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Pelvic dysfunction is not life threatening – but it can be life limiting!

Many patients who suffer from knee, back or shoulder pain for example can attribute these issues to a pelvic dysfunction. While pelvic dysfunction is not life threatening it can be life limiting so find out how you can make small changes that may make a large difference. If you’re suffering from regular pain and think you might have a misaligned pelvis, it’s important for patients to visit a chiropractor.

Pelvic dysfunction often happen as a result of everyday awkward movements over time such as lifting heavy loads without care and sitting at a desk with bad posture as well as during pregnancy and childbirth or from injury.

The pelvis acts as a transmitter of forces between the legs and the spine. Many important muscle groups attach to the pelvis, the thigh muscles from below and the muscles of the trunk from above. If the pelvic joints (sacroiliac joints and pubic symphysis) are not moving correctly this can cause an imbalance resulting in pain in many different places. It could be looked at as a core stabilizer, supporting the spine, legs and wide range of muscles, so when the pelvis is not working properly (hip is tilted out of position) it can cause pain, weakness and tightness that can travel through the hip and pelvis up into the shoulders and neck, it also commonly can cause referred pain down into the legs.

There are three distinct areas that may be affected as a result of Pelvic Dysfunction these include the hips, which can become achy, painful and inflamed, the lower back which due to impairment of stability and function of (hyperextension) of the muscles in the abdomen and lower back which can cause spinal joint (facet joint) injuries and finally, the knee and ankle which can be put under a lot of strain if weight is shifted to one side to compensate for the pelvic dysfunction.

You can do a simple test at home to help you look for obvious signs of pelvic dysfunction: stand barefoot in front of a mirror with your back straight but relaxed. Imagine a vertical line going straight down the middle of your body and a second line near your shoulders that is perfectly perpendicular to the first line. If your hips are out of alignment, your pelvis will appear diagonal rather than parallel to the second line meaning you have a lateral pelvic tilt. This could be a sign of pelvic dysfunction.


Is Slouching Affecting Your Mood?

We know that facial muscles affect facial expression, and in turn can influence emotion, but it’s rarely considered that other muscular states can also affect mood. Research suggests that this is the case and that sitting upright can build resilience to stress.

Especially when under pressure and distracted, people are likely to pay less attention to their posture. However, research indicates that good posture at times of stress can help to maintain self-esteem and positive mood, whereas slumped postures have the opposite effect.

It is important to take care of your posture and there are a number of ways to do this, both at home and at work, and especially when using a computer.

  • When relaxing in a chair, such as when watching television, it is important to ensure that as much of the body as possible has contact with the chair for optimal support.
  • Avoid sitting for more than 30-40 minutes at a time. Remember to stand up, stretch, change position, walk around and go and get a drink of water!
  • When stretching, concentrate on opening up your chest, abdominal area and hip flexors. Your chiropractor can advise you on the best movements for this.
  • Perform exercises to strengthen the muscles that support your posture. Exercises such as resistance band pull-aparts are good, and your chiropractor can advise you on other suitable exercises.

Of course, perhaps the time that slouching most commonly occurs in our society is during the hours that are spent hunched over a desk, working at a computer.

  • Ensure that your desk, chair and monitor are set up following proper guidelines.
  • Take regular breaks. Set a timer to remind yourself if you’re guilty of forgetting to do this when immersed in work.
  • If using a laptop, ensure that is placed on a desk or table rather than your lap to avoid looking down, slouching, and leaving your neck unsupported.”

Your chiropractor will be able to conduct a postural analysis and suggest stretches, exercises and lifestyle changes that can improve your seated posture and enhance your mood.


Tips to Improve Spine Health

Spine health is all about mindfulness and constant care. Maintaining a healthy spine, will make everything you do in life a bit easier. Here are some tips on how to keep your spine healthy.

If you can, stretch every single day. Always warm up for 3-5 minutes before you stretch fully.  Remember, never stretch cold muscles. Usually after a run or workout you are able to stretch more intensely. 

