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Self-help Tips for Upper Crossed Syndrome?

Upper Cross Syndrome can occur in all types of people as it results from a poor posture. It is very common in people who spend long days in front of a desk with a hunched back.

There are some simple things you can do at home that can help reduce Upper Cross Syndrome from occurring.

What Does Upper Cross Syndrome Look Like?

The signs to look for are, a forward head position, rounded shoulders and neck, protracted shoulder blades (scapula) and winging of the shoulder blades.

Man facing right with rounded shoulders and a forward head position. All signs of Upper Cross Syndrome.

Visual of signs of Upper Cross Syndrome

What Happens to the muscles with Upper Cross Syndrome?

The muscles at the front (Pectoralis Major/Minor) and around the back of the neck (Upper Trapezius/ Levator Scapula) shorten in a content contraction. These are called facilitated muscles.

The muscles at the middle back (Middle/Lower Trapezius, Rhomboid Major/Minor) lengthen. This are called inhibited muscles.

We need to get the facilitated muscles to lengthen/stretch.

We need to get the inhibited muscles to re activate and contract to its normal range.

For more information on upper cross syndrome see my blog ‘how can sports massage help upper cross syndrome?’ .

What Can You Do To Help Upper Cross Syndrome?

There are three things you need to remember.

  1. Activate – Get muscle moving properly
  2. Posture – Think about how you stand/sit
  3. Strengthen – Get the muscles stronger

Activate

Don’t stay too long at your desk. Those with desk jobs are most at risk as they spend a lot of the time hunched over a computer screen.

Some offices are helping this by introducing stand up desks.

Try taking small breaks away from your desk, walking around; any sort of activity will help activate your muscles.

This also applies to those who work with their arms in front of them all the time. E.g. labourers, electricians etc.

Posture

Working on your posture is key; you do not want to maintain a rounded shoulder. Always think tall and imagine you are pressing a pencil between your shoulder blades.

You can try raising your computer screen so that it is eye level to reduce hunching over. You can do this by placing books under the monitor.

Look at your chair. You can put a cushion at the lumbar spine (small of the back). This will help prevent slouching.

Woman working at desk with a raised monitor to help reduce Upper Cross Syndrome.

Raised monitor when working at desk to help reduce Upper Cross Syndrome.

Man facing right with retracted shoulders and a neutral head position. Good posture.

Visual demonstration of good posture.

Strengthen

By doing some basic strength exercises you can help realign your muscles and improve your posture at the same time.

These are a few exercises you can do to help activate the inhibited muscles (in-between shoulder blades). A foam mat or soft surface is needed.

Front Raise Thumb up

This exercise for activating the rhomboids is called Front Raise Thumb up.

  1. You start by lying on your front head down.
  2. You place your arm above your head with thumbs up towards the ceiling.
  3. Then you raise your arms off the floor keeping your elbows straight.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  5. Hold for 15 Seconds then rest for 30 Seconds (dependant on ability)
  6. Repeat 3 times.
    Man lying on front head down with arms out stretched above head contracting rhomboid muscles. Far away view.

    Visual demonstration of Front Raise Thumb Up exercise for Upper Cross Syndrome.

    Man lying on front head down with arms out stretched above head contracting rhomboid muscles. Close view.

    Close visual demonstration of Front Raise Thumb Up exercise for Upper Cross Syndrome.

External Rotation

This exercise for activating the rhomboids is called External rotation.

  1. Start by lying on your side with knees slightly bent and head resting on arm on floor.
  2. Hold the other arm in front of you extended, resting on the floor.
  3. Then slowly externally rotate (lift up) into the air to be in line with the shoulder, Keeping the arm straight.
  4. Pull the shoulder blades together. Hold at the top for 8 seconds then move slowly back down to the floor.
  5. Repeat 5 times on each arm.
  6. Can progress by adding small weight (Dumbbells or a can of soup)
    : Man lying on side with knees slightly bent and head resting on arm on floor with the opposite arm held in front straight resting on the floor.

    Visual demonstration of External Rotation exercise for Upper Cross Syndrome (arm down)

    Man lying on side with knees slightly bent and head resting on arm on floor with the opposite arm straight in air in line with shoulder.

    Visual demonstration of External Rotation exercise for Upper Cross Syndrome (arm up)

Scapulae Retractions

This exercise for activating the rhomboids is called Scapulae Retractions.

