As Chiropractor’s we mainly see patients presenting with back and neck pain. Over the years and thousands of appointments there are most certainly some common themes that have repeated themselves – either in terms of the process that results in an injury, or what advice we give out to help prevent it from happening again. Here is our tried and tested two-step process that is a great foundation for minimising spinal injuries and the impact they can have on your life:
1. Understanding how injuries to the spine happen: In clinic the level of pain that patients sometimes present with can be quite high! And you would expect the level of force that caused the injury to mirror that. However only 5% of the problems we see in clinic are due to a substantial amount of sudden force. 95% of the problems arise from milder, but accumulative strains over time. These smaller strains often go un-noticed, until they build up and the ‘my back just went’ story starts. This is where the threshold for injury has been reached, and most often results in the call to the Doctor or Chiropractor. If you listen to your body whisper and you won’t have to hear it shout. In reality sometimes it is too late and it is definitely shouting (in the form of pain and damage). Once you have had treatment or have recovered you can learn to pick up on the whispers (niggles and tension) and aim to prevent problems from occurring.
2. Planning for injury prevention: Everyone knows prevention is easier than cure, and now we know how most spine injuries happen we need some prevention tactics. ‘Micro-breaks’ are a key addition to your spinal health and minimise the accumulative strain process. For example if you are at your desk all morning, every 20 minutes you can roll your shoulders backwards 10-15 times, give the back a good stretch up with a deep breath in, or just volunteer to make someone (and that can include oneself!) a cuppa. In the garden you can of course use the same micro-break process, but can also take advantage of ‘active breaks’ to share the load to different areas of your spine, without losing valuable working time. In this scenario if you are working for 4 hours in the garden, and spend 2 hours on your knees working low down, and then 2 hours digging, those accumulative strains have time to build up and possibly take you closer to that injury threshold. If you switched tasks every half an hour or so, this varies the load and allows the area of your body to recover whilst doing a different task. Dealing with back and neck pain is obviously more complicated than just using these two steps (otherwise that was a long seven years of studying for that concept!), however with our approach these two steps are always integrated in successfully treating and preventing so many types of spinal problems. Try to listen when your body whispers and use these tips for a healthier spine.