How can Holistic Physical Therapy help your Posture?

How can Holistic Physical Therapy Help your Posture
Patricia Goka of Holistic PT Studio
Movement Coach Patricia Goka

Season 1, Episode 11

We talk to Patricia Goka, an expert Holistic Physical Therapist, who helps people to ‘stay stronger for longer’ and loves working with the over 50’s to get their posture sorted and help them stay mobile well into old age.ย 

James Crow
So hi everybody. It’s James from Posture Stars and today I am talking to Patricia Goka from Holistic PT Studio. Hi, Patricia!

Patricia Goka
James, how are you?

James Crow
Yeah, really good thanks. It’s great to see and hear you’re down in Croydon in London, United Kingdom.

Patricia Goka
Yes, Sunny Croydon

James Crow
Sunny Croydon, the jewel of the South.

Patricia Goka
It really is.

James Crow
I’m up here in Stockport, it’s great to see you. I’ve wanted to speak to you for ages, because you’ve been doing some great stuff, particularly on LinkedIn with regards to how you’re helping people keep stronger for longer. So I wanted to have a chat with you about how you’re helping people’s posture and how you’re helping keep them more mobile. You’re generally working with older people now. Is that right?

Patricia Goka
Yes. Although no one really admits they’re, quote unquote, old, but yes, well, generally 50s Plus, is sort of my is the average age I’m working with. Yeah.

James Crow
Great. I’m one of your ideal clients, then.

Patricia Goka
We will have another talk, don’t you worry! I’m here for you.

James Crow
Well, I’ve been doing loads of running recently. So I probably need a bit of unwinding. Although my fitness watch yesterday decided I was 36 years old, which I was really pleased with, there’s a result. I think they need to change their algorithms a little bit.

Patricia Goka
No, I mean, people are doing more and more exercise, more intense exercise at a later age. And so I think if you were to benchmark the average 50 year old today versus the average 50 year old 20, 30 years ago, you would be sort of the equivalent of mid 30s. Yeah, I think we need to start moving that benchmark up even further. So when we’re 60 – 70 we have the fitness, the strength of a 20 year old.

James Crow
That’s my plan. That’s my plan. I think posture is really important to keep that going. We’re just coming out at the end of having loads of lockdowns from Coronavirus, are you finding that lots of people are suddenly jumping into exercise and fitness and breaking themselves?

Patricia Goka
They don’t admit that their breaking themselves. But I think I think people are people are still quite stressed. So they’re not doing as much well, people aren’t willing to not as much high intensity exercise. So they’re doing more activities. So something a little bit more therapeutic. So lots of walking could be still hiking, some gardening, because everyone sort of got back to gardening and not neglected it during lockdown. So yes, it’s things like you know, yoga and pilates and little bit more working from the inside out as well. I’m finding that yes, there is definitely some aches and pains that going on, but a lot of sorts of denial as well.

James Crow
So I will get fit, and I’m going to ignore the fact that it’s causing me discomfort.

Patricia Goka
Yeah. We’ve all been there.

James Crow
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You’ve got this, this lovely little phrase, keeping stronger for longer? That’s a brilliant goal, isn’t it?

Patricia Goka
It is! it’s just well, sort of now I’m past actually mid 40s. Scratch the head. And it’s also feeling myself. Yeah. You know, walking up the stairs, especially during lockdown. I found myself sort of dragging myself up, I’m thinking what is going on here? You know, I’m not exactly quote unquote, weak. And also looking at my parents, you know, their late 70s, early 80s. I think when did you get, quote unquote, old? You know, and it’s sort of thinking, yes, my parents are quite active. They’re not moving as well as they used to, you know, and it’s, it’s just looking, and then you start looking at other people around and thinking, When did this happen? And nobody really knows when the declines have started happening. And then all of a sudden, it’s like, all functional, everyday moves become a challenge. Then you start, you know, and then when that happens, then you try less, you try less and less. And before you know it, you need more help every day. So it’s getting people to sort of basically changes the narrative of getting older, we sort of getting weaker, getting more stiff and more aches and pains in two ways. It’s like as long as we’re addressing them, at an earlier age, then it won’t happen. Well, that’s my goal, strong and supple at 90.

James Crow
Only 90! I’m going for 137! I am going to be one miserable old man by then but I’m aiming for it.

Patricia Goka
You’re going to be smiling, laughing and joking forever.

James Crow
I do hope so. I do hope so, all right, well, we’d better move on to three questions that I do like to pose in our podcast here and my question number one for you Patricia is really simple question. But so many answers to this question, what is posture?