  1. You start by lying on your front with your head down.
  2. Place arms straight out to the sides at 90 degrees resting on the floor.
  3. Squeezing your shoulder blades together to activate the rhomboids and raise your arms up.
  4. Hold for 10 Seconds then rest for 20 Seconds (dependant on ability)
  5. Repeat 3 times.
    Man lying on front head down arms straight at the sides at 90 degrees resting on the floor.

    Visual demonstration of Scapulae Retractions exercise for Upper Cross Syndrome (arms down)

    Man lying on front head down arms straight at the sides with rhomboids activated arms raised.

    Visual demonstration of Scapulae Retractions exercise for Upper Cross Syndrome (arms raised)

Self-Massage At Home:

If you are suffering with neck or back pain at home after a long day at work, you can do something to help ease these symptoms alongside these exercises.

Self-massage is a way for you to deactivate trigger points (knots) or stretch out the muscles from home.

If you have a tennis ball or massage ball you can hold this against your neck/back muscles and roll.

Target the sore spots and hold it on them until the pain dulls or for 20 seconds.

The pain should never go over 7/10.

A woman’s back and neck, holding a blue massage ball to neck. Targeting trigger points.

Self-massage with massage ball to ease Upper Cross Syndrome.

Pectoralis Stretches

You can also try some pectoralis stretches, using a door frame.

Lean your arm against the surface about 90 degrees at shoulder and at elbow. Push against until you feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds then come off, relax. Repeat 3 times.

Keep it up!

To prevent or correct upper cross syndrome, it is like any form of training. You have to keep these things going, if you want results. Maintain these self-help tips and you will see amazing outcomes.

The chiropractors and massage therapists here at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne can offer lots of self help tips and posture exercises, please take a look at some of the other blogs you’ll find here and have a look at our website.

Thanks for reading.

Lizzie

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Can Sports Massage Help Upper Cross Syndrome?

Upper Cross Syndrome is a condition that results from poor posture and inactivity. Sports massage is a brilliant way to help reduce the aches and pains that are associated with people who spend long hours in front of a desk.

Working in Eastbourne at Lushington Chiropractic I have come across many people unknowingly suffering from upper cross syndrome. They suffer with upper back pain, mainly between their shoulder blades. This is more noticeable after a long day at work in front of a desk or at a computer.

Image shows man who is suffering from upper cross syndrome

Upper Cross Syndrome

What is Upper Cross Syndrome?

It is a result of poor sitting positions adopted by people when working at desks for prolonged periods of time. Unfortunately for many the requirements of most jobs involve many hours in the same stationary posture resulting in the upper body slowly becoming hunched. This causes facilitated muscles (tightened muscles) and inhibited muscles (lengthened and weakened muscles).

The result:

  • Forward head
  • Increased rounding of the neck and hunching of the upper back
  • Rounded shoulders (Elevated and protracted shoulder blades)
  • winging of the shoulder blades (scapula), where the shoulder blades come away from the rib-cage

Facilitated Muscles:

Facilitated muscles are shortened, as they’re in constant contraction, reducing movement.

  • Upper Trapezius (tops of the shoulders)
  • Levator Scapula (top of the upper back)
  • Pectoralis Major/Minor (front of the chest)

Inhibited Muscles

Inhibited muscles lengthen as they’ve lost activation and cannot fully contract.

  • The Deep Cervical Flexors (front of the neck)
  • Middle/Lower Trapezius (middle of the back)
  • Rhomboid Major/Minor (between shoulder blades)

This imbalance creates joint dysfunction in the neck, the spine and the shoulders.

Image shows lady sitting in front of a laptop computer who has a poor sitting position which could cause upper cross syndrome

Poor sitting position could be the cause of tight or weak muscles.

Upper Cross Syndrome is seen in Swimming

As a swimmer for Eastbourne swimming club, I have trained and competed with some amazing athletes. Not many people know that in swimming Upper Cross Syndrome is very common.

In swimmers, due to the upper body power needed, there is often a tightening in the pectoral muscles. This causes a rounded shoulder frame.

If left unseen to, this can cause the swimmer problems during training sessions and also competitions, often leaving the swimmer unable to train. One week out of the pool for a swimmer takes two weeks to get back to the original standard.

This can be costly for competitors.

