How your spine gets stuck and how to free yourself from fixations or subluxations”

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So there is a word I don’t know - What is a subluxation?

A subluxation is a word chiropractors have used for over 100 years to describe an area of restriction in the spine that is an indicator of reduced nervous system function.

There are two types:

1.       A structural subluxation is where one vertebra (bone) is stuck or misplaced.

2.       A meningeal subluxation is where a whole block of vertebrae (bones) move as one, or appear stuck together.

When your chiropractor starts each session they will run they hands down your spine. Notice that some areas appear like blocks of stuck and other areas just one bone feels stuck.

What causes subluxation?

Structural subluxations tend to be caused by physical events such as falls, accidents or poor posture.

Meningeal subluxations tend to be caused by emotional and mental stress such as life events, problems at work or home, or from chemical trauma such as poor diet, smoking, or excessive alcohol or caffeine.

Indicators of subluxation include pain (not always), restricted motion of neck, low back or limbs and reduced nerve function.

Ask yourself:

How does your life affect the structure in your spine or posture? How do you feel at the end of the day? How much energy do you have? How does your body feel? What is your emotional/mental state like?

How do your diet impact on how you feel? Do certain foods or drinks knock your energy or make you emotional?

And how does your emotional/mental state affect your body? Do your internal voices and feelings have an impact on how you hold yourself? Your posture? You sense of wellbeing?

So what can you do to bring more ease and function to your spine and hence to your body?

The respiratory wave of NSA care is a great strategy to help you connect and release tension in the spine. It develops naturally in the early stages of Network Chiropractic. Try to be aware of it when you are on a bench. Ask to have it pointed out in others if you don’t feel it and are not sure what you are looking for.

Tension can is best healed from the inside, and the aim is for you to reach a state of peace or ease. Notice how your body relaxes and starts to heal as Network Care progresses.

Becoming Empowered to do this yourself?

Somato Respiratory Integration is a great tool you can learn yourself. It’s taught mainly in workshops in the office, and will empower you to become more healthy. The first Stage is all about finding internal resources in your body. If you haven’t already attended a workshop, check the notice board in the office or the Calendar for the next dates.

The Respiratory Wave and the Stage 1 SRI exercises are important during this process to help the brain to reorganise itself at a higher level of function.

Becoming aware is an important step to increase your self-healing capacities

Introduction to SRI - an Exercise you can practice now

 Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor and become aware of your spine. Do any areas feel restricted? Observe your breath. Where does it go in your torso? Observe how your torso moves. If you have a sense of energy in your body, observe that.

Ask the following questions:

  •  How does it feel?

  •  Does it move when you breathe?

  •  Do you feel relaxed or solid?

  •  Are there areas that are difficult to bring awareness to?

  •  As you bring attention and awareness to your spine, what changes?

 

Questions and key observations to deepen the season of discovery on this subject

  •  Are you aware of where you have subluxations or restrictions in your spine, independent of pain?

  • How do your current habits create/reduce subluxation in your spine?

    • Posture

    • Diet

    • Emotions

    • Mental stresses

  •  What can you change currently to help your body heal?

  • ·What can you not change currently to help your body heal?

Become aware of how your life influences your spine and celebrate your increasing awareness

 

 

 

Is there a gift in hurting my back ?

It’s a question that comes up on a fairly regular basis and can sound very different depending on who is asking?

It can be - why me? Why is this happening to me now? What’s wrong with me?

Or - what am I supposed to learn from this? What is my back pain telling me?

Or even - is there a gift in this? Will I look back and be grateful for this pain?

In honesty, all questions are totally viable and the answers can vary hugely.

For some people, pain is a wake up to start looking after their body properly. To listen to the subtle signals, to stop ignoring the small calls of irriation from your low back that have actually been there for years, but have been ignored on the assumption that they will just go away on their own. That was very much my experience. After over a decade of low grade back pain, I injured my back properly playing hockey. It would be easy to blame the hockey, but the reality is that my back had been playing up for a long time, the small injury I got on the hockey pitch just tipped me over, going from chronic niggling pain to OMG how do I get out of the car it hurts so much.

For others pain is wake up call in a time of emotional or mental stress. Life may have become too fast, to full, to intense for your body to handle. There may be stress at work, someone important maybe sick, one of your children may need more of your time than you feel you can give, a whole host of reasons, and consequently you are not looking after yourself enough. And pain may be the thing that calls you back to your body and reminds you that you also need to be cared for.

And sometimes there is a huge gift in the pain. When you look back, you may see it as a turning point in your life. You may realize that it was the call you needed to change careers, to end a traumatic relationship, to honour who you are and your needs. The list is endless. It’s a bit like people who say “oh the illness was the best thing that ever happened to me”.

But I’m in Pain now, what do I do Are you seriously telling me I shoudl be grateful?

From my experience, when we are in the pain it can be very difficult to see any benefit and most people don’t ask or enquire. They just deal wit the pain. But if you are in the middle of it, coming out of pain or well beyond pain there are some questions that can be worth asking….

  • What does/did the pain stop me from doing?

  • What does / did the pain allow me to do that I wasn’t doing before?

  • How do / did I feel about this pain?

  • What feelings do / did I have to experience that I otherwise would not have?

  • How has my life changed in the short / long term?