Patricia Goka
Yeah, I knew this one was coming up. And I was thinking, oh, yeah, he said such a simple word, but it’s just so complex, but nobody wants to hear that word. It’s complex. But from me, I see posture as what are you doing today? And what position you’re most frequently adopting today? And then where? What have you got? What is your body gone through to get you to where you are today? And then we also have an eye on what are we going to do tomorrow or next 5 – 10 years because your quote unquote, posture today could if tomorrow, you decided I’m going to start playing golf, or tennis or start running? How your body is set up today could increase the likelihood of you developing an injury? If you start an activity tomorrow, based on how you’re moving today? Or if yes, where certain joints can be quite restrictive. So you’re increasing your likelihood of getting a, you know, joint replacement, that posture is always changing. So I’m sitting at the moment, so my posture is I call it desk body. Yeah, so it’s, you know, you know, hip, flex these legs, try not to sort of fill out at the desk. So this is my body, this is sort of this is my posture at the moment and cause muscles that active muscles are alive, they just, they shorten based on whichever position they’re in. And the problem is, for every action in the body, there’s a reaction. So some muscles are getting shorter and tighter, others are getting longer, and quote unquote, weaker. And so therefore, you’re not able to adequately support all of the joints and whatever you want to do. Your posture is constantly changing, we just need to make sure we’re considering what our next move will be. And keep moving.

James Crow
So that involves a couple of elements, doesn’t it you’ve got to keep moving element which is physical, and then the considering side, which is mental. And people tend to ignore the mental side, when they think about posture, don’t they. Originally when I’d think about posture, I’d see a sort of really upright figure of a man with his chest out and his chin tucked in, and now almost a sort of army pose or something like that. And of course, that’s, that’s not posture. And it’s not necessarily good posture, either. It’s certainly a tense posture. If we were to adopt that. Yeah, when you were talking about what you’re going to do the next day, you had me thinking about someone lying on a sofa, or a setee with their head craned over the back of the arm for six hours one night and then jumping out of bed at six in the morning to go for a 5k run and how that would impact them, that’s not going to be a good thing is it?

Patricia Goka
100% it, I sort of say you have to undo whatever posture you’ve been adopting, and start moving gently in the position for whichever activity you’re going to adopt, just to sort of prep your body. So there is, you know, people just think of maybe a warm up, but it’s like, no, we have to even take a step back. And if you’ve always got like a dead body. And so some muscles have tight, hip flexors. So if you’re trying to run, you can’t really extend that thing, which is required, and who knows what’s going on top of chains from the feet all the way up to sort of the head and the shoulders. So yes, it’s like I’m doing whatever you’ve been doing, and then prepping for the activity you’re going to do.

James Crow
So this this kind of leads me into my second question, which is you being a good expert with people’s bodies is how do you help people’s posture? What do you do?

Patricia Goka
Yeah, yes. So for me, I’m my focus is on the muscles, and the tension or imbalances that exist between front the back left to the right, the above the low. I look at joints, assembly of the joints, and you know, are they actually moving through the full range that they’re naturally designed to move? So I mean, when I go through people’s history, sort of understand because there might be something that they’re born with as well. So we have to take all of that into consideration. And then all of how have they lived their life up to this point, which is where you know, their posture or their you know, how they’re moving today’s been determined. And one of the most important one is motor control. So are you fully in control of your movement? If I asked you to move in a certain direction? Are you doing something else? Because yeah, so I find a lot of times especially, I actually like this one for my mum, hope she won’t won’t mind me saying this. But yes, I do some stretching with my mum and dad. And I just say okay, so tilt your ear is down to your shoulder, stretch the other side of the neck. And, and what I’ll get in response is sort of a like a rotation rather than a lateral flexion. Because that motor control is not quite there. And I think it could have been like previous injuries and previous issues, your body will naturally start moving away from any area of discomfort. But over time, you just learn to not move into those areas. But the problem is, if you’re not moving into those areas, your body is not balanced, and you’re not moving correctly. And other muscles which are supposed to do their job are not doing it. So therefore everything is out of balance, then motor control the mind muscle connection, are you in control of your movement. So I have inspired all of these for you something I call a movement mot. So just like you take your car for an MOT and service, you know, even your boiler gets serviced for crying out loud, we use our body every single day. Do we know what’s going on? We know where any restrictions are? Do we know? You know how, you know how supple we are? You know, our hips? Let a balance can we move those hips joint through range of motion through the same on left and right, because the body really doesn’t like too much imbalance? Yeah, we’re not symmetrical. We all know that some people have more imbalance, you know, more, you know, asymmetry. asymmetry, no more asymmetry. Yes, than others. And so yeah, so it’s just getting back to do you know, what’s going on in your body, because we tend to have full shut it all out. And so all of this information will be used to design called a corrective exercise programme to bring you know, more more function resolve natural function in the body. And so hopefully moving away from any joint aches and pains, and also start thinking about, well, how do you want to live? How do you want to move in 5, 10, 20, 30 years time? Because there’s no point thinking for people if you’re 70 or 80 years old, and think it’s on I wish I did something about this 20,30 years ago. So it’s a case of let’s start thinking now, just like you plan for your pension? How do you want to be moving later on and enjoy your big pot of money and your empty holidays? And what skiing or whatever you want to do when you’re in later life? Are you going to have the body to and the movement capabilities to, to you know, support all of these fantastic things plans you have? Yes. So that’s that’s how I work with people

James Crow
on a personalised level, then you’re not just doing a prescribed series of movements that is fit for everybody you’re looking at the person, the individual or individuals within a group and tailoring a programme for them.

