Chiropractic Advice for Women Suffering Back Ache
If you are, or you know a woman who’s suffering with back ache then this blog is for you. In this blog I would like to share some self-help tips about women’s back health.
Hi, I’m James Revell a Doctor of Chiropractic and Clinic Director at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne and have worked in Eastbourne since 2004. I’ve seen thousands of men and women with back ache over my years of practice. There are often small but important things people can do to help themselves. This blog focuses on a few tips I find most useful for the ladies I see who are suffering with back ache. I hope that you find something in here which helps you. Not everyone needs to make all the changes but as they say “every little helps”.
Nearly three quarters of women suffer with back ache at some point in their lives and the problems highlighted here could be to blame.
Tight clothing that restricts moving freely, fashionable shoes that change your natural gait can affect posture and lead to back and neck pain. Overloaded and heavy bags can also be to blame, as well tight trousers like skinny jeans which restrict your back, hip or knee mobility. Anything that affects how you move your body should be avoided. Even heavy jewellery like statement necklaces for example can increase pressure on your neck.
I know it’s not just women who wear skinny jeans etc but for this blog I’ve put together a list of advice I’ve shared with some of the women I’ve treated who are suffering back ache
I thought I’d write this blog focusing on advice for women suffering back ache to share some basic advice to help ladies look after themselves better. There are some common culprits which until they’ve been pointed out to you are easily missed.
Chiropractic Tip: Check Your Shoes
We all know high heels are bad for us, but we wear them anyway Ok I know I don’t but you know what I mean! High heels change the angle of our foot, knee and hip, which in turn increases the angle in our lower back putting pressure there and can even result in compensations higher up your spine. So my first piece of advice for women suffering back ache is check your shoes. Are they helping or hurting your back?
I’m afraid even smaller heels can be bad for us. Hard soled shoes that don’t have any cushioning are also not ideal. I’ve recently changed my work shoes to softer ones because I’ve increased my hours and can be on my feet all day.
If you need to wear heels (either for uniform or fashion) for some of the time, and you’re suffering with back ache then make sure you can change out of them asap. Keep your comfy shoes handy and let your posture unwind as soon as you can.
Wedges or chunkier heels over stilettos are also a better choice. But don’t be fooled by slip on sandals, or flip flops without support at the back. They tend to increase strain on the muscles in your feet and can result in Achilles tendon problems.
Suffering back ache? Then Vary What You Wear
For some men and women suffering back ache the culprit can be simply wearing the same types of clothes every day. Tighter clothes restrict the body from moving freely so looser clothing, baggier trousers and straight leg jeans are a good alternative choice. Varying what you wear will vary how much, and what pressure is put on your muscles and joints.
Getting the Right Support
Clothes are important but what you wear underneath can also affect your back ache. Bras need to fit properly so that the shoulders don’t take all the strain. When shopping for bras, look for one that has an underband that is neither too tight or too loose. The centre fastener should sit close to the body and the straps shouldn’t be too tight on your shoulders.
I don’t know of any good Bra Outfitters in Eastbourne but I have had a few ladies go to Brighton to Bravissimo. If you have an Eastbourne based recommendation please share it below in the comments section of this blog.
Whilst we’re talking about underwear and advice for women suffering back ache I’ve had a number of ladies who’ve helped themselves by changing the size or type of skirts/trousers they wear. The effect of elasticated waist bands on underwear coupled with the tops of tights and an elasticated waist band on your skirt or trousers can really affect the back. It’s the layering affect which makes a difference, especially if the waist bands are a little tight in the first place.
Is Your Overloaded Bag Causing your Backache?
Men and women can both be guilty of carrying too much. However here at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne, our chiropractors conducted an exercise for our patient’s to weigh any bags they routinely carried with them. Some women had handbags that they carried everywhere weighing over 5kg!
If you’re suffering with back ache then pay attention to the bag you carry around and regularly check for and empty your bag of unnecessary items.
My advice for men or women suffering back ache is to change to using a backpack if you need to carry items around with you. Back packs are best for your posture as the distribute weight evenly across both shoulders.
Try to avoid bags that must be carried in the crook of your arm, as the weight of these held away from your body pulls one shoulder lower than the other, twisting your neck and spine. If your bag has one strap alternate the shoulder you carry it on or wear it across the body.
