Hooray we made it! It’s the end of the year (or decade) and it’s finally time to celebrate with all the wonderful things you want to do to mark the end of this year.
We may be out celebrating with our loved ones having a great time.
However I am also aware that there are some of those who may not be in the same celebrating state of mind.
They may be lonely, either by choice or by circumstance.
So this New Year’s Eve, way before the countdown begins, lets all get our phones out and message at least 5 people that you haven’t spoken with for a while saying:
“hey, I’m just checking in to see how you’re doing”
You don’t need to message about New Years just yet as that will most likely get lost in all the other New Years messages they’re probably receiving.
But this special message checking in with them is likely to stand out and make them feel appreciated that you care.
What if that was the one person who needed that one message from you to let them know someone cares, well I think that would just make their day, year, decade!
Or another way you can do this is pop round to some of your neighbours that you may know are going to be spending today alone, check in on them, and perhaps even arrange a date in the first 5-10 days of 2020 where you will catch up.
This is how I’m starting my New Year and I hope you do too because I think there are people out there who need our help, so let’s go help them.
There’s more to life than just pain relief. Although pain can be very uncomfortable and debilitating, pain is not the problem.
When I see our patients coming in for our services (Chiropractic & Osteopathy) we educate them on how pain is part of the problem e.g. like the fire alarm going off in your home or the light on the dashboard in your car getting you to pay attention to a problem. What painkillers do is act as if they were to snip that wire to the fire alarm or light on the dashboard. So the problem would still be there, but you wouldn’t be aware of it.
You know the more sensible thing to do would be to sort out the underlying problem.
For me, my belief and philosophy is that using Chiropractic or Osteopathy only for pain relief is unethical. See, I grew up in our first family business – a pharmacy. So I saw how a lot of society formed around dealing with medical or health problems with a reductionist view. That meaning focussing on the symptomatic area, rather than a holistic look to find the source of the problem.
A holistic view takes into account the whole.
Pain relief is only to make you comfortable, which is the first step. With true health you want to deal with the source of the problem, resolve it and optimise the body to work better.
Compare a 30 pence packet of paracetamol for pain relief compared to a private treatment that deals with making your body function better.
The paracetamol is not the healthy option. Dealing with the source of the problem is. Otherwise it’s like using our example above, where you constantly are having to put the fire out, but never resolving the underlying condition.
When I went through my training to learn how to be an osteopath and a chiropractor what I was frequently told is that we prevent conditions recurring. After all we know prevention is better than the cure.
However in practice at the time I found very few people practicing this.
So what I did was reformed my practice, and ever since then I regularly test my patients’ PROPRIOCEPTION.
Proprioception is a professional way of saying how your brain and nervous system knows where your body is in space.
Try this… close your eyes and straighten your arm out in front of you. Now bend your elbow to say 90 degrees. Before you open your eyes, how do you know your elbow is bent? Because the nerves relay messages from your joints to your brain telling you where your body is in space.
Training your proprioception to a high level is a key player in preventing injury. If you had poor proprioception and straightened your elbow, well if by accident you went too far, you would already have damaged tissues and cause an injury before you knew you had gone too far.
Whereas if you train your proprioception high then you would know by the optimum feedback from your body to your nerves and brain that you have moved incorrectly and can prevent tissue damage and injury.
The way I test for proprioception in my patients is by asking them to walk in a straight line with their eyes closed (this removes visual clues). The better you can do this, the better you know where your body is in space and therefore can prevent injury much better.
So whichever health professional you see, make sure at some point in their plan they are going to aid you in training up your proprioception to help prevent injury rather than just constantly dealing with the symptoms only.
If you get into trouble and have treatment which feels good, but then don’t look to prevent it from coming back so end up going back to your bad habits, only for the condition to return.
The reason for that is biology, bad habits and common sense.
Once my patients have gone through their main course of care I often advise on how to maintain or further improve their condition beyond just pain relief or avoiding symptoms.
It’s much like when a building is on fire. Putting the fire out is like dealing with the symptoms only. However, to ensure that the fire doesn’t come you need to correct the original problem and check regularly to make sure it doesn’t come back. That’s much like what our body is like.
It’s also going to give you a better chance of correcting a problem before it becomes too big, therefore improving the outcome even more.
There are several studies showing this to be the case with musculoskeletal conditions. Which makes sense. If you stop taking care of your body, get out of good habits of doing certain exercises or movements, having regular checkups to catch conditions and prevent injury then there’s a higher risk of poor health and less than optimal function.
For those that get into these bad habits tend to call us back in around 5 months time as it takes around this much time for them to start noticing a few symptoms creep back into and affect their lifestyle.
Let’s take the example of a professional athlete who is on a maintenance program, but is preparing for an event. I may find by them coming to see me more frequently in the build up to that event to be beneficial and ensure they are at their optimum.
The same applies for those who have hobbies and want to continue to enjoy those hobbies.
