Category Archives: Mindset

27Apr/14

Never give up — a motivational talk

Diana Nyad swam 100 miles across a stretch of water between Cuba and Florida. She just kept going. The internal drive and the support that fuelled this drive kept her going in some of the most dangerous waters on the planet.

Rehabilitation and recovery from an injury or painful problem requires dedicated perseverance. But to optimise this perseverance we need to be motivated and inspired. We need to understand and know why; we need a purpose to drive us forward and keep moving forward. There are plateaus, flare-ups (when the symptoms and pain can increase), good days and bad days — life’s normal variation. Knowing why this happens, what we can do and why we are doing it keeps us moving forward.

Listen to Diana Nyed speak here about her experience and keeping going.

For information about our pain treatment programmes that are driven and inspired by neuroscience, explore the website and contact us on 07932 689081 to move forward

05Jan/14

Dystonia — facing the world

Dystonia — the term used to describe uncontrollable and sometimes painful muscle spasms caused by incorrect signals from the brain. It is estimated to affect at least 70,000 people in the UK; Dystonia Society — has varying impact upon the individual. By this I refer to the way in which it makes the person view themselves, their sense of self, and how the world sees them.

Our physical persona, the way we represent ourselves to the world via body language, posturing and movement to an extent defines us and how we feel. This is bi-directional as we will respond physically to how we are feeling and what we are thinking as much as noticing how our body feels to then ascribe an emotion; for example, butterflies in the stomach will typically trigger thoughts that we must be anxious.

Having spoken to many people with dystonia, this significant part of the experience is rarely addressed. It must be. On a practical level, understanding that movement is affected by a number of influences such as where we are, who we are with, how we are feeling, where we are and what we have been doing, helps to cope and deal with the unwanted motion on several different levels. Further, to know that the brain is constantly predicting what actions will be required next and planning how to use the body, provides insight into how certain involuntary movements can be initiated.

In dystonia, the way in which the brain perceives the body is altered as is the way movements are planned and executed. A loss of precision means that there is unwanted and uncontrolled actions in both a sensory and motor context. This is why training must be multisensory and embrace the sensorimotor system as a whole, from a planning stage through to actual movement.

How we face the world and whether we choose to face the world will be dependent upon how we feel. Being able to cope with this will impact upon the extent to which socialisation continues or is voluntarily curtailed. Cultivating skills in dealing with the thought processes and being able to intervene independently has a positive effect, reducing and minimising the impact. This is also a key skill to use in optimising the outcome of the training programme, by changing the way that the brain is functioning in a motor sense, so that the focus and quality is of a high level. Practice is key.

Focused attention training or mindfulness should form part of a comprehensive treatment programme. It can be thought of as setting the scene, creating a brain state of calm and readiness for the actions that are required to re-train precision of movement and body sense. It is a state that can be cultivated that means troubling thoughts do not get played through the body (tension, altered movement, involuntary movement).

There are many healthy, physical and mental benefits of mindful practice, tackling the so significant non-motor factors that are barely mentioned, yet play such a huge role in the individual’s suffering. We are understanding the brain changes associated with this practice as neuroscientists study the effects upon the wiring — a crude analogy of the brain’s function — and how this translates into a positive experience of life.

Stand alone, mindfulness practice can change our interface with the world. Combined with specific sensorimotor training and the creation of new habits, the potency is magnified. On a practical note, mindfulness can be used at all stages of dystonia, acute through chronic. The sensorimotor training often requires a degree of quiescence and hence will usually begin after botox treatment. The design of any treatment and training programme will depend very much on the individual need and circumstance.

As I have argued recently in writing and speaking at several conferences (Dystonia Society DayBritish Neurotoxin Network meeting 2013) , to address dystonia — and chronic pain — we must consider the biology of the condition but also the biology of the influencing factors that are such a significant part of the narrative.

Appointments — please call us on 07932 689081

 

 

16Oct/13

Move over Mindset | Guest Blog from Gary Stebbing – Performance & Conditioning Coach

 

Thanks to Gary Stebbing, Performance and Conditioning Coach, for this guest blog.

Exercise is almost uniformly recommended as fundamental to good health, so why do so many people live basically sedentary lives?

Why is behaviour change still such a puzzling conundrum within health and medicine?

As a practical coach one has to adapt and refine these questions to something more relevant….

How can one get better as a behaviour change agent; and more specifically how can one assist in creating a movement habit for clients or patients…..?

But is trying to change behaviour the wrong approach? Should we shift our personal mindset towards a focus on changing beliefs rather than behaviours……?

