All posts by Alex Newton

Weather Changes and Chronic Back Pain

Temperatures are changing as the colder seasons approach. Those who suffer with chronic back pain might notice that their condition aggravates as temperatures or seasons change. Although there’s not much scientific evidence to prove a link between chronic pain and humidity, temperature changes and wind speed, weather changes can certainly affect those who suffer with joint pain conditions, especially arthritis and osteoarthritis.

The most commonly accepted reasoning is that with colder temperatures comes lower air pressure, which can cause joint tissues to expand and further worsen joints already prone to swelling and tenderness.

If cold weather worsens your pain, you can take these three simple steps to combat it.

  1. Heat Therapy

Including heat therapy in your daily routine can help to reduce stiffness and boost healing through increased blood circulation. Try applying a warm towel or a heating pad to your painful area for about 20 minutes for temporary pain relief. You can also opt for over-the-counter heat wraps.

  1. Water Therapy

If you like swimming, try to visit heated indoor pools with hot baths, Jacuzzis and saunas a few times a week for almost instant pain relief.

  1. Stay Active

As tempting as it is to lounge on the sofa during winter evenings, it is crucial to keep your spine mobile and stay active. If your pain is too severe to go to the gym, try long walks with hiking poles or a Pilates routine at home.

However, if your pain stops you from leading a normal life, the best option is to visit your chiropractor and professionally address the root causes of joint and back pain.

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The Pains of Tech Neck

Do you spend most of the day hunched over staring at the screen of your smartphone or tablet? This could be causing damage to your neck and shoulder joints.

Tech Neck, as it is known refers to the strain in your neck and shoulder muscles that develops as a result from excessively craning your neck down when you are looking at a phone or a portable tablet device.

Although many of us will use such devices when we are working throughout the day there are ways to ensure that they don’t cause too much damage to your spine and neck joints. One key way is to make sure you limit the time you spend on such devices; it is advised that for every 15 – 20 minutes you spend on your device you should take a 3 minute break. This is due to the fact that it is easy for a posture to change when we hold a position for a long period of time, so really try to limit yourselves to periods of 15 – 20 minutes where possible.

Making sure you’ve got the right posture can also be crucial. Rather than hunching forward to look at your screen, sit up straight and bring your phone or tablet up to eye level. This will help keep your spine aligned rather than curved and should reduce overall strain on your neck and shoulder muscles. This may feel a little odd at first but it will soon become a natural fit. If you are in an office you may want to think about a tablet or phone holder as this will help to raise your gaget up to your eye line instead of you having to hunch over. This also applies to your computer screen. For most people, the computer screen is located below your natural eye line leaving your head and shoulders to naturally hunch downwards. By raising your computer screen to your eye level you will force yourself to keep your head in a more natural position.

Seperate your screen from your keyboard to achieve the perfect posture. 

Small and gentle stretches are a great way to relieve the tension in the upper body. Bend your neck to the right so that your ear moves closer to your shoulder. Relax and hold for 20 seconds. Return to centre, and then repeat the move to the left. Do a repetition of five. A further exercise is to do a simple chin tuck. Tilt your head down and tuck your chin into your neck. Hold for five seconds, and then look back up. Do a repetition of ten. These exercises will help release any tension that might be created due to excessive strain from hunching over.

Make sure to listen to your body. If you have any aches and pains in your neck, shoulders and upper back, it usually means something is not working properly.

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Boost Your Immune System with Chiropractic Care (Covid-19 Edition)

We often talk about the immune system and how strong or weak it is; but what is it? Our body relies on our immune system to defend us from viruses, bacteria and anything that it considers to be a pathogen. Developing a strong immune system is vital not only to maintain good health but also to support our body in functioning to its full potential.

The world is currently facing a new crisis caused by coronavirus SARS CoV-2, which manifests as the disease Covid-19; this virus attacks the immune system and implants itself in the lungs, causing breathing difficulty. This new virus seems to affect those with a weak immune system, older people and those with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.  During those difficult times, it is essential to protect ourselves and others by boosting our immune system and staying home. Following the UK Government guidelines here is how you can help end the contamination and save your life and the life of the ones you love.

What else can be done at home to boost the immune system?

