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Does cold and rainy weather cause back pain?

Often my patients tell me that they feel more aches and pains as the weather turns cooler and I am regularly asked if pain is linked to a drop in temperature.

With the cooler weather approaching and some much needed rain in northern NSW, you may find that you get a few more aches and pains. This is because when the body is faced with low temperatures, blood vessels narrow in your extremities and divert that extra blood to vital areas like the brain, heart and lungs to keep them warm.

When muscles, tendons and ligaments have less blood, they become stiff. It’s the same with the structures supporting your spine. When the weather is cold, there is less blood flow to the structures supporting your spine and they become naturally stiff which, in turn, places extra strain on the back. Additionally, if joints are already inflamed, a drop in barometric pressure or temperature can cause swelling and subsequent pain.   

It’s important to note that the majority of spine pain is caused, not by a problem with the spine itself, but by strain or injury to the muscles, tendons and ligaments that give it support. If these tissues are stiff and pull on the sensitive nerve endings in the spine—which is common—it can feel like your back is hurting despite the fact that the source of the pain is not the spinal structure. On top of this, tight or cold muscles, tendons or ligaments are much more susceptible to strain or injury.

Metal implants can further exacerbate the condition because metal implants react differently to human tissue. If they get cold, they can start lowering the temperature of the tissue and nerves surrounding them, which can lead to back pain. People whose device is simply covered by skin or a thin layer of soft tissue are much more likely to experience aches and pains in cold weather. 

COLD, DARK DAYS CAN CONTRIBUTE TO DEPRESSION, WHICH CAN AGGRAVATE BACK PAIN

Just as importantly, research has shown that cold weather and dark days can contribute to what is known as seasonal depression, which can cause or aggravate back pain. 

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of depression that typically occurs yearly, starting in autumn and lasting through the winter months.

There are a number of factors that can cause seasonal depression such as the decreased amount of sunshine throwing off your body’s circadian rhythm and causing a drop in serotonin levels in the brain.

Seasonal depression can also cause fatigue, increased perception of pain and decreased interest in daily activities that can prevent people from exercising and strengthening the muscles supporting the spine, which in turn causes back pain.

How to avoid back pain in cooler weather

The key to reducing back pain in cool and rainy weather is to make every effort to keep yourself warm and ensure that you do daily low-impact exercise such as walking, swimming, bike riding, yoga or indoor aerobic exercise.

Our muscles need continued exercise to remain strong and if you are neglecting to work out when it’s chilly, you are opening yourself up to injury further down the line. 

Regular exercise is also a great way of releasing endorphins, those natural mood lifting hormones that help reduce depressive symptoms.

Overall, it’s important to know that daily back or neck pain is not normal. If this is something you’re experiencing or if you need advice about a winter exercise program to suit your needs, contact me, Bruce Lane at Lane Chiropractic on 6676 2270.

Is binge watching give you a backache?

Did you know the average Australian spends 2 hours and 25 minutes a day watching television? That’s a long time in one position and it can be hazardous to your health.

Most of the time, when people watch TV, they are either slouching or lying in ways that put strain on their shoulders, back or hips. Unwinding in front of the television shouldn’t feel like work but it also shouldn’t leave you feeling miserable the next day (which can happen if your body is not properly aligned).

Here are some things you can do to keep your spine happy while watching television:

  • Pay attention to your posture – sitting up straight may not feel comfortable at first but over time you’ll be able to maintain good posture as a habit. Keep your shoulders back and ensure your back is relaxed. Also avoid tilting your head forward, backwards or sideways.
  • Take a break – a great way to remember to move is by getting off the couch and walking around during commercial breaks.
  • Reduce sitting time – you can make television time productive by doing household chores such as ironing or folding clothes while watching your favourite series.

Chiro Can Help

If you are already experiencing the side effects of poor posture and prolonged sitting (pain, headaches or stiffness), Lane Chiropractic can help ease your pain. Call us on 6676 2270 for an appointment.

Flexion gives gentle pain relief

Lane Chiropractic uses the flexion distraction technique, which embraces a combination of chiropractic and osteopathic principles using gentle mobilisation of various body parts and slow manual traction to treat many different forms of pain.

