Effective Exercises to Strengthen Your Lower Back

Exercises Your back has an extremely complex muscle group. As a result, it should come as no surprise that countless individuals suffer from lower lumbar pain from time to time. It has been estimated that at least 80 percent of all adults will deal with discomfort in their back at least once in their lives. Whether referring to transient pain or more serious issues such as sciatica, it is important to adopt a handful of strengthening exercises in order to help alleviate any discomfort that you may be feeling. Let us therefore examine some techniques that will offer up results if practised on a regular basis.

 

Curl Ups

Possessing a strong core will help to alleviate any pressure placed upon the muscles of your lower back. Curl ups are an excellent exercise to incorporate and if performed correctly, they can produce impressive results. Here are some tips to follow during the routine:

  1. Lie down on your back. Extend one leg and bend the knee of the other leg.
  2. Put your hands under the lower back to maintain the natural arch of your spine.
  3. Pull your head, shoulders and chest off the floor, as though they were all locked together. Lift them up as one unit. Keep your back in neutral position. Don’t tuck your chin or your head back. Hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Slowly lower yourself down. Do half of the repetitions with your left leg bent and half with your right leg bent.

 

Side Bridges

  1. Exercises Lie on your side, with your forearm on the floor and elbow underneath your shoulder. Place your hand on the opposite shoulder to stabilise your torso. Pull your feet back so the knees are at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Lift the hips off of the floor and hold for 10 seconds. Try to maintain a straight line from your head down to your knees. Make sure that your hips are in line with the rest of your body. When completed turn over to other side.

 

The Bird Dog

  1. Assume a hands-and-knees position on the floor.
  2. Raise the left arm forward while simultaneously extending your right leg back until both are parallel to the floor. Ensure that hips are aligned with the torso and not tilted to one side. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Exercises

The low-impact nature of these three exercises is ideal if you have been suffering from lower back pain.

Still, it is always wise to consult with a specialist in order to determine if any special recommendations may apply. If you deal with chronic back pain, please do not hesitate to contact your health professional to see if these exercises are suitable for you.

Relief could very well be much closer than you may think.

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Your “Straight-Up” Guide to Good Posture

Good PostureMaintaining the proper posture has more benefits than you may think and ironically, relatively few of us can appreciate the correct techniques. Poor posture can result in lower levels of flexibility, a decreased range of motion, improper balance, and an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as lower back pain. Whether the result of bad habits or other issues such as weak core muscles, the fact of the matter is that there are a number of steps which can be taken if you wish to improve your posture and increase mobility. Let us therefore take a look at some professional recommendations.

Tips When Sitting Down

Many individuals are forced to sit for long periods of time every day (such as those who work within an office environment). If you do not adopt the correct seated position, long-term posture problems are virtually inevitable. Here are a handful of physical habits to incorporate into your daily routine:

  • Try not to cross your knees or ankles. Instead, keep both feet firmly planted on the floor.
  • Relax your shoulders and avoid hunching forward when typing or on the phone.
  • Create a 90-degree angle between your elbows and forearms when seated.
  • Use a cushion or a similar support system if the chair is unable to support your lower back.
  • Look straight forward in order to avoid placing excess strain upon your neck.

Taking short breaks is also a wise policy to adopt. Ideally, try to stand up and walk around at least ten minutes every hour.

There are additional suggestions if you wish to remain comfortable within the workplace. For example, use a hands-free telephone in order to reduce neck strain. Opt for a standing desk if sitting causes a significant amount of discomfort. Make certain that you have an ergonomic chair and keep accessories such as keyboards and mouses within close proximity so that you are not overextending your reach.

When Standing and Walking

Maintaining the proper posture is just as important when not seated. The good news is that many of the same principles alloy. Be sure that you distribute your body weight evenly (so that one leg does not favour the other). Once again, make certain that your shoulders are even and not inadvertently hunched forward. Keep your chin parallel to the floor and do not arch your spine in an unnatural manner.

There are also many exercises which can be used to help you obtain the proper posture. Those which focus upon the abdominal region will strengthen your core muscles over time; providing your lower back with additional support. It is also wise to watch yourself in a mirror when performing any balance-related exercises, as you will be able to tell if your posture is correct. Much like any habit, good posture will require both patience and commitment.

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What Is a Migraine

migraineA migraine usually feels like an intense, debilitating headache, but much worse. It is a neurological condition, often accompanied by other symptoms. The frequency and intensity of migraines are different from one person to the next and are found in women more often than men.

Migraines commonly run in families and can affect people of all ages. They can begin at a very young age or may not surface until adulthood. Some of the symptoms include sensitivity to light, nausea, vomiting, numbness, or difficulty speaking.

