Advice from the British Chiropractic Association – Beware of Day Three! Despite common assumptions that a ski injury is most likely to occur on the first day Matthew Bennett, BCA Chiropractor and the first to work with the British Alpine Ski team, comments: “After three days of skiing using unaccustomed muscles, skiers become confident but are physically tired, and their capability isn’t necessarily matched to their confidence”.If you are skiing this season, the Exeter Chiropractic Clinic has some tips to ensure you can stay safe on the slopes: Pre-Ski fitness tips:Don’t just sit there – Exercising through squats, sit ups and cycling is also good to tease the right muscles.It’s a balancing act – Balance is the single most important factor in skiing. Use a wobble board to improve balance and build up ankle muscles.For a thorough ankle work-out, rocking heel to toe is good for snowboarders and left to right is best for skiers.Jump around – Use a mini trampoline to work all those ‘skiing’ muscles.Roll with it – Roller blading is perfect practice and will help you develop a good ski posture, so you look like a pro on the slopes.Check it out – Most skiers find turning one way easier than the other. Poor technique might not be the problem, so talk to a chiropractor for advice. Out on the slopes:Warm up before strenuous skiing. Start off gently rather than heading first for the black runs and round the day off with a stretch.Take plenty of breaks – Overexertion will ruin your holiday – moderate the length of skiing time and listen to your body. Pain is a warning sign, don’t ignore it.Liquid lunch – Drink plenty of water and isotonic drinks to avoid dehydration and stay clear of alcohol, tea and coffee.Wrap up – Make sure clothing is warm and adequate for the cold weather and don’t forget hat and gloves.Put the boot in – No matter how many lessons, skiers won’t improve without the right boots and this is where most skiers put their first foot wrong. Skiers often choose on comfort alone – don’t make this mistake. Get a moulded foot bed from the ski shop first as this improves fit, comfort and ski control. Opt for a shop with a wide range of boots so you are spoilt for choice.What a bind – If you are prone to going ‘knock-kneed’ when you ski, look out for lateral alignment. Wedges expertly placed under the binding can make a huge difference.Carry on – Always be careful when carrying skis/boards. Leave them standing upright so you don’t have to bend to pick them up. Carry them over your shoulder, swapping shoulders regularly.Ice is nice – With an acute injury, use ice rather than heat.Tread carefully – A great deal of people are injured by slipping on ice at the ski resort, not just on the slopes. Wear shoes with a deep treaded sole and use strap-on studs for ski boots to help keep you upright.It still holds true that it is always better to take preventive measures in order to reduce the risks of injuries. Take note of these guidelines to ensure you keep on the ski safe side this ski season. Matthew adds: “Prevention is still better than cure and these tips can help you avoid injuries because just one joint or muscle out of line can be a disaster when you are travelling at 40 miles per hour on two skis”.
