All posts by Alex Newton

Healthy Postural Positions for Babies

Birth is one of the most traumatic experiences a baby can go through. It is not often known, for example, that the baby’s cranial bones move and overlap affording the flexibility required during delivery. Even after a successful delivery, a baby’s spine is still at risk.

However, there are some precautions you can take as a parent to minimize this risk both to your baby and to yourselves. Here are the healthiest positions for you to care for your baby.

Holding baby: your baby should be held close to you with the back of your baby’s head supported with your index finger behind the ear.

Bathing baby: your baby’s head should be supported using your thumb and forefinger while your free hand is used for bathing and supporting your baby in the tub.

Parent/child interaction: throwing your child up and down can actually cause spinal problems due to a lack of support as your child is being bent forward and backwards.

Picking children up: when lifting your child, you should be on your haunches, lift your child while holding them under both arms, and avoid carrying them on one hip. Preferably, your child should be carried in front of you with one leg either side of you.

Papoose type slings and carriers: unfortunately contraptions that allow your child to sit before it is naturally able to can cause major spinal problems. Most of the holding devices keep your baby’s spine in the ‘c’ shape curve it’s born with and do not allow the normal curves in the neck and low back to develop.

Dressing the child: clothing that has a tight collar can put a strain on your child’s spine in the neck and the area between the shoulder blades. Buttons and zips should be used as much as possible.

Feeding: if breast feeding, you should hold the baby at the level of the breast whilst supporting your arm on a pillow, to reduce spinal problems in yourself. You should place the baby so that it faces your breast so that rotation of your baby’s neck is minimized.

Crawling: crawling should be actively encouraged, as a lack of sufficient crawling is responsible for weak spinal architecture.

Emotional stress can also affect your baby. Domestic disharmony and maternal distress is very quickly picked up by the infant and translated into irritability, crying and unsettled behaviour. The negative effect on muscle tone, sleeping and feeding patterns is a major contributor to spinal subluxations.

As parents, bonding should be encouraged immediately for you both. Holding the infant close to your body, maintaining sustained eye contact, smiling and making soothing sounds are all important.

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Prevent the Pain in Parenthood

One of the most likely times women will get back pain is during pregnancy and for men and women it is when there is an infant in the house needing to be picked up and carried. Both these times are paradoxically when you would like your back to be functioning at it’s best.

Caring for an infant puts stress on your back. Initially, you may be lifting the 7 to 10 pound baby up to 20-30 times a day. By the time the child is a year old, you are lifting and carrying around 17 pounds. Two years later, you will be lifting a 25 to 30 pound child.

Here are some ways that new mothers, fathers and grandparents can help reduce their risk of injury and back pain.

Safe lifting, the basics: Stand with your feet at least a foot apart, this will give you a stable base of support. Keep your back as straight as possible and bend your knees. Do not stretch your arms out straight to pick up the baby. Bring the baby close to your chest before lifting.

Lift using both arms and your thigh muscles, which are amongst the largest and strongest muscles in the body. To pick up a child from the floor, bend at your knees-not at your waist. Squat down, tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your legs. When carrying and moving a child, pivot with your feet until you are facing your destination then lower the child into the crib or onto the floor by bending at the knees, with a straight back.

Carrying: Hold your child in an upright position, directly against your chest. Carrying a child on one hip creates postural imbalances that can lead to low back pain over time. Consider using a ‘front pack’ to carry the baby when you are walking.

Exercise for women:   Begin exercising again soon after delivery to restore muscle tone to the abdominal and back muscles. While the baby is napping, take 10 minutes to do stretching exercises on the floor each day. This will help restore hip and back flexibility. Try to return to your normal weight within six weeks after giving birth. If you had a Caesarean-section (C-section) delivery, wait six weeks or until you get the permission of your obstetrician before you begin exercising.

Breastfeeding: To avoid upper back pain from breastfeeding, bring the baby to your breast, rather than bending over the baby. While you are nursing, sit in an upright chair rather than a soft couch.