If I reflect on these questions myself, my first big episode of back pain got me to my first chiropractor. I felt so helpless and fearful that it would stop me doing the things I loved. However, it opened the door for me to a whole new world - alternative health, chiropractic and ultimately to the healing work I do now. I’m so phenomenally grateful. Did I reach that state quickly - no way! It has been a journey.

So if you are asking - why me? Try to look at it from a different angle? See if there are any benefits however small. It’s happening whether you like it or not. It will probably change you, and only you have the choice as to how you respond, what you learn and how you grow…. or not.

The One Relationship that Lasts Your Whole Life.......

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Relationship with your body is the one relationship that lasts your whole life.

Relationships affect us on a daily basis, and most of us pay attention to how we relate to our family, our spouse or partner, our friends, colleagues and pretty much everyone come into contact with. But how many of us prioritize our relationship with our own body?

Our bodies are amazing!

When I look back on the abuse I put my body through, especially in my late teens and 20’s, with too much partying, not enough sleep, probably enough exercise and certainly no thought, I am sometimes amazed at how good my health is now. But our body is designed to be healthy, and designed to recover from trauma and injury be it accidental or self-infliecte. Anyone who remembers SuperSize Me, knows that healing is possible.

But as I grow older, it has made me reflect on how little I paid attention and what the consequences of not looking after my body, compared to now.

What does it mean to “have a relationship with my body?”

You can have several different kinds of relationships with your body including:

  • Conflictual – I want to do something but my body lets me down, or I judge my body, it’s the wrong shape or size, it disappoints me

  • Distant – I ignore my body, I don’t listen to it’s signals, I don’t honour my body’s needs such as basics like nutritious food, exercise, sunlight, rest and instead power through with mental energy

  • Congruent – I recognize that there is wisdom, information, inner guidance and knowing and I listen to my inner voice and act respond

It’s not like you have to listen all the time, but most of the time would be a good idea. We all have times when our body let’s us down a bit, or we ignore the call from our body to do something different like take a break. But if you want to be the best you can be, there is a lot to be said for having a congruent relationship with your body.

Many still follow the old thinking that body and mind are separate, yet without a body the mind has no where to go. How do you relate to your body and does anything need to change?

If you want to change and improve your relationship to your body, you can explore your relationship with your body through our Somato Respiratory Integration workshops and with Network Spinal Analysis, our chiropractic approach.

Why do I sometimes feel tired after a Network Chiropractic session?

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It’s a question that I get asked on a fairly regular basis, so it seems a good topic to address.

I’ve found over the many years that there are several reasons, and it can be good to reflect on what is going on for you. I’m going to talk in terms of personality traits because it’s an easy way of shining a light on things..

1.       The Type A Personality

Are you someone who has to get everything done, and done well? You may push yourself to spend the extra time at work or in your relationships to make things as good as you possibly can. You will keep going even when you are very tired. You ignore the calls from your body to stop, to rest and to take time for yourself.

Your body is probably running in stress physiology a lot of the time. You use your mind to keep going and going and going. You ignore the calls for sleep and push on through.

After a Network Adjustment you may say things like, “o great, my pain is reducing but why is it making me so tired?” or “I don’t have time to sleep, I’ve got things I have to do”

 

2.       Supermum

You are the ultimate mother type (you can be a man and still have this trait). You look after everyone one except yourself and your needs come last.

You have one Network Adjustment and your whole body screams – I’m going to bed. You may listen, you may not, but you know you need to.

3.       The Personal Growth “addict”

You are determined to be the best version of you possible, at work at home and you do loads of different things to ensure you are constantly growing and improving. Your Network adjustments are part of this journey.

Most of the time you feel more energized, creative, adaptable and able to do stuff. But every now and then you’ll have an adjustment that puts you in bed or you finish the session feeling very tired.

4.       Chronic Pain or Poor Health

You’ve been in pain or struggling with poor health for too long. Your body responds to Network adjustments by making you even more tired and you sleep like you haven’t slept in many years.

In some ways I would explain all of these responses in a similar way, but with a slightly different slant on it.

One part of the purpose behind the Network Adjustment is to make you more aware of what is going on in your body. So often we ignore the call to sleep, we push on, we focus on what needs to be done, or we have no choice but to push on. And then this deep need to rest and recuperate becomes a conscious need and we feel as tired as we truly are. And we sleep or try to sleep.

There is another scenario that I believe can make us feel very tired, and this can come early or further into Network care, and this is that every time a contact is made on the body, your bodymind makes more connections and learns something. And sometimes, we get very tired mentally. You know how it feels when you’re studying for exams and you can hit a point where you feel like your “mind is full”. I’ve sometimes had that kind of feeling after a pretty intense Network session, where I just want to take myself off and integrate what is changing in my body. I often don’t want to be with others, but more to be on my own, maybe walk in nature or just sit quietly someone and not interact with anyone else. This is not so much exposing that I’m tired and I’m ignoring it, just that more energy is required to grow than maybe I had available and my body says – “go recharge” – and for me, nature is one of the best recharges I know.

There is another scenario that is the one that is hardest to spot (for me at least) which is when we connect to our body and discover that we need to make a change to how we live our life and we know this change is true, but we prefer the comfort of where we are. Often a story will show up along the lines of “it’s too hard, I don’t have the energy, it’s not possible…. “ and we will slowly slip back into the way we were before and find a way of making it ok.

