Think of holidays and most people will dream up images of days spent having a good time, perhaps relaxing in the sun or pursuing new interests. But how many people would wish to imagine themselves lying down indoors with back pain?
Unanticipated injury, such as back pain, can spoil a good holiday – don’t let it spoil yours. Aim to reach a good level of fitness before you go away, and when taking part in sports, make sure you know how play them properly.
Whatever physical activities you choose to engage in, bear in mind that a good number of back complaints are offset by failing to warm up properly before exercising.
Different sports have different guidelines as to how you should take care of your back. For example, when swimming it’s important not to try to keep the whole of the head out of the water, as this places considerable strain on the neck and shoulders, which can lead to problems in the lower back
Golf can present its own problems, particularly if the muscles aren’t warmed up beforehand in order to cope with the rotation (twisting) of the lower back when swinging the club. Prevent this by practising stretching and flexibility exercises before playing.
Whether it’s emptying the car boot or moving files at work, we all end up lifting heavy loads once in a while. However, many of us find it hard to lift objects correctly in way that we don’t injure our backs. So, what should we be doing to protect our spines? Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions that could be useful in helping prevent back injuries:
Have you checked the object before you try to lift it?
Test every load before you lift by pushing the object lightly with your hands or feet to see how easily it moves. This tells you about how heavy it is.
Remember, a small size does not always mean a light load.
Is the load you want to lift packed correctly?
Make sure the weight is balanced and packed so it won’t move around as loose pieces inside a box can cause accidents if the box becomes unbalanced.
Is it easy to grip this load?
Be sure you have a tight grip on the object before you lift it.
Handles applied to the object may help you lift it safely.
Is it easy to reach this load?
You can be injured if you arch your back when lifting a load over your head.
To avoid hurting your back, use a ladder when you’re lifting something higher than your head.
What’s the best way to pick up an object?
Use slow and smooth movements. Hurried, jerky movements can strain the muscles in your back.
Keep your body facing the object while you lift it. Twisting while lifting can hurt your back.
Keep the load close to your body. Having to reach out to lift and carry an object may hurt your back.
“Lifting with your legs” should be done only when you can straddle the load. To lift with your legs, bend your knees, not your back, to pick up the load. Keep your back straight.
Try to carry the load in the space between your shoulder and your waist. This puts less strain on your back muscles.
How can I avoid back injuries?
Pace yourself. Take many small breaks between lifts if you are lifting a number of things.
Don’t overdo it – don’t try to lift something too heavy for you. If you have to strain to carry the load, it’s too heavy.
Make sure you have enough room to lift safely. Clear a space around the object before lifting it.
Look around before you lift, and look around as you carry. Make sure you can see where you are walking. Know where you are going to put down the load.
Avoid walking on slippery, uneven surfaces while carrying something.
Don’t rely on a back belt to protect you. It hasn’t been proven that back belts can protect you from back injury.
Get help before you try to lift a heavy load and use a trolly or some other leverage, if you can.
Summer is most definitely here, and it is time to get outside and enjoy it! With the warmer weather, there will be an increase in outdoor sport activities. The best way to take full advantage of this season is to keep your health in tip top shape as well. Here are a few ways in which chiropractic care can help you to stay on top of your health and prepare you for the season ahead.
Regular chiropractic adjustments can help prevent injuries
No matter what type of outdoor activity you plan to take part in this summer, regular visits to your local chiropractor are helpful in reducing the risk of injury, ensuring you are not putting too much strain on your joints, and checking that your nervous system is functioning normally. Whether you are running, riding a bike, playing ball, gardening, or spending time outdoors with your kids, plan a visit to your chiropractor to learn the best practices to keep your muscles and joints healthy in order to reduce the risk of injury and pain.
Chiropractic care can help reduce the stress of a busy summer season
With warmer weather comes busier schedules. Whether your calendar is booked because you are spending more time with your kids as they have time off from school, or dealing with a busier work schedule, stress seems to be inevitable as the seasons change. Regular chiropractic care is a great way to reduce and prevent stress that can negatively affect your joints and overall health.
The bottom line is that in order to assure you get the most out of the season, and stay on top of your health, you need to take care of yourself.
An often overlooked yet crucial factor in the treatment of chronic pain is rehabilitation. Whilst treatment of the initial pain episode is of huge importance, rehabilitation is essential if recurrences of pain are to be avoided.
Rehabilitation is essential for those who do not wish to suffer from chronic episodes of recurring back pain. If the causal problem is not addressed after the first episode, the chances of another bad episode within four years are significantly increased.
