Monday, 16 March 2020

Pregnancy & back pain – are they linked?

Dr Tom Barnett MChiro LRCC

Starting a family is a wonderful thing and should be celebrated, many congratulations if you’re pregnant and reading this blog. During pregnancy your body will be undergoing lots of changes, some with good side effects like your skin glowing and hair being stronger and some with not so good side effects like tiredness, morning sickness and low back pain.

As Chiropractors, we will focus on lower back pain in this blog and why this happens. Not every woman will develop pregnancy related back pain but you are more likely to suffer if you have had back pain previously or had PGP (pelvic girdle pain) during a previous pregnancy.

So the question you’re probably thinking is, do I have to put up with it? Is there something that can help me?

Well in short the answer is, you don’t have to put up with it and yes there are many things that can help relieve symptoms of pregnancy related back pain, Chiropractic being one of them.

Chiropractic care is safe during pregnancy and has been recognised by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to be an effective therapy to help combat pregnancy related lower back pain.


Why do we get back pain during pregnancy and what can chiropractic do for me?

There are 3 joints within the pelvis, 2 sacro-illiac joints at the back and 1 pubic symphysis joint at the front. To allow you to give birth, these joints become looser so they are able to move more. Great for the baby, not so great for the mother. These extra movements can contribute to lower back pain.

As your baby grows, you grow too. This leads to a change in your posture that unfortunately is inevitable for the majority of pregnant women. Posture is so important, it helps keep your spine and pelvis moving the best way that it can. With the increasing weight and size of your bump, your centre of gravity will increasingly shift forward meaning the lower back will curve inwards more, this puts excess pressure on your spinal joints that can lead to discomfort and pain.

Chiropractic can help relieve pain by helping joints move as best as they can and by releasing built up pressure and tension with-in the joints and surrounding muscles. The best thing to do is to have a consultation so your chiropractor can work out what care is going to be best for you.


What happens after I give birth and will I still get back pain?

For many women, especially if it’s your first pregnancy and had no previous history of low back pain there can be little or no pain soon after having your baby (natural or C-section).

However, you might find you also experience post-pregnancy spinal stiffness or discomfort, this happens for many reasons including; the stress and strains of giving birth, a relatively quick change in overall body posture and position, or a build up of tension on the spine through pregnancy. So it’s really important to have a re-examination check up with your chiropractor after giving birth, even if you don’t have any pain anymore. Sometimes this can lead to worse problems in the future and worse pregnancy related pain if future pregnancies.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Posture – why is it so important?

By Dr Tom Barnett MChiro LRCC

We have all heard about the importance of having good posture. So many of us have heard time and time again that sitting tall, holding your head high and keeping good posture is very important. However, besides looking poised, healthy and professional, why is having 'good posture' so important?

When you maintain your good posture, you will reinforce the important alignment in your neck and back, and you can keep your spine straighter. Studies have shown that good posture can help you have more energy, less stress and avoid fatigue. In fact, good posture is essential if you want to stay physically fit. It is often said that good posture is a sign of good health.

If you have poor posture, it is not only bad for your spine in the present, but it can also have disastrous effects later in life as well.

Here are a few ways poor posture can impact your health and wellbeing:

Changes your Spinal Curves

One of the most prominent negative effects that we tend to see from poor posture is a change in the spinal curves. Your spine naturally has certain curves. However, if you spend year after year sitting or standing with poor posture, perhaps sat at a computer all day or looking at your phone or tablet for long periods, your spine is put under a great deal of pressure. This is because you are putting your spine in an unnatural position.

These changes in the spinal curves can not only cause long-term pain and discomfort, but it can prevent your spine from being able to naturally absorb shock and maintain proper balance.

Poor Digestion

Studies have found that sitting all day with poor posture can impact your digestive organs. Poor posture compresses your digestive organs and leaves them incapable of functioning the way they should.

This can not only slow down the digestive process and impact your metabolism, but over time long-term compression of the digestive organs can seriously impair your body’s ability to consume and process food. You may ultimately find yourself with life-altering metabolic issues.

Increased Chances of Cardiovascular Issues

Both an Australian study on poor posture and life expectancy and an English study on poor posture and sitting found that individuals that sit all day with bad posture have an increased chance of developing cardiovascular issues. You may not only experience a shorter life expectancy, but one study found that those who sit most of the day experienced a 147% increase in developing cardiovascular disease.

Varicose Veins

When you sit all day with poor posture, you are preventing your body from getting the necessary circulation it needs. This can lead to the formation of varicose (spider) veins. This is particularly common in women.

Back Pain

If you spend enough time sitting with bad posture, you can start to experience chronic back pain and disc degeneration. Many people who maintain poor posture experience back pain day after day with no clue as to why they’re having issues. Unfortunately, these issues can often be traced back to posture problems from all the extra stress that has been put on the spine.

Overall, your poor posture may be doing more than just impacting the way you look. Take the time to try and get up and move during the day, suck in your tummy muscles, sit up taller with your shoulders back and your spine straight and visit your chiropractor for regular adjustments. Taking the time to do these things can not only help you have better posture, but can also prevent you from dealing with several serious health issues later on in life.