If this one is making sense to you, you can use stages 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 to explore it, connecting to the part of you that doesn’t want to change as a starting point or the part that is exhausted or the part that is angry/frustrated that change is needed.

So it’s great to ask – am I tired because I haven’t stopped enough, because I need a holiday or to take more time for myself, or am I tired because I’m being challenged to change and the stretch it just a big bigger than I felt ready for? Both questions ask you to do something different, to change, to become aware and to listen?

And more importantly, if you’re tired - listen to your body. This will pass as your body heals and changes.

Whatever the cause – sleep well.

How Fear Affects Your Body and What to do about it

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Whether you’re pro-Brexit or against, the reporting in the media seems to be creating so much fear in people currently. And it’s showing up in people’s bodies and in their language in ways that I’ve not seen for a long time.

So how do you know you’re affected? What are the signs that you’re more fearful than normal?

When I talk to my clients and also observe how their bodies are, I’m observing several things currently.

  1. More people seem close to tears than normal
    Notice if you are more easily upset that normal. Do you feel like crying, when you'r logical brain says there is no reason to.

  2. Old symptoms seem to be coming back for no reason
    If you can’t explain your pain, it is probably because you’re tensing up unconsciously and “activating your weak spots”.

  3. You can’t switch your brain off at night
    Lots of people are reporting weird dreams, busy brains, thoughts, unexplained worries.

  4. Your Anxiety Levels are Up
    This is the most easily attributable to Brexit. So many people are worried about the uncertainty, about what may never happen, and it’s infectious. It’s like you can catch “fear and worry”.

So what to do?

The first think to do is to observe yourself. Are you more irritable than normal? Are you worrying? Are you fixated on the news? Is your body tense, tight or painful? Is it more so than normal? Are you consciously worrying about Brexit?

The best things I know for releasing tension from your body are:

  1. exercise - something you enjoy

  2. get out in nature

  3. spend time with a friend and consciously talk about things you are interested in and bring you pleasure / avoid people who just want to talk “fear”

  4. watch the news with caution, checking in with how it makes you feel (mind and body)

  5. meditation - great for calming mind and body

  6. somato-respiratory integration (if you don’t know this, come to a Discover workshop)

  7. Get adjusted - NSA Chiropractic helps to take stress out of your body, calming body and mind


But I need pain relief NOW

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Many people consult a chiropractor for pain, and of those the majority have often had the pain for a long time, often months, more often years. And question that get’s asked all the time is “how soon will I be fixed?”

And that is probably the most difficult question to answer, but I’m going to do my best.

What are your goals?

For some people the goals are simply to get rid of pain, and they are looking for the person who can do this for them, for the least amount of time and money. I get it. No one wants to spend money if they don’t need to.

For other, they want to get out of pain and then do what they need to keep the pain at bay.

The third group want to get out of pain and get to the bottom of what was causing the pain and change it.

Short Term Fix or Long Term Solution?

For most people with simple spinal pain, by which I mean pain that does not involved radiating or nerve pain and there is nothing to suggest a disc injury, you can often get a lot of pain relief in a short time, weeks, even occasionally days. When their is disc involvement, this usually takes considerably longer and that is very much on a case by case basis.

Short Term Solutions

Most people who have a short burst of care, will get considerable if not total resolution from their pain. However, many of this group will experience a re-occurrence of their symptoms at a future date, as they didn’t change the pattern in their body that was creating the pain, they just reduced the intensity of the signal from their back to their brain.

Longer Term Solutions

Many people who work on a longer term basis, not only experience far less pain, they also experience many other benefits as their bodies often unwind years of tension and stress. The big research study on NSA from the 90’s showed people improving physically, emotionally, mentally, overall quality of life and ability to handle stress.

Stress and Healthy Habits

People report that they handle stress better on such a regular basis, I almost take it for granted that it will happen. Also commonly reported, and backed up in the research is many people report spontaneously adopting healthier habits after a few months of Network care. Cool, don’t you think? It’s like your body is saying - please behave more healthy, because I want you to.

But I need pain relief now!

Sometimes you are lucky. Your body still has enough resources that a few sessions of Network will make a huge difference. Most people report improvements after their first session, but a small percentage get worse before they get better.

My advice is don’t let problems become chronic, don’t let the patterns of pain become a habit. But hindsight is always there, and most of us will wait until we are nearly broken and then turn up.

Whether your problem is new or chronic, you are welcome to call and get assessed and we’ll do everything we can to get your body healing again.

Healing from Back Pain - what's the best way?

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This is a question that I get asked quite often, it goes something along the lines of “I still have a bit of sciatica, it’s not massively painful but it wakes me at night sometimes and I don’t know what to do. What would you recommend?”

So I got asked this yesterday, and this is the answer I came up with…..

So pain tells you that something is wrong in your body. Something needs to change, because currently you’re getting messages from your body. The question is - do you need help or can you do it yourself?

What stops you from healing?

That’s what we all want to be able to do. We want a body that is resourceful enough that when we get injured, our body knows what to do and can heal from the injury.

Three questions:

  • Will this go away on it’s own?

  • If not - Can I do this on my own or do I need help?

  • And if I’m going to do it on my own, how do I increase my internal resources so that heal better?

There are three areas that I believe impact on our ability to heal. These are:

  • physical stresses/activities

  • nutritional status

  • mental status

1 Physical Stresses: include so many things. How much we sit, how much we move, any exercise program we do (or don’t do). The important thing to ask are:

  • Do my daily activities aggravate or support healing?

