Getting bad backs better – slowly

On bad backs Brighton chiropractor Matthew Bennett says “Lots of people come in to see us wanting a quick fix for their back pain. They may have had their back ache off and on for years. They may be out of shape physically, having done no meaningful exercise since school. They may be sitting 8 hours a day in a poor chair working at a stressful job. And they want us to get them better in a visit or two. We tell them honestly – it isn’t going to happen that way”.

We do get patients with a bad back better. Lots of patients. We get great results and they are really happy with our care when we ask them for feedback. One reason we get great results with back pain is we know that for most it is going to take a while.

Healing bad backs takes time

We know that unlocking stiff spinal joints takes about 6 to 8 weeks of regular care. We know that our rehabilitation exercises will not achieve their potential for 12 to 16 weeks. We know that we may have to use several different techniques to get people better. We may need to prescribe orthotics, a new chair, a new mattress or even a change in lifetstyle.

One thing we won’t do is tell you that it will be easy and you’ll be better in a visit a two.

When a bad back goes bad it very rarely happens instantly even if the pain come on instantly. Minor injuries over many months or even years cause damage to delicate spinal joints and muscles. This affects spinal joint movements and can cause weakness in other areas.

These niggles ease off in a few days and are forgotten. The niggles often become more frequent; they may hurt more than before and they take longer to go. Slowly the elastic tissues of the back stiffen up until the back cannot bend and twist normally and then PING! Acute and severe pain develops.

Of course it is true that every once and while someone crawls in to see us in agony and skips out all straightened up again but that is rare. Of the thousands of people we see each year we only see that sort of response in one or two. Usually these bad back cases have a very specific joint locking that has come on recently in the last day or two and no previous history of back pain. For most however it takes several sessions and some hard work to get a good improvement.

If you have back pain and our get better slowly approach appeals to you then we would love to hear from you. We will work with you to get you better as quicky as we can. Give us a call to make an appointment. Your back will love you for it.

Improve Posture with Dynamic Stretches

Dynamic stretches after exercise is very important, not only to prevent muscle soreness the next day but to also allow the muscles to realign and not remain tight following exertion. However, you should also use dynamic stretches even without doing any physical activity writes  guest contributer and Brighton based personal trainer, Lucy Howlett.

Due to everyday activities; be it standing, sitting for long periods or lifting things regularly, your body will develop areas of tension. This is simply the body’s way of supporting itself, with certain muscles coming into play time after time, becoming shorter and tighter. Your muscles will stay this way unless they’re seen to with some simple dynamic stretches. Further help can be sought from the medical practitioners at Sundial and through classes like yoga, which is fantastic for lengthening muscles, improving flexibility and posture.

Re-aligning posture

To prevent a build up of tension and its visible effects (hunched shoulders, rounded back, neck jutting forwards, short stride length in gait), it is useful to try and integrate some movements that are key to re-aligning the body to optimal posture as well as comfort.

If you are sitting for a long periods of time your hip flexors are prone to becoming tight. This tension can alter your posture and affect your gait, which in turn may lead to injury or pain.

Dynamic stretches to improve posture

Lunge forwards with your left foot in front, allowing both knees to form a right angle and reaching up as high as you can with your right arm (without raising your shoulders). Then step back to a neutral standing position. Repeat this 15-20 times, or until you feel looser at the hip joint. Now change sides. NOTE: To increase the stretch sensation, add a rotation in your torso either towards or away from the front leg. Take care however, as it can have quite a dramatic effect.

Another common complaint, in sportsmen particularly, is tight hamstrings. Instead of the usual static hold you may already know, we will add some movement to allow maximum benefit. Step your left foot backwards leaving the right foot to rock onto the heel, then take your hips back while reaching forwards (towards your toes or out ahead of you). Now step back to a standing position and repeat. Imagine someone is pulling your hips backwards and your hands forwards to get the best stretch!

This dynamic form of stretching is far more beneficial in the long term than the static type; the muscles are naturally stretched in two or three planes of motion so as to trigger contraction back to a position of least effort/tension — we call it centre: you currently know it as neutral.

To support this increased flexibility you should work on your core strength to allow the spine to align well in accordance with the surrounding muscles. Core stability is important to everyone, active or not; it can help to prevent back pain and to have greater control over your stomach muscles, achieving a slimmer and more toned appearance. As well as abs exercises, make sure you work your back and do some twisting movements to encompass all planes of motion that the body goes through.