After the cause of each episode of pain is pinpointed and treated, an exercise programme should be drawn up and supervised to prevent recurrences of the problem. This may include personalised stretching exercises for flexibility or strength exercises to tone and condition muscles. It is important that exercise regimes are introduced gradually and monitored carefully.
A proper rehabilitative programme should combine the following four important elements:
Aerobic exercise for endurance
Strength, balance and co-ordination exercises.
Stretching muscles should be done slowly and gently. After around ten seconds, a stretch starts to have maximum benefit, so it should be held for at least 20-30 seconds. It is important not to bounce as you stretch, which may cause damage and does not improve flexibility.
Aerobic exercise releases stress-reducing hormones and burns fat, and also increases your sense of well-being. It therefore works in two ways – not only strengthening muscles to make pain episodes less likely, but also reducing tension that can cause initial injury.
There are thirty bones, over forty muscles and fourteen major nerves making your arm more diligent, dexterous and adaptable than any tool mankind can emulate. So why is it that when it starts to hurt, we so often ignore the pain and hope that it will go away? Are we scared or is it that we just don’t have the time to do anything about it? But arm pain is a warning signal and should not be ignored. More often than not arm pain is caused by injury to the area of pain but it can also be an indication of more serious underlying problems.
Constant overuse or micro trauma can go unnoticed on a daily basis. If you go to the gym, play racket sports, use a computer, play musical instruments or even text on a mobile phone enough then overuse injuries are a likely cause of the pain. Positions that strain muscles repetitively are likely to result in an insidious onset of wrist or forearm pain such as carpel tunnel syndrome or lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow).
Arthritis is the body’s way of trying to stabilise unstable joints. Joints can become unstable for many reasons from trauma to overuse. If joints are allowed to remain unstable they start to fuse stopping you from carrying on with everyday activities and the wrist and hands are often the first place arthritis attacks.
When neck pain is caused by muscle strain you may have aches and stiffness that spread to the upper arm and forearm. Shooting pain that spreads down the arm into the hand and fingers can be a symptom of a pinched nerve in the neck. The most common cause of a pinched nerve in the neck is arthritis. Bony growths (osteophytes) press on the nerve that branch from the spinal canal. A pinched nerve in the neck can also be caused by injury, a herniated disc, a tumour or infection of the spine. When a nerve has been pinched in the neck, numbness and weakness of the hands or arms as well as pain, may occur.
Heart problems can often cause referred pain in the left arm due to the shared neural pathways in the spinal cord. Information about the heart can be confused in the spinal column leading to apparent pain in the arm. Arm pain accompanied by chest pain or shortness of breath may signal a heart attack. Treat this as a medical emergency.
Hormonal changes such as those during pregnancy can cause wrist pain. Numbness and pain in your wrists and hands can also be an indication of thyroid and diabetic problems.
Amongst other things, chiropractors frequently also treat the hips, knees and feet…
In an average lifetime, our feet carry us an equivalent of five times around the Earth. In addition to this, the feet must take the strain of supporting the body’s weight even when just standing still. Given how often we use our feet, and the demands we make upon them on a day to day basis, it’s important to look after them properly.
Each foot is made up of a total 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 in order to prevent longer term damage.
Follow these 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.
When you are suffering with back pain, whether it is in the neck, between the shoulder blades or in the lower back, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to do. Do you sit, rest, keep active, use heat or cold?
The most common cause of back pain is when the joints of the back become restricted due to abnormal stress such as, incorrect posture, degeneration and emotional stress. This causes tightening and inflammation around the joints resulting in muscles tightening in order to protect that area of the spine from further trauma. Muscle tightness causes the joint to be even more restricted in movement and therefore causes more joint inflammation and the cycle continues. People suffer from different types of back pain, some with tightening but others without, and therefore they will require a different treatment plan.
Chiropractors have the skill of removing joint restriction by using spinal adjusting to address the underlying problems of back pain. However, secondary problems of muscle tightness and joint inflammation require ongoing treatment so there are certain things a patient can do to relieve the pain.
The recommended treatment for back pain without muscle tightness is a cold treatment. This is simply a cold pack applied to the injury, which acts like a painkiller reducing the inflammation.
A Cold treatment can be used in any area of inflammation. i.e. spine or joint inflammation and restriction, knee swelling, sprained ankle etc.
