Summertime has arrived and with it the added need for us to take extra care of our necks, backs and spines to avoid pain and injury…
The arrival of sunshine means it’s time to pack away your winter jumpers and pull out your racket, trainers, clubs or trowel for a bout of summer activities and getting fit. However, a lot of sports activity can bring unwanted pain and discomfort, so be sure to follow these simple steps for a happy and safe summer of sport.
RUNNERS can avoid injury by regular stretching of the tendons and wearing good shoes with shock-absorbing features.
RACKET-SPORTS PLAYERS should be wary of playing through the pain of Tennis Elbow, which can come from any repetitive arm/hand movement of the thumb outwards and the palm upwards (i.e. twisting the right hand clockwise of the left hand anti-clockwise). Continuing to play will exacerbate the problem.
GOLFERS are particularly prone to lower back injuries. Graphite clubs and soft spiked shoes will help absorb the shock which can bring on back injury. Make sure that you warm-up before teeing off at each hole as your muscles may have stiffened on the putting green and waiting on the tee for your turn. Use a repeated slow controlled version of your drive to warm up so that these particular muscles are warmed and stretched before they take the full force of the actual drive.
GARDENERS commonly suffer from aches and pains, but they can avoid lower back trouble by kneeling on one leg rather than bending from the hips, keeping the back hollow whilst digging and varying tasks throughout the day to avoid repetition injury.
DIY like gardening, is often done with vigour, but irregularly. When the sun is shining many will want to get on with the long list of DIY jobs that have piled up over the colder months. Enthusiasts often injure their back by inhabitual exertion, so when lifting, take the weight on bent legs, keeping the back straight. Remember this is a probably unusual activity for your body, so be kind!
The Pain of Tech Neck
Do you spend most of the day hunched over staring at the screen of your smartphone or tablet? This could be causing damage to your neck and shoulder joints.
Sarah Beer explains, “Tech Neck", as it is known, refers to the strain in your neck and shoulder muscles that develops as a result from excessively craning your neck down when you are looking at a phone or a portable tablet device.”
“Although many of us will use such devices when we are working throughout the day, there are ways to ensure that they don’t cause too much damage to your spine and neck joints. One key way is to make sure you limit the time you spend on such devices; it is advised that for every 15 - 20 minutes you spend on your device you should take a 3 minute break. This is due to the fact that it is easy for a posture to change when we hold a position for a long period of time, so really try to limit yourselves to periods of 15 - 20 minutes where possible.”
“Making sure you’ve got the right posture can also be crucial. Rather than hunching forward to look at your screen, sit up straight and bring your phone or tablet up to eye level. This will help keep your spine aligned rather than curved and should reduce overall strain on your neck and shoulder muscles. This may feel a little odd at first but it will soon become a natural fit. If you are in an office you may want to think about a tablet or phone holder as this will help to raise your electronic up to your eye line instead of you having to hunch over. This also applies to your computer screen. For most people, the computer screen is located below your natural eye line leaving your head and shoulders to naturally hunch downwards. By raising your computer screen to your eye level you will force yourself to keep your head in a more natural position”
Sarah also advises to do some small stretches to relieve the tension in your upper body. “Bend your neck to the right so that your ear moves closer to your shoulder. Relax and hold for 20 seconds. Return to centre, and then repeat the move to the left. Do a repetition of five. A further exercise is to do a simple chin tuck. Tilt your head down and tuck your chin into your neck. Hold for five seconds, and then look back up. Do a repetition of ten. These exercises will help release any tension that might be created due to excessive strain from hunching over”
Make sure to listen to your body. If you have any aches and pains in your neck, shoulders and upper back, it usually means something is not working properly.
People in Wales are encouraged to stay active this Chiropractic Awareness Week
British Chiropractic Association (BCA) discovers half of people in Wales fail to prevent or manage back pain
This Chiropractic Awareness Week (8th – 14th April), the BCA is encouraging people in the Wales to keeping moving, after finding that 40% of people in Wales don’t take any steps to look after their back health.
The findings come from a survey conducted by the BCA, which unearthed that 25% of people in Wales don’t take any action when they experience back or neck pain and 10% wouldn’t seek help from a health professional if they were experiencing these issues.
