Mind your posture – carers, care for your backs with a free check up

Brighton chiropractor caring for carers with back painThere are currently around 140,000 thousand carers in East and West Sussex with the figure set to rise to 180,000 by 2037[1]. For many carers physical activity such as lifting is a significant part of their daily routine. However, not all carers will be aware of their back health when looking after someone.

Although paid carers may receive training on how to protect their backs during the physical aspects of their work, many unpaid carers, of which there are 5.8 million in England and Wales[2], may not receive any training or information about back care.

To coincide with Back Care Awareness Week (7 – 11 October) Sundial Clinics in Brighton is offering carers a free back check with advice on how to avoid back problems. Sundial Clinics  have developed the following simple tips for all carers to help them whilst they’re helping others.

Golden rules for carers

  • Think ahead – assess each situation and look for the best and easiest way to achieve the desired result, this may mean using any available equipment whether it be for specialist lifting or a simple sack barrow for moving boxes of supplies
  • Follow the weight – always try and face the direction in which you want to carry any weight – your body is strongest when you are square on to the weight
  • Take care when lifting – never lift while twisting from the waist.  Bend your knees, try to have a relaxed, straight back and if possible, brace your abdominal muscles. For added stability make sure that your feet are about a shoulder width or more apart before lifting
  • Ask for training – whether you are caring in a formal setting or helping someone at home, make sure you have been properly trained in how to use any equipment
  • Supportive shoes are essential – wear good, soft-soled shoes that are supportive and have a good grip on the ground
  • Take regular breaks – if doing a repetitive task, take a break every 20 minutes and do some simple stretches to relax your muscles.

Carers – Straighten Up

Matthew Bennett from Sundial comments: “Carers spend long periods of time on their feet and put a lot of strain on their bodies, from lifting and assisting the person they are caring for, to moving equipment. Even though our bodies are very well adapted to a variety of tasks, carers need to be particularly careful not to overload themselves and put their backs at risk.

“Formal care settings should have lifting and moving equipment available and staff should always make sure that they have been trained in the proper use of all equipment. Home carers should make sure they receive home assessments for the person they are caring for as equipment can be loaned out – this will require appropriate training for proper use.”

Matthew Bennett recommends a very simple three minute exercise routine entitled ‘Straighten Up UK’ from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) has developed which is really easy to incorporate into daily life to help strengthen the spine and improve posture. The exercise routine can be accessed on the BCA website here: http://bit.ly/straightenup.


[1] Statistics taken from Carers UK http://www.carersuk.org/newsroom/stats-and-facts

[2] According to data from the Office of National Statistics from the 2011 census

7 Steps to Combat Lower Back Pain in Pregnancy

Looking for top tips to prevent back pain in pregnancy or treat pregnancy pain? We may just have the answer.

1. Improve your posture during pregnancy

If you are getting back pain in pregnancy the best advice is to try and maintain the best posture that you can. The change in your centre of balance will be throwing you off just that. So the trick is to keep your ears and shoulders in line with one another to work as a harmonious, loving power couple. Neither is ahead of the other and both keep the other in line. The best way to check that is to catch yourself in the mirror to the side, or ask someone to keep an eye on you. The most common fault is to throw your head forwards. It is true that you head weighs the same weight as a bowling ball so imagine how that will pull your whole body forwards and put huge strain on your back.

2. Avoid standing up

Push to the front of queues. Well not literally perhaps but try to avoid standing for too long. Your postural muscles are already working overtime aggravated by the hormone Relaxin. As this flows through your body and causes your muscles and ligaments to relax through pregnancy your support system is not at its best. And make the most of grabbing those priority seats on trains and buses.

3. Use a pelvic support belt

Before you were pregnant I am sure that Gok Wan coached you into buying those belts to cinch in your waist  and create that elusive hourglass figure. Well now you won’t give a monkey’s about an hourglass but may still be picking up a belt – namely a specific maternity support belt. These support your bump in the later stages of pregnancy to relieve the strain through your back and now you can even get them for post-partum to continue the support until you regain your physical strength.

4. Sleep with a pillow between your knees

As odd as that may sound, straddling a pillow between your knees when lying on your side in bed may well be the support that you need to your bump and enough to relax the muscles of your pelvis, which will be having a tough time of things with all these changes going on. Ideally, if you are planning on going through more than one pregnancy I would absolutely recommend investing in one of the pregnancy pillows which you can buy from any good maternity store. Compare prices as they can vary tremendously and they may not look attractive but they are long enough to stretch along your whole body which minimises the chance of them slipping or being expelled from the bed during the night.

5. Computers make back pain in pregnancy worse

Your desk and workstation set up at work is incredibly important during your pregnancy so if your company has an internal occupational assessment team then now is the time to rope them in. Other problems can occur too. Not only does your desk height, angle, and distance matter to your back but so too does your keyboard and mouse use. Carpal tunnel syndrome is all too common during pregnancy (thanks to fluid retention) a wrist support is important for use with a keyboard and many women prefer to switch from a conventional mouse to an upright one which requires the arm to be at a more favourable angle of sideways; or else use a roller pad. Everyone has a different preference but it is worth bearing it in mind.

6. Have a bath to ease a bad back

A warm bath can help back aches. Enjoy lots of warm baths during pregnancy to help to relax your muscles as well as your mind but make sure that you can happily dip your toe into the water without jumping from the heat. The water should never be more than warm during pregnancy as it can be stressful for the baby.

7. Go shoe shopping

Finally an excuse to get the credit card out and hit the shops – this time however it won’t be for glamorous purchases. During pregnancy it is a good idea to banish the stilettos and kitten heels and opt for sensible lace ups. It isn’t the height of the heel that is important but the support of the shoe to the foot, and therefore rest of your body. As pregnancy progresses the foot arches can flatten and contribute to back pain. Imagine that your feet are the foundations of a house and that your pregnancy is akin to planning an extension on the property. You wouldn’t start without assessing that the foundations are excellent or the rest of the house would be under strain. Your body is the same, particularly during pregnancy where your centre of gravity is changed and your supporting tissues are less…well, supporting. And it is for this reason that cheap ballet pumps are also out I am afraid as they offer zero support to your feet.

If you would like an appointment to see if our chiropractors or physiotherapists can help you with pregnancy related back pain or leg pain then give us a call and we can book you in.

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:

Email: lucyhowlett.pt@gmail.com

Web: www.lucyhowlett.co.uk

Mob: 07879 490373