Those hitting middle age sleepless nights are most likely to be blighted by back or neck pain aggravated by sleeping than any other age group, according to new research from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA). Middle age is the time when people are most likely to see the cumulative effects of poor posture, which can in turn trigger back and neck pain. The research into this age group (45-54) found that nearly two fifths (39%) who have suffered from back or neck pain identify sleeping/mattress as the trigger for those aches, and over half (58%) admit pain keeps them from sleeping. With a huge 87% of people in this group saying they wake up with back or neck pain – approximately one in eight (13%) every day – the BCA is now urging people to pay attention to their sleeping habits.BCA chiropractor Rishi Loatey comments on the findings: “As we age, our bodies start to see the cumulative effect of years of poor posture, which can in turn lead to back pain. For many this pain is triggered by sleep. “To help stop sleep from becoming a painful experience, I recommend sleeping on your side, so your neck isn’t twisted all night. In this position, your spine should be parallel to the mattress and should not sag (bed too soft) or bow (bed too hard). Before bending or doing anything sudden or strenuous in the morning make sure your body – and your back – has woken up. Devoting time to exercise in the daytime is also an important step to build muscle tone and promote good posture”. Neil Robinson, a sleep expert at Sealy, says: “We recently conducted a world sleep census which revealed that almost a third of people aged 45-54 say they never wake up feeling refreshed. To help ensure you get a restful night’s sleep it’s important to have a good mattress. Numerous people consider their mattress to be a dull purchase, but investing in a mattress which is tailored to be supportive for you is so important for your health”. Top Tips from the BCAMore generally, sleep/mattress is the third most common trigger for Brits with back or neck pain, affecting 34% of those people. The BCA offers these tips for those who struggle to sleep: Update your mattress: Chiropractors recommend buying a new mattress at least every 10 years. Mattresses lose their support over time, so if you can feel the springs through your mattress, or the mattress is no longer level, your mattress is no longer providing the support you need.Buy the right mattress: Ensure your mattress is supportive for you. If you share a bed with your partner, it’s a good idea to look for two single mattresses which can be joined together, to ensure you both get the support you needGet moving: Activities such as yoga, which can improve posture, are recommended for people in the 45-54 age group. Other exercise which helps build your abdominal muscles could also help to protect your back. When exercising, warming up and warming down is essential to ensure that your joints and muscles don’t get a shock.Straighten Up: The BCA’s Straighten Up UK programme offers a series of daily exercises to help build muscle tone and improve posture.
Parents & Posture – Pregnancy
During Pregnancy women experience an increase in lumbar curving during pregnancy due to the increased weight being carried out in front. This puts more pressure on some of the joints of the spine, causing discomfort and, for some women, pain. Essentially, the centre of gravity has been moved and, even after giving birth, problems caused as a result of irritated joints and nerves can take a while to resolve. As pregnancy progresses into the final stages, relaxin is released in order to prepare for birth and does exactly what it says; ‘softening’ the muscles, ligaments and tendons! At this time, the body is more unforgiving and it is easy to overstretch or lift something and cause more of a problem than normal. Knee and ankle pain is less common during pregnancy, but can occur at this time due to the relaxation of muscle support and the increase in weight in the final trimester. General Posture AdviceThe fitter you are and the more muscle tone you have before pregnancy, the more likely you are to be able to cope with the body’s postural changes.Core exercises are very useful and you can talk to a chiropractor, GP, midwife or other healthcare professional for advice on this.Swimming and aqua natal classes are also of benefit, as being in the water takes the pressure off strained joints whilst providing good exercise and relaxation.Avoid high heels and wear comfortable, supportive shoes.If you have children already, it can be difficult as they will need lifting and carrying. Always lift with your spine straight and bend knees to avoid leaning, stretching or bending.Do not sit for prolonged periods, take a regular break and, when sitting, let the seat take your weight and, if possible, keep as much of your body in contact with the chair so that your whole body is supported. Knees should be lower than your hips. Post-Natal Posture AdviceRelaxin stays in the body for a prolonged period of time after pregnancy, especially if you breastfeed, so you must continue to be very careful when it comes to carrying, walking and lifting.Try doing lots of gentle stretches and do pelvic floor exercises whenever possible.Before lifting your baby, gently suck your tummy in to provide a corset of support for your back.After three months start doing more brisk walks out with the pram, continue to stretch and, as well as pelvic floor exercises and stomach exercises. Doing exercises and getting out and about each day will not only help you physically but will also help a general feeling of well-being.
