drawing circles, which has great muscular and neurological benefits as well. But, it is the tension created during the movement that stimulates bone growth, forcing bone mineral density to increase.

The Frog is yet another common Reformer exercise that builds bone.  Not only will the hips benefit greatly (making it less likely to undergo hip surgery down the road), but osteoporosis will be turned around readily as bone mass rebuilds due to the healthy, powerful force vectors present in this exercise.

The Quadruped is a great all round exercise that builds strength, coordination and balance. This is a straightforward exercise to do at home, and if you are unsure how to do this exercise watch Anne’s video here.

But it’s not just the lower body bones that benefit from Pilates exercise: The “Lat Pull”, or “Row” as it is sometimes called, is great for building the bone mineral density within the arms (both upper and lower arms) as your shoulders move you through a large range of motion. Even the often-troubled vertebrae will see some bone development as you move through this and similar resistance exercise using our Pilates Reformer.

 If this sounds a bit confusing, or if you find yourself thinking that you’re not ready to take these exercises on alone, then there is no need to worry - Anne is our expert in Clinical Pilates for Osteoporosis, and she’s available to guide you through the process smoothly and safely.

Anne is a Specialist in Osteoporosis who currently treats patients at the Osteopathic Clinic in Croydon 

Why Your Body Needs a Detox

If you’ve always shied away from a body detox, believing it is too complicated and unpleasant (all that fasting and diet restrictions) then read on……..there is a more comfortable and better way.

Detoxing is becoming increasingly popular, with more researchers and health care professionals backing its value. And that’s a good thing, because with today’s high-tech modern lifestyle, your communications systems may have become faster, but your body’s eliminative system has probably slowed down.

In the opinion of many researchers and health care professional’s, a whole body and organs detox is the superior road to better health.Even though we may be eating a healthy diet, exercising and taking good quality supplements, our bodies may still need to be cleansed from other toxins, such as the build-up of toxic metals. However, from time to time, our bodies need to be cleansed from harmful build-ups to really function at their best. We are exposed to toxins in all manner of ways, from receiving amalgam fillings at the dentist; eating fish that has been contaminated with chemicals, being exposed to industrial fumes and eating food that has been sprayed with pesticides.

Over time impurities accumulate in the body’s digestive system. The elimination process works hard to get rid of them, but as the load increases, it becomes sluggish inefficient.

You feel literally weighed down and may well lack energy, and your first point of call may be to reach for the caffeine.

Think of a car engine that needs to decoke its extra power and smooth running that result. When you cleanse and encourage your body’s elimination system, ridding yourself of all those toxins, your whole body and its organs are rejuvenated. The result is a wonderful pick-me-up. You feel as if you have shed the load you’ve had been carrying around with you.

We can detox and cleanse your kidneys

Detox and cleanse your liver

Detox and cleanse the whole of your body, colon and skin.

Take this on board, and soon you’ll learn what it feels like to be really clean from the inside out…….

Please note: There are many ways you can detox, and it really does depend on the individual and what other medication you are taking and also any health concerns you may have. If you are serious about cleansing then why not book in for a consultation with Nutritionist, Dr Zeeba at the Croydon, Osteopathic clinic.

Diastasis Recti - Stomach Muscle separation after Pregnancy

What is Diastasis Recti?

Yup! its that word nobody can pronounce properly!

So what is ‘diastasis recti’ and why do my stomach muscles separate during pregnancy?

Diastasis recti is a separated of the stomach muscles during pregnancy which is natural as this allows the muscles and the connective tissues to stretch to accommodate your new baby.

After Pregnancy

It can, however, take several months for the muscles to come towards the midline again, but for some individuals, this separation remains and unfortunately can cause problems if left unaddressed.

The affects of stomach muscles separation (Diastasis Recti)

This increased separation can lead:

  • Weakened core muscles

  • Back pain

  • Postpartum belly

  • Possible herniation

What can I do?

When you are pregnant, an important hormone called Relaxin which allows your body to prepare and muscles to prepare for giving birth. It also allows your muscles and joints to soften and stretch. Relaxin is still in your system after birth, so you have to take it easy on your body and not rush and do too much exercise.

Fortunately, Diastasis Recti can be addressed and significantly improved by introducing some specific core strengthening exercises and avoiding certain abdominal work. (Yup! No crunches and planks in the beginning ladies!!)

