Is exercise really good for you?
Patients often ask me how to prevent recurrent episodes of back problems. The simple answer is exercise, essentially it is anything that is going to stimulate your musculoskeletal system in a positive way.
But first let’s start by going to the other end of the spectrum and looking at the physiological effects on the body of not exercising. In addition, to make it more interesting, let’s consider the effect of smoking as well as not exercising as this intensifies the lack of exercise. We all know smoking kills and I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone how to run their lives, but if you want to ruin every cell in your body, smoking is just about the most destructive thing you can do. Buerger’s disease, or Thromboangiitis Obliterans, is the result of the gradual narrowing or occlusion of ALL your small blood vessels so that each time you have a cigarette you’re effectively suffocating the body bit by bit not only of oxygen but also of blood. You’re slowly killing yourself, what a cheery thought. So much for looking cool with a fag! Ah well, enough of that negativity let’s look at the other end of the spectrum.
What about choosing life and health? Cells like being fed with the right things. Therefore, the best thing to do is get the good stuff in and the toxic rubbish out. The best way of doing this is by exercising. Increasing the blood flow to every cell in your body helps prevent and reduce the incidence of or improve most conditions. The extra-oxygenated blood brings nutrients to the body’s cells and removes the products of metabolism. This is the best way to improve cell health. The added benefit of all this exercise is improved muscle tone. This protects your joints, holding your body in its correct position. This in turn aids better blood flow, which in turn gives you more energy, which in turn… oh, you get the gist…
The body is fantastic: give it a chance, give it a little of the good stuff and it will do you proud. Of course, treat yourself to some coffee too, or whatever takes your fancy because you cannot be good all the time.
As I lie here in bed writing this article it’s a cold frosty February morning. The BBC forecast of a dusting of snow hasn’t materialised and it promises to be dry and bright. The sun is up and the sky a vibrant blue. Snow drops have got their heads up and the first crocuses have appeared and soon the daffodils will be in full flourish with the buds of spring bursting into life.
But wait a moment, for we all know that April is the cruellest of months breeding lilacs out of the dead land. Who can tell what will happen when having braved January, February and March, April hoves into view.
Predicting the weather isn’t an exact science and so it is with our bodies. Predicting what is going to happen to us health-wise even in the short-term is almost impossible. Genetics has massively improved the accuracy of the list of possible/ probables but is still handcuffed by all the epigenetic (things that turn genes on and off) factors.
Cardiovascular disease is well studied and understood. It accounts for a third of all mortalities and is the biggest killer worldwide. Eighty percent (yes 80%) of these deaths are due to factors such as obesity, poor physical activity, heavy drinking, smoking, unhealthy diet and pollution.
Numerous other factors contribute with the possible/ probable outcome being a mixture of nature (genetics) versus nurture (epigenetics).
So with health, unlike the weather, we very often have a marked level of control. More often than not it’s possible to do things that benefit us. Often these changes can be done in little steps. Start with a small walk in the lunch hour; do some deep breathing; get to bed an hour earlier; not watch a screen before you to go bed; an extra glass of water. Simple but cumulatively promoting health rather than disease.
Chiropractic is all about helping the body, promoting health and preventing where possible musculoskeletal problems that could manifest themselves in the short, medium and long-term. Helping resolve the effects of lugging small children, shopping, digging, being stuck behind a desk or in a car. Take some time next time you see your chiropractor ask them what you can do in your situation to improve your health and I predict that you will come away with some good tips.
By the way the snow flurries did come.
Guildford Chiropractic Centre, has been caring for generations of families over 65 years. Our clinic offers a complimentary 15-minute informal chat with one of our expert chiropractors to answer your questions or to see if we can help you improve your health. Contact clinic reception for further details.
We are right in the middle of skiing season and by golly do many folks in Guildford love to Ski.
As well as being an enjoyable holiday choice, it offers an excellent cardiovascular workout and stimulates the nervous system.
As skiing is not free of injury (like any holiday for that matter), there are some precautions you can take to reduce the risk significantly.
