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Three reasons to get a health check before starting a new exercise or sport

With spring already upon us, and summer just around the corner, it’s time to get our bodies beach ready, right?

But before starting a new exercise program, or re-starting exercise after the winter hiatus and COVID couch quarantine, there are three key reasons why it may be a good idea to consult your health care professional first.

1. Avoid injury

If you haven’t done exercise for a while, or are starting a new exercise program, you may increase your risk of muscular, joint or back injury. It’s advisable to get an assessment to determine any existing joint or muscular stiffness or weakness, so that your health care practitioner can advise you about steps to take so that you can avoid strain or injury when you exercise.

2. Identify the right exercise program that will deliver the best results for you

Sometimes we’d like to try a new sport or exercise, but it may not be the best fit for our body, particularly if you are susceptible to any musculoskeletal weakness. Your health care practitioner can look at your musculoskeletal system and your biomechanics to determine if the exercise or sport that you’d like to do puts you at greater risk of injury.  Then, they can either identify an alternative exercise program that may be better suited to your body type, or provide advice about measures that you can take to help reduce your risk of injury.

3. Check your heart health

With many of us confined during COVID quarantine measures, we have probably spent more time on the couch this winter than in previous years. Suddenly starting strenuous exercise could put strain on the heart and may result in cardiovascular issues. It’s a good idea to check your heart health, even with a quick visit to your GP, so that you maintain a healthy heart during exercise.

It’s much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to starting a new exercise program, so that you can avoid injury or too much strain on the body and be able to continue your exercise without the interruption of injury.

Lane Chiropractic in Pottsville is offering free 15 minute spinal and biomechanical health assessments during September. Get your free assessment before starting your new spring/summer exercise program to give your body the best chance of avoiding injury. To book your no obligation, free back and joint health check call 6676 2270.

Free chiropractor in your pocket app

Whether working remotely or in the office, studying or playing sport, it’s important to take care of your back. It’s easy for us to take our backs for granted, until we develop back pain and other related problems.

To help keep your back in shape, the Australian Chiropractors Association has developed the Straighten Up as an ongoing community service initiative to improve your health and the way your body functions.

Consisting of a set of simple exercises and taking just three minutes to complete, Straighten Up will help improve posture, stabilise core muscle groups, and enhance health.

The exercises can be undertaken by Australians of all ages with a special program tailored for children., which helps them develop good habits for life.

The exercises can be completed at any time of day but are most beneficial when they form part of a daily routine. It’s hoped that over time all Australians will take a few minutes every day to care for their spinal health, just as they do for their dental health.

Studies conducted overseas indicate that 90% of people who adopted the exercises as part of their daily routine reported a postural improvement. Approximately 80% reported that their backs were more comfortable and that they had better core stability after practicing the activities for several weeks.

Straighten Up app

While your chiropractor can’t be there 24/7 correcting your posture, the Straighen Up App can! Designed to act as ‘Your Pocket Chiropractor’, this app aims to address the growing posture issues and back pain problems faced by Australians.

Features of the App:

  • Reminders: Set reminders to receive notifications about sitting right, stretching, taking breaks, drinking water and improving your posture.
  • Exercises: A 3-minute spinal health program designed to improve spinal health, stablise core muscle groups and enhance health.
  • Augmented Reality: Showing both good and poor posture in different settings. The augmented reality feature works in conjunction with Straighten Up postcards.
  • Locate A Chiropractor: The app shows a list of local ACA chiropractors on a map and also as a list.

Download the free Straighten Up app today through either Google Play or the App Store.

Google Play

Get the free walking app

According to the World Health Organisation, musculoskeletal conditions that reduce mobility, dexterity and functional ability, are the second largest cause of disability worldwide. Musculoskeletal conditions can have a damaging effect on your quality of life by affecting your ability to participate in work, social activities and sports.

With the burden of low back pain ranking first in Australia, it is likely that you or someone you know could suffer from back pain. Improving posture, maintaining an active lifestyle and keeping your spinal health in check can help you continue to do the things you love.

As the weather cools down, it can become too easy to live a sedentary lifestyle but it’s even more important in cooler weather to keep moving and alleviate stiffness in your joints.

If the gym or sports field isn’t for you then walking is another great way to keep active. Some benefits of brisk walking include increasing your heart and lung fitness, muscle strength and endurance, and it contributes to a naturally upright posture.