The Dangers of Upper Cross Syndrome

If you’ve got upper cross syndrome you’re at more risk of developing neck, back and shoulder pain or injury.

When you’ve got upper cross syndrome there’s more pressure on your neck joints and strain on the muscles around your shoulders and upper back. These get achy, sore and can even result in early wear and tear.

In upper crossed posture your shoulder blades may “wing” (stick out), which can pinch or catch on the tendons around your shoulder. This pinching can result in shoulder pain and injury (e.g. tendinopathy).

Image shows man with 'winged shoulder blades'. In upper crossed posture your shoulder blades may “wing” (stick out),

Winging of the scapula

 

How Can Sports Massage Help?

Sports Massage can be a brilliant tool to help reduce upper cross syndrome as it can target the individual muscles being affected.

For those “tightened muscles” such as the Upper Trapezius, Levator Scapulae, Pectoralis Major/Minor, massage can help stretch and relax the muscle back into their natural condition. We can also advise on relevant exercises and stretches to help improve things faster.

For the “inhibited muscles” massage can help reactivate and stimulate them back into working order.

Since working at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne I have found immediate results. Massage can have a visual improvement after the first session.

It is important to work on your posture as the muscles will start going back into their old bad upper cross posture.

Image shows lady sitting correctly whilst working on her laptop. It is important to work on your posture as the muscles will start going back into their old bad upper cross posture.

It is important to work on your posture as the muscles will start going back into their old bad upper cross posture.

What Next?

For upper cross syndrome it is important to work on strengthening those inhibited muscles as soon as possible. For Advice on how to do so look out for my next blog, Self-Help Tips For Upper Cross Syndrome.

This will explore easy ways to help correct your posture in day to day activities, including when at work. It will also take you through some easy activation exercises.

Look forward to seeing you next time,

Lizzie your Eastbourne sports massage therapist

 

Common gardening mistakes that are bad for your back

This time of year, everyone starts going out into the garden and they tend to overdo it a little. Here at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne I have more and more people coming in with injuries related to what they’ve done in the garden. Some have just overdone it but others will continue to do things that are bad for their backs and necks. So I thought I’d go through and describe some of the most common mistakes that people do that aggravates their body.

Weeding in the garden

The first one that lots of people do that causes injury is weeding. This can be a very bad thing for the back when done with poor posture. We don’t consider it necessarily that bad because we’re not necessarily carrying a heavy weight. The realism is that as we are pulling, yanking, tugging on these weeds this provides the same increased pressures as lifting. The stronger we have to pull the heavier the weight it could be compared to. This means that a lot more pressure is put on the muscles, the joints the ligaments and even the disc in the spine. As a result of this I am seeing lots of people who have aggravated their back’s, especially if they already had low back issues.

Obviously, what we also do is we aim to do a small area in the first place for half an hour or so but that area soon gets bigger and becomes longer. This then results in us suffering for a few days. This means that you have actually injured your spine, it may not cause you a long-term problem now but with repetitive use and repetitive damage like this it can lead to a real problem. So, it is best to adopt good positions whilst weeding now rather than when you actually have a back problem.

First keeping your back straight you can usually do this by kneeling, this gets you closer to the weeds and therefore easier to get into the area but also without putting that pressure through the spine.

A picture of man kneeling in front of weeds to be down at a lower level to accompany the blog on gardening by Eastbourne Chiropractor Mykel Mason

Kneeling whilst weeding

Using specific tools can be very helpful also, they help to loosen the soil and release the weeds which means it takes less pressure to pull them out. Some people won’t be able to do it like this because they can’t bend due to their knees. In this case you can do what’s called a golfer’s lift where you can grab on to the weed and used your momentum going backwards to pull it out without having to round your back. Again, the use of tools to help to loosen the weed and the soil around it is very very useful so that you don’t have to use as much pressure to pull it out.

The picture demonstrates a man bending over with his back leg out whilst he reaches down and pulls on a weed. To accompany the blog on gardening by Eastbourne Chiropractor Mykel Mason

A straight back demonstrated with a golfer’s lift whilst weeding

Trimming the hedges

The other thing we do at this time is we like to reshape our garden so it grows in the right way. This means we’re out there with the secateurs and big scissors trimming things back. What we tend to do when we do this as we tend to reach and crane and try and get into awkward positions to get those little bits. Realistically what we should do is just move because some things can be quite high. Getting a step ladder is very useful so we can get those top bits without having to reach so far. Reaching can lead to pulling in lower back muscles that can lead to aggravating the shoulders, it can also lead to the neck craning so can lead to injury. Especially if you do this a lot and the likelihood is the next day you will wake up with a pain or two and if you do this repetitively, once again this can lead to long-term issues.

