It’s easier than you think to improve your health

Being active has lots of benefits for your body. As well as lowering your risk of developing serious health problems, such as heart disease and type-2 diabetes in later life, being active helps keep your heart healthy, your muscles, bones and joints strong and can improve your balance.

Getting some physical activity each day can also help prevent depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. It can help you get a good night’s sleep, which lets your brain rest and recharge.

It’s easier than you think to make improvements to your levels of physical activity. Start small and then build up gradually – just 10 minutes at a time can make a real difference. Visit www.nhs.uk/oneyou/moving to find out more and discover some small lifestyle changes you can make today to benefit your health in the long term.

 

If you have pain stopping you from walking please give us a ring as we may be able to help get you back to gentle exercise.

If you don’t snooze, you lose

Encouraging healthy sleep

Everyone knows the feeling after a bad night’s sleep, from irritability to poor productivity, but longer lasting sleep disruption can have a much more significant effect on both our mental wellbeing and our physical health. Regular poor sleep increases the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, and can lead to shortened life expectancy.

A number of factors can affect sleep, and not surprisingly patients experiencing musculoskeletal difficulties can find this a considerable hindrance to their ability to sleep. This sleep disruption can, in turn, make their ability to manage their pain more difficult.

Create a routine

Try to get up in the morning and go to bed at the same time each day, even at weekends. You may need to set an alarm. Creating a sleep routine will help your body make the chemicals that control sleep. Having a sleep routine such as listening to soothing music or doing stretching or relaxation exercises before bed can also remind the body that it is time to slow down and sleep. Taking a warm bath before bed may help you to feel relaxed and sleepy, and try to avoid using your bedroom to watch television or work so that when you do go to bed, your body knows that it is time to sleep.

Avoid blue light before bed

Electronic devices such as televisions, tablets and computers produce a certain type of light called “blue light”. Blue light interferes with a chemical called melatonin which helps us sleep, and it can also reduce a type of sleep called slow-wave sleep which is essential for us to feel rested.

Blue light during the day, especially in the mornings and after lunch can be useful because it can make us feel more alert, but if we have too much blue light before bedtime then sleep can be disturbed, so avoid using a computer for long periods or watching too much television just before bed. Getting more natural rather than artificial light by going outdoors as much as possible during the day can also help increase daytime alertness and improve sleep quality.

Do some regular exercise but not too close to bedtime

Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise which gets your heart beating faster, has been proven to improve the quality of sleep and just being more active during the day can also help improve sleep and fight fatigue. If you exercise too close to bedtime though, the exercise may make you feel more alert and this may disturb your sleep. Try to do some exercise in the early evening so that by bedtime you are ready to sleep.

Try to keep your mind blank

Many people who lie awake at night find that their minds are too active, for example thinking about worries, things that they need to remember or things that they have to do the following day. Some people also find that worrying about not sleeping then makes the problem worse.

Clearing your mind is not easy but trying to be more relaxed about not sleeping can help. Try to concentrate on feeling calm and comfortable rather than thinking about getting to sleep. If a good idea is keeping you awake, keep a pad and pencil next to your bed and just write down the idea so that you can forget about it until the morning. Try some slow breathing and just concentrate on the action of breathing, perhaps counting your breaths as the air moves in and out or try some progressive muscle relaxation – tense and relax each part of your body in turn starting with the toes and working upwards. Try visualising a relaxing place such as a wood or beach. Learning meditation or mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may also help to calm your thoughts.

If you are still awake after 15 minutes or so, try getting up and doing a light relaxing task such as having a warm drink, reading or listening to an audio book or quiet music then go back to bed when you feel sleepy again.

Avoid stimulants and alcohol

Coffee, tea, cola, cocoa, chocolate and some medicines contain caffeine and other stimulants which can disturb sleep. The effects of caffeine can last for many hours in the body so consider switching to decaffeinated drinks or avoid caffeine apart from in the morning. Alcohol may help you feel sleepy at night, but overall it will interfere with the quality of your sleep and prevent you from feeling rested when you wake up.