No two births are the same and so many changes have occurred pre/during and after pregnancy .

It’s important to check if you think you may have Diastasis recti…….There is a way!!

How to Test?

Its recommended to wait 6-13 weeks before self testing.

After this you can do the following:

Step 1: Lay on your back, feet flat and knees bent.

Step 2: Relax all muscles and take the middle three fingers and place them towards the navel with your fingers pointing down.

Step 3: Now gently lift your head. See if your fingers sink into the centre of your abdominal. Repeat this step by checking the midline above and below the naval. If the gap is wider than 2 fingers, you may have a diastasis recti. (I would not panic at this stage as your body can still improve and the muscles do take time to move back into place.)

A gap of 4-5 fingers? Go and make an appointment with your GP.

Now What?

As mentioned earlier, please don’t panic as a lot can be done to help and improve Diastasis Recti.

Slowly and gently and mindfully is the way forward. That's why Pilates is an excellent way to gently support the muscles and core.

Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts


  • Address Posture

  • Learn to change position from lying on your back to standing correctly

  • Let your body heal and spend to with your baby

  • Focused breathing

  • Pelvic floor exercises

  • Gently core work

  • Kinesic tape (can assist)

  • Try Pilates


  • Avoid crunches, sit-ups, planks plymetricts (star jumps), running.

  • Increasing intra abdominal pressure this will place extra force through the already divided muscles.

  • Avoid abdominal ‘bulging’ or ‘doming’

If you feel you need a bit of support and guidance or tummy check, contact the clinic and book for consultation with Martine who would be happy to assist.

By Martine McDonnell-Bolton, Pilates Practitioner.

Martine is a Senior Pilates Practitioner with nearly 20 years of teaching experience. Originally in Australia she has worked in all aspects of Pilates. However, since becoming a mother herself in 2013, her experience and knowledge of working with mothers through all aspects of pre/during and post pregnancy deepened profoundly.


Your Body after Birth

I remember after birth, and I am not afraid or embarrassed to say that I had a fragile pelvic floor. Yes, I leaked when I laughed, leaked when I coughed and leaked when I sneezed! It became a joke amongst friends, that’s me forever in Tena pads!

 But listen and here’s the important bit, your body WILL IMPROVE, so if you are feeling like it will never be the same, I promise it will get better. But you need to make sure you do it safely and not jump back into very active exercise too quickly like running, high impact or lifting heavy weights or bags. 

 Your core takes a massive hit when pregnant as your pelvic floor, back and stomach have to adjust to carrying the extra weight. Your stomach muscles often separate called ‘diastasis recti’ to allow the bump to grow. 

Also, your body is not as stable or secure while pregnant as the hormone relaxin kicks in and relaxes the ligaments and pelvis and softens the cervix, ready for your baby. This all puts extra pressure on our muscles to work harder. 

 So, what is the benefit of doing Postnatal Pilates after birth? 

 Postnatal and Reformer Pilates is perfect after birth as it strengthens that all-important abdominal basket, which consists of the abdominal muscles, the back muscles and the pelvic floor. 

 We are all different, and we will all have our own issues and concerns after birth. Some will want to lose weight or strengthen the stomach after a C-section. Some may be concerned about their stomach muscles and would like safe exercises to do this. Some may have discovered a prolapse after birth and have concerns on how to manage it, or what exercises you can do safely and how to improve it. 

The benefits of doing Pilates is that it’s perfect for all these issues as it focuses on the following areas:

 Strengthens the Pelvic floor

 Like myself, I was given some exercises after birth with very little guidance, and sometimes these can do more harm than good. In a one to one session the Pilates teacher will give your specific exercises to restore your pelvic floor and strengthen your core muscles to improve your stability and strength. If you have suffered from a prolapse or incontinence the exercises will start to strengthen the muscles surrounding this.

 Stomach Muscle separation 

 Pilates concentrate on the deep abdominal muscles and the transverse abdominal muscles. By strengthening these muscles, it can allow for Diastasis Recti to improve and Martine (Pilates Instructor) will give your individual exercises and show you the correct way to strengthen your muscle. This will also have a positive effect on your back and avoid you getting backache and help improve your posture. 

 When can I start exercising after birth? 

 It is advised that new mums do not exercise at all till at least 6 weeks after birth for natural delivery and 12 weeks if you a have had a C section. You need to give your body a chance to rest and heal. After this, we can start to help you strengthen and restore your core muscles.