A picture of a man trimming the high parts of a tree and overreaching so risking more damage. To accompany the blog on gardening by Eastbourne Chiropractor Mykel Mason

Trimming hedges whilst overstretching

Replanting

The other thing that we do at this time is replanting. This means that we are digging and moving soil. With this we need to make sure that we move things in the best way possible with digging getting your body behind the way as you put the pressure into the ground is really important that again keeping the back straight is incredibly important. What we tend to do is we tend to round our backs as we do this which again can lead to injury as that is a position that the back is very susceptible to injury.

Moving soil can be very detrimental also, when we move it with a shovel or spade it is important again to keep the back straight and you want the pressure to go through the legs instead again what we tend to do is round the back and use our back to help us to move the soil this is not ideal and again can lead to injury.

You want to adopt a long forward stance and this can help to keep the back straight. When moving bags of soil, it can be incredibly heavy so if you do you have a wheelbarrow this can be very helpful, alternatively having someone help you carry them is definitely a good option. This means that you spread the weight which means you are literally carrying half the weight that you would have been.

Yours in health

 

Mykel Mason your Eastbourne chiropractor

 

Returning to Eastbourne and being back in practice at Lushington Chiropractic

It’s strange being back at the Lushington clinic, most people have been asking me that I must be planning my next trip. The realism is that I’m really enjoying being back in practice. It’s a fantastic feeling, helping people again, and I can’t wait to help more people. While my wife and I were away it was a fantastic experience but I felt like my purpose was to be away and to travel and for me that wasn’t enough for the long term. Since returning I feel like I have my purpose back. I’m helping people again and that makes me happy. Here is an example of someone who I have seen since I’ve returned and I’m really proud of how well we have worked together to get her back to where she wants to be.

First new patient back

This lady I’ve recently started seeing has been seeing chiropractors for years for her neck. This had been where she was previously living and also since she had moved to Eastbourne. She only came to see me because she had acute low back pain and the person that she normally saw wasn’t open. This pain was severe and debilitating and had come on when she had bent over to pick something up. This is a really common onset of pain but the key thing for me was finding out what had caused the issue.

For me, she clearly had an underlying issue, as she had done this kind of bending a million times before and it wasn’t this one occasion that started this all off.

On further questioning it was revealed that she had actually been getting a mild low back pain on the left-hand side for about six months.  This pain was very infrequent and not severe therefore was not concerning her, but I believe this was the initial signs that this acute low back pain was going to happen. On examination she had no radicular signs, meaning she had no pain in the legs or tingling or numbness, there was also no weakness present. Examination revealed that the pain stemmed from the sacroiliac joint, which are the joints that connect the pelvis and the lower back.

As this pain was acute I recommended ice immediately as this helps to reduce the inflammation and therefore reduce the pain.

With ice ensure that it is wrapped up and not put directly on the skin. The treatment that I decided to deliver was using sacro-occipital technique, which is a technique that I have learnt post-graduation as part of my continued professional development. I have found this technique very useful, especially in cases with sacroiliac joint pain, it is also a very light technique which is helpful in acute pain. We are now two weeks into her care and the results have been excellent.

On our last visit she reported a 100% improvement in her lower back pain.

There is still some dysfunction present and we are continuing to address this so that episodes like this do not occur again. We have also been treating her neck, for which she has had treatment for years, and this is also improving. As this is a chronic issue it will take longer to resolve but I’m very happy with the progress so far and movement has certainly improved around the neck.

This kind of case really helps me to appreciate the difference that I and chiropractic can make.

I really enjoy helping the people of Eastbourne and the surrounding area but it is also very helpful when these people want to help themselves.

People always improve quicker if they are willing to do what is required to help things to improve quickest. The long-term aim for me, as long as my guests want this also, is to obviously improve how they feel but also to prevent problems in the future. I want everyone to be functioning as well as they possibly can.

A picture of me standing outside the clinic front. To accompany the blog by Eastbourne Chiropractor Mykel Mason

Me in my first few days back in practice

 

Yours in health,

 

Mykel your Eastbourne Chiropractor

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.