Need a little extra help to get you walking to a healthier life? The Just Start Walking app is just what you need. This free app was developed by the Australian Chiropractors Association to encourage Australians to get outside and to get walking! The app allows you to not only map your walk, but track the distance and time taken.

The app also displays your walking history, so you can see your improvements, features local walking events near you and lets you share your walk with friends on social media.

Download Just Start Walking and get active today!

Available on the App Store here: https://apps.apple.com/au/app/just-start-walking/id431040552

or Google Play here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=au.com.caa.JustStartWalking

Have you got your back?

Spinal Health Week – May 25 to 31

It’s national spinal health week, which is a great reminder that while your back supports you, are you doing the right thing to support your spine?

While it’s true that we all have a certain amount of mileage in our bodies, which are held up by our spines, here are three things you can do to increase your body mileage:

  1. Improve your posture

Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting or lying down. When your posture is poor this can increase pressure on your spine and contribute to tension, soreness, headaches, back pain and fatigue.  Australian adults, on average, spend an estimated five hours per day sitting, with a quarter of the population sitting for more than eight hours per day,7 including the 67% that play video games recreationally.8 This time sitting and hunching over a desk or on the couch can add pressure to the spine.

That’s why it’s important to make sure whenever you are sitting or standing that you keep your head in a neutral position, keep your shoulders back and your spine straight. When lying down, make sure your back is well supported and avoid lying on your stomach, otherwise this requires you to turn your neck and that’s not good for the spine.

2. Keep Active

We need to remember that an active spine is a healthy spine. This is important at any age, however according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 56% of all Australians are not sufficiently physically active. This has a negative impact on your spinal health.

You don’t need to go to a gym to be active.  You only need to do regular exercise, whether that be walking, bicycle riding, swimming, or even stretching or yoga from the comfort of your own lounge room.  The key is to keep that spine moving!

3. Good nutrition

It is true that “you are what you eat”.  This means that whatever you consume is the fuel that drives your body.  To keep a well-oiled engine make sure you are eating plenty of natural, healthy foods and try to reduce sugar and fat in your diet.  Also drink plenty of water as hydration is key to good health.

For more healthy spine tips or to book a spinal assessment this week contact Lane Chiropractic Pottsville on 6676 2270.

Why work can be a pain in the neck

Back to work and already feeling the pain? As a chiropractor, I often see neck and back pain caused by poor posture, most commonly as a result of computer or mobile phone use. Here are a few simple exercises you can try to alleviate discomfort in your neck and back.

Sit Up Straight
Maintaining good posture by sitting up straight is an important way to prevent pain. Many of us slouch without even realising it and this can put a lot of pressure on your neck and back. You can experience some immediate relief when you move from a slouching position to a straight position. Throughout the day, rotate your shoulders back. Hold for a few seconds, relax and repeat a few times to help train your body to stay straight.

Another exercise that feels great and can be done from either a sitting or standing position is to pull your arms backward and—with fingertips pointing down—rest them on your buttocks. Then try to pinch your shoulder blades together. Hold for a few seconds. Relax and repeat.

Neck Flex

This exercise can be done sitting or standing. Look straight ahead. Now look down at the floor for a few seconds and then slowly up at the ceiling for a few seconds.

Return your head to a neutral positon and then turn your head very slowly to the right as far as you can. Hold for three seconds. Return your head to the centre and maintain this position for three seconds. Next, turn your head to the left and hold for three seconds. Finally, bring your head back to the centre.

Now tilt your head to the right and try to touch your right ear to your right shoulder without raising your shoulder. Hold for a few seconds. Relax and straighten your head. Then tilt your head to the left and try to touch your left ear to your left shoulder. Repeat three or four times.

Chin Tuck
Sit up straight in a chair with your shoulders back. Pull your chin down toward your neck but keep looking straight in front of you. Hold this for five seconds and then return your head to a neutral position. Repeat ten times.

Chin Raise
Tilt your chin up and turn your head slightly to the right side. Your chin should be lifted. Hold for 20 seconds. Now turn it slowly to the left, bringing your chin up as you look toward the ceiling. Hold again for 20 seconds.  Don’t lift your shoulders as you turn. Do this exercise three times on each side.

Thoracic Stretch

Stand up and rest your hands on the back of your head. Pull your elbows back slightly while stretching out your spine. Your eyes should be looking ahead. Hold this for 10 seconds. Repeat five times. 

