Author: <span class="vcard">rachael</span>

2 WAYS A CHIROPRACTOR CAN HELP WITH CHRONIC BACK PAIN

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An estimated 1 in 10 people suffer from back pain, making it a major public health concern. Chronic back pain is a long-term, persistent condition and can cause physical and psychological distress. It is associated with more disability than any other condition.

In the run up to Spinal Awareness Week in May, we will be running a series of article on back pain. We encourage people to seek help for chronic back pain.

Taking the first steps to combat chronic back pain can be overwhelming. In the first instance, it can be helpful to seek advice from a healthcare practitioner who will provide both a treatment that works and help you with ongoing strategies that support a healthy spine in the longer term.

Chiropractors are trained “to diagnose, treat, co-manage, and manage the treatment of patients with low back pain disorders” and work with other healthcare professionals where needed to address chronic back pain. There are many ways chiropractors can help with chronic back pain.

Here are 2 ways a chiropractor can assist in managing symptoms of chronic back pain.

  1. Chiropractic Treatment

For chronic back problems, chiropractors use a variety of non-surgical treatments and non-medicine based approaches. As with any treatment approach, your chiropractor will evaluate you to see if their approach is appropriate and may be able to help with your chronic back pain symptoms.

In a large study in the 1990s of nearly 3000 people, Network Chiropractic was shown to bring relief from physical symptoms in over 70% of those studied.

Both of our chiropractors are highly qualified healthcare professionals who have completed a 5 years full time degree in Chiropractic to Masters Level. Their education includes excellent medical diagnostic skills alongside chiropractic diagnosis and treatment skills to ensure that they either provide you with the best solution, or refer you to another health care provider if appropriate.

  1. Lifestyle Advice

It can be hard to identify the cause of chronic back pain, especially in the absence of an injury or medical condition, however, a sedentary lifestyle and poor posture are risk factors for this condition.

Staying active is important for spinal mobility and health. People with chronic back pain may find it hard to exercise, however, they should try to be as active as possible. Incorporating walking into your daily routine is a good way to start. One way to track progress might be to download the Map My Walk App or something similar.

Poor posture can also put strain on the spine. Slouching or hunching distorts the natural shape of the spine and places undue stress on it. Download the Straighten Up (Australia) or Straighten Up (Canada) app to receive posture reminders throughout the day and follow the Straighten Up exercise program to improve your spinal health and strengthen core muscles. Check out the videos on our website for more tips on exercises to support back and neck pain.

Chiropractors can advise on self-management of chronic back pain symptoms through exercise and lifestyle modification. Talk to your chiropractor for more information on how they can help with chronic back pain and other spinal health issues.

How to Use an Ice Pack

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Some of you may go – what, isn’t it obvious? Having seen several ice burns over the years, the answer is “no, not to everyone”.

Enjoy this short video that will help you get the most from ice when you are struggling with pain.

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The Pros and Cons of Positive Thinking

00Blog, General Health, Network Chiropractic/NSA, Reorganizational Healing

So you’ve probably opened this because you think positive thinking is always good. Yes? Well I’m a big fan of looking on the bright side, I’m a natural optimistic and my glass is nearly always at least half full. But I want to share with you times when positive thinking is not always the answer and another approach could be beneficial.

What do I mean by Positive Thinking? 

If you follow social media or any of the self-help gurus out there there is a lot of encouragement to focus on gratitude, to focus on what you have, to say affirmations like “I am wonderful, I am loving, I am rich…” and so on, the idea being “fake it until you make it”.

Or you get people who say “yes I can see that you have problems, but look at Africa – they have such bigger problems that you.” Or they may say “well you have only have back pain, that poor person has cancer”. The comparison is meant to make you feel better, but does it?

So a good starting point is to try saying some of these statements out loud. I’m a great believer in listening to your body as well as to your mind. After all the more sources of information you have, the better you can make a good decision.

So if you’re having a good week and you say to yourself “I’m fantastic” the chances are your body is going to agree with you. So great. You reinforced what you already knew. But what if you are having a terrible week, maybe your back is playing up, your best friend has just been diagnosed with cancer and you’re concerned you are about to be made redundant. Now try saing “I’m fantastic”. Now for some people that will be the kick they need to refocus, but for many they will hear voices along the lines of “who are you trying to kid? What do you mean fantastic? Well that’s a load of rubbish.” Or you may feel your posture sag, you may notice your energy drop, you may feel despondent in response to fantastic. Whatever your response – it’s not working.

So how can you use Positive Thinking in a Productive/Resourceful Way

Let’s assume your starting point is that you are having a bad day. You are feeling unresourceful, you have low energy and you don’t know how you are going to change this. It may have been going on for a while. And the last thing you need is for someone to tell you to “look on the bright side…..”