Avoid eating large meals late at night

A heavy meal before bed or too much spicy food at night can make it difficult to sleep, so consider how much you eat before bed. Herbal tea or a milky drink may help you relax but don’t drink too much before bed as this may mean you have to wake to go to the toilet at night.

Make your bedroom cool, dark and quiet

Sleep quality can be improved by sleeping in a slightly cooler room—around 17C is comfortable for most people, so make sure that you have enough, but not too much bedding. Opening a window at night may help. If you are disturbed by noise at night, consider wearing ear plugs and if you are woken by daylight, try a blackout blind.

Try not to have a nap during the day

If your sleep is disturbed at night, you may feel sleepy during the day, especially in the afternoon. If you fall asleep during the day, even a short nap can then disturb your sleep at night. If you have to have a short sleep, make sure that you go to bed and set an alarm clock so that you don’t sleep for too long – 15 to 20 minutes maximum, and not later than the early afternoon. If you find yourself dozing in the afternoons or evenings, try to get up and do something, perhaps go for a short walk or do something active to make you feel less sleepy. Daylight and or blue light from a tablet or computer can also increase alertness if you feel sleepy in the afternoon.

Medication

In general, taking medicines for long periods to improve sleep is not a good idea and lifestyle changes are much more helpful. Although medicines that help us sleep, they are not useful for long periods because they can be addictive, can stop working after a few days, or affect sleep quality.

Some prescription medicines can also affect sleep, such as some antidepressants, painkillers and betablockers, so it is worth discussing changing your medication with your GP if your tablets seem to be causing a problem.

 

World Osteopathy Day – 22nd June

Did you know it’s World Osteopathy Day on the 22nd June?

So let’s get the message out there #OsteopathyWorks

As part of the campaign to get the message out that #OsteopathyWorks, we are asking our patients to post their positive views about their osteopath, and the benefits of the osteopathic treatment they have received, on social media using #OsteopathyWorks.

If we can get those conversations happening on social media it will provide positive testimonials which will help raise the profile of osteopathy and how we improve the health of people of all ages!

You can share your experience on any social media platform, just remember to include #OsteopathyWorks in the content.

Share your experience #Osteopathy Works

Let’s get the message out there #OsteopathyWorks
As part of the campaign to get the message out that #OsteopathyWorks, we are asking our patients to post their positive views about their osteopath, and the benefits of the osteopathic treatment they have received, on social media using #OsteopathyWorks.
If we can get those conversations happening on social media it will provide positive testimonials which will help raise the profile of osteopathy and how we improve the health of people of all ages!
You can share your experience on any social media platform, just remember to include #OsteopathyWorks in the content.

Gardeners Watch Out!

Now the clocks have gone forward, the birds busy nesting, spring is definitely in the air. What a relief after the wettest winter on record!

With the warmer spell and the plants waking up, longer evenings and warmer weather, the garden will be shouting for your attention and danger may lurk for the careless.

Safe Gardening Tips

Spring Gardening approaches and an increase in physical activity after keeping indoors on a dark winter’s night is bound to have potential risks attached. It really isn’t fair to ask your body to cope with several hours of bending and digging etc, if you’ve spent the winter months in relative inactivity. We need to ease ourself back into the increased work load to avoid potential injury.
 
Don’t decide to tackle the whole garden at once, take an hour or so of the lighter evenings 2-3 times a week and start chipping away at the jobs that are waiting. This will have the two fold benefit of waking your body up to the increased activity and getting the job into more manageable proportions.
 
Prolonged periods of unfamiliar and repetitive activities are bound to put strain on local parts of your body. Digging for example is a real challenge to the low back as we bend to lift the soil to turn it. All bending if prolonged, can lead to pressure on our low back discs and ligaments with the potential for strains, and then pains.
 
The very British attitude of pushing on till it’s done, comes with a price. “I’m not stopping till I’ve finished weeding this whole flower bed”, “I’m going to finish digging this whole patch before stopping”.  Better to vary activities as much as possible. Weed some of the vegetable patch, then rest a little, you can always get back to it tomorrow. If you do have more time, come back and perhaps mow the lawn or some other more upright activity.
 