According to the International Headache Society, a headache can be classified as a migraine when the pain is throbbing, moderate to severe, aggravated by movement, and associated with nausea, sensitivity to light, and lasts for more than four hours.

Other symptoms commonly associated with migraine include:

  • sensitivity to smell
  • confusion
  • trouble concentrating
  • seeing bright zigzag lines or flashing lights for no apparent reason
  • an overall unwell feeling
  • diarrhea
  • stiffness in the neck and shoulders

Migraines generally reoccur over several years or even decades. During this time, the frequency and severity vary greatly.

Migraine Triggers

Just about anything can set off a migraine. Triggers are many and varied and not necessarily the same for every person or every attack. Often, it may take a combination of triggers to set one off.

Common Triggers Include:

  • missed or unsubstantial meals
  • caffeine withdrawal
  • certain types of wine, beer or alcohol
  • chocolate
  • fermented dairy products or certain types of cheese
  • citrus fruits
  • monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • bright sunlight or flickering lights
  • strong odors, such as perfume, smoke, gasoline or particular food
  • daily stress
  • travel-related stress
  • changes in the weather
  • menstruation
  • ovulation
  • certain oral contraceptives
  • viruses
  • lack of sleep
  • too much sleep

Existing Migraines

Prevention is always the best medicine but for those who have suffered migraines over a long period these things may help.

At the first sign of a migraine, stop what you are doing, if at all possible. Find a dark, quiet place to relax and rest, sleep if you can.

Hot or cold compresses applied to the neck or forehead often help. A warm compress can soothe the aches and pains; alternately, the numbing effect of an ice pack can help to dull the pain. Hot temperature therapy with heating pads, blankets, or a long hot bath can relax tense muscles.

Keep Track of Your Migraines

Keeping track of your migraines may help to prevent an attack or at least lessen the severity. Pay close attention to what you were doing when the migraine started. Think about what might have triggered it. What did you eat? How much sleep did you get? Did anything unusual or stressful happen? When did it start, how long did it last, and what helped provide relief? Over time, you may see a pattern emerge, which can help you prevent an attack before it becomes too unbearable.

Trying to avoid migraine triggers is generally the best thing to do. However, some studies show that this practice may actually increase sensitivity and subconsciously increase the risk of potential triggers. A more practical approach may be to learn to cope with these triggers. Strive for balance in your life. Dealing with migraines can be a challenge, but healthy lifestyle choices might help.

Keep in mind that migraines may also be caused by an underlying condition such as a pinched nerve. Your health professional can help with this.

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How Can Cold Weather Affect Your Joints?

jointAnyone who suffers from arthritis is likely aware of how weather conditions can impact their joints. This is particularly the case when temperatures begin to drop. Although some individuals are even able to predict future changes, it is also interesting to note that no single scientific reason has been found in regards to why the cold has a tendency to cause symptoms of arthritis such as pain and stiffness to increase. Let us quickly examine some theories associated with the roots of this causal relationship before moving on to highlight a handful of potential treatment options.

What Might Cause the Cold to Worsen Arthritic Symptoms?

One of the most common beliefs is that a drop in barometric pressure will lead to pain. This is quite logical, as falling pressure causes the joints to expand; placing additional pressure upon nearby nerves. It is also a well-known fact that barometric pressures will often drop in advance of a cold front.

Another issue involves a heightened level of pain sensitivity within areas of the body such as the hips, knees and fingers. Cold weather can increase perceived levels of pain, so it only makes sense that those who suffer from arthritis are more likely to notice symptoms during the autumn and winter.

Cold temperatures also increase the viscosity of fluids (such as those found within the joints). As a result, they are unable to flow freely and their role as a shock absorbing substance is not as effective. This is often why cold weather will often trigger arthritic pains within the knees sand hips.

Finally, we need to take into account the lifestyle changes that often accompany colder weather. Individuals are less likely to remain physically active when the temperatures begin falling. Thus, habits such as daily exercise and running may be postponed until the spring and summer. Lower levels of physical activity have already be identified as one of the causes of increased arthritic pain.

What Types of Treatment Options Should be Considered?

There are several treatment methods worth considering. One of the most effective is said to be Cryotherapy. This process will often substantially reduce levels of perceived pain in arthritis sufferers and provide them with a greater degree of mobility. However, it should be noted that this is not a cure. It is merely meant to alleviate short-term symptoms. Some additional options include trying to remain warm at all times and using compression bandages or braces in order to prevent excessive swelling. It could also be wise to seek the advice of professional chiropractors and physical therapists, as these individuals will often develop targeted exercise and/or rehabilitation programmes based around the needs of the client in question.