I also see a lot of ambitious patients who want career progression or entrepreneurs who need to function at their peak in order to serve the needs of their business. Our body is still the instrument that we require in order to perform those activities. So these examples may require for someone to be sitting in an office for several hours, or sitting twisted in a boardroom meeting. If they are not able to sit in that way their work is likely to be affected and therefore they are not going to be able to get what they need done.
With chiropractic and osteopathy it’s just like when you regularly see your dentist, have your car serviced, get your heating boiler checked annually.
You have probably come across this famous “condition” SCIATICA.
It can be a very debilitating condition.
If you a professional ever diagnoses you with sciatica I would implore to ask them what is the cause.
You see, the definition of sciatica is:
Pain in the distribution of the sciatic nerve
This means that sciatica only tells you where the pain is, not the cause. For me that is not a complete diagnosis as you don’t yet know what the problem is.
Your sciatic nerve is the thickest nerve in your body (it’s as thick as your thumb!). It’s made up of a number of different branches of nerves that originate in your lumbar spine (low back). These converge, just how the exit on a motorway would converge into a spaghetti junction, out of which you have individual peripheral nerves, one of which is the sciatic nerve.
There are other peripheral nerves that also supply the the leg.
Just as you may meet traffic whilst driving, you experience the “pain” of the vehicle in front of you. However, that line of traffic could be due to a number of different reasons, such as roadworks, an accident or dysfunctional traffic lights.
Similarly sciatica can be due to a pinching of the nerve roots from the spine, from tight muscles in the buttock area, a disc bulge, etc… So it’s important to resolve the source of the problem to allow correct nerve flow, rather than making a vague and incomplete diagnosis of sciatica.
I see a number of people in my clinic with some type of injury or pain initially. It often will affect how they can function correctly. They often describe their condition as “chronic”. However they are not always right.
See the word chronic is related to the word chronology, meaning when something has happened in time. It has nothing to do with the severity of the symptoms problem. So if someone say “it feels really chronic today” actually doesn’t make sense because if it is chronic, it wouldn’t be chronic today, it would be chronic anyway.
An acute injury is one that has happened straight away. It would be flared up with inflammation, tension, spasming, really angry, raw and fiery. Pain scales tend to be very hight 8,9 or 10 out of 10 – well actually they would describe their pain as 20+ out of 10.
With chronic conditions most will describe their pain as around 2-4 out of 10.
When you experience an acute injury and don’t get it seen professionally, there’s a good chance it may “feel better” on its own. That’s the thing. Our body is very good at dulling the symptoms so that you can “live with it” and that’s a sign of an acute condition becoming chronic. That really concerns me when I hear “I can live with it” as it will only flare up again in the future at some point.
So you end up in a cycle of a chronic condition with acute flare ups until you seek professional help that can break that cycle and resolve the underlying condition.
You know this as you may have heard someone claim they have been fine for a long time, only to then injure themselves in the most debilitating way by simply reaching to get something. Not everyone who reaches for something has the exact same injury. So that implies that there was already something underlying in the individual who hurt themselves, i.e. a chronic pattern/behaviour which resulted in an acute flare up by reaching out.
It doesn’t matter how old, what gender, what occupation, lifestyle choices that have this pattern. It can affect anyone at any time if they are not having a professional take care of them.
If you had an injury out in the wild your body would dull the pain so that you are able to continue getting to safety from any predators. If you were worried about the pain you would not be able to get to safety and die. That is why most acute conditions end up in a chronic pattern, even now in a modern world.
You see every one of us are so unique, that no two people are alike. So the way I get great results is unravel any compensation patterns, whether symptomatic or not, to ultimately get to an optimally functioning body.
If you are someone who spends time at any type of desk, whether it be working from home on a dining table, or in a proper office set up at home, or if you’re in a professional set up in a commercial building and you work in an office building where you are sitting down to do your work, then this post is for you.
See, what happens is a lot people think that because they are sitting down that they are at less risk of any injury. But what I have found is that a lot of people don’t sit correctly at their desks. Sitting for 8-10 hours at a time or collectively throughout the whole day is a lot of time to not be doing something correctly, amounting to a lot of degeneration.
Some common problems I see at AVID Clinic are for example not having the screen height correct.
What we want to do is have half of the screen at eye level. This means that you are not looking down or up too much, reducing neck strain.
By looking down too much for a sustained period of time compresses the discs in your neck, which can increase its chances of bulging and pressing on nerves.
Everyone humerus is different lengths. Ensure your shoulders are relaxed so that your elbow is a natural position and that’s the height of your arm rest. The arm rest should just be able to tuck underneath your desk or table to allow your wrist a comfortable natural position when typing or writing.
Recently someone saw me typing thought I had had lessons. Actually I taught myself to touch type by spending hours on MSN Messenger with my friends (most of you probably won’t even know what that is!). Learning to touch type helps prevent neck strain in a similar way to getting your screen height correct as you don’t have to keep looking down all time, and causing further pressure and stress on the discs.
From a customer service perspective if you are working in a role say front of house, then you really want to be able to maintain as much eye contact with the customer, rather than keep looking down at the keyboard.
