Monday, 28 January 2013

Run fat boy, run.. and girls too!

So Christmas is over and you ate too much, drunk too much, and now feeling vaguely motivated to do something about it before the Christmas over- indulgence flab becomes a permanent feature. Your New Year resolution is to start running, because that is a quick way to lose weight…

….Or – you don’t fall into that category and you have started your marathon training and just wondering how you will ever get there – without an injury!

The Golden Rule for both groups is avoid ‘too much too soon’ and don’t be tempted to say-“ I feel great, I’ll do a bit more…” . There are numerous Marathon Plans and advice on the internet ( is a good one) but many plans build up too quickly and don’t take some of the basics into consideration: (check with your GP if you are particularly unfit or have medical issues)

·         Invest in good running shoes –you may need another pair already if you have exceeded 400m in your marathon training. Get specialist advice so the shoe fits your foot-type and running style.

·         You are what you eat…and drink - to become a good running machine you need the right fuel – 60% complex carbs, 10% protein and 25% unsaturated fats is a good start and drink enough that your urine is pale yellow – too much caffeine will make this more of a challenge!

·         Plan rest days –almost every other day (if later, you begin to feel sore, ice, rest and consider a sports massage, osteopathy or physiotherapy)

·         Only now should you be starting to run –and as a beginner start with 20 mins walking, 4 times a week on week 1, building up to 35 mins walk/run at week 6.  Start ‘running only’ at week 7 for 20 mins each session and by week 10 you can be running 35-40 mins. If training for a marathon, you need to build slowly up to 20 miles until 3 weeks before your event, then taper it down. Consider the surface you are running on – tarmac only will give more impact and increase the chance of shin-splints but uneven ground off-road can also challenge joints and muscles. Treadmills are useful but are usually easier.

·         Stretching – Why would you nurture your muscles, then starve them of nutrients? Stretching enhances muscle pliability, allowing good blood flow (bringing nutrients into muscle fibres and removing toxic waste products). Pliable muscles act as effective shock-absorbers reducing injury and more joint freedom results which can enhance your running style. Each muscle needs at least 20 seconds of stretch post exercise, ensuring  it is being done correctly as different postures can alter the target muscles.

·         And if you become injured… Take it seriously, ice, rest and get professional help early from a Osteopath, Physiotherapist, Chiropractor or experienced Sports Massage Therapist as the longer you leave it, the harder it  is to treat and the less likely you are to achieve your goal.
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Friday, 16 November 2012

The December headache!

Only 2% of the population never get headaches and 1 in 7 of us suffer from migraines so headaches are a problem for many people, particularly when under pressure at this time of year.

Trying to fit in too much can result in the most common simple tension headache, which can start in the forehead or back of the head and can develop into a band-like pressure and fortunately this is the easiest to resolve. Relaxing the shoulders, which is a contributing factor, is important - a simple ‘rolling action to ease is an effective habit to get into. Massage is excellent and allows shoulders and neck to release which allows us to feel more relaxed in ourselves. Ofcourse, intelligent  time management is a preventative factor; everyone benefits from avoiding over-booking ourselves -  simply write the word ‘Nothing’ in the diary for a regular slot to get off the treadmill and allow time to breathe!

Other headaches can arise from a ‘crick in the neck’ which is probably a result of muscle tension and fatigue combines with a posture which allows the neck to ‘lock up’. This includes sleeping postures and ensuring your pillows are the correct height is important as many people wake with a ‘crick’ (see for more info). Cervicogenic headaches also arise from joints in the neck causing head pain and as with tension headaches or a ‘crick’ which doesn’t resolve in a few days, osteopathy, physiotherapy or chiropractic can all give relief without the ‘rebound headache’ from taking too many painkillers!

Migraines are more complex and anyone with regular pounding headaches or gastic ‘upset’ on a regular basis may benefit from investigations. There doesn’t need to be the classic ‘aura’ and the onset can be associated with stress, hormones, diet or tiredness.

