7 Exercises for Back Pain

Book review by Rachel Grunwell

Book title: McKenzie Method:  Treat Your Own Back – by Robin McKenzie

This post is sponsored by The McKenzie Method company #AD

If you have ever experienced back pain, you’d be interested in this helpful easy-to-read book…

This can empower you on how to avoid or manage self-care for your back.

This book is penned by the late Kiwi physiotherapist Robin McKenzie, who is renowned for developing the McKenzie method to help people self-manage low back pain.

An acronym for the McKenzie method is mechanical diagnosis and therapy (MDT). McKenzie passed away in 2013. But his work lives on. Medical professionals have used his method worldwide for decades and continue to do so.

This 120-page book distils myths about acute back pain, lists common causes, and then details exercises and remedies on how to manage symptoms. 

The book is short and easy to read (ie not too much medical or technical jargon). I like that anyone can pick this book up and read it with ease. The exercises are also easily explained and not too difficult to do. Many of them are yoga poses I teach as a yoga teacher, but they go by different names in the book.

The book shows you strategies on how to put your back “in” too if you have put it “out”. It also advises around how to try and avoid a recurrence.

McKenzie writes in the book that back pain affects nearly everyone at some stage and is a common ailment. 

He writes: “It is often described as fibrositis, slipped disc, lumbago, arthritis in the back or rheumatism and, when it causes pain extending into the leg, sciatica.”

Some common causes of lower back pain include sitting for a long time in a poor, flexed rounded position. You know, that slumped in a chair kind of position. Or prolonged forward bending (take note: gardeners, or anyone using a poor lifting technique when picking something up!)

McKenzie writes that when pains of postural origin are first felt they can be easily eliminated merely by correcting your posture.

If uncorrected, the habitual poor posture can cause changes to the structure and shape of the joints. Excessive wear can occur, loss of elasticity resulting in premature aging of the joints etc.

A key point of the book is teaching readers the importance around how to keep natural posture ie when you stand, there’s a natural inward curve in the small of the lower back just above the pelvis (called lumbar lordosis). The lordosis is lost whenever the low back is rounded ie sitting hunched over and bending forwards. It becomes an issue if the lordosis is lost for long periods.

McKenzie explains in the book that unless you do exercises to restore normal flexibility, your healed tissue can produce back pain or stiffness – possibly for years. The pain can then escalate if scar tissue forms and restricts movement and you feel pain whenever you stretch…

I found it interesting in the book that lots of people blame sports or vigorous activities for back pain. However, McKenzie writes that in fact often it is after the activity when people sit, slouch or collapse for long periods in a chair. So, it’s not the sport, but often the posture we do post activities.

Resting or sleeping in some positions can also fuel back discomfort. Even surface (a bad mattress) can be a problem.

The book helps guides readers through stretches to help remedy their discomfort – and what to do if pain persists.

There are stretches and varied advice in the book to combat different issues and there are many areas you can feel the source of the back pain. He shares tips on what to do to handle niggles, all the way up to acute back pain. There’s advice on when to apply certain exercises also in an emergency scenario if you get a sudden onset of acute pain…

Note. If pain persists, please seek the advice of a qualified McKenzie physio to get expert advice.

7 Exercises For Back Pain:

Exercise 1. Lying face down.
Exercise 2. Lying face down in extension.
Exercise 3. Extension in lying.
Exercise 4. Extension in standing.
Exercise 5. Flexion in lying.
Exercise 6. Flexion in sitting.
Exercise 7. Flexion in standing.
To find out more about the McKenzie method click HERE

Blog penned by Rachel Grunwell: Qualified coach, yoga + meditation teacher, wellness speaker and author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness. Follow Rachel on Instagram or her business Facebook page

3 De-Stress Tips for Busy Executives to Sleep Well and Perform Well

by Rachel Grunwell  
Life can be busy and we can hold onto a lot of stress. So, it’s important to take time to pause , unwind and to re-set. If you don’t take time for self-care, then you can wind up facing “burn out”. If this stress carries on for too long, it can snowball.

Too much stress can lead to poor sleep and poor concentration. It can then spiral into things like anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Stress chemicals can stay in your brain and body if not addressed. Worse still, your sensitivity to stress can increase if it continues to accumulate. So the trick is to embrace calming strategies into your life so you can perform at your best.

