The primary factors that can cause or worsen pain include poor posture, injury, too little (or too much) activity, and specific conditions such as arthritis. However, what you eat can also help to manage or relieve pain, or even prevent it injury in the first place.
Here are some of our top nutrition tips for managing pain.
Ditch the processed foods
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 chillis 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.
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Did you know… Those who suffer with chronic back pain might notice it gets worse during autumn and winter.
In fact… Although there’s not much scientific evidence that shows a link between chronic pain and humidity, temperature changes and wind speed, weather changes can affect those, who suffer with joint pain conditions, especially arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Did you know… The most commonly accepted reasoning is that with colder temperatures comes lower air pressure, that can cause joint tissues to expand—further worsening joints already prone to swelling and tenderness
If cold weather worsens your pain, you can prevent it yourself and combat it with these three simple steps:
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 go for over-the-counter heat wraps
If you like swimming, try to visit heated indoor pool with hot baths, Jacuzzis and saunas a few times a week for almost instant relief from your pain
As tempting as it is to just stay 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 Pilates at home
Autumn has arrived, bringing shorter days and less light. This change in the amount of light is a signal to animals, plants and, before the light bulb, people, that seasons are changing. While those most dramatically affected are those in the higher latitudes, many people in the UK are negatively affected by this shift.
Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD), also known as ‘winter depression’ is a type of a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern, with symptoms more severe between September and April. The NHS estimates that SAD affects approximately one in 15 people in the UK during the darker months.
Symptoms of SAD include:
Lethargy, lack of energy, inability to carry out a normal routine
Sleep problems, difficulty staying awake during the day, but having disturbed nights sleeps
Loss of libido, disinterest in physical contact
Anxiety, inability to cope
Social problems, irritability, disinterest in seeing people
Depression, feelings of gloom and despondency for no apparent reason
Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, leading to weight gain
Many people in the UK suffer with SAD, so it’s important to remember that you are not alone.
While light therapy is a popular treatment for SAD, lifestyle factors play a large role too. Getting as much natural sunlight as possible is particularly important, as is managing your stress levels. Exercise is also integral to the treatment of SAD. It has long been known that regular exercise is good for our physical health, but studies also show exercise to be of benefit to our mental wellbeing. Exercise gives you control of your body and is a known mood booster.
Your chiropractor can give you a general check to make sure that your bones, joints and muscles are functioning properly and advise on the best exercise solution for you.
A key contributing factor to seassonal affective disorder and depression has been vitamin D deficieny/insufficiency. The British National Diet and nutrition studies have found that up to 25% of British adults are low in vitamin D. This is becuase it is impossible to get enough Vitamin D from food sources alone. Therefore this can be successfuly managed with with the adition of vit D3 supplements.
Beeston chiropractic clinic stocks the very best Vitamin D3 with vit K2 Supplement.
Why use the vitamin forms D3? – We use D3 in all our vitamin D supplements as it is the body’s preferred form being the same form as is naturally produced by the body in response to sunlight.
What are the benefits of vitamin D? – Vitamin D has a number of recognised health benefits. Adequate levels of vitamin D are necessary for the normal functioning of the immune system. Our bones and our teeth require good levels of vitamin D for optimum mineralisation, and it plays a crucial role in the utilisation of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D is also required for normal muscular function. It also is necessary for cell division, and therefore important to every single cell in the body!
Why chose this Vitamin D? It’s high dose -one delicious chewable tablet delivers 5000iu of vitamin D3 made with cholecalciferol (the most bio-available form) Vitamin D3 as cholecalciferol is the best absorbed and utilised form for the body to use.
It’s sublingual meaning it absorbs into your bloodstream without, giving it greater absorbency making it far more effective.
It’s made with STEVIA which is a natural plant based sweetener, the least disruptive for the body; maintaining blood sugar balance and its’ easy on the tummy!
It’s currently the ONLY sublingual 5000iu vitamin D3 with K2 supplement made with stevia in the whole world!
It tastes great, made with natural mango flavouring. It’s gluten free, dairy free and suitable for vegetarians.
The 2019 Rugby World Cup has focused the world’s attention on a sport where injury is the norm. Some teams have played games that are just four days apart and, because of the intensity of the action, injuries become part and parcel.
Statistics have shown that for every 1000 hours of playtime within the Rugby Football Union, (RFU) there is 86 injuries as per the 2017/18 season. This compares to 17 for international football and just 2.8 for international cricket.
Many situations around the rugby field particularly increase the chance of injury occurring, such as tackling and scrummaging. The average force through the shoulder during a tackle is 166kg and stresses are passed right through the body to the neck, upper back, arms, low back, hips, knees and ankles. Injuries don’t just occur with contact; as with any physical activity muscular injuries can also occur when running and kicking.
As with many sports, rugby injuries fall into two categories: traumatic and overuse. Traumatic injuries usually result from tackles or collisions with other players and are often unavoidable, even during training. Concussions, ligament damage and fractures do occur on the pitch although the impact and severity of these traumatic injuries can be reduced by maintaining good technique at all times as well as wearing gum shields, headgear and shoulder pads.