  • Do I need to do more exercise such as stretching, strength work, core work or cardio?

  • Do I need to do less?

If rest is the answer, most people will heal within a few weeks. If symptoms are still there, it’s probably not going to totally go away on it’s own

2 Chemical Stresses

Most people don’t know what I mean when I say this. What I’m talking about is a combination of the nutrition we take in or don’t take in (including foods and supplements) with respect to our bodies needs.

Many of us are deficient in nutrients, not because we eat a bad diet, but because so much of our food is nutrient deficient nowadays. To truly promote healing you need to put healthy fuel in your body. Whether you like it or not, “you are what you eat” rings true.

I find many people with chronic pain that is not healing need to up their anti-oxidants, increase fruit and veg, reduce/remove all processed foods from their diet (these are nearly always inflammatory in nature), reduce alcohol and/or caffeine and to drink more water. Some people improve hugely when they clean up their diet. It may be obvious to you what you are eating and it may be simple to change (though will power required).

3 Mental Status

Now I’m not talking psychiatric conditions here, if you think you have a mental illness you need to talk to a registered medical professional with expertise in this area. What I’m talking about it how you think, and how that impacts on your health.

Many people approach pain with the intention of getting rid of it, numbing it, ignoring it and often have a whole host of negative emotions around it. I believe that you need to listen to your pain, engage with it and work out what needs to change so that it can heal.

At a simple level the first thing that is important is to have goal that is bigger than your pain. For example most people want:

  • less pain

  • sleep without pain

  • sit without pain

  • to be able to do the things I was doing before the pain (yes they want to be exactly how they were just before the pain started)

If you set goals that make you grow and change, your body is usually far better at listening to you, for example:

  • I want to be able to run 3 miles

  • I want to increase my flexibility

  • I want to change my activity levels to support my health

  • I want to feel energized

Look at your internal dialogue. If all you’re saying is “please go away, I feel helpless, I don’t know what do it, why is it happening to me”, something needs to change.

Our SRI workshops can be an excellent starting point to connecting to your pain, finding internal healing resources you didn’t even know existed and reclaiming your personal power with respect to your healing.

And sometimes you can’t do this alone. You need the input from a good chiropractor or similar, who can work with you to get the results you want. If that’s you, give me a call or drop me an email. And if you already work with me, are you doing everything you can to support your body to heal?

What is your Happiness Threshold?

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Most people forget or never knew that your Nervous System not only coordinates all your joints and muscles, but it also has a huge impact on your mood, your thoughts and feelings.

We all subconsciously know this because we can see the impact of stress on our posture (take Theresa May for example, her posture is collapsing under the stress of Brexit). And at a more personal level, try feeling really miserable and then stand up very straight, stretch your arms out to the side and throw your head back. Now try to feel really miserable. It’s remarkably hard I know.

But what made me ask the question about happiness?

Party because so many of my clients have happiness as one of their goals…..

I’ve just been on a skiing holiday. Now although I’m sporty, I’ve come to skiing very late in my life so I’m not very good. I go away with a ski club so that I can ski with people of my level, whilst my husband who is an excellent skier goes off with the advanced group. This year I chose to ski with a very experienced skier who was nearly 30 years my senior. And through her I got the big “aha”…..

"Happiness comes from Making Progress”

What do I mean by Progress?

For the first time ever, I managed to get down a Black run and actually enjoy the experience. I wasn’t terrified, I skied it technically quite well, though slower than my friend. It felt amazing because I could see and experience the progress I was making. And every day last week I learnt something new. I did things that a few years ago would have put me into serious fear and distress.

How to mess up Happiness…

So if my goal had been to ski as well as my husband last week would have been depressing, a total failure and not a pleasurable experience. The reality is, it’s unlikely I’ll never ski to his level, he started over 40 years ago.

So how do we make our happiness threshold unattainable? Usually it’s out mind that messes us up - the perfection gene is what I call it. It’s that little voice that either sets totally unrealistic standards and then beats you up when you don’t achieve them, or even if you making progress finds someone else to compare you to and says “but they are doing better than you…..”

Do you recognise that voice?

How to Achieve Progress and hence lower your Happiness Threshold?

There is a balance here. It’s tempting to set super easy goals and then you achieve everything. However, if your goals are too easy, sooner or later you’ll get bored and then the fun will go out.

I set myself the challenge this year to ski with different people and be open to new experiences and challenge. I did have one day where I scared myself on a red run by going way faster than I was capable of and being out of control. I recovered by holding my nerve and didn’t fall or injure myself or thankfully anyone else. I learnt from it because I was still on the edge of my comfort zone, but beyond it to be honest.

So set yourself goals that are going to stretch you, but are also achievable. Skiing with others was a realistic goal, what I didn’t know was would it stretch me. Because I put challenge in my goals, I got exactly what I asked for. New people, challenge and a huge amount of happiness and pleasure.

I’m curious to hear how other people experience this? Do ask yourself - what is my happiness threshold and how can I lower it realistically?

What else can I do?

  1. Notice when you make progress and how it makes you feel

  2. Observe how often you sabotage happiness, it’s probably more than you think

  3. Practice somato respiratory integration Stage 1 daily to check in with your internal state

  4. Get your nervous system checked by a holistic chiropractor or other health based practitioner and make sure your posture supports who you are and who you want to be.