Stress can be scary. It results in chemicals throughout your body and brain. This includes adrenalin, noradrenaline, serotonin, histamine, corticotrophin-releasing hormone and acetylcholine. These chemicals activate the fight-or-flight response in the body so it gets into ready-to-run mode. This in turn impacts on you being able to have clear, logical thinking, your digestion working optimally (ie the ability to lose weight is hard!) to not being able to function well in your work or life…

I’m a qualified coach, and yoga + meditation teacher. I co-lead the Mindful Moments retreats at the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua. Here, clients get to tap into an amazing weekend getaway. They learn diverse strategies to de-stress. So there’s bound to be one technique that resonates to fit into your every day life back home. On the edge of Lake Rotorua, it’s a blissful setting. Clients also get a chance to dip into the relaxing and rejuvenating waters of the 28 pools on site. The pools are of varying temperatures. This alone will calm your body, mind and soul. The retreat also includes mindfulness and meditation training. A spa treat treatment is part of the weekend too. There’s a walk in nature in the Redwoods Forest, nourishing lunches, and restorative yin yoga. Lastly, there’s a wellness workshop where retreat-goers learn lots of science-backed wellness strategies from my book Balance, which includes 30 global experts on how to live healthier and happier. I promise you’ll leave this retreat empowered with more knowledge and how to kick-start your own health journey and goals.

Here are 3 de-stress tips I share for busy executives on these retreats:

1. Take time to find “flow”. What I mean by this, is I encourage you to do something you love. This could be exercise, knitting, painting, playing music or going for a walk in nature, for instance. This “me time” helps you to feel calm, happy and to harness your monkey-mind.

2. Have a night time ritual to help you unwind before bed-time. And of course get the mobile phone’s blue light away from your face.

3. Practice mindfulness . This helps you to live life more in the moment and to feel happier, rather than anxious.

Find out more about the Mindful Moments retreats. The retreat dates for 20/20 are now live. Click HERE

Rachel is the Polynesian Spa’s ambassador and co-leader of the spa’s Mindful Moments retreats. She is a wellness expert, coach, yoga + meditation teacher, and author of Balance: Food, Health + Happiness, which boasts 30 global wellness experts sharing science-backed advice on living healthier and happier. Find out more about the book HERE

Fiji – for a blissful escape or adventure. Read about two top locations

Fiji – for a blissful escape or adventure. Read about two top locations…

CASTAWAY_Hero Image_ credit_Matt C Bauer-

pic of Castaway Island – courtesy of Matt Bauer

Visiting Fiji conjures up: Blissing-out on white-sand beaches. Swimming in azure, tropical waters. Devouring mouth-watering paw-paw, pineapple and coconut. And smiling while saying “bula!” to everyone. But there’s more to experience in this paradise too. Writer Rachel Grunwell shares some unique experiences at two top locations.

Read More

Mindful Moments Retreat

Rach & H

Learn mindfulness and science-backed wellness wisdom to boost your health and happiness.
Book into our Mindful Moments retreat hosted by wellness experts Rachel Grunwell (pictured left) and Helena Keenan (pictured right).
They are experienced wellness experts who lead the weekend-long Mindful Moments retreats at Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa.

Read More

Mindful Moments Retreat – book now!

PolySpa 3

Switch off from your busy life and experience two days on our Mindful Moments Retreat to bring your mind, body and spirit into balance. Surrounded by the natural elements of Rotorua and Polynesian Spa’s therapeutic alkaline and acid waters, you will be guided through yoga, mindfulness, meditation and wellness workshops.  We will also be taking time to indulge in world-renowned Polynesian Spa therapy treatments.

Mindful Moments is hosted by our highly experienced Spa and Retreat Manager Helena Keenan and inspirational Polynesian Spa Health and Wellness ambassador Rachel Grunwell.

This unique geothermal bathing and soul soothing retreat originated here at Polynesian Spa in 2016 and has established itself as a must do health and wellness experience for those wanting to unwind, relax and reset.