 What happens during a 1 to 1 session 

During the session, initially, we will have a 15-minute consultation to discuss your birth and the key areas you would like to focus on in the session. 

We will then asses your muscle strength and any areas we feel would be beneficial to work on. 

You will then run through various Pilates exercises using the reformer and mat works and start a tailored exercise plan.

One of the benefits of the one to one session is the exercises can be much more tailored to your needs even to the point where the teacher can give you the number of repetitions that would be ideal for yourself.

 At the clinic we also offer Duet Postnatal Training sessions this allows for you to train alongside another mum or a friend.  Here you can take advantage of the reduced price but also give you a chance to motivate each other and train together. 

 Meet our Women’s health Pilates instructor

Martine is currently our Women’s health Pilates teacher, and she has experience with pregnancy Pilates and pre and postnatal care and has been treating mums since year 2000. Martine is also a mum too so has first-hand experience in women’s health issues after birth. In addition, she has experience working with spine and disc pathologies, scoliosis and sacroiliac dysfunction, knee, ankle and shoulder rehabilitation pre and postoperative and individuals with physical disabilities. Through this, she assists in re-educating, retraining and reiterating more economical solutions for you and your bodies to increase strength and keep the potential for injury and dysfunction to a minimum.

 What Martine says..

“What I love about working with people, is finding a unique approach to each individual and assisting their physical health and unlocking their highest potential.”

The Postnatal Pilates sessions are currently available every Friday by appointment only. subject to enquiry and availability.

A consultation is required beforehand so Martine can assess your fitness levels and discuss any concerns or area you want to focus on.

To find out more contact the clinic on 0208 6621155 or email on


Written by: Micala Sansom

Weaning your Baby onto Solids

Me, know best?

It doesn't always feel like that, especially when you are a new parent trying not to get into an acute state of anxiety about feeding your baby. We lack confidence in our ability to get it right. When your baby's first food is offered and rejected, we can feel bad and lose faith in our ability to cope. We can become immersed in a whole clutch of ‘difficulties' such as;

  • Establishing which food that is healthy?

  • What should be given at what stage and in what form?

  • Getting your baby to accept what seems appropriate?

The whole business of feeding your baby can leave us nothing short of desperate, dashing out on last-minute errands to stock up on the latest food or item of equipment suggested by the health visitor or the baby magazine that might help solve the problem. We can quickly lose any sense of perspective and faith that we will ever get the feeding right before the child becomes ill with some severe nutritional imbalance.

Baby-food manufacturers make a profitable industry out of exploiting these anxieties and our desire to feed our babies the best we can. The Baby Food market is worth more than £164,000 Million and growing.


And knowing best isn't that difficult. There are just two guiding principles:

  1. We need to feed our babies on fresh foods, prepared from excellent quality raw materials and avoid processed foods where possible or limit it.

  2. We need to accustom them gradually to eat the same food as ourselves, just in a more baby-friendly way.

Following these two principles, it is clear that the food we prepare at home will be the best food.


  • We can select the best quality food.

  • It will retain more natural nutritional goodness.

  • Our baby won't be eating the cheap industrial fillers.

  • The food the baby eats will taste better because it is just mushed –up real food.

  • Our baby will get used to the wide variety of flavours found in real, unprocessed food.

  • We can vary the textures and reflect the differences that occur naturally in unprocessed food.

  • It will save you money.

  • We can start off by feeding them the same food we eat, only in a different form.

For many anxious first- time parents especially, the application of these principles can feel like a heavy responsibility which demands a considerable leap of faith. It seems more comfortable just to buy custom-made baby foods like lots of other parents do. But as many more experienced parents can testify, the leap is worth it – babies can surprise us with the diversity of tastes and textures they enjoy. And for these babies, the transition to a broader real – food diet will be infinitely more effortless.

Written by Nutritionist Dr Zeeba Shariff

If you would like some support on the best way to wean your baby onto solids, you can arrange an appointment with Dr Zeeba Shariff at the clinic.

Contact our reception on to arrange an appointment on 0208 662 1155

How to Avoid Back Pain whilst using a Mobile phone

The average person spends nearly three hours a day using a mobile phone device thats nearly 84 hours a month!

The amount of time spend on a mobile, laptop or iPad all have a negative impact on our posture and the way we hold our head.