Over time, our muscles and tendons become used to the motions we most regularly perform, tightening up if they are not continually stretched out. The more flexible they remain, the less chance you’ll suffer from a pulled muscle.

Along with staying limber and flexible, you’ll need to make sure your back muscles are strong enough to help you maintain proper form for the entirety of your workouts. Even a few moments of slouching can lead to a pulled back or slipped disc which is not good for spine health.

Try a few weight-lifting and core strengthening exercises at least a few times a week.

Working the body is great but make sure that rest days are taken seriously. Whether you’re practising for marathons or just getting your thirty minutes of activity in, many people forget just how important rest days are. 

By not working out on certain days, the body is able to repair damage while simultaneously making your muscles stronger. Too much exercise means this healing doesn’t happen. Make sure you have at least one day a week set aside for rest and repair.

Good spinal health is directly related to a good diet and staying hydrated. Providing your body with necessary nutrients, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts are required. With these, the body can better heal areas that are injured or are showing signs of injury. Be sure to practice these tips for a healthy spine.


Sleep Well

80% of UK adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives – so what is causing it?   With this rate being so high, it is important to highlight some of the everyday activities, which, if conducted wrongly, can lead to back pain. One of the main ones to focus on is sleep – everyone does it, so it is important to know how to do it properly!

Below are some of the sleep positions that can cause you pain:

  • When sleeping on your front, your head is turned slightly to the side as not to suffocate completely. As a result, this can cause a large amount of strain on the neck, which could lead to pain throughout the day. This position also means that your spine is completely unsupported, which could lead to extreme back pain.
  • When sleeping on your left side with your arms completely out, you are essentially restricting blood flow and putting a large amount of pressure on your nerves; which can result in soreness in the shoulders and arms. Like sleeping on your front, the spine is completely unsupported in this position and therefore could lead to both upper and lower back pain.
  • Whilst sleeping in the foetal position is a favourite amongst many, it is actually one of the worst sleep positions because of its complete lack of support for the neck and spine. As a result of the curvature of the spine in this position, neck and back pain is extremely common.

These positions can ease back pain:

  • By sleeping flat on your back, your spine is completely supported, which will help ease the pain caused to the neck and back. By keeping your arms by your side, you are reducing strain on the shoulders as well.
  • If you continue to feel soreness in your back after sleeping on your back, try the exact same position but with a small pillow underneath your knees. This helps your body to maintain a healthy curve in the lower back.
  • If you want to sleep on your side, you absolutely can by just making sure your arms are kept down by your side instead of being stretched outwards. This actually supports the spine in the position of its natural curve.

Can You Be Too Supple?

Some people are very flexible, while others aim to improve their flexibility through yoga classes and stretching exercises. However, have you ever considered that there is such as thing as too supple?

Hypermobility means that you can move some or all of your joints in a way that most people cannot, without pain. Joint hypermobility is what some people refer to as having “loose joints” or being “double-jointed”. The joints most commonly affected are the knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers.

Many people with hypermobility do not experience any problems. In fact, people such as dancers, gymnasts and musicians can actually benefit from the increased flexibility. However, there are times that you should seek medical advice and treatment for hypermobility.

People should seek treatment if they experience:

  • Pain in the loose joint during or after movement
  • Sudden changes in the appearance of the joint
  • Changes in mobility, specifically in the joints
  • Changes in the functioning of your arms and legs

Often additional symptoms are minimal and may only become apparent after minor trauma.

In addition to genetic factors, hypermobility can be caused by weak muscles supporting the joint.

Other causes of hypermobile joints can include trauma, developmental issues, and hormonal factors.

During pregnancy the female body increases production of the hormone oestrogen and produces the hormone relaxin. The function of these hormones is to increase ligament laxity enabling the female pelvis to accommodate the growing foetus and helps to open the birth canal during labour. It can also cause hypermobility of the lumbar spine and of the sacroiliac joints of the pelvis.

