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How to Correct your Posture

If you find yourself experiencing back pain or dull aches, it could be your back posture that needs correcting and adjusting. Good posture is the key to good back health, and yet so many of us fall short of what’s recommended. You might also suffer from poor posture for other reasons, such as hunching your back whilst driving. Below are some tips to help you improve and correct your posture:

See a Chiropractor

Of course, one of the most effective things you can do to improve your posture is to see a chiropractor. It’s a chiropractors job to recognise any issues in your posture and also identify any reasons why these problems may have occurred over time. They can recommend exercises and stretches for you to carry forward at home, as well as inspecting and analysing your back and seeing where and what is most affected.

Make time for stretching and meditation

In the morning or evening, make time for stretching or meditation – two things that can slowly help correct posture. These activities can help you warm up your muscles, become more flexible, and gain more confidence in the way your body moves. The more supple and flexible your body is, the more you’ll be able to improve your posture.

Recognise when you’re slouching, and correct yourself

One of the biggest indicators of bad posture, is slouching. Most people slouch all the time, throughout the day, and it’s an easy habit to fall into. If you take a look around, you’ll probably see people slouching as they walk, or people slouching over their phone, or even slouching into their seat (for example on a train or in the car).

A good trick is to recognise when you slouch the most, and make a conscious effort to correct yourself. When you’re on your phone, hold it to eye level, so you don’t need to bend to look at it. When you’re walking stand up straight, or when you’re sitting straighten your back and sit upright. Simple corrections like this can make a big difference.

Sleep comfortably

You may find yourself slouching or having bad posture because your body is compensating for a bad night’s sleep. If you wake up with back ache, it’s easy to slouch or adjust your posture to compensate for the pain. Instead, try and work out what is preventing you from sleeping peacefully, and aim to resolve it. You may need a softer mattress, or a firmer one, or maybe more supportive pillows for your neck.

Work from a better position

You spend most of your day at work, so correcting your posture during working hours is really important, especially if you want to see an overall improvement. Posture isn’t just something to take into account when stood up – posture is important when sat down too. A quick solution, is to purchase simple posture

Can A Chiropractor Help With Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a spinal condition which can affect babies, children, adolescents and adults. It causes the spine to curve into an S shape, which can sometimes make the body look uneven or cause back pain. While some babies are born with the condition, scoliosis can start to appear at any age and usually presents between 10-15 years of age. It is thought that three or four children out of every 1,000 in the UK have the condition and require treatment. Read more

How your Sleeping Position Affects your Body

Getting enough sleep is essential for your health – but did you know that the positions you lie in as you snooze can also affect your body? Most of us don’t give a second thought to our sleeping position, but because we spend so many hours in bed it can have an impact on overall health and cause certain health issues.

Are you a serial snorer or do you suffer from neck pain? Your chosen sleeping position is probably the culprit. Find out about the common sleeping shapes below and how they can affect your body in different ways.

On your back

Sleeping on your back is great for the spine, but it’s probably not great for the person you’re lying next to. Lying in a flat, neutral position is recommended for anybody with back or neck issues, but it can also lead to snoring. If snoring is becoming an issue, there are various ways to combat it, from special pillows to nasal strips.

On your side

A side sleeping position is one of the most common. It can stop you snoring, and is the safest position for pregnant women to sleep in. Moreover, sleeping on your side can reduce your chances of developing neck or back pain as the neck doesn’t twist. It’s thought that sleeping on your right side is less preferable than the left, as it causes acid to pool in the stomach which leads to heartburn.

On your stomach

Did you know that sleeping on your stomach is one of the most well-known causes of back pain and neck issues? It may feel comfy at first, but staying in this position for too long can cause back problems because the neck is forced to rotate. Sleeping on your front regularly can have a negative effect on the spine, so try and sleep in an alternative position.

Lying in an awkward position can put pressure on certain parts of your body and have an impact on circulation. Ever woke up with pins and needles in the night? That’s your body’s way of saying change position! Some sleep positions can cause or aggravate health issues.