Fortunately, less common are cluster headaches behind the eye which are also very intense, can cause the eye to water and occur in clusters. It is also good to be aware that headaches are a feature of meningitis (with photophobia), encephalitis and also the symptoms of a stroke (followed by being unable to raise arms or smile equally and speech can be affected).  However, look at the obvious before panicking… and slow down and relax!

Merry Christmas!

How's your bump?

It’s a common question, directed at your babies wellbeing and often ignores the ‘Minor Disorders of Pregnancy’ which you may be struggling with. There may not be answers forthcoming from the medical profession as to what can be done about nausea, breathlessness, backache, sciatica, pelvic pain to the point where you may even struggle to walk. And you may be thinking “If my body is suffering now – what on earth will it be like after the delivery!”

Paula at ‘About Backs & Bones’ is well equipped to help relieve pain and discomfort, reduce anxiety and literally help you and your baby prepare for birth. As a trained midwife, nurse, osteopath (who also studied chiropractor techniques) and someone who has done post-graduate study, including physiotherapy courses, which specialise in maternity, and a mother herself, she understands the problems as well as the joy of being pregnant.

To help you she will encourage the joints of the lower back and pelvis to move correctly to accommodate the changes in your body during pregnancy and birth, which reduces the strain and therefore reduces pain. Pregnant women are more vulnerable to injury, thanks to pregnancy hormones, especially in the back, pelvis, leg hips or groin. At a time when painkillers need to be kept to a minimum, specialised obstetric osteopathy is a good option.

When balancing the pelvis and enabling joints to move freely, more space is created which enables your baby to find the optimal position for birth, which then means your baby is ready to descend, without having to do extra movements which can delay labour. Space is tight, and every millimetre can make a difference!

Back pain after delivery is common, usually easily treated and can prevent a lifetime of ongoing discomfort, so an osteopathic session post-delivery makes sense. For your baby, being born is a traumatic journey too –even the most beautiful bundle of joy can become a fractious, irritable bundle of stress –unable to sleep or feed effectively and becoming colicky and unhappy. If the birth is more traumatic, for example with forceps or ventouse delivery, the likelihood of problems increases, often resulting in headaches or shoulder pain – for babies and parents!

Therefore, when you attend for your post-natal visit, Paula offers a complimentary session for your baby – a check to minimise problems. Parents generally report that babies appear more settled and calm post treatment which facilitates those early days when you want to get to know your baby.
For more information, call us on 01332 553332 or email

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

On yer 'ead son!

The chances are, if you are still reading this, you may be interested in football-since this phrase isn't generally used anywhere else-and it also goes to show how football can abuse the body! Testament to this is the number of injuries sustained in the game and the early retirement of players (which has nothing to do with the whopping salaries of course!). Even amateur players tend to often give up due to repeated injuries which is a shame as so many of these are preventable- and many of the following tips apply to most sports. So if you like sport and want to continue, read on…

Good warm up and cool down are so important and you may be saying "Yes I do that and still get injured" but are you really being effective? GOOD warm up is starting the game warm and ensuring muscles are perfused with blood ready for action. This may be gentle jogging at 50% effort , speeding up to 80%, then slow to 50% and using this template for dynamic stretching of all major muscle groups (see www.aboutbacksandbones for more detail) Similarly GOOD cool down involves stretches of at least 30 seconds each- not many people can honestly say they do this and by the time you have stretched out all the major muscle groups you will have been stretching for at least 5 minutes. Allowing enough time is so important and is time well spent when you consider the time spent out with injuries. 

Many people who play football or other sports as a hobby may be quite sedentary during the week and the demand on the body from stationary postures in the week to hugely dynamic expectations on the field can take it's toll. Keeping joints mobile in the week can be as simple as walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift, parking further from work so you can have a walk in, or try a gentle 10 min jog to wind down at the end of the working day. Even when lying down to sleep, hugging your knees and rocking will help articulate the back joints and stretch the back muscles.

So minimising injury caused by inadequate preparation should not be too difficult- all you have to do now is still to it as a habit... Oh and avoid those harsh tackles!
Call 01332 553 332

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

What do you want..Blood?

