Tag: back pain

Essential Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Back While Driving

Getting your back in gear 
8 Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Back While Driving
 

The other day I was stuck in traffic, again, and two thoughts crept into my mind. Firstly, for all the roadworks I see, how can there be quite so many potholes still? However, secondly, and more importantly, do you ever stop to think just how much of our lives we spend sat in cars? Prolonged periods behind the wheel can take a toll on your back if you’re not careful. Poor posture, inadequate support, and prolonged sitting can contribute to back discomfort and even lead to long-term issues. To ensure a comfortable and pain-free driving experience, here are some essential tips for looking after your back while on the road: 

 

  1. Adjust Your Seat Properly: One of the fundamental aspects of back care while driving is setting up your seat in an ergonomic position. Start by adjusting the seat height so that you have a clear view of the road and easy access to the pedals without straining. Ensure that your seat is not too far from the pedals to avoid overstretching your legs, which can strain your lower back. 
  1. Maintain Proper Posture: Maintaining good posture while driving is crucial for preventing back pain. Sit upright with your back against the seat and your shoulders relaxed. Keep both hands on the steering wheel at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions to distribute the workload evenly and minimise strain on your arms and shoulders. Prolonged leaning onto one arm or out a window might work wonders for casual driving image, but your body won’t be impressed, sorry! 
  1. Use Lumbar Support: Many modern cars come equipped with adjustable lumbar support to help maintain the natural curve of your spine and alleviate pressure on your lower back. If your car doesn’t have built-in lumbar support, consider using a lumbar roll or cushion to provide additional support and promote proper spinal positioning.
  1. Take Regular Breaks: Prolonged sitting, even with proper ergonomics, can still strain your back muscles over time. To combat stiffness and improve circulation, make it a habit to take regular breaks during long drives. Plan a quick stop every hour or two to stretch your legs, walk around, and perform simple back stretches to relieve tension.
  1. Adjust Your Steering Wheel and Mirrors: Ensure that your steering wheel and mirrors are properly adjusted to minimise the need for twisting and reaching while driving. Your steering wheel should be positioned in a way that allows you to maintain a relaxed posture with your arms slightly bent. Adjust your mirrors to provide optimal visibility without straining your neck or back.
  1. Stay Hydrated and Avoid Caffeine: Proper hydration is essential for maintaining the health of your spinal discs, which act as shock absorbers for your back. Drink plenty of water during your journey to keep your discs hydrated and flexible. Avoid excessive caffeine consumption, as it can contribute to dehydration and exacerbate back pain. I should add I am not telling you that coffee is off limits at the next service station, I’m not that brave, but to try and drink it in moderation. 
  1. Invest in Supportive Accessories: Consider investing in supportive accessories such as seat cushions, ergonomic seat covers, or backrests designed specifically for driving. These accessories can provide additional comfort and support, especially during long drives or if you have a history of back problems. They are easy to find and relatively cheap to get hold of. 
  1. Perform Regular Back Exercises: Strengthening and stretching exercises can help improve the flexibility and resilience of your back muscles, reducing the risk of discomfort and injury while driving. Incorporate exercises targeting your core, back, and hips into your daily routine to keep your back strong and supple.

 

And there you have it! Implementing good back health is important in all aspects of life, but maintaining a healthy spine will at least give you one less thing to worry about out on the roads. Furthermore, for those standstill moments such as at the traffic lights you can always take the opportunity to do other exercises such as neck stretches. Please do remember to put safety first and while driving keep your focus on the vehicle and the road. Safe Travels!  

Glen Wyatt

Glen comes from an emergency medicine background having spent 8 years working as part of an ambulance crew. He recently then graduated as a chiropractor from AECC College.

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Four steps to a successful week

So today, I woke up earlier than usual and have reached a rare moment of having achieved all of my urgent and important tasks on my list I needed to do today by 11:30 AM. This level almost never happens and it got me thinking- what was the difference in motivation levels today?

The truth is, there isn’t one thing, but instead a gradual accumulation of small changes that I’ve made to my lifestyle recently which I thought I’d share four top tips with you, that have helped me master Mondays!