Chiropractic Awareness Week aims to educate people about the easy ways they can avoid or alleviate back pain, which over of the nation suffers with. Regularly changing posture and remaining seated for no longer than 30 minutes at a time are just a couple of the simple ways to prevent or reduce pressure on the back.
According to the BCA’s survey, when it comes to back and neck pain, they found that people in Wales:
Local chiropractor, Sarah Beer from TWC in Whitchurch, commented on the findings:
“There are so many people in Wales living with neck or back pain because they don’t know what preventative steps they can take, so we want to shine a light on the simple changes which can help. Chiropractic Awareness Week is designed to educate everyone on the best ways to prevent and tackle back or neck pain, from changing up your posture when sat at a desk, to sleeping on the right mattress.”
“Easy changes to your day-to-day life can make a significant difference, but if your pain doesn’t reduce or is prolonged, you should always see a health professional for further guidance.”
The BCA’s top tips for keeping on top of neck and back pain include:
Keep on moving: Physical activity can be beneficial for managing back pain, however it’s important that if this is of a moderate to high intensity that you warm up and down properly to get your body ready to move! If a previous injury is causing you pain, adapt your exercise or seek some advice. Activities such as swimming, walking or yoga can be less demanding on your body, while keeping you mobile!
Take a break: When sitting for long periods of time, ensure you stand up and move around every 30 minutes. When at work, also make sure your desk is set up to support a comfortable position. This is different for everyone so if you don’t feel comfortable in your current set up, try altering the height of your chair or screen.
Other things which people can bear in mind include:
Lifting and carrying: Remember to bend from the knees, not the waist when lifting heavy items. Face in the direction of movement and take your time. Hold the object as close to your body as possible, and where you can avoid carrying objects which are too heavy to manage alone, ask for help or use the necessary equipment.
Sleep comfortably: The Sleep Council recommends buying a new mattress at least every 7 years. Mattresses lose their support over time, so if you can feel the springs through your mattress, or the mattress is no longer level, your mattress is no longer providing the support you need. Everyone has different support requirements, so when purchasing your mattress ensure it is supportive for you. If you share a bed and require different mattress types, consider two single mattresses which are designed to be joined together, to ensure you both get the support you need.
Straighten Up!: The BCA has created a programme of three-minute exercises, Straighten Up UK, which can be slotted in to your daily schedule to help prevent back pain by promoting movement, balance, strength and flexibility in the spine.
Did you know… Those who suffer with chronic back pain might notice it gets worse during autumn and winter.
In fact… Although there’s not much scientific evidence that shows a link between chronic pain and humidity, temperature changes and wind speed, weather changes can affect those, who suffer with joint pain conditions, especially arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Did you know… The most commonly accepted reasoning is that with colder temperatures comes lower air pressure, that can cause joint tissues to expand—further worsening joints already prone to swelling and tenderness
If cold weather worsens your pain, you can prevent it yourself and combat it with these three simple steps:
1. Heat therapy
Including heat therapy in your daily routine can help to reduce stiffness and boost healing through increased blood circulation. Try applying a warm towel or a heating pad to your painful area for about 20 minutes for temporary pain relief. You can also go for over-the-counter heat wraps
2. Water Therapy
If you like swimming, try to visit heated indoor pool with hot baths, Jacuzzis and saunas a few times a week for almost instant relief from your pain
3. Stay active
As tempting as it is to just stay on the sofa during winter evenings, it is crucial to keep your spine mobile and stay active. If your pain is too severe to go to the gym, try long walks with hiking poles or Pilates at home
As Christmas day is fast approaching, we are all hitting the shops to buy special gifts for our loved ones.
British families will spend an average £821.25 on gifts, food and drink and decorations, up 1.3 per cent on last year and 54 per cent more than the European average of £532, according to figures from VoucherCodes and the Centre for Retail Research (CRR).
However all this shopping can be both physically and emotionally stressful, resulting in head, neck and back pain.
Here at The Whitchurch Clinic, we do see an increasing amount of patients with back, neck and shoulder pain during the festive period.
The most common reason for this is due to carry large heavy bags and poor posture when sitting for long periods of time. These both add extra strain on the joints, ligaments and muscles in your back and shoulder which can lead to an episode of pain.
