Autumn can be a wonderful time of year, yet there can also be unexpected problems. Sudden drops in temperature causing us to bundle up in lots of layers, which we then struggle to peel off when the sun briefly pops out again! As the leaves start to drop, they can make the pavements slippy. If you are gardening and raking up these leaves, this can also cause problems with shoulders and backs unaccustomed to these repeated one-sided movements.
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.
Below is a montage of the speedy renovation project that was conducted between Christmas and New Year 2016: including our new signage, new chiropractic bench fondly renamed Kermit for his bright green colour, painting, removing cupboards and replacing floors. Thank you to everybody whom has helped and been a part of the transition from award-winning chiropractic clinic to award-winning multidisciplinary clinic.
Take a tour through the transformation of 2 Palmer’s Road:
Little muscle- BIG pain! We wanted to tell you about a classic case that appeared in clinic this week as it may also help you – a lady in her mid 30’s came into clinic with excruciating pain and tingling sensations radiating down the back of her thigh. Good old ‘Dr Google’ had suggested this could be sciatica which had got her really worried.
On examination, we found a nasty little group of what are called “trigger points” (focal areas of hyperirritability within a muscle) in her gluteus minimus muscle, and palpation of these reproduced the exact pain she had been experiencing. But what is this? The referred pain generated from trigger points in the gluteus minimus is notorious for activating other trigger points in the TFL, quadriceps, gastrocnemius, hamstrings, and peroneal muscle groups- in fact, gluteus minimus referred pain is often referred to as “pseudo-sciatica”, as it so closely mimics the symptoms of sciatica.
What commonly causes a glute min trigger point?
– Walking or running on uneven ground
– Sitting on a wallet (hello chaps- we’re talking to you!)
– Limping (from a foot or lower leg injury)
– Driving long distances or sitting for long periods
– Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
Fortunately, with a comprehensive treatment programme which addresses the many components of this problem, this issue can be resolved swiftly and successfully in clinic, helping to relieve what is a literal “pain in the butt“!
Butt!? What is TRUE Sciatica?
Sciatica is the name given to any sort of pain that is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. This particular nerve is the longest nerve in your body and it runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet.
In the vast majority of true sciatica cases, sciatica is caused by a herniated or “slipped” disc (learn more about the fabled slipped disc here): This is when one of the discs that sit between the bones of the spine (the vertebrae) is damaged and presses on the nerves. Less common causes include spinal stenosis (narrowing of the nerve passages in the spine), a spinal injury or infection, or a growth within the spine (such as a tumour in very rare cases). It is important to be checked by a specialist immediately if you have any symptoms, by being diagnosed quickly you will avoid further pain, discomfort and possible injury.
You can minimise your risk of developing a slipped disc or back injury that could lead to sciatica by adopting a better posture and lifting techniques at work, as well as stretching before and after exercise, and exercising regularly. We also recommend adding a foam roller into your exercise routine to help with the after affects of exercise and encourage muscle repair, read ‘5 Ways your foam roller could be more effective’ to find out more.
Here it is, the oh-so-predictable New Year’s Resolution post about a “New Year, New You.” We’re going to bypass that this year in favour of something far more important. Whilst New Year’s Resolutions which centre around going to the gym, getting fitter or putting more of an emphasis on our health are fantastic, we want you to spare a thought for your joints before you start a new exercise regime. Search online for “getting fit quotes” and the words that pop up most frequently are “pain”, “hurt”, “sore”, “skinny” or “burn”. Whilst some pain is normal and to be expected, this has given rise to a worrying influx in the number of sport-related injuries we’ve seen from athletes “training through the pain”.
Most sporting injuries occur from what we call the Terrible Toos- doing too much, too soon. After not working out for months or years, people come in and try to run 5 miles or lift 200 lbs at their first session. Their deconditioned, unprepared muscles can’t cope with the action and so injury occurs. We then have to recover from the injury by which point our motivation for our New Year’s resolution is gone. You won’t become Batman (or Catwoman) in one workout session, so please please please train properly and spare a thought for injury prevention this year.
So how does injury occur?
Injury, particularly sports injury, occurs through direct or indirect trauma to muscles, ligaments, and joint capsules. Injury takes two forms- direct and indirect. Direct trauma or injury occurs through blunt trauma or a sudden overload- so dropping a weight on your foot would be a direct trauma (HINT: Don’t do it!)
Indirect trauma or injury occurs from repeated submaximal loading. (When we refer to joint loading, what we mean is the force that is put on a load-bearing or weight-bearing joint during exercise.) This could be therefore be repetitive injury to your elbows when lifting, or your knee when running. Indirect trauma can therefore occur through repetitive lifting of weights, running, or any activity that “loads” a joint.
Regardless of direct or indirect trauma, the end result is still the same- tissue dysfunction that is characterised through pain, inflammation, and internal tissue stress. This can lead to what is known as “functional disability”, where you’re able to go about your day-to-day life largely without issue, but your training or exercise regime is impaired. Not what you want when you’re motivated to get to the gym!
Why does injury occur?
Whilst some sports injury occurs through direct trauma- such as a rugby tackle, overuse injuries are more common in sports than acute injuries. These are subtle and occur over time, hence why early detection and diagnosis is key. Faulty movement patterns, joint restriction or muscle dysfunction can be detected by your chiropractor which can help to identify those who are at risk of an overuse injury and provide advice on injury prevention, modification of exercises, adaptations to technique or treatment if appropriate.
Researchers have reported that impact forces of up to 550% the normal force load are transmitted to our joints when running, with impact forces between 4 to 8 times higher than those during normal walking. Much as you wouldn’t lift a heavy weight without putting some thought into it first (if you even decided to lift it at all!) we need to put some thought into how well equipped our bodies are to cope with these additional stresses and strains before we hit the gym. This is why launching into a fitness regime without putting some thought into how you’re going to do it and how you’re going to protect yourself whilst doing it can be crucial.
Coping with this degree of stress can be challenging enough even for joints that are well-adapted to this degree of stress, but if you are starting a new exercise regime or perhaps picking up a new activity, your joints need some time to adapt to the new activity. They also need to be ready and able to cope with this degree of stress. This is where chiropractic comes in.
How does chiropractic help?
Chiropractors are primary healthcare professionals who are trained to diagnose, treat, manage and prevent disorders of the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints and muscles), as well as the effects these can have on the nervous system and general health.
Chiropractors are often thought to only “crack backs” and only treat back pain. Much like your GP wouldn’t prescribe the same pill for an ear infection as they would for high blood pressure, so a chiropractor doesn’t just perform spinal manipulation for a bad back. It entirely depends on the nature of the injury, the level of pain, and most importantly, your personal preferences (it all comes down to teamwork!) Chiropractors have a vast array of treatment options they can offer and chiropractic care can be crucial in injury prevention because chiropractic emphasises the correct functioning of all joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments in your body to ensure you are performing at your very best. Whether you are an elite athlete, a gym newbie, or perhaps a keen sportsperson returning from injury, chiropractic can be crucial in identifying dysfunction prior to an injury occurring.
A crucial part of treatment at Acorn Health is helping you to develop a firm understanding of how your body works, how pain and problems can occur and how to prevent it. We work with you to develop a new fitness routine and training programme with appropriate exercises that will enable you to strengthen and stabilise your joints whilst reducing your risk of picking up an injury.
So whilst you’re dusting off your trainers and wrangling your way into your sports kit, spare a thought for your joints, and spare a thought for injury prevention.
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