Monday, 17 February 2020

How to have a better morning.

Dr Abigail Parker

This time of year, when its still cold and dark in the mornings, it can be hard to simply just get out of bed! Let alone get up and feel your best for the day ahead. So here are some top tips, to help make your morning easier.

1. Fill a bottle of water the night before.
Either keep a bottle (reusable, of course!) on your bedside table, or in the fridge, with some cold water in for the morning - the cold water will help to wake you up feeling nice and fresh, and will also set you on your way to staying hydrated for the ahead. Also, if you've already prepared it, you're much more likely to use it.

2. Invest in a sunrise stimulating alarm-clock.
If you use your phone, or a traditional alarm clock to wake you up in a morning this can be quite a shock to the system. Especially in the dark!
An alarm clock that stimulates sunrise will wake you more gently and over a period of time, rather than suddenly, meaning you start the morning much calmer.

3. Stay off social media and emails.
Whilst we all like to check our emails in the morning, or see if there have been any changes to our diary or the day ahead, or even watch our friends instagram stories from yesterday evening, its important to give yourself a set period of time each morning where you don't check your phone or laptop. Maybe leave your phone on charge downstairs? (After all - you have your new alarm clock now, so you don't need to use it as a morning alarm anymore) Or decide you won't touch until after you've finished your cup of coffee (or cold bottled water!), to give yourself a clearer headspace first thing in the morning.

4. Day light.
Make sure you get to see some daylight as early as possible in the day. Daylight is really important both for your mental health and to absorb vitamin D for bone and muscle health. Try to either open the curtains once your up, or sit by an open window! But don't forget your sunscreen.

5. Mental Health focus.
Just spend 5 minutes, with no distractions - no radio, tv, phone or laptop, and run through your day in your own head. Do you have a busy day you need to brace yourself for, or are you grateful for an exciting day ahead? 

Friday, 31 May 2019

Importance of Staying Hydrated

There are 5 pillars of health that we work towards at the Optimal Chiropractic & Wellness Centre:
  1. Nutrition
  2. Movement
  3. Mindfulness
  4. Sleep
  5. Brain/Body connection - aka Chiropractic adjustments

In this blog we start to look at nutrition and in particular our hydration levels.

Your body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work properly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate your joints. Water is needed for overall good health.

Path to improved wellness
You should drink water every day. Most people have been told they should drink 6 to 8, 8-ounce glasses of water each day, about 2 litres. That is a reasonable goal.

However, different people need different amounts of water to stay hydrated. You can work this out based on your weight. In general, you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day.

If you are concerned that you are not drinking enough water, check your urine. If your urine 

is usually colorless or light yellow, you are well hydrated. If your urine is a dark yellow or amber color, you may be dehydrated.

REMEMBER if you are thirsty you are already dehydrated!

Water is best for staying hydrated. Other drinks and foods can help you stay hydrated. However, some may add extra calories from sugar to your diet. Fruit and vegetable juices, milk, and herbal teas add to the amount of water you get each day. Even caffeinated drinks (for example, coffee, tea, and soda) can contribute to your daily water intake. A moderate amount of caffeine (200 to 300 milligrams) is not harmful for most people.
Water can also be found in fruits and vegetables (for example, watermelon, tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce), and in soups.

Sports drinks can be helpful if you are planning on exercising at higher than normal levels for more than an hour. It contains carbohydrates and electrolytes that can increase your energy and help your body absorb water. However, some sports drinks are high in calories from added sugar. They also may contain high levels of sodium (salt).

Energy drinks are not the same as sports drinks. Energy drinks usually contain large amounts of caffeine. Also, they contain ingredients that overstimulate you (guarana, ginseng, or taurine). These are things your body doesn’t need. Most of these drinks are also high in added sugar. According to doctors, children and teens should not have energy drinks.

If staying hydrated is difficult for you, here are some tips that can help:
  • Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. To reduce your costs, carry a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water.
  • If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your drink.
  • Drink water before, during, and after a workout.
  • When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight-loss plan. Some research suggests that drinking water can help you feel full.
  • If you have trouble remembering to drink water, drink on a schedule. For example, drink water when you wake up, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and when you go to bed. Or, drink a small glass of water at the beginning of each hour.
  • Drink water when you go to a restaurant. It will keep you hydrated, and it’s free.

Don’t wait until you notice symptoms of dehydration to take action. Actively prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water.

Water makes up more than half of your body weight. You lose water each day when you go to the bathroom, sweat, and even when you breathe. You lose water even faster when the weather is really hot, when you are physically active, or if you have a fever. Vomiting and diarrhea can also lead to rapid water loss. If you don’t replace the water you lose, you can become dehydrated.

44 Whitchurch Road
CF14 3UQ
02920 373967

Friday, 17 May 2019

15 Ways to Tell Your Spine is Out of Line

15 Ways to Tell Your Spine is Out of Line

With Spinal Awareness Week last week, why not learn how to be aware of your own spine?! Below are 15 ways to know that things aren’t quite right and guess what? Only one of them is to do with pain!