In their fascinating book Switch, authors Chip and Dan Heath use a very intriguing analogy to explore change:

Imagine a small rider sitting on top of a very large elephant walking through the jungle. The jungle is the environment that we live and function in – a very powerful influence on our lives. The elephant is our beliefs and attitudes – very powerful in driving our daily behaviours and actions. What happens in daily interactions is that we often try and intervene at the level of the rider. You can shout as loud as you like at the rider, what chance do you think the rider has of getting the elephant to change direction if it doesn’t want to?

Perhaps strategies to influence the elephant might have more success…..

Stanford psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck has used another approach to studying mindsets and their impact. Her work explores what she has defined has the ‘fixed’ and ‘growth’ mindsets.

Those with a fixed mindset tend to like to appear smart to others and adopt more of a ‘this is the way it is’ type of attitude. Her work suggests amongst many things that they avoid risk of failure, lack resilience when things get tough and may feel threatened if others achieve success around them.

In contrast those with a growth mindset tend to be happy to try new things, be more robust when things aren’t going well and inspired by success around them.

If you follow this thinking into the path of exercise, what might be the differing outcomes for the fixed vs. growth minded individual.

Exercise is often tough at the beginning, negative feelings due to poor fitness levels, difficulty in grasping how to do new movements, watching others around you who seem to be more competent and finding it easy……it is easy to see how a fixed mindset might see exercise as not for them, while a growth mindset experiences the same things yet relishes the challenge!

Everyone loves working with growth mindset individuals….

So the true coaching challenge is to find the strategies to keep the fixed mindset in the game long enough to help them adapt the way they view and experience exercise and movement.

Perhaps the target is to help all individuals build something you might call the “movement mindset”.

For further information you can contact Gary on 07949 472142 or email: [email protected]

16Jul/13

Two excellent talks for athletes

Both talks are inspiring and demonstrate courage, perseverance and motivation in the face of the enormous challenges that were presented. In performance and rehabilitation, mindset is a key determinant and in many cases several skills must be developed, including resilience and coping strategies.

In the first video, Janine Shepherd talks about her experience of recovery following a severe injury.

In the second, Aimee Mullins talks in 1998 about her record-setting career as a runner, and about her carbon-fiber prosthetic legs.

Call us now to find out about our comprehensive treatment and training programmes to tackle persisting pain, recurring injuries and chronic pain: 07932 689081

21Aug/12

Rehabilitation of thinking – A key element in maximising performance

The rehabilitation journey following an injury must be traveled with full commitment and completed. Usually when we talk about rehabilitation, it is the exercises that are focused upon: the movement, the task, the goal and how much to do. Nothing wrong with this of course as the training parameters are important to understand the effects of the exercise and how to subsequently progress. An aspect that is vital, yet less frequently mentioned, is the thinking both behind the activity and that of the individual undertaking the training.

Each exercise must have a meaning that needs to be explained. Full understanding of how, when and why the particular task is being undertaken is vital for full engagement, both physically and cognitively. In addition we have to consider the context of the exercise including the time of the day, the environment, the mood of the participant, level of discomfort, general health factors and other variables. Being aware of these influences and how they affect performance permits accurate assessment of the outcomes and where to focus upon for future improvement. In essence it is a learning process similar to that of learning a language or a musical instrument. Feedback plays a key role via the trainer correcting movement verbally and physically, and other means including exercising in front of a mirror.

The thinking of the participant before engaging in the exercise, during and afterwards will have an impact on success and hence learning. We can call this his or her mindset. Carol Dweck talks about a fixed mindset which describes a thought pattern underpinned by inflexible beliefs: it is how it is, this is my lot, change does not happen etc. Clearly this thinking can limit success and progression. A growth mindset on the other hand, is characterised by a belief that we can learn, change and grow. This mindset is one I encourage and seek to nurture as part of moving forwards following an injury or in progressing with a painful condition. In essence we are designed to change and adapt to our environment and circumstances. Given the right opportunity, input, motivation and timeline, we can evolve and develop healthier notions and actions for life both physically and in thought.

In summary, rehabilitation is not about simply going through the motions of certain exercises. It is about taking the opportunity to grow and develop physically and cognitively. In many cases we have to address thinking that is affecting the rehabilitation process, for example, thoughts that would be of a fixed mindset. Working upon these with strategies can and often are as important as the physical activities for optimum outcome. Our comprehensive rehabilitation programmes encompass these details so that you can progress from pain to performance.