The month before you go, you should be preparing your body to undertake the challenge of skiing holiday. Get down the gym or pull the bike out of the garage and work on your fitness endurance. Perform exercises to build up your leg muscles and core, e.g. squats, lunges, planks (speak to your chiropractor or personal trainer for further advice on this).
When you’ve finally reached the slopes, take note of the following tips for skiing:
Be sure to consult the chiropractor on your return if you had any significant bumps or falls and have your spine checked. Often, these small injuries can serve as precursors for other bigger injuries. Prevention is better than cure.
With that, if you are off skiing this winter season be sure to have a fantastic injury-free holiday!
Another New Year!
It’s the time of year when most of us will be thinking of New-Year-New-Me resolutions. Whilst some of the blogs you may read offer a more pessimistic perspective and describe how most of us break our resolutions by Valentines Day, I propose a more optimistic viewpoint.
We make resolutions to improve an area of our lives we are lacking in. The outcome, if successful, is an improved sense of well-being, productivity and happiness. After all, you deserve to be happy.
Every year in January, I have line of people coming in asking for help to change their lives, one way or another. Some have finally found the courage to say “I’m fed up with this back pain and how it’s ruining my life. I’m going to do something about it.” Or “I am out of touch with how my body works. I’ve not exercised in years, I’m two stone heavier than last year and I have aches and pains from head to toe. Help me!” January can be a very busy time of the year for the Chiropractor.
Some advice: when deciding what resolution to make, ensure you are doing it for the right reasons. This is your resolution – no one else’s. I ask my new-year-new-me-patients “Do you understand the difference between wanting to improve your health and wanting to want to improve your health?” Where are you on this scale?
Making big changes to your life requires coming out of comfort zones, making some mistakes and learning more about yourself. Self-motivation to make change is hard at the beginning, but it’s even harder to sustain. That’s why in certain situations, seeking professional help is better than doing it on your own. Although immediate results are few and far between, excellent results in the long term are not only possible but also within the reach of most people.
If you have a chronic ailment, for example back pain or headaches, and you need to get the second opinion that you never got round to obtaining, come and see us. In the new year we are offering free 15 minute consultations, with no obligation, during which we can tell you if chiropractic could help you.
I would like to leave you with one of my favourite New Year motivation comments by one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaimen:
”I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
I would like to wish you a very happy and healthier new year.
“Well, it ’s normal isn’t it?” “Er … yes … and no”, comes the reply. Only ‘normal’ can be ‘normal’ but, fortunately for us, ‘normal’ in the body is variable, and is different for each of us, albeit often only slightly.
‘Normal’ comes in many guises: it is often dependent on our environment and how we interact with it; how we’re made; our genetics.
Since man first stumbled out of his cave onto the African Savannah we have had to deal with the vagaries of the weather and the intermittent availability of food and water.
The human body does its best to maintain ‘normal’. This process is known in medical circles as homeostasis. When the umpteenth antelope has cleared off into the middle distance and your belly is rumbling, the body is still doing everything it can to maintain correct levels of oxygen, sugars and other chemicals in the blood.
Try holding your breath: if you try to withhold oxygen, it won’t be very long before your body makes you breathe. See if you can pass out. I bet you can’t – your body won’t let it happen!
The body does the same when it’s trying to process the incoming torrent of chemicals from your ingestion of big Mac, fries and shake. As your lipid levels skyrocket and your pancreas goes into meltdown, spare a thought for all those background processes that your body performs faultlessly day in and day out. That is, until something goes wrong.
Most of the time, the mode of onset is poorly understood and so it is with musculoskeletal pain. Whilst we would love to have a direct cause and effect situation, the reality is rarely so. We are a complex combination of everything that’s happened to us throughout our lives – good, bad and indifferent. Most problems have a chronic component, a fatigue point if you like, where a problem builds until the body complains or fails.
So why not see a chiropractor and help your body get back to ‘normal’ or at the very least slow down its drift away from the norm?
The clinic offers a 20-minute complimentary chiropractic discussion and assessment to see whether chiropractic treatment can help. Please contact clinic reception for further details.