Unfortunately, millions of people are negatively affected by cold weather. The good news is that there is no reason to remain suffering in silence. If you are curious to learn more about available options please contact your Health Professional.

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Reducing Arthritis Risks

Arthritis Joint Pain is common, but it’s not well understood. It is in fact not a single disease; it’s a term used to refer to all sorts of pain in joints from osteoarthritis. There are over a hundred types of different joint pain related conditions and one of the most common, and painful is Arthritis. Arthritis has been regarded as an inherent part of the process of ageing, as well as a signal to patients that it is time to slow down.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a long-term autoimmune disorder that mainly affects your joints. Rheumatic diseases include over 100 conditions, such as psoriatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and gout. Although it often starts in middle age, and it’s more prevalent in the older generation, children and young people can suffer from rheumatoid arthritis as well. RA causes stiffness, swelling, pain as well as loss of function in your joints.

Can you prevent Arthritis?

Arthritis There’s no sure way of preventing arthritis. However, you can help to reduce your risk of osteoarthritis and delay the possible onset of some types of other types of joint pain. If you have healthy joints, do everything you can to ensure that you maintain mobility and function. This will help you avoid the pain and disability.

There are other things you can do to help decrease your risk of arthritis.

  • Diet– Eat a healthy diet that is low in sugar, purines and alcohol and include fish high in Omega 3 in your diet.
  • Exercise – exercise strengthens the muscles around your joints, and this helps protect from additional wear and tear.
  • Weight – Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts an unnecessary strain on your joints.
  • Stay safe – if you play sports make sure you have all the right equipment to help prevent injury. At work or at home, make sure you there are no risks around you like broken equipment and unsafe surfaces.
  • Protect your joints – make sure you are not lifting things without bending your knees. If you work at a desk, make sure you are sitting with the correct posture. If you are sitting for a long period, make sure your arms and legs are well supported.

 Prevention

Because scientists do not fully understand the mechanisms and causes of these diseases, true prevention appears to be impossible. However, if you are suffering from arthritis or feeling pain in your joints, be sure to see your health professional. There are many ways they may be able to help you manage the pain and show you how to reduce risks in your daily activities.

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A Quick Look at the Causes and Symptoms of Vertigo

vertigoMost of us experience dizzy spells from time to time. Caused by situations such as generalised disequilibrium or anxiety, such feelings are transient and will normally resolve themselves without the need of any medical intervention. However, vertigo is another situation which must be differentiated from dizziness. Not only is it associated with a number of unique causes, but professionals will often base their diagnosis off of your symptoms. Let us first take a look at the causes of vertigo before examining the associated symptoms as well as when you should seek help.

What Causes Vertigo?

Most physicians feel that vertigo is generally caused by a condition known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BBPV). We will be focusing upon BBPV for the sake of this article. BBPV is rooted within the inner ear. Tiny calcium carbonate crystals contained within this portion of the ear canal can become dislodged on occasion. They then migrate to the semicircular canals where an interaction with nearby nerves can cause an intense dizzy sensation. It is interesting to note that up to ten per cent of the population will experience this form of vertigo at least once in their lives.

Examining Some of the Most Common Symptoms

It is important that you are able to rule out other conditions when determining whether or not vertigo is present. In many cases, you may feel an intense dizzy sensation if you happen to suddenly turn over while laying down. This is a short-lived feeling; lasting for 30 seconds or so before quickly subsiding. Some of the other symptoms which you may experience on occasion can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • A generalised feeling of imbalance or unsteadiness
  • A feeling that static objects around your are moving when they are completely still

There can also be times when your eyes move in an abnormal fashion while experiencing an attack. This is known in the medical community as “nystagmus”. We should note that vertigo can accompany related conditions such as hearing loss.

When Should You See a Doctor?

In the majority of cases, vertigo is not normally a medical concern. However, it is wise to seek the advice of a professional if dizziness prevents you from walking or causes you to fall down. It is likewise important to highlight that those who experience a rapid onset of severe symptoms should seek out advice. This is particularly the case if you have concurrent medical conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or you are over the age of 80.

There are several treatment options available and these will depend upon your specific symptoms, so the good news is that most cases of vertigo can be alleviated with professional help.

 

References:

1. https://www.cochrane.org/CD003162/ENT_the-epley-manoeuvre-for-benign-paroxysmal-positional-vertigo-bppv
2. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005397.pub4/abstract
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Drinking Water and Your Health: An Inextricable Link

Drinking Water A sizeable percentage of the human body is comprised of water and it only makes sense that this universal element is essential for our daily existence. From aiding in numerous cellular processes to enabling our brains to send messages to our limbs, water is absolutely critical. However, there are several benefits which you might find a bit surprising. What other roles does water play and why is it important to obtain the proper amount in order to stave off a host of health problems? Let us take a closer look at this undeniably important topic.