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Take Steps Towards a Better Posture

A 3-minute programme designed to improve your, and your loved ones’, postures

Chiropractors are often asked: what does the ‘ideal posture’ look like? According to The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) there is no such thing as a ‘perfect posture’. The reality is that everyone is different and each person will assume a posture that feels comfortable for him or her to sit, stand and sleep. The general advice given to preoccupied parents or stressed adults is the same: stretch, exercise, vary the type of postures throughout the day, and avoid sitting for too long in one position.

The BCA formulated an at home, three-minute posture care programme called ‘Straighten Up UK’ which is designed to improve kids and adults’ posture and spinal health.

The programme is divided in three simple stages, with each stage proposing three exercises. The basic rules are simple: always stand tall, think positively, breathe calmly and move smoothly. Here are three posture exercises from the programme that will help you and your loved ones feel and look great.

Step One: Stand Tall and Be A Star

  • Straighten up your posture, maintaining shoulders, hips and knees in a straight line;
  • Become a star by spreading arms and legs;
  • Facing forward, place one hand in the air, breathe and slowly stretch one arm overhead while bending the spine to the opposite side;
  • Repeat twice for each arm.

Step Two: Roll and Relax

  • Standing tall let the head hang forward and gently move from one side to the other;
  • Massage the base of the neck with your fingers while rotating the head for 15 seconds on each side;
  • Finally relax the shoulders by moving them back and forward.

Final Step: Core Balance and Letting Loose

  • Standing tall take a step forward lending in a lunge position;
  • Balance this position for 20 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side;
  • Finally shake it all off, by letting your limbs loose.

These exercises are designed for healthy kids and adults. If you experience persistent pain or any discomfort in the spine, consult your chiropractor.

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Staying Healthy, Safe and Fit During These Autumn Months

With darker mornings and cooler weather, finding the motivation to stay healthy and fit can be difficult. And that can lay the foundation for a weakened immune system, posing a greater risk of developing illness or injury. 

Here are some easy tips on exercise, diet, health and wellness that you can follow during the cold season.

Start a Keto diet

The ketogenic diet (or keto diet, for short) is a low-carb, high-fat diet that offers many health benefits. In fact, over 20 studies show that this type of diet can help you lose weight and improve your health. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.

When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain. Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has numerous health benefits. Ketogenic diets may even have benefits against diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.

Add Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are a healthy type of fat that are naturally found in many food types including fish, plant seeds and nuts. Omega 3 fatty acids are great for reducing joint pain and stiffness as they are a natural anti-inflammatory”. Studies have also shown that omega 3 fatty acids help lower levels of depression, which people commonly feel during the shorter, darker days of winter.

Cook with Spices and Spice Related Foods

Onions, garlic, ginger and turmeric are the perfect items to add flavour to your dishes. Not only do they make food taste great, but they’re also shown to help improve immune function. Fresh garlic, ginger and onions are more than flavouring.  Using all three together has a synergistic effect on lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.  Turmeric is a spice traditionally used in Chinese and Indian medicine. This spice helps to combat a number of conditions including inflammation and heart disease, and it also acts as a powerful antioxidant.

Plan your Workouts

If you don’t feel in the mood for fitness, you can do exercises at home. There are plenty of resources online that supply workout videos and exercises. These resources offer a variety of workouts including yoga, strength training, aerobics and other body-weight exercises. But try to stick to a weekly exercise plan so you don’t put off your regular exercise activities. On Sunday night, write down your exercise schedule for the next seven days. Choose your exact workout routines, activities or exercises for each day and how long they will be. Knowing what you’re scheduled to do each day ahead of time makes it easier to stick to.

Head to a Steam Room or a Sauna

If you begin to feel yourself experiencing depression or higher levels of stress after the holiday season, steam rooms and saunas can help. They help tense muscles to relax, which can alleviate feelings of stress. The high temperatures also get you working up a sweat, which is a great way to detoxify your body and your skin.