For back pain with muscle tightness a hot pack is more suitable. Tight muscles are usually tender to touch, you can sometimes feel pea-sized knots and crystals in the muscle, heat relaxes the muscle and improves flexibility. Hot treatment can be used alone over tight muscles when they have contracted due to overuse, or ache following being used in a different way.
Hot & Cold Treatment
Leaving a hot pack on the spine for a long time can increase the inflammation and cause the pain to increase. In this case once relaxation has occurred a cold pack is placed over the area to help decrease the joint inflammation.
It is always best to consult a Chiropractor first but the advice is not to rest, but to try and keep active, manoeuvring the joint at least every 20 – 30 minutes. Combine this with the hot or cold method of treatment and you will help relieve the pain resulting in a quicker recovery.
We are very excited to be in a position to offer a full-time associate position taking over an existing patient list in a busy multidisciplinary clinic. The successful candidate with be working with two other full-time chiropractors, two massage therapists and an acupuncturist. The clinic is fully furnished with new Atlas tables, a digital x-ray system and a computerised patient management system. The position can also offer mentoring through the Royal College of Chiropractors PRT scheme if required. The clinic serves a wide community within the East Midlands with two Universities on the doorstep, thriving industry and an assortment of sporting opportunities. After 28 years in the area, we enjoy a great working relationship with local GP practices and most referrals are from word of mouth by way of the excellent reputation the clinic has developed over the years. It would be great to meet someone who feels they would like to join the team and have the opportunity to grow and develop their skillset.
Back pain while working is a constant topic of discussion, especially now that many of us are mixing working from home and the office. The majority of people work at a desk or table for long hours, which can put increased pressure on the structures of your spine – the vertebrae, discs, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Although it is virtually impossible to avoid sitting, there are things you can do during the day to minimise back pain.
Not only choosing an appropriate chair, but ensuring it is set up correctly is an essential start your working day. So, spend a few minutes ensuring the chair height is adjusted and the seat tilts. Ideally the chair should have armrests they should be adjustable to the correct height. Choosing a chair with the right amount of lumbar support is crucial as well.
A proper sitting position should place your thighs sloping to the floor, creating a downward sloping line from your hips to your knees. Your feet should rest comfortably on the floor. If they don’t, a foot rest might be appropriate – but make sure your knees are still lower than your hips.
Sitting on an exercise ball or an air cushion -Sit Fit (ask in clinic for a try out), this also engages muscles in your body that would ordinarily be relaxed when sitting in a regular chair. Sitting on a ball or Sit Fit cushion also makes it more difficult to slouch since you need to be somewhat active in order to balance
Stretching once an hour is also very helpful in minimising back pain. Even if you are maintaining good sitting posture, taking regular breaks from sitting is important to prevent back pain. Even just standing up and sitting down again can rest your posture – set a timer to remind you.
Sitting for a prolonged time causes hip flexors to tighten. This tightness could cause you back pain and your spine to become misaligned.
Your hip flexors are an important muscle group. If they are tight, your spine can become more unstable and painfully misaligned and pressure is added to your lower back as your muscles try to realign your spine.
Prolonged sitting is one of the biggest reasons for short hip flexors and they can tighten up if your core muscles are not working well. Tightness of the hip flexors will make your back arch more and put pressure on the spinal joints. It will also inhibit the core muscles of the stomach that support your spine, making it unstable and vulnerable to injury.
Tight hip flexors can result in a lot of pain and discomfort and it can even make the simplest everyday tasks challenging. Performing simple exercises and stretches every day will help to release tight hip flexors and improve your athletic performance. Here are two effective exercises and stretches to help loosen up your hip flexors and improve your mobility.
Assume a lunge position and make tiny pulsing movements to activate your hip flexors
Repeat for 30 seconds on each leg for three sets
Reverse lunges with knee charge
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
Take a step backwards with your right foot and lower into a deep lunge position
Shift your weight onto your left foot and drive your right knee upwards, until your knee is parallel to the ground
Repeat this movement for 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg
Hip Flexor Stretch
Lie down on your back on your bed
Shuffle to the edge so your left leg starts to hang over the side
Bend the right leg and lift it so you can take hold of your right knee
Bring it up towards your chest as far as you can and let the left leg fall down as far as you can
Relax into this position and hold for 30 seconds, repeat 3 times on each side.
If you have an underlying knee or hip injury these may be difficult, so ask your chiropractor on how to perform something similar and effective for your condition.
Stretches and exercises that have been designed to relax, lengthen and strengthen your hip flexors are one important part in helping you protect your joints and improve your mobility. Improved mobility will ultimately prevent injuries from occurring.