Perfecting Your Lifting and Carrying Technique
Many men and women suffering back ache find that housework, DIY and even just playing with the children can trigger their back ache.
When you’re lifting make sure your legs are hip width apart, knees bent and tummy tight. Keep your head and shoulders directly above your waist and keep the weight you are carrying as close to you as possible without twisting.
New mothers are especially at risk. Their body has gone through the changes associated with pregnancy and the birth process and then they have to cope with the sleep deprivation and physical demands of feeding a new born. Many women suffering this type of new baby back ache find that lifting the children in and out of the care very challenging. My advice: keep your tummy tight and keep your child as close to you as possible.
Take Regular Breaks
When doing gardening, housework or DIY vary what you’re doing and try not to spend more than 20-30 minutes on one thing. This will relieve the build-up of back ache.
Come on Eastbourne – Stop The Slouch!
Men and women suffering back ache need to make sure their bottom is against the seat back with your shoulder blades touching the rest of the chair. Try to ensure that your hips are higher than your knees.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
The final piece of advice I have for men and women suffering back ache is to make sure you’re sleeping in a supportive position and good mattress.
It’s best for your back to sleep on your back. If you sleep on your side, then put a pillow between your knees to avoid twisting over. If you’re still suffering backache at night then you might need to change your mattress. Are you waking up feeling stiff or achy? Or is your mattress is misshapen or sagging?
If your mattress is past it’s best or over seven years old you might want to think about buying a new one.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog please comment if you have any questions and I’ll be pleased to help. Our clinic is Lushington Chiropractors, we’re based in Eastbourne. Our Chiropractors have a wealth of advice and knowledge that they can give you on many subjects and we have many information leaflets that are available on a wide range of subjects.
James Revell DC,LRCC,MSc(Chiro),BSc(Chiro),BSc(Biol)
Chiropractor and Clinic Director at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne
LATEST CHIROPRACTIC NEWS
You can also check out my personal site where I share my back care top ten tips.
In-flight exercise advice by Eastbourne chiropractor
Exercises on the plane are incredibly important. We’ve all heard of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and this can be prevented with some simple exercises, I also tend to advise compression socks for a long flight also. There are a few exercises that I tend to do when I travel and I have summarised them here. Some are easier than others and I have separated them into sitting and standing exercises.
Seated in-flight exercises
Seated exercises are easy exercises that you can do to help to prevent things from stiffening up too much and keep the blood flowing. These are also easy to do without other people noticing you and easy to do in a confined space. Lots of people don’t like to do exercises obviously in the aisle as it can seem a bit embarrassing. I personally will do mine anywhere but some people don’t like to do this. These are designed to get lots of different joints moving and blood flowing. These are also targeted at different parts of the body.
Foot pumps – have your feet flat on the floor, lift the toes up as high as you can keeping your heels on the ground, then lower the toes back down and raise the heels off the ground keep the balls of your feet on the floor. Repeat 10 times.
Seated march – keeping your knees bent lift your feet off the ground alternating between sides as if you are marching while seated. Do this for around 30 seconds.
Neck movements – turn your head side to side ten times, then up and down ten times and then ear to shoulder 10 times.
Knee to chest – lift your knee into your chest as high as you can five times each side.
Shoulder rolls – roll your shoulders forwards ten times and then backwards ten times.
Standing in-flight exercises
Side bends – stand up tall and place your hands by your sides, slide one hand down the side of your leg making sure you don’t let your body bend forwards, then do the same to the opposite side and repeat ten times.
Lunges – with sitting so long our glute muscles (the ones in our buttocks) go to sleep. I find that lunges are a good way to switch these muscles back on.
Squats – also a good exercise to get the glutes switched back on. The key thing with a good squat is that your weight goes through your heels.
Calf stretches – when I travel my calves always get tight so I find stretches invaluable. Calf stretches are a great one to do in general but on a plane very useful. I tend to do these when I am waiting for the toilet, as there is always a queue.