We are conjuring up a picture, in this phrase, of someone wanting the extreme: something so precious to us, it is inconceivable that we give it. That is, of course exactly what blood is; a precious constant delivery of nutrients and oxygen and removal of waste products- rather like a superior meal-on-wheels and dustbin man at your disposal 24/7. Without it, we perish and the NHS spends a huge amount of money on heart medications and operations as wells stroke prevention and diabetes-all of which can compromise blood supply to tissues.

But what do we do to help ourselves? We may exercise, which the best way to encourage blood flow, but even that can cause problems if our choice of exercise tightens muscles making it difficult for blood to flow freely. Ongoing aching in between  exercise sessions may give a clue that muscles are not recovering well from the micro-trauma which we induce with most forms of exercise and the waste products of lactic acid may be hanging around rather than being excreated.

Effective warm-ups and cool-downs all help to prevent this, as does massage which encourages blood flow and literally feeds your tissues and encourages their good health. There are many types and variations of massage, but a good sports massage ticks most boxes, except perhaps comfort! However, a good therapist can gauge your reaction to treatment and moderate the depth of massage, as you need to feel relatively relaxed- tense muscles will limit the effect of treatment.

Of course any massage will help and especially if tension, eg at work or relationships is a feature, then a relaxing massage will be of benefit by loosening muscles which mean they stop feeding back messages to the brain saying that there is tension and therefore there must be a problem - further causing involuntary tension in the muscles. Breaking this cycle involves dealing with the initial problem, but reducing the effect and simply "giving yourself a break" is important psychologically and for your comfort.

Endophine release, helping us to feel happier and more positive, is a well-documented feature of massage and is much cheaper than a shopping spree also reputed to have the same effect!

So whether you are a sports person, a hard worker at home or at work, or would simply like to feel better, then consider a massage, which humans throughout the ages have recognised as important: In fact in many cultures you may be asked, not "Do you have massage?" But "WHO  does your massage?"

Come on Britain-keep up!
Therapies @ About Backs & Bones

Monday, 20 August 2012

Golf and Back Pain


Golfers tend to suffer back pain for a number of reasons: There are the usual reasons for back pain, such a joint in the back becoming 'locked', or a muscle or ligament strain, or worse still, a disc bulge or prolapse. If you have maturity on your side then degeneration of the spine doesn't help, or artheritis or another diesase process. The space for your spinal cord can become narrowed causing leg weakness, and fractures are not unheard of.
However, amongst the doom and gloom, there is the hope of golf related pain being due to the imbalance of the back and pelvis due to the activity being one-sided causing an unequal strain, often in the sacro-iliac joints. Osteopathy and physiotherapy (and chiropractic) can help with a number of the causes of back pain listed and two or  three sessions can often help relieve the symptoms, with some exercises thrown in to help you, should  the niggles re-appear at a later date.
But let’s try to avoid the pain in the first place – or minimise any re-injury. What can you do to help prevent back pain?
Warm ups and cool downs are essential in any sport. If you are taking it seriously and want to avoid injury, see it as important as remembering your clubs. Warm –up can be taught by any good Pro, but need to involve warming up the muscles you will be using in a safe way –ie dynamic stretching:

Pre Game, and pre,pre game!

Rotation is an important part of a good swing, and many of us, who may be in front of computers, or driving as part of our job, may be stiff inbetween the shoulder blades. This is a good exercise before you even leave the car! Stay seated and look over your right shoulder, then continue rotating so your right shoulder is also rotating backwards. KEEP YOUR SITTING BONES FIRMLY PLANTED or you can hurt your back! Repeat the exercise the other side and hold and relax into the stretch for 30 second – holding onto the back of the chair is a good way to do this. Next, gently repeat but swing and ‘pulse’ –not bouncing to increase the stretch –but just within a comfortable range of movement to keep the vertebrae mobile –NOT to increase the range of movement (you have already done this when holding the stretch).
Another seated stretch is to put your left ankle on your right knee, then hinge forward from the hips –the stretch should be felt in the buttocks- but if hamstrings (back of upper leg) are tight –you may feel it there first.
Also in the car –put your hands on the top of the steering wheel and chin to chest – and reach for the windscreen – curl your back for a good stretch down your spine and between your shoulder blades.
You have rotated your neck as part of the first stretch – now, keeping your nose facing forward, tilt your head to the right- whilst your left hand holds onto the underside of the seat, if you can, or put your hand behind in the small of your back. Use the right hand to add some weight onto the top of your head –don’t pull though, and hold for 30 sec and repeat opposite side.
Finally, imagine your pelvis is a bowl of water –tip the water out of the back of the bowl towards the back rest of the seat, then forward towards the steering wheel- do 10 each way.
You can do all the above throughout the week whenever your car is stationary, or on your office chair – then immediately pre-march –you can do them all in a standing position, using a club for support, which makes limbering easy!  You will feel better for it generally as well.

