A winter cold might seem inevitable, however you can take action to boost your immune system and minimise the risk of picking up a bug this winter. Here are six quick tips for staying well as the mercury drops
Get outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible – There’s not a lot of sunshine this time of year so a walk at lunchtime can be a great way to get as much sunlight as possible. Vitamin D3 drops may also be helpful to counteract the effects of a lack of sunlight. Not only that, but sunlight will also help beat the winter blues and keep you feeling well this winter.
Regular exercise can help keep stress at bay, boost your immune system, control your weight, improve your mood AND burn off some tensions that can creep up on your family with long periods cooped up indoors. Try a family walk after dinner to spend some quality time together and keep activity levels up.
Wash your hands… A lot!
Cold and flu germs are easily passed through hand-to-hand contact. Make sure you regularly wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and avoid sharing public objects where possible.
Get enough sleep!
Plenty of sleep will not only keep your immune system working well to keep you healthy, but it will also help avoid feelings of sluggishness that can be caused by tiredness and a lack of sunlight.
It’s just as easy to get dehydrated in winter as it is in summer (when you can “see your breath” in cold temperatures you’re actually seeing water vapour being lost from your body) You will be more susceptible to colds and flu when you’re dehydrated.
Food is fuel
Boost your immune system by getting your daily dose of five-a-day fruit and veg. Fill your body with healthy nutrients, fresh fruit and vegetables rather than carb-laden foods and you’ll be well equipped to avoid winter bugs.
And if you do catch a cold? Try taking zinc. A 2013 Cochrane review showed that taking 75mg of zinc a day helped shorten the duration of symptoms- By Day 5, 70% of people taking zinc lozenges (not spray!) had recovered from the common cold, compared to only 27% of people taking placebo. It’s thought zinc may stop the cold virus from multiplying and taking up residence in your nose and throat. It won’t prevent you catching a cold, but it can shorten the duration you’re poorly for.
Kinesiology tape has become massively popular over the past few years, gracing the torsos of Olympic athletes and sportspeople around the world- and whilst there are conflicting messages coming from the research around it, the tape appears to show promise for a range of issues. A recent review showed that there was moderate evidence to support the use of tape to reduce pain, so let’s look at how tape can help.
Properties of kinesiology tape
100% cotton, latex free tape
Medical grade acrylic adhesive which is heat sensitive allowing the tape to stick to the skin
The thickness, weight and elasticity of the tape is approximately that of skin, so most people can tolerate the tape without issue
Allows for free movement and does not restrict movement like other tapes may
The elastic properties provide support and reduce muscle fatigue
Where some tapes are stretched out to maximum capacity before being applied, kinesiology tape is less effective when fully stretched out- in fact, mastering the art of how much stretch to apply is one of the main skills to learn when using tape.
The risks of using tape are minimal, and whilst the research surrounding tape is still in its infancy, we can use it safely in clinic knowing that we’re not causing any harm and are instead likely to see great results which will help contribute further to the use of kinesiology taping.
How taping works to reduce pain
When taping for pain, inflammation, swelling or oedema, we use a technique called “space correction”. This does what it says on the tin- creates more space directly above an area of pain, inflammation, swelling or fluid build up, which helps decrease pressure by lifting the skin away from the fascia.
This has a number of effects:
Decreased pressure alleviates the irritation on chemical receptors in the underlying structures, thus decreasing pain
Increased circulation may occur in the area, allowing for increased removal of cells or fluids that can build up during the inflammatory process
Stimulating mechanoreceptors (sensory receptors in our skin that pick up pressure or distortion) can help decrease pain
The initial benefits are reducing inflammation and pain, but there are thought to be neurological benefits
too- when the tape is placed over tight muscles, it appears to reduce their response to being stretched, helping to make them feel less sore and painful. When applied over weak or injured tissues, the feedback these tissues send to the brain is altered and improved, which can help the body to stabilise the area. This is how we can then move on to use the tape for fascial correction.
In some cases, as with ankle inversion injuries (rolling over on the ankle), there is an imminent risk of further injury as the ligaments in the muscle have been stretched out and therefore aren’t able to stabilise the joint as effectively as usual. In this case, the patient’s initial injury was over 7 days ago so we have used a fan application to encourage lymphatic flow but also applied a light-stretch support around the lateral part of the foot to help stablise the injured ligaments.
