Cupping therapy has been used in China and some African countries for several thousand years. Our acupuncturist Gill is seen here using pressure and fire cupping to help alleviate mid-back and neck stiffness and pain.
The skin is the largest organ in our body, containing fluid, blood, blood vessels, connective tissue, muscle and nerve supplies. Cupping works to manipulate the skin and influence blood and other functions of the body, improving circulation, lymphatic drainage and alleviating muscle tension. It is thought to influence the lymphatic system and lymph nodes that form a vital part of our immune system.
Cupping Therapy: How does it work?
The vacuum created by the cup creates a negative pressure. This creates a gentle suction on the skin which may encourage cells to move towards the cup, and open pores in the skin. When the cup is removed, the skin and cells move back to their original state. The addition of heat helps to accelerate your metabolic rate (the amount of energy your body is using to function), increasing the benefits of the treatment.
1. Physical stimulation of the skin through cupping is thought to increase blood circulation, skin temperature and metabolism in the skin tissues. It may also improve the function of sweat and sebaceous glands (the glands that secrete oils onto the skin).
2. Cupping may stimulate the nerves within our skin and may help to stimulate the central nervous system in the same way acupuncture can, decreasing the release of cortisol (a stress hormone which contributes to a number of conditions).
3. Cupping on muscles is thought to cause the blood vessels in our body to expand, increasing blood flow and lymphatic flow, which can have a powerful effect on chronically tight muscles.
4. Cupping on inflamed joints may again improve function through better flow of blood within the joint, and through influence synovial fluids (which help lubricate our joints).
Frequently asked cupping questions
Is it safe? Yes- when performed by an experienced, qualified practitioner.
Does it hurt? No- it just feels like a pulling sensation and may feel slightly warm.
What about those weird marks? The cups cause the marks on your skin. How long they last depends on how strong the suction was.
Does it damage the skin? No- as blood flow to the skin increases, it causes the redness to occur.
How long does a session take? Sessions can take from 5 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on your treatment requirements.
This patient is co-managed by Gill and our chiropractor Philippa, so after the muscles in his back have been relaxed using the cupping therapy, Philippa delivers a gentle adjustment to the mid-thoracic spine to get a restricted joint moving properly. This two-practitioner-approach allows our patients to really maximise the benefit of their treatment with us. This demonstrates how so many of the health services we have available to you can complement each other.
If you’d like to book an appointment with our acupuncturist to receive cupping therapy, please call us on 01243 379693.
What on earth has a beach clean got to do with back pain? Well, you might be interested to know that carrying heavy items may actually be of benefit to your back. We’re proud to support Final Straw Emsworth and their bid to help the Emsworth community cut their use of single-use plastic. So, we’re taking our pledge to help clean up the Emsworth coastline seriously. This week the Acorn team did a (long) walk around Thorney Island- all 8 miles of it!
As we went, we did a lot of bending, lifting and twisting to collect plastics and other items that had been washed up along our coastline.
Here’s just some of what we collected:
– The giant rubbish sack we put all the stuff in (!)
– 27 bottle caps
– 14 plastic straws
– 8 foot of nylon rope
– A jerry can half full of petrol
– One large glass bottle (no message in this one!)
– Dozens of plastic bottles
– A very old, rather soggy football
Plus various other unrecognisable plastic bits and bobs… Our bag was quite heavy by the end of the day!
Now, you might wonder what a beach clean has to do with back pain. It’s a common concern to worry that heavy lifting will hurt your back.
Truth is- Even with back pain, lugging a heavy bag of rubbish around might just be what your spine really needs!
Heavy carrying increases muscle gain, and fat loss whilst improving whole body strength. In addition, it works your core and grip strength by forcing your body to stabilise itself. (In this case, ours was working against a heavy bag full of rubbish and unstable rocky/sandy ground).
Carrying heavy also requires a lot more core stability than a simple deadlift. So if you feel your training has maxed out, maybe try a heavy carry instead!
Of course you have to be careful what and how you carry. Have your spine checked first of all before you start adding in heavy carries to ensure you’re ready to do so. Most notably, heavy carries are “functional”, meaning they stress your body in a real-world situation, requiring multiple joint control and movement. As a result this is unlike weightlifting in a gym which generally only focuses on a few muscle groups. Functional training can consequently mean you’re better equipped to cope with everyday situations.
