Health & Performance Pyramid: Performance Layer

As one of the UK’s leading London physiotherapists, I regularly write about injuries, treatment and assessment techniques.

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So… we’ve introduced the Health & Performance Pyramid (which underpins everything we do ) and worked our way through the Foundation Layer (sleep, stress, hydration and nutrition – vital for optimal tissue health), and then through physiotherapy, exercise rehabilitation and balance therapy.  Once you’ve finished with this, you should be out of pain – but how do you stay there, and build up your resilience so that you don’t get injured again?  This is where the Performance Layer comes in, as our Head of Performance Helen explains…

One of my favourite ways of explaining how the body makes its adaptations is ‘Your body responds to what you ask it to do the most’. This can be positive or negative depending on what you spend your time doing and how you do it. It can also occur in both a mental and physical capacity.

  • For example, if you take up strength training, your muscles won’t immediately get bigger (sadly, the Popeye effect is not a real thing), but after repeated stimulus of having to lift heavy weights, it will create adaptations to make the muscles bigger and stronger to help you perform this more easily and efficiently.
  • If you decide to spend your time mostly sitting down, your body will make it easier for you to be in a seated position by switching off muscles that hold you upright, and will allow you to slouch more easily. If you also spend hours staring forward at a screen, it will allow your head to move forward further to see the screen better.
  • If your body repeatedly experiences stressful stimulus, it will adapt to sense more stress, more easily, from smaller and smaller inputs, so that you end up feeling on full alert to respond to this even when in actuality, it is not necessary or appropriate.

Your body thinks it is being helpful by making these adaptations as it likes ease, predictability, and familiarity – it won’t discriminate between positive and negative changes, it will just change.

In my physiotherapy practice, we use the term ‘maintenance’ to describe what you should be doing to counter all the negative inputs that your body receives, to help facilitate the more positive inputs and therefore positive outputs it gives back to you.

This is different from physio or rehab where there is more of a set progression you are looking to achieve from a specific starting point (of being injured or in pain to being pain-free and fit). Maintenance is more of an ongoing process of trying to achieve a balance between stresses and eases, whether that is physical, environmental, emotional or chemical! Don’t forget – a certain amount of stress can be beneficial to help strengthen your body and mind, but it is when it is not followed by rest, recovery, and down-time that it becomes a problem.

Your body responds to what you ask it to do the most.

So, if you vary what you do, how you think, what you eat, it becomes better at simply adapting correctly to the environment it is in at the time, and then moulding helpfully into the next environment or situation it’s faced with. Work on finding this balance by joining our Performance team to take part in private or semi-private (max 4 participants) sessions in my studio.

Our Performance package entails a combination of Yoga, Pilates, and Fitness for the best combination of stimulus to build up flexibility, strength and endurance – a combination which provides resilience against injury.

  • Yoga sessions, provided by our experienced yoga therapist Iris, is a combination of relaxation, flexibility, posture work, and gentle flow. This leaves you feeling more supple, and more relaxed but energised. You will learn traditional yoga poses and moves but will also learn about your own body and how to correct imbalances.
  • Pilates sessions, led by our senior physio Lauren, is matwork which focuses primarily on deep core activation, stability, and flexibility. You’ll use bands and small weights for some exercises, and just body weight for other exercises to work on these aspects with the aim of improving function, posture, and safe movement.
  • Fitness sessions, led by me, incorporate slightly higher intensity exercise using some resistance bands, dumbbells, kettlebells and other equipment. The aim is to increase the heart rate and to challenge the body a bit more, but within the scope of what you can safely and efficiently do. Think ‘Circuits’ without the sweating and feeling like you’re going to keel over!

So – if you’re a serial physio attender whose body could do with building a bit more resilience, or if you’re up for reducing your overall injury risk – call us on 0207 175 0150 or click the button to leave your details, and find out how much better you could feel with more flexibility, strength and endurance!

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