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.

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

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

The Network Wave of 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?

Sleep, why it matters and an interesting tip to help you get to sleep faster..

We all know that getting a good nights sleep is really important. I say it to my clients on a regular basis that we use down time or sleep to recover and recuperate. So what happens when your body isn’t getting enough sleep? What are the potential longer term consequences?

Well they’re not all guaranteed, but your risk factors for all of the following go up if you suffer from insomnia

  • high blood pressure

  • heart disease

  • weight gain – yes weight gain!

  • weight loss – ironically…

  • increased risk of cancer and diabetes

  • lower immune system function

  • constipation and diarrhea

  • blurred vision

  • tension headaches

Some of the things we take for granted can also be affected by poor sleep or lack of sleep including:

  • Inability to Manage Stress – including agitation and overwhelm

  • Irritability or grumpiness

  • Poor concentration and focus

  • Short or long term memory loss

  • Slower reaction times

  • Problems with motor skills or operating machinery

  • Low self esteem

  • More likely to take uncalculated risks

  • Increased risk of addictions

  • Depression

It’s a pretty depressing list isn’t it. Especially if you’re someone who’s looking after yourself in many other ways and the one thing that isn’t sorting itself out is your sleep.

So what can you do to improve your ability to sleep? 

  1. Try to stay awake – a small study from the University of Hertfordshire showed that actually trying to stay awake increased your chance of falling asleep when compared to people who tried to fall asleep

  2. Hide your clock

  3. Cool your room – our temperature drops when we sleep, a cooler room supports this

  4. Have a warm shower, before going into your cooler bedroom

  5. Wear socks – a study showed that warm hands and feet were a predictor of being able to fall asleep

  6. Immerse your face in ice cold water – triggers the Mamalian Dive Reflex lowering heart rate and blood pressure, soothing your system

  7. Scent your bedroom with lavender

  8. Listen to classical music for around 45 mins

  9. Avoid watching television or using electronic devices in the hour before bedtime

  10. Try the 4,7,8 method – championed by Dr. Andrew Weil (see below)

“4,7,8” Method

Championed by best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weil—and various wellness bloggers, the “4-7-8” breathing technique is purported to help you fall asleep in under a minute. The method is said to relax you by increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood stream, slowing your heart rate, and releasing more carbon dioxide from the lungs. According to DrWeil.com, here’s how you do it:

  1. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise.

  2. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.

  3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.

  4. Hold your breath for a count of seven.

  5. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.

  6. Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

So I’d love to know what works for you ? Do share below if you have anything else that really works too.

For some people there is so much stress in their body and their life they need more help. If you’ve tried everything above and more, think about getting your Nervous System and Spine evaluated because the answer may lie there…

What are the 12 Stages of Healing or Human Consciousness

In his book The 12 Stages of Healing, Donald Epstein discusses the 12 stages of human consciousness we go through from a healing perspective. But what are they, and how does each stage impact on your life.

How you experience your body and your world can make a huge difference to your life experiences. We all know the differences between a glass half full person and someone who’s glass is half empty…. There is more depth to these stages, but it is always good to read them and see what rings true for you and what doesn’t. Because if are constantly circulating between stages 1, 2 and 3, progress is a challenge. You may find the resources to make change, but it will probably be a struggle……

Have a look and see what you can relate to….

The 12 Stages of Healing Exercises

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Stage 1: Suffering and Disconnection
When we suffer, nothing works. We feel helpless and most of us will do anything to avoid this feeling. In this stage we learn that there are times when there is nothing we can do, but if we can learn how to connect to our body in those moments we can draw upon resources we didn’t even know we had.

Stage 2: Polarity
When there are things we cannot accept about ourselves, our situation or our life we tend to look for magical solutions or something to blame. This disconnects us from our bodies and our resources. In this stage we learn how to connect to different parts and how to increase our resourcefulness when we feel that things have been done to us or someone else can “fix” us.

Stage 3: Stuck in a Perspective
Ever feel like it doesn’t matter what you do, nothing is ever going to change? In this stage we explore how our mind can hold us in a pattern and how to connect to that part of us that is stuck and limited.