So next time you’re out on the foreshore, grab a bag, pick up some litter and help clean up our environment. You’ll enjoy a strong, stable spine as a result!
To find out more about The Final Straw Emsworth, visit their website here.
Following a year-long diploma, I have recently qualified with distinction as a health coach! I am now offering health coaching in Emsworth from my clinic, Acorn Health.
What the heck’s a Personal Performance Coach, I hear you ask?! (And why on earth would I bother to become one?!)
Well, it’s sort of like your own personal cheerleader.
Modern healthcare is fast catching on to what we “alternative” practitioners have known for some time- that it is only through leading healthy, balanced lifestyles (balanced diet, regular exercise, no smoking, minimal stress) that we can achieve optimum health. You only have to look at the attention Dr Rangan Chatterjee is receiving recently! We have to do something to manage the massive burden of chronic “lifestyle” diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. If we only made better lifestyle and behavioural choices, many of these diseases could be avoided.
Traditional methods of “teaching” our patients (i.e. giving you a stack of information sheets you’ll never read) are ineffective. These methods don’t give you the knowledge or feelings of empowerment you need to make necessary changes in your lifestyle. Coaching is a much more interactive process between us. We’ll create a plan of action to help break your goal down into manageable steps, I’ll support your decisions and monitor your progress. Importantly- I’ll hold you accountable to any goals you’ve set. (For example if you want to quit smoking but you’re still having a sneaky puff every now and again, I’m going to call you up on it!)
N.B. For all you science nerds out there, there’s also robust research which shows that people who work with health coaches during their care achieve better outcomes than those who don’t. Read one example study here.
Why choose health coaching with a Doctor of Chiropractic?
The title of “Chiropractor” is protected under UK law. The title of coach isn’t, so there are many different coaches out there and you need to choose one you can trust. As a qualified Doctor of Chiropractic, I have had years of clinical experience and training to help you, and I feel uniquely positioned to help my patients sift through the information overload that exists out there on the internet. We’ll filter out what’s rubbish and what’s grounded in robust scientific evidence. This means you can trust that the information you’re using is reputable and reliable. In my years of practice, I’ve come to realise that delivering a personalised plan of care to each and every patient I see is vital. Together we need to explore every option available to you before you decide which is the best path for you and your needs.
Chiropractors are primary healthcare practitioners trained and will take your entire physical, emotional and social wellbeing into account. We can incorporate nutrition advice, lifestyle modifications, stress management skills, and even cognitive behavioural interventions! Depending on the issue you come to see me for, we can together determine the best course of action- that might involve chiropractic care, it might simply involve a few lifestyle adjustments (such as taking regular breaks from sitting or doing 10 minutes more walking every day.) In some cases, we may need to arrange for onward referrals, or co-management with another healthcare professional. Furthermore, I can put those referrals in place for you if required.
How health coaching will help you
You’d be surprised just how effective health coaching can be. It can help with:
Weight control or weight management (including food intolerances and specialist diet adherence)
Maintaining a positive and healthy mindset
Balancing health, wellness and a busy schedule
Creating improved health habits
Introducing new exercise programmes and improving fitness levels
And much more…!
I’ll help you gain the knowledge and confidence you need to become an active participant in your own healthcare. Instead of being told what to do, you’ll be guided through a process. With small, manageable steps we’ll work towards achieving the health goals you’ve set for yourself. I’m looking forward to helping you gain a deeper understanding of your body, health and how you can manage it. Ultimately, you’ll feel empowered and optimistic about a future with improved health, more energy and a better quality of life.
Sitting at a desk all day may mean you’re conscious of poor posture. You’ll know it can lead to headaches, muscle pain, stress and more. You may therefore be familiar with “Upper Crossed Syndrome “without even knowing it.
It’s not a serious condition but it can give rise to headaches, migraines, joint pain, muscle pain and stress. If you’re a keen gym-goer, it can also prevent you being able to reach your optimal training threshold.
What is Upper Crossed Syndrome?
It’s caused by overlapping overactive and underactive muscles throughout the neck, chest and shoulders. The chest muscles (pectorals) and muscles at the rear or side of the neck (upper trapezius, levator scapulae, suboccipitals and sternocleidomastoid) are overly tight or “facilitated”. The deep flexor muscles in the front of the neck and the rhomboids, lower trapezius and serratus anterior muscles are weak or inhibited.