If you struggle with neck pain or back pain, see one of our chiropractors to discover what treatment could help. The first thing to do is check how you are sleeping and see whether changing positions could provide some relief.

Why Exercise is Vital for a Healthy Back

Staying active and taking part in regular exercise is crucial for a healthy spine, and the symptoms of chronic back pain can usually be mitigated with physical activity. It’s understandable that some sports and activities involve risk, and it is possible to suffer a sprained muscle or hurt the back with too much physical exercise – but a back injury is not the same as ongoing back pain. You can recover from a pulled muscle in the back caused by playing sports, yet chronic back pain is difficult to treat.

This is why even if you suffer from back pain, you should still take part in physical exercise. Keeping the back mobile is vital for spine health, and will stop the back muscles losing their strength. People often self-medicate a bad back with bed rest but this is in fact the opposite of what health professionals now recommend. Sitting down too much and inactivity can cause lower back pain or make it worse.

If you have a tense, stiff or sore back, you should complete an exercise regime which aims to mobilise and strengthen the spine and the muscles. Every case of back pain is different and you should speak to a doctor and physiotherapist about the best exercises and stretches to do to help ease the pain. However, in general, these physical activities are recommended to prevent and treat back pain.

Swimming and other water activities

Swimming is a low impact exercise, which means it’s easy on the joints. Doing some lengths in a swimming pool a couple of times a week can keep the back mobile. However, if you prefer to swim with your head out of the water this can sometimes cause neck or back issues. In this case, try water aerobics or another water based activity.

Walking

Going for a brisk walk, even if it’s just round the block can help to keep your back mobile. From walking the dog to walking to the bus stop, short but regular walks can boost energy and keep you active.

Cycling

Tell back pain to “Get on yer bike!” Cycling is a gentle activity which can be enjoyed by all ages. Always wear a helmet and stay safe on the roads – you may wish to stick to woodland cycle paths. Going for a leisurely bike ride can do wonders for your back.

Yoga

Many chronic back pain sufferers recommend yoga for easing pain. The series of stretching, poses and breathing exercises helps to improve mobility and flexibility, and is reported to be more effective than painkillers and back exercises according to The Daily Mail.

Staying active is key to easing the symptoms and improving your condition.

Does Back Pain get Worse in Winter?

Many people who suffer from chronic pain in the spine will report the symptoms getting worse as the weather gets colder. Similarly, people who don’t have regular back pain may also experience some aches and pains in their neck, upper back or lower back during the winter months. Sciatica sufferers also seem to experience symptoms at this time of year. Why is it that pain seems to increase as the temperature drops?

There is no proven link between sudden lower back pain and changes in the weather, including cold temperatures, humid conditions, wind and rain. However many studies have been carried out across the world to try and find a medical reason as to why more people suffer musculoskeletal pain during cold weather.

With the UK facing a back pain epidemic and bracing for a cold winter, we need to understand why symptoms can suddenly appear or become worse. Here’s why your back or neck pain may get worse in winter.

Tight and tense muscles

When we are exposed to really cold temperatures, our muscles tense up. The spine’s muscles may become tight and tense for a long period of time, which can result in back pain further down the line. Tension in the back can also increase the risk of a muscle sprain, which will also cause short term pain.

Extra stress

It’s also possible that the challenges winter brings could put extra stress on the back muscles, and increase the injury risk. Shovelling snow, pushing trapped vehicles, falling on ice or slush and carrying around Christmas trees can leave you pulling, twisting or damaging your back. Sometimes, the mental stress of the holiday season can also cause tension in the body.

Inactivity

You’ve probably heard doctors, physiotherapists and chiropractors say that the best way to relieve back pain is by staying active. When we sit still for long periods of time, muscles stiffen up so it’s really important to keep moving and stretch back muscles often. However, during the winter’s cold, dark days, exercise is the last thing you feel like doing. It can be tough braving the cold weather and the short gloomy days make you want to stay in bed for longer. This decline in physical activity in winter can trigger back pain.

