Is It Safe to Click my Own Back or Neck?
Eastbourne Chiropractor Gemma Crouch often gets asked “is it safe to click my own back or neck?” Here she talks about why it is not safe to click your own back or neck and the consequences that result from frequent self-adjusting.
Imagine the following scenario…
After a couple of hours of working on the laptop, sitting in uncomfortable positions or driving for long distances, we can all feel a little stiff or achy. So, what do we do? We try to click our own back or neck for some instant relief and that satisfying popping sound!
At the chiropractic clinic in Eastbourne, I tend to advise against self-adjusting or clicking your own neck or back. People often ask me why, which is why I have decided to write this blog.
I will talk about what really happens when we click our own back and neck and why it is unsafe to do so.
What Happens When I Click my Own Back or Neck?
When we click our own spine, the joints that actually ‘click’ or release, are the ones above or below the restricted or stiff joint. By self-clicking or self-adjusting our own spines, we are not able to target the restricted or stiff joint but rather the ones which surround it.
The ‘popping’ sound that you hear with an adjustment, whether it is by a chiropractor or when you click your own back or neck, is actually the fluid being moved within the synovial joint from an area of high pressure to an area with a different level of pressure.
By releasing the pressure in the joints above and below the restricted one, there is some short-term temporary relief from discomfort. A couple of hours later, the tension will start to creep back in. It is at this point when we will attempt to release the same joints. Then we find we are clicking the same part of our spine again and again.
It is the repetitive self-adjusting or self-clicking of these spinal joints that lead to avoidable and undesirable consequences.
What are the Consequences of Clicking my own Back or Neck?
The spine is made up of 33 bones, 23 intervertebral disks, 31 nerves, 1 spinal cord, muscles and ligaments. We need to look after our spines and make sure that it is as strong as it can possibly be.
Repetitive self-adjusting of the joints above and below the restricted or stiff joint lead to damage to the muscles, tendons and ligaments of those joints causing them to become weaker.
Over time, the restricted joint will start to become stiffer and move less and the joints that are repetitively released will start to move more and become weaker in compensation. This means the ligaments will become stretched and the muscles will become tight which eventually leads to weakness, instability and further spinal problems.
What are the Benefits of having Chiropractic Adjustments?
The noise or ‘popping’ sound that you hear during a chiropractic adjustment is the same noise you hear if you were to click your own back or neck. However, the differences in what happens during a chiropractic adjustment makes it a lot safer than when you click your own neck or back.
At Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne, our chiropractors do a thorough examination to find out the root cause of a problem before creating a personalised treatment plan for you.
During a chiropractic adjustment, the focus is on a specific segment which isn’t working properly. The main aim of the adjustments is to ensure the optimum function of the entire neuromusculoskeletal (nerves, muscles and joints) system.
If you or someone you know clicks their own back or neck a lot, they may benefit from having a chiropractic consultation with us here at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne.
Call us on 01323 722499 to find out more.
Can Chiropractic help my Sciatica? A Case Study
This blog tells Chris’ story, which started with him phoning the clinic to ask, “Can chiropractic help my sciatica?”. He like many others had been suffering from sciatica and wanted a hands-on practical solution.
Eastbourne Plasterer Chris’ Sciatica Misery
Chris is a local Eastbourne lad, he’s a self-employed plasterer, and just before Christmas he hurt his back after a fishing trip. He’d suffered with back pain in the past but it had normally cleared up after a few days or a week at most. It was Christmas so he’d had a few days off work, but rather than clearing up his back pain got worse and he started to suffer with sciatica in his left leg.
Chris called the clinic to ask if chiropractic could help with his sciatica because he needed to get back to work. He’d tried resting up over Christmas but needed to get back to work now.
Chris’ Consultation Uncovered More Than He Realised
His consultation took an hour. All chiropractors carry out this type of consultation, reviewing your health and medical history. I find it useful to see if there’s a pattern to the underlying injury or problem. At Lushington Chiropractic our focus is on getting to the root of the problem, helping the injury heal, repair and recover – not just feel better.