Treatment for hypermobility syndrome can include strengthening exercises that will stabilise the joint. It is also useful for people to develop an awareness of what the normal range of motion is for each joint in order to avoid hyperextension. However, those with related medical conditions or who are pregnant should seek the advise of their chiropractor to establish a safe exercise plan.


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

Chiropractors Aren’t Just for Backs

Chiropractors also frequently treat the hips, knees and feet.

Each foot is made up of 26 bones, and damage to any one of them, or related muscles, ligaments or cartilage, can result in problems with the foot that may need attention from a trained professional to prevent long term damage.

Here are some tips for keeping your feet in good condition:

  • You should inspect and feel your feet daily for cracks, corns and ulcers
  • Toenails should be cut straight across, not too close to the skin.
  • Take extra care when walking barefoot.
  • A well-fitting shoe should not require a long and painful breaking in period.
  • Pay good attention to your feet; changes and/or pain in the feet and ankles could indicate a more serious foot ailment or circulatory problem, so if in doubt, check with your chiropractor.

Chronic Pain And Depression

Pain is an unpleasant sensation that plays an important function in our lives.

When you suffer an acute injury, pain warns you to stop the activity that causes the injury and informs you to take care of the affected body part.

Chronic pain, on the other hand has no time limit, and often has no apparent cause and serves no apparent biological purpose. Some people, often older adults, suffer from chronic pain without any definable past injury or signs of body damage. Common chronic pain can be caused by headaches, the lower back, and arthritis and sometimes there is little evidence to explain such pain.  Emerging scientific evidence is demonstrating that the nerves in the spinal cord of patients with chronic pain can undergo structural changes.

Emotional and social issues often magnify the effects of chronic pain. People with chronic pain frequently report a wide range of limitations in family and social roles, like the inability to perform household or workplace chores, take care of children, or engage in social activities. In turn, spouses, children, and co-workers often have to take over these responsibilities. These changes often lead to depression, anxiety, resentment, and anger for the pain patient and can lead to stress and strain in family and other social relationships.

How is depression linked with chronic pain?

Depression is the most common emotion connected with chronic pain. It is found 3 to 4 times more in people with chronic pain than in the general population. The combination of chronic pain with depression is often associated with greater disability than either depression or chronic pain alone.

People with chronic pain and depression suffer vivid changes in their physical, mental, and social well-being — and in their quality of life. Such people often find it difficult to sleep, are easily agitated, cannot perform their normal activities of daily living, cannot concentrate, and are often unable to perform their duties at work and at home. These changes to quality of life starts a vicious cycle — pain leads to more depression, which leads to more chronic pain. In some cases, depression occurs before the pain.

Signs and Symptoms

Some of the common signs and symptoms of chronic pain include:

  • Pain beyond 6 months after an injury
  • Pain from stimuli that are not normally painful (Allodynia)
  • Increased pain from stimuli that are normally painful (Hyperpathia)
  • Being overly sensitive to pain (Hypersensation)

Signs of major clinical depression will usually occur daily for 2 weeks or more, and often include many of the following:

  • A feeling of sadness; feeling blue, hopeless, or irritable, often with crying spells
  • Changes in appetite or weight (loss or gain) and/or sleep (too much or too little)
  • Poor concentration or memory
  • Feeling restless or exhausted
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, including sex
  • Feeling of worthlessness and/or guilt

What treatments are there for chronic pain and depression?

The first step in coping with chronic pain is to verify its cause, if possible. Addressing the problem will help the pain subside. In other cases, especially when the pain is chronic, you should try to keep the chronic pain from being the entire focus of your life.

  • Stay active and do not avoid activities that cause pain simply because they cause pain. The amount and type of activity should be directed by your doctor, so that activities that might actually cause more harm are avoided.
  • Distraction (redirecting your attention away from chronic pain), imagery and dissociation (detaching yourself from the chronic pain) can be useful.
  • Relaxation training, hypnosis, yoga and meditation can help you cope with chronic pain. Cognitive therapy can also help patients recognise destructive patterns of emotion and behaviour and help them modify or replace such behaviours and thoughts with more reasonable or supportive ones.