Our lifestyle plays a huge role in whether or not we stay healthy. It can be hard to assimilate the right nutrients to boost our immune system only through a healthy diet. One way to maintain our immune system is to introduce food supplements like vitamin C, D and B, key nutrients into our diets.

Our immune system is made up of proteins, tissues, organs and cells (white blood cells) and all of these work together to keep us healthy. Its main role is to protect and fight against harmful organisms, pathogens, and neutralise them whenever they come into contact with them.

While much of chiropractic treatment focuses on muscle, joint and bone pain, chiropractic adjustments can aid the overall health.

One of the main causes of immune system problems comes from the compression of nerve pathways. Musculo-skeletal adjustment can improve our overall health by keeping us mobile and reducing the risk of getting chronic diseases.

Consult your GP or contact your local chiropractor if you have muscle or joint pain, or if your mobility feels restricted.

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Staying Healthy, Safe and Fit During Winter

With shorter days and colder 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. No wonder they call it the winter blues! 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[1] 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[2] 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, they also protect others around you.

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Dangers of Back Pain at School

Every parent wants the best for their child, especially when it comes to health. Children go through developing stages and each one has an impact on their bones and spine, from the first lost tooth to the last sport injury. It’s important to check in with kids about how their back feels and get a check-up if they think that something doesn’t feel right. Just like going to the dentist for a check-up, a chiropractor will check your child’s spine for any misalignment or imbalance, and the aim is to restore the child’s natural posture and health.

There are ways to prevent children from experiencing back pain during their developing years, and it all starts with being physically active and how they carry their school rucksack. Here are four tips to safeguard your child’s spine:

  1. BAG IT LIGHT: school bags are often filled with more than what a child really needs. Backpacks are the best bags because they spread the weight evenly on each shoulder. Try to keep the backpack to a light/medium weight, filling it only with what is required. Remember to adjust the straps so that the bag so that weight is evenly distributed and the child’s spine doesn’t have to compensate.
  2. WALK ON AIR: supportive footwear is essential to maintain a healthy posture. Soft-soled shoes that have good inner arch support will keep the kid happy and balanced. It is worth considering replacing the insole that comes with the shoe (which are normally of low quality) with a soft supportive insole. This will usually make a difference to the aches and pains that a child may feel late in the day after being on their feet for most of it.
  3. EXERCISE: 21st century kids tend to spend more time in front of a screen compared to older generations, lowering the time spent being physically active. It would be ideal to set aside the same time that a child spends sitting in front of a screen, to time being physically active. Dance or run breaks are great family activities.
  4. GAMING POSTURE: Videogames tend to distract your kid from maintaining a comfortable posture while playing. If your kid is playing with videogames make sure their spine is supported while doing it.
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Camping

A few ways to avoid undue pain and cramps while exploring the great British outdoors this summer…

Summer in Britain is one of the most wonderful times of the year. It gives scope to exploring the UK’s bountiful landscapes that otherwise remain untouched during the cold winter months. Many of us will be keen to pull the tent out from the cupboard, brush off the dust and cobwebs and pitch it in a field for a spot of camping.

However, sleeping on a hard surface may cause problems for your back, making it essential to take extra care to ensure your campsite is a comfortable one.

Here’s how

Protect your back

It’s very important to protect your back against hard and sometimes damp surfaces while camping to avoid back ache. Sleeping on a good quality camping mat or air mattress will help. If you can, try these out in a shop before buying them.

Sticks and stones

Make sure you remove any large stones or sticks that could dig into your spine while you sleep.

Stay straight

Ensure that you are sleeping in a position where your spine is in a straight line as this helps to avoid neck and back pain. Remember to take a pillow along with you too, as this will ensure that your back and neck stay aligned.

Heavy goods

Make sure that you lift and carry your camping equipment with care. Top tip: make sure you carry your equipment in two bags rather than one to distribute the weight evenly and reduce strain on your back when carrying them.

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Staying Healthy, Safe and Fit

With everyone returning to school and work we increase the risk of not just the Virus but a common cold – know the difference and here 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, they also protect others around you.

More

Back pain and modern lifestyles

Did you know… It is estimated that a sixth of the UK population suffers from back pain at any one time.

And… According to the National Office of Statistics, a staggering 31 million days of work were lost last year [2016] due to back, neck and muscles problems.

These huge numbers of back and neck related complaints have been linked to our modern lifestyles and lack of steps taken by many of us to prevent the problems before they become too serious.