These devices are great tools and most of us spend hours per day using at least one (if not all) of them either for work or leisure purposes.

However, we should be careful of our posture while using them as a repetitive poor prolonged posture can be detrimental to our neck and back.

These unnatural positions (head bentdown and/or head forward) increase the weight of your head and can multiply it up to 6 times.

As the adult head weight in average is about 5kg, the weight inflicted on your neck can go up to almost 30kg!

The more your head is bent forward, the more load you put on your neck.

Your back will also have the tendency to stoop to compensate, which may cause persistent low back pain.

I recommend you do the following:

  • Adopt a good posture while using the device (standing or sitting): align ears, shoulders and hips.

  • Place the device at eye level (If necessary, use a support).

  • Take breaks every 20 to 30 minutes to move the shoulders and neck, stretch...

  • Reduce the time your spent in front of a screen, possibly set a timer so you have a limit of 20 minutes.

  • And why not use the dictation function for texting or voice command to search.

  • A text and a notification can be distracting when you’re working but very tempting to read! Why not turn off the notifications on your WhatsApp, Facebook or any social media you have. That way you’re only checking them when you have the time, this should ultimately reduce your time on your phone.

By Sabrina Peyandane, Osteopath and Cranial Osteopath.

Boost your Immunity and Avoid Flu this Winter


Scientists have failed to find the cure for the common cold because it is you, the host, and your defences – not the invader – which is important.

The best way to minimise your chances of getting an infection and recovering rapidly is to boost your immune system. The immune system is our body’s natural defence system against disease. It is made up of a complex network of tissues, organs, cells and chemicals that protect the body from infection and fight illness.


An inadequate diet compromises the immune system by depleting the body of the essential nutrients that play an important role in maintaining this intricate system. A healthy, balanced diet will improve your health and protect you from infection.


A good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement can provide extra insurance against getting colds and flu during the winter months. Rich sources of vitamin C include berries, citrus fruits and peppers. Vitamin D is important for immune function; increase the intake of oily fish, eggs and green leafy vegetables.


Zinc is integral to good immune function and found in lean meats, seeds, whole grains and legumes. Both zinc and vitamin C have anti-viral activity, especially against several of the viruses that cause the common cold.


Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Glutamine is used as a fuel by the cells of the immune system. Adequate levels of healthy proteins are needed for the immune system when we are ill or under stress. Glutamine – rich foods include poultry, fish and legumes. 


Select colourful fruits and vegetables which will be packed with antioxidants and vitamins. Antioxidants protect our body from excess free radical damage, which is associated with illness and compromised immunity. Aim for at least 5 portions a day and select a rainbow of colours to ensure a good range of nutrients.


The types of fat you consume have a significant impact on your health and immunity. The essential fats are found in nuts, seeds and oily fish. Saturated animal fats from red meat and full fat dairy produce should be minimised.


Use garlic and ginger in your cooking. Garlic contains sulphur compounds which have powerful anti-viral and anti-bacterial agents. Add ginger, cinnamon and lemon to a mug of hot water for soothing drink.


Eating too much sugar is detrimental to the immune system and depletes levels of vitamin C. Excess sugar in the diet also puts a great deal of stress on the body.


Mucus forms the first line of defence against airborne infections. It contains leukocytes, which are the primary cells that fight infection and tissue damage. An excess of acid – forming foods will supress the immune system and promote increased mucus production. The excess mucus creates congestion, which acts as a conductor for the growth of bacteria and viruses.


Your GI tract houses two-thirds of your immune system and is the biggest interface with the outside world. Each day you eat hundreds of germs, most of which die in the saliva or stomach acid. Healthy bacteria in the gut are killed off by antibiotics, so a course of probiotics is especially useful when you are taking antibiotics.


Shor –term stress can actually boost the immune system. However, chronic longer term stress has a negative impact because excess adrenaline and cortisone will lower immune system function.


It’s easy to forget the importance of rest for good health and wellbeing, but getting sufficient sleep and finding time for relaxation will keep your immune system strong. When we sleep, our immune system is replenished improving our resistance to infection. A lack of sleep also depletes our body of many nutrients, especially magnesium and vitamin C.



1tsp green tea

1 tsp dandelion

1 tsp barley

The pips from 1 lemon – cut open

These herbs are all known for supporting the immune system. Add the ingredients to some boiling water.