All posts by Alex Newton

Meditation in May (challenge)

Meditation in May?!

You might have heard that it’s all in your head right? But did you know that whilst a lot of injuries and stiffness we experience are not in our head, they are always felt and interpreted by our minds – sometimes we can give ourselves an extra edge by going straight to the source (our minds) rather than attacking the joints and muscles (although this is a very key part, it can be greatly enhanced by so meditative practice).

Look into this if you:

1) Want to learn something new

2) Get results from treatment but the problem keeps coming back

3) Have a stressful job or lifestyle

4) Want to increase your potential

 

Now for this we are just going to point you in the right direction as there are so many different types of meditation out there and it can be hard when you start just starting out – please visit MindValley on their website or YouTube channel for a great resource, otherwise just type in ‘guided meditation’ into the YouTube search engine. Finally there is a guided NLP (neurolinguistic programming) hypnosis video by Paul McKenna which again is free on YouTube.

Trust us on this, learning to control your mind will make a huge difference!

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Best posture for driving on bank holiday trips!

You ‘May’ have noticed that we have 2 bank holidays this month so lots of you will be in your cars!

With back pain being the number 2 reason why we visit our GPs and costing the NHS £1.3Million per day, it is not surprising to see that over 60% of drivers in this survey agreed with the statement ‘my car seat can make my back ache worse after a long trip’ and maybe more importantly, over 40% of drivers said that the car seat was the main cause of their backache.

According to a recent survey commissioned by AutoExpress magazine, a poor seating position in your car can lead to both back in neck problems while a slouched position can also compromise your safety.

“A slouched position can alter the way you wear the seat belt, reducing its effectiveness while an uncomfortable car seat can also lead to driver distraction and loss of concentration.”

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So how should your car seat be set up to protect your back and neck?

Top tips:

1. “Make sure that your car seat is not too far away from the pedals. When you fully depress the clutch your legs should remain slightly bent.”

2. “Make sure that your backrest is not tilted back too far. Your elbows should be slightly bent when you position your hands correctly on the steering wheel in the ‘10 to 2 position’.”

3. “Make sure that you increase the lumbar support as much as possible to support the natural arch in your back to avoid slouching. If you do not have a lumbar support built-in, you can use a portable, dedicated lumbar support cushion or roll up a towel and put it behind your back.”

4. “Make sure that the top of your headrest is above the top of your ears. If it is too low it can increase the risk of neck injuries in case of an accident.”

5. “Now, stretch yourself up and make your spine as tall as possible sitting in an ideal posture. Set the rearview mirror so you can just about see the traffic behind you. This will help to correct your posture every time you look in your rearview mirror, because if you slouch you will not be able to use the rearview mirror.”

6. “Make sure that your seatbelt is correctly positioned. If possible, adjust the height so it is not sitting on your neck and according to the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the belt should be worn as tight as possible, with no slack and the lap belt should go over the pelvic region, not the stomach.”

7. “Why not call in to the clinic and speak to a chiropractor if you are concerned about your spinal health and get your car seat checked as part of our service.”

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Top 3 back pain myths

In the UK, back pain is one of the most common reasons people miss work, and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. With something so common, it has easy for people to get confused about back pain and misconceptions to arise!

Woman holds a hand on pain neck
We know that the easiest way to tackle back pain is to keep moving, but sometimes these myths and misconceptions can stop people from doing exercise or seeking proper treatment.

One of the most common myths about back pain is that people think it’s not going to happen to them. In fact 4 out of 5 of us will be affected by back pain at some point in our lives!

Here are the top myths about back pain debunked:

  • MYTH: Exercise will cause or worsen back pain
  • Staying bed bound with back pain can be one of the worst things you can do! Without exercise muscles become weakened, deconditioned and stiff. To reduce back pain you should rest, calm the pain, followed by gentle exercise.
  • MYTH: If you see a spine specialist you will end up getting surgery
  • Spinal surgery is only recommended in about 1% of cases. In most cases the treatments recommended will be non-surgical, such as exercise, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication.
  • MYTH: Back pain is a normal part of aging
  • Some people believe that back pain is a typical part of getting older but it shouldn’t be a normal part of your day. We all get aches and pains as we age, however with all the options to ease back pain available today you shouldn’t suffer in silence.

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The Importance of Resting your Back

Modern society has led to an increase in back pain, as we put our spines under more and more stress.  During the day, especially if you have been working hard, sitting a lot, or have an aching back, it is advisable to rest your back properly for at least 20 minutes.

Besides being relaxing, there are important reasons why you should rest your spine adequately. The discs between the vertebrae have a central jelly section that contains water. During the day, when the spine is put under pressure, the discs lose this water and they become thinner and stiffer. During the night, by lying down, the discs regain their height, and it is for this reason we are often taller in the morning than last thing at night.

Unfortunately, we put an enormous compression force on the spine and discs during the day, particularly by sitting and standing. By lying down in a position where the compression forces in the discs are minimal, the discs can regain their full height and flexibility.

