What is Osteopathy?

One of big questions I always get asked in clinic is… “What’s the difference between a Physiotherapist, Chiropractor and Osteopath?”

Well, to be honest, in modern conservative therapy, osteopaths, physios and chiropractors will (generally) all work in a very similar way. Historically, there are philosophical differences in our practices, but in modern practice, we all utilise up to date evidence-based research to plan effective treatments to help individuals with a variety of musculoskeletal problems.

As an osteopath, the second most common question I get asked is… “What is Osteopathy? That’s just to do with the back/bones isn’t it?”

My response is, that it is way more than just the bones.

Osteopathy is a complementary, manual therapy that is used as a way of diagnosing and treating a wide range of musculoskeletal dysfunctions and injuries. It is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the bones, muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues functioning smoothly together.

Many of the ailments and injuries that I see in clinic are, to some degree, influenced by an imbalance in the smooth functioning of the body. This imbalance can often cause us to compensate and use other areas to help the movement or action that we are undertaking, whether that’s walking, squatting, or even sitting at a desk.

In an initial assessment, the osteopath will assess an individual by undertaking a thorough case history and clinical examination to better understand the likely cause of your pain and symptoms. To do this, an osteopath will assess your muscles and joints using a variety of techniques such as touch, movement, physical mobilisation, stretching and massage.

Once an issue is diagnosed the osteopath will then utilise a variety of therapeutic interventions including: massage, exercise rehabilitation, taping, acupuncture whilst also providing you with educational advice to help you self-manage your injury or problem.

If you want an assessment or wish to discuss how osteopathy could help you, then feel free to get in touch with the information below.

Tom Nottingham

[email protected] 

Mobile: 07551424370

Strength Training – A Powerful Medicine

When most people think of strength training, they think about the visual impact: building more muscle, losing body fat, changing body shape, etc.  What they don’t realise is that the physical changes that we see are just the tip of the iceberg. The real benefits (which scientific research has now demonstrated) are far greater than most people could possibly conceive.


The real issue embedding most people’s misguided view for strength training is that the media typically exposes us to the extremes.  If you were to ask most people on the street how they would picture a weightlifter or somebody who regularly lifts weights, you may get recollections of men with blood pouring out their nose from lifting 1000lbs and steroid abusing male and female bodybuilders who are just as unhealthy as many obese individuals.  When most people inform their doctor or family that they are weight training they typically get the same response: “But you’ll get too big!” or “you only need to do aerobics for heart health”. Unfortunately these misconceptions have emulated from years of stigma, myths and stereotypes.


How about the 40-year-old mum or the 50-year-old office worker who just wants to get in better shape and improve their health?  Lifting weights won’t just make you stronger and more muscular.  Used and programmed correctly it has the potential to literally transform your life and your health.


Here are just a few examples of the positive impacts of strength training:

  • Metabolic functions are boosted. Your ability to handle insulin and elevated blood glucose is significantly increased. Your risk of diabetes and all the secondary diseases that come with it are drastically reduced due to this greater handling capacity. . The impact for those who build even just a few pounds of muscle are actually far greater than those who just participate in aerobic sports. In fact, because of the increased carbohydrate consumption typically associated with prolonged aerobic training, metabolic resistance can actually be more likely, particularly in later years. This is truer for those with high training volume (e.g. marathon runners, triathletes etc.) who pile on the pasta, rice, carb gels and glucose drinks. Aerobic training certainly has a place but I would argue that the correct resistance training programme has far greater potency when it comes to metabolic health improvements.  It also causes less oxidative stress to the body.


  •  Your bone density greatly increases. Osteoporosis and bone disease is rife within Western society. The average person loses 1% of their bone mass every year from the age of 30 and quality of life is massively reduced in those who find moving painful because of bone demineralisation. Want to avoid fractures and severe bone degeneration? Get lifting and strengthening those bones alongside your muscles!


