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Why is posture important?
December 18, 2017
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We all know about posture, and have been told to sit or stand up straighter once or twice in our lives. But why is it so important? Well….if you have ever suffered from neck pain, back pain or headaches, then you might want to check your posture. This is very common amongst desk workers, and now with smartphones, tablets and laptops used by almost everyone, it is even more prevalent. The most common bad posture is forward head carriage (i.e. your head sits forward of your shoulders). This is a problem because of simple biomechanics; the further away a weight is from your center of gravity (i.e. the head) the harder it is to hold up (so your poor neck muscles are working harder than they need to). If you imagine holding a heavy medicine ball further and further away from your body, it would become more and more difficult to hold up. This causes discomfort at first, and then can lead to pain as the muscles get more and more tired, eventually relying more on the surrounding ligaments and joints, which also become painful. The most common symptoms are neck and shoulder (upper trapezius) pain and headaches. Most tension headaches are caused by the neck (cervical facet joints) and therefore us chiropractors call them cervico-genic headaches. This can also increase the  incidence of migraines.

 

So what can you do about it? Here is a simple yet effective postural exercise; first roll your shoulders to get them moving, then squeeze your shoulder blades together but also try to drop them down your back (imagine trying to put your shoulder blades into your back pockets). At first you might find this difficult and it will feel strange, especially if your posture has been bad for a while. But it reminds the overworked muscles to relax and the lazy ones to start working again. This also brings the head back to it’s center of gravity. You only need to do it a few times throughout the day and hold for 10 seconds. It is more of a postural reminder for when you feel like you’re slumping at your desk or laptop etc. For more persistent problems, you can try a posture brace (not a rigid corset but an elasticated device to gently bring the shoulders back). Foam rollers are also helpful at the end of the day to get a bit of extension into the thoracic spine (ease your way gently into using one as they can be brutal if you’re in pain). One thing to remember is that improving your posture is more of a brain training exercise then anything else. Essentially you are trying to break a bad habit. If you are still in pain after improving your posture, you may need some treatment in the affected area to get any stiff joints moving, and get any tough knots out of the muscles first. Then you may find you can help prevent re-occurrence with the above advice.

As always if you would like to book an appointment please call or text: 07956623852

Low Back Pain
What is sciatica?
June 15, 2016
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What is sciatica?
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As a chiropractor, I have been asked this question a lot. And the answer isn’t quite a s simple as people expect….
Sciatica has become a bit of an umbrella term used to describe leg pain which originates from the lower back. Most people assume that pain travelling down their leg must be due to a ‘trapped nerve’. This is true for some cases, but it’s nowhere near as common as you might think. A nerve can be compressed or irritated by surrounding structures either at a spinal level (i.e. by an intervertebral disc or bony spurs due to arthritis) or further down its path (i.e. by the piriformis muscle in the buttock). However, the majority of ‘sciatica’ in my experience is due to muscular pain referral. This is when a muscle goes into spasm and causes so much pain, that the brain assumes a larger area is in pain (a similar mechanism happens during a heart attack when pain is felt down the left arm). The most common culprit is the gluteal muscles (more specifically the gluteus minimus). But why it goes into spasm in the first place? well, this is usually because the nearby pelvic joint (or sacroiliac joint) is irritated or inflamed, either due to an acute sprain or repetitive strain injury. The muscles go into spasm as a way of protecting the injured joint, but often end up causing problems of their own once fatigue sets in.

So what can we do to get rid of it? First, a full history and comprehensive examination is required to rule out a disc injury or nerve compression. Once thats been done, we can proceed with treatment. This is usually myofascial release techniques (usually deep tissue massage) and chiropractic manipulation to release the affected joint. Treatment is always accompanied by home stretches and strengthening exercises which help to prevent reoccurrence. The good news is, that as this is one of the most common problems us chiropractors diagnose, and we are rather good at treating it!

I hope you found this post informative. If you want to book an appointment please call 07956 623852.

Sports Injuries
Barefoot Running and Me
November 16, 2015
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I have been looking forward to writing this post for a while, as running is something I’m passionate about and I’d like to keep doing it as long as possible. If you’re wondering what barefoot running is, it’s a type of trainer which provides zero shock absorption and therefore encourage the wearer to run as they would do if they were barefoot. Some people think this concept is crazy, but I think it’s genius and here’s why:

As a runner I’ve always tried to keep the impact to my joints to a minimum, by wearing trainers which have as much shock absorption as possible (as advised by pretty much everyone who runs). Thats until I discovered barefoot! I was 25 at the time and had just done a 10k race which had left me with some mild knee pain. I tried some treatment and rested it for a while and the pain went away. But when I tried running again it would return (only mild pain during running). After this happening on and off for a few months, I purchased a decent knee support which eliminated the problem and allowed me to run again. I was hoping the knee support would be a temporary measure, but every time I tried running without it, the niggle returned. This went on for around a year. Thats when I heard about barefoot running. I was instantly interested, and did some further research into it. It supposedly relies on the bodies natural shock absorbers, i.e. muscles and tendons, rather than the running shoe itself. I decided I wanted to try it for myself and so purchased a pair from a sports shop. I found them in the running section, but the sales assistant told me they were not advised for running! Interesting…….