A chap called Janda coined the term “Upper Crossed Syndrome”. According to his book “Assessment and Treatment of Muscle Imbalance: The Janda Approach” Upper Crossed Syndrome can lead to…..
“Dysfunction, particularly at the atlanto-occipital joint, C4-C5 segment, cervicothoracic joint, glenohumeral joint, and T4-T5 segment. Postural changes decrease glenohumeral stability as the glenoid fossa becomes more vertical due to serratus anterior weakness leading to abduction, rotation, and winging of the scapulae. This loss of stability requires the levator scapula and upper trapezius to increase activation to maintain glenohumeral centration (Janda 1988).”
You can see how a simple matter of muscular imbalance can lead to a range of issues.
What causes it?
This is caused by a build up of small issues, such as:
Prolonged sitting at a desk then causes forward head carriage.
Poor technique when training (such as overtraining the chest and neglecting the mid-back) affects the chest and upper back.
Having a large bust contributes to rounded shoulders.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Forward head carriage- when looking at yourself side-on in a mirror, your ear should be in line with your shoulder. If it’s not, it’s what we call forward head carriage.
Increased inward curvature of the cervical spine (hyperlordosis).
Increased outward curvature of the thoracic spine (hyperkyphosis or “humpback”) . Tight muscles in the front of the chest pull you forwards, weak muscles in the upper back can’t resist the pull. Add in forward head carriage and you can end up with hyperkyphosis. In some cases, the neck can look normal because we simply overextend through the neck to hold the head up properly!
Breathing dyfsunction caused by over-activated muscles and compression of the rib cage.
Rounded shoulders and rotator cuff issues- Muscular imbalances affect the function of the shoulder joint. Due to the imbalance, rotator cuff muscles then have to work harder to stabilise the shoulder joint. This can ultimately lead to shoulder impingement and rotator cuff strain.
Winging of the scapula- the shoulder blades jut out instead of lying flat against the ribcage.
Chronic pain caused by trigger points (tender points) in the affected muscles.
Migraines and tension headaches due to tension in the surrounding muscles and dysfunction in the cervical and thoracic spine.
Pins and needles or tingling in the arms- Rounded shoulders and forward head carriage can compress the blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and first rib.
The affected muscles have a lower threshold for irritation and dysfunction. This means they very quickly become affected by faulty movement, leading to more pain and problems. As a result this puts stress on the involved joints, leading to further pain. As you can see, poor posture is contagious. Not like a bad cold shared around the office… Instead it starts in one area and then affects another, which in turn affects another.
How can we treat Upper Crossed Syndrome and Poor Posture?
Your chiropractor will work with you to restore normal function to your upper back and neck. If underlying joint function is abnormal, exercising in this state may simply cause the muscles to adapt to the underlying dysfunction. (For more on this, read our stretching blog here.) This is why joint function must be restored first and foremost. Gentle stretches and exercises can then help relieve tension and strengthen the weaker muscles.
Here’s a video on our one simple way to improve your posture at the desk.
Begin with the chin tuck exercise. This ultimately counteracts forward head carriage.
Stand upright with your back to wall.
Slightly tuck chin to chest and draw head back to wall.
The muscles in the front of the neck should be active when holding this position for 5-10 seconds.
You may feel some stretching of the scalene muscles on the side of the neck that go down to the collarbone. You may also notice the suboccipital muscles at the top of the neck and the base of the skull. This exercise begins to strengthen the muscles in the front of the neck and muscles of the upper back.
You can do this exercise lying down in bed, pushing back into a pillow. Once you get the hang of it, you can then do it standing upright. You’ll soon be able to do this whilst sitting in the car or at your desk at work. Repeating the exercise throughout the day will also help improve your posture over time.
Chiropractic care can help to restore normal joint movement and alleviate muscle stress. As part of your treatment programme, you’ll be given further specific exercises to help address muscle tension and restore joint function.
To book your appointment with our chiropractor, simply use the link below.
Right now in the UK, over 190,000 people are suffering from a migraine attack. Despite the number of people affected by migraines, it’s still not know why they occur. It’s thought the genetics and environmental factors play a role. For those who suffer with migraines, you may not know that chiropractic care for migraines can help prevent you from suffering.
Quick facts about migraines:
Migraines are a recurrent type of severe headache which, for some people, will happen throughout their lifetime.
They’re most commonly described as episodes of disabling pain with headache, feeling or being sick, and sensitivity to normal levels of light and sounds.