Frequent Hand Washing and Vitamin C

Frequent hand washing throughout the day and consuming lots of vitamin C are an absolute must in maintaining your health during the winter.

Not only do they help protect your immune system and prevent you from developing flu and colds, but they also protect others around you.

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Mindfulness for our Wellbeing

Whether you have an important work meeting, an appointment to book, or an errand to run after work, everyone is susceptible to dealing with a long to do list. Living a fast-paced lifestyle often means neglecting some of our thoughts and pushing them to the back of our mind. However, when we do this, we are stressing ourselves out more than we realise, and this stress can often trickle back into our body physically. Muscle tension or inflammation can be caused by an overload of stress in our life.

Mindfulness is the practice of becoming aware of yourself in the present moment, enabling you to identify how you feel inside and out. With this mind-body approach, you can clear your mind of negativity and unnecessary stresses and ultimately, help against physical aches and pains. Mindfulness also allows you to understand the pain you might be feeling and how to ease any anxiety associated with it. If constant stress is untreated, it can lead to increased tension, forming a continuous cycle of pain. As well as stress and chronic pain, mindfulness can help combat anxiety, sleep and eating disorders.  Mindfulness can also increase our positivity and energy levels which overall encourages a healthy lifestyle.

Mindfulness has many benefits to your general wellbeing and your physical health. Next time you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take 10 minutes out of your day to practice mindfulness with these five tips:

  1. Sit comfortably and relax
  2. Focus on your breath
  3. From your head to toes, bring awareness to each body part
  4. Identify any sounds or smells and let them pass
  5. Acknowledge and accept how you feel emotionally
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The Importance of Stretching

We all know that exercise is a part of healthy living, but what about stretching? Stretching is often viewed as an option, something to do before or after training if time permits. Stretching is an essential activity to incorporate daily, for its multiple benefits to the muscular, spinal and neurological system.

Stretching is an essential activity that helps maintain the body’s natural functionality, preserves the muscular tissue and improves and prolongs mobility. The desk-bound lifestyle of office workers and children and the exhausting and muscle straining life of factory and construction workers tends to form imbalances and tensions throughout the body. If those imbalances are not addressed, the body starts to compensate by assuming an incorrect posture, ultimately causing back pain and joint pain. It is important to incorporate stretching into chiropractic care, to help injuries heal faster, increase energy and reduce pain.

The following are some of the benefits that a regular stretching programme can provide:

  • Reduce muscle tension
  • Increase the range of movement
  • Enhance muscular coordination
  • Alleviate back pain
  • Improve mental wellness

There are many stretching techniques that one can try, here are a few helpful tips if you are looking to start a routine:

  • Take it slow; stretching is beneficial if not done in a hurry, with the stretching movement or position being achieved slowly and comfortably;
  • Ideally, stretch after your muscles have warmed up, cold muscles and deep stretches could injure the muscle tissue and cause more pain;
  • Stretch before and after your workout, aim for a total of 20 minutes of stretching with both dynamic and static stretching techniques;
  • Hold each stretch for 30 seconds;
  • Stretch both sides of the body and focus on stretching major areas of the body that help with mobility, such as calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quadriceps, shoulders, neck and lower back.

Everyone can stretch but some people might need to adjust the stretching movement to be beneficial and comfortable to them. Ask your chiropractor if you would like to start a stretching routine but suffer from an existing injury, chronic pain, or have a physical limitation.

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Dangers of Back Pain at School

When the children are back in the classrooms, running around playgrounds and playing sports, like adults, they can be prone to back pain, and there can be several causes.

The most common causes of joint and back pain in school children are:

  • Lack of exercise or excessive exercise
  • Weight of school bags
  • Bad posture
  • Poorly set up desks
  • Use of a computer or computer games
  • Sports injuries
  • Ill-fitting shoes/improper shoes

Lack of exercise and excessive exercise

The general finding from various studies is that children involved in competitive sports and those who are sedentary are more prone to getting low back pain while those that participated in moderate activity were protected. The children involved in competitive sports run the risk of getting repetitive strain injuries. Those children who are sedentary are often those who sit and watch a lot of television or play on a computer. The implication of this will be discussed below.