Stage 4: Reclaiming Your Power
There are times in our lives when we realize that something has to change and that something is us. In this stage we recognize how we have given our power away and how it has limited us and we step back into ownership of who we are and what’s possible.

Stage 5: Merging with the Stories
Have you ever told yourself that you just can’t change, that this is how it is or that is has to be and will always be this way? We often limit ourselves with beliefs, and often they’re not even our beliefs, we just picked them up along the way. In this stage we reconnect to that the stories and illusions we have created and start to rewrite our stories in ways that serve us more productively.

Stage 6: Preparing for Resolution
Do you ever feel so ready for change and want to build up the energy even more? In stage 6 we connect to our resources, build energy and get ready to discharge that which no longer serves us.

Stage 7: Resolution
This stage is associated with discharge of the patterns that no longer serve us. Discharge can be noise, screaming, yelling, laughing or muscular moves. It is associated with a sense of accomplishment, peace and inner strength.

Stage 8: Emptiness in Connection
Following discharge we feel empty. But that emptiness if full of potential, full of possibility. We enter a stage of gratitude, vulnerability and connection to possibility. Trust comes naturally and serendipity is a regular occurrence.

Stage 9: Light beyond the Form
We become aware that we are more than just our physical body, and can become aware of the energy flowing within us and around us. Some experience an energetic connection to others. Accompanied by feelings of awe and joy for the process.

Stage 10: Ascent
There is an awareness here that we are not just an intelligent form but we are intelligence itself. Here we transcend the limits of the self, recognizing that we are united with the force of the universe.

Stage 11: Descent
We are renewed beyond our limits and sense of self and enter into the world again. We know that we are part of all we perceive and responsible for what we know. We live without being attached to our situations. We love and serve life and others. We communicate with ourselves and others “through” our wounds instead of “from” them.

Stage 12: Community
We experience our involvement with humanity and recognize that wholeness comes from bringing our gifts of individuality into community. We receive the gifts of individuality, from within ourselves and from others. We recognize that all of our choices are spiritual ones, and affect the entire globe of beings. This occurs in our internal and external communities. Eventually, we recognize that the limits of what we can bring to community stem from our own lack of wholeness. Therefore we seek to re-experience the rhythm of Stage One.

The Importance of Hydration

While you’re busy enjoying your summer activities—whether it’s hiking, biking, fishing, camping, relaxing by the pool, or enjoying summer sports—don’t forget to stay hydrated You can chose between tap, bottled or alkaline water.

But first, what are the symptoms of dehydration to look out for?

The most common signs are:

  • Increased thirst

  • Dry mouth

  • Tired or sleepy

  • Decreased urine output

  • Urine is low volume and more yellow than normal

  • Headache

  • Dry skin

  • Dizziness

Severe Dehydration signs include:

  • No urine or very limited urine output

  • Dizziness that affects your ability to walk

  • Blood pressure drops when you stand up

  • Rapid heart rate that doesn’t settle

  • Fever

  • Poor skin elasticity (slowly goes back to normal position when pinched)

  • Lethargy, confusion, coma

  • Seizure

  • Shock

Obviously these symptoms are rare, but if you suspect someone with you is suffering seek immediate medical support.

But to Water….

We like alkaline water, and whilst the research is still in the embryonic stages, this is what they think so far…

Why is alkalinity important for your health?

It helps you combat acid overload by regulating your pH balance.  Not only will it help alleviate unpleasant symptoms, but it will also help boost your energy, support your immunity, support your weight loss program, promote a healthy heart, improve your cognitive function, promote healthy skin, ease back/joint pain, and aid your overall health and well-being.  What’s not to love?

Our favourite choices are either Liquid Chlorophyll by Natures Sunshine. We’ve used the product for several years now and our bodies just love it. Alternatively you can buy alkaline drops from Amazon.

Whether you chose to hydrate with Alkaline water or not, make sure you drink plenty of water to support you through the hot summer months. Maybe this summer isn’t a one off, who knows, but for now, look after your body and drink as much water as it needs.

 

The Benefits of Paying Attention

One of the first questions I ask my clients is what are they aware of during and immediately after a chiropractic adjustment?