Lymphatic fan taping helps to reduce fluid build-up by directing lymph fluid towards a less-congested lymphatic pathway and lymph nodes. We use the anchor of the tape to indicate where we want the lymph to flow, much like directing traffic! Whilst this is an advanced taping technique and one that would be applied by your practitioner, it demonstrates the myriad uses of kinesiology taping perfectly and shows how effective it can be in helping reduce inflammation and aid recovery at a cellular level.
Take home notes:
There isn’t a barrage of research to support the use of kinesiology tape, the papers that are available show positive and encouraging results. Every new treatment modality has to start somewhere, after all!
(Think of Louis Pasteur testing out his Rabies vaccine on a 9 year old. Sounds nuts now, but that’s where most great ideas starts from- somebody going “I wonder if….?”)
Much like any treatment, there will be an element of placebo involved, but studies like this and this have shown that the effects of kinesiology tape can’t be reproduced by placebo taping.
Simply put, the mechanisms and understanding behind how and why kinesiology tape works are grounded in scientific thinking and understanding. It’s a safe, low risk, effective way to help your body towards recovery, and whilst it’s no replacement for treatment, rehabilitation and injury management, it helps to put some of the power of recovery back into your hands.
NB: Whilst tape can be applied by anyone, it is important to have the issue diagnosed by an appropriately qualified healthcare or medical professional prior to using kinesiotape or allowing someone else to apply it. As with any form of treatment, you want to ensure the treatment is appropriate for the issue and eliminate any other underlying issues which may mean taping is inappropriate.
You’ll find hypnobirthing helpful if you want to feel more relaxed or enjoy a more normal birth than you’ve previously experienced, or want to prepare to welcome your first baby into the world calmly and confidently. During the hypnotherapy training you will learn exactly how your body works, how to optimise the normal process of birth and how your birth partner can totally support you. I used to work as a midwife, so I’m here to answer your questions about labour or birth and help you feel relaxed and prepared as your due date approaches.
I’m feeling a bit anxious as my due date approaches, will hypnobirthing help?
If you have never had a baby before or felt unhappy about a previous birth it’s normal to feel apprehensive, or even frightened. Once you have had hypnobirthing training you will feel totally equipped to birth swiftly, confidently and calmly. In our culture we don’t witness birth first hand before our own experience of giving birth, so we don’t know how it’s done! To understand and train to profoundly relax is the key to a smooth birth and hypnobirthing can help you achieve that.
Can birth partners benefit from attending the hypnobirthing classes?
I highly recommend they join in! I so often hear from birth partners that they felt helpless, or even in the way during their partners’ first labour. With hypnobirthing, birth partners will feel totally at ease and informed as how to support their partner instead of feeling like a spare part!
How big are the hypnobirthing groups? Will I get lost in a crowd?
I keep my groups small, just four couples per session. This not only means that that the training is tailored to you, but you will also meet other couples at the same stage of pregnancy as you are, making it a hugely supportive experience all round.
Do you offer one on one sessions as well as group classes?
I am trained in the Wise Hippo programme which teaches parents to trust their natural instincts, both during birth and afterwards! I’ve been teaching hypnobirthing for over 12 years now! My courses are fun but informative course and I’m confident you’ll gain a lot of valuable tools and information from your course.
How long is the course?
The sessions take place every week, for four weeks. Each class is 2 hours long. You’ll receive a fantastic manual, five MP3’s of recordings to use at home, and I also record you a personalised hypnosis audio to help support your hypnobirthing practice at home. You’ll gain a lot from the classes, in addition to having plenty of resources to use at home.
When should I start hypnobirthing classes?
The ideal stage is at approximately 32 weeks, however I have successfully taught couples just a few days before their due date, so don’t worry if you are later in your pregnancy!
How much do the courses cost?
The group class is £250.00 per couple, which includes all four of the two hour classes in addition to your manual, relaxation audios and personalised hypnosis tape. Individual classes are priced at £400.00 per couple.
Please note: To secure your place on a hypnobirthing course, a deposit of £100 is required. The full balance is to be paid at the first class.
When does the next course start and how do I book?