RETREAT DATES & COSTS

 

2018 

Saturday 11th August – Sunday 12th August

Saturday 8th September – Sunday 9th September

Saturday 10th November –  Sunday 11th November

 

$479.00 per person

 

INCLUSIONS

Relaxation & Mindfulness Techniques

Mindfulness & Meditation Session

Therapy Treatment

Yoga Class hosted by Rachel Grunwell

Wellbeing Workshop

Entry to the Deluxe Lake Spa

Morning Tea

Lunch

Transport to Walk Location

Premium Retreat Gift Bag

 

THERAPIES

CHECK OUT THE THERAPIES YOU HAVE A CHOICE FROM:

Natures Gift Mud Massage

Polynesian Spa Signature Mud Wrap

Polynesian Spa Signature Aix Mud Therapy

*Please note the Pure Source Mud Polish will be used for the AIX Therapy*

ACCOMMODATION

We can offer exclusive rates for The Millennium Hotel Rotorua to those joining us on a Mindful Moments Retreat for accommodation rates please contact us upon booking. Bookings will need to be made directly with the hotels reservation team and Terms and Conditions will apply to the booking, these are at the discretion of The Millennium Hotel Rotorua. 

There is also a wide selection of hotels, luxury lodges, lake-side bachs, charming motels available in Rotorua to check options click here.

POLYNESIAN SPA RETREAT LEADER: HELENA KEENAN

helena

Helena’s personal experience with Meditation began in 1992 developing for her a deep interest in the Wellbeing benefits of Meditation. Further studies and reading into Mindfulness Meditation created a goal to pursue formal studies in this area. Eventually the opportunity to study Mindfulness Meditation Teacher training with Dr Ian Gawler arose and in 2009 Helena completed her first training course in this field. More recently Helena has completed further studies with Ian Gawler and Ruth Gawler in Australia in the practices of Guided Imagery and Contemplation. Now settled in Rotorua, Helena brings a diverse and extensive skill-set to Polynesian Spa. 

Website: www.polynesianspa.co.nz

Facebook: PolynesianSpa

Instagram: polynesianspa

YOGA INSTRUCTOR: RACHEL GRUNWELL

Rachel is an award-winning writer, speaker, wellness columnist & healthy recipe creator (Good magazine), qualified yoga teacher, blogger & influencer.

Website: www.inspiredhealth.co.nz

Facebook: InspiredHealthNZ

Instagram: inspiredhealthandfitness

 

 

 

Polynesian Spa announces homegrown ambassador

polynesian spa

Pictured: Rachel Grunwell at Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa

ROTORUA, Thursday 25th January 2018:  Health and wellness expert Rachel Grunwell, who grew up in Rotorua, has been announced as the new brand ambassador for New Zealand’s leading hot spring and luxury spa experience, Polynesian Spa.

A mother of three, Rachel is a yoga and meditation teacher, wellness magazine columnist, keynote speaker, healthy recipe creator and runs the Inspired Health website and social media channels with a combined fan base of around 20,000 Kiwis.

Polynesian Spa chief executive Gert Taljaard says they selected Rachel to be their ambassador because of her influential health and wellbeing background, but also because Rotorua is very close to her heart. She was born and raised in Rotorua and even once worked with the complex as a massage therapist. 

“It’s great to have an ambassador who has had a lifetime relationship with Polynesian Spa having spent her childhood years growing up enjoying our pools and her early career working as part of our team.  Having authentic ambassadors on board is very important to us” says Taljaard.

As brand ambassador, Rachel will be inspiring people to lead a naturally healthier lifestyle by integrating the benefits of mineral bathing, spa treatments and mindful moments into their wellness regime.

“I’m excited to be part of the Polynesian Spa family. I can’t wait to share real-life and science-backed wellness wisdom to help people to be healthier and happier. I’m looking forward to being back in Rotorua more regularly and it’s great to be collaborating in an industry which I am passionate about” says Grunwell.

Ironically one of the two exclusive alkaline and acidic springs that feeds into the 28 pools that Polynesian Spa boasts onsite is named the Rachel Spring and the new ambassador has been excited to rediscover the history of the therapeutic and rejuvenating waters.

“What makes Polynesian Spa so unique is the access it has to these two wonderful springs. The alkaline spas from the Rachel Spring are hot and relaxing and leave your skin with a silky feeling while the Priest Spring relieves and rejuvenates tired muscles, aches and pains. It is very uplifting for the soul,” says Rachel.

Rachel’s first job is to assist with developing a wider range of healthier choices for the new 88Ra Café menu and will host the highly successful Mindful Moments Retreats during the year.

Mindful Moments Retreats will be held on the following dates:

Saturday 9th June – Sunday 10th June

Saturday 11th August – Sunday 12th August

Saturday 10th November –  Sunday 11th November

 

To find out all the details check out the Polynesian Spa website. Click HERE

Rachel Grunwell is a wellness magazine writer, yoga teacher, health blogger, healthy recipe creator for Good magazine and an ambassador for the Achilles charity which helps Kiwis with all kinds of disabilities to participate in events.