When Chris first came in he was in constant pain, up to 9/10 in severity and unlike his previous back pain it wasn’t getting better. Chris also explained that he’d been having pins and needles in his left ankle.
Don’t Miss these Warning Sciatica Signs
An important clinical sign we look for with sciatica is whether the symptoms go into one or both legs, and whether they go below the knee. My colleagues are writing some other blogs about “sciatica” so if you want to find out more then use our search box or comment below on this blog and we’ll answer your questions. Chris’ sciatica did go to his lower leg and the pins and needles further suggested an “irritated nerve” from his low back (lumbar spine).
Chris’ consultation also found that he was suffering with weekly headaches and neck stiffness. These are not uncommon in plasterers due to the repetitive nature of their work, especially if they’re doing ceilings!
After reviewing Chris’ history we moved on to an examination. Everyone’s examination is tailored to them and their personal case. Although there isn’t a specific sciatica examination, there are certain tests we do that are important to tell us exactly what type of sciatica it is, how bad it is and what type of treatment (chiropractic or otherwise) would be best to help.
In a few cases, we also take x-rays and we have our own digital x-ray facility at our Eastbourne clinic. Chris didn’t need x-rays.
Chris’ lumbar (low back) range of movement was severely reduced because of the pain he’s in, and he could only move 5o any direction. I used special orthopaedic tests to test his muscles, joints and nerves. I also checked how his sensory nerves were functioning and compared sensation in his legs. I prefer to compare vibrational touch and pin-prick sensation. These two types of sensation are transmitted via different types of nerves.
I also checked muscle (myotome) strength, which can be a sign of nerve damage. Although he hadn’t noticed before, when we tested Chris we found that his calf muscle was weak (Tibialis Anterior, which is next to the shin and helps pull your toes up as you walk).
A Diagnosis and Plan to Help
I explained what I’d found was the cause of Chris’ backache and sciatica, and what his chiropractic treatment would involve. As well as that, the consultation had also shown that his headaches were coming from his neck, which is something we can help with as well.
Chris was pleased “that something could be done, rather than just resting”.
Chiropractic Treatment of Sciatica
A lot of people like Chris see chiropractors. Here in Eastbourne we help people of all ages and lifestyles who are suffering with sciatica.
Chiropractors often use a combination of manual therapy like manipulation and massage treatment as well as stretches and rehabilitation exercises. Everyone’s treatment differs. For example, in Chris’ case we were also taking care of his neck problem and associated headaches.
Given the severity of Chris’s backache and sciatica his chiropractic treatment was intense and for the first few weeks we saw him twice a week.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
Chris’ chiropractic treatment focused on the root of his sciatica, back and neck aches. There are some techniques I often use when treating sciatica like McKenzie extension exercises, muscular release and certain types of manipulation. However, everyone’s chiropractic treatment is always personalised to them.
Chris was keen to help himself. He needed to get back to work! I gave him lots of self-help back care tips to look after himself. He also came to one of the back-care classes we were running at the time (if you’re interested then call the clinic on 01323 722499, when we run these classes they’re free to attend but we do need to know numbers).
Chris’ back pain and sciatica started to improve after the first couple of chiropractic treatments. His headaches quickly resolved and his neck began to feel much looser after the first treatment.
Back to Work
After a couple of weeks Chris’ 9/10 pain was easier and he was back to work. We continued to see him after that as his muscles and joints continued to heal. I’m pleased that Chris stuck to his exercises and the self-help tips and is doing great.
Chris has helped me to write this blog and wanted to share his testimonial.
‘After suffering from sciatica sporadically over 40 years I thought it was time to try a different solution. What a difference this has made to my life. The staff are friendly and very professional. If like me you suffer from back pain I cannot recommend Lushington Chiropractic highly enough’.