Image shows Eastbourne chiropractor Victoria White demonstrating external rotator cuff muscle strengthening exercises using theraband.

External & internal rotator cuff muscle strengthening exercises as demonstrated by Eastbourne Chiropractor Victoria White

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.

Image shows Eastbourne chiropractor Victoria White demonstrating abductor rotator cuff muscle strengthening exercises

Abductor rotator cuff muscle strengthening exercises

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

Vicky  

 

7 Revision Tips Helped Maddie’s Headaches as well as her Studies

These revision tips really helped Maddie. I’d been seeing Maddie’s for her headaches, which have been improving, but this Spring things got worse again as she increased her revision for her A-Levels. So I shared some revision tips I’d used to help me during my 7 years of university studies.

Maddie gave these 7 revision tips a go and felt better for it. She had more energy, could study longer and has kept the headaches at bay.

Revision Tip 1 – Exercise

The biggest revision tip is to exercise. If you can fit some exercise into your day then you’ll be able to study and concentrate longer. Cutting out movement and exercise results in less energy and reduced concentration. 30-40 minutes of steady exercise 2-3 times/week will help balance all that time sat still studying.

Weight lifting, impact or sprinting sports like football are less helpful though, because this type of anaerobic exercise is stressful and for the body and doesn’t have the same energy boosting benefits as more gentle activities like swimming, jogging or even just brisk walking. Eastbourne’s got lots of places to walk, jog or exercise outside. One of my chiropractic colleagues and I often run along Eastbourne’ seafront on Mondays after work. No matter how busy the day, it’s a great way to unwind and refresh.

Picture of three happy Terrier dogs jumping in the Eastbourne countryside

Eastbourne Chiropractor Recommends Exercising Outside to Improve Energy Levels!

Revision Tip 2 – Avoid Sugar Crashes

Avoid sugary or high energy foods/drinks, like biscuits, chocolate bars etc. They’ll give you an energy boost and you’ll feel good for an hour or so, but then your sugar levels crash and your energy drops. The temptation is then to reach for another high-energy hit, but this just exhausts your body, reducing the quality of your revision and leading to fatigue.

Revision Tip 3 – Avoid Caffeine

Water not caffeine. Tea, coffee and the adult-type caffeine drinks can also result in short-lived boosts, but ultimately leave us feeling more tired and washed out. Stick with non-caffeine drinks but do keep well hydrated as that’ll make a big difference to your learning.

 Revision Tip 4 – Routine Rules!

There’s lots of evidence to show that a regular routine, eating, sleeping etc at the same time each day is less stressful or our body and healthier. In fact, some medical experts state that it’s the most important factor to a long life. Get to know when the best time of the day is for you to study and make the most of it, then use the rest of the time to fit in your exercise etc.

Revision Tip 5 – 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule states that most of use get most of our productive work done in a relatively short space of time, i.e. we do 80% of our work in 20% of our time. The rest of the time we procrastinate and are generally slower and less productive. I still find this is still true in my chiropractic practice. I’ve always been a morning person and get more done before 11ma than I will for the rest of the day.

Maximise your effectiveness during your power hours, but then allow yourself to be a little slower at other times.

Revision Tip 6 – Visualise

Visualisation. This is an Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) tip that I’ve used to great effect to motivate myself to get some work done. Imagine yourself doing the revision, and doing it well. Clearly visualise it in your mind. See yourself revising and enjoying it, it’s going well. See it in as much detail as you can, what else can you see or hear, what does it feel like to be study well.

Revision Tip 7 – Slash that Screen Time

Cut that screen time, avoid your phone, tablet or computer after 7pm. The type of bright white light used as a base for all screens is very stimulating to the brain and will make it harder to get to sleep, which is the last thing you need when you want quality studying time tomorrow. If you can’t face turning those mobiles and tablets off, then at least make sure their turned to night-mode. There are apps you can download too.

Try these revision tips. They worked for this Eastbourne teenager and I’ve often recommended them to patient’s who’ve got a lot of desk based work and revision to get through.

Modern chiropractic care is far more than just the hands-on chiropractic treatment. I and my colleagues here at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne often compliment the treatment with advice and self-help tips. So, if you’re suffering with headaches, or any other problem and want to find out if we can help then call us on 01323 722499 or leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you.