These standing exercises are really good and I always do these if there is a stopover on my flight also. Another good thing to do if you have a stopover is make sure that you take the stairs instead of the escalator. It can be tempting to take the escalator as we are often very tired but as we haven’t been moving the stairs are the option that you should take. A foot massage is also a very good thing to do on a stopover or after a long flight in general. When we flew to Thailand we got a foot massage not long after and it was amazing and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
These exercises are very useful and doing these on your flight will help to prevent DVT as well as keep the muscles and joints moving and working.
Yours in health
Everyday Improvements: Part 2
Small Changes That Make A Big Difference
Using a standing desk
Let’s face it, humans did not evolve to sit all day long. It’s bad for our health because it leads to lazy weak muscles and it is also terrible for our backs. If you are a desk worker you are likely to spend months or years of your life in a sitting position. We may sit for 8-10 hours a day at work and then go home and go to bed – an incredible number of sedentary hours. Even if you are sitting in a reasonable upright position with a straight back, this is still not ideal. Most of us when sitting do not adopt this perfect posture and end up slouched and slumped with our heads slightly forward towards our computer screens and this can lead to chronic low back strains, neck pain, headaches and many other issues. In fact, the inactive desk job can also reduce your life span for up to two years compared to more physical jobs!
Switching our regular sitting desks to standing desks has a multitude of benefits. It encourages us to move around more, which helps us burn calories. It also forces us to use our postural muscles instead of sitting and slouching, which keeps them stronger and working as they should. Studies have shown that using a standing desk instead of a sitting desk can increase our heart rate and burn up to 50 calories more an hour. Over a year this can mean 30,000 extra calories are burnt, which equates to 8 lbs of fat. All with no change to your diet at all – a worthwhile switch!
Walking to work
Switching your usual drive to work for a walk, or partial walk will make a huge difference to your overall health. We all know the theory that little and often can make a big difference, but it is remarkable how few of us put this into practice. If you live near enough to work that you can walk, (Lushington Chiropractic is close enough for some of my colleagues to walk to work), then it’s worthwhile getting up half an hour earlier and walking. This will get your metabolism working first thing in the morning, the exercise will strengthen your muscles and the fresh air will clear your head and prepare you for a busy day at work. If you live far from work then driving in a little earlier and parking slightly farther away will help tremendously too. Try to make this a habit and incorporate it into your daily routine. Most people find that they really enjoy getting some extra exercise in a way that is not too strenuous.
Thanks for reading
Airport and Flight Advice by Eastbourne Chiropractor
I’ve recently been away and what I have found out, is that you can take the chiropractor out of the Lushington Chiropractic clinic but you can’t take the clinic out of the chiropractor. What this means is that no matter what I was doing I still looked at everything with a chiropractic perspective. What I’m going to do is take you through some of the thought processes that I went through during my travels and it might give you some inspiration to look at things with a chiropractic mindset.
At the airport
The first thing was the airport. Airports are one of the most stressful places I have ever been, so dealing with this stress is really important. I found that the best way to do this is just to be early. My wife is particularly stressed at airports and we have to be there well in advance to calm her down. The realism is that it is a lot easier to get through airports these days and a lot quicker in general. You can now do online check-in, the bag drop is easier and security is pretty much just the same.
The other thing to watch out for is obviously your bag. If you are going long haul then you will usually have a pretty heavy bag so the way you lift it and the way you wheel it is important. Most people these days do have a suitcase that you are able to wheel and this is definitely something that I recommend, still with these there are also times that you are going to have to lift them. When lifting you bag make sure that the weight is close to you and that the place you are lifting it to is also close. Try not to swing it onto the place that you are putting it as this gives you less control and overall requires more force. When loading into a boot of a car always put it as close to you as possible and then if you need to push it further into the car rather than trying to put it there straight away. The opposite applies when getting it out where you should pull the bag closer to you and then lift it out.
Before your flight
One of the things that annoys me at airports are the seats. I am very particular about seats and the posture that we have on them, just ask my wife about when we went sofa shopping. Whenever I’m buying new chairs or a sofa the main thing I will look for is that it is ergonomically good for me. This is why when I go to the airport it can be quite irritating as most seats are really quite uncomfortable. What I try to do at the airport is not sit down too much because the realism is that soon enough I’m going to be sitting on a plane anyway. Sitting followed by sitting is not necessarily the best thing for us. I personally am not a shopper at the airport but will probably have a glance around just to keep moving. In reality everything is really overpriced and I would not intend to buy anything in the airport apart from food or a coffee, well hot chocolate in my case.