Pacing yourself is the key to avoiding disaster.  It really is important to listen to your body and STOP when you are becoming tired or are feeling pain.
 
Some Important Do’s and Don’ts
 
Don’t charge in and spend all day in the garden at the beginning of the gardening season.
Do pace yourself and tackle big jobs in smaller pieces, take regular breaks. Be realistic, if necessary get help to “break the back” of bigger start of season jobs like the digging over, or first hedge/lawn cut etc.
 
Don’t work on through pain or when your feeling tired.
Do take regular breaks, and vary activities.
 
Don’t bend forward for too long at a time.
Do stretch after bending forward, stand up straight, hands on hips and slowly and gently rotate your hips as an exercise to counteract the forwards movement. Just like using a hula-hoop.

Don’t bend forward more than you have to.
Do buy long handled garden tools where possible, or kneel to weed etc. A foam kneeling pad makes for more comfortable kneeling.

Don’t let your body get dehydrated.  Muscles and ligaments are much more likely to be injured when low on fluids.
Do take regular drinks during physical exercise, which create a great excuse for a little break.
 
Don’t spend too long on the some posture or activity, i.e. pruning all your shrubs in one day. You wouldn’t spend hours on the same machine at the gym.
Do vary activities throughout the day to avoid repetitive strain type injuries.
 
Don’t heave huge bags of compost around.
Do buy smaller bags, use a wheel barrow or “decant” bulk material from bags into a bucket or wheelbarrow to carry more easily.
 
Strains and sprain from overdoing it in the garden, will often reveal themselves the next morning once the inflammation has had a chance to build up. Back, neck or other joint injuries can be very stiff and painful in the first 24 hours or so after unaccustomed use, and give the impression that something terrible has happened, don’t panic. Use your normal pain relief medication from the chemist, rest as much as you need to, but, as a general rule with simple back and neck pain gentle activity and movements will actually reduce your recovery time.
 
Any pain pattern not beginning to settle down within 3-5 days may need further investigation and treatment. Our osteopaths are always happy to speak on the phone with any patient wanting to talk over a health problem, gardening related or otherwise.  Don’t hesitate to call 01208 872867.

Back Pain and Children

Back Pain and Children

Like adults, children can suffer from back pain as a result of a variety of lifestyle activities. And like adults, there are number of things that parents and carers can do to prevent issues arising.

If your child does complain of back pain, it is important to seek advice from qualified professional, such as an osteopath. An osteopath will help to establish the cause of the problem and will provide advice on treatment, or refer you for further examinations if required.

Good school bags

Children are often required to carry bags full of books, PE kits, musical instruments and other equipment to and from school. Parents should try to limit the weight of school bags as much as possible and invest in a good quality back pack that the child should wear across both shoulders, ideally with a strap across the chest to keep the load close the their body. Packing the bag with the heaviest items (such as laptops and heavy books) closest to child’s body, will also make carrying more comfortable and less likely to strain the muscles of the back.

Limit screen time

Looking down to use smart phones, tablets and laptops for an extended period can pull the back and neck into an unnatural posture, resulting in pain. Placing limits on the time spent using devices and encouraging regular breaks may help to avoid problems. If your child has to use a laptop for homework, consider purchasing a support that elevates the screen to a height that allows him or her to sit up straight to look at it.

Regular exercise

A sedentary lifestyle is known to contribute to the risk of developing back pain, as well as contributing to obesity. Regular physical activity helps to keep the core muscles that support the spine strong and maintain flexibility, which will help to avoid back pain. Encourage lots of active play, walking, running, swimming, cycling etc to keep your child fit and healthy.

The right bed and pillow

Good quality sleep is vital for both physical and mental development. Make sure that your child has a good sized comfortable bed with a firm mattress and a pillow that supports their head without lifting it too high.

Osteopathic Treatment for your child’s back pain

Your child’s back pain may benefit from osteopathic treatment. Using gentle manual therapy an osteopath will help to resolve any stresses and strains that are affecting their body and relieve their pain. They can also provide lifestyle advice that may help to prevent the problem from coming back.

Contact us today on 01208 872867 to make an appointment with Philip or Lisa or to speak to us.