Many people do experience back pain symptoms at this time of year, but there are ways to prevent it. Wrapping up warm every time you go outside and staying as active as possible is a good formula. If you’re suffering with lower back pain or neck pain, visit a chiropractor for some manual therapy and expert advice.

Top Signs of Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a spinal condition which causes the spine to twist and have an abnormal curvature. In many cases it is not serious and may not require treatment, but scoliosis can also cause back pain in adults, and the curve could possibly get worse over time.

The causes of scoliosis are not fully understood, and the majority of cases are defined as idiopathic scoliosis when the cause cannot be identified or prevented. Sometimes it runs in families or could be caused by a genetic condition. Other types of less common forms of scoliosis include:

  • Neuromuscular scoliosis – caused by a nerve or muscle condition such as cerebral palsy
  • Congenial scoliosis – when the bones in the spine don’t form properly in the womb
  • Degenerative scoliosis – wear and tear of the spine which occurs in old age

Although scoliosis affects people of all ages, it is most common in children aged 11-15. The condition can be present at birth, or can develop as the spine grows, and sometimes children need specific treatment to stop the curve getting worse until they stop growing. However, most people with scoliosis can live normal lives and the condition doesn’t affect physical activity except in extreme cases. There are no other health problems associated with scoliosis and usually it doesn’t cause recurring pain.

Symptoms of scoliosis

How do you know if you have scoliosis? If you think your spine is curved in an ‘S’ or ‘C’ shape then you may have the condition. Here are some other signs:

  • Uneven shoulders
  • Visible curves in the spine
  • Leaning to one side
  • Uneven hips
  • Ribs sticking out on one side
  • One shoulder or one hip sticking out

If you are experiencing back pain along with any of these signs, you should see a GP who will be able to diagnose scoliosis. An X-ray scan will be carried out so doctors can view the spine, and if it has an abnormal curve they can see how severe the curve is. A chiropractor can also refer you for a scan if they suspect scoliosis. If scoliosis is diagnosed you can see a specialist who can discuss treatment options available if needed.

Treatment depends on how severe the curve is and if it is likely to get worse. Adults may require pain relief in the form of spinal injections or even surgery. Toddlers, children and teenagers may be given a back brace to wear to control the growth of the spine.

For more information about scoliosis, visit http://www.sauk.org.uk/

Back Pain Remedies that will Never Work

A lot of people suffer with ongoing back pain and spine conditions, and unfortunately there are few treatments available. The chronic condition can negatively impact day to day life, so finding something to ease the symptoms is important. However, studies show that the majority of pain medications don’t actually relieve back pain, and they certainly don’t combat the cause of the discomfort.

There are many different remedies available which claim to relieve back pain or make it coming back altogether, but usually there is no proof for this. Prescribed medication, if it has any effect at all, only masks the pain for a short while and natural remedies aren’t recommended by medical professionals. Here are some medication myths for back pain and a list of remedies you shouldn’t waste your time on.

Paracetamolpicture of drugs pills

You can buy painkillers over the counter and it is usually the first go-to medication for any kind of pain relief. Headaches, toothache, and muscle sprains can be relieved with paracetamol but back ache is slightly different. The acute pain is usually caused by inflammation, which means paracetamol has no effect whatsoever.

NSAIDs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are also available without prescription and are often recommended for back pain. However, taking this medication on a regular basis has serious side effects, and lifestyle factors can be much more effective than taking a pill. Recent studies show that depending on what is causing the back pain, NSAIDs don’t work for everyone and provide little relief for the majority of back pain sufferers.

Restman sleeping on a bench

It’s an old wives tale that bed rest can cure anything! In the case of back pain, the opposite is true. Pain in the back doesn’t necessarily indicate any damage such as a pulled muscle, so there is no need to limit movement in the back. Exercise is one of the most accepted treatments for back pain, and sitting or lying for long periods of time can actually make the pain worse.

