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.
On average if you sleep for 8 hours a night then that’s a third of your life spent with your pillow – so it makes sense to make sure it’s right!
- Do you sleep on your front? If yes – please speak to your Chiropractor as this is an issue which may contribute to many problems.
- Do you sleep on your side? Well done, probably the best sleeping position for your spine for most people. Lying on your side your pillow(s) should give enough support so you nose is in line with your chest bone. Too many pillows and your neck will tilt up, too few and it will lean down. Get a partner to check if your
- Sleeping on your back then? Too many pillows here and your neck will get stretched towards your chin, and again too few and it might not be supported enough.
For more information speak to your Chiropractor and try out one of our neck pillows. Terms and conditions apply.
Researchers reveal that sudden, acute episodes of low back pain are not linked to weather conditions such as temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction and precipitation.
Findings published in Arthritis Care & Research indicate that the risk of low back pain slightly increases with higher wind speed or wind gusts, but was not clinically significant.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) nearly everyone experiences low back pain at some point in their life, making it the most prevalent musculoskeletal condition; affecting up to 33% of the world population at any given time.
“Many patients believe that weather impacts their pain symptoms,” explains Dr. Daniel Steffens with the George Institute for Global Health at the University of Sydney, Australia. “However, there are few robust studies investigating weather and pain, specifically research that does not rely on patient recall of the weather.”
For the present case-crossover study 993 patients seen at primary care clinics in Sydney were recruited between October 2011 and November 2012. Weather data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology were sourced for the duration of the study period. Researchers compared the weather at the time patients first noticed back pain with weather conditions one week and one month before the onset of pain.
Results showed no association between back pain and temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction or precipitation. However, higher wind speed and wind gusts did slightly increase the chances of lower back pain, but the amount of increase was not clinically important.
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.
For further information or comments, please contact at on or email at
To mark BackCare Awareness Week (2nd – 6th October), British Chiropractic Association research revealed the surprising myths chiropractors have heard from their patients about what causes their back pain and the best way to treat it.
Common misconceptions about back pain include thinking a slipped disc means the disc has actually ‘slipped’ out of the spine and that you should always rest a bad back. Hanging off a doorframe and even applying WD40 are some of the strange back pain cures chiropractors across the country have heard from their patients.
According to the BCA at least 65% people in the East Midlands either suffer of have suffered from back or neck pain, with 15% suffering every day.
Whilst these may seem like funny stories, there is a really serious message here. Back pain is very common and if people don’t know enough about what causes it or how best to treat it they could delay their recovery or do themselves more damage. For example many people think you should stop being active if you’re suffering from back pain whereas for most people continuing moderate exercise could be beneficial.
There are plenty of simple things we can all do to help look after our back health. These are my top tips:
- Get up, stand up. Inactivity is a leading cause of back pain. If you spend most of your day sitting make sure that you take regular breaks, ideally every 20-30 minutes. Stand up to stretch, change position and walk around a little.
- Stretch it out. If you struggle to get away from your seat at work, simple activities such as stretching and shoulder shrugging and even simply fidgeting in your seat can all help to keep the joints and muscles in your back moving.
- Keep moving. Exercise is key to a healthy back, however you don’t need to embark on any extreme fitness regimes. Adding just a few extra minutes of walking a day can have a huge impact on your posture.
- Straighten Up. Try incorporating some simple exercises into your daily routine. The British Chiropractic Association has developed – https://chiropractic-uk.co.uk/straighten-up-uk/ – a series of simple exercises designed to improve posture and help prevent back pain by promoting balance, strength and flexibility in the spine.
- Perfect your posture. Paying close attention to your posture can help you recognise back or neck pain triggers. People who want to improve their posture should try imagining they have a plumb line hanging straight from their ears to ankles – with everything in the middle sitting on the same line.One way to do this is to try standing in a relaxed way and then gently contracting the abdominal muscles
Many of you will notice that in the clinic each month we have a challenge pinned up. This month we are making it into a competition and entering is very easy! Here is how to do it:
1. Go to https://chiropractic-uk.co.uk/straighten-up-uk/
2. Download the leaflet OR watch the video.
3. Start doing the exercises to strengthen your back and improve your posture.
4. Take a picture of yourself doing the exercises and email it to: email@example.com
That’s it! I told you it was easy! Alex has promised there will be a prize for the best photograph so get creative -encourage your friends/work colleagues/children/grandchildren to do join you doing the exercises!
We’d love to use these pictures to promote the clinic but if you’re not keen on us sharing then please state it in your email!
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.
There’s no better time to start strengthening your spine and improve your posture than now!
October 16th is World Spine Day and what better way to celebrate than with some helpful information on how to keep the spine healthy.
Throughout life the spine is required to withstand considerable weight bearing stress, purely as a result of the pressures of daily living. As we age, the discs lose fluid, become tougher, and less able to respond to weight bearing loads. This puts greater stress on the vertebrae and joints, which in turn form new bone around their edges to create a larger area to withstand weight.
The good news is that attention to a healthy lifestyle from an early age can help reduce the effects of ‘wear and tear’ on the spine. Follow these simple steps to reduce the effects of ageing and for proper care of the spine:
- Don’t smoke; it affects the nutrition of the discs
- Avoid excessive alcohol intake; it causes weakened bone because of an interrupted blood supply, and even fractures
- Take moderate exercise on a regular basis; it is essential to overall health as well as good spinal health
- Make sure your diet is rich in vitamins and minerals (particularly calcium) from fresh, wholesome foods
As we focus on the dangers of our children carrying too much in their school bags we challenge you to put your brief case, handbag or whatever you carry around day, after day, after day with unnecessary items on a diet. So stop and take a minute to see if you can ditch some stuff or find a more posture safe way of karting it about … how about a little trolley for you heavier items?
Try to ensure that you don’t carry more than 10% of your body weight on a regular basis
… Go on weigh your baggage!
As the shorter days start to roll in, the early signs of our gardens getting ready for Autumn appear with it come the hustle bustle of a new academic year for our young people whether it be a new year at school, a new school, off to college or university, the start of a new job or returning to our old one after a relaxing break. However, we need to be aware of the potential harm we could cause our spines:
and eye tests are probably all on your list to ensure your youngsters get off to the best start – but more and more parents are realising the importance of having their child’s spine checked by a chiropractor.
Worry about heavy school bags and the increase time spent on their technology from phones to play stations is concerning parents as children slouch over their gadgets – let the chiropractors help you support them in preventing long term problems for their spines- Give us a call today.