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!

 

 

BACK TO SCHOOL - tips to help your kids

September’s here and there's one main thing on most people's minds: back-to-school! The summer holidays seem to pass by so quickly, but for many it now means getting back into regular routines for both kids and parents alike. Routines are important for all of us, to help manage time, money, relationships, sleep cycles, eating habits, exercise and our health. 

We often bundle the kids off to school in the same manner as we bundle ourselves off to work: rushed, tired, and laden with bags, then expected to sit and concentrate for 8 hours in uncomfortable chairs. Read these few tips to help with your child's ergonomics, to ensure and happy & healthy return to school. Don't forget, they can suffer from back pain too...but can't make sense of it the way we do!

Choosing a backpack:

  • choose lightweight material & discourage clipping on toys to reduce the overall weight
  • make sure the shoulder straps are thickly padded
  • a backpack with multiple compartments helps distribute the weight
  • a backpack with a waist-strap can help take the load off the shoulders/back

How to wear the backpack:

  • adjust the backpack so it sits no more than 4" below their waistline. you don't want the pack hanging too far down their back & hanging past their bottom. the bottom of the bag should be sitting in the curve of their lower back
  • really encourage your kids to wear the backpack on both shoulders, to avoid unnecessary strain, as using it on one shoulder only can cause curvatures of the spine and back strain
  • load the heaviest items first, so they are closest to the spine and not creating a top-heavy scenario

Other ideas:

  • cut down on what's being carried each day. only take what's really necessary and leave the rest at home or in their locker (this goes you too mum & dad!)
  • encourage your kids to leave heavy hard-back books at school, if they're able to finish up their assignment at school
  • do a weekly "clear-out" of your child's bag, to get rid of all the miscellaneous bits they pick up & stash 
  • weigh the backpack regularly to ensure its within the safety weight range (15% of your child's body weight)
  • if they carry sports kit/equipment, have them carry it in both hands to distribute the load
  • well-fitting, supportive shoes are imperative to your child's development. choose soft pliable shoes, with enough room in the toes to wiggle. and make sure you measure their feet EVERY time you buy shoes, as they are constantly growing
  • encourage some form of exercise after school so that your child doesn't move from sitting-to-sitting
  • AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, encourage your child to talk to you about any aches or pains they may be experiencing. if they are suffering from any issues, get an osteopathic examination to ensure there's nothing more serious going on.