The courses run on a Monday evening (Times can be arranged to suit you)
The next course starts on Monday, 10th July 2017. Please call the clinic on 01243 379693 to book your place.
The World Health Organisation defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” So what’s this concept of “wellness” all about? Well, wellness is basically healthiness… It’s the active process of becoming more aware of your health and making positive changes towards leading a healthier, more fulfilling life.
What is wellness?
The concept of “wellness” can often be a dirty word in healthcare circles, as it has long been associated with antiscientific or pseudoscientific ideas… But that depends on what wellness means to you. To us, wellness is health. It’s living a healthy and fulfilling life, and taking responsibility for your own health. We’re taking ownership of the word wellness and are going to strive to clean up its reputation!
Go on then, how?
As an evidence based clinic, we rely heavily on what research tells us is effective for managing conditions or symptoms, and as such the treatment protocols that we utilise can vary quite dramatically depending on what the latest high quality research says is effective. We don’t sell long treatment plans, and you shouldn’t buy into one either- it’s impossible to know that someone will need 12 treatments to get you better when they first start seeing you- instead, a short course of treatment should be proposed and that should definitely include a review appointment where you discuss your progress and determine if you should be discharged from care. We collect patient reported outcome measures to ensure that we do not over or under-treat our patients, and this provides us with an opportunity to identify how effective the treatment is that we’ve provided,
(P.S. We monitor how many treatments our patients receive on average- it’s just 5 appointments over a 3 month period!)
We promise you that as an ethical healthcare clinic we will never offer you ineffective, unnecessary treatment.
Why does wellness matter?
If you were lucky enough to be born in the UK, chances are you’ll have encountered the NHS once or twice. The NHS is a fantastic system for taking care of us, but it is overstretched, overburdened and not coping. When it was established in 1948, life expectancy for men was 66 years old, and for women, 71. Today those figures are 77.2 and 81.5. Over the past 60 years, the proportion of all deaths caused by cancer has risen, from 16.9 to 27 per cent. It took 50 years for the UK population to increase from 40 to 50
million between 1898 and 1948, but in just 24 years the population will increase by 10 million – and hit 70 million in 2029, according to the Office for National Statistics. Simply put, there’s more of us, we’re living longer, with more diseases and more complex health needs than ever before. Our poor NHS can’t cut it.
The NHS will always be there for us when we get sick- but how about we work a little harder to stop ourselves needing it in the first place?
More and more people are recognising a need to take responsibility for their own health and are striving to lead a healthier lifestyle. This can be through small steps, such as reducing your alcohol intake, not smoking, regularly exercising or you might take it a little further, with bespoke nutritional programmes, chiropractic care to optimise performance and move well, in addition to regular care to address the stresses and strains we put our body through on a daily basis.
An holistic approach to health
Ahh, “holistic”. Another dirty word. Or is it? Philosophically, holism is described as “the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.” From a medical perspective, it’s characterised by “the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.” Doesn’t sound so bad to me- as humans we do need to consider the person as a whole. Someone with back pain doesn’t just have back pain- they have a problem that’s preventing them from going to work (social issue), that’s causing them anxiety (psychological issue), that’s limiting their ability to walk (physical issue) and no doubt a whole host of other problems. So it would be churlish to only consider the physical issues- that’s probably not going to get them truly better, particularly for those with high anxiety levels as there’s a whole host of research that tells us they need more specific management to help with their back pain. We need to acknowledge their
needs as a whole. We need to ensure we address all these aspects in order for them to recovery.
We also need to consider the why behind their pain. For example, a smoker will report higher levels of pain perception than a non-smoker. That’s an environmental issue. So an holistic approach would aim to tackle the smoking also (not least for the hundreds of health benefits you see from being a non-smoker) and encourage you to take active steps towards leading a healthier lifestyle (there’s that wellness
definition popping up again!)
This is what we aim to provide for our patients- not just addressing the physical symptoms but ensuring that all your health needs are met.
So when we talk about taking an holistic approach to wellness, that suddenly doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, does it?
It may or may not surprise you to find out there’s a lot of misleading information about back pain out there- more specifically, about what to do when back pain strikes and how to prevent it from recurring. This has not only over-simplified how to treat back pain but also lead to some weird and wonderful rehabilitation strategies.