First things first- I swear by my Lumie Bodyclock, and it is my best friend during the winter months. Waking up feeling groggy is horrible- as someone who used to have about 15 alarms on my iPhone to get me up (not even joking) a natural daylight lamp like the Lumie Bodyclock makes mornings slightly more bearable. It helps prevent what’s called sleep inertia– the inability to feel alert and perform when we first wake up. Studies have shown that these lamps help raise cortisol (an important hormone which helps with metabolism, memory and blood sugar), improve our reaction times and make us feel more refreshed. Not only that, but it’s lovely to wake up to daylight in these darker winter months. Step One: Wake up refreshed.

Question for you- did you make your bed this morning? I did- and here’s why you should too. Watch this video (6.01 minutes) for some inspiration that will get you going today. Step two: Make your bed.

I significantly cut down on caffeine recently, and now tend to start my mornings with a few glasses of water with lemon in it- I prepare this the night before and leave it in the fridge so it’s nice and cold to wake me up. Your metabolic rate is boosted by about 30% by drinking two glasses of water and the added lemon gives you around 40% of your daily vitamin C- great for the immune system. It also contains vitamin B6 which supports a healthy nervous system, and flavanoids which support the immune system and have anti-inflammatory benefits. Step Three: Boost your brain.

Then, I ate the frog. Not literally (I actually had a rather nice omelette for breakfast). Eat that frog comes from a saying by Mark Twain- and it refers to doing the thing you dread the most first. So for me, this was catching up on some bookkeeping (*urgh*) BUT it means that I’ve now completed that task and have the rest of the day to fill with things that I enjoy- like taking care of my patients. Reading some new research articles. Enjoying the sunshine at lunch (instead of being stuck at my desk). Step Four: Eat that frog.motivation healthcare health wellness chiropractic chiropractor emsworth hampshire fitness healthy lifestyle injury sports sciatica back pain neck headache migraine whiplash sciatica sciatic osteopath osteopathy physiotherapist physiotherapy

So there you have it- four simple steps to help you get going on a Monday, or in fact any day of the week!

Until next time,

Philippa.

Acupuncture- what is it, and how does it work?

Acupuncture is often seen as a form of complementary medicine, although it is used nationally in many NHS general practices, as well as the majority of pain clinics and hospices in the UK. It is recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence as a treatment for lower back pain, and a range of other conditions.  If we decide together that acupuncture is a good choice for you within your chiropractic treatment, then we can start there and then!  Our chiropractor Philippa is fully trained and registered to use acupuncture as part of her treatments in clinic.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles (which are about the thickness of a human hair) into specific points in your body.  Mention “acupuncture” to someone, and you may think of someone with dozens of needles in their back looking like a hedgehog. It may surprise you to know that we tend to use a maximum of 6 needles in our treatments!  This is because we use a Western medical approach to acupuncture in clinic, which is different to traditional Chinese treatments.

Want to learn more?

A medical approach to acupuncture involves a few essential features:

  • Medical history, examination and clinical investigations (if necessary) are all used to form a diagnosis.
  • An appropriate plan of management, and appropriate needling points are identified.
  • As with all our treatments, the appropriate treatment is given, in a way that is carefully tailored to the individual.  This can mean using more needles (usually up to a maximum of 6), using percutaneous electric nerve stimulation, or increasing the length of time the needles are inserted.
  • Your response to treatment is monitored, and subsequent treatment is determined based on your response to this treatment.

Acupuncture is, in itself, a phenomenon- it produces an unique sensation, can alleviate pain in areas quite far away from where the needle is inserted, and patients have been known to spontaneously report feelings of improved wellbeing and deep sleep after treatment!  This treatment is also a powerful tool for pain relief, and this sometimes occurs immediately after removing the needles; several hours after treatment; or gradually accumulating over a course of several treatments.

So if acupuncture is a phenomenon, with varied responses for each individual, how do we know that it is an appropriate, evidence-based, effective treatment for you?

Here are five mechanisms to help explain how acupuncture works:

1) Acupuncture promotes healing.  It stimulates nerve fibres in the skin and muscle, and this leads to the release of a substance called CGRP- calcitonin gene-related peptide (no, we won’t quiz you on this later!)  This substance causes blood vessels around the needle to dilate, and increases blood flow, which encourages tissue healing.