Mind Your Posture – Lifting and Carrying
Our bodies are very well adapted to a variety of tasks, but we need to be careful not to take advantage of this and push our bodies to breaking point! LiftingFirstly, face the direction in which you want new box carrierto carry the weight. Always lift using a relaxed, straight back. Make sure your legs are at least your hips’ width apart with the knees bent. Keep your head and shoulders directly above your waist and keep the weight you are carrying as close to you as possible – avoid twisting.Avoid bending from the waist, which increases the stress on your lower back. Never keep the knees straight, as this will lead to over-stretching and damage to your back and never lift while twisting from the waist.Try and lift with a ‘broad base’ i.e. your feet about shoulder width apart or more. This will make you more stable.Don’t lift with your arms straight out, keep the elbows bent and to your side to minimise the stress on your back.Make sure you balance or secure the weight before you start moving. (It is easier to carry a bowling ball in a bowling ball bag than in large cardboard box where it can roll around.)Putting the weight down can often cause just as many injuries as lifting it up. If possible, put the weight on something waist height rather than the floor. If you do have to put it on the floor, try and keep your shoulders hips and knees pointing in the same direction, have a ‘wide base’ and bend your knees rather than your back Loading and unloadingLoading a weight into a car or van is difficult at the best of times, so it is even more important to use the best technique possible. If you have been sitting in the car/van for a while, go for a short walk to loosen your muscles and joints before lifting. Having lifted the weight, rest it on the bumper where possible and then push it into the vehicle, keeping your back straight and your knees bent. Always put lighter objects in first, pushing towards the back, so that it is not too strenuous to push them in or to pull them out when you reach your destination.It is not just the weight, but the size and shape of an object that can make it hard to carry so, where possible, break loads into smaller and more manageable chunks.Never lift and then twist and avoid the temptation to straighten your legs. This is just as important when taking bags or boxes out of the vehicle.Don’t try and lift more than one or two carrier bags out at a time, especially if you’ve had a bad back in the past.When putting your baby into the car, hold the baby close to you as you move towards the vehicle. Keep your back straight and only bend your knees when you have got as close to the car seat as possible. Only at this stage should you reach out to put the baby in the seat. If you’re carrying the baby in a chair, rest the chair on the edge of the car seat, then manoeuvre it into position within the car, keeping your knees bent and back straight.Don’t try to reach out too early and avoid bending from the waist.
Mind Your Posture – Computer Sense
Advice from the British Chiropractic Association on the perfect PC posture At home, at school or college, at work, or on the move, more and more of us are spending large parts of our day using a computer.When sitting and concentrating on the screen for so long, we may not be aware that the position we are in could be harmful to our spine. To help combat this, maintain a better ‘computer posture’ and protect our backs, Exeter Chiropractic Clinic has some advice to keep in mind when working, twittering, blogging, surfing or emailing! Essential adjustments :Always take the time to adjust your chair, particularly if you share your computer with others.Your seat should be adjusted so that your feet are flat on the ground, your knees bent, but with a slope from your hips to your knees. You should end up with your hips higher than your knees and your eyes level with the top of the computer screen. You may need to put the screen on a stand or even on a ream of paper to bring it to the right height.Relax when sitting into your chair, making sure you have your bottom against the seat back with your shoulder blades are touching the back rest of the chair.Arms should be flat and your elbows level with the desk or table you are using. Use a seat with arm rests.Take regular breaks. Never sit at the computer for more than 40 minutes; less if possible.When you take a break, walk around and stretch a little; do something completely different.Remove any obstacles from under your desk to ensure you have enough leg room. On the move :In the house or out and about with a laptop: The portability of a laptop makes it very convenient and flexible to use, but it is tempting to use them in situations where you might be in an awkward position. You may not realise that you are in an uncomfortable or potentially pain inducing position if you are concentrating on what you are doing.If using a laptop, invest in a stand to put it on (or use a ream of paper or other object). This ensures the screen is at eye level.For laptops used in the home, it is a good idea to buy a normal keyboard and mouse to plug in, as this makes it much easier to use the laptop in a more ‘back friendly manner’.When on the move with your laptop, take time to check your bag or briefcase for items you will not need. It is amazing how much unwanted ‘stuff’ quickly accumulates and the additional weight in your bag is extra weight that your shoulders and back have to bear.Use a rucksack design laptop case, carry it on both shoulders and adjust the straps so that the bag is held close to your back.
