GARDENING and BACK PAIN

The summer gardening season is well underway , so no doubt you’ve been out in the garden getting it in tip-top shape for summer! What a better way to spend some spare time, right? Until your back starts aching and you're stuck holding an ice pack to it instead of pulling those weeds....


Gardening is like any other activity or exercise and requires warming up and easing into it, so start with the smaller jobs and build up to the heavier ones. You don't have to accomplish everything in one day, and overdoing it can lead to those niggles becoming full blown pains. Consider manageable chunks of time (approx. 20-30 minutes) and vary the jobs you're doing to give each body part a break.


When pruning, try to stand as close to the plant as possible and stand head on, as ligaments and muscles can get strained if you are reaching and twisting.


When potting and planting, use a planting bench/table or kneel on the ground to avoid bending and stressing your low back.


Digging is one of your more strenuous jobs, but also a great workout! Again, use the spade straight on to avoid twisting and bending, and try alternating the foot that drives the spade into the ground. Digging and pulling out roots/bushes etc. cause the most injuries, so loosen up the ground first and don’t dig when it is very dry & use leverage to assist.


Always be patient with moving heavy items around the garden and enlist help to shift those pots & bags of compost! When lifting, always use the proper form: lift with bent knees and keep your back straight -- do not stoop! Make multiple trips instead of risking a back injury from lifting too much at once.


Most importantly, if you feel sharp pains or the ache gets too much, take a break and come back to it another day. After all, your garden should be a source of joy and contentment, not pain. A warm soak in the bath can help the aching muscles and ibuprofen tablets help with an anti-inflammatory effect. It's also important to cool down after your day's work, so go for a short walk and do some stretches to help your muscle tension and flexibility.


If your pain doesn't settle within a few days, see your local osteopath for treatment and advice. Perhaps consider a pre-season back check-up before the gardening season comes into full swing...it could save you weeks of pain!!

The pain of high heels

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"According to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, people take an average of 10,000 steps a day. High heels shift the force of each of those steps so that the most pressure ends up on the ball of the foot and on the bones at the base of the toes. (If you wear flats, the entire foot would absorb this impact.) A 3-inch heel -- most experts consider a heel "high" at 2 inches or more -- creates three to six times more stress on the front of the foot than a shoe with a modest one-inch heel.

As a result, heels can lead to bunions, heel pain, toe deformities, shortened Achilles tendons, and trapped nerves. In fact, women account for about 90% of the nearly 800,000 operations each year for bunions, hammertoes (a permanent deformity of the toe joint in which the toe bends up slightly and then curls downward, resting on its tip), and trapped nerves, and most of these surgeries can be linked back to their high-heeled shoe choice.

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The problems can travel upward, too. The ankle, knee, and hip joints can all suffer from your footwear preferences. When you walk in flats, the muscles of the leg and thigh have an opportunity to contract as well as to stretch out. However, when wearing your high-heeled shoes, the foot is held in a downward position as you walk. This keeps the knee, hip, and low back in a somewhat flexed position, which prevents the muscles that cross the backside of these joints to stretch out as they normally would. Over time, this can lead to stiffness, pain, and injury. High heels can also cause lower back strain, because the heel causes your body to pitch forward more than normal, putting excess pressure on the back."

WHAT IS THAT CLICK?

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Osteopaths and chiropractors alike are often known for "the click."

But what exactly is that sound you hear?

 

In technical terms, it's called a High Velocity Low Amplitude Thrust (HVT for short), but we often refer to it as "a manipulation."  It's an important tool in our osteopathic toolbox....but by no means the only one!

We take a joint past the point where it's stuck and use a short/quick impulse to get the joint moving again. This helps evenly distribute movement and forces through the spine. The sound you hear is just gases releasing from the joint space, much the same as if you were to crack your knuckles. At the same time, a bombardment of nerve signals is sent back to the brain from that level in the spinal cord, which helps to reset the circuits of pain and dysfunction in the area.

These manipulations are often scary for people, but despite the sound you hear they are not painful and hugely beneficial for your healing process. However, your osteopath will have already evaluated whether the technique is necessary, appropriate, and safe for the patient in each session. And osteopaths use a whole host of other soft tissue and myofascial release techniques, so don't rely solely on the manipulations!

ARE YOUR DAILY HABITS CAUSING YOUR PAIN?

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Sometimes it takes getting out of your normal, everyday routine to see that maybe it’s that exact routine that’s causing your pain. Most people in my clinic haven’t had an injury. They haven’t been in a car accident or had a huge impact injury. Their pain has come on by a silly movement, overdoing an activity or a gradual accumulation of symptoms over time. We don’t want to admit that our daily habits are causing our pain; after all, daily habits are the hardest thing to change.  

So sometimes it takes going on holiday to realise that your daily habits are, in fact, causing your pain.

Is it the way you carry your work bag?
Are you carrying too much to work? 
Do you spend too much time hunched over the computer?
Do you wear the wrong shoes for your daily Bootcamp class?
Do you sit in the same scrunched position on the sofa every night?
Is your mattress/pillow completely worn out?
Are you giving yourself enough time to actual rest and relax?

Whatever the “habit” it for you, is it causing your pain? I hear from so many patients that their recurring back pain was ‘so much better’ whilst on holiday. Many people attribute this to the sun and just not being at work, but maybe it’s something more.  Start looking at all the little things that make up your day and analysing what makes your pain better or worse. Then start trying to make little tweaks to allow your body to move in a better and more pain-free way!