They can affect people of all ages (even young children).
The head pain is usually one-sided, pulsating, and may worsen with normal physical activity (such as climbing the stairs).
They can last from a few hours to a few days, and on average happen once or twice a month- for some people they have one a year, for others- one a week.
Research has shown that in the USA and the UK, only half of people with a migraine had seen a doctor for this problem in the last twelve months, and only two-thirds of them had been diagnosed correctly. As a result, many migraine sufferers are reliant on over-the-counter medication and have poorly-managed migraine symptoms.
Although migraine attacks affect a significant number of people the triggering processes for the headaches are not fully understood.
At least 60% of people who suffer with migraine never consult their GP because they believe nothing can be done to help them. (Source)
For many people the symptoms of migraine are a mixture of more than one type. This is why many specialists, including chiropractors, now talk about a “headache continuum”, with the less disabling mild tension headache at one end of the scale, and severely disabling migraines at the other.
What causes migraines?
The truth is- no one really knows what causes a migraine. It may be that abnormal brain activity affects the chemicals, nerve signals and blood vessels deep in the brain. The release of inflammatory substances around these structures may be what causes pain.
It’s possible that your genes also make you more likely to suffer. There are several possible triggers that can lead to a migraine attack, including hormonal, emotional, dietary, physical, environmental or chemical/medicinal factors. These can vary from person to person and as such, it’s important to find out what your triggers are and learn how to manage them. This may be by avoiding certain types of foods, keeping to a regular sleep pattern or reducing chemical stressors such as stopping smoking.
Types of migraine
There are seven different classes of migraines- and some of these have further subclasses. We’re going to focus on the main two:
Migraine with aura
This type of migraine accounts for around 10-30% of people with migraines. These type of migraines do not present with an aura. In this case, aura means neurological symptoms, most commonly visual disturbances. These can present up to an hour before or during the migraine, and you may experience:
Seeing sparkles, stars, flashing lights or zig-zags
You might also experience:
Numbness or tingling
Pins and needles
Weakness on one side of the body
Dizziness or a feeling of spinning
Migraine without aura
These generally last for between 4 to 72 hours. Usually, you’ll feel a headache on one side of your head, which may throb or pulsate. They can affect your daily life and generally worsen with everyday exercise (such as walking or climbing stairs). Some people who suffer with these types of migraines also report feeling or being sick, having diarrhoea or being sensitive to light or sound.
This is the most common type of migraine accounting for 70-90% of attacks.
Chiropractic Treatment for Migraines: Prevention is better than cure
Chiropractic treatment has been shown to reduce the severity and frequency of migraine attacks, and is therefore recommended as a treatment for migraine prevention. One study of 127 migraine sufferers in Australia found that those that received chiropractic treatment had fewer attacks and needed to take less medication. More than 80% of the study participants blamed stress for leading to their migraine attacks. The researchers therefore suggest that chiropractic care might physically help reduce the body’s reaction to stress.
Recent research studies suggest that chiropractic treatment for migraines might also be as efficient as amitryptaline, propranolol and topiramate in the prophylactic management of migraine.
Your chiropractor will provide hands on care and advice across a range of areas. This includes nutritional support, lifestyle management, and exercise. As such, you can work with Philippa to determine a “Migraine Prevention Programme” that works for you. Your treatment programme will address many of the factors that may contribute to migraine. This includes postural issues, muscle tension in the upper back, neck and shoulders, and restriction of movement in the neck and upper spine. Chiropractic care for migraine prevention can include nutritional support, acupuncture or dry needling, manual therapy, soft tissue techniques and more- all your treatment is bespoke to your needs.
If you have any doubts about whether a specific treatment type is suitable for you, please consult your chiropractor or GP.
Ever wondered what it feels like to experience migraine? Watch the video below.
Bryans, R., Descarreaux, M., Duranleau, M., Marcoux, H., Potter, B., Ruegg, R., & White, E. (2011). Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 34(5), 274-289.
Chaibi A, Tuchin PJ, Russell MB. Manual therapies for migraine: a systematic review. J Headache Pain. 2011;12:127–133. doi: 10.1007/s10194-011-0296-6.
Nelson CF, Bronfort G, Evans R, Boline P, Goldsmith C, Anderson AV (1998) The efficacy of spinal manipulation, amitriptyline and the combination of both therapies for the prophylaxis of migraine headaches. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 21: 511-519.