Through doing these exercises, you should feel a lot less restricted in the lower body and perhaps your upper body as well. Practice daily for maximum results; it may improve your posture, when static or walking, as well as alleviating any niggling pain you have had. These are some of the benefits of dynamic stretching. I hope you enjoy using them!

For any other fitness related questions please do get in touch:



Mob: 07879 490373

Chiropractic on the NHS

Do you think chiropractic should be available on the NHS? A new study shows how effective chiropractic on the NHS can be. The research into a pilot scheme in Essex has just been published and it shows that more than 99% of patients referred were satisfied with their care. Interestingly chiropractors worked alongside osteopaths and physios to get these favourable results.

When a patient went their GP with back or neck pain they were assessed and could be referred into the manual therapy program. They were sent to their choice of chiropractor, osteopath or physio and were seen within 2 weeks. Gone were the long waiting lists for referral to other NHS services.  Gone was sole reliance on a fistfull of drugs and a photocopied leaflet of exercises. Patients had a series of about six sessions of manual therapy, guided exercises exercises and advice.

Two out of three of these patients showed good improvements in their pain levels and daily activities. Importantly, nearly half had had pain for a year or more with very little relief. Finally they found something to help them.

Of the 696 people who went along to these therapists most reduced their medication as well.

Brighton Chiropractors and Physio’s Working Together

Here at Sundial we have chiropractors and physio’s working alongside each other too. Although we are wholly in the private sector at the moment we support getting NHS cover for our patients. For this reason we support the Health Care Bill which is attracting so much controversy at the moment.

If you want chiropractic more widely available on the NHS ask your GP to consider it.


Evaluation of a general practitioner referral service for manual treatment of back and neck pain

Mark Gurdenet al

Primary Health Care Research & Development Primary Health Care Research & Development, FirstView Article : pp 1-7

How to prevent running injuries? – Runners MOT

Knee pain, muscle strain, tendon pulls, bursitis, ligament sprains and all sorts of other aches and pains are a constant reminder that marathon training and actually running it can be a hazardous business. One in five people who enter for the Brighton Marathon will not complete it because of injury. We aim make sure you are not one of them.

For the next few weeks we are offering a free Runners MOT especially aimed at runners in the Brighton Marathon and the half marathon. We want you to be fit, strong and ready to run.

Our physios will check you out top to bottom concentrating on your footwear and leg and foot movements. We will check all the usual things like over-pronation but also things that often over-looked like jamming of the hinge joint of the ankle which changes stride length. We will look at knees, hips and backs too. At the end of our Runners MOT you will have an in depth risk profile of the likelihood of future running injuries and a plan for prevention.

So don’t let a niggle turn into a pain, call to make an appointment.

Can regular chiropractic care prevent back pain here in Brighton?

If you are one of the four out of five people will go on to develop regular bouts of back pain after an initial attack, this is an important question to answer. For over 100 years chiropractors have claimed that regular treatment can prevent recurrences of back pain. Are we right?

For most of the 20th century, medical treatment, including here in Brighton, consisted of bed rest and painkillers for back pain. Unfortunately, this contributed to an increase in the cases of recurrent back pain. From 1980 until 2000 the number of days off work in the UK due to back pain doubled every decade.

Eventually, GPs stopped treating back pain this way and accepted what chiropractors and others had been saying that active treatment is best. It is also true that chiropractors accepted that painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication are also helpful, whereas up until then old school chiro’s often shunned drugs.

Medical Treatment for Back Pain

Even now, however, back pain treatment from the doctor consists of a brief course of physio or medication which stops as soon as the symptoms stop. If you have had recurrent back pain you will be all too familiar with the trips to the doctor, prescriptions for strong drugs, referral to the physio (after a wait of many weeks) then being given a few exercises. You are probably fed up with your back feeling vulnerable and about to go at any time. You may even find that you’re limiting your activities to avoid the things that bring it on. If so, what can be done to prevent the dreaded back pain from returning?

Well, new medical research, published in 2011, suggests that an initial intensive course of manipulation such as our chiropractors in Brighton do here at Sundial, followed by periodic checkups and treatment may help prevent long-term back pain from re-occurring. Interestingly, those that did not receive the continuing course of care lost their earlier improvements.

Preventative Chiropractic Treatment Works

So the evidence seems to point to an initial course of treatment over a few weeks to get rid of the initial pain and improve function followed by a course of care over the next few months to make sure that those improvements are maintained. Here at Sundial we use the best available evidence to guide our treatment and we generally stick to this sort of plan in helping you get better.

If you would like to know if preventative chiropractic care can help you then give us a call for an initial chat, at no charge.