Involving your family and friends may be helpful with your recovery.


Improving Balance and Coordination

Balance and coordination are often overlooked in fitness and should be trained as much as strength and endurance.

It is known that balance and coordination are controlled by several parts of the body, namely the eyes and the ears. These senses pass on the data it has gathered via the nerves to the muscles to appropriately move about gracefully. In older people though, these senses deteriorate and as a result, balance may worsen. Improving balance and coordination can benefit everyone, especially the elderly, to increase health and mobility.

There are many factors that may hamper one’s balance and coordination. The alignment of your neck, your spine, and your pelvis is one.  Age and disease is another problem.  For example, when your pelvis is misaligned, your body needs to compensate for that misalignment. Your neck may shift to one side to promote balance, but this, in turn, may cause you stiffness and neck pain.

Age and disease can also contribute to poor balance. With poor balance, the elderly are prone to slip and fall. It hinders mobility and lessens the overall quality of life. Diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis can also hamper balance and coordination.

Exercise improves flexibility and strength and, through these, balance and coordination.  Nutrition is another important aspect of a healthy life. Important nutrients for balance and coordination include sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium as they are needed in regulating nerve impulses and muscle activity. Without them, you would experience painful cramps. Blueberries in particular are a superfood that contains many nutrients for improving balance and coordination. With the right exercise and nutrition, you will increase your chance of living a full healthy life.


How to Beat Winter Exhaustion?

The nights are still long, temperatures have plummeted and flu season is very much upon us. From shorter days with less sunlight, changes in hormones and potential nutritional deficiencies, there are so many factors that can contribute to feelings of exhaustion at this time of the year. But here are a few simple ways to put the spring back into your step!

Move more, yawn less

Regular low-intensity workouts help boost energy levels in people suffering from fatigue. In a study, subjects trying low-intensity exercise, like leisurely walking or bike riding, reported the biggest drop in feelings of fatigue compared to the group doing more intense exercise. You should keep moving and ensure you continue exercising regularly, as the endorphins released during activity will help give you a much-needed lift. Regular exercising should also help you achieve a better night’s sleep so you feel more energised in the morning.

Multiple studies have shown that regular exercise strengthens your immune system, so it can fight off bacterial and viral infections. When you exercise and get your blood pumping, immune cells circulate through your body more quickly, helping them to seek and destroy infections. This boost only lasts for a few hours, which is why it’s good to exercise consistently.

Let the light in

February is the worst month for sleep. Research found that it takes longer to nod off in February than any other month. This can certainly contribute to people reporting lower energy levels in February than any other month of the year. Aim to go to sleep and wake up at the same hour every day, so you get a good length of rest. Avoid sleeping too much at the weekends, because it might result in you actually feeling even more tired and sluggish.

Check your room temperature, too. If it is too high, it can make you feel like you didn’t get enough sleep, even when you have slept a proper amount of hours. And if it’s too cold you might wake up several times during the night. Sleep experts recommend bedroom temperatures to be between 20-22C degrees. Even if you are sleeping well, you may experience fatigue as a result of increased levels of melatonin, because of lack of exposure to sunlight. To help regulate your melatonin levels, spend as much time outdoors in daylight as you can – take a walk at lunchtime, or make sure the blinds are open if you sit near a window at work.

Boost from within

For most of us, the colder it gets, the more we crave carbs. It’s true that if we’re shivering, we burn more energy to keep warm, but as we spend most of our time in heated environments, most of us don’t need the extra calories. Comforting drinks and foods are often higher in fat, carbohydrates, and added sugars, and they can have a detrimental impact on energy levels, which can end up making you feel worse. Swap in healthier alternatives, like sweet potato, lentils, veggie soups and porridge. It’s also important to include a vitamin D supplement in your diet as our bodies are unable to create enough at this time of year. Food sources such as eggs, oily fish, spreads and fortified cereals are helpful to include in your diet, but a good quality vitamin D3 supplement is more effective. Nutritional deficiencies can cause low energy levels and exhaustion.