A large number of my clients are constantly asking on ways they can enjoy sports and gardening for longer, and avoid the dreaded back pain that can sometimes comes that night or the day before you garden.
First, it will be good to know where back pain comes from. Back pain can come from numerous reasons, most commonly presented from misaligned joints in the spine that are not working as they should. These joints get fixated and in turn interfere with the communication of the brain to these muscles and organs in that area of the spine. These joints if left in this manner can with time degenerate and cause further problems in your spine and overall health. There are of course chemical stresses and emotional stresses that can aggravate your back pain. Such as being dehydrated is the most common and most simpler to solve, or emotional stresses can bring about back pain.
What to do
Besides getting your spine looked at by a Musculoskeletal Therapist who can restore proper function to those joints, there are other thing you can do. First, make sure you are properly hydrated before, during and after an activity such as gardening. Second, before starting sports activities or gardening on a cold day outside, ensure you can stretch the joints in your spine. Bringing blood to these joints will avoid them seizing up on you. Third, start with many layers of clothing. As you sweat and get warmer shed layers. Avoid doing it the other way around because the muscles in your spine are more likely to seize when the body is cold. Fourth, ensure you have a proper posture when bending over. Avoid bending at the waist if possible and kneel in the squatting position. If you are not strong enough then find a low enough stool so you can sit while gardening in the ground. And finally, if you feel stiff afterwards then stretch once more. Ice the area to prevent a flare up of the muscles used and drink plenty of water.
Most clients experience no more pains after sports activities and gardening because their spines have benefited from Musculoskeletal Therapy, and are properly aligned and thus can take those types of stress for longer than the average person. So make sure you get your spine checked today by your Musculoskeletal Therapist, it will avoid you a bad case of low back pain, sciatica and severe discomfort after performing your favourite past time such as gardening.
My patients are always asking on the best positions to have when sleeping to avoid neck and back pain.
Although neck and back pain can be caused by a large number of reasons for simplicity lets explore the most common mechanical reasons for this type of pain. Just as low back pain can be caused by misalignment of joints in the spine the same can be said for neck pain. Often people believe that their low back pain has nothing to do with their neck pain and viceversa. But because of the close relationship of the vertebrae in the neck to working in reciprocity with the vertebrae of the spine in the low back these two types of pains are almost always related to one another. This is largely due to the Lovett Brother relationship of the top vertebrae to the ones in the lumbar spine or low back.
Basically when you turn your head to the right the movement of the top vertebrae will be mimicked below in the last 3 lumbar vertebrae. This is one of the reasons why sleeping in your stomach will be very harmful for your spinal health, unless your mattress has a hole for you to put your head thru. Of course this not being the case as you sleep on your tummy your head will be turned to one side creating torsion in your neck for 1 to 7 hours plus and at the same time this torsion will be reproduced in your low back. This can create a dull low back pain in the morning. It can also create misalignments in the spine that if left untreated can turn into fixated joints that can degenerate with time and cause pain.
Tip 1: Due to the above explanation avoid tummy sleeping and if you do limit this to a very short time until you find your comfortable position.
Tip 2: If sleeping on your side try to avoid having a pillow that will raise your head above the line of your spine. Your spine should be aligned with your neck as the image here shows.
Tip 3: If sleeping on your side and if you are currently suffering from pelvis or low back pain, try to use a small pillow in between your knees.
Tip 4: if sleeping on your back use a small pillow that can be easily tucked under your neck, I personally recommend a Japanese style pillow. These type of pillows are designed to preserve the vital neck curve in your spine. Without this essential curve in your neck, your spine will with time degenerate and cause neck pains. This can eventually lead to disc herniations and early onset of arthritis in your neck vertebrae. With this position you will benefit from tractioning your neck thru the night passively and restoring your essential neck lordosis. Also if you snore this will allow better airway passage of air thru your larynx thus avoiding possible snoring noises and a more deep sleep. Remember also to lift your chin as you sleep on your side the rule of thumb is that the closer your chin is to your chest while sleeping the bigger the chances will be that you will wake up with neck pain and in time cause degeneration on your spine.
