We often talk about the immune system and how strong or weak it is; but what is it? Our body relies on our immune system to defend us from viruses, bacteria and anything that it considers to be a pathogen. Developing a strong immune system is vital not only to maintain good health but also to support our body in functioning to its full potential.
Our lifestyle plays a huge role in whether or not we stay healthy. It can be hard to assimilate the right nutrients to boost our immune system only through a healthy diet. One way to maintain our immune system is to introduce food supplements like vitamin C, D and B, key nutrients into our diets. The two most proven supplements that aid the immune system are vitamin D, which comes from the sun and with increased time spent indoors is now more important to help supplement. The other is the mineral zinc which plays an important role in making the cells within the immune system.
Our immune system is made up of proteins, tissues, organs and cells (white blood cells) and all of these work together to keep us healthy. Its main role is to protect and fight against harmful organisms, pathogens, and neutralise them whenever they come into contact with them.
Another great way to help support the immune system is gentle low-grade exercise. Research has shown that exercise improves defence activity and improves metabolic health. However, in intense training periods athletes had an increased illness risk. Therefor exercising within your limits will be the best for your immune system.
And it’s important to note that sleep is important for your health. Getting the right amount of sleep helps your body heal and produce enough cells to keep your immune system strong and healthy.
While much of chiropractic treatment focuses on muscle, joint and bone pain, chiropractic adjustments can aid the overall health.
One of the main causes of immune system problems comes from the compression of nerve pathways. Musculo-skeletal adjustment can improve our overall health by keeping us mobile and reducing the risk of getting chronic diseases.
Contact your chiropractor if you have muscle or joint pain, or if your mobility feels restricted.
Every day our lungs automatically expand and contract up to 20,000 times, allowing us to breathe and oxygenate our body. Our breaths can be short or long, and can be affected by respiratory disease, momentary distress or simply breathing in an incorrect manner. All those breathing variables affect our body, from the immune system to our posture and spinal alignment.
Chiropractic care is a proven and natural way of helping to reduce and relieve the symptoms and side effects of specific breathing problems. Chiropractic adjustments help with improving movement in the ribs and restoring strength to the intercostal muscles.
Contributing factors to breathing issues are problems with the spine and the thoracic nerves. Thoracic nerves are found in the chest as an extension of the spinal nerves branching from the vertebrae carrying vital signals between the spinal cord, the body and lungs. Misalignment of a vertebra or the spine can result in pain and reduce range of motion, and can ultimately cause breathing issues.
Are you breathing correctly? One way to assess your breathing pattern is to take a deep breath. Is your stomach going in or out? If your stomach went out, you are most likely breathing correctly. If your stomach caved inwards, you are probably breathing incorrectly and not taking full advantage of your lung capacity.
The movement of your stomach is reflecting the way your diaphragm is working. The diaphragm is a large sheet of muscle that separates the lungs and abdomen, which plays an integral part in the ability of the lungs to function. When the thoracic nerves and surrounding muscles are in distress, the diaphragm will not function properly, limiting oxygen intake and reducing lung capacity.
Ultimately, breathing incorrectly or fatigued breathing drives overworks neck and shoulder muscle, which try to compensate and become stiff and sore. The higher the level of back and neck pain, the more the body is prone to adjust its posture to an incorrect hunching position, which can lead to further breathing problems. Similarly, breathing problems can affect the posture by bringing the pelvis, the abdomen and diaphragm out of balance.
Here are some tips to improve breathing:
Avoid sitting for an extended period of time
Control the upper back posture
Practice deep breathing techniques focusing on abdominal and diaphragm movements
Take 5-10 minutes of the day to focus on your breathing, and assess it
Chiropractic treatment can help with neck pain and back pain, which can improve your overall spinal health and your breathing.
These days doctors often ‘prescribe’ exercise as a way to maintain good health and with good reason. Being active not only makes us feel better, it can also help ease various symptoms and cut risk of disease.
Studies have shown that people in their late 70s who undertake at least 20 minutes of exercise per day need fewer prescriptions and are ess likely to be admitted to hospital than those who don’t. Exercise has been shown to be as effective at lowering blood pressure as certain medication, as well as being shown to improve heart and gut health, memory and balance. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends exercise 3 times per week between 45min to an hour, for 3 months for those with mild or moderate depression. The physical activity also stimulates our brains and helps prevent anxiety and stress, as well as increasing the lifespan and improving the quality of life.