These are my must have when sitting at a desk. If you have any pain or discomfort it may not be a good idea to use straight away. But when you are well then it’s normally find to use. Air cushions mimic gym/swiss/pregnancy balls that you may have seen in some funky offices. The advantage that an air cushion has it that you can put these on any seat, and still be able to rest your arms on an armrest (which we now know is important). With the balls you don’t get to use armrest which can increase shoulder tension & problems.
This also enables you to train your proprioception (fancy word for your brain knowing where your body is in space). When your proprioception is working really well it drastically reduces your risk of causing injuries.
If you have trouble carrying all the things that you need to carry to work, school, or where ever you have to go to on the weekends, then I am going to give you some tips on how to make sure you wear the bag correctly for you.
It may seem strange to be posting content around how to breathe correctly and more effectively. Most people, although have been breathing all their lives, and not even give it much conscious thought as it takes care of itself. It sort of happens in the background rather than for us to consciously worry about breathing correctly.
But that’s the problem. Most of the people I see in at AVID Clinic are not breathing correctly. They have actually forgotten how to breathe correctly, and there are number of reasons why that is.
With quiet breathing we only should be using one muscle – the abdominal diaphragm. This muscle runs through about half way in your torso, separating your chest cavity from the abdominal cavity.
When contracting your diaphragm, this muscle flattens and pushes your abdominal organs out, making your tummy stick out a bit. This creates negative pressure in the chest cavity, drawing are in from your environment into your lungs. That’s how we breathe in.
Most do not like the idea of appearing to have a large tummy, so tend to hold their tummy in. This means that they avoid contracting the diaphragm, so it stays relaxed as a dome.
To breathe, they elevate the upper ribs to create the negative pressure to breathe into the lungs. That’s normally ok if it’s been done for a short while. In fact that’s how we are meant to breathe when we exercise and are not “quiet breathing”. But breathing this way for too long can cause other problems.
The muscles required to elevate the upper ribs have another primary function – movement. Their secondary function is to assist in breathing. Breathing incorrectly means that these muscles are already pre fatigued, so when you go to move your neck or your arms, they are having to work extra hard, thereby increasing your risk of injury. The common complaint for patients that I see with neck and shoulder aches are “all I did was reach for… and ping the pain started”. This is the primary reason why this happens.
So working with me these patients retrain and learn to use the correct muscles to breathe properly.
Breathing this way also helps keen our organs healthy. See, the organs are not statis, like in diagrams or in models. They are very motile. For example when you eat food, your stomach enlarges to accommodate and pushes some of the other organs to make space. By breathing using your diaphragm, it enables those organs to be massaged and create flexibility to move better.
A lot of people who are constipated tend not to be breathing correctly. By breathing this way, their intestines get massaged, improved the movement and reducing their constipation.
Breathing correctly also can help relieve stress, and certainly can help you manage stressful situations in a better way.
The ratio to breathe is 1:4:2
Breathe in for 1, hold for 4, breathe out for 2.
In this example I can hold my breath for 20 seconds. So my rations are 5:20:10
Repeat this 10 times.
This enables your sympathetic nervous system, which works very hard during times of stress, goes does. And your parasympathetic nervous system elevates creating feelings of calm and relaxation.
You see, this is important if you are considering improving overall productivity. In a stressed state your IQ tends to reduce a little because you enter a fight or flight survival mode. All your blood gets shunted to your skeletal muscles to prepare you to fight the danger or “flight” run away from the danger. Doing this over a long period of time means there’s less blood to your brain, reducing your brain’s efficiency and function thereby reducing your IQ output.
Did you know there’s a relationship between blood pressure and your posture?
See, the pressure in your body, in your blood vessels can actually change depending on what you are doing, in terms of activity and physical demand. But it can also be affected by your physical posture – how you are holding yourself.
Now excuse my drawings in this video (I’m a better chiropractor & osteopath than an artist).
In your abdomen there are two main compartments. These two compartments are separated by your abdominal diaphragm (the main muscle you use to breathe). Above the diaphragm is your heart, which has a small attachment to the diaphragm.
When you have a nice relaxed and balanced posture, your abdominal cavities will have less pressure. Whereas if you compress through those same cavities by rounding your shoulders and increasing pressure you can see how it can compress those organs, one of those organs being your stomach.
Let’s think about your heart for a moment being like a water balloon with pipes coming out of it. If you squeeze that water balloon, it will then increase the pressure in that whole system. That’s one of the causes of your high blood pressure.
To help relieve it you can think about straightening your posture, bringing your shoulders back, which will reduced the pressure on the cavities and the organs within, thereby reducing your blood pressure.
The other thing you can do is use your abdominal diaphragm more effectively. So when you breathe and contract your diaphragm, your tummy will stick out a bit as the air fills your lungs. This allows that attachment of your diaphragm to your heart to stretch the heart a little more, there by also reducing the pressure in the heart and cardiovascular system.
Many studies have shown during quiet breathing, when using deep diaphragmatic breaths, it gets you into a relaxed state.
So if you are suffering with high blood pressure or get stressed think about these simple tips. Of course if you are under professional care, please seek professional advice to ensure you get the best outcome for you.