Some of the most common conditions treated using a flexion distraction table include sporting injuries, herniated discs, migraine, neck pain, rib pain, back pain, spinal stenosis and much more.

About the Flexion distraction table

A large number of chiropractic tables are designed to respond to quick thrusts from the chiropractor, thereby realigning the spine. Some are called drop tables because various sections drop under the pressure, using gravity to help return the spinal column to a healthier position.

A flexion table, on the other hand, was developed to work best with slow and controlled movements. With this particular option, the chiropractor manipulates the patient’s body by moving portions of the table as opposed to a more hands-on approach, which requires physically manipulating the patient’s limbs and torso. This provides for a much gentler and more relaxing treatment with the same good results you’d expect from your chiropractor.

Australia Day Survival Tips

Whether it’s the beach, a barbie or backyard cricket, Australia Day is all about relaxing and having fun with your mates. Whatever you plan to do to celebrate our special Aussie Day, make sure you take care of your back with these Australia Day Survival Tips from Bruce Lane of Lane Chiropractic clinic at Pottsville.

Keep Active

While a day off is a great excuse for lying on the couch, make sure you get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day to keep your back and your whole system moving. It’s particularly important to keep moving and activating your core stabilising muscles to support your back.

Watch Your load

This time of year we can get a bit too excited about backyard games and beach fun. It’s during this time that I find people will often over extend muscles, especially when they haven’t been exercising much previously, and put their backs out. If you feel pain, it’s your body’s way of telling you to stop. Make sure that when you are having fun, listen to your body and its limits.

Be careful about how much you lift and watch your lifting technique. On a day when we often fill our eskies for parties, we can forget correct lifting techniques. Make sure you bend your knees and lift with a straight back. Use your legs to take the load, not your back. If the load feels too heavy, get someone to help you.

Watch for stress injuries. Our backs take a lot of strain a lot of the time. Most of the time they are pretty tough and don’t let us know that we are pushing things too far. Think about how your daily activities impact your back (even too much inactivity can impact your back). Be mindful of how your back feels and how you can relieve stress on it.

Travel Safely

If you are traveling this Australia Day, these handy travel tips will help you enjoy the best time away:

  • Take regular stretch breaks at least every one to two hours
  • Tuck in your chin and roll your shoulders back every hour to loosen tight muscles
  • Use back support, such as a small, rolled towel. Alternate behind the back and then between the shoulders.
  • Sit upright with your head back before setting the position of your mirrors. This will remind you not to slouch.
  • Stay well hydrated, sip water often.
  • Pillows are light, so take a supportive pillow with you.
  • Put your seat upright and ensure your tailbone is as far back in the seat as it can be, with shoulders and head as supported as possible by the seat.

If you are travelling by plane, most of these tips apply. In addition, where possible sit in an aisle seat to make it easier to regularly stretch and walk during the flight. Be careful lifting suitcases. Bend with your knees, not your back. Also, regularly roll your ankles in circles and point then flex your feet to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis.

Sleeping in an unfamiliar bed

If you are sleeping away from home this weekend here are some tips to protect your back and give you a good night’s sleep.

  1. Sleep on your back or side as much as possible, avoid sleeping on your stomach!
  2. If the bed is ‘saggy’, consider putting the mattress on the floor.
  3. Use a ceiling fan instead of air-conditioning where possible to avoid cold blasts of air on your neck or back.
  4. Compensate for dips in the mattress by placing a small, soft towel under your side.
  5. Always stretch after sleeping.
  6. Stay well hydrated, sip water often – but not too much before bed otherwise you will be up in the night!

Is Your SI Joint Causing a Problem?

If you feel pain in your lower back when you stand up from your chair, it could be your sacroiliac joint.

We have two sacroiliac joints in our lower backs, which sit on either side of the spine. They carry the weight of our upper bodies when we stand, walk or shift loads on our legs.

Sacroiliac pain can be dull or sharp. It starts at the sacroiliac joint but can then move to the buttocks, thigh, groin or even upper back.

Sometimes standing up triggers the pain, and a lot of times pain may only be on one side of the lower back. It may bother you more in the morning and get better during the day.

