Helping women achieve their fitness potential
Elite-level support for active women of all ages, shapes and abilities
Every day, more women are discovering the benefits of an active lifestyle. While many of us may start some form of exercise initially to improve our fitness and health, and possibly to lose some unwanted excess weight, we often find ourselves appreciating some of the other (unexpected) benefits including:
- More energy throughout the day
- Improved sleep
- Lower stress levels
- Better concentration
- Increased confidence
Whether you’re a high-level athlete, a keen runner, a recreational hockey player or somebody who is just getting started on their fitness journey with a Couch to 5k programme…
…if you are a female, an increased knowledge of your health and training can help to improve your fitness and your sporting performance.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion and incorrect, (often out-dated) information about female health as it relates to sports and exercise. The Active Women’s Clinic at Circle Reading was set up specifically for this reason. We support, educate and tailor treatment for active women of all ages, no matter their current fitness level or health goals.
Our goal is to help every woman achieve their personal fitness goal. Whether that’s winning a Gold medal at the Olympics or being able to keep up with your active child in the local park, we have the expertise to help you.
Ongoing research continues to teach us more about how females respond to training and exercise. As we learn more, we’re able to better monitor and adjust training patterns and exercise intensity to optimise athletic performance, while also avoiding injury from excessive or incorrect activity.
These are a number of important differences between the sexes regarding the effects of exercise on the body:
- Body composition – Men and women have different genetic attributes and different levels of sex steroid hormones (testosterone, progesterone and oestrogen) which impacts on differences in body composition. For example, in general women will usually have proportionately less muscle and bones mass and a higher percentage of body fat than men.
- Anatomy – The female pelvis is usually wider and has a larger hip width to thigh bone ratio. This helps with pregnancy and childbirth but can affect the way you jump and land. These changes can impact on the risk of sustaining a knee or ankle injury.
- Hormones – A woman’s menstrual cycle is controlled by changes in hormone levels. These changes can affect sporting performance in some women and exercise itself may cause changes in hormone levels. Recent studies have demonstrated how women can feel their performance is negatively affected by their menstrual cycle. Common symptoms include abdominal or back pain, cramps, headaches, breast tenderness and reduced co-ordination difficulties. It’s easy to see how these could affect athletic performance.
Women who exercise can experience a higher incidence of menstrual irregularities. It is essential to have the correct nutritional intake for your training or sport, as when we “under fuel”, a negative energy balance can develop (we refer to this as Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport). This problem can not only affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, but if unrecognized and untreated, it can have long lasting effects on health and wellbeing.
- Flexibility – Women tend to be more flexible than men, with less joint stability (this is known as greater joint laxity). While flexibility itself tends to be a good thing, excessive joint mobility can increase your risk of injury, particularly in the knee, ankle and elbow. If you are particularly flexible (hypermobile), you’ll require additional muscle strength to provide the necessary support and stability for your joints.
Your first consultation will run for 40 minutes and be with either Dr Kate Hutchings or Physiotherapist Roz Cooke. They will talk with you about any symptoms you’re experiencing and how they are affecting or limiting your sporting activities. They will also carry out a clinical examination.
Additional investigations may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis and to plan your management. Tests may include:
- Blood tests – helpful for hormonal profile testing and to demonstrate and vitamin or mineral deficiency
- Bone scan
Some of these tests, such as blood tests, ultrasound or X-rays, can often be done on the same day as your appointment. Other test will need to be booked for another date.
Once the results of any investigations are back, our experienced team will work closely together to plan the optimal treatment plan and will then discuss their recommendations with you. This may involve training and recovery strategies, a rehabilitation programme or additional investigations.
At Circle Reading, you’ll have access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology like Shockwave therapy, a Biodex Isokinetic Dynamometer and an AlterG anti-gravity treadmill.
Depending on your specific symptoms and test results, you may be referred for additional review with specialists in other fields such as nutrition, gynaecology, rheumatology, orthopaedics and psychology. These can all be easily arranged for you if required.
Whatever your unique circumstances, we can provide you with a comprehensive integrated management plan to help you achieve peak performance safely and sustainably. We will closely monitor you throughout your treatment and can make adjustments as needed. Your treatment is tailored to your specific situation and requirements.
With so many options available to choose from – from personal trainers to fitness apps and exercise equipment - why do so many women continue to trust us with their fitness and sporting health?
Women choose to visit us at the Active Women’s Clinic for a variety of reasons. Some will have been referred by another trusted specialist, such as a sports physiotherapist, rheumatologist or dietitian. Others will have heard about us from one of their friends who we’ve previously helped.
The overriding reason people trust us is due to the exceptional calibre of the people who run the clinic. Our Clinicians have more than 25 years’ combined experience in working with Olympic female sports women, the FA and professional Ballet.
- Dr Kate Hutchings is a Sports and Exercise Medicine Consultant. Having worked with Olympic and Paralympic athletes, elite athletes and professional sports teams, she has vast experience in ensuring peak sporting performance and in assessing, diagnosing and treating sports injuries to ensure a speedy and full recovery.
- Roz Cooke is a highly experienced physiotherapist. A few of her (many) career highlights include Lead Physiotherapist for England Netball, Senior physiotherapist providing support to British Equestrian Athletes and a Consultant Physiotherapist for Women at the Football Association.
Previously, access to this level of expertise in sports medicine was restricted to elite athletes. The Active Women’s Clinic at Circle Reading makes it readily available to every woman.
Both Kate and Roz are passionate about bringing the principles of elite sports performance and achievement to women of all fitness levels, helping them to achieve their personal fitness goals safely and free of injury.
The clinic is held at Circle Reading, a modern private hospital with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, a team of experienced healthcare professionals, and access (where required) to specialists in other fields.
For quick, easy access to elite level help, tailored to your personal fitness goals, please contact us to arrange your initial visit.