When we were on our way back and we stopped off in Melbourne, we were at the airport for a good 4 hours. As we’d already been off the plane to wonder around and we were both feeling the need for a shower, we decided to look into the airport lounges, we were flying with Emirates so we went up to their lounge and realised that it really was quite expensive and basically for the business and first class passengers for which it is already included. They did however recommend us to another one which was associated and it was 35 Australian dollars each, but for this we had four hours where they provide you with a towel, shampoo and shower gel so you can have a shower and also you have a separate section where you can sit where the seats are much more comfortable than downstairs, a separate Wi-Fi which is a lot quicker and also you get a buffet of food and drinks where you can eat as much as you like. There is also alcohol available but before a long flight I would not recommend this as it tends to dehydrate the body. We were going to go and get food and realistically we would have spent less money than this but it was definitely worthwhile for the great selection and the increased comfort. This is not something that we would do regularly but before a long-haul flight I’d highly recommend it. It was so much better for us and certainly something we would do in the future.
On the plane
The next difficult thing is getting your seat right on the plane. I always feel embarrassed to put my seat back as I feel that this will affect the person sitting behind me, obviously that doesn’t stop the person in front of me putting their chair right back. On long-haul flights you are provided with a cushion and I believe this is supposed to be for your neck but I always use it in my lower back and pop it in the small of my back to help to give me the extra support and give me a better posture, you can always ask for a spare cushion as well which you can then use for your head, I like to take a neck pillow just to help support my neck in the rarity that I do fall asleep. Having a slightly reclined position has been shown to reduce the pressure on the disc in the lower back but this then changes if your low back is rounded and you’re slouching.
Regularly getting up is important as it helps to get the blood flow going and get the muscles working. If you do not move enough on a long-haul flight this does increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis. There are some exercises that I tend to do when I’m on a long-haul flight which I found really help. It really surprises me when I see people on these long-haul flights and they do not get up for the entire flight. This to me can be quite dangerous and it is important that you do get up and move around. I personally believe that it would be a good idea for there to be a treadmill on planes so that people can walk but the feasibility of this is not that high. If you would like to see the exercises that I do on the plane then have a look out for my next blog on aeroplane exercises.
After your flight
Most long-haul flights have a stopover somewhere and this is where lots of people miss the opportunity to have a break from sitting and move around a bit. Often you are tired so it is very tempting to jump on that escalator and sit in those chairs but I always make the effort to take the stairs and walk around instead of sitting as not long from now I’ll be sitting on the plane again. This helps to get the blood flowing and switch the muscles back on the help to protect you from injury, this is something that I highly recommend.
One of the things that we also did was get a foot massage when we arrived in Thailand. This was a fantastic experience and certainly something that our feet were very happy about after this long flight.
Yours in health,
Everyday Improvements: Part 1 . Switch old bad habits for new.
Small Changes That Make A Big Difference
Wellness magazines are full of useful “switches” that you can make to improve your diet and your health. Switches such as eating healthier yoghurt instead of ice cream, eating low-sugar dark chocolate instead of the calorific milk chocolate, and eating fruit instead of sugary unhealthy snacks. This has got me thinking about how we can apply postural and movement advice in the same way; switching out our old bad habits for new habits. This blog aims to start this “switching” process and help you improve your health in small, convenient and most importantly effective ways. We have already written in previous blogs about the best sleeping positions for your back, a topic so important that it deserved its own blog! If you wish to read about that, please follow the link here. Once you have read that, feel free to read on as we are going to start with how to get out of bed….
What is the best way to get out of bed?
When we first wake after a night’s sleep our lumbar discs are particularly vulnerable. This is because after lying horizontally for so long they are well hydrated and slightly plumper than normal. Getting out of bed in the wrong way can lead to disc damage or back strain and significant pain as the body has not yet warmed up for movement. For the same reason, it’s not a good idea to leap out of bed and start doing yoga exercises first thing in the morning – something that the more energetic among us may be inclined to do! So, how you get out of bed is important. Firstly, roll onto your side and bend your knees allowing your feet to drop from the side of the bed. After that keep your back straight and push yourself up with your hands into a sitting position. Take your time and make sure you keep your back straight.