Seasons greetings one and all! Christmas will soon be upon us, and although it is the season of good cheer, it is also a common time for people to upset their spines! Be sure to take note of the following tips so back pain doesn’t ruin the festive holiday:
The problems can begin with shopping for Christmas presents. Traipsing around the shops looking for the “perfect” presents for your nearest and dearest, can put your spine under a lot of mechanical stress. Wear sensible shoes that support your feet properly, and try to balance the weight of your shopping bags equally in both hands. If you try to do all your shopping in one day, have regular breaks, even if it is only to take parcels back to your car. If you do most of your shopping online, take regular breaks away from your computer so that your back doesn’t get stuck in one position.
Once the Christmas shopping is finished, there is the tree and house to decorate. If, like me, you prefer a real tree, there will be a trip to a local Christmas tree farm to saw down or dig up the perfectly shaped tree, then you will need to manhandle it back to your car and set it up at home, ensuring it is vertical. All of this can put your lower back under a lot of strain, and leave you with aching shoulders. The next hazard is decorating the tree so take care when you pick up boxes of decorations. Keep your spine in a neutral position and bend your hips and knees, and do not bend, lift and twist at the same time. Have fun decorating the tree making sure that you get an even distribution of the lights and the colours of the decorations.
Wrapping Christmas presents can be great fun, but can also be hard work for your lower back. Try to wrap as you buy, rather than leaving it all until Christmas Eve. Sit at a table or stand at a kitchen worktop, rather than sitting on the floor or standing bending over a table. Make sure you take regular breaks and walk around, even if it is only to get a coffee or a glass of wine to keep you going.
What you eat and drink can also have an effect on your back. Drinking too much alcohol can cause you to fall over and injure yourself, and drinking alcohol over several days can increase any pre-existing inflammation in joints. Alcohol can also result in dehydration of the whole body, including the discs in your spine, so make sure you drink plenty of water too. However, drinking 2-3 alcoholic drinks can help muscles relax. At Christmas we also tend to overload on sugar in the form of Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, mince pies, alcohol, and the inevitable tins of chocolates. These excess sugars can affect your adrenal glands causing them to fatigue, leaving you feeling tired and drained, but they can also reduce the body’s natural anti-inflammatory corticosteroids, causing injuries to feel more painful.
When the big day finally arrives there are lots of things that can potentially upset your back. Cleaning the house if you are expecting visitors, standing preparing the all the vegetables for Christmas lunch, and then there is the turkey. Even a small turkey weighs around 15 pounds, and this can be quite cumbersome getting it in and out of the oven, so bend your knees and brace your lower back to avoid injury.
After the Christmas lunch, it is traditional to sit down and watch television. Unfortunately many sofas do not provide ideal lower back support, encouraging you to sit in a slumped position, so put a cushion in the small of your back. Having extra time off work over the Christmas period to relax may sound ideal, but try not to spend prolonged periods of time sitting down, but encourage the whole family to go for a walk instead.
If you do injure your back over the Christmas period, apply an ice pack (or a small packet of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) to the injured area for up to 10 minutes. As the pain reduces, gentle stretching exercises can improve your mobility. For your neck: bend and turn it gently from side to side. For your lower back, lie on the floor and bring each knee in turn up to your chest and hold for a few seconds. Repeat 6 times for each leg. Pelvic tilt exercises can also help: lie on the floor with your knees bent up, feet flat on the floor, then flatten your lower back on to the ground for a few seconds, and repeat 6 times.
Remember you’ve only got one spine: take good care of it!
Guildford Chiropractic Centre is only closed on Sundays and public holidays, so if you do injure your back over the festive period, you should be able to see one of our chiropractors promptly.
Finally, on behalf of all the team here, I would like to wish everyone in our community a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I am often asked what made me decide to become a chiropractor as I was already a physiotherapist living and working in my native France.
As usual, there are several reasons.
In France, 50 years ago, physiotherapists were seen as medical auxiliaries. The training was short, 2 years, and the medical profession made sure that your general medical knowledge was weak enough to prevent you from becoming a serious competitor in the field of musculo-skeletal medicine. In those days, being a physiotherapist meant following to the letter the treatment plan established by a medical doctor with few possibilities to take initiatives My frustration grew until one day friends of my parents introduced me to their chiropractor.