2) When a needle stimulates nerve fibres, these travel to a specific part of the spinal cord, called the dorsal horn (which helps regulate pain signals). This stimulation helps to reduce the response of the dorsal horn to pain, and this is probably the main mechanism by which acupuncture relieves pain, and what it is most commonly used for.

3) These nerve signals then transmit up to the brain, and stimulate the body’s pain-suppressing mechanisms.  (Yes, our body can suppress pain- think about the times when you haven’t noticed a scratch or a graze because you’ve been concentrating on something else). This is why acupuncture is so helpful, as it can suppress pain throughout the entire body.

4) Parts of our brain that control emotion, behaviour and sleep are also stimulated by acupuncture, and so acupuncture has a calming effect and can improve our feeling of wellbeing.

5) When our muscles are strained or injured, it develops a small area of damage (called a trigger point) which can be slow to heal and can cause persistent pain.  Acupuncture helps to deactivate and reduce these trigger points.

If you would like to find out more about this type of treatment, what it can be used for and whether it could be a good option for you, book an appointment with us today!

Back pain in children

Do you have back pain? Do you remember when it started? A lot of our patients don’t, it’s just “crept on over the years”, which often means that it is mistaken as an “older person’s problem”.  Unfortunately, back pain is something that is becoming more of a problem in younger generations (one study of 34,076 participants found that over 50% first experienced back pain before the age of 20!)

So why is back pain affecting young people? Let’s divert slightly and talk about teeth for a minute- most babies cut their first tooth at around 6 months old.  This is when parents then bring out the baby toothpaste and start encouraging healthy dental hygiene habits.  Babies can start to roll from the age of 4 months, and gradually progress through important developmental milestones, but when do we start promoting healthy spine habits in our children?  Unfortunately, we don’t.  It’s an area that has, and continues to be, overlooked.  Our aim is to promote healthy postural habits in children of all ages to help them grow “from little acorns to mighty oaks” and avoid having back, neck and postural pain.

You can help us do this, by continuing to promote healthy habits in your children as they grow up and start going to school.  A recent study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood analysed 1403 children, and found that 61.4% of these children had backpacks that weighed in excess of 10% of the child’s bodyweight!  Those carrying the heaviest backpacks and a 50% higher risk of back pain, and girls had a higher risk of back pain in comparison to boys.

What can I do to help?

  • Babies:  Minimise the amount of time spent in baby equipment.  Yes, it’s easier to pop munchkin into a baby carrier so you have your hands free, but babies often spend their time being transferred from bouncer to car seat to baby swing back to car seat, and get very little time to develop the new motor skills that come from being able to wriggle around, practice, and experience using their arms and legs!  Occasional use is fine, but just be aware that every minute that little one is in baby equipment, is a minute of lost experience, so try to give them as much wriggle time as possible!
  • School aged children: Check your children’s rucksacks when they get in from school- remove any books that don’t need to be there.  (A good opportunity to also remove the toys, twigs, sweetie wrappers, stones or anything else that has been “acquired” by kiddo throughout the school day!) Also, don’t underestimate the importance of good footwear. Children are forever running around and supportive, soft-soled shoes with a good grip will make it easier for your little one to carry a school bag and avoid strains or sprains from poorly-fitting footwear.
  • Teenagers: Encourage regular breaks.  Yes, schoolwork is important, but taking a break every 30 minutes will help to stop postural pains and stresses from creeping on.  Ensure their desks are set up suitably- if you’d like some advice about workstation ergonomics and correct setup, let us know!

Remember- if your child continues to report back pain, it is important to consult a medical professional for appropriate advice.  If you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

If you have any further questions you’d like to ask, please feel free to get in touch.

Water

What is the single best drink for your health?

We recommend you visit this youtube link to find out more about why water is and will always be the best drink for you and your healthy body. Click here to see more.

Going out for a run this morning? Did you know that at even 5% dehydration, your maximal performance will have reduced from 100% to 70%!

Water is often ignored, and passed-up in favour of more exciting drinks, but it is the single best thing that we can consume to help our bodies function properly and recover quickly.

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