1. For Living Longer – Jogging
A US study showed that adults over 65 who ran or jogged for at least 30 minutes 3 times per week were as healthy as young adults in their 20s. This might not sound important, but your walking style is a key indicator of mortality, so the longer you can stay spritely on your feet, the longer and healthier your life should be. Meanwhile, another study found that light jogging (between 70-120 minutes per week) was linked to the lowest mortality rate compared to sedentary people and heavy runners – so little and often is key here.
2. For Improving Memory – Dancing
A study from 2017 found that all exercise can help reverse the signs of ageing in the brain, but dancing more than any other sport. The study, which focused on adults in their late 60s who took part in a weekly dance class, found that all participants showed an increase in the hippocampus region of the brain, which can be affected by diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as more general age-related decline.
3. For Back Pain – Active Therapies
Many GP appointments are connected to muscle and nerve problems- and these are often based in the back. If you suffer with back pain, you will know that it can affect your movement and sleep and leave you feeling quite low. Luckily, help is at hand in the form of gentle stretching. Also, research shows that active therapies, such as chiropractic treatment, are a great option for managing back pain and to create optimal alignment, balance and symmetry.
4. For Depression and Anxiety – Walking
Science agrees – walking outdoors has been linked to a reduction in stress and a boost in mood, particularly for those who have just been through a negative life event such as serious illness or loss of a loved one. Brisk walks have also been shown to help women deal with the anxiety and stress that’s sometimes associated with menopause. Movement helps your brain to release endorphins, feel-good hormones that can reduce the perception of pain as well as depression or stress.
5. For Bone and Muscle Health – Weight Training
Experts are increasingly suggesting a bit of strength training goes a long way when it comes to better bone and muscle health. As we get older, we start to lose muscle mass, which can leave us prone to falls, as well as making it easier to gain weight. So think of strength training as insurance for your later life. While this could mean leading to lift lightweights, it can also mean strength exercises using your own body weight – such as sit-ups or squats. It’s really never too late to start. A study of 90-year-olds found that 12 weeks of strength training improved their muscle tone, ability to balance, general power and walking speed.
Don’t forget 150 minutes (just over 21 mins daily) is the minimum moderate exercise the NHS recommends for adults to stay healthy! And the best part is, it’s freely available to most of us, small things make a big difference. Movement is the new medicine!
Exercise has benefits for nearly every body. It is effective both as a treatment and for prevention of disease. Here’s four ways you can help yourself by getting moving…
Dancing against Dementia
It’s thought that remembering steps and making split-second adjustments to your movements stimulates the brain’s ability to make new connections between cells. Music itself is believed to have a therapeutic effect, and the social interaction involved in dancing helps boost mental health.
Regular dancing is linked to a 76% reduction in the likelihood of developing dementia, according to US researchers, who studied the link between leisure activities and dementia risk.
Dancing is also beneficial for dementia patients. A New Zealand study found that older adults with dementia appeared to have experienced an improved quality of life after exposure to music and dance.
It doesn’t matter which step you do, so choose a dance type you enjoy, whether that’s waltz, salsa or something else. There are other proven mental health benefits of dance, including a reduced risk of depression and anxiety. Dancing also can affect your mood by raising levels of our natural feel-good hormones, dopamine and serotonin.
Cycling for your Immunity
Cycling can hold back the effects of ageing and rejuvenate the immune system, a study has found.
Scientists at the University of Birmingham found cyclists aged 54-79 produced more immune cells (T-cells), the production of which usually starts to shrink from your 20s. They also preserved muscle mass and strength with age while maintaining stable levels of body fat and cholesterol.
You can integrate it into your lifestyle, simply as part of your movement pattern. Regular moderate exercise is more beneficial than one big weekly workout, so it makes physical and economic sense to incorporate your bike ride into your everyday exercise.
Walking for Insomnia
A study has shown that moderately intense aerobic exercise, such as walking, reduces the time it takes you to nod off and increases the duration of sleep.
It could in part be due to the release of anxiety-busting brain chemicals such as serotonin, and the rise and subsequent fall in body temperature that helps promote sleep. Walking outside in natural daylight also helps to set your circadian biological clock – your natural sleep-wake cycle, which controls the release of the sleepy hormone melatonin. And it’s not just great for a good night’s sleep. Walking helps to protect against cardiovascular diseases, cancer, bone-thinning osteoporosis, and dementia. It’s also good for our mental health to get outside and see gardens or green spaces, and walking can be sociable too.