Overuse injuries build over time and are the result of the combined negative effects of a mildly traumatic action that’s repeated over and over again. Shin splints that result from regular training and practicing are an example of overuse or chronic injury. The injury usually starts as a niggling discomfort with increasing pain developed over time.
It is also common for an overuse injury to develop into an acute traumatic injury where a succession of micro-traumas weakens the area making it more susceptible. Sudden sprains, muscles and ligament tears often occur in this manner.
The most common rugby injuries are leg injuries such as groin or hamstring strains where adductor or hamstring muscles are stretched beyond their limits. Strain injuries can vary in intensity but are usually painful and result in swelling, bruising and a reduced ability to use the affected muscle. The same occurs for a sprain with the ligaments that support the joints becoming over-stretched. Pain, swelling and bruising occur along with difficulty moving the joint. Joints commonly affected in this way during rugby participation are shoulders, lower back and sacroiliac joints.
Rapid stopping, starting and changing direction also places stress onto the knees and ankles. The structure of the knee means a ligament injury is most common, with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) strains, ruptures and tears, the most common. Both the ACL and PCL can be injured or torn by a sudden twisting of the knee joint. Meniscal (cartilage discs that sit in between the femur and tibia) injuries also commonly occur as a result of twisting, pivoting, decelerating or a sudden impact and often require surgical repair if severe or non-responsive to more conservative care.
It is important to remember, as with any sport, that prevention is better than cure! Stretching properly before and after any sport is vital to reduce injuries, especially in the frequently affected muscle groups such as the groin and hamstrings.
Often, subtle differences in the way we move can place more stress on the joints of our body. The best way to minimise the chances of an injury taking place is to ensure your body is working optimally. A chiropractor will be able to assess how your joints are working, and identify any areas that could potentially lead to an injury. They will then help to address the problem and to strengthen the area, working with you to ensure your body is functioning as required.
In the first instance it is best to sit with your feet on the ground and place your spine up against the back rest of the couch, with your hips and knees in a 90 degree right angle. This may be complicated if you have an oversized couch, this can be remedied by placing a pillow or two behind the small of your back or by folding one over in half if they are feeling too soft.
Another pitfall when relaxing on your settee at home, is that often the neck, upper back and shoulder support is inefficient leading you to often strain holding your neck forward in an awkward position. If so, you can build your pillows up to shoulder blade level ensuring that your spine remains vertical.
2) “Stacksit” on the edge
Stacksitting is a good option for those who have soft couches, which often feel like they will eat you whole. Even with only a small amount of support on the backs of your thighs, will create a good stretch on your spine. By giving more comfort in the longterm, by saving your spine from the pain caused by over arching your back when sinking into a soft non-supportive couch.
The stacksit can be achieved by placing yourself on the edge of the couch and slightly pushing your pelvis forward. You can avoid rocking, by setting your shoulders backwards and pulling your shoulder blades together. If you find that your knees are above your hip joints, you can cross your legs over at the ankles and let your knees roll open to each side or by extending your legs out infront of you. By crossing your legs and allowing your thighs to drop down further encourages pelvic anteversion. Alternatively if you are struggling with flexibility, you can cheat by sitting on an extra pillow to elevate the hips.
If you are able to take full advantage of the space on your couch, another comfortable option is reclining, as long as you don’t have to share with anyone else.
Using the full length of the sofa you can extend your legs, and support your spine with the arm rest. The common pitfalls with this position is that most arm rests fall too short or are too vertical to lay against, which lead to a poorly supported slumped position. This can be remedied by the use of pillows tucked into the small of your back to support the natural curve of your spine and stop the pelvis from slipping posteriorly. Careful again of straining to hold your neck, shoulder or upper back forward.
Important to note with any of these positions, is the angle that you may be facing when looking at the television. Like with any desk based computer work, it is important to keep the height at eye level and facing head on.
A stiff neck is one of the most common complaints people come to chiropractors with. Most likely you have experienced a stiff neck or tenderness when pressing around the muscle of your neck.
And no wonder! An adult head weighs between 10-14 pounds, or around 5 kilos. To put that into perspective, at the upper end, this is the weight of a bowling ball! This gives a good indication of how strong your neck muscles must be and the demand that is constantly placed upon them.
There are number of things that can cause a stiff neck. The most common is strain or sprain. This kind of damage tends to occur to the levator scapula, the muscle connecting your neck to your shoulder. This can make it uncomfortable for you to turn your head from side to side, up and down, or even tilt it from side to side.
Most people notice a stiff neck first thing in the morning after waking. This is not a surprise, since a muscle sprain or strain can occur simply from holding your neck in an unusual position for a sustained period of time. People who sleep on their fronts with their head effectively forced to one side for around 8 hours are some of the most frequent sufferers! Stiff necks following sleep can also be caused by using an improper pillow; one that is too high or too flat and does not adequately support the neck.
