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Tips for healthy spinal discs

Lumbar Disc: My top tips to protect your spinal discs

My top tips to protect your spinal discs is the first of a group of self-help blog posts I am planning. As a chiropractor at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne, people often ask me what they can do to help themselves and so this is my opportunity to share advice with everyone.

      1.Drink plenty of water. The disc is primarily made up of water. The disc is made up of two parts: a jelly centre and harder onion skin like layers on the outside. This jelly centre allows for the movement in the spine and also for shock absorption. So every time you step, jump or walk the discs help to absorb that pressure. If it wasn’t for the water in the disc, this could not happen.

Often after having imaging of the low back such as an MRI, people are told that they have dehydration within their discs. Part of this can be due to actually not drinking enough water. Water is essential for a healthy disc.

    2.Reduce alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. Following on from the previous point, all three of these are known to dehydrate the disc. So, as important as it is to drink water, it is also important to limit these as best you can. Obviously if you do have lots of these, it’s incredibly important that you do everything else on this list to keep the discs healthy.

   3. Keep moving. The disc in the spine has a very poor blood supply and gets all the nutrients it needs through a process called imbibing. This is where fluid is moved in and out of the disc taking nutrients with it. This process only occurs with movement. Therefore if you do not move, you do not get the nutrients you need. This is also why having a well-hydrated disc is very important. The more dehydrated the disc, the less fluid you move and the fewer nutrients you get.

Pressure in kilograms placed upon the low back spinal disc in different positions. Lying on your back 25kg, side lying 75kg, standing straight 100kg, leaning forwards 150kg, leaning forwards with a weight in you’re the hands 220kg, sitting 140kg, sitting slouched forwards 185kg, sitting slouched forward with a weight in the hands 275kg. Table from original research by Nachemson, 1981.

The table shows the pressure exerted on the low back disc in different postures in kilograms.

 

    4. Take care when lifting and bending. We all know by now that we should be bending our knees when we lift heavy objects. However, lots of people pay less attention to how their upper body bends during this motion. Many people are bending with their backs as well as their knees. This puts extra pressure on the disc (see below chart). This chart shows that bending whilst standing increases the pressure on the disc by an extra 50%, e.g. if you have 100kgs pressure on the disc standing up straight, when you bend forward it will be 150kgs pressure. Imagine if you then add a weight in your hand, like a heavy box. This will put even more unnecessary pressure on the low back discs.

Good and poor lifting techniques

Mykel Mason, doctor of chiropractic, shown bending the knees and curving the low back forwards which will increase pressure on the discs.

In the picture of me lifting a box you can see me demonstrating poor  lifting techniques. Poor lifting will increase the pressure on the lumbar discs.

Mykel Mason, doctor of chiropractic, shown lifting a box bending his knees and hips keeping the low back straight to reduce pressure on discs.

This is the correct way to lift to ensure you reduce disc pressure.

Avoid twisting and bending at the same time. This puts extra pressure on the disc and therefore makes you more susceptible to injury. How many times have you heard people say, “I just bent over to grab something and my back went!” Often this is when people are doing a combination of bending and twisting.

 

5. Pay attention to your posture. The same as point 4: disc pressures are displayed in the table. This shows the difference in the pressure on the disc with a good sitting posture and a poor sitting posture. These days it is incredibly important to keep posture as good as possible as most of us spend most of the day sitting at a desk.

If you do this, it is incredibly important that you keep your posture as good as possible to keep the discs as healthy as possible. Obviously take regular breaks as well so that we can do what it says in point 3 and keep moving.

If you like these tips there are more tips on my website.

Yours in health,

Mykel Mason your Eastbourne Chiropractor

 

 

Time to put your back into your healthcare!

Time to put your back into your healthcare!

Back pain is one of the most common reasons for visiting the doctor. In fact, it’s estimated that four out of every five adults (a whopping 80%) will experience back pain at some point in their lives. So what are the causes and what can we do about it?

Some of the reasons are quite obvious: bad posture; prolonged periods of time using computers or tablets; carrying heavy loads. Other contributory factors are less obvious, such as not drinking enough water and not eating the right foods.

Put your back into your healthcare

Put your back into your healthcare

The good news is that there are some simple things we can all do to help ourselves . . .

Here at Lushington Chiropractic, we have these top tips to help people look after themselves:

  • If you work at a computer, take regular stretch breaks; ensure you sit correctly and that your workstation is ergonomically right for you.
  • Take care when lifting – whether you’re at work, doing DIY, gardening or lifting a young child or baby.
  • Gardeners and physical workers – always use the right tools, take frequent breaks and do regular stretches.
  • Children – carry your schoolbags over both shoulders to prevent uneven weight distribution and take to school only what you need for that day.
  • And ladies, it’s time you looked at the contents of your handbag – do you really need all those things you’re lugging around with you all day?
  • Finally, get walking! Walking strengthens the body and helps position the spine in the natural shape it was designed for. It also helps to build up core strength, which is important in maintaining good posture. We’re so lucky to have lovely walks locally, check our blog “A Step to a Healthier Lifestyle”.

Further advice and tips on posture, exercise and diet can be found across backblog.co.uk or you can ask your chiropractor at Lushington Chiropractic.

With a 10 year proven, award-winning treatment and care to over 8,000 local people. Call us on 01323 722499

This article was written by Chiropractor – James Revell

 

 

What am I worrying about?

What have I got to be worrying about?

The other night I woke and thought to myself, “What have I to worry about?” I realised then what I have always known; we are programmed to worry. I had nothing specific I needed to worry about, but realised that I nearly always have something competing for my attention and worry.