Tip 5: make sure you mattress is not older than 8 to 10 years even the most expensive mattresses carry a 10 years warranty. Remember that unless your mattress is 100% memory foam your mattress may contain coils that with time lose their shape, stability and pliability. I always recommend a mattress that has a combination of memory foam with individually wrapped coils and the more coils the better the quality of the mattress. These range from 800 coils to in excess of 3200 coils. Also keep in mind the breathability factor of certain types of materials and foams as these will affect the temperature of the mattress at night.
The last thing to mention is that it is important that you keep good spinal health by getting your spine regularly checked for subluxations or misalignments by your Chiropractor. The same way you care for your teeth by brushing them why would you neglect your spine by never getting it check? Remember the goal of Chiropractic care if for your body to better cope to stresses so as to when these happen being emotional, chemical or physical by poorposture or sleeping habits your body has a better chance of coping with these better.
Headaches what are they? And what causes them? Headaches can be cause by numerous number of things my clients constantly ask me how to help themselves when these come.
It is firstly important to differentiate a Headache from a Migraine. A headache usually only last a couple of hours and is mostly defined by some type of pressure feeling along the head. Migraines tend to come usually although not always with an Aura, or a feeling that you are about to have one and these can last a whole day and are more intense. For simplicity let us focus here on typical Headaches and how these usually come about.
These can be triggered by a number of factors such as:
The most common factors tells us easily what these are caused then we can address them accordingly:
Dehydration is the most common factor in my opinion. We do not noticed and realised that by the time we become thirsty we have been already dehydrated for some time. Also worth mentioning that sometimes hunger is thirst in disguise so worth to have a glass of water before reaching for some crisps which can in turn aggravate your headache.
Fatigue is an obvious thing and most of us can recognised this as a precursor from previous episodes. So just rest and lay down in a quiet room with low level lighting to calm your nervous system.
Mental exhaustion and stress: These can be put into one category together as they are very similar. So put that project behind and just take a break, take a walk in nature if you can as we are designed to be with nature. Focusing on a task for pronged periods of time can trigger your headache but most often these are accompanied by other previously mentioned triggers such as poor posture, dehydration, hunger or visual fatigue from looking into an electronic device for too long. Having said that it will be wise to take frequent breaks from sitting in your desk , move your neck around and watch the posture you are working to avoid this type of fatigue which can easily trigger a headache. These type of Headaches are usually described as pain on the frontal area or behind one eye or both , sometimes radiating into temporal area.
Neck Subluxations: Can be easily detected and corrected by your Chiropractor. These type of headaches start usually in my experience in the lower or upper part of the neck and travel up to the top of the head or stay in your occipital area. Cranial subluxations are caused by tension in the Dura or Meninges covering your brain and spinal cord. These type of headache can be alleviated by a Craniopath or Chiropractor who specialises in cranial adjustments.
Chemical toxicity: It is worth noting that most drugs can dehydrate your bodies and this is easily seen in your stool. As you may become constipated or have stomach pains or irritation in your stomach. So ask your GP or take the time to read the most common side effects of the medications you area taking and ensure you drink plenty of water when doing so.
Food sensitivities: Certain foods can triggered a headache. The most common ones are:
Alcohol, dairy products such as aged cheeses, caffeinated drinks, Peanuts and peanut butter, Pizza, Tomato based sauces and products, products containing MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) a flavour enhancer found on canned soups, bouillon, Nitrates which are mostly found in cured meats such as ham, turkey or chicken cuts, Potato chips. The list is longer than this but luckily it is said that about 20% of people are sensitive to these products and thus common headache triggers. So do not empty your fridge yet.
Of course headaches can be also caused by a number of other medical causes and it is wise to see your Doctor if the symptoms of these can no be alleviated by the above mentioned factors. This can indicate a more serious issue that should be investigated further by Diagnostic tests such as CT or MRI scans.