Setting Your Health Goals for 2019?

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So January is here. Have you set your New Years Resolutions yet? Are you doing a “dry January”? Have you joined a gym (again) to try and get fit? How are you bringing in the New Year?

Personally, I used to set “resolutions” every year, and then spend January working out how I was going to break them and feeling what really mattered to me. And generally within a few weeks, they’d all be forgotten until the next year.

But what about health resolutions?

Obviously my passion is health and wellbeing. It’s my work, it’s a big part of my life. I spend time outside of work reading research on nutrition, listening to podcasts on the latest research. It’s definitely “more than a job” to me.

A question that comes up for me over and over regarding health is how to achieve my goals around my health. So having talked to many people over several decades about health goals, most of you included, I wanted to remind you of some of the principles that make the biggest difference:

1.       Make sure you state what you want, not what you don’t want!

Do you know how many people write goals along the lines of:

i)                    Lose Weight

ii)                   Get out of pain

iii)                 Stop beating myself up

The problem with this is you’re focusing on losing something, but the brain hears:

i)                    Weight

ii)                   Pain

iii)                 Beating myself up

 

2.       What do I want to be able to do?

So the first thing is to decide what you want, not what you don’t want.

I’ve also found a great way of looking at my health is look at what I want to be able to do. For example personally, I still play hockey at least once a week. To do that and get the most from it I need to be fit, focused, my back needs to be flexible and strong and I need a clear head (because at my age, I cannot play hockey well if I’m fuzzy or hungover).

So what do you want to be able to do? And how does your body need to be to achieve that?

3.       Ask yourself - how do I want to feel/how do I want to think?

Another area I find really helps me to set my goals is to ask this question. Because personally that’s really important for me too? Because true wellness is not just about my physical body, it’s about my emotional state, my mental state and my spirit. So knowing what I want in all of these areas helps.

 I want to feel relaxed, at ease but also energized and motivated. I want to feel happy, satisfied and excited. And I want to make a difference in the lives of others. And to do that, I have to look after my body to the best of my ability so that I have the capacity to give more.

 So ask yourself:

  1.   How do I want to feel? Physically? Emotionally?

  2. What does my mental state need to be like?

  3. Do I have things that are bigger than me that I want to achieve?

 
4.       Participate in achieving your Goals

I personally believe that a healthy functioning nervous system (through a healthy, functioning spine) takes you a long way towards any health goals. And NSA is one approach that will take you a long way in that direction.

I also know that you have to feel self-empowered, which is where the SRI comes in.

But there is more to wellness than NSA and SRI. What you eat, what you think and how much you move/exercise will also make a difference.

So what do you need to do in 2019 to help move you forwards to a better, healthier version of you?

So if there were a recipe for me to achieve my health goals in 2019 it would contain elements of all of the following:

  • Food/nutrition

  • Exercise

  • what I think/emotional state (SRI or other modalities that empower me)

  • regular care of my spine and nervous system (NSA or subluxation based chiropractic)

  • Things I really enjoy doing that bring me pleasure

  • Things that make a difference to others 

Have fun creating a healthy 2019.

When to Choose Alternative or Mainstream Healthcare for Neuro-Muscular-Pain?

It’s a question that many of us ask. I like most people was brought up to believe that the Doctor is always right, and that medicine will have an answer to all of my ills. My experience has taught me otherwise, but I know for many they will always default to their GP.

I’m personally a big fan of mainstream healthcare. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in my early 20’s and without medicine, I would be long under. However with my back problems, wrist injuries and sports injuries I’ve not had the same success, which was a big factor in why I ended up retraining as a chiropractor in my late 20’s.

I’m going to focus on neuro-musculo-skeletal problems, though this process can be applied to many areas of health. Just use common sense, and you’ll usually find a good solution.

So what questions could you ask when deciding where to get help with different types of he?

My first question is always - is this life threatening in the short term. If the answer is yes, then go to A&E. Some conditions need medical intervention and they need it NOW. Fractures need to be diagnosed and x-rays do the job quickly and cheaply. For a bad whiplash, it’s always worth getting checked over in A&E first for example, because an unstable or fracture neck could lead to paralysis or even death. And medics are very good at putting you back together when surgical intervention is the short term need.

So I’m alive, nothing is going to kill me, but I’m in lots of pain. What is best?

I’ve had a few severe pain episodes in my life - I damaged a disc in my low back in my 20’s and I had a frozen shoulder a few years back. Both were crippling painful and neither were life threatening, though both potentially “quality of life” threatening.

My questions when it comes to solutions are mainly around the longer term, because I can handle a bit of short term pain. So whatever the intervention I want to know the following:

  • what are the side effects and the consequences of the side effects?

  • how will that affect my pain levels in the short/long term?

  • how will this affect my overall well-being and ability to function in the longer term

Pain killers are most peoples first choice because then life can pretty much carry on as usual, assuming they work.

Here are my concerns around Pain Killers:

  • they numb a problem, leading to potential of more damage

  • they don’t fix the solution, they’re a bit like taking the oil light out of the dashboard instead of changing the oil

  • many painkillers have side effects ranging from gut problems,liver problems, or even mental health problems. You need to know what they are and look out for them. Recent studies have even shown that every day pain killers such as paracetamol are linked to a reduction in the ability to feel empathy, scary I thought. So do your research. Some people also get addicted and getting off the drugs becomes a huge problem.