Because for most people lots of things will change in their body during and after an adjustment, and research shows that being aware increases sustainability and benefits.

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So what do most people answer in the beginning? 

Most people tell me about their pain – did it go down, did it go up, did it move. And often that’s all they focus on. Some people will say that their breathing got deeper, they feel more relaxed, they felt their pain melt away or their stress melt away. Many people report feeling more relaxed.

I think because most people come for pain or symptoms, that’s what they focus on. So here is a question?

Where in your body do you think you are most resourceful? 

If an area of your spine is locked up and not working very well, or is painful, do you think this area is resourceful and able to self correct? The answer is pretty obviously NO. So if you put all your focus here, do you think it will help you get more resourceful?

Most of spend a lot of time focusing on the part of our body that hurts, that isn’t behaving, that feels like it’s letting us down.

So what about finding some new internal resources? 

What if, instead of focusing on the area that hurts you start to focus on your whole body? You observe how your body moves as you breathe in and out. If you have a sense of energy in the body, observe where it flows and where it is blocked. If somewhere in your body feels really relaxed and good, what do you notice when you focus there?

So many people say – “I only have pain when I stop and pay attention”. So that makes the pain more obvious, but it doesn’t necessarily make them more resourceful. What if you could find areas in your body that are highly resourceful (because we all have them) and focussed on them. How would your whole body feel?

Now not everyone has those skills, but another way of creating some ease in your body is to remember an event or a person that always makes you feel good and focus on that memory for a few minutes. How does that make you feel? Does your breathing deepen? Do you feel your body relax? What changes? Now do the opposite, focus on someone or something that stresses you out? What happens to your breath? Does your body tense up? What changes in your body?

So how do you find more internal resources? 

The best approach I know of is Somato-Respiratoy Integration, so I’m going to share some of the basics of it to start this process of finding internal resources.

Look at the diagram. It shows you where positions 1, 2 and 3 on the body. Find a quiet space and then listen to the recording, which will help you start your journey to better body connection and resourcefulness.

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How to Get Better Faster?

For most people, this is the most important thing about healing. They want to get better as fast as possible, so that they can get on with life. I get it, I’ve been there. Over the years I’ve had a variety of injuries and health challenges, and like almost every one I know, when something goes wrong I want to get better, and I want to get better yesterday.

How well you heal and how fast you heal depends in part on your focus, your intentions and your actions. Let me explain…

First of all, let me give you the example of someone who has low back pain, a common reason for consulting a chiropractor. If this persons main focus is on getting rid of pain, their internal dialogue may run along the lines of:

  • how can I stop this pain?

  • what shall I avoid doing today?

  • what’s wrong with me?

  • why me? It’s not my fault, I didn’t do anything wrong?

  • are their any stronger pills I could take?

Let’s take the same person, but their goal is to run a 10k for charity to raise money for a local hospice, but their back is playing up. Their internal dialogue may be:

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  • what do I need to do to support my healing?

  • Could I run a bit, or maybe just walk? Would that help?

  • Is anything else triggering my back pain? What could I change?

  • How could I change my diet to reduce inflammation in my body to support healing?

  • what’s my body telling me? Why did this pain come on now?

Now your questions may be different again, you may be looking for a solution to a different problem. But look at the kind of questions you ask and ask yourself  the following:

“Does my internal dialogue support me healing or do it make me feel worse or less resourceful?”

The first list of questions in my opinion do nothing to increase resourcefulness. If I read them out loud I feel miserable and I don’t even have any pain currently. When I read the second list I feel uplifted. I feel that more is possible, that I can do things that will help me. It doesn’t mean that everything I do will help me, but anything that I do to get my body in a more resourceful state is going to help.

Are your Goals focused on Gaining something or Losing something? 

It’s much easier to create ease and resourcefulness than it is to get “rid of something” from our body. Because the painful part or negative dialogue exist within us. Our body is designed to heal. We all know that, even if we have lost a bit of hope.

So make your healing goals about what you will do when the symptom goes away or how you want to feel rather than how you don’t want to feel. So many goals are about getting rid of or feeling less. If someone wants less pain, I always ask – and what do you want to replace the pain with once it’s gone? How will your life be different? What will you do differently? How will you treat your friends and family differently? How will you be different at work?