  •  Your immune system is dramatically improved. Strength training has been shown to have more of an immune boosting effect than traditional aerobic exercise.  The cortisol release from strength training is much lower than that of somebody hammering away on the treadmill every day. When people think about improving their immune function they think it’ll expose them to less frequent colds and tummy bugs. This is true, but the real value in regulating and managing your immune system is reducing your risk of the big time auto immune diseases, such as MS, ALS and even cancerous conditions in which the immune system is dramatically impaired or has become dysregulated. Many modern day health issues such as thyroid conditions, and arthritis are now considered to have an autoimmune/inflammatory component, so anything to improve your immune function puts you in a much healthier position.    Poor immune function even in earlier years is potentially a precursor to more serious issues later in life. Lymphatic tissue which carries a great deal of our immune cells has to rely on movement which acts as a pump.  Good nutrition and exercise in general are therefor not just a positive but an absolute essential if you want to live a healthy life.


  • Your neuromuscular health is improved.  Increased neural and nervous system adaptations come about as a result of training specific movement patterns with resistance, and greater neuromuscular health is associated with greater wellbeing, longevity and overall quality of life.  Improving the strength of your neuromuscular system not only improves your coordination but also has been shown to dramatically reduce the incidence of trips and falls in all populations (most significantly the elderly).  This increased neuromuscular activity has also been shown to upregulate certain genes which optimise oxygen uptake, brain health and the rebuilding of damaged or irregular tissue. Optimising your CNS is another underappreciated component of health!


There are many more points I could add to this list but just these few key ones should be enough to convince even the most stubborn of people that strength training is an absolute essential. Strength training is so much more than just improving body composition and it is an unfortunate fact that most people cannot see the true value and this is further compounded by the myriad of myths and misconceptions.  Many people are guilty of this misguided view, even many doctors!


Once you look past all the social media fitness models, bodybuilders and strongmen (the extremes), you can see that strength training, aside from nutrition, could actually prove to be mankind’s best, most powerful yet most underutilised medicine. It is for this very reason that I actively encourage everybody I love and care for to participate in some form of resistance training, irrespective of their age, gender or abilities and I would implore you to make a start as well!




Eating Breakfast Cereal is One of the Worst Nutrition Mistakes

Breakfast cereals have been a main staple breakfast choice since the 1940s and have formed a seemingly integral part of the British diet.  Commercial marketing, social trends and widespread availabity of cheap and affordable cereals have formed a culture in which breakfast consists of a cereal such as Special K or a sugar-based children’s cereal such as Rice Crispies or Cornflakes.  Most supermarkets seem to offer a wealth of endless boxes of cereals, boasting enriched vitamin content, calcium for bones, iron for increased energy, and a tasty convenient way to start the day.  Affordability and competitive pricing, a long shelf life, cartoon characters and heavy celebrity endorsement make cereals seem like the ideal choice to the average consumer, but are they really a good choice for breakfast?


When reviewing the facts, we must use a good understanding of how the human body works and how our body responds to the foods we eat.  As you will find, your choice of breakfast could really be increasing your risk of ill health.


[box_header]So why are cereal grains such a poor choice of breakfast?[/box_header]

1.  Despite being calorie-dense, cereal grains are nutrient-poor. Cereals are in fact so nutritionally deplete that the World Health Organisation has forced manufacturers to fortify their foods with their own synthetic forms of vitamins and minerals, such as niacin and folic acid.  Figures during the rise of cereal grains back in the early 1900s show an increase in the diseases we associate with malnourishment, such as rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults, despite an over-abundant access to food. It was therefore deemed necessary to enrich manufactured foods with nutrients to improve these statistics. Unfortunately the vitamins and minerals, which are removed and then restocked during the processing of grains, are of poor bioavailability to the body due to the use of cheap oxides and other poor quality ingredients.


The fortified nutrients are usually of such poor quality there is an estimated 10-20% absorption rate. For example a standard generic cereal fortified with 200mg of Magnesium Oxide would provide your body with an available 20-40mg, an almost insignificant amount when we consider the levels of nutrients required for optimal health.

So why do the government not impose sanctions on grain products and instead recommend more natural, nutrient-dense foods if they are so nutritionally void?  One possible answer we must consider is that various grains such as wheat, barley and rye form a significant portion of our country’s GDP. Therefore changing our consumption and swaying public belief would have a great bearing on our economy. This is further compounded by the majority of positive research surrounding the supposed health benefits of cereal being funded by the cereal manufacturers.


