Horse riding has many benefits, from sharing an emotional bond with an animal, to being able to get outdoors and explore the countryside. As such a physically demanding activity, it should keep you fit and healthy. However, horse riders can often be saddled with injuries – but don’t worry, regular chiropractic care can help!
Back pain is one of the major disabling health conditions among older adults aged 60 years and older. Many causes of lower back pain are age-related with physical and psychosocial changes. There is a distinct lack of awareness, especially in older adults to the causes and effects of back pain and pain management.
Existing evidence suggests that prevalence rates of severe and chronic low back pain increase with older age. As compared to working-age adults, older adults are more likely to develop lower back pain like osteoporotic vertebral fractures, tumors, spinal infection, and lumbar spinal stenosis
Throughout February we have been posting our top tips to get fit and healthy the best way possible in February. Here’s to committing to your workouts after the initial ‘New Year’ rush! Are you ready for our top tips to conquer ‘Fitness February’!? (More to be added soon!)
Protect Your Neck – Tuck your chin in and put your tongue on the roof of your mouth when you do crunches. It will help align your head properly, which helps reduce neck strain.
Don’t exercise when you’re sick – You’re better taking a day off so your body will use its resources to heal itself, not build muscle and endurance.
If you want to exercise before work but aren’t a morning person, try this trick: For a set period, let’s say 4 weeks, force yourself to get up 15 minutes earlier than normal and go outside for a quick walk. Make it so easy that you don’t even have to change into your workout clothes. As you near the end of the 4 weeks, you’ll have a new habit and will then be able to progress to either longer walks or a run in the morning!
Improve your balance – Stand one-legged on a sofa cushion and move a medicine ball (or heavy phone book) from hand to hand, side to side, and behind your head. Once you’ve mastered the move, try it with your eyes closed. This technique will improve your balance, coordination, and body control, all important athletic attributes.
Run Injury-Free – One week out of every six, cut your weekly training mileage and frequency in half. You’ll give your body a better chance to recover, and you’ll avoid permanent, nagging injuries. Find out more in our Running without pain resource.
Run Hills Faster – When running uphill, keep your head up and your eyes focused on the top of the hill. This opens your airways, making it easier to breathe than if your upper body were hunched forward. Find out more in our Training, Injury prevention and recovery resource.
Loosen Your Hips – Keep your heels on the floor when you squat. If you can’t, your hip flexors are too tight and need to be stretched out! Try this stretch: Hold onto the sides of the squat rack and lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold this for 30 seconds. Return to a standing position, then repeat five times
Replace Your Shoes (Not Your Knees) – To avoid injuries, write an “expiration date” on your shoes as soon as you buy them. Shoes last about 500 miles, so simply divide 500 by your average weekly mileage to determine how many weeks your shoes are likely to last.
End Back Pain – For every set of abdominal exercises you perform, do a set of lower-back exercises. Focusing only on your abs can lead to poor posture and lower-back pain.
Chronic shoulder tension. Knots in your upper back. Stiffness, headaches, neck pain. Sounds familiar? Yep- we see chronic shoulder tension a lot in clinic- but allow us to explain why simply treating the shoulder isn’t going to solve the issue.
Firstly, muscles don’t work alone.
Our body moves and functions through a combination of movements in a coordinated group of muscles, ligaments, fascia, tendons and joints. Back pain is our bread-and-butter as chiropractors, and we know from both research and experience that pain in the back doesn’t necessarily mean a problem in the back. That pain could be caused by a problem somewhere completely different- something that often causes a bit of confusion when you come to see us for pain in one area and we end up treating somewhere completely different.
Let us paint you a picture. You work in an office. You’re stuck at a desk all day, sitting on your behind, slouched and worn out by 5PM. Your shoulders are tight and sore, and you can feel the knots building up in your upper traps, giving you a thunderous headache by the end of the day. Now, you know those knots and tense muscles are going to cause problems of their own, so you had an upper back massage two days ago and they should be feeling better… but they’re not. So is the problem the upper traps and shoulders, or is it something else?
Let’s look at the latissimus dorsi.
It’s a muscle that originates from the spinous processes of T7-L5, the iliac crest around the top of the pelvis, the thoracolumbar fascia in the middle of our back, the lower border of the shoulder blade and the lower 3/4 ribs. (Yep, it’s massive!) All those fibres attach to the humerus (the long bone in the top of your arm). Why are we talking about a muscle in the lower back? Surely a muscle in the lower back controls the lower back, right? Wrong. The lat dorsi actually serves to extend, adduct, flex and internally rotate the shoulder, and lends a mere helping fibre or two to extend and laterally flex the spine. (In case you’re interested- it also helps with our lung function and breathing. Safe to say, it’s a pretty important muscle.)
So, back to you sat at your desk.
You’re slouching, your lumbar spine is curved and unsupported, so your latissimus dorsi is stretched beyond the norm and the fibres can’t fire properly. As a result, the muscle can’t complete the role it’s supposed to, the upper trapezius steps in to help and is left to do all the hard work controlling the shoulder itself (Just like that last project your boss asked you and Jane to do together and Jane left it up to you to do all the hard work- thanks Jane….) This leads to imbalance and weakness in both the lats and lower traps not to mention a very grumpy upper trapezius. You’ve tried treating the site of the pain (with that amazing back, neck and shoulder massage) and it feels better for a day or two afterwards but then it comes back.
It’s fairly obvious by now that the problem with your tight and knotty upper traps isn’t caused by your shoulders- it’s something further afield.
So we have to look elsewhere- we look at your lower back and find that your latissimus dorsi is, surprise surprise, not happy with life. Now we’ve found that we also need to look at the Posterior Oblique Sling.* The POS includes the latissimus dorsi, glut med (in the back of the hip) and the thoracolumbar fascia (in the middle of our back.) *NB When we talk about one of the “slings” in the body, we’re talking about a specific group of muscles, fascia and ligaments which all work together to stabilise and mobilise the body.
Guess what we find when we examine you?
Your lat dorsi isn’t firing properly, which is throwing off the stability in the posterior oblique sling. Your lower back is stiff and restricted, and you can’t laterally flex properly- further compounding the problem with the latissimus dorsi (remember us saying it helps with lateral flexion of the lumbar spine?) So you can see how you’re caught in a vicious circle of dysfunction creating more dysfunction, and, in your case, leading to chronically tight shoulders that just never seem to get better!
The above is just an example of a classic case we often see in clinic.
Now, there are approximately 640 muscles in the human body, all intricately involved with the others in a chain of movement, that can have a chain of consequences if something in that chain misbehaves. To state the obvious again- each person we see is an individual, and the way dysfunction comes about is different for each person, as is the way in which the body adapts to that dysfunction.
As chiropractors, our job is to work out what’s going on and why (and then work with you to get it better) and this often involves looking at areas that might be quite far afield from where the actual pain is felt- but as you can see, there’s a reason for that.
So where to begin? How can you improve your posture and reduce pain and problems? We’d suggest starting with some simple exercises, and downloading your copy of “Understanding Pain” which will help you get to grips with chronic pain, what’s going on in your body and how you can take back control!
Alternatively, and perhaps best- is to seek professional help and get a diagnosis and treatment plan put in place. You can get started by booking your appointment today.