The following morning, whilst eating my breakfast, a thought entered my mind: “What if the card machine isn’t charged when I need it?” Able to catch myself, I was able to let go and come back to the present and my breakfast. This is typical of what happens to all of us every day.

Do you worry? Of course you do; we all do, as it is our natural default position.

When worrying gets out of control, it can lead to anxiety and panic. If excessive, it can cause illness. Worry, which could also be deemed “active problem solving,” is the result of the natural evolutionary response known as ‘fight or flight’, as you focus on “what ifs” or “what could happen.”

Persistent or chronic worrying is what doctors refer to as anxiety. It can impact on your daily life to the point that it interferes with work, relationships, sleep and appetite, and it diminishes your quality of life.

Many people who suffer from anxiety turn to smoking, drinking and drugs (over the counter or prescribed) in an attempt to get some relief from their emotions. Some people comfort eat, whilst others starve themselves. In some cases, when worrying and anxiety gets out of control, it can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts.

What Causes Anxiety?

We humans are funny creatures, always looking outside ourselves for the answers. We look to external reasons for tension and anxiety.

All kinds of worries flit in and out of our minds: whether we will have enough food to eat, whether we will be able to find a partner so that we are not destined to spend our future alone, whether we will have a pay rise, lose a job, whether our car will break down or whether we will be able to afford a holiday. The list of worries is endless.

We look to “things” as the source of our worries. Often, we project our mind to the future and say to ourselves, “when this happens” or “when that happens, I will be happy and have no more worries!”

Look a little closer and you will see that these external things: job, money, relationships, etc, are not the true cause of the negative emotional states of worry and anxiety.

Worries do not come from outside and are not the result of “external circumstances,” they are the result of “internal circumstances”. Worry, stress, tension and anxiety are all the result of our thoughts.

 Accept Worry for What It Really Is. 

A worry is nothing more than a thought. Worry occurs when our mind is “future focused”. For example, if you were confronted by a lion or tiger your worry would not be about the fact there is a lion or tiger in front of you. Your worry would be that the lion or tiger might eat you! When you sit an exam your worry is not sitting the exam, but whether you will do well enough to pass! Worry is all about things going wrong, in other words, threats to our existence. Worry is simply a particular type of thought pattern, nothing more. Stress arises as a result of the internal stories we tell ourselves. Those with good imaginations make wonderful worriers!

By going over things in our minds we get stuck in a cycle of thinking, replaying events, projecting forward. As we ruminate over and over we become tense and experience stress. Many engage in what I call “stinking thinking!” that king of negative rumination that spirals into a very black place and which can ultimately result in clinical anxiety or depression.

Because your mind doesn’t know the difference between reality and your imaginings, the thoughts have the same results on the body no matter what. In other words, imagining an event happening causes the same physiological responses as if it were actually happening!

Those who worry experience ongoing irritability, muscle tension, concentration difficulties, indecision and agitation just as though they were actually experiencing the things they worry about. The result is a constant state of arousal, feeling “on edge,” and unable to relax. Often the mental stress will be accompanied by physical stress, headaches, neck ache, back ache, chest tightness and chest pain and so on.

When you learn to recognize worry and anxiety for what it really is, which is simply “thoughts”, it begins to lose its grip on you. With practice, it can become very simple to let go of worry.

Using Mindfulness to let go of Worry. 

To begin with, it is important to have a clear understanding of what mindfulness is:

“Paying attention to the present moment, experiencing the present moment non-judgementally, with kindness and compassion.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

The easiest way to do this is to use our breath as an anchor. Breathing in and out, paying attention to what is happening in our mind and body, becoming aware of our thoughts – the stories playing out in our minds – as well as the emotions and physical sensations as they are arising. You will soon discover that your mind has a life of its own, taking off into the future or dwelling on some past event. This is totally normal, and when you notice that your mind is no longer on the breath, notice what is on your mind at that moment. Whenever you find yourself worrying about something, note to yourself simply that you’re “just worrying.”

By doing this you begin to witness your thoughts, instead of being in your thoughts. You now have the power to choose to let them go. So notice what is on your mind at that moment and then gently let go, NOT by consciously pushing your thoughts away, but by recognising them and letting them be, as you gently turn your attention back to your breathing, paying attention to the present moment and what you’re doing. Every time you catch yourself worrying – no matter how often – you simply acknowledge, let go and return to your breathing.

Don’t Fight your Feelings

Eckhart Tolle, author of “The Power of Now,” reminds us, “Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and whatever you resist, persists.” The emphasis is always on what is happening, not why it’s happening. It is important not to fight your feelings, simply acknowledge in a non-judgemental way without criticism, without trying to push the thoughts away. You don’t need to spend energy fighting your thoughts, but you also no longer need to follow them and dwell on them. Simply acknowledge them, label them, put them down and move on. As soon as you struggle with the thoughts you give them power. Instead, try to observe your thoughts and worries objectively and with calmness. Simply make a mental note, without giving them any more importance or power than they deserve.

Know that you will face each situation as you come to it and deal with it then. Learn to deal with stress and difficulties more wisely, by responding rather than reacting. Learn to let go of the past and leave the future until tomorrow. Let your “future self” deal with tomorrow and let your “present self” deal with today!

Until next time, Steve.

For information on Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy (CBT) and Counselling please pick up a leaflet in Lushington Chiropractic reception or phone Steve on 07891-207109.

 

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                             Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                 Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

 

References: 

This post was adapted from “How to Overcome Worry & Anxiety…For Good!”               http://mrsmindfulness.com/how-to-overcome-worry-anxiety-for-good/ [Accessed 14/04/15].

Black. A (2015) “The Little Pocket Book of Mindfulness”, CICO books: London, New York.

Tolle. E (2001) “The Power of Now” Hodder Paperbacks

“Mindfulness of the breath” a meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn