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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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Summer Time Sports

Summer time has arrived and with it the added need for us to take extra care of our necks, backs and spines to avoid pain and injury…

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 summer 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 unhabitual exertion, so when lifting, take the weight on bent legs, keeping the back straight.

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Nourish Your Body

It is no secret that a healthy, balanced diet has endless benefits for our health. Knowing in more detail about the amount of vitamins and minerals we need in our diets will only enhance those benefits and decrease out chances of developing deficiencies later on in life. Here is a easy and healthy diet plan for you to follow which explains which vitamins and minerals you need and how best to obtain them; but first, let’s start with some of the foods you should be avoiding:

  • High saturated/animal fats
  • Refined foods
  • White flour
  • White sugar
  • Carbonated drinks

All of these foods adversely effect the body’s use of minerals and vitamins so be sure to limit these foods from your diet; or if you can, eliminate them completely. Below are some of the vitamins and minerals that are essential for keeping your body, muscles and joints healthy:

Vitamin C

Collagen is extremely important in maintaining the structure of bones, cartilage, muscles and blood vessels and in order to produce strong efficient collagen, you require vitamin C. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, green leafy vegetables and cauliflower.

Antioxidants

Vitamin C is also a strong antioxidant and it capable of regenerating other antioxidants. Antioxidants swoop up free radicals, which is useful in preventing damage to joint surfaces and muscle cell regeneration. These antioxidants are present in fruits and vegetables, them most in the brightly coloured ones!

Magnesium

Healthy magnesium levels are important because it contributes to efficient muscle contractions and the conduction of nerve impulses. Low magnesium levels can actually affect the body’s calcium levels, therefore putting bone health at risk. Magnesium can be acquired from green leafy vegetables, unrefined grains and nuts.

Essential Fats

Essential fatty acids reduce the degenerative changes in tissues and cells and help guard against some cancers. These are highly unsaturated fatty acids. They can be found in foods such as fish, nuts and avocados.

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Clinic Current Covid-19 Procedure – updated July 2020

We have implemented careful procedures following a full risk assessment and staff training as advised by the British Chiropractic Association. After a few days of trialling these procedures, we are comfortable that we are able to deliver a safe environment and treatment for patients who are in need of our support.

We would like to encourage those patients who are in the high risk groups to delay as long as they can, but would like to reassure them that we are here for them in other ways. If they are unable to come in to the clinic we can offer Telehealth consultations and we are satisfied with the support that these can offer to them. Please ask for details or check the online booking system for an appointment.

There is a specific procedure to follow once you arrive on site and so far we are very grateful that the patients who have attended, have respected this and supported us in ensuring the safety of themselves our team and other patients. Thank you.

  1. Before your appointment, you will be sent an online self-assessment Covid-19 questionnaire. Please complete this on the day of your treatment.
  2. The clinic entrance door is now open so you can come into reception and wait if there are no more than three people in reception. The receptionist can confirm if it is safe to come and wait or you can wait in your car if you prefer and we will come and collect you. If you can check-in online please do or scan the code reader on the door.
  3. Please bring your own gloves and masks if you have them. We do have supplies so don’t worry if you don’t.
  4. We will ask you to sanitise your hands, sign a consent form, take your temperature and get you changed. ALL patients will be expected to undress to their underwear and wear a clinic gown, gloves and a mask throughout their time in the clinic.
  5. Please pay by contactless cards and dispose of your PPE carefully either in the bin by the door of take it home to reuse. Thank you for your support in keeping us all safe.
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Take Care of Your Spine

Spinal and muscle health is a crucial part of overall health, and if not trained or kept mobile, can deteriorate quickly and lead to injuries. Daily walks, stretching and aerobic exercises are just some of the activities that keep the spine and body healthy and aligned.

Strengthening exercises should be performed regularly, starting with slow stretches followed by targeted muscle exercises. This regular practice will help avoid back pain or injuries.

Back strengthening exercises can be divided into three groups:

  • Power: repetitive muscle contractions to a state of fatigue
  • Stretching: slow static stretching of the muscles
  • Aerobic: exercises that involve large muscle groups

Start by training your posture and the entire body will benefits from the simple readjustment. Crucial to those who sit or stand all day, readjusting the posture removes pressure from the pelvis and hip muscles, which become strained when maintaining one single position. Stretching becomes essential in regaining mobility and releasing muscle tension, elongating various muscles groups and strengthening the spine.

All exercises should be performed slowly, without discomfort, to avoid injury. When performing strengthening exercises and stretching, do not forget to exhale at the moment of tension and inhale while relaxing.

You do not need to wait for discomfort and pain to manifest in your spine, it’s beneficial to regularly perform exercises to strengthen the spine and prevent any issues:

  • Constantly monitor your posture
  • Do sports, remember that the body is not adapted for sitting, but created for movement
  • Choose the right chair and sit with a straight back
  • Avoid carrying heavy objects

Remember that a healthy back is the key to healthy body.

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Calf injuries – cause, symptom, prevention, tips

With long distance running marathons and triathlons becoming increasingly popular as well as a increasing array of high intensity exercise classes like Zumba, Barry’s Bootcamp, HulaFIt, calf muscle injures are seen more commonly.

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How does it happen?

Calf strain occurs when the muscle at the back of the lower leg becomes damaged or inflamed due to excessive strain or force being placed on the calf muscle. These injuries often arise from sports that involve repeated jumping or change of direction as well as explosive sprinting or long distance running.

Calf muscle tears get more common as we get older due to the loss of elasticity in our muscles and tendons. Soft tissue injuries get more common if you over train a certain structure and eventually it breaks. Often injuries can start with micro-tears in the calf muscle and achilles tendon and this in turn can result in a to a complete tear.

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What are the symptoms?

Patients are likely to feel aching and stiffness which becomes more apparent first thing in the morning and often the calf will feel weak, making the patient unable to resume activity and sometimes bear weight resulting in a limp.

How can I prevent it?

If you’ve been inactive for an extended period of time, to prevent injuries you need to start off very slowly and gently. Start with non-ballistic exercises such as calf raises and progress the program to eventually include ballistic exercises, maybe 3 months later.

Outdoor lunge 1

Top Tip

Warming up and stretching after exercise is always recommended but be careful not to overstretch or put excess force on calf muscles. Stretch until there’s light tension in the muscles, taking a deep breath and slowly exhaling. Hold that position for 15-to-30 seconds, relax and repeat up to four times. Stay still and don’t bounce during stretching. Don’t push yourself to the point of pain; ease the stretch until it is comfortable.

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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.

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