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Warm Wet Weather Can Bring Pain

When there is wet weather during the summer months, plants and grass thrive and, if you have a garden, it can seem like you need to mow and weed nearly every weekend.  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 sedate activity such as gardening, is that the actions required are quite different from those carried out in the rest of the year.

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          Gently stretch your muscles and ligaments for a few minutes before and after gardening, but don’t bend down to touch your toes – this can cause damage

2          Wear light, but warm clothes & make sure your lower back is always covered

3          Kneel on one leg rather than bending your back repeatedly

4          Use long handled tools to prune tall plants

5          Use only a small spade/fork for digging and keep your back gently hollowed

6          Do not always work to one side only, vary your position

7          Don’t do the same work for long periods, vary your tasks

8          Keep your back straight when carrying

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 minute or two


Foods to fight aches and pains

It can be uncomfortable living with continuous aches and pains caused from inflammation.  However, there are foods that you can introduce into your diet that will help to heal and soothe your symptoms. Whether you’re struggling with joint pain or experiencing other types of physical aches, here are some examples of foods that you can easily introduce into your diet to help naturally.


Often used as a natural ingredient in medicine, this pungent root is probably best known for its anti-nausea, stomach soothing properties. However it can be utilised as an excellent arthritis and menstrual cramp remedy. Ginger can be found in a capsule as a replacement to over-the counter drugs like ibuprofen and help to relieve pain. 


Rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is considered heart healthy, and can relieve joint tenderness, especially if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. This is a nutritious source of protein that you can easily introduce into your diet.   Alternatively, other excellent cold-water fish that can be eaten that contain health benefits are tuna, sardines and mackerel. 


Fighting inflammation to help lessen pain, blueberries are extremely nutritious and easily introduced into your diet as a breakfast or fresh snacking staple. Not only do they help relieve symptoms of pain, they also help reduce stress, manage cholesterol and potentially reduce blood pressure. Fruit alternatives to blueberries that reap the same health benefits would be strawberries and oranges that also share anti-inflammatory properties that offer a soothing effect. 


Used as an alternative prescription painkiller, the natural effects of peppermint oil can help relieve painful cramps, gas and bloating. As well as being a comforting morning or evening drink, peppermint tea can be used as a remedy for upset stomachs. 

Chilli peppers:

Known for their painkilling properties, studies have shown that eating raw chillies may aid in reducing inflammation. Interestingly, eating them tricks your brain into releasing endorphins which block pain signals. These can be easily incorporated into your diet in moderation as a tasty garnish on your meals. 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: 

As well as being an excellent provider of fats, extra virgin olive oil can also help with joint pain. Extra virgin olive oil has a compound in it called oleocanthal which helps to keep your joints moving smoothly and helps protect cartilage from breaking down. When cooking with olive oil, it is advised to cook at a lower temperature, less than 400 degrees, to ensure that you do not lose the health benefits. 


Spring into Health with Chiropractic Care

Spring is in the air, and it is time to get outside and enjoy it! With warmer weather around the corner, there will be an increase in outdoor sport activities. The best way to take full advantage of this season is to keep your health in tip top shape as well. Here are a few ways in which chiropractic care can help you to stay on top of your health and prepare you for the season ahead.

  • Regular chiropractic adjustments can help prevent injuries

No matter what type of outdoor activity you plan to take part in this spring, regular visits to your local chiropractor are helpful in reducing the risk of injury, ensuring you are not putting too much strain on your joints, and checking that your nervous system is functioning normally. Whether you are running, riding a bike, playing ball, gardening, or spending time outdoors with your kids, plan a visit to your doctor to learn the best practices to keep your muscles and joints healthy in order to reduce the risk of injury and pain.

  • Chiropractic care can help reduce the stress of a busy spring season

With warmer weather comes busier spring schedules. Whether your calendar is booked because you are spending more time with your kids as they have time off from school, or dealing with a busier work schedule, stress seems to be inevitable as the seasons change. Regular chiropractic care is a great way to reduce and prevent stress that can negatively affect your joints and overall health.

The bottom line is that in order to assure you get the most out of the spring season, and stay on top of your health, you need to take care of yourself. 


