Thank you to The Run Company for letting us take over your shop for those evenings!
There are some big races in every runner’s diary at this time of year, including the largest local marathon taking place in June and international races coming up in the Autumn. Nothing’s more disappointing than picking up an injury just a few days before the big event, so in this workshop, we took our guests through the top prevention steps everyone needs to know to prevent injury, helping you spend more time on the road and less in rehab.
We covered everything from overtraining to optimum performance tips as well as advice on the all-important recovery period, and an opportunity to speak to Philippa, Acorn Healths principle Chiropractor, one-on-one after the event for any specific questions or advice.
We had an Ultra-marathoner and a Tough Mudder runner who had specific questions on nutrition and keeping up their energy levels. We also talked to a few ladies who are looking to improve their stride to reduce expelling unnecessary energy, and a 10K runner interested in injury prevention. We also had a lady interested in increasing her walking to running without causing serious injury and a gentleman looking for information on running winter marathons.
Our events are never a dull affair, and all are encouraged to get involved and ask questions throughout the talk. We left the first event thinking about stocking up on jaffa cakes and jelly beans and the last one thinking about taking a nap! If you are interested in coming to one of our events please subscribe to Facebook events here or sign up to our newsletters here.
Book in for your pre-race MOT appointment here so we can get those backs mobilised, ribs moving freely to increase your lung expansion and thus your muscle moment and improve your hip flexion and extension for a better stride.
Your body is an intricate machine and just like any machine, things can go wrong from time to time. If you are in pain, it’s your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. Listen to it.
The clocks are going back, and speaking of time, is it time for a new mattress? It can be difficult trying to work out which one is going to be the best for you (and your partner!) Did you know it’s recommended that you replace your mattress every seven years? A recent survey of over 2,000 adults found that more than one in ten (11%) adults have never replaced their mattress at all and the same number would only do so if they slept better on a different bed!
So, to make the decision easier for you, we’ve put together our six top tips for choosing a new mattress.
So which mattress should I choose?
We’re going to let you in to a little secret… There is no single mattress style or type that works for all people with low back pain.Ultimately, if you find a mattress that means you sleep without pain, then that’s the one for you. Choose the mattress that you find comfortable, which will depend upon your height, build and personal preference.
Memory mattresses. Love it or hate it, memory foam can be a fantastic solution as it allows your mattress to support every contour of your body. The only issue is, memory foam can be very expensive, and can cause sleepers to overheat. If you’re committed to a full memory foam mattress, look for one with ventilation to stop you cooking gently overnight. We’d suggest a memory foam toppers as it’s more affordable than a full memory foam mattress but offers many of the same health benefits as a full memory foam mattress.
Balance. Achieve a balance between back support and comfort. The old way of thinking was that a firm mattress offers more support, but what we know now is that it can cause pressure points as you have fewer areas of your body in contact with the mattress. A medium-firm mattress may be more comfortable as it allows your shoulders and hips to sink in slightly. If you want a firmer mattress for back support, we’d suggest one of those memory foam toppers we’ve mentioned earlier.
Sleep quality is pivotal for those with low back pain so pay attention to the mattress components. Mattresses can play a huge part in disturbed sleep- if you’re tossing and turning all night, you’re going to keep your partner awake. Equally, you’re not getting a restful night’s sleep and there is a strong link between sleep quality and pain. Mattresses with multi-zone pocket springs or unlinked pocket springs are a fantastic choice to eliminate partner disturbances- linked pocket springs tend to relay movement to adjoining springs, creating a ripple of movement across the mattress that’s bound to wake your partner up. You could also explore the option of zip or link beds if you still can’t avoid waking each other up!
When testing a new mattress, have someone look at the position of your back when you’re on the bed. If you are lying on your side on the bed, your spine should be parallel to the mattress and it should not sag (bed too soft) or bow (bed too hard). The longer you can spend lying on a mattress before you buy it, the more accurate you’ll be able to tell if it’s the right mattress for you. Take your partner with you when you go to test them out.
Don’t forget to try new pillows with your new mattress. There’s no point spending several hundred pounds on a new mattress if your pillows are as old as the hills- it’s important that you have a pillow that appropriately supports your head and neck too.
Lastly, think about the height of the bed too. If you have the world’s most perfect mattress but can’t physically get out of the bed comfortably, it’s not going to help with your back pain. Make sure you can get in and out of the bed with relative ease before you commit to buying.
So, to summarise:
Choose the mattress that you find comfortable.
Consider a memory foam topper before investing in a full memory foam mattress.
A medium-firm mattress (with or without topper) is a safe bet.
A multi-zone pocket spring or unlinked coil spring will reduce partner disturbance.
Spend as much time lying on the mattress as possible before you buy it.
Your pillow needs to be appropriately supportive too!
Can you get in and out the bed easily? If not- don’t buy it.