I remember to this day, my meeting with that inspiring man who galvanised me and motivated me to investigate chiropractic. Soon, I realised that the training was rigorous and long enough to equip me to become exactly what I wanted to be: an independent practitioner able to make a diagnosis and decide if I could treat or if I should refer.
In those days, being a physiotherapist meant following to the letter the treatment plan established by a medical doctor….
Nevertheless, there were a lot of obstacles to overcome. The length of the training, at that time 4 years; the fact that in those days the only training institutions were either in the US, Canada or the UK and assuming that I would graduate, I would come back to practise in a country where chiropractic was considered as the illegal practice of medicine.
I was still young and I must admit that the prospect of becoming a pioneer in my native country fired me up rather than frightened me. After a few years, however, I decided to leave France and settle in the UK where chiropractic enjoyed a more positive status.
Things have changed a lot since, and both France and the UK have given chiropractic a legal status. In the UK, since 1994 the Chiropractor Act regulates the profession and it is illegal for anyone who is not registered to describe themselves as a chiropractor. The same legislation was passed for physiotherapists a few years later. Regulation comes with regulatory bodies, professional associations and colleges.
Physiotherapists and chiropractors need by law to be registered, to hold professional indemnity insurance, and to comply with continuing professional development.
Regulation has positive implications for our profession and our patients. An example of this is the Royal College of Chiropractors’ Patient Partnership Quality Mark (PPQM), an award obtained after a rigorous audit showing that a chiropractic clinic can demonstrate excellence in meeting patients’ expectations in cleanliness, safety and patient expectations.
I am proud to announce that the Guildford Chiropractic Centre has just received this prestigious award for the 4th time running. For me, personally, this is just further confirmation that it was worth making that career change all those years ago and coming to practise in the UK.
Have you ever seen sports people wearing brightly coloured tape and wonderered whether it was simply a fashion statement or if it served a particular purpose? Taping is prescribed by chiropractors, physiotherapists and other manual therapists – but what’s it all about?
This type of tape is called Kinesio Tape, and was originally developed by a Japanese chiropractor, Dr Kenzo Kase, in 1973. (You read it correctly, Kinesiotape was developed by a chiropractor!) He found that although standard taping techniques like athletic taping gave excellent support to muscles and joints, they significantly reduced the range of motion in the joints. He therefore wanted to create a therapeutic tape that could support injured joints and muscles but without compromising their range of motion, and after two years of research he developed Kinesio Tex® tape.
This type of tape is called Kinesio Tape, and was originally developed by a Japanese chiropractor, Dr Kenzo Kase, in 1973.
Kinesio tape first gained worldwide exposure during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and, at the 2012 London Olympics, athletes from more than 80 countries wore the tape whilst competing. It is now commonly worn by athletes competing in top level sporting events in a wide variety of sports including football, rugby, tennis, cycling, swimming and athletics.
Kinesio tape a hypoallergenic latex-free elastic cotton tape, with a heat activated acrylic backing and is designed to have a similar weight and thickness to human skin. It allows the skin to breathe more easily, is water resistant, allowing wearers to bathe normally, and removes the moisture quickly, so the tape can be comfortably worn for 4-5 days at a time without causing skin irritation. The tape can be stretched along its length by up to 140%, which allows for a greater range of motion in joints than traditional athletic tape.
Many chiropractors and physiotherapists have had great success in using kinesio tape as an adjunct to treating a variety of conditions in their patients, such as lower back pain, knee pain, shin splints, rotator cuff injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow.
Our practice uses Kinesio-tape on a variety of complaints, and the majority of those patients have report that using Kinesio- tape was very effective for them.
The use of Kinesio-tape is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process whilst giving support and stability to injured muscles and joints, but without limiting the range of motion in the joints. When applied to the skin, Kinesio-tape lifts the skin from the underlying muscle, creating more space and thereby increasing the flow of blood and lymphatic fluid. This reduces inflammation and swelling, which in turn reduces pain by decreasing pressure on the body’s pain receptors. Kinesio-tape can also improve the contraction of a weak muscle, relax muscles that are too tight, and reduce muscle fatigue.