Lushington Chiropractic, Eastbourne town centre with free parking, open evenings and Saturdays.

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)….

Image shows women rubbing the left hand side of her neck.

The upper trapezius muscles are found at the tops of the shoulders

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.

Vicky

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.

Image shows building blocks demonstrating different spinal disc pressures to accompany the blog by Eastbourne Chiropractor Victoria White on sleeping positions.

The best positions for your lower back are lying on your back and after that, lying on your side

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

 

Vicky

 

 

Health Benefits of Salmon & Why I Love It – Its Amazing!

Why I Love Salmon and its Amazing Health Benefits

I love Salmon and given how good it is for you, so should you. Not only does it taste great but it can also provide some great health benefits.  So how much do you know about salmon?  Most of us know its a fish with a pinky/orange type colour, but what beyond this?  Below I have given some of the reasons I love salmon. My colleagues here at Lushington Chiropractic will tell you it’s not only Salmon I love. I love all fish and often enjoy it for breakfast! Luckily here in Eastbourne we have access to fresh fish on our doorstop.

Omega 3s

Salmon is a fantastic source of omegas 3s.  If you have visited us here at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne you will know that it is one of our “must have enough of” and if people aren’t getting enough in their diet they could get it with a supplement.  The importance of omega 3s is well researched and they are important for pretty much everything!  Firstly they are converted into compounds that have an anti-inflammatory action, this is important for many health reasons.  Omega 3s are linked to cognitive function (your brain function), eye health, cardiovascular health, skin and hair.  So pretty important stuff and salmon is one of the best dietary sources. The health benefits really are amazing!

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is also called the “sunshine vitamin” due to the fact that our body makes vitamin D when we are in the sunlight.  It is also available however in some foods.  Salmon, together with eggs and fortified milk or cereals, is one of these.  Vitamin D has long been known to play a part in bone health.  More recently however, its importance is being found to be further reaching and the vitamin is being linked to various chronic diseases.

Some people are more at risk for vitamin D deficiency these are :

  • People who don’t consume good amounts over time, for instance people with a strict vegetarian diet (because most of the natural sources are animal based), or people with poor diets.
  • Those who have limited exposure to sunlight, either because they live in northern latitudes, are housebound, cover up for religious reasons or other reasons such as an occupation which means they don’t get much sunlight.
  • People with darker pigmented skin as this reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D
  • Older people and people with kidney problems as the kidneys play an important role in converting vitamin D to its active form.
  • People who have trouble absorbing nutrients from food due to digestive problems
  • Obese individuals as vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells changing how it is released into the circulation, i.e they may have lower blood levels.

Recently there has been some concern over the population’s vitamin D levels, reasons suggeted have been a poor summer leading  into the winter and there has been a recurrence of rickets (bone softening due to vitamin D deficiency) in children.

If you think you may be deficient in vitamin D it is worth talking to your doctor or other suitable healthcare professional and the Department of Health recommends a supplement for the following people:

  • All children aged six months to four years.  See this NHS page for more details on babies.
  • All pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • All people aged 65 and over
  • People who are not exposed to much sun as described above

Great source of protein

I am not going to write much on this.  Essentially protein is important for everything!  It is one of the major food groups and very important for all body processes, growth, development and repair.

Good source of selenium

Selenium is a less well known mineral, but is important in working with vitamins as an antioxidant.  It plays a role in thyroid function and the immune system and is also important in male fertility.

So these are the more “sciencey reasons” for why I love salmon and why it can be great for us, but also when we eat salmon it is normally with vegetables and potatoes or cous cous and salad, not so often with chips or other unhealthy items so helps us there too! It also tastes great and is easy to cook, put it in the oven for 20 minutes and bake, it’s so versatile and can be grilled or poached as well.  My latest discovery is the smoked salmon trimmings in the supermarkets makes a lovely salad.

So there we have it, many, many good reasons to eat more salmon if you aren’t eating enough already.

This blog from our old colleague Caroline Mulliner shows us her favourite Salmon recipe.

Why do you love salmon?

Has anybody got any good salmon recipes they would like to share with me?

Thanks for reading.

James

 

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.

Image of James Revell - Doctor of Chiropractic at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne to accompany his blog on the differences between Physiotherapy and Chiropractic.

James Revell – Doctor of Chiropractic

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.

James