Getting out of bed in this way will ensure that you don’t do what most people do, which is a combined movement of lumbar flexion and twisting in an effort to go from a supine face-up lying position immediately into a sitting position.
Lifting heavy items, for example shopping
This is a very important change to make. Many of the patients who come in our doors at Lushington Chiropractic Clinic in Eastbourne with low back injuries have done the damage through poor lifting techniques. Let’s face it, most of us try to make life as easy as possible for ourselves, which means that when putting the shopping in the back of the car we tend to combine the movements of bending forward, lifting bags and twisting to turn to put them in the car. In fact, what this does is that it combines all the activities that the low back does not like and leads to a far greater chance of lumbar sprain/strain injuries.
A better switch is to separate the movements. With your shopping at your feet, keep your low back straight and bend your knees so you can go into a squat. Tighten your abdominal muscles to brace your low back and lift your shopping so that you straighten into a standing position. Once you are upright keep your abdominal muscles braced and turn your whole body so that you can put your shopping in the car, or onto the kitchen work surface, etc. By separating the lumbar flexion and the twisting movements into two distinct movements, and keeping your abdominal muscles raised, you are far less likely to suffer a lumbar injury in this way.
Thanks for reading
Shoulder Strengthening Exercises to Do at Home
Who are these exercises for?
If you have suffered from a shoulder injury then these exercises may be for you. This blog will help those of you who have had a shoulder injury to gently strengthen the shoulder musculature and therefore work to stabilise the shoulder joint itself. Simple home-strengthening exercises for the shoulder can be done daily, however, make sure you check with your chiropractor at Lushington clinic in Eastbourne first. This is in order to ensure you’re ready for these exercises, since doing them too early may cause further injury. An injury may include rotator cuff tears (chronic or acute), weakness from osteoarthritis or muscle strains. Read on to find out how you can potentially strengthen your shoulder at home with some of these simple exercises.
Internal rotator cuff muscle strengthening exercises
The shoulder joint is one of the most mobile joints in the body, with a huge range of motion in many directions. This gives you the mobility and strength to lift your kids, your shopping, to push open a door, and many of the other things that we take for granted in life! However, it does make the shoulder more prone to instability and therefore more prone to injury. Injury can often affect the rotator cuff muscles and their tendons (where those muscles attach to the bones of the shoulder). The rotator cuff muscles are the four main muscles that support the shoulder joint and help with movements such as internal (inwards) rotation, external (outwards) rotation, and abduction (lifting the arm out to the side).
To exercise the internal rotators, use a TheraBand or other resistance band. This is a stretchy piece of elastic band about 3 inches wide, and made in varying degrees of resistance. Start with the easiest/most stretchy one (usually yellow in colour) and take a length 1 metre long. Tie a secure knot at the end and trap it in a door frame by shutting the door with the knot on the other side of the door. Stand with your bad shoulder at 90 degrees to the door and tuck your elbow into your side with your elbow bent at 90 degrees. Now, slowly bring your lower arm into internal rotation (i.e. the wrist moves away from the door) and back to the neutral starting position. It’s very important to keep the elbow tucked into your side. Repeat 15 times.
External rotator cuff muscle strengthening exercises
Set up your TheraBand as above, for the internal rotator cuff muscles, but stand with your good shoulder towards the door. Do the same movement where the wrist moves away from the door, and repeat 15 times. Keep the elbow tucked into your side.
Abductor rotator cuff muscle strengthening exercises
Step on the knotted end of the TheraBand, and keeping the elbow locked and arm straight, raise the arm and then lower it slowly. Don’t go above the shoulder. Making sure you keep the arm straight ensures that you’re working the correct muscles. Repeat 15 times.
If you have any questions about these shoulder exercises then please ask your chiropractor, and remember to check with them or another medical professional before you begin your shoulder rehabilitation program. A key point is to do little and often, to minimise strain on your injured shoulder, and to do the exercises with good posture. You can also use TheraBands with more resistance as you progress and get stronger. You can get in touch with us at Lushington chiropractic clinic in Eastbourne to book your shoulder assessment and treatment.