Golf – Mind Your Posture
Whether an old hand or new to the sport, golf is an addictive sporting pastime for many across the nation. The British Chiropractic Association is encouraging amateur golfers to check their swing to avoid unnecessary injury. Having just one joint or muscle out of line can make 18 holes seem like 108 and it’s no wonder if you have to swing your club 70-100 times with an injured back or wrist. By simply aligning the body perfectly, everyone can play golf better, with less effort and have more fun at the same time. High profile professional golfers can suffer injuries, but the amateur player may be more at risk than Rory, Justin or Lee! Poor technique, inadequate stretching prior and post-match and incorrectly carrying heavy golf bags are the main causes, but following a few simple tips can solve the problem. The lower back, shoulders and wrists are the most obvious joints at risk for golfers through the repetitive nature of the golf swing, but carrying a golf bag can also place an enormous strain on your neck. Take advantage of the latest golf accessories specially designed to help such as lighter bags and dual harness straps over shoulders to distribute weight evenly. Golfers often don’t warm up properly before playing – if muscles are not prepared by a good stretching routine, this can lead to a lack of flexibility and injury. Spend two or three minutes warming up before teeing off. Stretch hamstring, quads, chest muscles and shoulders.When picking up golf bags, bend carefully from the knees. Contrary to popular belief, trolleys are not the best way to caddy clubs as this builds unnecessary pressure from pulling and bending in the wrong positions. A power or electric caddy is the safest way to go around. Wear proper shoes for stability and to help avoid twisting the back and hips.
Going on holiday
So often, when people are on holiday and out of their normal routine, they can end up causing themselves unnecessary discomfort and stress by injuring themselves so taking note of these top holiday tips from the Chiropractors at Exeter Chiropractic Clinic is a good place to start. With the holiday season well under way we have come up with some useful tips to help keep you pain free, functioning well and most of all safely while on holiday. Flying high – Avoid alcohol before and during the flight as this will cause you to dehydrate and, in turn, exaggerate muscle pain. Drink plenty of water instead.Air-exercise – You will be restricted to your seat for most of the flight, but avoid stiffness by doing shoulder shrugs, buttock clenches and foot circles. Take the opportunity to get up and stretch your legs whenever you can.Avoid ‘travellators’ – Get your joints moving quickly after a flight and walk to arrivals rather than the easy option of a moving walkway.Bag Identification – Ensure your bags are easily identifiable (e.g. knot a ribbon around the handle) to avoid lifting other people’s heavy cases in error.Push, don’t pull! – Many wheeled cases encourage you to pull the case handle from behind, but this makes the upper body/back twist. If possible, push the case in front of you or use a trolley making sure you choose one from the stack which does not have ‘wonky wheels’, as keeping it on track will not do your back any good!Bed down – When you get to your hotel, if your bed is too hard ask the hotel staff for a spare duvet or blanket to put between you and the mattress. Firm beds are not always best, but it is easier to soften a hard bed than make a soft bed harder.Lounging around – If you’re heading to the sun loungers in search of the perfect tan, try not to lie on your tummy with your back and neck arched back when reading your book or magazine. Put the reading matter on the floor, so that you can view it over the edge of the sun bed; this should allow you to keep your head and neck in a more neutral position.
Contrary to popular belief, a quarter of UK women would actually like to make their breasts smaller (according to a 2008 survey by figleaves.com and the British Chiropractic Association). The main reason is that larger breasts are a real ‘pain in the back’, with 70% of the women surveyed admitting to having suffered from back pain at some point in their lives and nearly half (47%) claimed their breast size affected their posture. According to Tim Hutchful from the British Chiropractic Association “Bras that don’t fit will affect the shoulders and chest and may cause back pain as you get older. It is so important to make sure a bra gives you enough support as possible.” Despite the potential long term consequences of wearing the wrong size bra, women do not get properly measured because they are embarrassed or just don’t have the time. In the 2008 survey, 77% of those women who got professionally measured discovered that they had been wearing the wrong sized bra! Kate Horrell, figleaves.com’s fitting expert recommends looking closely in the mirror at your bra and discloses the tell-tale signs that indicate you are wearing the wrong size. Lift up your arms to see if the underband is tight enough. Check that the underwire is still fitting on the body. If you are still unsure, here’s how to judge: the underband should fit firmly against the body so that it does not slide around or move away from the chest as you go about your daily activities. The underband of a bra provides the majority (80 per cent) of support for the breasts, with the straps providing just 20 per cent. If the bra straps are digging in it could be because the underband is too loose and you are over adjusting the straps to feel supported. When you do this the straps pull the bra up at the back, which is another tell-tale sign that the band is too loose –in this case we recommend that you try a smaller band size. Alternatively, you may just need to loosen the straps.The centre front should lie flat against the body. If it doesn’t, this could be a sign that the cups are too small, causing the breasts to push the centre front away. Look at your back straps: they should either be parallel to each other, or converge in a slight V-shape at the back. If they are too far apart at the back (an upside down V), it could mean that your bra band is too small and overstretching.