Patricia Goka
Absolutely, yeah, because a lot of us, if we’re not paying attention, there will be imbalances, especially the hip, especially at the shoulder, and even the ankle. So I mean, I’m naming some of these because these are some of my issues I had previously. And unless things are pretty similar, then you’re gonna put too much weight or pressure on one side of the body versus the other. So even if you’re quite flexible, if the imbalance between the left and right is large enough that the body is going to start over compensating on one side you will increase you’re likelihood to get injured you will start having more wear on one side of the body than the other and yes so it’s highlighting this to people because no one no one told us how to look after and care for our joints. And it’s because of modern day living, you know sitting all day, you know being stressed, muscles tightening up, everything’s getting restricted, battering ourselves in the gym or going running and things like that when we need more calm and more restorative things to sort of balance ourselves that you know there are a tonne of imbalances unless you’re keeping on top of it. Then you know things can escalate out of control. So yeah, so it’s an it’s an enlightening experience. And it’s also practical as in it’s it is not difficult to read to restore balance. And also I encourage, I sort of teach people this is how you do it so you can go forth and look after yourself for life. Which is what it’s all about.

James Crow
Brilliant! Whether you are going to be rich and having all those golfing breaks or whether you’re going to be having having beans on toast and and a trip around the local budget supermarket you still need to keep flexible and moving.

Patricia Goka
Exactly, you want to be able to go shopping, you know without any aches and pains if you want to walk or drive. Think about even getting into your car, do you want to struggle and it be painful. Do you want to drive comfortably in that position. Do you want to go around the supermarket with ease. So even if you don’t, you’re not having all these grand plans, you just want to have a simple life. And you know, maybe do some gardening and, you know, look after your grandkids or great grandkids fully, you still have to look after, you know, your muscles, your joints, and how you move in everything.

James Crow
Look after yourself. And look after number one, I think I might have to book in for one of your MOT’s after this session and see how I am in terms of any imbalances. It would be quite interesting to have a third party opinion.

Patricia Goka
Looking forward to it! So I have completely diverted a bit I come from sort of a finance background. So risk management, which is all about identification, assessment, mitigation and monitoring. So you always need to practice this. So they do this in banking. You do this in the MOT why do we take our car for a MOT? I mean, they make it a legal requirement, because I don’t think people will probably be as proactive. If it wasn’t a legal requirement, because we want to identify issues early on before it comes something quite major. And that’s what we pride this management’s everyday in life. You stop, look and listen before you cross the road, hopefully, unless you’re looking down at your phone, which is an another issue. We do all of these things every day. And we need to apply the same principle to what’s going on with our joints, how we move them, it puts a few corrective actions in place and

James Crow
you want to catch those people before the wheels fall off, don’t you?

Patricia Goka
Yes, exactly. That’s a good one. Oh, I like that.

James Crow
You can have that one. Patricia. So if you were going to give my final question if you were gonna give one piece of advice to our listeners today, right now to stop their wheels falling off? What would that be?

Patricia Goka
Get curious about what’s going on in your body. It’s I think we’re too scared to investigate. I mean, I put it the other day my friend was saying that she’s looking at on YouTube on how to plaster walls. I mean, we won’t investigate, you know, go on YouTube and look at you know, some you know, some ideas or how do I you know, stretch or how do I, you know, really tension in so and so. Because we’re too scared to get curious about what’s going on in your body, you know, maintain awareness. Because, I mean, we’re so frightened of pain as soon as there’s some sort of pain or discomfort, it’s like block it out, block it out. I don’t want to know, but it’s it’s just it’s just the body’s notification system to say that there’s something going on and let’s pay you know pay attention to it. It’s not something to be sort of, you know, blocked out carry on, because yes, it’s not a 10 out of 10 pain but it’s just the early warning signs. Okay, let’s address it and then you know, we can go on our day but yes, maintain awareness, get curious about what’s going on.

James Crow
Fantastic so those people who are curious and who don’t want to block out the fact that their wheels might shortly fall off how do they find you, where are you on the worldwide web?

Patricia Goka
Yes, I am active on LinkedIn so under my name Patricia Goka, I’m on Instagram at holisticptstudio, one word. Yeah, my websites the same name www.holisticptstudio.com, I think that’s it. Think if you just Google my name, something will come up you know, I did that a few years ago and there was some random woman on there I think it might I don’t have enough online presence so a lot of information

James Crow
That random lady she’ll be on Google later going who’s this other Patricia Goka? She’s outfoxed me, why is she more popular now?

Patricia Goka
Well, I thought I was unique, I am unique, holisticptstudio if you put that in google you’ll come up with a few things.

James Crow
My advice to our listeners is don’t go pestering any other Patricia’s, go to holisticptstudio. That’s really useful Patricia, it’s a great insight into how you work and there’s some good advice there for people to be curious and to make sure they’re proactive in looking after themselves so they can keep stronger for longer. Thank you very much for coming on. It’s been a pleasure to speak to you

Patricia Goka
You’re welcome James

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