Thanks for reading
How Can I Strengthen my Neck at Home, and Why Would I Need To?
Here are some quick and easy neck exercises to help strengthen your neck, that you can do in the convenience of your own home.
How many of us suffer from neck aches and pain? Well, of those coming in to see us at Lushington chiropractic clinic in Eastbourne, a fair number!! In combination with chiropractic treatment and a program of home-stretches, there are some fantastic strengthening exercises that you can do at home. These will effectively help to strengthen the neck muscles, alleviate your pain and improve your neck function.
Which muscles should be stronger, and why?
Firstly, let’s focus on which neck muscles need to be stronger. Typically, people with neck issues, pain, or just neck and shoulder stress or tightness are prone to becoming weak in the lower trapezius muscles, and tight in the upper trapezius muscles. The upper trapezius muscles are the ones that you feel on the tops of your shoulders, and they attach at the neck right to the top. You can see in the picture below where the upper trapezius muscles are found (under the model’s hand)….
These muscles tend to tighten in the ‘fight-or-flight’ response, so are often tense in people with anxiety, stressful jobs or busy lives. Additionally, they can cause headaches in a specific referral pattern. The referral headache is usually felt at the back of the head, over the top of the head, and behind the eye. To help release these muscles you need to work to strengthen the antagonistic muscles, that is the muscles that do the opposite action across the same joint of the body. In this instance that is the lower trapezius muscles and rhomboids which pull the scapula (shoulder blades) downwards and hold them stable.
How to strengthen the lower trapezius muscles and rhomboids…
Stand straight with your best posture. Now, ‘open up’ the chest and pull your shoulder blades together using the muscles in between them. Hold for a few seconds and squeeze tightly, then release, and repeat 10 times. As with most exercises, little and often is the key so do this a few times daily until the posture is better.
How to strengthen the lower trapezius muscles and rhomboids…
The other muscles that frequently get tight and cause neck pain are the suboccipitals. When tight and dysfunctional, these can cause headaches that are felt at the back and top of the neck, where the neck meets the skull. They are small muscles but can cause painful headaches.
To help release them you once again need to strengthen the antagonistic muscles, which do the opposite action. Here that is the deep neck flexors located at the front of the neck. These muscles help the chin to tuck downwards. To strengthen the deep neck flexors, lie down on your back, on your bed or sofa, with your head hanging off the edge. Make sure that your chin is tucked down (this is very important) and that your spine is straight, and hold the weight of your head up to work those muscles at the front of the neck. You should be able to last up to one minute – if your neck starts shaking or if your chin juts out then stop, and try again. Do daily for best results.
Thanks for reading. Read my previous blog for information on how to stretch out the tight and tender muscles that typically cause you neck pain.
What is the Best Sleeping Position for my Back Pain?
Sleeping positions and their impact on your back pain, explained!
In Lushington chiropractic clinic in Eastbourne, we are often asked “what’s the best sleeping position for my back?” and “why does my lower back hurt so much and feel so stiff in the mornings?” Well, unsurprisingly, the two issues are related!
If you are a long or a short-term sufferer of back pain, then you may know that feeling of being stiff and achey in the mornings. What a horrible way to wake up! This blog will help you to minimise or even avoid this feeling, and better prepare your body for a more pleasant, less painful wake-up.
Why does my back hurt so much in the mornings?
Any tissues in the body that are inflamed, whether they be muscles, ligaments, joints or around nerves, can become more inflamed with inactivity. This is because when you’re lying still all night (or sitting still in the day) the fluid collects in those irritated tissues and the result is pain when you do finally go to move! Now, of course it’s not practical or desirable for you to get up and exercise during the night, BUT, there are a few changes you can make to your sleeping position that will help to minimise and alleviate that morning pain. You can do this by putting your body in a better position at night so that those tissues are not stretched and strained and to minimise aggravation as much as possible. You’ll be surprised how much it can help!