So what needs to change?

Put a different way, what is different in you to the person who is having a good day, has loads of energy and has lots of ideas about how to make life even better.

The difference from my perspective is how resourceful they are. They have more energy, more ideas, are more able to change their state to be even better. Whilst you are stuck in a low, unresourceful state.

So how do you increase your resourcefulness?

The secret I’ve discovered over years of working on myself and working with others is you need to find a place in your bodymind where you are already resourceful. You need to find part of you that has the answers. The problem is when you feel low or under resourced is that you are probably focusing on what doesn’t work, rather than looking for what does work. And if you are looking for what does work – you’re looking outside of yourself for the solution. Because much as we like to think that we can think ourselves out of this, many of us can’t. So you need to involve your body in the process.

The exercise I love comes from Somato-Respiratory Integration and is an amazing way of starting to find internal resources so that you can improve your experience of your body and hence your life. Trust me. This exercise is very simple, but simple doesn’t mean ineffective.

So sit in a comfortable chair with your back supported and your spine straight, or lie on your bed/a yoga mat without a pillow under your head so that your spine is straight.

Place your hands on your upper chest palm over palm. Imagine breathing into your hands so that your upper chest moves with the breath. Do this gently, don’t try to force it. Notice if you can keep the breath and movement only in that area. Notice if focusing on that area is easy, makes you feel good, is somewhere you can hold your focus or if actually it’s difficult to stay focused here.

You are going to repeat this on two further positions. The second position is in the middle of your chest where your ribs come together. Pretty much over the solar plexus. The third area is to focus into your navel or belly button.

In each area you are looking for the area that feels the best, makes you feel the best and the area that works for you. You want to be able to focus on that area and have all or most of the breath and movement focused in that area. So if for example when you focus on breathing into the upper chest you find that your belly is moving, then the upper chest probably doesn’t work the best for you.

You’ll probably need to repeat the 3 areas a few times until you find the area that is your best area. This is an area in your body where you have resources. It may be where you have pain, it may also be a totally different area. All three of these spots have been chosen because they feed hugely into your nervous system and can help to change your physiology. So pick there area that you think or feel works the best for you and focus on breathing into that area for 2-3 minutes. Notice how this affects your whole body.

What will you learn from this exercise?

Some people learn that focusing on the body is really difficult and are surprised by how little they can feel. That’s good. If you learn that being aware of your body and your resourcefulness you are one step closer to changing that. If this is you, then I would recommend you spend 5-10 minutes per day focusing into the three areas and observing. You may be surprised how you start to discern differences, and even if you don’t your subconsious will. Simply the exercise of slowing down, focusing on your body will start to change the blood flow in your brain from one of defence to a more resourceful state. And over time (because this can take practice) you will improve.

Some people are amazed because they feel differences between the three positions. For example, they may discover that if they put their hands on their navel and focus that they start to feel more relaxed, they feel more energized, they feel better, but if they put their focus on their chest they feel tight, stressed and anxious. What you feel and where will be individual to you. If you are feeling differences you need to celebrate that you have this ability to discern. And now you are going to make a conscious choice to focus on the area that works. Because focusing on what works will increase your resourcefulness and your energy.

How to Make Un-Resourceful Areas More Resourceful. 

Once you know what works and what doesn’t work you can do this. Firstly breathe 5 or 6 times into the area that feels resourceful and amplify that feeling in your body. Then move your hands to the area that was most challenged and take 2-3 breaths here. Then return to the area that works. Repeat this until your least resourceful area starts to copy the resourceful area. This usually only takes a few minutes.

I personally would repeat this twice a day, until you start to feel more resourceful and then you can decide how often you want to do it.

For more information on this approach, check out our Discover Workshop or 12 Stages of Healing Events. If you’re not local, look for a practitioner of Network Spinal Analysis or Somato-Respiratory Integration (this exercise is the first part of Stage 1 Somato-Respiratory Integration).

So how to make Positive Thining Work for you? 

Quite simple really in my opinion. You need to make sure that it’s not just your mind driving this. If you can connect your body and mind, and truly embody a positive outlook, you will have such a different experience from the person who constantly says “Life is great” when actually life is rubbish…but they are using the declaration as a distraction and not stopping an observing that their body thinks life is rubbish and aint listening to the mind…..

 

Simple Tips to help you Drive Safely when you have Back Pain

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This is a question we get asked over and over. Many of our clients struggle with back pain, yet they still have jobs to hold down, families to run and look after. Driving is not something they can avoid, yet it causes them so much pain.

Listen to Olaf talk about some simple things you can do to improve your driving experience and stay safe.