The Circulatory and Cardiovascular Systems

As you may have already guessed, water is a vital nutrient to keep our blood flowing properly. Anyone who is not adequately hydrated can place a great deal of strain upon their heart and arteries, as thicker blood is more difficult to pump. This is one of the reasons why one of the results of improper hydration can be high blood pressure and in some cases, myocardial infarction (a heart attack).

Brain Function

Anyone who has ever suffered from a hangover is well aware of the “hazy” feeling that often accompanies other symptoms such as a headache and dizziness. This arises from the fact that water is absolutely vital to maintain the function of our brain and the peripheral nervous system. Drinking plenty of water on a daily basis will help to elevate your mood and keep you alert. It may even stave off emotional issues such as anxiety and depression.

Muscular Advantages

Water acts as a lubricant throughout the muscles and joints. This is why cramping can often occur if you happen to become dehydrated (such as after a long run in the summer). Maintaining adequate levels of hydration will help to ensure that your muscles remain flexible and supple. In the same respect, water helps to cushion your joints and to protect them over time. So, drinking plenty of this elixir is vital to help avoid soreness and injuries.

Forever Young

Water also plays a very important role in regards to the health and appearance of your skin, hair and nails. The cells within the dermis and epidermis rely upon water to maintain their elasticity. In other words, consuming the proper amounts of water can help to minimise the appearance of lines and wrinkles as you age. You can also avoid conditions such as split hair ends and brittle nails.

Weight Loss Advantages

Drinking plenty of water can help you to drop those excess kilos. Not only will water cause your stomach feel fuller, but it increases the metabolism of your body. This signifies that you can burn more calories throughout the day; a welcome benefit if you are concerned about obesity.

These are only a handful of the benefits associated with hydration. As our bodies are comprised of approximately 60 per cent water, it only makes sense that we receive plenty on a daily basis.

 

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A Look at the Role of Vitamins and the Body

vitaminsThe phrase “contains all of the necessary vitamins and minerals” is frequently seen on food labels and during commercials which advertise a healthy breakfast. However relatively few individuals are aware of the role that vitamins play. What exactly are vitamins? Why are they essential to maintain our health? What are some of the most important vitamins to consume on a regular basis in order prevent or avoid ill health? The following will help answer your questions.

What is a Vitamin?

A vitamin is essentially an organic compound that the body requires in order to maintain homeostasis (a stable and healthy equilibrium). Vitamins are contained in many of the foods which we eat although they are more prevalent within fresh fruits and vegetables. It is also important to point out the differences between vitamins and minerals, as these two terms are sometimes confused. As opposed to vitamins, minerals are inorganic substances that are absorbed by the plants and animals that we eat. Minerals are nonetheless quite essential in order to keep your bodily functions performing at optimal levels.

What Purposes do Vitamins Serve?

This is actually a slightly loaded question, as vitamins are critical in performing countless metabolic activities. Some of the most important functions which are influenced by vitamins include:

  • Digesting the foods that we eat.
  • Staving off illnesses such as a cold or the flu.
  • Recovering from injuries.
  • Preventing cellular damage (these vitamins are often classified as antioxidants).
  • Helping our skin, hair and nails to appear younger.
  • Regulating our heart rate, blood pressure and brain activity.

Having said this, the body will only require a relatively small amount of most vitamins. This is one of the reasons why vitamins are often known as “micronutrients”. It should also be mentioned that some vitamins will help your body absorb specific minerals. One example can be seen in the relationship between vitamin D and calcium. The simple fact of the matter is that vitamins are absolutely crucial to maintain a healthy body.

A Quick Look at the Roles of Common Vitamins

While it should now be clear to appreciate why vitamins are so important, it is helpful to understand the functions of each. Here are some well-known substances and the purposes that they serve:

  • Vitamin C: An antioxidant which protects the cells.
  • Vitamin B: Enhances many metabolic activities, promotes brain function and stimulates the production of red blood cells.
  • Vitamin D: Helps your body maintain healthy teeth and bones.
  • Vitamin E: Excellent for the skin and aids in the production of red blood cells.

Please note that some categories (such as B-complex vitamins) contain many variants which each perform a unique function. The bottom line is that the importance of vitamins cannot be overlooked.

If you feel that you are not receiving a sufficient amount of vitamins or minerals in your daily diet, speak with a doctor or a health professional who can help with your needs.