Natural supplements

When drugs don’t work, the herbal supplements sector goes into overdrive, claiming to cure the ailment. The main ones recommended for back pain are bromelain, which has an anti-inflammatory effect, and Devil’s Claw which can reduce arthritis-related pain. Supplements alone will not cure back pain and you should always consult your GP before taking them.

Because back pain is so common and there is no definite cure, there are lots of myths about treatment. Everyone is different so you should explore different back pain treatment options and mobility exercises to see what works for you.

How to Alleviate Back Pain Whilst Travelling

Sometimes long trips are unavoidable, especially if you love travelling to long haul tropical destinations. Whether you’re a long term backpacker or have a long road trip coming up for work, you should take time to consider your spine health. Sitting in a car or on a plane for a long period of time can be uncomfortable and lead to ongoing back pain for the duration of your trip.

If you already suffer from back pain, then you will dread long car journeys or flying because you know that sitting for long periods of time can make it worse. Being in one position can stiffen the muscles in your back and cause aches and pains. However, there are some things you can do to alleviate the discomfort and avoid an episode of chronic back pain. Here are some top tips from the Canary Wharf chiropractors.

Use supportive cushions

Sitting correctly is really important for keeping your spine happy, yet many car seats and airplane seats aren’t designed well to correctly align the body. You want to sit up straight in the seat, with both feet firmly on the floor and the knees on level with or slImage of Airplane travel Causing Back Painightly higher than the hips. With limited leg room on planes we know this is difficult. Bring a cushion or roll up a scarf to place between your lower back and the back rest, which adds extra support to your spine. If travelling in a car or coach, always make sure you feel comfortable and the seat is adjusted for you before setting off.

Move as much as you can

The main culprit that causes back pain is sitting still for too long. If you can’t stand up and walk around during your journey, at least try and change your position every 20 minutes or so. There are also stretches and small movements you can do while in your seat – clench your buttock muscles, roll your ankles and stretch up with your arms to keep the muscles awake. It’s easy for your back to stiffen up on a long flight or car journey. If you are driving, be sure to stop every couple of hours for a walk around and a stretch.Image of Train Station Travel Causing back Pain

Pack light

The last thing you need after a long journey which has aggravated your back is heavy luggage. Try to lift your luggage as little as possible, and when you do always bend your knees and use your legs to lift rather than your back. Pack light – how many books are you really going to get through in a week? Can you pick some up at the hotel instead? Just because the airline offers 30kg of luggage allowance doesn’t mean you should pack enough for six weeks. If you’re unloading luggage out of the boot of a vehicle be extra careful and ask for help to share the load on your back.

Planning a long haul journey? Follow these tips to keep your back safe during the trip, and beforehand you may want to consider preventative chiropractic treatment.

Historical East London: From a Chiropractic Perspective

East London in the 1800s and 1900s was a notoriously terrible place to live. The outskirts of London was a poverty-stricken slum, and the middle classes ignored it for as long as they could. The depressing living conditions and disease which spread quickly in the overpopulated homes meant life was a constant struggle for survival. A lot of children died of starvation, and if they didn’t then they would be sent to work at an early age to help feed the family. Those who were lucky enough to find work could barely afford a room and enough food to eat.

The working class were subjected to horrendous labour, often working 12-14 hour days with little break. It’s no wonder that some people had to turn to prostitution or a life of crime to get by. If you weren’t skilled then you had to find something to sell, or look for casual work around the town.

General health was extremely poor in the east end of London, as you’d expect when the majority of the population were malnourished. We can’t imagine how terrible back health must have been – but it was probably one of many aches and pains felt daily. No workers got enough sleep, and many were forced to stand all day or undergo hard labour for a very little wage. Here are some of the typical jobs you might have done if you lived in the Victorian ages…

Image of Victorian East LondonSewer hunters and mudlarks

It sounds like a last resort, but some people literally had to wade through waste and rubbish to find anything of value. Mudlarks would go thigh-deep into the Thames, looking to retrieve anything they could sell or use for themselves. Some made the illegal decision to enter the sewers – not a task for the faint hearted. They would search for miles sifting through the waste and filth looking to find scrap metal and dropped coins from the streets above. They could even collect dog muck which could be sold to tanneries to make leather. This was a dirty and dangerous job, and bending down all day probably resulted in prolonged lower back pain.