By lying down correctly, large muscles of the back can relax, helping to reduce any muscle spasm. Often they are not able to relax properly (even when we lie down at night, due to stress, tension and poor sleeping positions).  Resting your back sounds easy enough, but there are specific directions which you should follow in order to really relax the spine:

Lying on the floor is best, giving good support to the spine. Lie on the bed if this is too sore, or getting up and down is too difficult. Place about 2-3 inches of soft books under your head (with a towel or cushion if painful). Keep your neck level, neither forced up, nor allowed to drop down. You should be able to swallow comfortably, but if in doubt opt for a little extra height. Raise up your legs, either with the feet flat on the floor, or with the lower legs supported by a chair, sofa or cushions. It is the lifting of the legs that allows for relaxation of the lower back muscles. Relax your arms by your sides, or with your hands resting on your abdomen.

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People in the Midlands encouraged to stay active this Chiropractic Awareness Week

British Chiropractic Association (BCA) discovers half of people in the Midlands fail to prevent or manage back pain

This Chiropractic Awareness Week (8th – 14th April) the BCA is encouraging people in the region to keeping moving, after finding that 47% of people in Midlands don’t take any steps to look after their back health.

The findings come from a survey conducted by the BCA, which unearthed that 21% of people in Midlands don’t take any action when they experience back or neck pain and 11% wouldn’t seek help from a health professional if they were experiencing these issues.

Chiropractic Awareness Week aims to educate people about the easy ways they can avoid or alleviate back pain, which over 80% of the nation suffers with. Regularly changing posture and remaining seated for no longer than 30 minutes at a time are just a couple of the simple ways to prevent or reduce pressure on the back.

According to the BCA’s survey, when it comes to back and neck pain, they found that people in Midlands:

–        47% don’t take any steps to look after their back health

–        Only 53% have taken preventative steps to protect themselves from developing back or neck pain

–        79%  have experienced back or neck pain

–        11% wouldn’t seek help from a health professional for back pain and, 32% would wait a month or longer

–        Only 8% would make changes to their daily routine if experiencing back or neck pain

–        16% choose their mattresses bases on price, rather than comfort

 

The BCA’s top tips for keeping on top of neck and back pain include:

  • Keep on moving: Physical activity can be beneficial for managing back pain, however it’s important that if this is of a moderate to high intensity that you warm up and down properly to get your body ready to move! If a previous injury is causing you pain, adapt your exercise or seek some advice. Activities such as swimming, walking or yoga can be less demanding on your body, while keeping you mobile!

 

  • Take a break: When sitting for long periods of time, ensure you stand up and move around every 30 minutes. When at work, also make sure your desk is set up to support a comfortable position. This is different for everyone so if you don’t feel comfortable in your current set up, try altering the height of your chair or screen.

Other things which people can bear in mind include:

  • Lifting and carrying: Remember to bend from the knees, not the waist when lifting heavy items. Face in the direction of movement and take your time. Hold the object as close to your body as possible, and where you can avoid carrying objects which are too heavy to manage alone, ask for help or use the necessary equipment.

 

  • Sleep comfortably: The Sleep Council recommends buying a new mattress at least every 7 years. Mattresses lose their support over time, so if you can feel the springs through your mattress, or the mattress is no longer level, your mattress is no longer providing the support you need. Everyone has different support requirements, so when purchasing your mattress ensure it is supportive for you. If you share a bed and require different mattress types, consider two single mattresses which are designed to be joined together, to ensure you both get the support you need.

 

  • Straighten Up!: The BCA has created a programme of three-minute exercises, Straighten Up UK, which can be slotted in to your daily schedule to help prevent back pain by promoting movement, balance, strength and flexibility in the spine.
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Easter getaway?!

It’s the Easter school holidays and, whether traveling for a longer break, taking a last minute weekend trip or just a day out with the kids, if you are going to be spending some serious time in the car, look at our top tips to help keep your back in shape.
Make adjustments
– If you share a car, make sure the seat position is adjusted to suit you each time you get in.
– The back of the seat should be set slightly backwards, so that it feels natural and your elbows should be at a comfortable and relaxed angle for driving.

Steering wheel
– Once you have adjusted your seat correctly, your hands should fall naturally on the steering wheel, with just a slight bend in the arms.
If the wheel is too high and far away, tension will build up in your shoulders and upper back. If it is too low and close to you, the wheel may be touching your legs, which will reduce your ability to turn it freely, putting strain on the wrists and the muscles of the upper back.
Mirrors
Your reactions must be quick, so you should not need to move your head a lot. The mirror positions should allow you to see all around the car with the movement of your eyes with minimal head movement.
– Set your mirror positions to suit you before you drive off.

Seat belts
– Your seat belt should always lie across the top of your shoulder and never rub against your neck or fall onto the top of your arm.
– Depending on your height, you may need to adjust the position at which the seat belt emerges from the body of the car. (If the adjustments available are insufficient, it is possible to purchase clips that help you adjust your seat belt height without impairing safety.)