So let’s assume you’re looking beyond pain killers for a longer term solution. The mainstream approach is physiotherapy, which on the NHS usually means exercises. Exercises are great as far as I’m concerned, as long as they are taught properly and are done to the frequency advised. This works well for many simple back problems, often movement is at least part of the solution.

Alternative Professions

Then you come to the alternative options - or put another way - the options you’ll have to pay for out of your own pocket. You can chose from so many nowadays from Chiropractic, Osteopathy to Spiritual Healing or Reiki. I could list so many.

Here are the questions I always ask?

What are the short and long term goals of the practitioner?

If their whole focus is on pain relief, that may be great, but sometimes this becomes a patch-up, not a long term solution and symptoms rapidly come back

Will I become more resourceful as a result of this?

Having an injury or pain is rubbish, but it can also be an opportunity. Depending on whether you working with a practitioner or the practitioner is “doing to you” can make a big difference. So find out how the practitioner will empower you to be more healthy, more resourceful and more prepared for the future.

We teach everyone Somato-Respiratory Integration (SRI), which is a bodymind approach that uses breath, movement and energy to become more aware of what is going on in your body. With practice, people learn how to release tight, tense areas and how to be more in their personal power. It returns some control to the healing process. Many report feeling that being involved in their journey is one of the most important things to them. We combine SRI with our chiropractic approach, and together get better results.

What are the side effects?

Side effects is a description coined by the medical industry to describe unwelcome events that can happen from medication. Read up on your meds, it’s your body and your responsibility to understand what might happen.

Time is also a big one - many exercise programs require a big commitment to get results, sometimes x3 per day, and many people struggle to put this in, usually resulting in poor results. So if you don’t have the time available you need to look elsewhere.

I’ve found that there are even many positive side effects associated with some interventions.

So what positive side effects can you expect from Network Chiropractic?

In a big retrospective study of nearly 3000, it was found that over 70% people experienced improvements in ALL of the following areas.

  • physical health

  • emotional/mental health

  • life enjoyment

  • stress handling

  • overall quality of life

People also reported spontaneously adopting healthier life style choices without any effort, such as dietary and exercise choices.

So it appears that working with your spine and nervous system, is so much more than just “fixing” your back pain.

So whatever intervention you choose, it’s good to know what the long and short term outcomes are.

Be safe, do your research and make a choice that suits you. I’ve used both mainstream and alternative approaches with lots of success (and some pretty horrible mess ups) and if I had my time again, I’d ask more questions and do it differently.

If I summarise - if it’s not an emergency, often meds are not the best solution. It’s still your choice though. Do whatever works best for you.

How can I help myself heal?

This is a question that comes up on a regular basis in the office, so here are my thoughts.

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There are the things I think of as obvious, which you may or may not have thought of. I’m going to cover 4 areas, so scroll down to whatever interests you most.

  1. What you eat

  2. Exercise

  3. What you think

  4. How you relate to your body - exercises to increase awareness and connection

What you Eat

This is probably not the first place you might go, but it’s important. Depending on what needs to heal in your body, this will vary a bit, but the essence of this is that if you eat good, healthy, nutritional food, your body is better set up for healing.

By that I mean lots of vegetables and fruit, high quality protein and good quality fats (the research is starting to show that saturated fat is not as bad as we thought, the real culprit are trans-fats - which are not real food - such as margarine).

If you are in a lot of pain, you may want to reduce inflammatory foods and drinks from your diet. These include (not exclusive) red meats, wheat/gluten, dairy, alcohol, sugar and processed foods, and caffeine. If you feel you need support on this, find a good nutritional therapist, naturopath or other health professional well trained in nutrition to guide you.

Exercise

Now pain levels can really get in the way of this, but let’s assume your pain is manageable or going. It’s really important to move, because as humans we are designed to move, and most of us don’t move enough.

Find things that you enjoy and also challenge you, but not too much. People often ask me if I prefer yoga or pilates? I actually find it’s a personal choice and very much related to the teacher. So try several classes and find someone you like doing something you enjoy. Because if you don’t enjoy it, it will never become part of your routine unless you have an iron will.

What you Think

How can this help you may be asking. I find people who are totally focused on pain, tend to take longer to heal than people who are focused on what they want to do once they have healed. If all your focus is on what’s wrong with you, you have a different experience of your body than those who focus on what they can do and what they can do next.

Try this. Stand up and observe your body. If you have a sense of energy focus on it. Or observe your posture, how you stand, how you feel. Then say out loud “What’s wrong with me?” and observe your body response. Then say out loud “what’s right with me?”. Observe your body.

Most people notice that the energy goes down on the first question and the posture collapses a bit. On the second question, energy goes up and there is a straightening or expansion of the posture.

There are obviously many more questions you can ask, such as “what would help me most in this moment to heal?”, “what will I do differently as I heal?”. Find your own questions. But be very aware, if your internal dialogue is along the lines of “what’s wrong with me, I’m broken, this is never going to end, I’m doomed, I’ll never heal” - you are not working with your body but against it.

Somato-Respiratory Integration (SRI)

SRI is a body approach that enables you to get more internally resourceful. It is based on the 12 Stages of Healing written by Donny Epstein, which discusses 12 states of human consciousness. Each state has it’s own posture, behaviours and perception or experience of the body.

Many people run their body’s from the first two stages.