Remember, the spine is a column of vertebrae (bones) with fluid-filled, shock-absorbing discs in between to stop those bones rubbing on one another. In the daytime when you’re standing and mostly vertical the pressure of gravity, and your bodyweight, compresses these discs very slightly (don’t worry, you don’t lose height!). On the reverse, when you’re asleep there is much less pressure on these discs and so overnight, they become plump and hydrated. This means that first thing in the morning they are most susceptible to being damaged or injured, and are particularly vulnerable to flexion (leaning forward) and twisting injuries. So, wait an hour before doing yoga and other exercises as they’re not the best movements to do as soon as you wake!
What is the best sleeping position? On your back!
Studies have shown that the lying position where the least pressure is placed on your lumbar discs is supine, i.e. lying on your back, face up. You can see from the picture here that if standing vertically is considered a baseline of ‘100%’ of your normal spinal disc pressure, then sleeping while lying on your back puts only 25% of that pressure on your discs. When sleeping on your back, in the supine position, it’s best to only use one pillow under your head for comfort (any more that this and your neck will be tilted upwards). Another good tip is to put two pillows underneath your knees, to make them slightly bent; this will take the pressure off the hamstrings, the lumbar facet joints, the pelvis and the sciatic nerves, and will feel very comfortable when you get used to it.
On your side…
Since not all of us are able to sleep on our backs, then the second-best position would be to lie on your side. If you do this it is very important to make sure that you assess your lying position when you’re in it, and ask “is my spine in line?”. You should be looking for a straight spine where your head and neck are properly supported by pillows. Too many and your neck will be tilted upwards, too few and it will be tilted downwards. Two pillows is usually about right for most people. Go for supportive synthetic pillows or an orthopaedic one if you prefer, as feather pillows are not supportive once the weight of your head is on them (the feathers push out to the sides and leave your head tilted downwards towards the mattress). The spine should be in alignment through the low back as well; bend both knees and keep them together without sprawling into the recovery position. You can put some of your duvet or a pillow in between the knees if it’s more comfortable. If it helps, you can ask a friend or partner to look at you and help with the “is my spine in line” check, if you wish.
So, if you suffer from back pain in the morning then perhaps it’s time to do the “is my spine in line” check at home tonight! Please ask your chiropractor if you have any questions.
Thanks for reading
What is the difference between a Physiotherapist or Chiropractor?
Physiotherapist or Chiropractor?
I frequently get asked by patients here at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne, what is the difference between a chiropractor and a physiotherapist? Well, there are a lot of similarities between both professions. We both use manual therapy and prescribe exercises to help people move and feel better. So it’s an understandable question, but like most things in life the devil is in the detail as to what the differences are. My personal view is from that of a chiropractor, but I have worked alongside physio’s in the past and will be as impartial as I can be.
What do physiotherapists and Chiropractors have in common?
Based on the NHS choices website definition of physiotherapy, it is described as a profession that helps to restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness, disability. It can also help to reduce the risk of injury or illness in the future. It takes a holistic approach that involves the patient directly in their own care. From this definition you can see there are a lot of similarities between physiotherapists and chiropractors. The most obvious being the focus on restoring movement and function. We both share those goals of wanting you to move and feel better. We also both use manual therapy to help achieve that goal. Generally manual therapy is used more by physiotherapists working within private practice than those working within an NHS hospital setting which is moving more towards exercise based treatment approach.
What kind of manual therapy techniques do chiropractors and physiotherapists use?
We both use a variety of soft tissue techniques such as massage or trigger point therapy for treating stiff and sore muscles. We can combine that with different stretching techniques to help reduce stiffness that can build up within muscles. To help joints move better, we both use joint mobilisation techniques. These are repetitive movements of joints into a specific direction, usually into the direction of joint stiffness. Looking at the updated guidelines from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of lower back pain. Spinal manipulative therapy is recommended. Incidentally NICE is the organisation that recommends the best practice for the treatment of certain conditions. These guidelines are often used by GPs, consultants and other health care professionals. Chiropractors and osteopaths are trained to manipulate the spine within their education. Whereas if a physiotherapist or GP wants to use spinal manipulation, they have to undergo additional post graduate training.
What sort of education does a chiropractor or physiotherapist have?