2.  Cereals have an exceptionally high glycaemic index.  This means that the glucose broken down from that delicious bowl of Cornflakes is entering your bloodstream at an incredibly fast rate and in large volume. As your body is inundated with what in effect is sugar (yes even that wholemeal muesli is broken down into sugar), your pancreas is churning out insulin to direct that sugar into fat stores or glycogen stores within your liver or muscles. If you don’t have much in the way of muscle glycogen stores, are inactive or consume too many calories, most of that sugar is going to be directed into fat cells. As your cells are exposed to high levels of insulin they become desensitised to its action, particularly if they are exposed to sugar on a long term or sustained basis.  Poor insulin sensitivity and a poor ability to handle glucose results in poor cell signalling, inflammation and cellular damage.


What is very alarming to note is that malignant or tumorous cancer cells will multiply at an increased rate when exposed to an insulin rich environment which is why new research shows a positive response to ketogenic (high fat, moderate/high protein, and sub-50g daily carbs) diets. This is not to say these alternative diets are the best choice, it’s just that our current way of eating is causing some very serious health conditions.


Cornflakes for example have a glycaemic index of 80. When you consider that pure glucose has a value of 100 you start to realise how bad these cereals can actually be.  Sprinkle some sugar on to those Cornflakes and pour a load of low fat, processed milk over the top and you now have an insulin storm in a bowl.


3.  Cereals have a poor macronutrient profile.  From experience it is clear that an optimal breakfast should be centred around proteins and fats.  Unfortunately most cereals just do not provide either of these macronutrients in the format or quantities required for optimal health.


Numerous studies show that the best way to optimise lean body mass and health is to consume around 0.8g of protein per lb. of bodyweight. For the average male weighing 85kg they would require 149g of Protein per day to optimise body composition. When you consider the average bowl of cereal (including the milk!) will contain less than 8g of protein you realise that they are not the best choice when it comes to structuring your diet.


4.  Cereal is not the only problem here but also its accompaniment with milk. Most people choose to drench their cereal in skimmed or semi-skimmed milk for fear of consuming too much fat. This is again a big mistake as when fat is removed from milk you remove all of the fat soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin A, D, E and K, as well as CLA (a trans-fatty acid with good health benefits).  You also raise the glycaemic index of the milk, which has negative implications on your blood sugar levels.


One of the biggest problems I personally have with non-organic dairy is in its production and not necessarily in the milk itself. Traditional dairy is pumped with antibiotics, growth hormones, growth factors such as IGF-1 and high levels of omega 6 fatty acids (high levels of omega 6 fat intake compared to omega 3 has been shown to be pro-inflammatory).


Fifty percent of the world’s anitbiotics are given to cattle, which contaminate the milk and is something we are exposed to every time we open a milk carton.   More recent research has shown huge advances in how antibiotic cultures influence our microbiome (the bacteria which colonises our gut and bowels). This research demonstrates that extensive antibiotic use can kill off a large percentage of our good bacteria as well as the bad. This good bacteria has now been proven to influence our thoughts, 70%+ of our immune system and our susceptibility to everything from depression through to cancer. In fact just a few months ago they were able to reverse the symptoms of Coeliac disease (previously thought to be incurable) just by re -introducing bacteria to the gut.  (Find the link to the study here).


Another issue I have with processed non-organic dairy is that cows are given oestrogen-based hormones to ensure year-round lactation to provide enough milk for the population. This aromatisation of our food chain could possibly be contributing to some serious health concerns which we link with oestrogen, ranging from gynecomastia in men through to breast cancer.


The best option is to purchase 100% organic, hormone-free milk, preferably from grass fed cows if you can source it. I personally like the produce from the Goodwood estate for this reason.

Why Elitas Fitness Oaklands is the Best Gym in Chichester Part 3

The single biggest strength of our gym is the quality of our staff.  We currently consist of four extremely well-qualified and experienced strength and conditioning coaches; responsible for everything from one-to-one personal training sessions to gym inductions and chatting with members.


Between the four of us we have worked with and learnt from international industry leaders, such as Charles Poliquin and Joe Defranco.  We have experience working with international level sportsmen, from England rugby players to professional NFL players.  We have even won silverware working with professional sports teams – Ben won the LV Cup with Gloucester Rugby in 2011 and Owen won the Italian Rugby Premiership with Mogliano in 2013.  We are also trusted sources of wide-reaching fitness and nutrition advice, having written for publications such as the Huffington Post and the Chichester Observer on such topics.