The 21st century ailment: ‘Text Neck’

It is estimated that around 94% of adults in Europe & the US own a mobile phone. This means that 94% of the population are at risk of ‘text neck’. Text neck can occur just by tilting the head downwards by 2-3cm to look at your phone screen. It has also been found that when tilting your head forward by this amount, the effective weight of your head increases to 30kg – equivalent to the weight of an average eight-year-old child!

Text neck can result in severe upper back strain, shoulder pain and tightness in both shoulders. It can also possibly cause permanent damage in young, growing children, which may in turn lead to lifelong neck pain.

Follow these helpful tips to reduce your risk of ‘text neck’:

  • try to hold your phone as close to eye level as possible. The same goes for people working in an office who need to use a computer for the majority of the day – ensure that your screen is completely in line with your eyes, to ensure you are not straining your neck to look at the screen.
  • If you work in an office, be sure to take a quick stretch break every half an hour or so, to ensure that your back and neck won’t stiffen.
  • Try these simple exercises to relieve pain stemming from text neck, the downward-facing dog is a common exercise to relieve shoulder and upper back pain, however the ‘exaggerated nod’ might be more effective. Simply look up to the ceiling, let your jaw relax and open your mouth, keep your head here and bring your lower jaw to your upper jaw.

Be sure to visit local chiropractor if you are experiencing any ‘text neck’ symptoms because if left untreated, it can potentially lead to inflammation of the neck ligaments and increased curvature of the spine.


Avoid the one shoulder bag

Heavy, one shoulder bags are among some of the most popular types of bags to wear, but they actually come with many health risks. Holding the wrong bag can negatively affect your back more than you know. One-shoulder bags can leave you with chronic muscle pain, headaches, migraines, spinal damage, and even pinched nerves.

It is recommended to use a backpack because they evenly distribute the weight you are carrying on your back. It is important to remember to never carry more than 5-10% of your body weight.

If you are insistent on wearing a one shoulder bag, the smaller the better. Wearing a large bag hanging off of one shoulder can cause the upper trapezius muscle to begin to shrug. This happens as the shoulder adapts to the increased load.

Because the muscle attaches onto the base of the skull and extends across the entire length of the neck, there is potential to cause not only neck pain, but tension headaches as well. 

With time, wearing these types of bags can lead to a straightening of the natural backward C–shaped curve in your neck. This change in shape alters the weight distribution on the discs, putting more pressure on the joints leading to inflammation, osteoarthritis, and nerve compression.

If you find yourself still wearing a one shoulder bag, try and switch sides as frequently as possible. This helps to distribute the weight. Also, opt for a thick strap over a thin strap to resist it cutting into the shoulder


Better Energy

Many people feel tired or run-down at some point during the day. A lack of energy could affect your daily activities and make you less productive. The type and quantity of food you eat play an essential role in determining your energy levels during the day. A few simple changes in your diet may be all you need to get back to your brighter self. Give yourself an energy overhaul with the following tips.

Eat every three hours

Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a healthy snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon, with no longer than three hours between. This will stop those cravings for sweet foods. Keeping snacks such as vegetable sticks and hummus or peanut butter and oatcakes to hand will help you to resist sugary hits and keep your energy stable.

Drink up

It is important to regularly top up your liquid levels, to help you to feel more alert and focused, and to get rid of any brain fog. Our bodies are mostly made up of water, so replenishing during the day helps to keep us feeling our best. Aim to drink two litres of water throughout the day.

Power up with protein

Instead of carbohydrate-loaded cereals, switch to a lean protein source for breakfast. Protein takes longer to digest, so it will keep you fuller for longer, and also helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Try eggs, salmon and avocado to start the day. A protein-focused lunch will also help to curb the notorious afternoon dip, and a protein shake will keep your energy steady.

Be clever with sugar

If you are craving sweets all the time, swap to something with less sugar. Try eating dark chocolate, which you might be less prone to eating too much of. That’s because milk chocolate is mostly sugar and milk solids, but dark chocolate is richer in cocoa and satisfying after a square or two. Berries are also a good choice as they have sugar, but the fibre will help “buffer” the sugar high to prevent energy levels from rising and falling.

Choose wholegrain

Start buying wholegrain alternatives for your bread, pasta and rice. Whole grains release energy slowly as their carbohydrates break down slowly over several hours so that they do not suddenly flood the bloodstream with sugar. Also, this gradual release helps you feel fuller for a longer time, suppresses your appetite and stops you craving sweet foods.