So check-in and remind yourself – why do I want this? You may be surprised at the answers you get….

What healthy people know about spinal function is essential to living well – Part 2

Last week we talked about the role your spine plays in posture. And how that can be linked to how you feel and how you function.

What happens if your spine is out of position and puts pressure on a nerve or tension into a nerve?

The easiest examples of pressure on a nerve would be sciatica – which is pressure on the sciatic nerve in the leg. When really bad people will scream or cry with pain. Any small movement is excruciating. I’ve seen grown men crawl into the practice on their hands and knees and one even arrive on a stretcher.

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Luckily for most people the pain is just moderate to severe.

Why are fully functioning nerves SO IMPORTANT that the body makes them hurt this much?

Nerves carry messages from our master control centre – the brain – to all our joints and organs, which help with how well your body functions (or doesn’t). You need these messages to get through which is why your body will do all it can to stop you doing more damage to your nerves.

Messages between the body and the brain

Listening to the body and reacting to the environment

We tend to think of nerves mainly as supplying muscles and keeping us moving. However nerves also send lots of information from the body to the brain. For example if you touch something hot, pain signals rush up the nerves telling your brain that you are about to get damaged and the brain sends signals back firing the nerves that go to the muscles in your arm and you move your arm as fast as possible. That all depends on your nerves working properly. If the nerve to your hand wasn’t working properly, the sensory part of the nerve may not notice the heat fast enough, because your hand is already numb. And hence you don’t remove your hand quickly and get burnt.

An example of where this can be a big problem in people who have a neuropathy, such as the one associated with diabetes, because they don’t notice when they tread on something sharp and there is their risk of damage or infection is much higher because of lack of pain signals.

Getting the body to move

Another common problem is when a nerve has been under pressure and not working well for a while people can start to lose strength. If it’s the nerves to the hand then they may struggle to open jars or keep dropping things. If it’s the nerves to the hips they may have problem getting up off the floor, or the nerves to the foot you may have foot drop and are unable to lift your toes up whilst walking.

What to do if you think you have a nerve problem?

First thing to do is get your nervous system assessed by a healthcare professional who is interested in nerves.

Chiropractors also study neurology extensively as part of their degree and are trained to assess function of all the major motor and sensory nerves, including the cranial nerves (on the head and face). Their diagnostic skills will tell them if pathology is likely in which case they will refer you to your GP to get medically investigated, but in most cases this is not necessary and problems can be addressed.

Furthermore, many chiropractors are investing in technology such as Surface EMG, Thermography and Heart Rate Variability, all of which give insights into how well your nervous system is functioning. And are excellent tools for monitoring progress and detecting underlying problems that may not yet be causing symptoms.

Don’t wait until you’re broken….

As a culture, the British are very good at ignoring symptoms. I was brought up to keep going at all costs, and consequently some of my sporting injuries lasted a lot longer that was necessary. If you suspect a problem, get checked sooner rather than later. Because new problems heal a lot faster than chronic problems that the body has often spent years adapting to.

What healthy people know about spinal function is essential to living well – Part 1

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Most of you will read this because at some point, either now or in the past, you will have suffered with spinal pain. And for many people it comes out of nowhere – or seemingly. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told “I didn’t do anything and now I’m in agony”.

Most people only think of their spine when it hurts. Very few people think about their spine for any other reason, pretty much how we relate to our body. My body is fine as long as everything works. So we put reasonable fuel into our body, exercise to the level that suits us and just hope everything stays ok.

What is the Anatomy of Our Spine?

Your spine is made up of 24 moveable bones called vertebrae and at the bottom you have your sacrum and coccyx, so 26 in total.

How does it form or evolve?

Your spine evolves in utero around the spinal cord. What actually happens is first your nervous system (brain and spinal cord) develop. And then the bones (skull and vertebrae) form around it – to protect the soft sensitive structures that make up our nervous system.

From the spine also form the ribs, and the limbs, which themselves (ribs) protect all of our internal organs, and the limbs allow us to move and function in the world.