Owen lifting the Italian Super 12 trophy with Mogliano in 2013

Owen lifting the Italian Super 12 trophy with Mogliano 


Although the gym operates in the conventional commercial gym manner – members turn up when they like and train unsupervised – we are still able to tailor the membership to the individual.  Our members receive as much or as little support as they require.  We have a lot of novice gym members, and spend a lot of time with them teaching the fundamental movement patterns and building confidence.  Likewise, a lot of our members have a huge amount of gym experience, and some are very good athletes and sportsmen and women.  Even these more advanced individuals come to us for training programmes and advice.


When inducting inexperienced gym users we are comprehensive in what we cover.  It is not a case of just naming all of the machines and handing them a programme.  Seemingly straightforward things like loading and unloading a barbell on the floor can be very difficult and even intimidating for someone with little to no training experience.  We go through little things like this in detail to ensure they will feel comfortable using the gym alone.  In some cases we even offer a series of one-to-one personal training sessions in our private gym at the other end of Chichester, to get them started.


Unlike most chain gyms, our staff are not clock-watching shift workers being paid minimum wage to wipe down the equipment and comply with health and safety.  We are business owners and coaches.  It genuinely matters to us how our members are getting on.  It is very important to us that members are enjoying themselves and getting results, because we care about people, and the success of our business depends upon it.


We have also strived to build a friendly and supportive gym community.  Although our membership base covers a wide range of experience and ability, everyone is approachable.  We encourage our members to help each other out: from sharing knowledge and giving feedback on technique to spotting one another and helping move equipment.


Another thing we have tried to achieve with this gym is to make it very easy for women to lift weights.  With a small membership base and an abundance of squat racks and dumbbells spread throughout the gym, not just in one small male-dominated corner, our female members do not feel as if they are trespassing on a forbidden and intimidating area of the gym when trying to train properly.  This is why our female members are able to get better results than those training anywhere else in Chichester.  Our membership base is made up of almost 50% women, which is outstanding considering we are primarily a strength training gym with strong links to the rugby club.   We are proud to be playing our small part in changing opinions and providing women with the opportunity to strength train.


A couple of our female members training hard!

A couple of our female members training hard!


The last thing I will mention is the ability of members to influence the gym.  We make a real point of responding rapidly to feedback in an effort to ensure we are providing exactly what people want from their gym.  When members have asked for specific pieces of gym equipment, we have been able to provide them within weeks.  When multiple gym members expressed an interest in learning Olympic weightlifting, we arranged for a former team GB weightlifter to come down and run a workshop.  We even do our best to cater for music requests, but you can’t please everyone!


Our Olympic lifting workshop

Our Olympic lifting workshop


If this sounds like a place you would like to try out then please get in touch and we can arrange a time to meet with you and show you around.  Give us a call on 01243 920536 or an email on [email protected]

Why Elitas Fitness Oaklands is the Best Gym in Chichester Part 1

Welcome to part 1 of a short series of posts I am writing to show you why Elitas Fitness Oaklands is the best membership gym in Chichester.  Hopefully by the time you have read this series you will understand fully what this gym is about and why it is the perfect place to train for real results.


The gym is located in Oaklands Park, just to the north of Chichester town centre.  The park is a great setting, especially in the summer months, and there is a large free car park.  In this first part I will be focusing on the equipment in the gym.


Our gym equipment was all carefully chosen by us to provide everything required for optimal training.  We were not looking to maximise profitability of space or entice people in with gimmicks they do not need.  As a result, we have everything needed for training for fat loss, muscle and strength gains, rehabilitation and sports performance.


The first thing to notice is our provision for barbell movements.  The most bang-for-your-buck exercises are barbell movements – squats, deadlifts, presses, rows etc.  These exercises recruit the largest areas of muscle mass and are the easiest to progress with in terms of strength.  Although we are a small gym with a strictly capped membership, we have four full power racks.  Your average commercial gym will provide one rack (which is probably a half rack, limiting exercise selection, variation and safety) for over 2,000 members.  There are no 45 minute waits to be able to squat or bench press here!




