Useful information for you
Spring is on its way! Hurray! So are you getting geared up for gardening? Whether you see gardening as perfect stress reliever, or whether you think of it as a fitness workout, it’s a great pastime.
But spending hours bent over in the garden makes you that bit more vulnerable to injuries, and what we want to do is keep you out of pain.
Gardening injuries range from low back pain from leaning forward doing the weeding, to aching shoulders from pruning. Of course, there are always the more unusual injuries, like stepping onto the rake and smacking yourself on the forehead, but it’s pretty difficult for me to help you avoid standing on a rake!
So here are a few reminders to keep yourself out of A&E:
1. Always begin with a warm up: Take a brisk walk around the garden first, or just wriggle around a bit before you start the work. Get those joints moving a bit!
2. Change activities every 10 minutes: Don’t get stuck on a single task for hours. Vary your activities from digging to planting; pruning to weeding; raking to hacking shrubs back. This way, you engage different muscle groups.
3. Use long-handled tools: This should help minimise all the bending or stretching.
4. NEVER use bendy canes or sticks to support you when switching positions from kneeling to standing.
5. Lift with your knees and a straight back. Don’t lift those huge soil-filled flower pots or sacks full of landscaping stones if they are too heavy. If you think you’ve picked up something that might hurt your back – drop it, but not on your toes. There’s no need to be a hero in the garden!
6. Take a break and listen to your body: As soon as you get that achey feeling that tells you you’ve done too much, just stop what you’re doing.
7. Don’t stand on the rake!
Gardening is a fantastic thing to do, but it is worth taking precautions to keep yourself injury free! Most of all, enjoy the daffs, snowdrops and tulips as they start coming up – it’s just so nice to see them!
The Effect of Posture on Our daily Life
Have you got bad posture?
Have you ever found yourself working at your desk, queuing or slouching on the sofa and wondered if your posture is ‘good’ or ‘bad’?
You don’t have to be a ballerina to have been told that it’s important – most of us have been ordered to “sit up straight” or “stop slouching” at some point. Perhaps you’re even thinking about how you’re sitting as you read these words – well, you are now! So, is there such a thing as ‘bad’ posture? And is your back pain linked to it?
In an interview with The Guardian, Kieran O’Sullivan, a senior lecturer at the University of Limerick, stated that we are “almost paranoid about posture”. With back pain affecting 2.5 million UK citizens a year it’s really no wonder.
So, is your posture good? Well, the new thinking is that posture is dynamic. This means that posture is not about staying still, it’s about moving and changing how you sit and stand. Dr Eyal Lederman, osteopath and honorary senior lecturer at University College London says, “to date, all the research has shown that there is no relationship between any postural factors, including the shape and curves of the back, asymmetries and even the way we use our spine, to that of developing back pain.” He adds, “yes, if you already have back pain you might feel it more when sitting, but it’s not the cause of the back pain.”
So can we change our thinking about posture? I think the answer is yes, we need to stop worrying about how we sit and think more about moving while we sit, or getting up and walking while we’re on the phone. There’s no written rule that says meetings should be conducted while sitting either. Go for a walk next time you have a meeting.
Overall, the whole debate is nicely summarised by Mr O’Sullivan: “If you don’t have back pain, then do not give your posture one second’s thought – think about being healthy”. This means getting good sleep, reducing stress and keeping active.
If you need help working out how to better use your body while at work or if you’re already in pain and want it to go away, call us and talk through the problem – we’re always happy to help!
Bag or backpack – which to choose and why?
Sometimes, you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders – but this shouldn’t be a reaction to the bag you are carrying!
Carrying something heavy puts a strain on your body, whether it’s a child, an armful of files, your laptop or a lump of concrete – the potential for pulled muscles and injury is high.
Did you know that a child’s bag should weigh no more than approximately 10% of his or her bodyweight? Well, the same rough guide can be applied to adults! Unless you’re a trained weightlifter, try to pack essential items only, and remember that it’s better to make two trips to the car than to struggle with lots of heavy bags.
Thinking in advance about what you have to carry is a good idea. Do you really need all that stuff?! Could you take out some of the extra bits a pieces?
Of course, the type of bag you choose to carry can aggravate the problem. As you can imagine, a backpack is preferable to a bag with a single strap. This is because the weight is distributed more evenly. You can also help your back by packing the heaviest items into your bag first.
Adjustable straps on your bag are also important – the bag should rest firmly against the top of your spine, sitting above your buttocks. The back panel should also be padded, with a curved lower edge. If your bag has a waist strap, make use of it. It’s all very well looking stylish, but your body will thank you if you focus on good support.