A good night’s sleep is hugely important in recovering from any type of pain or injury. If you need help or advice on coping with your pain, don’t hesitate to contact us on 01243 379693 or book an appointment here.
A good rider knows that they must work in unison with their horse. To create fluid movements it requires symmetry, balance, coordination and stability. This doesn’t come easy, and requires training on both parts as a poor rider can ruin a good horse.
At Acorn Health we see patients that are involved in a variety of equestrian activities, including carriage driving, showjumping, cross-country and dressage. In addition to this blog post, we have prepared a brief video to help you reduce the impact of back pain whilst riding (see below), but first please read our hints and tips!
Lower back pain is a common problem in horse riders, due to the static position we adopt when riding – especially in the untrained rider. These problems reveal themselves through dysfunction and altered movement in the hips, pelvis, and lower back from the result of poor core stability, lack of flexibility, and instability in the saddle. There are some simple steps to prevent this.
If you only have a few minutes, scroll down to the bottom to read our top tips to improve these problems.
Restriction in the movement of the hips is a common problem, and this can affect the pelvic movement and motion of the lower back. The pelvis moves in a complex, multidirectional way when riding, if one area is not moving enough, another area will be moving too much to counteract this. Good core stability is vital to allow and support these movements. Insufficient movement through the hips can cause stiffening of the lower back and buttocks so the upper body may become loose (causing head bobbing or bouncing shoulders), or the lower body may become unstable (leading to flapping legs). An example is seen in the video below.
If you feel out of balance in the saddle, this may be because you are tipping forward through the pelvis. This in turn causes your seat bones (the ones you sit on) to angle backwards. The result here is that the lower back hollows, and the hips are unable to move freely at this angle. When this happens your body will immediately attempt to compensate for this, usually through recruiting other muscles to stabilise the area- commonly, the inner thighs or hip flexors (the muscles in the front of your thighs) will become involved, and this can lead you susceptible to yet more muscle and joint strain.
The image in the video demonstrates tipping forward through the pelvis causing hollowing of the lower back. The correct position of the pelvis in the saddle, and rotating backwards through the pelvis causing flattening of the lower back and protruding stomach.
Importantly, these imbalances in the rider can also affect the way your horse is able to
move. Putting pressure on your horse’s back means that he will find it difficult to use his back and legs in the correct way. This impacts on your horses ability to swing their shoulders through the paces, and can cause them to have back pain too so over time, you will both perpetuate each other’s lower back issues.
Many riders find that their hamstrings (in the back of the thigh) and their quadriceps (in the front of the thigh) become shortened as a result of the position we adopt in the saddle. Ensure you muscles are functioning at their best by adopting a good stretching routine.
What are the most common postural faults in riders?
The “en avant” position. Leaning forward in the saddle and balancing the majority of the weight in the stirrups. This is most commonly seen in show jumpers and cross-country eveners. Riding too much in this position also means you will be unable to provide the correct aids to your horse, and are already out-of-balance in the saddle. The pectoral muscles in the front of the chest become tight and sore, further encouraging rounded shoulders. Due to this imbalance, should the horse spook, you may find yourself thrown forward on to his neck or coming off over his shoulder.
Riding too short or too long. Stirrup length should be measured and adjusted on a regular basis. Why? As you become more flexible, your body will change and as a result subtle changes will adapt the length of the muscle.
Tight hip flexors. Tension through the front of the thigh will automatically lead to tension in the lower back, causing weakening of the abdominal muscles. A common mistake is to adopt a position in the saddle similar to the position we adopt when using an office chair. When the hip is over-flexed, the lower back hollows as a result which is a key contributor to lower back pain.
Dropping the chin. Constantly dropping the chin to look at the horse causes strain of the muscles in the back of your neck, and weakening of those in the front. This in turn can lead to headaches, neck, and upper back pain. A rider should always be looking up and ahead, not down at the horse.
Top tips for reducing back pain in the saddle:
Stretch. Riders rely on their quadricep muscles to bear the weight of their body, and the calf muscles must work to keep the heels down in the saddle. This tends to lead to hamstrings becoming tight but weak, calves becoming long, and quadriceps shortening. Maintain suppleness and flexibility through your hips by stretching on a regular basis (not only before you get on the horse!)
Focus on your core stability. Yoga or pilates exercises will help teach you balance and coordination by encouraging your core muscles to work correctly, allowing you to maintain the correct posture in the saddle.
Ensure your saddle has been fitted correctly. A poorly fitting saddle can cause discomfort in the horse and affect its movement, often encouraging the horse to move asymmetrically to avoid pressure and pain from the saddle.
Commit to physical fitness. A lot of riders use riding as their only conditioning activity, but a well-rounded fitness programme (which includes core stability, stretching routines and cardiovascular exercises) will help improve your overall fitness and stamina, and reduce injury while riding.