Aim for more vitamins

Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables will help you add important nutrients and good bacteria to your digestive tract. It is important to eat such foods as broccoli and cauliflower as they are full of micronutrients, antioxidants and fibre. If you find that your eyelids are hanging in the middle of the morning, choose fruit as a snack. Peeling and eating the fruit with its invigorating aroma will give you a pickup.


Sleeping with Lower Back Pain

Millions of people throughout the world deal with negative effects of lower back pain which can come about for a multitude of reasons including exercise, work, chronic illnesses, bad posture, standing for long periods of time and even sleep.

When you go to sleep, you lose conscious control over your body and you can potentially end up tucking your pelvis in or twisting your spine.  Any existing back pains can get further aggravated, resulting in a restless night.

Here are some sleeping tips that can help prevent stresses on your spine, keep your back relaxed and create a healing environment.

Buy a good pillow

Be sure to have a pillow that supports both the head and the neck. Finding the right pillow is crucial in keeping your spine in complete alignment throughout the night. Make sure the pillow is sturdy enough that your neck is aligned with the rest of your spine, while sleeping on your back or side. Be sure the space beneath your neck is completely filled to support its curve. Double check that the pillow is firm enough to support this alignment throughout your sleep.

Find a good sleeping position

An important element in dealing with lower back pains while resting is your sleeping position. You want to be mindful of your spine’s resting position and try your best to keep it neutral.

Sleeping in the fetal position with knees drawn towards the chest at 90 degrees, is a good sleeping position. Sleeping on your side also helps keep the neck in line with your spine. Keeping a pillow between your knees also helps to stabilise the hips. If you prefer to sleep on your back, be sure to properly align your body from head to toe and prop your knees up with a small pillow.

You can also take a reclined position by keeping one leg straight and the other one bent at the knee. This slight incline helps to relieve disc problems. A shallow pillow also helps to reduce back pressure. 

Don’t stay in one position all night

Don’t be scared of switching your sleeping position throughout the night. It’s natural — and desired — to move some during your sleep. All sleeping position, even if it’s an acceptable one, can put too much pressure on your back if you stay there all night.

Select the right mattress

Overly soft or firm mattresses can potentially cause lower back pain and aches in other parts of the body. A medium-firm mattress is generally accepted as a well-supportive option. It has an even surface and reduces body aches and pains.

Restorative sleep is crucial when trying to reduce your back pain. Learning how to sleep with lower back pain can take some time to get used to. Keep in mind these tips to help you get more restful, repairing sleep each night.  


Pillows For Sound Sleep

Today’s modern living which often entails hours of driving and hunching over work stations plays havoc with your neck. Neck pain can be felt in a large number of ways, either in your neck itself, across the shoulders, down the arms or as a headache. Neck and back problems are often worsened, if not caused, by improper sleeping habits and bad or worn out pillows. Sleep is very important to your body’s repair process, and a poor pillow often accounts for disturbed sleep. Compromise the quality of sleep, and overall health and mental fitness may suffer as well.

To support your tender and vulnerable neck you need to use a pillow that can be shaped to hold your neck in alignment and adequately support your head. This relieves muscle tension around your neck and shoulders and correctly positions your head, arms, and lower back for a relaxed sleep.

The support of a pillow should be mostly under your neck. Pillows that can be fluffed and squished to fit your unique contours, shape, and sleeping posture offer the best solution. A pillow should “fit”, just like a pair of shoes.

Natural-fill pillows such as down and feather provide the most comfort, long-term performance, and adjustability of any pillow, and they gently support your head. Unfortunately, most people hang on to a pillow long after its healthy sleeping power.

It is crucial you avoid using little or no pillow as this places your unsupported neck under strain all night long. It is equally unwise to use too many pillows or a pillow that is too firm as this can push your neck up, preventing the neck joints from moving properly, regardless of which position you sleep in.

It is also important to remember that a pillow should be placed between your neck and shoulder, but not underneath your shoulder itself. Taking this into account, a person with broader shoulders will require a larger pillow than someone with narrower shoulders, if they sleep on their side.


Mattress Matters

Could your mattress be the cause for 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.