We have put together some tips in order to avoid back and shoulder pain this Christmas:
If however the above advice is too late or you are currently in a pain episode, we at The Whitchurch Clinic are here to help.
Our Chiropractors, Andrea and Sarah can help by:
Other treatments that may be benefit and are available at TWC:
As with any new symptoms it is always important to visit your GP or chiropractor to rule out any other disorders before reaching a diagnosis yourself.
A question that frequently comes up in clinic: What mattress do you recommend? Now the British Chiropractic Association have released this video as a guide to help patients on their way to finding a good mattress and sleeping positions.
We all have our favourite sleeping positions, but some may be doing more harm than good. People who find it difficult to get comfortable don't have good quality sleep, as they are tossing and turning into weird and wonderful positions!
Patients often come to see me with pain they have woken up with, or they're not quite sure how it started through the day. Very often this is caused by the way they have slept. This image illustrates some of the most aggravating positions that we can sleep in (front being the worst), and some options if you have back pain to keep you comfortable.
REMEMBER DRINK PLENTY OF WATER! This helps us keep our muscles and joints hydrated and therefore pain to a minimum.
AVOID SLEEPING ON YOUR FRONT! A lot of front sleepers present to us in clinic with chronic problems as it’s difficult to maintain a neutral spine position.
Sleeping on your stomach forces your head and spine into an unnatural position, and staying in this position for hours on end is not good for your back or neck and can result is significant discomfort and restless sleep. Patients have seen great results from trying to change their habits.
As I always say you can't control what you do in your sleep (especially snoring!) and it is hard to change the habit of a life time, but we can try and set up in a good sleeping position to avoid it.
This image shows how the spine and pelvis position can be distorted without the appropriate support or positioning
This gives an idea of optimal positioning for whole body, with a pillow used between or under the legs for support
*Some patients tell me they find it hard to keep a pillow in place so suggest trying a longer body pillow or small folded quilt. This is especially good for front sleepers who want to avoid rolling.
These illustrations demonstrate how an incorrectly placed pillow can stress the neck.
On your back you need fewer pillows than on your side so if you change from on position to another bare this in mind. We are also all different shapes so the amount of support we need varies from person to person.
If you're a back sleeper I recommend using one pillow, thickness depends on the depth of your natural curves, and pull the lower corners around your lower neck so the pillow is no lower than your shoulders.
For side sleepers, or those who tend to end up in this position, you need plenty of support so try two pillows, again the depth required depends on the width of your shoulders. Ensure you are not at the edge of the pillow and the lower front corner is pulled down to your shoulder and around the cheek. This will prevent you head dropping or rotating which can irritate the neck or lead people to sleep on their front.
New research reveals back pain trends in Wales
This BackCare Awareness Week (8 – 12 October), a local chiropractor offers simple, effective advice for preventing back or neck pain, in light of new research revealing people in Wales are experiencing this pain more frequently.
The consumer research, undertaken by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA),analysed trends in back and neck pain over the last five years. The findings showed the proportion of people in the region experiencing pain each month has risen from 60% to 65%.
The most common triggers for back and neck pain, which affects 80% of people in Wales, have also changed.
The number of people who blame technology (such as computers or game consoles) for their back pain has increased significantly, from 7% to 14%. Furthermore, the number of people pointing to their job as the cause of their discomfort has risen and now affects a quarter (25%) of the local population.
The most commonly cited trigger for back and neck pain in the region remains lifting and carrying heavy items, for the fifth year in a row.
Sarah Beer from The Whitchurch Clinic and member of the BCA comments on the findings:
“I think many of us will agree that the increasing numbers of people experiencing back or neck pain each week are concerning, especially given how simple it can be to protect ourselves from some of the most commons triggers".
“Our lifestyles are becoming increasingly sedentary both at home and at work – with many of us spending more time sitting than ever before, contributing to people in the region experiencing pain more frequently.For the 65% of adults in Wales who are experiencing back or neck pain on a monthly basis, I would urge you to consider incorporating more exercise and general movement into your routine where you can to help combat the effects of sitting still.”