Weight of school bags

School bags are exceptionally heavy for those attending secondary school due to the number of different subjects covered and therefore the number of textbooks required and the fact the children often have to move between classes. Not all children have access to lockers, which mean that books have to be carried with them. Bags carried on one shoulder causes an asymmetry of the body and therefore certain muscles will have to tighten and others lengthen in order to carry the bag. These kind of imbalances can cause long-term problems.

Bad posture

All aspects of life can induce bad posture; lack of exercise, weight of school bags, spending too much time playing computer games or on the computer, incorrect shoes, and growth. Those children who grow faster and become taller than their peers may slouch in order to not tower above their friends and this can ultimately lead to bad posture.

Poorly set up desks

Whether at school or home, ill-fitting desks can lead to bad posture. School desks and chairs cannot cater for individual heights of children and, as mentioned earlier, the children often have to move between classes. The desks and chairs are uniform and unable to be altered to the child’s individual needs. Guidance on correct desk set up should be implemented at home; not just for the kids but also for everyone in the family who uses the desk. At school this can’t be done, but by advising the child to sit upright and not to slouch and not to cross the legs will help.

Use of a computer or computer games

Anybody position requires certain muscles to shorten and others to lengthen. This occurs every time we move. If we were to stay in one position for too long those muscles will eventually stay that particular length. When children play on computer games it quite often requires time. This leads to the above situation with muscles. Children should be encouraged to not spend longer than 30-40 minutes at any one time playing games, using a computer, or even doing homework before having a break. The child should spend a few minutes walking around and then returning to the game/homework by reviewing their posture and sitting correctly.

Sports injuries

Those children who play a lot of sport and those who play contact sports such as rugby may be injured either by direct contact or by overuse of certain muscles. If a child is injured it is advisable that they are seen by a chiropractor as problems unresolved can lead to compensations, ie walking differently due to sprained ankle leading to low back pain, a rugby tackle causing neck pain and headaches.

Ill-fitting shoes/improper shoes

Children are conscious of fashion, which can affect their shoe wear. Girls particularly may wear shoes with a high heel. This causes the calf muscles to shorten and pushes the body forward. To prevent falling over the girl would have to lean back and causing an increase in the low back curvature which can not only cause low back pain but also pain between the shoulder blades.

Wearing improperly fitting shoes can cause many problems from blisters, pressure sores and ingrowing toenails in the short-term, to feet deformities like hammer toe, and knee and posture problems in the long-term. It can take up to 18 years for feet to fully develop, so teenagers feet need to be looked after just as much as younger children’s.

Shoes should be the correct size and offer the right amount of support. When purchasing new shoes, get the child’s feet correctly sized by the shop assistant and ensure that the shoes are the correct length as well as width.

Here’s some advice to help your child:

  • Rucksacks should be worn across both shoulders and the straps adjusted so the bag is held close to the body.
  • If a locker is available, encourage your child to use it and ensure they only take the books and equipment needed for that day.
  • Check their shoes are correctly fitted, supported, relatively flat, and are not too worn.
  • Encourage your child to enjoy regular exercise, such as swimming and cycling.
  • Use of the computer, playing computer games and homework should be in blocks of no more than 30-40 minutes. Advise them to have a little walk before returning and again that they sit with their shoulders down and back (not slumped) and their legs are uncrossed.
  • See a chiropractor if your child is experiencing pain or discomfort, or even just to get a check-up.
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Take a Stand on Back Pain

Could standing work desks be the answer to unwanted back pain?

Recent workplace trends show that many employers are now opting for standing work areas, rather than the more conventional seated desks, in a bid to prevent their workers suffering from back pain and to help increase their productivity in the office.