Despite our best intentions, there are times when we just have to carry loads that are too heavy for us. If you get injured this way just remember that you can always give an osteopath a call – we’ve got it in the bag!
Hazards of Housework
Housework may not be an extreme sport, but you’d be surprised how many injuries it causes!
We’ve seen injuries from hoovering, bed-making, dusting and even mopping. However, the biggest culprit for injuries is cleaning the bath. In fact, last year I think we saw more bath-cleaning injuries than skiing injuries!
So, what can you do to stop yourself getting hurt by the housework? Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you go for a 4 mile run to warm up, nor am I going to tell you to leave the cleaning! The trick is to be careful. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?
• Hoovering – keep the hoover close to you. Don’t stand still pushing it out further and further away from you. Walk with it and stay next to it.
• Making the bed – stand and face the corners as you lift them to tuck in the sheets. Don’t twist at a strange angle.
• Mopping – as with the hoover, don’t push the mop miles away from you. Pretend it’s your dance partner and you don’t want him/her to leave you for someone else.
• Dusting – get a duster with a really long handle so that you can reach the high areas without straining your neck and shoulders.
• Cleaning the bath – once you’ve crouched down to clean the bath it is tempting to stay in that place and reach all the way around the bath to clean it. DON’T do this! Do half of the bath from one end and the other half from the other end.
Remember that your back is precious – if you don’t clean carefully you could end up unable to clean at all for weeks on end. If you’re in a position that is uncomfortable stop doing it and find a better way to clean. Better still, find someone else to do it!
If you’re already in pain please do give us a call to see if we can help. And if you’ve got any top tips for avoiding pain when cleaning please do comment. Please share with us.
If you are a Harry Potter fan then you know about the “undetectable extension charm.” This is the spell that helps you fit every object and piece of luggage into a small bag – with no increase in weight! In the real world where bag-related back pain is endemic, we can only wish it were a reality. Certainly most of us have vertebrae screaming out for such a spell.
A study conducted in 2016 has shown that 60% of students have pain due to backpacks and bags. But it’s not always the weight of the bag that should be blamed. It’s how long the load is carried and how it’s carried that are the primary causes of pain.
Ways to save your back:
Since there is no way that we can cast the extension charm on everything we stuff into our bags or backpacks, there are simple yet significant ways to preserve the health of our spine:
1. Limit load to about 15% of your body weight. But doctors recommend a maximum of 25 pounds regardless of how big you are. So, what weighs 25 pounds?
• 25 quaffles (if you’re a quidditch fan you’ll know this is the same as 25 size 5 footballs)
• one 19-inch flat screen TV
• one average-sized 2 year old
• 12½ bags of sugar
2. Distribute the weight evenly. Wear shoulder straps over both shoulders. Look for features like wide, padded shoulder straps. And don’t forget to use those waist belts. They’re there to shift the load to your trunk and hip.
3. Keep the load close to your back. Arrange your things by placing the heaviest closest to your back and never let your pack hang more than 4 inches below your waist.
Remember, small steps add up and your spine will thank you one day!
HRT - What Are The Options?
The progesterone component of HRT causes a (slight) increased risk of breast cancer. This said, it is very useful in combatting the other consequences of the menopause, in particular weakened bones caused by osteoporosis.
So are there any realistic alternatives, that carry less risk?
Well, I watched consultant gynaecologist Nitu Bajekal (co-founder of Women for Women’s Health (WfWH)), being interviewed by The Academy of Physical Medicine last week. I was really intrigued by her comments about the benefits of phytoestrogens, which are oestrogens found naturally in plants, notably soy. Flax seeds, berries, kidney beans, cereals, tofu all contain phytoestrogens, but the healthiest source is the edamame beans (soy beans still in the pod). These are great for salads and are popular among vegans because they are packed with low-fat soy protein. And the great thing is – you can’t eat too much plant-based phytoestrogen. Any excess will be excreted naturally (unlike oestrogen from dairy sources).
So Dr Bajekal says eat lots of phytoestrogens: they’re great for menopausal symptoms, inhibit progression of breast cancer, and promote better bone mass.
However, it is worth mentioning that 90% of the soy sources we have now are genetically modified and are therefore potentially very unhealthy. The key is – any soy that is organically grown and fermented provides the healthiest phytoestrogen.
So for any woman – whether pregnant, lactating, menopausal, or having other issues with health – do make dietary choices accordingly. Incorporate real food into your diet and think about phytoestrogen supplements.