Watson Power Racks


We also have calibrated Eleiko bumper plates.  This means firstly that our 10kg and 15kg plates are the same large diameter as our 20kg plates, allowing members to safely deadlift with loads lighter than 60kg (a 20kg Olympic barbell with a 20kg plate on each end is the lightest weight that can be set up in most commercial gyms without the bar being too close to the floor).  This also means that our plates weigh what they say they weigh.  Eleiko plates are the gold standard of weightlifting equipment and are the chosen equipment for the Olympic Games.  Cheaper alternatives can be +/-10%!  This can cause real problems if you are trying to make small progressive increases to the weights you are lifting over time (as you should be!).  Additionally, our plates were used by the All Blacks at a training venue for the recent Rugby World Cup, which is pretty cool!


Olympics Day 3 - Weightlifting

Eleiko wiehgt plates at the London 2012 Olympics

For shoulder health, athletic performance, physical appearance and posture, upper back training is essential (trapezius, rhomboids etc.).  We spend our days slumped over desks: thoracic rounding, scapulae protracted, shoulders internally rotated.  To effectively train this area of muscle you need the right equipment.  We have a number of adjustable cable stations along with an incredibly wide and versatile range of cable attachments, making it easy to perform exercises such as cable retractions, face pulls, single arm rows, external rotations etc.  We also have specific machines dedicated to upper back training: T bar row, seated cable row, lat pulldown.


Probably the most important equipment that the majority of commercial gyms leave out is a range of posterior chain machines.  This is because they take up space and require competent coaching to use effectively.  Strengthening the posterior chain, specifically the glutes, hamstrings and lower back, is essential for health and longevity as well as athletic performance.  If you want to run faster and jump higher, this is the most important group of muscles to target.  If you want to prevent or fix injuries and pain then you must learn to use your hips correctly and activate and strengthen these muscles.  We have a glute ham raise, a reverse hyper, a 45 degree back extension and a lying leg curl.  This range of equipment is only usually found in the most elite strength and conditioning facilities and we are providing it to the public at our gym in Chichester along with all the support and coaching required from our team of expert coaches.


Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will continue to go through the equipment in the gym and how it sets us apart from anywhere else in Chichester and the surrounding area.


If you would like to come in for a chat about training then please contact us on [email protected] or 01243 920536.


Losing My Powerlifting Virginity

First off, what is powerlifting? Well, it is the traditional barbell back squat, paused bench press and deadlift.

You get three attempts at each lift, and the best of your lifts goes towards a total. This is your competitive number and what you use to determine if you are stronger than other lifters in you weight class.

As an example, you squat three times and you complete all three lifts:

1st squat- 165kg
2nd squat- 180kg
3rd squat- 190kg

The last and heaviest lift is the one that combines with the other two movements to make up your total.


Holding myself accountable

My training throughout the year had been pretty good, not great and I personally was not satisfied. After signing up though, I completely switched gears. I knew I was going to be showing my best, so I had better prepare. My friends and family knew, my clients knew and I did not want to let anyone down. I had to hold myself accountable for my training and lifestyle leading up to the event.

What really stuck out for me was taking my training up a gear. Not slacking off (yup, even trainers are human and try to do this sometimes) and completing the work needed to get better. When I did not want to do my final set I thought of everyone I had told and knew I was better than just giving up. I did the work.


Following through with advice

I found advice wherever I could: other coaches, online communities, podcasts etc. Anything I could use to help me ensure I was ready for the day. Sticking with my program was easy and obvious, but specific details for the day itself also had to be considered.

I had to book a hotel because the meet was held 3 hours away from my house. I also had to know the commands to which I had to lift (you are told when to start each movement and when you are allowed to finish) and prepare enough food for the day, along with planning the timing of my nutrition.

The day started at 7.45am for weigh-ins but I didn’t start lifting until 2pm. I knew I would get nervous and don’t handle huge amounts of food well before lifting. So on this occasion some fruit, lucozade and water were all I needed.


Trying something new

I had no idea what to expect, but I loved it! Although everyone is trying to out-lift one another, no one really cares what YOU do on the day. They are focused on their own lifts and want to see nothing but your best. Having people who are in direct competition with you give you advice, share food and cheer you on is something amazing.

I was scared going into the big day but was rewarded with a few lifts I was really hoping for: I hit a 190kg squat, which for me was huge.

If you are unsure about a sport, class, gym, personal training service etc., if you do not give it a go you will never know. I am excited about the prospect of competing again next year to beat my current numbers.


What I hit:
Squat- 190kg
Bench- 115kg
Deadlift- 210kg
Total- 515kg



[email protected]