But are these innovative standing workspaces really the way forward to a healthy back, free from pain and discomfort?  Here are three things to bear in mind if your workplace decides that standing, rather than sitting, is the best way forward:

Standing tall

Sitting and bending forward (as you tend to do in an office seat) can put twice as much load on your spine as standing does so standing desks could well be a better option for the office.

Take a break

While standing, however, it is important to remember that you should still take regular breaks as you would when sitting at a desk. Being stuck in one position, even if it is in a ‘good posture’, is not advisable.

The best of both

A desk set-up that allows you to stand as well as sit is the most ideal situation, as this gives you the option to change position regularly. The more adjustable your desk set-up is, the more likely you are to find a position that suits you.

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Summer Time Sports

Summer time has arrived – well it did make a short appearance, and sport is in full flow with Wimbledon and the Euros, so it gives us added insentive to get out there and take part but with it comes the added need for us to take extra care of our necks, backs and spines to avoid pain and injury…

If the arrival of sunshine has caused you to pack away your winter jumpers and, instead, pull out your racket, shin pads or helmet for a bout of summer activities, remember to take note of these simple steps to ensure you steer clear of any unwanted pain and discomfort.

RUNNERS can avoid injury by regular stretching of the tendons and wearing good shoes with shock-absorbing features.

RACKET-SPORTS PLAYERS should be wary of playing through the pain of Tennis Elbow. Tennis Elbow is in fact an overuse injury, caused by repetitive movements at the wrist forcing the thumb outwards and the palm upwards. Continuing to play will only exacerbate the problem.

GOLFERS are particularly prone to lower back injuries. Graphite clubs and soft spiked shoes will help absorb the shock which can bring on back injury. Your chiropractor can suggest appropriate warm-ups and exercises, and help you work on an alternative swing.

GARDENERS commonly suffer from aches and pains, but they can avoid lower back trouble by kneeling on one leg rather than bending from the hips, keeping the back hollow whilst digging, and varying tasks throughout the day to avoid repetition injury.

DIY, like gardening, is often far-removed from everyday activities. When the sun is shining many will want to get out in the garden and get on with the long list of DIY jobs that have piled up over the winter months. Enthusiasts often injure their back by in habitual exertion, so when lifting, take the weight on bent legs, keeping the back straight.

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Mattress Matters

Could your mattress be the cause of your back pain? It’s time for a change!

While buying a new mattress can be a costly investment, it is important to take note of the signs that it needs replacing to reduce back and neck pain which can be triggered by a bad mattress. This is usually down to people only changing their mattress once every ten years, despite recommendations to do so every seven years, as advised by venerable sources such as the Sleep Council.

How often you change a mattress depends on lots of factors, including your weight and how well you care for your mattress. As soon as your mattress stops supporting your back, know that it’s time to get a new one.

5 signs that it’s time to change your mattress:

  1.  You wake up feeling stiff or aching.
  2.  You had a better night’s sleep somewhere else.
  3.  Your mattress is misshapen or sagging.
  4.  Your mattress creaks when you move.
  5.  You can feel individual springs.

4 factors to remember when choosing a new mattress:

  1. Choose a mattress that supports your weight; a heavier person will need a more supportive mattress than someone who is lighter in weight.
  2. Test your mattress before buying; your spine should be parallel to the mattress when lying on your side. Make sure your spine doesn’t sag, as this is a sign your mattress is too soft, or bow, as this is a sign that it’s too hard.
  3. When selecting a suitable pillow, make sure it allows your neck to become a continuation of the straight spine created by your well-suited mattress, making sure that your neck neither too high or too low.
  4. If you share a bed with your partner, make sure they are with you at the time of purchasing your mattress. Your ideal mattress tensions could be different. If this is the case, try buying from a range that allow two single mattresses to be zipped together so that you both get the support you need.

Don’t forget to check out our short video on the website for more information (http://www.beestonchiropractic.co.uk/public-videos/). Your chiropractor can offer further help and advice. We also stock two types of memory foam pillows so ask at reception for more details.

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