To become a qualified chiropractor involves undergoing a four or five year undergraduate degree programme where students learn to diagnose, treat and rehabilitate a wide range of disorders affecting the musculoskeletal system. They will also learn how to take and read x-rays, as well as interpret MRI scans. Once graduated chiropractors will continue their professional development with additional training. To become a qualified physiotherapist involves a three year undergraduate programme or a two year Masters programme for someone who has a relevant degree such as sports science. The focus is not just on the treatment and management of the musculoskeletal disorders. But will learn how to rehabilitate other disorders such as cardiac and respiratory conditions. This is something chiropractors or osteopaths are not trained to do. Physiotherapist do get good training opportunities in their post graduate training working within the NHS.
So who should I see about my back or neck pain?
The answer to that question is it doesn’t matter. As long as you find a good chiropractor or physiotherapist, they will both help you with your lower back or neck pain. If you would like to find out a bit more about what I can do to help you, have a look at the Lushington Chiropractic website.
Thanks for reading.
A chiropractor’s guide to protecting the back when gardening
So the focus for my blog this month is GARDENING and some tips for protecting the back when gardening. It is inspired by my mum and all my patients here in Eastbourne who are just starting to get back out in the garden now the weather is warming up.
Getting out in the garden can be very therapeutic. It can be stress relieving and being out in the fresh air is lovely, plus the sun is great for Vitamin D levels. Growing plants, especially your own vegetables can be very satisfying, and having that nice environment to sit out in on a nice summers day or for a BBQ is well worth the effort.
Of course, as a chiropractor here at Lushington Chiropractic there are a few things I would say to keep in mind. If you are prone to back problems, it is important to be aware that certain activities can exacerbate discomfort and that certain steps should be taken to protect your back when gardening. I firstly started out doing a little research of my own by getting out in the garden at home to appreciate what it is my patients are doing when they tell me they have been doing a little digging! Wow when those roots are holding tight they are hard to get out! Not like the plants we have in our little patio garden outside of our X-Ray suite.
So what is it about gardening that means we need to take care?
To those unfamiliar with what is entailed in maintaining an attractive and orderly outdoor space, gardening may seem like a sedate pastime. Yet, the reality is that many aspects of gardening can involve sudden bursts of activity that the body may well not be ready for, such as twisting and lifting. Combine these movements with poor posture and poor technique and the results can be extremely painful.
The first point to make is that if you have good strong core and back muscles and have looked after your back in other daily activities and sports then your body is much more likely to be robust and ready for the exercises and challenges that you may throw at it.
If you are unsure about how to do this then ask advice from someone who can help, such as a chiropractor or a good personal trainer.
Secondly here are some tips that you should bear in mind:
Like any other exercise, start off slowly and warm up. Going for a gentle walk, doing some light movement or starting off with lighter/easier jobs first will help your body warm up and lessen the chance of muscle strain. This may seem like overkill for a spot of gardening, but if you are serious about protecting your back it can be essential.
You will also need to wear clothes that are suitable for the task at hand when you step outside. Tight clothes could constrict your movement. Also be mindful of the type of footwear that you have to prevent slipping in wet conditions.
When using a ladder or steps, make sure it is planted firmly in position. Have someone with you if necessary to help and try not to overextend when you reach or lean out. Avoid this temptation by moving the ladder frequently when you are working over a large area.
Over-reaching and leaning is one to avoid even when not on a ladder. Keep what you are doing closer to you, this will put less strain on the body. You can get tools with longer handles to help with this.
When digging, push down rather than pushing too far out in front, this helps to minimise bending.
If you are buying heavy items that are delivered, have them dropped off as close to where you need them as you can, to avoid having to carry them later. Also if you are buying big bags of compost for instance, consider getting more smaller bags to make the lifting easier and alway carry heavy things close to the body. A wheelbarrow is also handy to limit carrying.
If you are doing lots of potting, think about doing this on on a work surface at a comfortable height so as to limit stooping over.
Vary your activity and take regular breaks, don’t be tempted to do it all once due to the weather forecast!
A knee pad is useful for those knees, rather than kneeling on hard surfaces.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated in hot weather.
Finally if you think something is a bit too much, get someone to help out, take it easy and don’t overdo it.
If you are concerned about protecting the back when gardening, consider all the points above when you are getting outside this summer. If you need some further advice or have back pain you can always contact us. Our website is a good place to start.
Thats all for now, above all enjoy!