Dock loader

Thousands of men used to line the London docks every day hoping to get some work as a dock loader. The trouble is, it was very low paid and the work was casual – you never knew how many ships would come in. In the 1800s, London was the greatest port in the world – but it still didn’t pay well to be a casual labourer. The excessive repetitive strain on the dock loaders’ backs would have taken its toll and they probably wouldn’t have been in a condition to work past the age of 40.

Matchworker

Women also had to work to make a living, even though many workers in East London still lived in poverty. From the age of 13 many girls became a matchworker, at a factory on Bow Road. The match girls were exploited, working long hours for a pittance and standing for 12 hours with just a short break. It’s possible that standing in the wrong posture and hunching over the machinery could have caused back pain for a lot of the matchworkers.

Sweat shops

A skilled woman could find a job sewing, making sacks or producing mass clothing in the slop trade. The pay was pitifully low, and even when the sewing machine was introduced not many people in the East End could afford one. Working conditions were poor, and they had to sew by candlelight or gas lamp. One would presume that these seamstresses had to sit in awkward positions for long periods of time to focus on their work, putting pressure on the neck and back.

Back pain would have been a common problem in historical East London – but it was probably that last of everyone’s worries. Each day was full of hardship, diseases such as syphilis, cholera and typhus were rife and Jack the Ripper was at large. Fast forward to the modern day, and most of us don’t need to worry about eating a proper meal or getting basic health care. We have a comfortable life, which is why back pain can be so disruptive and frustrating.

Why is Chronic Back Pain so Difficult to Cure?

Back pain is a huge problem worldwide, and many people suffer chronic back pain long term because it’s very difficult to diagnose and treat. Lower back pain affects 1 in 10 people according to researchers from all over the world, and is becoming increasingly common. Experts think the modern lifestyle is the main cause of back pain – a combination of lack of exercise, too much sitting, bad posture and some types of jobs could also be to blame.

Most of us will experience an episode of back pain at some point in our lives. However for some individuals, the pain is persistent and difficult to treat. There are many different underlying causes of back pain, so it’s important to establish the problem before a GP or back specialist can recommend treatment.

Here’s a few reasons why treating back pain is so difficult.

Difficult to diagnose

There’s a number of different types of back pain and it’s difficult to tell what patients are feeling. There is no test which can perfectly identify back pain and recognise if it relates to an underlying condition, so doctors often have to rely on descriptions of the pain. Someone with chronic back pain could be suffering from sciatica, a slipped disc or non-specific back pain and an accurate diagnosis could take some time.

Image of girl with back painLack of understanding for chronic back pain treatment

Most people know that back pain is a common problem and that it often goes away on its own within a few weeks. The majority of sufferers manage the pain with painkillers – but don’t seek advice or treat the root cause of the pain. There isn’t enough awareness about the wide range of back pain treatments available, including manual therapy, physiotherapy and specific exercise and stretch programmes.

Trial and error

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for general back pain, and people are likely to respond to different treatments. The back has many different muscles, joints and tissues so it can be hard to target the exact area which is causing the pain. There is always more than one option available, so if the first recommended treatment didn’t really have an effect, go back to your doctor and ask for something different. It’s trial and error for most people – sometimes a combination of treatments works well.

Ignoring the symptoms

Many people are reluctant to visit a doctor with back pain – some people prefer the grin and bear it approach. However, ignoring the symptoms can only make the problem worse. Sufferers who are having a ‘bad day’ with their pain may choose to stay off work and lie in bed all day. This is only making the back pain more intense, and other ill informed decisions like these can prolong the episode of back pain. If you see a GP or chiropractor straight away, they can advise certain treatments and give general tips for avoiding pain in the future.