You can get tape now with slightly different properties, and it is now available in a multitude of colours and patterns, ranging from the standard beige, black, blue and pink, to patterns such as Union Jack, tattoo, cow, tiger and camouflage!
If you would like to know more on how taping can help, please contact clinic reception for more details.
In this month’s article I would like to focus on rib pain.
This is a common cause of pain that presents in our practice.
Ribs can be the source of all sorts of problems, ranging from post-traumatic sprains to postural related rib misalignments, all of which can cause significant pain.
Let me explain how we look at these problems, and why chiropractic can be an effective solution to them.
There are 12 pairs of ribs in your body each attaching at the back to the vertebrae in the middle your spine – the thoracic vertebrae. 10 of these pairs come to the middle to attach onto the breast bone (or sternum) at the front via costal cartilages.
The final 2 pairs are what we call “floating ribs” as they don’t actually attach to anything at the front.
The main function of rib cage is to protect your giblets (in this case the heart and lungs) from trauma from the outside world by shock absorbance.
In addition to protection it serves to assist you in the breathing mechanism.
As you breathe in your rib cage should expand to allow your lungs to inflate as much as possible.
Guess what symptoms are commonly reported by those folks who adopt that unattractive, slumped, rolled shoulder inward posture, particularly at their desks?
You guessed it!
Rib pain or (more specifically costo-transverse joint pain).
Why should this be so?
In this position the diaphragm (the main muscle responsible for inflating your lungs) cannot work as effectively, so the nervous system recruits more muscles in the mid back and shoulders to open up the rib cage.
Over time this, in turn, causes ribs to be pulled in all sorts of directions, causing them to misalign or sprain often resulting in significant pain.
Our Guildford Chiropractors can improve the function of the spine and ribs via specific adjustments to the joints, which will improve mobility and reduce tension, often providing significant relief to the sufferer.
Following treatment, if you undertake a tailored exercise programme, rib pain can often be relegated to the past!
Individuals who suffer with post-traumatic rib injuries or bruised ribs can also benefit from chiropractic treatment. Using gentle procedures the chiropractor can dramatically lessen the pain, speed up the healing process and make the patient more comfortable during their recovery.
And the answer to the question: do men have one less rib than women?
A resounding NO! Men and women have the same number of ribs as each other. 12 pairs each.
At that’s put that myth to bed.
P.S Watch this great TED video and see what other things poor posture can do to your body!
Breakfast is healthy fruit and yoghurt. Thank goodness my Body has stopped the full fry-ups. Not only was his increasingly large belly putting extra strain on me, it was also putting my better half, ‘the good knee’ at risk of arthritis. Happily the scales are on a downward trend!
We also make time to spend in the gym now. Although my Body still looks longingly at the football pitches, that was how we got here in the first place.
After several years sitting behind a desk with no exercise, one weekend he decided to join in a game of five-a-side and ran out onto the pitch without bothering to warm up. Snap! My cruciate ligament, which runs through the joint connecting the femur to the tibia, tore. Ouch! That’s the reason I’m creaky before my time. Ligament tears usually result in a 50:50 chance of getting arthritis within 10-20 years.
In the office, I see one of my Body’s work colleagues walking round in high heels – phew, I’m glad I’m not one of her knees. High heels are a torture device for us knees. I much prefer our new shoes with flexible soles which also provide support under the arch of the foot.
Up we get at lunchtime to go to the gym.
Exercise like biking, swimming and tai chi helps me to avoid becoming too rusty. In order to regenerate, cartilage in the knee needs to move. Strong muscles also help to stabilise and support the joint.
On the way home from work, it’s one of the highlights of my month – we’re off to see the chiropractor. Not only does the chiropractor help keep my Body’s low back and pelvis working well, which takes extra pressure off me, massage and mobilisation around the knee joint helps me keep going as long as possible. Regular treatments are making a big difference to how we feel.
Back at home, dinner is salmon and fresh vegetables. Diet is of great importance to how I feel. Low grade inflammation within my joint may be helped by foods such as fatty fish. At bedtime, I’m at my most comfortable with my Body on his side with a pillow between me and the other knee.
And if I’m happy, usually we get a good night’s sleep.
If you would like to speak to one of our chiropractors, please contact clinic reception.
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