As well as these common nocturnal causes of neck stiffness, our day jobs could also be to blame. Holding your neck too far forward when staring at a computer screen during the day can place undue stress on the neck muscles. The same goes for watching television and using mobile devices.
Aside from these common causes, neck pain can also be caused by injury. Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a sudden movement of your head in any direction. It often occurs after a sudden impact such as a road traffic accident. The vigorous movement of your head can overstretch and damage the tendons and ligaments in your neck. As well as neck pain and stiffness, whiplash can cause tenderness in your neck muscles, reduced, painful neck movements and headaches.
The good news is that neck stiffness is not usually serious and soreness can go away within a few days. The better news is that chiropractic adjustment can help to stimulate the healing process and correct any misalignments that can be contributing to pain.
Taking place on October 16 each year, World Spine Day has become a focus in raising awareness of back pain and other spinal issues. With health professionals, exercise and rehabilitation experts, public health advocates, schoolchildren and patients all taking part, World Spine Day will be celebrated on every continent. World Spine Day highlights the importance of spinal health and wellbeing. Promotion of physical activity, good posture, responsible lifting and healthy working conditions will all feature as people are encouraged to look after their spines and stay active. With an estimated one billion people worldwide suffering from back pain, it affects all age groups, from children to the elderly. It is the biggest single cause of disability on the planet, with one in four adults estimated to suffer from back pain during their lives. Prevention is therefore key and this year’s World Spine Day will be encouraging people to take steps to be kind to their spines. Populations in under-serviced parts of the world often have no access to conventional healthcare resources to care for spinal pain and disability. Often relying on traditional healers, even those who are seen in hospital are often only given anti-inflammatory medication. Dedicated spinal health professionals do not exist in many parts of the world, so education and self-help is key. Even in high-income countries, back pain afflicts many millions of people, resulting in an enormous impact on industry and the economy.
Organized by the World Federation of Chiropractic on behalf of the Global Alliance for Musculoskeletal Health, World Spine Day has over 500 official organizational supporters worldwide. More information about how to get involved is available at www.worldspineday.org on Twitter (@world_spine_day), Instagram (@worldspineday), and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/WorldSpineDay2019/). Simply registering your support via the organisations page helps us to spread the word and help us keep you in touch with the latest events occurring worldwide!
For bone, muscle and joint health try and include Calcium in your diet, which is essential for optimal nerve and muscle function and blood clotting.
Dairy products are rich in calcium that is easy to absorb. Non – dairy sources with equally absorbable calcium are green leafy vegetables from the kale family. Spinach, rhubarb, sweet potatoes and dried beans are rich in calcium but from these foods it’s not easily absorbed
Required for efficient muscle contraction and conduction of nerve impulses. Low magnesium levels in the body can affect the body’s calcium levels, putting bone health at risk.
Green leafy vegetables, unrefined grains and nuts. Small amounts are present in meat and milk. Large quantities of fibre in the diet and low protein intake can reduce the amount of magnesium able to be absorbed by the body.
Essential for regulating the formation of bone and the absorption of calcium from the intestine. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that functions to help control the movement of calcium between bone and blood.
Primarily from the action of UVB light on the skin. Food sources such as cod liver oil, sardines, salmon, tuna, milk and milk products contain small amounts of Vitamin D.
The structure of bones, cartilage, muscles and blood vessels is provided in part and maintained by collagen. The formation of strong efficient collagen requires Vitamin C.
Citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, cauliflower, potatoes, green leafy vegetable and peppers. Also important for producing strong collagen and therefore strong bone structure, is Folic acid. Folic acid is found in cereals, beans, green leafy vegetables, orange and orange juice
Vitamin C is also a strong antioxidant and is capable of regenerating other antioxidants like vitamin E. The role of antioxidants is to mop up free radicals (the by-products of normal metabolism). Excessive amounts of free radicals cause damage to joint surfaces and muscle cell regeneration. Antioxidants reduce the potential of these free radicals to cause joint damage.
Antioxidants are vitamins A, C, E and the mineral selenium and are present in fruits and vegetables, the highest quantities are found in the most deeply and brightly coloured. Cartilage that lines the articulating surfaces of all joints is critical to joint health. Cartilage is the shock absorber of joints and is continually rebuilt if a source of raw materials is available. Supplements such as glucosamine sulphate can be added to a healthy diet to assist joints that maybe showing signs of wear and tear.
Essential fatty acids
Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) also reduce the degenerative changes in tissues and cells. EFA’s are unsaturated fatty acids such as Omega 3. They aid in decreasing the inflammatory response and help relieve pain and discomfort in joints and muscles.
EFA’s can be found in oily fish (sardines, fresh tuna, mackerel), flax seed and linseed.
Foods to avoid…
There are certain foods and substances that adversely effect the body’s use of minerals and vitamins. High saturated/animal fats, refined foods, white flour, white sugar, white rice, chocolate, carbonated drinks and fruit juices with high sugar concentration should be kept to a minimum if not weaned from the diet completely. Meat and dairy products should be kept within a recommended weekly amount. Dairy products as calcium sources should be varied with other non-dairy sources.