Sitting in an office 

What’s the problem? Sitting for long periods of time lessens blood flow to the discs that cushion your spine and thus places more pressure on it than walking or standing.

What can you do? 

  • It is crucial that you have a good posture while sitting at your desk
  • Make sure you head is straight and not tilted down when you are reading or typing
  • Avoid slouching and if it is possible, tilt your chair back slightly to help alleviate and excess pressure on your spine and make sure your feet are placed firmly hip width apart on the floor
  • Take regular breaks to stand up, stretch and walk around

Increasing your exercise

What’s the problem? It is advised that we take 10,000 steps a day most of us normally only manage to get between 3,000 and 4,000.

What can you do? If possible park further away from your destination or get off the tube a few stops before you normally would and walk the rest of the way.

Why is waking so good for us? As walking is a good, low impact exercise, it can not only help to relieve back pain but also prevent it without putting too much strain on your body. Even walking for just 30 minutes a day 3 – 5 times a week can have real benefits for you back health and your overall wellbeing.

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Create A Spine-Friendly Environment

As a society we tend to spend many hours of our day sitting, whether it’s for work, study or just having a relaxed day on the couch. According to the NHS, brits spend an average of 9 hours a day sitting. There is ever-developing proof that a sedentary life with prolonged sitting is damaging the spine and overall mobility. However, what do you do if sitting is a necessity of your day-to-day life and you do not want to suffer from daily back or neck pain? Here are a few tips to improve your workspace and make it spine-friendly.

Be choosey with your chair 

If you need to spend your day sitting, you need a chair that is properly positioned for your spine. The chair should comfortably hug the spine and be flexible, with adjustable height and arm support.

While having the right chair is essential in preventing spine strain, regular breaks to extend your legs and roll out your neck are essential. Get up every hour for a glass of water and while you hydrate, do some standing body stretches.

Stuck staring at a screen? 

Is your neck hurting while you read this? This might be because your screen is not at your eye level. The correct placement of your work screen should be just below or at eye level. This will ensure that your shoulders remain relaxed, your neck is elongated and your head isn’t pulling any neck muscles. Invest in a screen stand for your workspace or make one yourself just by stacking a few books and position the top of the screen at eye level.

The dutiful desk 

We are used to sitting while working, from studying in school to working at a desk as an adult. There is now a new way of approaching deskwork, with standing or adjustable desks. Standing work areas enable us to change our position throughout the day while distributing the weight and pressure on our spine, pelvis, neck and legs.

Standing desks are now widely available and they provide one of the best solutions for maintaining correct posture and reducing back injuries.

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Take Care While doing D.I.Y

It is estimated that there are approximately 200,000 D.I.Y accidents each year in the UK.

Although being active around the home can help your overall fitness levels it is always important to ensure you are not over stretching and possibly causing yourself injury.

DIY accidents in the home can cause accidents that can often be easily avoided.

How to prepare when doing DIY:

  • Make sure you are wearing comfortable loose fitting clothes that won’t restrict your movement
  • Do some basic stretches before you start to loosen up your muscles to ensure that you don’t sprain yourself while working
  • Set yourself an achievable goal

Make sure you take plenty of breaks to relax, stretch and keep hydrated. Vary your activity and try to spend no more than 20-30 minutes on any one thing.

Make sure you’re not twisting yourself:

  • This can place excess pressure on your spine and back muscles which could lead to an injury
  • If you’re painting a wall, keep moving the ladder rather than stretching across

Always make sure you’re directly facing the area in question – If you are painting the ceiling use a paint pad or roller with an extended handle and hold it at chest height

Lifting 

D.I.Y and home improvements often require a lot of heavy lifting and bending

  • Work out how much you can manage and don’t go beyond your limit
  • If you are lifting or carrying a heavy load, make sure your legs are hip width apart and your knees are bent.
  • Ensure that both your head and shoulders are directly above your waist and keep whatever you’re carrying as close to you as possible
  • Ensure that both your head and shoulders are directly above your waist and keep whatever you’re carrying as close to you as possible
  • Don’t lift with your arms straight out, keep your elbows bent and to your side to minimise the stress on your lower back
  • Avoid bending from the wait as this could cause a risk of painful strains and injuries to the lower back, instead crouch down and bend from the knees
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