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.
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.
– 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.
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.
– 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.)
– 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.
– 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.
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
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.
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:
Wear light, but warm clothes & make sure your lower back is always covered
Kneel on one leg rather than bending your back repeatedly
Use long handled tools to prune tall plants
Use only a small spade/fork for digging and keep your back gently hollowed
Do not always work to one side only, vary your position
Don’t do the same work for long periods, vary your tasks
Keep your back straight when carrying
Gently stretch your muscles and ligaments for a few minutes after gardening
When finished have a warm bath or shower
Do not sit for too long in your favourite armchair afterwards, but stand up regularly and walk around for a few minutes each time.
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.
Here are some of our top nutrition tips for managing pain.
Ditch the processed foods – yes we keep reminding you….
Processed foods generally refers to most things that come in a packet with a list of ingredients: from biscuits to ready meals to breakfast cereals. They often contain little in the way of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. They may worsen inflammation and pain because they contain higher levels of unhealthy fats – in particular, processed omega-6 fats and ‘trans’ fats, which have pro-inflammatory properties. They often contain quickly absorbed sugars or refined carbohydrates too, which may exacerbate inflammation when consumed in excess.
In contrast, ‘real’ foods are as close as possible to how they are found in nature. They can include whole vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds, whole grains, fish, eggs and meat (whole cuts, not ‘deli’ or processed meats). These foods naturally contain higher levels of nutrients that can help reduce inflammation and pain, such as those we’re going to look at in more detail below.
Eat magnesium-rich foods
One of the nutrients that may help to manage pain and inflammation is magnesium. Magnesium helps our muscles to work normally, including helping them to relax, which in turn helps to avoid or relieve muscle tension that can contribute to pain. This mineral is also important for the nerves.
Magnesium is found primarily in whole unprocessed plant foods – especially green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, seeds and nuts, and whole grains including rye and buckwheat.
Include oily fish
Oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring and anchovies are high in omega-3 fats. These fats have anti-inflammatory properties and therefore may help to manage pain. The specific omega-3s in fish (EPA and DHA) can be more beneficial than the types of omega-3 found in seeds such as flax seeds.
Aim to eat a serving of oily fish around three times a week. These can include tinned sardines and salmon as long as they do not contain added vegetable oils (olive oil is fine). Note that ‘omega-3 fish fingers’ are not a good source of omega-3 fats – stick to the real thing!
Get plenty of vitamin C
You may know vitamin C for its role in the immune system. But in fact the primary role of vitamin C is in making collagen – a protein that forms the basic structure of most of the body’s tissues, including the bones, joints and muscles. If your body can’t make collagen properly, these tissues will lose strength and function, contributing to not only day-to-day pain but also potentially painful conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
Eating a variety of vegetables and fruit is the best way to get enough vitamin C. Although ‘five-a-day’ is the well-known recommendation, we should be aiming for at least seven portions a day, primarily of vegetables, in order to get good amounts of vitamin C and antioxidants. Some of the best sources of vitamin C include peppers, kale, broccoli, kiwi fruits, Brussels sprouts, watercress and red cabbage. If you can, get your veg and fruit from a local producer (e.g. a farmer’s market) as it can lose its vitamin C when it’s stored or transported for long periods of time.
Include anti-inflammatory spices
The spices ginger and turmeric in particular can have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Use fresh ginger and powdered turmeric in your cooking whenever you can, make fresh ginger tea with a grated thumb-sized piece of ginger. If you have a good vegetable juicer you can even make fresh ginger juice to sip on – but watch out, it’s strong!
Try avoiding nightshades
The ‘nightshade’ or solanaceae vegetables may worsen inflammation and pain for some people. These are aubergines, tomatoes, potatoes (not sweet potatoes), and peppers – including chillies and all types of chilli powder (cayenne, paprika etc.). If you’ve implemented the other changes for at least three months and not noticed a significant improvement in your pain, then try eliminating the nightshade vegetables.
Consider eliminating gluten
Gluten is a protein that’s found primarily in wheat, barley and rye. The most severe reaction to gluten is coeliac disease, where the sufferer has to avoid gluten for the rest of their life. But some people who do not have coeliac disease may also react to gluten in a less severe way, which can contribute to inflammation in the body. If you’re cutting out gluten it can be best to work with a nutrition practitioner (e.g. a nutritional therapist) for support to make sure you’re not missing out on any nutrients.
Arthritis has always been perceived as a problem only for older people, but some 30% of the 8 million sufferers in the UK are under the age of 25.
Making sure that your diet contains certain food groups can be a powerful natural weapon in the continuing battle for pain relief. Arthritis doesn’t have to be a life sentence. The following lifestyle and dietary table is for guidance only and arthritis sufferers willing to change their diet should do so very gradually, after discussion with their GP, and ensure that all food groups are adequately replaced.
TRY TO AVOID
Nightshade foods – e.g tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, white potato and margarine
Dairy products including chocolate
Dry roasted nuts
Alcohol (wine), soft drinks and caffeine
Additives, preservatives and chemicals
Sulphur and methionine containing foods – e.g. cabbage, brussel sprouts, garlic and onions
Moderate amount of meat
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna for Omega 3
fruits and vegetables, e.g. lettuce, peas, cabbage, apples
Complex carbohydrates, e.g. brown rice, wholegrain pasta and wholegrain bread
Vinegar and hot spices
Nuts such as almonds, brazil nuts and hazelnuts
Water – try to drink a minimum of eight glasses a day
Very often there can be tightness in the front of your thigh and hip flexors (the quads / quadriceps muscles) which can cause your pelvis to tilt forwards as they are pulling on the front of it down towards your knees.
Make sure you are standing up completely straight and do not allow your pelvis or hips to twist or lean forwards
Bring your leg behind you and grab the heel
Pull the foot towards the buttock and see if you can get your heel to contact the buttock
Check the other side for symmetry
If you cannot touch heel to bum without twisting, or you there is an uneven stretch, then either do the above as a stretch or speak to your Chiropractor for specific advice!