What to do if You Need a Chiropractor for your Sciatica
Lushington Chiropractic Clinic is well known in Eastbourne. Like Chris most people who see us are recommended by word-of-mouth. However, if you’re not local to Eastbourne and need a chiropractor near you then ask your friends and family who they’d recommend.
Lushington Chiropractic, Eastbourne town centre, BN21 4LL www.LushingtonChiropractic.com for more info about the clinic.
If you have any questions or to book, you can contact me at the clinic: 01323 722499
James Revell DC,LRCC,MSc(Chiro),BSc(Chiro),BSc(Biol)
Doctor of Chiropractic & Clinic Director
Eastbourne Chiropractic Clinic Assistant’s Advice on frequently asked questions about Chiropractic
Hi, I’m Theresa O’Driscoll a clinic assistant/receptionist at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne and in this blog I would like to share some information with you on our frequently asked questions about Chiropractic.
I have been lucky enough to have worked at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne since July 2016 and along with my three-other clinic assistant colleagues Claire, Judy and Carole. We aim to make a valuable contribution to the lives of every guest that comes in to Lushington Chiropractic. We all receive regular adjustment/treatments and are all advocates of chiropractic and are dedicated to supporting everyone in any way we can.
There are many faces to the clinic assistant role.
As a representative of the practice an important part of the front of house role is to listen and reassure new guests (patients) who may be new to chiropractic treatment or are visiting Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne for the very first time.
For many reasons guests may be reluctant to share their concerns with the chiropractor and may feel more comfortable expressing them to the clinic assistant. This may include concerns about the speed of their recovery, their adjustments, financial constraints and other topics. Guests often share their worries at the front desk and neglect to tell the chiropractor!
So, if you’re new to chiropractic there is no shame in not knowing an answer and hopefully by reading this blog I can share with you some of the clinic assistants most frequently asked questions about chiropractic.
Is Chiropractic Care Safe?
In the words of the New Zealand government’s inquiry care is “remarkably safe”.
Chiropractic has an excellent safety record and is widely recognised as one of the safest drug free and non-invasive therapies.
Chiropractic care is a natural approach to better health that is proven safe and effective when performed by a licensed chiropractor.
Do adjustments hurt?
As with any form of treatment or exercise that is applied to muscles or joints, there can sometimes be minor short-term pain or discomfort. In nearly all cases, this is due to temporary irritation and quickly goes away. Some people may experience symptoms such as mild headaches, stiffness, soreness or tiredness after their treatment. If you have any worries about the risks or side-effects of chiropractic treatment, your chiropractor will be able to discuss these concerns with you.
Why do adjustments sometimes make a popping sound?
Adjustments do not always produce a sound. However, some techniques do create a “popping” sound. This audible release is the result of gas shifting in the joint. This sound is painless and causes no harm.
Are all guests adjusted the same way?
Each guests care is unique and therefore personalised to meet their specific condition and needs. Your chiropractor will modify adjustments based on your health condition, age, size and weight.
Can I see a Chiropractor if I am pregnant?
Many pregnant women find that chiropractic adjustments improve the pregnancy experience and make delivery easier. Adjustments are adapted to accommodate the stage of pregnancy and the unique needs of each guest.
At Lushington Chiropractic here in Eastbourne Gemma Crouch’s (Doctor of Chiropractic) area of special interest is providing chiropractic care for babies, young children and pregnant mums-to-be.
To read more about Gemma click here
Will I be required to remove my clothing at my appointment?
On your first consultation you will be asked to change into a gown for the examination. Some procedures may require you to remove some pieces of clothing, for example, your jacket or belt, however most do not. If you have any questions or concerns, bring them up immediately with your chiropractor.
Being a clinic assistant here at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne is a fantastic opportunity to contribute to the health and well-being of our community and it is a privilege to see guests get well and enjoy improved health.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and please comment if you have any other questions. We can offer a complimentary chat with any of our practitioners for help or advice or read our other blogs by the chiropractic team.
Clinic Assistant at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne
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
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.