Pain Prevention Methods

  • Be conscious of your posture while seated at your desk. You should be sitting up straight and the keyboard should be placed so that your elbows are flexed at 90 degrees. Make sure your shoulders are back, and don’t slouch.
  • Short periods of standing and walking throughout the day are beneficial. Get up from your desk once every 20 minutes. At a minimum, stretch or if possible, walk around your office for a few minutes. You could use this as an opportunity to get a glass of water so that you keep well hydrated throughout the day.
  • Be mindful of how you position your head while on your phone or at your laptop, You may be bending your head forward and slouching while looking at screens without even realising it.
  • Reposition your monitor. Raise or lower the monitor or your chair so your eyes are level with the top of the screen.
  • Keep frequently used tools close. Keep your mouse nearby, use a headset when talking on the phone frequently, and use a document holder so that you don’t have to look down when typing.
  • Use a chair that allows you to maintain the normal curves in your spine and try to avoid a chair with armrests. Raise or lower your chair so that you’re not sitting straight up at a 90-degree angle, but rather with a slightly reclined posture of 100 to 110 degrees. Ensure that your feet can easily touch the ground or use a foot stool if needed. Armrests can be restrictive to movement so try to use a chair without them.
  • If possible create a sit/stand workstation. This type of workstation helps you to more easily change your position and reduce the risk of neck and back pain from long periods of restricted movement.

If you experience any neck or back pain, it’s important to get diagnosed and treated early before it becomes a chronic problem. For more information or assistance contact Lane Chiropractic Pottsville at 6676 2270.

How to avoid seeing your chiropractor

Many of us can get a stiff neck sometimes, especially after a long workday, a stressful project or from sleeping in the wrong position. Here are some tips to help you avoid it becoming a real pain in the neck.

  • Maintain good posture when you sit or stand
  • Avoid looking down when texting – make sure your phone is at eye level
  • Also move your computer monitor to eye level
  • Take micro-breaks throughout your day, especially if your job requires that you sit for long periods of time
  • Stop and take breaks during a long car trip
  • Use a firm pillow and sleep on your side or on your back, never on your stomach
  • Learn to recognise your signs of stress and take steps to relieve stress in your life on a regular basis
  • Try regular exercises throughout the day and each week to maintain proper movement in your neck.

Managing your neck pain at home

There are a few things you can try at home to help alleviate neck pain.

Use Ice

Often pain can be caused by inflammation. Therefore, ice can reduce swelling to an area that is inflamed. Hold a cold pack or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel on your neck.  A good rule of thumb is 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off and then repeat.

How’s your pillow?

Make sure you use a firm pillow and sleep on your back or side, never on your stomach. If your pillow is too flat, it forces your neck to bend in an unnatural position and you’ll wake up feeling sore.

Try Neck Exercises

Do light neck exercises by gently moving your head up and down and from side to side to help loosen stiff muscles. Be careful not to over-extend your neck beyond its normal limits or you may do more harm than good.

Avoid driving if your neck is too stiff

Driving may require you to look over your shoulder to see behind you when changing lanes or reversing. If your neck is stiff, restricting your ability to look over your shoulder, it could impair your ability to drive safely. Driving may also require you to turn your neck quickly from side to side. If you have neck pain, this may overstretch your neck and cause severe pain. It’s best to avoid driving until your neck’s normal movement is restored.

When to see your chiropractor

It’s a good idea to see your chiropractor when any of these symptoms are present:

  1. Your neck pain or stiffness does not improve after a few days
  2. You cannot look to the right or left without severe neck pain
  3. You feel like you must use over-the-counter pain medication just to make it through the day or are using it regularly to treat your neck pain
  4. You’re worried that your neck pain may have a serious cause
  5. Your neck pain started in the neck but has moved to numbness or tingling in your hands or wrists
  6. Your neck pain started within a few days of a car accident
  7. Your neck pain is worse when you first wake up in the morning but then begins to feel a little better as the day progresses

Lane Chiropractic Pottsville can help get your neck moving again. Call us on 6676 2270 for an appointment.

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 Pottsville on 6676 2270.

Is binge watching giving 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 Pottsville can help ease your pain. Call us on 6676 2270 for an appointment.

Flexion gives gentle pain relief

Lane Chiropractic Pottsville 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.

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 Pottsville on 6676 2270.