Forced relaxation

Forced relaxation

As you would know from reading my last post, I had an appointment with both a doctor and an osteopath on Friday to find out the cause of my dizziness and fainting. I thought I would write about the experience, the diagnosis and the treatment.

The doctor gave me a clean bill of health. I had my blood pressure tested, which was perfect, and my pulse was a healthy 60. The last time I had my blood pressure tested was during my personal training assessment, where it was slightly high – but probably due to the fact I had just been doing fitness tests!

I also had some basic blood tests done and I will find out the results later this week. So, according to the doctor, I was perfectly fine.

The appointment with the osteopath was very different to what I experienced with my chiropractor. First of all, it lasted much longer. The osteo was slightly more expensive than the chiro at £45 (US$70) per session, but I felt I got my money’s worth. I always felt like I was being robbed at the chiro by handing over so much money to be in and out in five minutes.

Osteopathy is very gentle. I lay on my back on a massage-type table, and he started by tapping various spots on my body. Then he sat down behind me and slid his hands underneath my head. When most people feel the lump on the side of my neck they gasp – and he was no exception!

He carefully started massaging my neck and back of my head, which lasted for about 15 minutes. At some points it would feel as though he wasn’t actually moving his fingers, but it was so relaxing. I felt an enormous difference in the tightness in my neck as soon as I sat up.

The osteo said he was 99 per cent certain my dizziness was caused by my neck. When we started the consultation he said it would be hard to know for sure, but after feeling the huge lump he was more convinced.

He said the lump was tight, inflamed muscle tissue and not related to my bones (interesting as the chiro said the exact opposite!). He confirmed what I already knew: I carry all my stress in my neck. My muscles are so tight on the one side that it is causing the muscles connecting to my head to be permanently twisted. The muscles running from my head to my neck are being pulled down, resulting in permanent compression.

Lifting weights adds to the tension, restricting my blood flow. This is why I feel so dizzy, and why it only happens during strength training and not cardio.

At the end of our session, the osteo didn’t even try to sign me up for more sessions. When I asked him what I could do to fix my neck, he said I simply had to relax more. Nevertheless, I was really impressed with his holistic approach that I booked in for another session. I’m really frustrated that my neck is still causing problems but I want to do whatever I can to fix it. I sadly don’t think I’m going to find a permanent fix for it, but I can certainly manage it better.

I wanted to post a list of ways I’m going to relax, so that I can keep myself accountable, and also hear some tips from you!

  • Stretch for 15 minutes before bed: I spend time with all of my clients stretching, but never prioritise it for myself. Up until 2.5 years ago, I was stretching for an average of an hour per day as I was teaching dance. I took my flexibility for granted, and I’ve now lost most of it. Rob jokes that I’m simply a true bodybuilder now, but I refuse to let myself become stiff and achey. My muscles need a release, so I’m going to start with 15 minutes of stretching a day and aim to increase from there. My colleagues have also been encouraging me to stretch in the middle of the day, so I’m lucky I have such a flexible work environment that I can do that.

I used to be able to do this!


  • No computer after 8pm: I think a large part of my returning neck problems were caused by the fact I suddenly increased the time I spent in front of a computer. When we moved to London, I went three whole months without internet. It was annoying, but also really refreshing. When I started my new job, I had a lot of learning to do – and I just happened to also have 15 programs to write for my online clients over the course of two weeks. I would wake up at 6am to work on programs, go to work at about 11am and sit on the computer until 6pm, and then get home and work on programs until the minute I went to bed. The only break I had was commuting and the gym! It wasn’t good for my back, neck, stress levels or sleep. I’m enforcing a ban in my  house of no computer work after 8pm. This will probably be the hardest one to follow but I’m determined!
  • Have regular massages: The osteo suggested this one. I used to get massages every fortnight in Sydney, but my recent massage was my first since January. I’m going to aim for once a month for now, and get Rob to help with neck rubs in between sessions.
  • Take more baths: Until I started my new job, I was enjoying our new bathtub and taking baths two or even three times per week. I haven’t had a bath since! I’m going to aim for once a week now – baths really relax my muscles.
  • Read every night: When we moved to London I started reading again, and I really enjoyed it. But that has since fallen by the wayside. Tying in with my new rule of no computers past 8, I’m going to start reading more (nothing to do with fitness!!!).
  • Do more yoga: Again, this is something that has changed since we moved. I was doing weekly classes in Sydney, but hadn’t done a class since we got here. That changed on Saturday, when I did my first class in London. I did a very basic class, but it was exactly what I needed. I couldn’t believe how stiff my back was when I started, and how much it opened up after 90 minutes of slow stretching.

Has anyone been to an osteopath before? Do you have any other relaxation tips for me?

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