Stage 1: Disconnection, helplessness and suffering - we don’t believe we have any control over how our body is, everything happens to us and we feel broken. By using the Stage 1 exercise however, we start to discover internal resources we didn’t know we had. We stop being a victim to whatever happened and find new resources and start to heal. We then move into Stage 2.

Stage 2: Polarity - When we get to this stage we have more energy, enough energy in fact to look for help or to look for someone or something to blame. We often find the “magic healer or chiropractor” in this stage and put all the responsibility on her to fix us. We are still not taking responsibility for our own body, but at least we are doing something about it. We often have a story about why this has happened and are blaming someone or something for our pain and suffering.

Stage 3: Stuckness or Frustration - this is where we get to as we heal a bit more and realise that we are stuck in a pattern. We’ve still been blaming others or circumstance and deep down we know that we have to change inside, because we have something to do with our suffering. Many people at this point fall back into Stage 1 and feel disconnected and suffer, or go big time into blame and get angry and put it all on the therapist, the person who hurt them, or just anyone they can throw their anger at. Because as long as they stay angry and in blame mode, they don’t have to take responsibiltiy for what is happening in their body.

In stage 3 we connect to the patterns within us that have held us in this loop. We engage with our body in a different way. Because we have had enough, and as the energy builds we start to move into Stage 4. Stage 4 is where we start to fully engage and take responsibility for our healing. We know that we have to change, which may mean our diet, our exercise patterns, our outlook on life. We just know that it is time and we are going to do it.

To read more on the 12 Stages click here.

If you want to learn the first three stages (or the higher stages), check the Events page to find out when the next workshop is and book in.

Can the Mediterranean Diet Slow Aging?

With so many “new” diets being touted as the solution to the health crisis, it’s good to be reminded of the Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet is one that is high in fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, olive oil, nuts and seeds, with moderate dairy, fish and some meat, washed down with a glass of wine.

In a series of 6 studies, the main indicator of health benefits was found to be how well the diet was adhered to, with better scores coming from the groups that followed the diet better. These groups showed healthier aging scores, ie they aged better.

Another conclusion from the studies was that Co-enzyme Q10 supplementation also enhanced healthy aging.

However, no one has as yet been able to explain why it works. But if you are going to follow a diet, it’s a great one to follow because there are so many fantastic things you can eat.

Reference: JGerontolABiolSciMedSci, 2018; 73: 315-54

High Cholesterol and Alzheimers - new research

The cholesterol debate continues, with scientists split as to whether cholesterol is good or bad. With more and more people choosing not to medicate, but try diet and other means, this article may be of interest…

In a recent study, high cholesterol was shown to protect the brain as we age. It noted that in very elderly people who had high cholesterol, this group is the least likely group to develop dementia and suffer mental decline

Reference: AlzheimersDement, 2018 Mar 1

How does having Back Pain affect your Intimate Relationships?

Three difference institutes have come to the same conclusion - hold hands or empathize with a loved one when are in pain and it will have a pain relieving effect.

The more your brains sync, the greater the effect.

22 couples (minimum 1 year together) were wired up to EEG (electro encephalography) to measure brain signals whilst sitting together but not touching, or whilst sitting in separate rooms. Even being together started the brains synching and hand holding increased it.

However if one partner was in pain and they didn’t touch, the brain synching reduced, as did heart synchronisation and breathing.

It appears pain interrupts interpersonal synchronisation between couples, and touch brings it back. Another thing that reduced pain was the degree of empathy felt by the pain free partner. More empathy equated to better pain relief.

Researchers admitted they didn’t understand why or whether similar results were achievable with people who were not a couple.

This research brings up all kinds of questions for those who have suffered with long term pain and how it may have affected their intimate relationships. If pain interrupts the connection between couples, that is going to impact on so many part of their lives. And touch appears to be the solution. So if your partner is in pain, touch them gently and empathize. You may be able to do so much more than you think.

Reference: ProcNatlAcadSciUSA, 2018; 115: 2528-2537

Does your Phone Run Your Life?

We live in an age where most of us check our phones pretty constantly. And it can feel like an obsession….

So what can you do to reduce the appeal of your phone and bring you more into the real world.

  1. Turn off the Vibration
    A new syndrome called “Phantom" Vibration Syndrome” has been coined, in fact a 2012 study showed that 89% of students had experienced this. It’s though that this contributes to distractability so turn it off, then it can’t happen.

  2. Have Phone Rules
    You probably wouldn’t dream of leaving your phone if you were at a funeral, but you’d be surprised when people think it’s ok to answer a phone. I’ve seen people answer their phone during their chiropractic session, during a theatre visit and people (though I have no experience of this) are known to check their phones during moments of intimacy.
    Simple rules might include: turn it off during meals, when out with friends, never use it in the bedroom, or turn it off at 9pm. The use of technology is linked to poor sleep after all.

  3. Turn it to GreyScale
    Apparently this works like computer games. If it’s grey it’s less appealing to use. Go online and find out how to turn your device grey.

And if you’re still hooked to your phone and are starting to develop “Text Neck” or “Computer Neck”, make sure you get your spine checked regularly so that you aren’t storing up spinal problems for the future.

Reference: Comput.Human Behav, 2012; 28:1490-96

Could Vitamin D help prevent Colds and Flu?

A recent research study has shown that daily or weekly dosage of Vitamin D can help protect again colds and flu. The study, published in the BMJ, was a participant data meta-analysis of 25 randomized controlled trials including over 11,000 participants.