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Network Chiropractic and Pain – what do our clients say?

00Back Pain, Blog, General Health, Network Chiropractic/NSA, Reorganizational HealingTags: , , , ,

What do our clients ay about what we do? Impossible to capture everything but here are a few that may help you to understand what is possible……

You can hear what people had to say about their experiences within the area of back pain and how it helped them.

Posture A or Posture B?

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Did you know that when you meet someone for the first time you’ve made up your mind about them in the first 7 seconds. If that’s an interview that is probably the time it takes to walk into the room and sit down .

A big part of how we evaluate people is how they hold themselves or put another way, how they posture. Because “posturing” is really how we wear our life through our body. So if someone has had a really tough life and it’s affected them negatively you can often tell by how they hold their body, how they move and how they breathe even. Most people find it easy to spot the child that has been bullied, and also (though not so easy) the child who is likely to bully.

Your nervous system and brain function has a huge impact on your posture

Find out more in this short video we explore this further and talk about what you can do to change

How Stress Can Affect Your Back Pain… and beyond

00Back Pain, Blog, General Health, Network Chiropractic/NSA

So I have this conversation on a regular basis and it goes something like this….

Patient: I just don’t know why the pain suddenly started, I didn’t do anything

Upset Mid adult man in his thirties posing looking down

Me: Well is anything else happening in your life currently that may be a challenge?
Patient: No, I’ve not changed my routine, I’m still running twice a week and doing yoga – nothing different
Me: What about work? Anything new happening there, any challenges with your boss?
Patient: well actually, I’m on a new project and it’s not going so well….

It could be something as simple as worrying about work, but there are countless emotional and mental triggers that can change your physiology and these can also be a trigger for back pain or other injuries and health challenges.

Let me explain:

Firstly I want you to focus on how you feel when you are worrying about something or you have something on your mind. Notice what happens to your breath. Does it slow down? Is it shallow? Do you feel constricted? Then notice how you hold your body when you focus on this stressor? Anything change? What happens to your energy? Do you feel energized or drained? What about your mood? Does focusing on this make you feel full of life or lacking get up and go?

What happens in your body when you are worrying or stressed about something is fairly predictable though we will all do it in our own unique way with a different emphasis depending on our life experience and conditioning.

A worry or a stress can trigger a fight/flight response in your body because that’s how we are wired. And fight-flight can look like this:

  • tense, tight muscles – ready to run or fight
  • negative thoughts – because you are in danger
  • raised blood pressure – so you can run
  • raised blood sugar – energy source
  • increased stress hormones
  • reduced gut function – because it is not important when you are threatened
  • reduced immune function – because this is about long term survival not short term threat
  • reduced sexual function – again not important if you are in short term danger

If we just explore the tight, tense muscles a bit further. If your tense and tight it will take far less for you to overextend a joint and cause a sprain to the local ligaments. If your spine is under tension because all the spinal muscles have contracted keeping you tense, the discs will be under tension and more vulnerable to injury. If your muscles are already tight and tense and contracted, they are more vulnerable to injury than when you have warmed them up and they are ready to go.

So many of the clients we work with have got injured or sick during periods of emotional or mental stress. Even with some of our existing clients, life can sometimes become overwhelming because they are not able to dissipate all of the tensions building up in their body in response to what is going on for them, so they may re-injure or get sick for a short period of time. The only major difference I see in clients who have worked with us for a while and those who are new, is that the existing ones bounce back so much faster. Both groups recover physically, it’s just healing times are different.

So how is stress affecting you? If you are familiar with Somato-Respiratory Integration you can use it to check in with your body and see how you are coping. If you’re not, I suggest just focusing on your breath for a few moments. What do you notice?

If you think that life stresses are affecting your physical health and want to find out more. Call now to find out how we can help, or book into one of our regular free Intro Talks (details in our Calendar) where we explain in more depth how you can go from stressed to thriving.

The Network Wave of Healing

00Blog, General Health, Network Chiropractic/NSA, Reorganizational Healing

Most people who have experienced Network Spinal Analysis love how it makes their body feel.

However, some people find it easy to observe the breath wave that moves up and down their spine, others know that they feel better but because we can’t see our own spine find it hard to relate what is happening (after all we put things we don’t want to deal with to “the back of our mind” which is where the spine is…..).

In this short video observe the movements and listen to the commentary as to what is happening. Then next time you get adjusted (entrained) observe your body with this extra knowledge or if you get a chance as if you can watch someone else for a few minutes. So many people have said – once I saw what was happening I became aware of it. Is this you too?

Neck Stretches for the Computer User

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We get asked on a regular basis – what can I do to help myself?