Five top tips to get people in Wales moving and to prevent back or neck pain:
Take a break: When sitting for long periods of time, whether you’re at work, driving or catching up on box sets, ensure you stand up and move around every 30 minutes. Simple activities such as stretching and shoulder shrugging can also help to keep your body moving when you’re sitting for longer periods of time
Stay active: Physical activity can be beneficial for managing back pain, as a stronger body can cope better with the demands you make of it, however it’s important that if this is of a moderate to high intensity that you warm up and down properly to get your body ready to move! If a previous injury is causing you pain, adapt your exercise or seek some advice. Activities such as swimming, walking or yoga can be less demanding on your body while keeping you mobile!
Work in comfort: When at work, make sure your desk is set up to support a comfortable position. This is different for everyone so if you don’t feel comfortable in your current set up, try altering the height of your chair or screen.
Carry with care: While maintaining a strong body can help to prevent injuries, lifting and carrying in a safe way can help to prevent the leading cause of back and neck pain. Just as an athlete has to train to lift heavier weights, we should all only attempt to lift objects that we are able to without too much strain. If an item is particularly heavy then try to make use of available equipment which can help to take the load off your back, or reduce the load to smaller more manageable chunk.
Straighten Up!: The BCA has created a programme of 3-minute exercises, Straighten Up UK, which can be slotted in to your daily schedule to help prevent back pain by promoting movement, balance, strength and flexibility in the spine.
The BCA recommends that, if you are experiencing pain for more than a few days you should seek professional help, for example from a chiropractor, who can assess you and help you to get moving again without pain.
Notes to editors:
This consumer research in 2018 was carried out on behalf of the British Chiropractic Association on between 28/02/18 and 07/03/18 on a sample of 2,066 adults in the UK.
The consumer research in 2013 was carried out on behalf of the British Chiropractic Association between 01/03/2013 and 15/03/2013 on a sample of 2,044 adults in the UK.
Chiropractors are specialists in spine care and chiropractic is a primary contact health profession that specialises in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and management of many conditions that are due to problems with bones, joints, muscles and nerves, particularly those of the spine.
The BCA is the largest and longest established association for chiropractors in the UK. Chiropractic is a statutorily regulated healthcare profession, regulated by the General Chiropractic Council (GCC). Members of the BCA must abide by the GCC’s Code of Conduct and Standard of Proficiency. The association only accepts from an internationally recognised college of chiropractic education. Chiropractic care offers hands on pain management and focuses on muscles, joints and nerves. Chiropractic is suitable for all ages and can help with a wide range of problems.
The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) is urging parents to think about their children’s posture as part of the preparation for the new school term. Whilst stationary and school books are important, it’s how your child carries them that can have the most impact on their health.
According to new research from the BCA:
The BCA is calling for more parents to keep an eye on what their children carry around with them on a daily basis.
Tim Hutchful, BCA chiropractor, comments:
“Making sure your child doesn’t suffer from back or neck pain this autumn term can be as simple as checking they aren’t carrying around heavy items with them unnecessarily and that they carry their school bag correctly."
“I see an increasing number of young people complaining of back or neck pain and often it’s due to the weighty bags they carry. As youngsters have more belongings than ever before, like mobile phones and tablets, there’s a tendency for them to overfill their bags but, by doing these two basic things, you could be helping them avoid painful back problems”.
• Keep it light – make sure your child is not carrying any unnecessary excess weight - check that all the items in their bags are essential for the day’s activity.
• Check it out – make sure you know what your child is taking to school with them every day as they may be carrying heavy items with them unnecessarily.
• Choose the right bag - a rucksack is the best option as long as it is carried over both shoulders and the straps are adjusted so that the bag is held close to the back and weight is evenly distributed. If your child has a one-strapped bag, make sure they carry it across the body and alternate which shoulder they carry it on.
• Footwear is key - Make sure your child has good footwear; soft-soled shoes that are supportive and have a good grip will make it easier for the child to carry a school bag.
For more specific advice please consult your chiropractor or physical therapist.
(http://www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk/back-to-school-240-news.aspx sited: 04/09/2015)
This time of year is a great opportunity to get away, whether for day trips, the weekend, or the start of a longer break.
Unfortunately, many others have the same idea too! If you are facing a long or potentially delayed journey, keep our car travel tips in mind.
When you are driving your posture is just as important as in the office or walking around. For some it is a major aggravating factor of their pre-existing problem, but for many people it can actually be the cause of their pain, especially if they are regularly in the car for over an hour at a time.