Footwear
– Once you have adjusted your seat correctly, your feet should fall naturally onto the pedals. You should be able to press the pedals to the floor by mainly moving your ankle and only using your leg a little.
– Avoid wearing wear high heels, or very thick-soled shoes, as you will have to over-extend the ankle in order to put pressure on the pedals. As well as making it much harder to deal with an emergency stop, this position will raise your thigh from the seat (reducing support to your leg) and create tension (and possibly cramp) in the calf. This, in turn, will impair the blood flow on a long journey.

Relax
– A relaxed driving position reduces stress on the spine, allowing your seat to take your weight.
– Take regular breaks – stop and stretch your legs (and arms!) at least every two hours, more often if possible. You should certainly stop more frequently if you are feeling any discomfort.
– Clench your cheeks – If you are stuck in traffic, exercise in your seat. Try buttock clenches, side bends, seat braces (pushing your hands into the steering wheel and your back into the seat – tensing and relaxing) as well as shoulder shrugs and circles.
– Leave the tight clothes at home – They will restrict your movement.

It’s all in the timing – Allow plenty of time for journeys to avoid stress.

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Stress-free Exercise Tips

It is estimated that 80 million working days are lost in the UK each year due to stress. 

Stress can be caused by more than just emotional challenges. It can also have a physical cause, for example, infections, allergies, extreme temperatures, environmental pollutants and even exercise can put pressure on the body.

Many people think of exercise as a stress reliever, however, our frame is designed for gentle exercise on a daily basis yet most people sit down all day. As a result, the muscles become weak, causing joint restrictions, back and other problems with the bones and joints.

When we do exercise, usually snatched during an hour from a busy schedule, it’s followed by days of inactivity. This approach may well increase the risk of back and joint problems.

Stress is quickly manifested in the muscles and bones and can lead to joint dysfunction, especially in the spine. This can also cause persistent headaches, migraine, neck and back pain.

Stress – Free Exercise Tips

  • Always do warm–up exercises to avoid straining muscles
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes at least three times a week
  • Wear the correct trainers to soften impact, particularly when jogging or running on hard surfaces
  • Try and monitor your heart rate when exercising – it should rise to about 80% of its maximum; it is easy to calculate your maximum heart rate by deducting your age from 220, therefore, if you are 40 years old, your maximum heart rate should be 180 beats per minute, 60-80% of this is about 110 to 145 beats per minute
  • Warm–down your muscles by doing gentle stretching moves
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Do You Feel Dizzy For No Reason?

Most children get a real thrill out of making themselves dizzy. They’ll spin round and round as fast as possible and then collapse in a heap of laughter and giggles. However, when someone suddenly becomes dizzy for no apparent reason, it can be a very frightening and debilitating experience.

Dizziness is the third most common complaint in general practice, yet most people don’t know why it happens. Our eyes, ears and nerve endings in our joints all combine to send signals to the brain telling us where our body is in space. If these signals are interrupted or the wrong signals are sent, then we can get dizzy. There are a number of different reasons why we can feel dizzy. Some of these include more serious trauma to the head and/or neck.

People are sometimes confused between dizziness and vertigo. Dizziness can be described as a feeling of light-headedness, whereas with vertigo, you either feel as if the room is spinning or you yourself are spinning.  By the age of 70, about 30 per cent of people have experienced vertigo it at least once.  If you think that you have experienced vertigo, then it is best to seek medical advice.

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Spring Time Can Bring Pain

Spring is desperately trying to emerge in our gardens, grass needs mowing, trees need pruning but, this can lead to aches and pains and even injury unless you take precautions.

People suffer from aches and pains when they undertake what seems to be relatively harmless activity such as gardening. The problem is that the actions required are quite different from what you have been doing for the last few months?? Nothing maybe?

The main causes are prolonged stretching and overuse of the ligaments and joints in the spine. Digging, mowing and stooping place considerable stress on the ligaments and joints in the lower lumbar spine and cause them to become inflamed and tender. This will trigger a protective muscle spasm which gives rise to the deeper, duller, achy type of pain that occurs over the following few days.

This happens year after year. It is very important to look after your muscles and joints, especially when undertaking a form of exercise that you are not used to. If you want to stop gardening aches and pains and be able to appreciate all the hard work the next day, then follow these top ten tips:

  1. Wear light, but warm clothes & make sure your lower back is always covered
  2. Kneel on one leg rather than bending your back repeatedly
  3. Use long handled tools to prune tall plants
  4. Use only a small spade/fork for digging and keep your back gently hollowed
  5. Do not always work to one side only, vary your position
  6. Don’t do the same work for long periods, vary your tasks
  7. Keep your back straight when carrying
  8. Gently stretch your muscles and ligaments for a few minutes after gardening
  9. When finished have a warm bath or shower
  10. Do not sit for too long in your favourite armchair afterwards, but stand up regularly and walk around for a few minutes each time.
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Spring Time Sports

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 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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