Let’s bust a few of these back pain misconceptions.
1. Sit-ups will help improve your spinal health
Did you know that the average sit-up causes compression of the lower back that almost exceeds the safe limits set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (the unified set of manual lifting recommendations based on the convergence of medical, scientific, and engineering points of view which helps determine safe work practices)
Physical fitness does have an impact on our spinal health, but it is more important that we are getting fit in the right way. Studies have shown that increasing abdominal strength through sit-ups causes stress on the discs in our back and compresses the lumbar spine- enough for researchers to conclude that sit-ups may cause problems in almost anyone.
2. “Lift with your knees, not your back”
Have you ever tried to do this? Ever tried to do it all day long? It’s almost impossible to do this every single time we go to lift something. Forget the old squat technique, instead, the way you lift should depend on what you’re lifting, where you’re moving it to, your own build, how many items you have to lift and so on.
For more information on how to lift correctly (and give your knees a break) click here.
3. Strong muscles, strong back
Not so, my friends. Muscle strength doesn’t help us predict who will or won’t get back problems, and focusing too much on strength instead of stability will be sure to cause problems. Instead, focus on muscular endurance (i.e. how long your muscles can sustain an activity for). Remember, muscles have three main properties: flexibility, strength and endurance. Any issues that results in a lack of flexibility, strength or endurance will be enough to stimulate the nerves within your muscles and start telling your brain that something’s wrong. What’s the end result of that? Pain.
4. Tight hamstrings and unequal leg lengths cause back problems.
These types of issues are often given as easy diagnoses to simplify the cause of a patients’ complaint. Don’t be fooled. Some studies have shown that in athletes with ‘tight’ hamstrings, these muscles function almost like springs, to help jump higher or run faster. It rather appears that tight hamstrings aren’t the issue, it’s how well these tight hamstrings can cope with stretching that determines whether or not you’ll have back pain. Studies have found that people with chronic back pain tend to use their hamstrings instead of their gluteal muscles to extend the hip, which can increase the amount of force on the spine during squatting- correcting this is going to be a fundamental aspect of care.
Interestingly, back pain also wasn’t found to be definitively linked with leg length discrepancies even in cases where the difference in length was 5cm!
5. Scoliosis= A lifetime of back issues?
Not true! We see so many adults who were abruptly diagnosed with a ‘scoliosis’ after being
asked to bend forwards and touch their toes by the school nurse back in the 1970’s. The difficulty with this is that
the tests for assessing scoliosis have a false positive rate of at least 60%, and the statistical risk of having a scoliosis that requires treatment is only 0.2%. Why are we telling you this? Because once we’re told we have a “condition” it becomes ingrained in us. Part of who we are. So time and time again we see adults who tell us they have a “scoliosis”, and have been plagued by a lifetime of avoiding activities because of their diagnosis, when mild scoliosis (less than 30 degrees deviation) may simply be monitored and treated with exercise.
6. Knees to chest- the ultimate back stretch
Sure, it feels good, lying on the floor pulling your knees into your chest. Depending on your diagnosis, it might even be the right exercise for you, but if you’re one of the many patients I see who doesn’t cope well with forward bending, this exercise isn’t ideal. Why? Because pulling the knees to the chest gives you the perception of relief from your lower back pain (because the stretch receptors in your erector spinae muscles are stimulated) but this type of exercises causes more cumulative damage to the discs, leading to increased pain and stiffness the next day. As practitioners, we know to eliminate these type of exercises and prescribe ones appropriate for your needs- in fact this bespoke rehabilitation plan is one of the main benefits of coming to see a chiropractor.
So where do we go from here?
As you can see, misleading information and advice regarding back pain can lead to us performing the very movements that worsen our back pain in our attempts to get it better. Ensuring you have an accurate diagnosis, treatment plan and rehabilitation strategy is vital to recovery.No treatment plan can be truly successful without incorporating spinal rehabilitation exercises that work to remove the faulty movement patterns that cause back pain problems. We have to work with our clients to ensure that we incorporate exercises that help you build the capacity of the muscles in your back to cope with the tasks you ask of it each day. As you can imagine, each persons’ day is different, and so your treatment plan will be too.