Throughout the Game

 Be careful when you pick up your bag – bend knees – toes facing forward, keep as close to the bag as possible. Even picking up the ball, remember to squat as much as possible – you are more vulnerable after using those muscles to carry your bag and repeatedly doing a one-sided activity.
Larry Foster,an orthopedic surgeon who calls himself "a bad golfer, but a good golf orthopedist." wrote "Dr. Divot's Guide to golf injuries” and also suggests:
“• Consider switching to a putter with a longer shaft.
• Slow down the backswing to minimize rotational stress on the lower back at the top of the backswing.
• Adopt a big shoulder and hip turn on the backswing (classic swing technique).
• Make sure body weight is properly shifted to the right foot during the backswing, and that the arms and shoulders are kept within the plane of the swing at the top of the backswing.”
Also, he says don’t:
“• Place the feet too far apart at the address phase (this limits the hip turn later in the swing and increases stress on the lower back).
• Hyperextend the spine on the follow-through, but rather utilize the relaxed upright "I" position (classic swing technique).”

Post Game

Golf is a one-sided activity which causes an unequal strain on the body, so it makes sense to ‘swing the other way’. For those who are unsure, this means, in this case, after you have been swinging to thwe right throughout the game – you cool down by swinging to the left –to balance out your body. Similarly –rotate your head more to the right –or simply, swap hands and do a reverse golf swing a few times.

 Injuries Common to Golfers

As well as back pain there a number of injuries common to golfers. These include: Shoulder pain, hand, wrist and thumb problems including carpal tunnel and knee pain.

For Treatment

For an individual assessment and treatment, please call 01332 553332 where we can treat you and discuss some of the ways you can minimise injury further.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

How does a Golfer differ from an Athlete?

The Olympics has been a fantastic testiment to human endurance and achievement with world records being broken and personal best's being smashed. Unlike the seemingly unlimited boundaries of IT, for instance, sports also highlights physical limits and the Olympics was no exception in demonstrating the body's reaction to injury.

 Whether you are a professional athelete or an amateur, injury will occur if the body is not capable of what you are asking of it and apart from accidents, it commonly this means 'too much too soon', so effective, patient warm-ups and cool downs are paramount in all sports.

 Another cause of injury is repetitive strain - golf is a good examples of this. Repetative actions especially coupled with poor technique, can overcome the bodies ability to compensate and can mean the difference between being able to continue or not. A good golf pro is essential if you are prone to injury, as is a good osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor who, as well as patching you up, will help your body cope with the demands of repeated postures, especially if you are striving to improve.

 Common golfing injuries are back pain- often in the pelvic joints as they try to absorb the rotation from the swing but also from bad habits such as not bending the knees when picking up the ball repeatedly or poor lifting technique when lifting a heavy bag or standing too hunched up when putting.

Shoulder, wrist and hand pain can also occur as can knee pain and there are various goog golfing tips which can help- just look on our website in the Blog section. Exercises which can help prevent golf, or other sporting injuries are also available from physical therapists who specialise in treat sporting injuries and are tailor made to you.

 So with one similarity highlighted, golfers-feel free to call yourselves athletes! At least you can justify your training!

 For more information call About Backs & Bones - Tel 01332 553 332
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