I started small, (as advised) and just did a small part of my route. At first it felt bizarre as I was so used to heel striking, and now I could barely land on the heel as it was almost painful to do so. With barefoot running you tend to land on the mid-foot or forefoot, rather than the heel. The other thing I noticed was that I felt lighter on my feet (in my mind I looked like a gazelle!). Initially I felt like my achilles and calves were a bit tighter than usual after the run, and I also felt a bit more tension in my plantar fascia (the muscles and other soft tissues on the underside of the foot). After a few runs it felt normal and I did my full route in the barefoot trainers no problem, no pain.  I was only doing around 3 miles at the time and most of it was off road.

A few weeks in, I thought I’d try running without my knee support and was surprised to discover I had no pain at all. At first I thought it was a fluke, but it continued to be fine every other time after that. This could be a coincidence I know, but it was quite encouraging for me. I have continued to run barefoot style for the last 5 years and I haven’t needed to wear my knee support since. Another thing; I used to suffer with some plantar fascia pain when I was at work (I’m standing most of the day). I put this down to wearing shoes with no arch support and did nothing much about it apart from a bit of massage on it occasionally. I recently realised that I can’t remember the last time this happened either (it must be at least 4-5 years!). I still wear rubbish pumps for work with no support, but don’t seem to have the same problem I used to have. Again, this may be a coincidence, but thats two now….

I’m not telling all runners to go and convert to barefoot, as I don’t know for sure that it’s right for everyone. But I would definitely try it, especially if you have suffered injuries or ‘niggles’ with running. There is some evidence out there for forefoot strikers suffering less injuries than heel strikers (to read it click here) but it’s still unfortunately a bit of an unknown. My personal experience with barefoot running has been even better than I could have hoped, and as a chiropractor, I think it makes perfect sense to put a little more strain on your muscles and tendons (which can heal) rather than your joints (cartilage does not grow back). Plus, the hippie in me likes the thought of running as nature intended.

I hope you enjoyed my post and would love to hear peoples thoughts and comments about barefoot running (for and against!).

If you are thinking about trying barefoot running, just remember to ease your way into it. It’s advised you only do 10% of your usual route to start with!!

Health care
What about Chiropractic for Arthritis?
September 28, 2015
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 Feeling the cold already?

Wrinkled Hands

 

Winter is fast approaching and as the air pressure drops, you may be feeling more aches and pains than you did in the summer, especially if you suffer from arthritis. You may think there is nothing that can be done about this, but you would be wrong! Although the bony changes associated with osteoarthritis cannot be reversed, the symptoms can be reduced with chiropractic care. Manipulation, mobilisation and soft tissue work can help improve mobility and reduce the pain in joints. This is effective on most joints, but is especially effective on knees (yes we treat knees too!). This doesn’t have to be an expensive ordeal. Once the initial improvement has been made, treatments can be as infrequent as every 3-4 months to prevent reoccurrence.

Don’t suffer this winter, try chiropractic for arthritis!

Call 07956 623852 for an appointment now.

 

Health care
The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
August 26, 2015
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Research has shown that certain foods can trigger the inflammatory process and others help to reduce it, giving us the power to improve our general health and reduce pain without taking pills. Following the anti-inflammatory diet would benefit everyone, but especially those suffering with inflammatory arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis).

Foods to eat plenty of:

Oily fish – omega 3 fatty acids reduce C reactive protein (CRP)  and are especially great for rheumatoid arthritis. Flaxseed, tofu and edamame also contains omega 3 fatty acids.

Nuts and seeds

Olive oil packed with noleocanthal which has similar properties to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (i.e. ibuprofen)

Cherries (especially good for gout)

Broccoli contains sulforaphane and has been shown to help slow osteoarthritis down.

Green tea is packed with polyphenols, antioxidants believed to reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction. Studies also show that another antioxidant in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) blocks the production of molecules that cause joint damage in people with rheumatoid arthritis Matcha (powdered green tea) has even higher levels of these and can be found in health food shops.

Whole grains lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood. CRP is a marker of inflammation associated with heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Foods like oatmeal, brown rice and whole-grain cereals are excellent sources of whole grains.