We associate Vitamin D with bone health, but low vitamin D levels are also associated with increased susceptibility to acute respiratory infections, or put more simply – colds and flu.

The study found that people with the lowest levels of Vitamin D in their blood got the most benefits, cutting their risk by almost half, but that all participants received some benefit from Vitamin D supplementation. Administration of periodic high dosage Vitamin D appeared to have no benefits.

Colds and flu are a big drain on the NHS in winter. If you think you are at risk, you may want to consider adding vitamin D to your daily or weekly routine.

References
Adrian R Martineau, David A Jolliffe, Richard L Hooper, Lauren Greenberg, John F Aloia, Peter Bergman, Gal Dubnov-Raz, Susanna Esposito, Davaasambuu Ganmaa, Adit A Ginde, Emma C Goodall, Cameron C Grant, Christopher J Griffiths, Wim Janssens, Ilkka Laaksi, Semira Manaseki-Holland, David Mauger, David R Murdoch, Rachel Neale, Judy R Rees, Steve Simpson, Iwona Stelmach, Geeta Trilok Kumar, Mitsuyoshi Urashima, Carlos A Camargo. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant dataBMJ, 2017; i6583 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.i6583

Why does Back Pain "come from no where"?

I’ve had this conversation a thousand times….. it goes something like this…

“Well I’ve had the odd grumble in my back before, but all I did was bend over to pick up the paper and BOOM my back went…it just doesn’t make sense”

What they did varies but this happens over and over and over.

So was really going on, and can this be applied to most people?

What shows up first?

When you actually get down to it, most people with rapid onset low back pain had plenty of warning signals. They often have a history of low grade back pain. They just hoped it would go away (because normally it does), or they were too busy with life to stop and rest or change the activities that were aggravating. Or sometimes, life just simply doesn’t allow us to stop.

If you examine the spines of most people you will find tension and areas of the spine that are either very tight or don’t move properly. Most people actually have areas in their spine that aren’t working to full capacity. So actually, spinal dysfunction often shows up way before the painful injury. But most people are aware of it to some degree in that they may feel a reduction in flexibility or certain things become harder to do, or they feel “stiff and old”. It’s very individual.

And what we tend to do with low grade irritation is we ignore it or take painkillers. We rarely see it as something that should be sorted out before it becomes a problem.

So what triggers the injury? What is the tipping point?

Many people with an acute injury have just gone through or are in the midst of multiple stresses in their life. It may be emotional such as illness or loss of a loved one. It may be work stress, with pressure to perform or earn. Or postural stress with a body not coping with hours at the computer or driving for too many hours. A poor diet lacking in vitamins and minerals can also be a stressor, as can obesity. Lack of exercise, over excising or the wrong kinds of exercise can also put inappropriate stresses on the spine.

So over time tension and dysfunction builds up in the spine. But we are amazingly good at adapting and some people will go for years without experiencing symptoms, and then BOOM!

So what can you do?

  1. Stop. Pay Attention. Listen to your Body.

  2. Find a healthcare professional, such as a chiropractor, who is an expert in the spine and can help you to heal from the injury, not simply mask the pain with drugs and hope it will go away. Because function is rarely restored without changing how your body works. And painkillers mask the problem, and may buy you time for the pain to reduce, but they rarely change the underlying pattern.
    Network Chiropractors not only help your body to release built up tension, but over time they can help you change how you respond and react to stresses so actually your capacity to handle stress can increase - something many of us need in the modern crazy world.

  3. Look at your lifestyle and ask - what can I do to promote healing in my body? You may need to look at diet and nutrition, exercise, stress triggers which may include things you can’t change.

So if you have the warning signals of spinal problems which include back pain, headaches, fatigue, stiffness and so much more, think about dealing with it before the crisis hits. And if the crisis has hit - call us now.

But we live in a culture where you look after your teeth, but only look after your spine when it screams loudly at you.

Getting your Brain Back Online - or How do you change unprofitable or addictive behaviours?

This is a topic that was discussed in a well known journal recently and here is an abbreviated version that may help a few of you look differently at your addictive behaviours and approach them in a different way….

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The part of the brain that deals with impulsive behaviour is the pre-frontal cortex. It’s located in your forehead and is responsible for what’s know as “executive function”. Or put in simple words, it’s responsible for self-regulation, organisation, planning, short term or working memory, strategising/planning and impulse control.

When we have poor impulse control it can be an indicator that this part of the brain is under-performing. It is however possible to exercise or train this part of the brain to work better.

A recent study in the Netherlands trained people over a month in executive function. To their surprise not only did executive function improve, but people spontaneously cut alcohol consumption by approx 10 glasses per week. The placebo group saw no change. The changes in both working memory and alcohol were still in place a month later.

One way of improving executive function is aerobic exercise. A 2013 review showed there was ample evidence to support this. As little as 3 hours per week of aerobic exercise improved the areas of the brain associated with executive function compared to a control group that did flexibility exercises only.

If you go online you can easily find apps that will boost your executive function. Examples include:

  • Luminosity

  • Elevate

  • Mensa training

  • Memorado

So whether exercise appeals or training your brain or both, there is plenty you can do to curb impulsive behaviour.

Refs:

PsycholSci 2011; 22:968-75
PsycholBullRev: 2013;20:73-86