Tennis for Osteoporosis
Regular weight-bearing activity, such as racquet sports, can help maintain bone density. Bone is a living tissue, which grows stronger with the force of our muscles pulling against it. Exercise can help delay the rate of age-related bone density loss. Osteoporosis is a condition where bone density and quality are reduced, and it affects more than two million women in the UK. After the menopause, when the protective effect of oestrogen on the bone is removed, there is often an accelerated rate of bone loss. So playing tennis in later life is a great way to keep bones healthy. Another great reason to play tennis is that it can add 10 years to your life! It’s thought the social side of the game as well as the physical activity boosts longevity.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Due to the advice of the government and the British Chiropractic Association we have had to close the clinic as of Monday 23 March 2020. This is for the protection of our patients, our team and to assist in the reduction and spread of this virus.
It has not been an easy decision to make as we realise that many of you are dependant on our care. As soon as we are up and running again we will notify you so please keep a look out. For over the phone advice please access the helpline by selecting no. 2 on our answerphone system or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Approximately 8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size bra, and their back and posture might be suffering from it. Bras acts like suspension bridges, as they lift, support and shape the breast, as well as influencing overall posture. With 70% of UK women suffering from back pain and 47% blaming the pain and poor posture on their breast size, it is crucial to purchase a bra that is correct in size and shape. Bras that don’t fit will affects the shoulders and chest and may cause back pain as ageing occurs. Getting a fitting every 6-months and during/after pregnancy, menopause or weight fluctuations will ensure the breast is supported at all times and reduce the possibility of back pain.
Back pain and poor posture are just two of many other negative effects of wearing the wrong size bra. Here are some health consequences of wearing the wrong size bra and some tips on how to check for the right fit.
Neck, Back and Shoulder Pain
Larger breast sizes frequently correlate to higher risk of back pain. Larger cup sized bras are usually designed with thicker straps, to disperse the weight across the shoulders and prevent chafing. If the cup, band or straps size is incorrect, it can cause strain on the shoulders and hunching of the back, which can result in severe pain.
Tip: When shopping for bras, make sure that the band sits parallel to the floor without it riding up and that only two fingers of room are left at the back. The straps should be snug but not digging into or falling off the shoulders. The breast should be comfortably sitting and filling the cups without spilling over or the fabric creasing.
The negative effect on posture comes as a result of the shoulders and neck position used to alleviate the pain caused by a non-supportive bra. A non-supportive bra can cause pain and a result hunching of the shoulders and upper back to help alleviate that pain. While hunching of the shoulders will soothe the pain, prolonged hunching will ruin the natural posture and cause more issues later on.
The rubbing of too small or too tight bras on shoulders and under the breast can cause blisters and calluses to form. Small bras can also cause breast pain and the blockage of lymph nodes. Lymphatic vessels are very thin and sensible to pressure and compression. Excessive and sustained pressure on the breast can cause the failure of the lymph nodes.
Tip: Test the bra fit and tightness by looking at the movement of the band. Raise the hands above the head, if the band rises the bra is too big; while if it feels uncomfortably tight it might be too small.
Sagging of Breasts
Loose-fitting bras fail to lift and support the breast, causing premature stretching and sagging of the breast tissue. These further aggravates hunching and ultimately the posture.
Finding the right bra can be a difficult mission. When choosing between different styles, shapes and brands, it’s hard to come up with one perfect size. The solution is to be open to trying different sizes, styles and brands, and get fitted every six months until the perfect fit is found.
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 feeling 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 be a contributing factor towards 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.
The way you sleep could be causing you unnecessary aches and pains. We are told time after time that we should be sleeping flat on our backs, but many of us have already developed habitual sleeping patterns, which are hard to get out of. However, if you suffer from neck or shoulder stiffness, muscle tension or more commonly back pain, you might want to think twice about curling up into a ball next time you reach for the sheets.
Why do I wake up in pain?
Incorrect alignment and poor support of your spine and limbs will put pressure on different areas of the body, which is why you may sometimes wake up with pain or discomfort.
Why is it so important to look after my spine?
Your spine also plays a huge role in sending nerve signals around the body; delicate nerve tissues help control your critical organs, so any damage to these tissues can lead to problems affecting impairment in balance, vision, temperature regulation, digestion and hormonal regulation problems.
Refrain from sleeping on your stomach as this causes your spine to arch unnaturally and usually results in both back and neck stiffness
Laying on your back or side is the ideal position, however to perfect your alignment try to use an orthopaedic pillow to give your neck adequate support
If you sleep on your side, consider placing a pillow in-between your knees for support to prevent your back and pelvis from twisting
If you sleep on your back, consider placing a pillow under your knees to take the tension off your lower back
Acknowledging and correcting your posture throughout the day will help you find ease when it comes to sleep
What if the pain persists?
Importantly, remember that poor quality sleep can be caused by an underlying neck or back problem causing increased muscle tension. So if you are experiencing poor sleep, see a chiropractor to have your neck and back checked.