Are you aware that over half of us regularly suffer with backaches, neck pain or headaches? So why not seek out professional advice sooner rather than later to sort out those pesky niggles before it becomes a serious problem.
Take care of the back you have, because we have never heard of a replacement spine, have you?!
Here are our top 5 tips to help you to spinal health bliss:
Sitting Posture: Support your lower back when sitting down at your desk or at home, try not to curl up on the sofa, as it’ll twist your spine causing back ache and possible problems in the future.
Bedtime: Sleeping on your back (with a pillow behind your knees) is best for your spine. If you really want to sleep on your side, then put a pillow between your knees so you don’t twist into the recovery position.
Keep active! Get into the habit of taking a brisk walk daily. Try to make it fun or work out with a group like class or running group.
Pain is often a warning sign. If something is hurting, don’t ignore it. Particularly important this time of year when we start hitting that gardening again!
Ice. If you’re achy use an ice pack, wrapped up in a tea-towel for 5-10 minutes every half an hour to calm any swelling and promote recovery.
We hope this helps, but if you would like more specialist advice for your particular problem please do not hesitate to contact our principal chiropractor Philippa Oakley.
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.
If you would like to receive our “Injury for Runners” resource, detailing the most common types of running injuries, the mechanism of injury, preventative measures and more useful information, please complete your details below.
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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.
As the old proverb said, ‘prevention is better than cure’. So what’s the simplest thing can we do every day to prevent musculoskeletal pain?
With every patient we find the root cause or underlying issue of the problem and treat it accordingly to patient preference and clinical evidence and research. The most common problem I see from children to adults…
The most effective way of getting you out of pain quickly is self management. We provide a personal back pain toolkits and show you how to do stretches to ease pain and prevent pain or injury in the future.
Prevent back pain with these three simple steps.
Include stretching into your daily routine, or go to a regular yoga class. Think of preventing back pain like preventing tooth decay – it’s as easy as brushing your teeth. We love using foam rollers in clinic- a great addition to your stretching routine.
Use ice immediately to reduce swelling and inflammation on a new injury. Use heat on a recurring injury to reduce pain. You can use paracetamol to help prevent swelling and pain as well.
Research shows a 20 minute walk everyday will reduce the risk of back pain by 10-50%. Similarly if you are sitting down all day, get up to move about or stretch every 20-30 minutes (this also has the helpful side-effect of improving your concentration).
If you would like more hints and tips about prevention of back pain or musculoskeletal injury please read our blog page that details particular injuries and more helpful tips.
On 24 April 2015 the British Heart Foundation are challenging the nation to get On Your Feet Britain. This is what the charity says:
Take part in the first-ever national day when workers across Britain will sit less and move more. We are working with Get Britain Standing to challenge workers around the UK to take a stand against heart disease.
Moving more makes a difference
Sedentary behaviour, that is, sitting or lying down with low energy expenditure, has been associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as obesity and weight gain. Participating in physical activity can reduce this risk.
We now spend longer periods sitting than ever before. In 2012, over 50% of men and women in England reported spending five hours or more per work day sitting or standing.
“Get up offa that thing”
The On Your Feet Britain Challenge dares you to take James Brown at his word and convert ‘sitting time’ to ‘standing time’. Reducing the amount of sitting you do in a day is easier than you think.
Why not try:
Standing during phone calls
Standing and taking a break from your computer every 30 minutes
Having standing or walking meetings
Eating your lunch away from your desk
Walking to your colleague’s desk instead of phoning or emailing them
Standing at the back of the room during presentations
Friday 24th April is your chance to get the ball rolling and encourage your employees to take a stand – team up with colleagues and see how much activity you can clock up in day.