Advice for Gardeners
With everyone in a rush to get those jobs done in the garden, there is a risk that gardeners may injure themselves. In an attempt to keep everyone healthy enough to actually enjoy sitting in their garden, Exeter Chiropractic clinic has identified some tips to help you get through those garden tasks safely. Treat gardening like normal exercise; you need to warm up and warm downDress appropriately – don’t wear tight, constricting clothes.Don’t start with heavy-duty gardening – start with the lighter jobs, like mowing the lawn, and then move on. If you are pruning, use long handled secateurs and get as close to the plants as you can!Don’t twist – if you have to use a ladder to reach trees, hedges, large shrubs or fences always face it and move the ladder regularly. Always keep your shoulders, hips and knees pointing in the same direction. Also, make sure the ladder is firmly and safely planted in position and, wherever possible, have someone else standing at the base to keep an eye on things!If laying a patio, keep the slab close to your body and bend your knees. It is sometimes better to bend one knee rather two as your supporting leg gives you a position of strength.Vary your activity; spend no more than 20-30 minutes on any one thing and take regular breaks.Pain is a warning sign do not ignore it – if you start to ache then stop what you are doing.
In 2012, the British Chiropractic Association unveiled consumer research results that highlight the need for attention and action, no matter what age you may be: One in five (20%) aged 55 and over are most worried about becoming less active as they age.48% of over 55’s admit that they are a lot less active than 20 years ago.51% of over 55 year olds are currently suffering from back or neck pain with 33% of those complaining that they suffer daily and 24% stating they have endured some kind of back or neck complaint for more than 10 years. The research also explored how back and neck pain is impacting on people’s daily lives. The findings revealed that 13% of those suffering from back or neck pain, aged 55+ experienced difficulties with going to work – a clear concern for the ageing workforce. Additionally, 13% found their pain impacted on their ability to socialise with friends and family. The other main areas of concern related to restrictions in carrying bags/rucksacks, carrying out DIY, exercising and sleeping. Tim Hutchful, BCA chiropractor comments: “Remaining active as we age is important to our well-being and continued health. So, whilst our bodies start to slow down naturally, there are some simple everyday steps that can be taken to help preserve your back and posture into your older years.” Tim recommends:Stay as active as you can within your physical limitations. Some exercises that may seem daunting or only for the very fit may, in fact, be perfect in allowing you to maintain fitness and mobility if done at a ‘lower’ level. Adding just a few minutes of exercise or stretches to your daily routine could be of benefit.Walking is a great way to stay active and the benefits underestimated. It is less strenuous on the joints than other forms of exercise but is weight bearing and so can help maintain bone density too.A moving joint is likely to be less painful than a static joint, so even simple movement, stretches or gentle exercises could help relieve pain.Promoting core strength and positive posture by doing StraightenUpUK – a series of simple stretches and exercises is a great idea. (go to www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk)Look to increase levels of activity in simple ways: walk to the shops instead of driving; try walking a little faster to boost the exercise benefit; take the stairs instead of an escalator or lift. Any additional exercise is better than none.Keep fluid levels topped up; the body works better when well hydrated: Your muscles and joints will work more efficiently and fatigue less.Always consult your doctor before embarking on new exercises to make sure they are compatible with any known medical conditions or symptoms.