Eating to Beat Inflammation: 5 Tips

Inflammation: it’s a natural process that happens in our body to help us heal from injury and help our immune system fight off invaders.

But too much inflammation – or inflammation that lasts longer than it should – can be a problem. Most importantly for chiropractors, inflammation is a factor in many types of pain, including joint and muscle pain, arthritis, back pain, and pain from an injury that won’t go away.

Inflammation overload also plays a role in other problems such as skin conditions, and even in serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

While there are many things that can contribute to too much inflammation, one factor we can control is what we eat and drink.

So, here are five food-related tips to help you keep inflammation at bay.

  1. Load up on colourful fruit and veg

Most fruit and vegetables have great anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to their unique ‘phytonutrients’ such as flavonoids and carotenoids. These compounds are often responsible for vivid colours of fruit and veg, so you’ll find tons of flavonoids in purples and reds (think red cabbage, berries and pomegranate) and lots of carotenoids in oranges, light reds, yellows and greens (e.g. carrots, squash, tomatoes, peppers, and dark green leafy veg such as kale and spinach). So, think about ‘eating a rainbow’ of fruit and veg – not just a cliché, especially when it comes to beating inflammation.

Ideally, eat more vegetables than fruit, as the sugars in fruit can add up. And eat wholefruit rather than drinking it in juice form.

  1. Eat lots of oily fish

Oily fish are anti-inflammatory superheroes thanks to the omega-3 fats they contain.

Oily fish include salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, herring, trout and fresh (not tinned) tuna. Aim to eat three servings a week of one or more of these fish to build up your omega-3 stores.

Plant omega-3s such as those found in flaxseeds and chia seeds and their oils don’t have exactly the same benefits, as they provide a different type of omega-3. But they’re still healthy choices to include in our diet, and can be a substitute if you can’t eat fish.

  1. Keep it ‘real’

Generally speaking, the less you rely on processed foods, and the more you eat ‘real’ foods, the better.

‘Processed’ foods tends to mean anything that’s been made in a factory instead of being brought to you fresh or simply packaged. Processed foods also include junk foods, think supermarket baked goods, processed cheeses, most breakfast cereals, packet soups and ready meals. Junk food is not only generally low in natural vitamins, minerals and anti-inflammatory nutrients, they often contain added sugar or salt, as well as chemical additives.

‘Real foods’, include vegetables and fruit, whole grains such as brown rice, beans and lentils, unroasted nuts and seeds, and minimally processed animal foods such as eggs, fish, whole cuts of meat and pure cheese or milk.

  1. Switch your vegetable cooking oils

It is best to switch all refined cooking oils such as sunflower oil and anything labelled as ‘vegetable oil’ for more healthy options.

But how can they be bad for us, when they’ve long been touted as a healthy alternative?

Well, one problem is that polyunsaturated fats in their refined liquid form are quite fragile. When they’re heated to high temperatures during the refining process and cooking, they can easily become damaged. These damaged molecules may trigger more inflammation or ‘free radical’ damage in our own bodies when we consume too many of them.

The second problem is that vegetable oils tend to contain a very high proportion of omega-6 fatty acids. Now, while these are essential fats, when we get a lot of them in our diet, they can have an overall pro-inflammatory effect (i.e. encouraging inflammation), especially when we’re getting a lot more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids.

So what can you use instead of vegetable oil? Well, a good choice for cooking is coconut oil. It contains primarily saturated fats, which – contrary to what you might think – are actually the safest and healthiest fats for high-temperature cooking such as roasting, frying or stir-frying, as they’re stable and have a high smoke point.

Olive oil is a great option for lower-temperature sautéing and for drizzling on salads or using in dressings. Olive oil is made up primarily of monounsaturated fats, which are more stable than polyunsaturated, and has been linked to numerous health benefits – for our heart in particular.

  1. Spice it up

Many spices have natural anti-inflammatory activity, with winners including turmeric and ginger. Add them liberally to homemade curries and Asian dishes (use coconut oil rather than vegetable oils, of course!). Make them into hot drinks, such as homemade turmeric latte or fresh ginger tea; or find them in the form of herbal teas.

Tip: if you’re buying powdered spices, seek out organic rather than just settling for your average supermarket version for the greatest benefits. And note the colour of your turmeric: it should be an almost fluorescent orange-yellow colour if it’s a good quality one.