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6 Common Chiropractic Adjustment Techniques

Chiropractic Adjustment Chiropractic adjustment, also known as spinal manipulation, is a type of manual therapy to help to ease pressure on joints and improve the range of spinal motion. The therapy is often used to treat neck, back, shoulder and headache but chiropractors also use it to treat other minor ailments also.

There are more than 100 types of spinal manipulation techniques used by chiropractors. Some of these techniques are gentle while others involve the application of a controlled, sudden force to a spinal joint.

Here is an overview of the most common chiropractic adjustment techniques.

1. Direct Thrust Technique

Direct thrust technique, also known as diversified technique, is one of the oldest and the most commonly used techniques, with about 96% of chiropractors using it on about 70% of their patients. In this type of chiropractic adjustment, a chiropractor uses their hands to apply a rapid thrust or impulse to align the spine. This involves taking a part of your spine (like your thoracic spine) and quickly moving it to one side (application of a rapid thrust).

This manipulative technique increases range of motion caused by misaligned joints or bones. However, it is considered more dangerous when compared to other manipulative treatment techniques due to the application of high-velocity force.

2. Gonstead Adjustment

Another common chiropractic technique is Gonstead adjustment. It is a hands-on technique that involves thoroughly analysing the spinal region and realigning the spine to reduce pain and inflammation in the affected areas.

3. Spinal Mobilization

The goal of this technique is the same as the direct thrust technique – to restore and improve joint function. However, unlike the direct thrust technique, spinal mobilization uses gentle thrusts and more stretching.

4. Activator Method Chiropractic Technique (AMCT) or Activator Technique

In this technique, a chiropractor uses a small handheld spring-loaded device called an activator that delivers a small impulse to the spine. The activator technique effectively adjusts the tone of the nervous system. Consequently, it is used to treat everything from neck pain and back pain to headaches (both chronic and migraine).

5. Flexion-Distraction

Also called Cox Technic, flexion-distraction is one of the less common techniques used by chiropractors. It involves adjusting your cranium (skull) and/or stretching your back gently, aligning the spine to its normal position. The adjustment is commonly used to treat facet joint pain and other conditions that cause neck and back pain.

6. Drop Technique

Drop technique or Thompson Terminal Point involves specialized treatment tables that have drop mechanisms to facilitate the movement of the joint. This technique is sometimes used in place of, or in addition to, a more traditional manipulative adjustment method.

While the drop table may sound a bit frightening, the chiropractic experience is actually very comfortable.

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Common Cricket Injuries: What You Need to Know

Enjoyed by millions of fans and players around the world, cricket is a sport which requires no introduction. While there is no doubt that playing such a game is a great deal of fun, it is also a well-known fact that certain injuries can occur from time to time. What are some common cricket injuries and how can a qualified chiropractor help to alleviate these conditions so that you can return to cricket pitch? If you hope to encounter targeted treatment options, it is important to take a look at a handful of scenarios.

Chiropractic Care

Cricket Injuries: Different types

While some of the injuries can be acute and rather short-term in nature, others may represent chronic issues. We need to keep in mind that while any cricket injury will negatively impact your playing ability, the majority will not disappear without some type of intervention.

The fact of the matter is that many cricket movements are associated with the entire body and these can have a dramatic effect upon seemingly unrelated areas such as the neck, shoulders or legs. This is also why obtaining a correct diagnosis is critical if you wish to effectively target the problem at hand and discover an efficient solution.

Prevention Techniques

Warm up and cool down A good warm up and cool down is vital. Ensure you have a regular routine, and always make time for it.

Core stability training Core stability training is important, particularly for bowlers, as it can help reduce the risk of low back pain and side strains. Your health professional can help design a program for this.

Targeted strength training Strength training can actually reduce your risk of injury. A chiropractor can help you with a tailored strength program.

What help is available?

The good news is that common cricket injuries do not necessarily have to represent a game-changing scenario. Seeking the advice of a trained health professional is the first step towards a speedy recovery, as he or she will be able to quickly diagnose the problem at hand. Depending upon the issue, there are several options including (but not necessarily limited to):

  • Reducing any inflammation and pain associated with the area in question.
  • Targeted stretches to increase your range of motion and to enhance strength.
  • Specific training intended to prevent such a situation from occurring in the future.

Have you recently suffered a minor cricket-related injury or do you suspect that a chronic issue may be present? If so, obtaining professional advice is the first step down the road to recovery. Please contact a trained specialist at Bradford House Chiropractic Clinic. We offer a wide range of treatment options to help with your minor cricket injury.

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