Not only does this affect the spine but also shoulders, hips and knees.
So what is the correct way to sit?
If I haven't answered all your questions feel free to ask on your next visit!
With the change of seasons, we find ourselves tackling our gardens ready for summer time.
Even though gardening is not considered as a sport it is very physical and time consuming, resulting in the body being in the same position for long periods of time.
Gardening involves a lot of forwarding bending and at times can result in us twisting ourselves into awkward positions.
These can result in spinal and surrounding structures to be strained and therefore resulting in back pain.
We have put together some helpful tips for you to incorporate into your gardening regime in order to prevent or manage any low back pain you may experience due to gardening.
Warm up First
It is a good idea to warm the muscles up first prior to gardening, as you would with any other type of work out. This could be a brisk 5 minute walk with or without some gentle stretching. Below is a few stretches that will help to loosen the low back ready for gardening.
If you already suffer with low back pain we would advise that you speak with your Chiropractor or healthcare practitioner in order for them to advise you on what stretches would be most appropriate for you.
Incorrect lifting technique is a common trigger for low back pain. Even more so when you have been gardening for a long period and make a sudden movement.
To lift correctly, begin by squatting and not bending the waist. Use both hands to hold object, keeping it close to your body and slowly straighten legs as you lift.
Try to limit the amount of lifting you do by either using lifting aids or asking someone to help.
Another tip would be to half your lifting load, such as putting half the soil into a bucket to carry or half the water in a watering can.
Take regular breaks
Be conscious to keep track on time and not stay in the same position. Get up and move around, try some light stretches and try out different positions.
Try to avoid carrying out the same job for a long period of time. Switch between jobs so that you are alternating your posture set ups.
Use support aids
Try to use support aids to make you feel more comfortable such as chairs or cushions. Getting up and down from positions esp up from the ground can be a difficult task so use aids to help you alter your height.
Use correct equipment
It is worth investing into the correct gardening equipment for your needs. As these will aid you and prevent you from over compensating in order to get the job down e.g long handed tools can help to eliminate bending.
Ask for help
Do not be afraid to ask family, friends, neighbors etc for help. If a task is is too much for one person or you are suffering with any discomfort as someone to help or take over. It is important to understand your own limitations.
If you are experiencing some pain following a gardening session then the following may be useful:
The above listed are not conclusive to the type of pain, and you may find that you do not fit into a particular area. Therefore it is important to seek professional health if you are experiencing pain.
Chiropractors specialise in assessing, diagnosing and managing conditions of the spine. They are highly trained in finding the cause of pain in the spine. In the UK they undergo a minimum of four years’ full-time training. Importantly, chiropractors are regulated by law and must work within strict professional and ethical boundaries.
Before starting treatment, a chiropractor will do a full assessment. This will involve taking details about your condition, current health and medical history, and performing a physical examination. Sometimes it may be necessary to refer you for other tests, such as X-rays, MRI scans or blood tests. It is important for your chiropractor to gather as much information about your back pain as possible so that the most precise diagnosis can be made.
Your chiropractor will then explain what is wrong, what can be done and what you can expect from chiropractic treatment.
Chiropractors are best known for manual treatments such as spinal manipulation, where they use their hands to free stiff or restricted joints, or mobilisation, which is the gradual moving of joints.
But they may also use other recommended treatments such as certain types of acupuncture, electrotherapy, stretching exercises and rehabilitation, all of which form part of a chiropractor’s package of care. Your chiropractor may also offer lifestyle advice to help recovery and to prevent repeated episodes of back pain.
If your chiropractor does not think you can be helped by chiropractic treatment, you may be referred back to your GP or to another health professional. Chiropractors do not prescribe medication, so if this is needed, you may be referred back to your GP. As chiropractors support a joined-up approach to care, they may ask if they can send a brief report to your GP.
Many people who suffer long-term back pain benefit from regular, supportive chiropractic care to reduce the risk of recurrent episodes.
We are located above the Hearing and Mobility Centre, Whitchurch, our clinic entrance is on Church Road.
For those who may have difficulty getting up our steps to the first floor, home visits are available.
The Whitchurch Clinic
2 Merthyr Road
Tel: (029) 20617700
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