Pain starts when the sacroiliac joint gets inflamed, which may be caused by a sporting injury, a fall, ligament damage, pregnancy or uneven strides due to one leg being slightly longer than the other.

There is a type of arthritis called ankylosingspondylitis that can damage the sacroiliac joint. You’ll also hurt when the cartilage over the sacroiliac joint slowly wears away as you age.

Chiropractic care can help to relieve inflammation and reduce sacroiliac joint pain.

To check the health of your sacroiliac joint contact Lane Chiropractic on 6676 2270.

Myths and Facts about Back Pain

Most of us will experience back pain at some stage in our lives. Some people are more lucky than others and don’t have too much back trouble, while others suffer it almost every day. I found this interesting article that talks about the myths, facts and treatment for back pain.

If you need help with managing your back pain contact us on 6676 2270.

Are your biomechanics holding you back?

Want to improve your surfing? Then it’s a good idea to get your biomechanics checked.

Biomechanics examines movement of the body, in particular, how muscles, bones and ligaments work together to produce movement. Biomechanics not only includes the structure of bones and muscles and the movement they can produce but also the mechanics of blood circulation and other body functions.

In surfing, biomechanics is critical to maintaining balance and stability on the waves.
Balance is a combination of the centre of mass and base of support. With surfing, the centre of mass is the mid-point of your body and the base of support is the area of contact underneath the surfboard. Usually, the bigger or wider your base of support is, the more stable you become and this makes it easier to balance. Therefore, bigger boards are easier to ride. Also, you want the centre of mass and base of support to be close to achieve a sturdy position. Having more control of your body and the board can help you better manoeuver on the waves.

Factors that affect stability are body mass, friction between the body and the surface or surfaces contacted, the base of support and position of the centre of gravity.

In many other sports, balance is also a key factor in biomechanics, as well as the position and movement of the body. If you jerk too quickly, for example, it could mean the difference between a goal and a sprained ankle!

To minimise injury in surfing, footy, the gym or any of your favourite sports it’s a good idea to ensure you gently stretch before beginning the activity. It’s also a good idea to get the biomechanics of your body checked in case there may be an underlying factor that could make you more susceptible to injury.

Bruce Lane is a certified chiropractic sports practitioner and can help you identify any potential weakness in your biomechanics, as well as provide advice and treatment to correct any problems. If you’d like a biomechanical assessment contact Lane Chiropractic on 6676 2270.

Is Your Body Summer Ready?

Spring starts this weekend! It’s time to get our winter weary bodies moving and ready for summer. The easiest and best way to start exercising is by walking. We live in a beautiful part of the world so it’s easy to find a great location. And of course, walking is free!

Last weekend, we took our children for a rainforest walk at Mount Warning. It is taking me a bit to recover but we had a great time. Our bush walk has inspired me to share some tips with you about how to fit walking exercise into our daily routines:

Commute
While it may be too far to walk the whole way to work or school, it is possible to make walking part of the journey. For example, you could just park your car further from your destination.

Lunch time
Make sure to take a lunch break and go for a walk. It’s good to get some time out from the work day and we have plenty of great places to walk around the Tweed. You could even invite a friend or colleague to join you. A lunchtime walk is a great way to reenergise for the afternoon and may stop you from reaching for sweets or caffeinated drinks.

Socialising
While we often catch up with friends and family over a meal or drink, why not over a walk? Walking is a great activity for socialising and you can even reward yourself afterwards by walking to a desired destination such as a shop or cafe.

Not only is walking a great way to get active and improve both your mental and physical wellbeing, it is also a simple way that you can look after your spinal health. Walking just 30 minutes a day can help you to maintain and improve your health.

Relieving Winter Aches and Pains

If you are struggling to get out of bed in the morning because of winter aches and pains then you’re not alone. Many of us suffer from body aches when the temperature drops and the older you get, the worse it seems to be. The good news is there are things you can do to help get your body through winter pain free.

Why does my body hurt more in winter?