  1. Your Heels Wear Out Unevenly. This can be due to uneven leg length caused by a misaligned pelvis.
  2. You Can’t Take a Satisfying Deep Breath. Restrictions in the upper back and ribs (thoracic spine) can cause restricted breathing and/or expansion of the chest due to the improper motion in the joints.
  3. Your Jaw “Clicks”. This can be caused by neck misalignment and severe tension in the upper neck. The upper neck and jaw are very much linked so one will often affect the other.
  4. You Have to “Crack” Your Neck, Back, or Other Joints Often. This is your body telling you that something is out of alignment. It can be caused by areas of your spine that are restricted and unable to move in their normal pattern.
  5. You Can’t Twist or Turn Your Head or Hips to Either Side Easily and Equally. Reduced range of motion comes from misaligned vertebrae.
  6. You Are Often Tired. An unbalanced spine drains your energy. Your body is having to do so much work to maintain your unbalance posture even at rest.
  7. You Have Poor Concentration. Misalignment in your spine affect the Brain-Body connection.
  8. You Have Low Resistance to Disease. Chiropractic adjustments to reduce nerve pressure have been shown to help increase white blood cells throughout the body. Studies show that every time you get adjusted, your Interleukin-2 (IL-2) levels go up immediately. IL-2 is what your body uses to kill viral and bacterial assaults.
  9. Your Foot Flares Out When Walking. This test is easy as long as you don’t cheat. Merely look at your feet as you walk. Do they both point forward, or does one foot appear to flare outward or inward? Do both? Foot flare may be a sign of a problem in the lower spine or hips.
  10. One Leg Appears Shorter Than the Other. Keep your shoes on, and lie down. Have someone stand behind you, look down at your feet, and gently push your heels toward your head. Compare where the heels meet the shoes. One foot may appear anywhere from 1/8” to 1” shorter than the other. A lot of people describe this a normal, it isn’t, its just prevalent. In fact, it is one of our most common findings and when the cause is due to spinal alignment, it corrects.
  11. You Have weight distribution. Stand on two-bathroom scales, one foot on each. The weight distribution should be about the same over each foot. If it is not, that’s a good sign that your spine, hips or head are off line.
  12. You Have Headaches, Back Aches, Sore or Tender Spots in Muscles or Joints. All are  common signs of a spine out of alignment. Pain is your body is telling you something is wrong. As Chiropractors we need to find the root cause and not be guided purely by symptoms.
  13. You Have a Constant, Stressful Feeling and Tension Especially in Muscles and Joints. Nerve irritation from misaligned spine results in muscle tension. No matter how many massages you have. Unless the alignment of the spine is corrected then things will quickly revert.
  14. You Feel Stiffness in Your Back or Neck. Stiffness may be a sign of degenerative changes in your spine. Imagine a car tyre, it has the normal wear from the road, just as our joint do from aging. When a car tyre is out of line it wears far quicker, the same with our joints.
  15. You Just Don’t Feel Right, You Are in General Poor Health. If your Nervous System is not in total balance, your health will not be in total balance.
Getting your nervous system checked and making sure your spine is in alignment will ensure your nervous system can communicate properly with your body. When this happens, it is only a matter of time before your body begins healing properly and true health and vitality can be achieved.

If these things ring true for you let us know and get booked in for your consultation to see your local Cardiff Chiropractor.

02920 373967
44 Whitchurch Road, Cardiff, CF14 3UQ

Monday, 5 November 2018

Ergonomic computer workstation set-up advice

How to reduce the risk of long term injury at your desk

At home, at school or college, at work, or on the move, more and more of us are spending large parts of our day using a computer.

When sitting and concentrating on the screen for so long, we may not be aware that the position we are in could be harmful to our spine. Bad habits and incorrect posture can lead to short-term pains and aches that can turn into long-term injuries.

Essential Adjustments

Always take the time to adjust your chair, particularly if you share your computer with others following the 7 steps below:

  1. Balanced head, not leaning forward.
  2. Arms relaxed by your side.
  3. Forearms parallel to desk.
  4. Sit back in chair ensuring good back support.
  5. Screen approximately arms length from you.
  6. Top of screen about eye level.
  7. Space behind knee.
  8. Feet flat on floor or on a footrest

Your seat should be adjusted so that your feet are flat on the ground, your knees bent, but with a slope from your hips to your knees. You should end up with your hips higher than your knees and your eyes level with the top of the computer screen. You may need to put the screen on a stand or even on a ream of paper to bring it to the right height.

Relax when sitting into your chair, making sure you have your bottom against the seat back with your shoulder blades are touching the back rest of the chair.

Arms should be flat and your elbows level with the desk or table you are using. Use a seat with arm rests.

Take regular breaks. When you take a break, walk around and stretch a little; do something completely different.

Remove any obstacles from under your desk to ensure you have enough leg room.