For wellness inspiration, follow Rachel via Inspired Health’s Facebook & Instagram 

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Resolution Retreats blissful health retreat getaway

resolution retreats complex

By Rachel Grunwell

The way to achieve your wellness goals is through “progression, not perfectionism”.

These wise words ring in my ears as I attend a three-day retreat in the Bay of Plenty.

I’m at Resolution Retreats, high up in the quiet, peaceful and beautiful bush-clad hills of Papamoa. It’s so green here, the air is fresh and I feel blissful and chilled-out just simply being in this stunning location. It’s wonderful to have “me time” and to be in a supportive and welcoming place that nurtures good health. It’s a place just solely for women to transform.

resolution retreats poolside

Here, you can kick-start a restorative journey to improve your own personal and individual health goals.

I’m among about a dozen women, mostly aged 40s and over, who have different goals from weight loss to wanting to improve their overall health, fitness, food knowledge or happiness levels. Some mums and daughters (aged in their 20s) too are here for a special healthy holiday. Others just wish to take a breath, refocus and feel pampered.

Founder and nutritional consultant, Joelene Ranby (pictured below), says she and her team will support everyone on their individual goals. Questions are welcome at any time.

resolution retreats joelene

 

I love that she tells us we can go to the daily fitness workouts or health seminars, or opt out for relaxation time instead, if we wish. It’s a no-pressure environment. One option for example, is walking to the Kaiate Falls. I opted in for that and loved being in nature (I’m pictured by one of the waterfalls below – how bliss does that look)!!!

resolution retreats walk

 

Ranby says she aims to inspire, educate and motivate women with tools on how to de-stress, recuperate and refocus.

She promises to keep things “simple”. She doesn’t want anyone “overwhelmed” and “trying to do everything all at once”. This is a key theme: “progression, not perfectionism”.

She implores us to focus on one important health message daily and think about leaving the retreat with one change to truly focus on back at home. This is because one change at a time, and little by little, we can transform our lives and achieve our wellness goals, she promises.

The itinerary over three days includes daily gentle yoga and different fitness sessions (here’s a pic below of a pool work-out). Seminars range from healthy eating education, to de-coding food labels, and there is a cooking demonstration done by a professional chef who shares helpful and healthy tips and tricks.

resolution retreats pool class 

Everyone raves about the girly-girl pampering sessions (you can get treatments from massages and facials to pedicures on-site). I have a facial which is so good I fall asleep! And a back massage helps me to de-stress down another notch.

I like that the retreat kept things accessible, realistic, and there are lots of real-life ideas shared. Food is super healthy (like this yum meal pictured below), but filling, and I cope okay without sugar (I’m generally a chocoholic!)

resolution retreats meal

The snacks are delicious too on the retreat. Check out this blissball goodness!

resoltion retreats snack

My bedroom is a tranquil oasis and boasts an inside and outside bath. Check out how lush it looks!

resolutuon retreats accommodation

 

I left the retreat feeling inspired and relaxed. What an amazing place where women can focus on themselves… and truly escape briefly the never-ending to-do-list and needs of the kids, partners and work commitments. I’d recommend Resolution Retreats as a friendly place that can empower women with real-life tools to live healthier and happier.

 

Top tips from the retreat:

Quit the guilt.

Keep things simple and focus on one health goal at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself. “Ladies tend to see the bar too high. We all do it!” says Joelene Ranby.

Protein can help to keep you fuller for longer.

Be organised with meals. It will help stop you reaching for unhealthy snacks.

Figure out the things that “slip you up” and plan around them ie if you love chocolate and chips perhaps don’t buy them or maybe keep them in a place you can’t see them.

Ask yourself before snacking: “Am I eating because I am stressed?”

Exercise and get your heart-rate up before breakfast – even if it’s just for a few minutes. It will help kick-start your metabolism.

This piece was published in Herald group newspapers. The piece was penned by Rachel Grunwell: wellness writer & columnist, marathoner, yoga teacher and the director of this lifestyle website InspiredHealth. Follow InspiredHealth on Facebook (click HERE) & Instagram (Click HERE). We have amazing regular health giveaways and inspiration on living “well”.

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Resolution Retreats runs numerous retreats throughout the year, ranging from three days to three weeks.