In colder weather we tend to exercise less, eat more and our muscles naturally tense up to keep our bodies warm. It is the combination of these factors that exacerbates any injuries or stresses that the body may have. Therefore, it’s just as important during winter to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes moderate exercise, healthy eating and consciously relaxing muscles to avoid tension on the body.

Here are some key tips to help you out.

Tips to relieve winter aches and pains

• Wear warm clothing and dress in layers. A few thin layers of clothes can keep you warmer than a single thick layer.
• Keep your lower back warm. Tuck your shirt into your pants to make sure your back doesn’t get a cold draft.
• At night, a couple of blankets or an electric blanket on your bed can help keep your muscles from tightening.
• Keep your home as warm as you can.
• Run your car for a few minutes to preheat it before you drive.
• Your winter footwear should have treads to help prevent slips and falls.
• Make sure you are wearing shoes that keep your feet warm. If you keep your feet, hands and head warm it enables your body to retain heat much better.
• Do some light daily stretching in a warm room to relieve muscle tension. You can even stretch while watching television to keep your body warm and active.
• Make sure you sleep on your back or side and never on your stomach to avoid neck pain.
• Winter is the time when you want to stay on the couch, but keeping in shape is the best way to help your body. Try not to gain weight during the colder months and try to keep up with your exercise program.

If you are in any pain or need any personalised advice Lane Chiropractic can help.

And remember, the warmer weather is only a few short months away!

Seven Reasons to Exercise When it’s Cold

The cooler weather is here and even though many of us would love to hibernate, it’s really important to keep up physical activity when the temperature drops. Here are the top 7 reasons why we need to keep exercising during the cooler months.

1. THE SUN IS MORE OF A FRIEND THAN YOUR HEATER

There’s a reason it’s called the sunshine vitamin. While there are a limited number of foods that can provide your body with vitamin D, the easiest source is from exposure of bare skin to sunlight.

During summer a short exposure of 10-15 minutes is plenty, but in winter, sunshine can be harder to come by, especially if you are snuggled up indoors. So that’s why it’s important to get outside, get moving and smile at the sun!

Sunshine makes strong bones, and keeps your immune system strong. It can also boost positivity and help prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.

2. KEEP WARM

Save electricity and an expanding waistline by heating your body up naturally with a workout. The rise in your body temperature during a workout has a soothing, calming effect on your body, not unlike a long soak in a warm bath or lying in front of the heater.

Yes, it’s cold when you first step outside but if you layer up (daggy doesn’t matter) and get moving you will be hot within no time at all.

3. STAY HEALTHY

Research has shown that regular exercise strengthens your immune system so it can fight off bacterial and viral infections. This becomes particularly important in winter when colds and flu rear their ugly heads.

When you exercise and get your blood pumping, immune cells circulate through your body more quickly helping them seek and destroy infections. But this boost only lasts for a few hours, so exercise needs to be regular for long-term effects.

4. BEAT THE WINTER BLUES

A daily workout releases feel-good, de-stress brain chemicals, gives you a break from the daily grind and helps ease depression. If you combine exercise with the great outdoors you can cheer yourself up even more.

We know that after exercise the brain releases the “feel-good” chemicals serotonin and dopamine, which can help to reduce anxiety and depression while boosting wellbeing.

5. TAKE A DEEP BREATH

Being cooped up with nothing but heaters to keep the air moving means fresh air is much harder to come by in winter. Generally, the air outside is healthier than air inside so going for a walk or run outside gives your lungs a chance to detox and breathe deeply without concern for breathing in other people’s bugs at home or from the office.

6. AVOID WINTER WEIGHT GAIN

In the colder months it is so easy to turn to comfort food because it’s so satisfying and it makes us feel good. It’s so easy to become a hibernating bear! No wonder it’s known as the ‘winter weight gain’ period. The average person puts on up to 4 kg! The only way to make up for those added treats is to increase the amount of exercise you’re doing. Try and balance your energy in and energy out then the shredding of clothes in spring won’t be such a shock.

7. ENABLE GREATER SPINAL MOVEMENT FOR LESS ACHES AND PAINS

When we exercise we mobilise our spine and help reduce restrictions that can cause headaches, backaches, neck pain and other aches and pains. Having greater spinal mobility is important to a healthy and happy life.