In these days of modern technology one of the biggest challenges we face is that many jobs require us to spend extended periods of time behind a computer screen.

For many this results in neck pain, mid or upper back pain, headaches or problems with posture. It is also associated with carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injuries.

If you are one of the many you may already have neck problems or you may want to reduce your chances of developing them. Whatever your need, this short video gives you some stretches you can do at the desk that will help to relieve tension in your upper back and neck and support better posture.

As always, we recommend that if you have any concerns you consult your chiropractor or another suitably qualified healthcare professional. These stretches do not replace advice, they are an additional service.

So enjoy the video and tell us how they’ve helped you

Correcting Poor Posture and Chiropractic Care

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Why is Posture Important?

Most people agree that it’s good to have poor posture.

Good posture helps your body to function better. If your posture is good, you will require less effort and energy

when doing physical tasks. You will have a better mechanical advantage and reduce strain on your body. With good posture you are less likely to fatigue as your body will be working optimally. At another level, others perception of you is affected by your posture. Someone with upright, open posture is often seen as more attractive, more employable and more agreeable than someone who is stooped and closed. Whether we like it or not, we tend to make snap judgements on people and posture comes into that.

Poor posture is associated with a whole host of conditions from depression, to poor heart health and decreased longevity. The state of our posture does affect our qualtity of life.

We tend to accept that as we age our posture will get worse. What’s frightening is we are seeing more and more really poor posture in people as young as 10 or 11. So what’s happening?

Causes of Poor Posture

The majority of postural problems are related to lifestyle and to life events. There are a few people with spinal deformities, often present from birth, that cannot be reversed but for the majority of us our posture is within our control.

So what causes are posture to collapse?

  • Habits – we may be constantly bent over because of work. We may sit for hours at a computer or use our smart-phone excessively. Whichever one it is, it can create lasting problems which need to be rectified before they become irreversible
  • Psychological factors – our self-esteem can have a big impact on how we posture and present ourselves
  • Degeneration of the spine – we see this more in the elderly, particularly women
  • Spinal pain – leading to muscle guarding and protection, basically a way of avoiding feeling pain and doing further damage
  • Muscle spasm
  • Joint hyper or hypermobility
  • Excess weight – this can put significant pressure on the spine changing the spinal curves and often creating painful areas
  • Poor body awareness or loss of proprioception – the inability to perceive the position of your body
  • Over reliance on a passive support such as a back brace or supportive chair

 

Physiology of Posture

Posture is affected by the following:

  • Vision – because you will constantly adapt to your surroundings to ensure your eyes are aligned to the horizon
  • Proprioception (joint position senses) – which tells you where your body is in space and relative to the environment
  • Vestibular apparatus (in the brain/inner ear) – coordinates balance
  • How you have experienced the world and how your body remembers it – take the bullied child, she/he will have very different posture to the child who has been loved and praised.

The function of your spine has a big impact on all of these. All the messages from your body have to pass through the spine to reach your brain, so if there are distortions or tensions in your spine it can affect this message highway. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen balance and posture improve with chiropractic care. As the spine (or nerve message super highway as I like to think of it) becomes more flexible and clear, it makes sense that function of the nervous system and hence posture would improve.

Furthermore, the dorsal horns of the spinal cord are one of the densest for the receptor sites for emotional chemicals. So poor posture can reinforce negative beliefs and hold people in a less than optimal state.

What can you do about your posture?

  1. Own it: Firstly, be honest. Own your posture. I cannot count the number of times that people have told me their posture is fine, only to use photo analysis to demonstrate how far their posture has deteriorated. Use your smart phone and get a friend to take a picture of you from the side. Take a look. What do you see?
    Once you recognize your postural problems you will be able to start to change it by actively correcting your posture when you notice yourself dropping.
  2. Exercise: When posture if poor we often find that the muscles on the front of the body are short and tight, and those on the back are weak. Many men in the gym focus on biceps and forget triceps. Many people slump because sitting upright is hard work.
    So you can join a gym and train. It will take time and effort but for some people they can solve their posture problems all on their own.
  3. Chiropractic: Chiropractors are experts in the Neuro-Musculo-Skeletal system. That means they can analyze your spinal function and using specific adjustments help to correct tension and stress in the spine that may be stopping you from standing up straight. Many people with back problems see huge improvements in their posture over time. So find a chiropractor that chimes with you and let them use their expertise to help you attain your goals.

Posture often reflects the life events people have had to deal with and sometimes correction of posture can take a long time and input from several practitioners, plus personal ownership. I’ve found over the years people who get involved in their healing rather than expecting someone else to fix them, get significantly better results than those who expect to be fixed.

Make a decision now to have the best posture possible and reap the benefits.

 

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