Studies have also shown that people who regularly ate foods from the allium family – such as garlic, onions and leeks – showed fewer signs of early osteoarthritis. Researchers believe the compound diallyl disulphine found in garlic may limit cartilage-damaging enzymes in human cells.

Foods which have been shown to trigger inflammation (and therefore avoid):

Sugar (natural sugars in fruit are not so bad).
Aspartame (the ‘diet’ option is often no better I’m afraid)
Saturated fats
(in red meat and cheese).
Trans fats (in most processed foods and margarine).
Omega 6  fatty acids (ok in small amounts): corn, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, soy, peanut, and vegetable; mayonnaise; and many salad dressings.
Refined carbs (white bread, crackers, white rice, cereals etc).
MSG.
Gluten
Alcohol (sorry!)

Lets face it, most of the foods to avoid we already know are bad for us. Now we have further incentive to stay away from them. I think the biggest piece of advice here is to prepare your own food with plenty of fresh ingredients and avoid processed foods at all costs!

Sports Injuries
Not just ‘crackers’ -active release and more
August 10, 2015
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When people think of chiropractic, they often think of ‘cracking’ bones. However, we spend a lot of time working on tight or damaged muscles too. In order to treat the problem as a whole, we usually need to do some kind of muscle or ‘soft tissue’ release techniques. This means we are proficient at treating a range of sports injuries as well as disorders of the spine. There are many ways in which to do this, but personally I prefer trigger point therapy or active release (as do my patients). Trigger point therapy is a ‘press and hold’ method applied to a specific point on the muscle. It elicits a reflex response from the muscle which causes it to relax. This also tends to be less painful than deep tissue massage (or at least quicker).

Active release utilises specific movement patterns performed by the patient with pressure applied simultaneously by the therapist to the muscle or tendon involved. This helps break up scar tissue and release the tissues involved, which frees up movement and also promotes healing. It also allows the therapist to follow the fibrous scar tissue on the muscle during contraction, and so is a more dynamic way to treat it. The improvement is usually felt straight away, but may cause a little soreness the following day or two.

So next time you think about chiropractors, just remember we may be even more useful than you thought!

I would like to add that Active Release Technique or ART is a patented soft tissue technique, and I am not a registered practitioner of this. The training I have is from my Chiropractic degree and 8 years of clinical experience.

If you have any further questions or this is something you think you may benefit from then give us a call on: 07956 623852

Low Back Pain
Lower back pain relief at home
June 18, 2015
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Portrait Of Female Yoga Hands At The Beach

I’m always trying to encourage my patients to help themselves when it comes to their back problems. The more you help yourself, the less you need to come see me! So here are some tips for lower back pain relief at home (and yes they work, I sometimes even do them myself!):

Exercise

We all know it’s good to exercise, but I’m always being asked which exercises are best for back pain? Well…….research has recently shown what I’ve always been saying. It doesn’t really matter what you do, just do something! Obviously high impact sports are going to increase your likelihood of injury (stay away from football, rugby and dead lifting especially!). Also any exercise which causes your back pain to flare up is a no no for you. The key piece of advice is stick to something you enjoy, and are therefore likely to continue doing. Exercise is not just for when you’re having problems with your back, but a way of preventing future episodes. It does this by keeping the joints mobile and the muscles strong.

Stretch

If you wake up feeling stiff and achy, its just because your body hasn’t moved much in the night and joints and muscles have tightened up. Stretches are great to get you going a bit faster (and not just for the morning may I add). A lot of low back pain can be alleviated with some simple gluteal stretches. My personal favourite is the figure of 4 gluteal stretch. Another tip here is have patience with the stretches, hold at least 30 seconds or as long as it takes to feel the muscle relax a bit. Also, if the stretch hurts a bit, then it’s probably doing you good (sorry).

Ice

People only seem to ice when their back has already become painful. Obviously it’s good to use an ice pack during these times to reduce inflammation and give natural pain relief, but it could also stop a painful episode in it’s tracks. Here’s some golden advice: if you feel a warning twinge in your back (especially after an activity) pop the ice pack on ASAP. I’m not promising a miracle cure every time, but it may well prevent a painful episode from developing. Lets face it, what harm can it do? Just make sure you protect your skin from ice burns with a towel.

Low Back Pain
Are your shoes causing lower back pain?
February 16, 2015
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Tired businesswoman feet isolated on white

This is one for the ladies! Are your shoes causing lower back pain? If you regularly wear high heels and suffer with low back pain, then take note. High heeled shoes alter our posture by shifting our centre of gravity and put more strain onto the lower spinal joints and muscles. You might notice your back hurts more at the end of the day, especially if you’ve been on your feet a lot. If this sounds familiar, maybe it’s time to invest in some flatter shoes. Even if you just wear them one or two days a week, it could make a difference. Just think how much more comfortable you would be too……