What is your Spine’s Job?

Two jobs

  • Keep you upright and in a healthy posture

  • Protect the spinal cord, the superhighway for information flow in your body

So the purpose of your spine is to provide a framework to hold you upright and also to protect the nervous system. Your nervous system is like the internal workings of a computer. It processes everything, yes everything that happens around you and to you and within you and its job is coordinate health within your body to the best of its ability.

Good Posture / healthy body

Whether we like it or not, we judge people within 7 seconds of meeting them. Posture makes a big impression on people and we decide immediately if this person is a threat, if they are weak, are they confident, are they low in self-esteem, are they healthy or are they sick, are they a winner or a loser. So much of this we decide from how people hold themselves or put another way – how people posture.

Molecules of Emotion

It’s interesting that we do this and there is some interesting research that that has some relevance to this. In the 1970’s Dr Candace Pert was doing her post-doc studies and she was looking where we experienced emotions in the body from evaluating the receptor sites for emotional chemicals. Not unsurprisingly she found lots of receptor sites in the brain. But she also went on the prove the Gut Reaction by discovering lots of receptor sites in the gut (we all know that feeling of butterflies….). And from my perspective the most important and least known fact is that she found that the spine had the highest concentrations of receptions for the molecules of emotion. So by changing your posture you can change your mood. Or your mood can change your posture. We all know this to be true at a conscious levels, especially in younger people. You can see who feels bad about themselves, who is bullied and who is angry just by how they hold their body and their spine.

What can you do if your posture is bad?

Many people just accept poor posture as a hazard of aging. Yet when I look around I see poor posture becoming endemic in our younger populations now, in part due to the massive increase in smart phones and technology.

First thing is to become aware. Get a friend to take a photo. And then pay attention to your posture. See what you can do at the gym, by being conscious, by stretching your body and strengthening your body. And for some people that’s all they need to do. If you find your posture is getting progressively worse and appears to be affecting your function, find a good chiropractor and get properly assessed using technology. Then you have a baseline and progress can be measured and evaluated.

Perfect posture of often not possible as we age, but improved posture is almost always possible as spinal function improves and spinal tensions drop.

Is Sitting the New Smoking

There has been lots in the press about the impact of sitting on our health. With obesity levels at an all time high, a survey from Australia showed that people think that sitting too much and not exercising is the biggest cause of obesity.

Research shows that sitting decreases activity in the legs, reduces calorie burning to as little as one per minute and enzymes that burn fat drop 90%.

Whilst most people know the risks of smoking there still seems to be a lack of education as to the potential negative effects of sitting on health.

The current myth seems to be that you can lose weight by simply exercising a bit more and watching your calories, yet reality doesn’t seem to show this.

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Your brain – which is the control center of your nervous system, which in turn coordinates health and wellbeing in the body, needs constant input to work optimally. When we don’t move for long periods at a time this input dramatically decreases. I liken it to a bike dynamo which needs constant movement from the wheels to power the light, you brain needs input from your spine and body, and we get this from movement.

Everyone knows that even if we don’t want to exercise, if we manage to drag ourselves out for a walk or to the gym we always feel better afterwards.

So what can you do to counter the effects of sitting?

  1. If you are making a phone call – stand in you can. Walk whilst you talk. Move more.

  2. Sitting desks are becoming more and more affordable. You can either invest in one if you’re self employed or work on your boss if you’re not. The health benefits are potentially huge.

  3. If you use public transport to get to work, get off a stop early and walk

  4. Use the stairs not the lift

  5. Find a sport or activity that you love and plan to do it at least 3 times a week.

  6. Meet your friend for a walk, not a coffee, or take your coffee with you.

  7. If you are concerned you don’t move enough, invest in a step counter (there are so many affordable options on Amazon nowadays) and aim for a minimum of 10000 per day. Assess your levels currently and build up to 10,000 and beyond.

We all have a choice as to what we do with our time. With a little creativity you could improve your energy levels, relieve tension in your body, reduce stress and improve your overall health by moving more each day.

How can Wonderful Winter Walking help your spine?

Wonderful Winter Walking

The weather has been pretty unpredictable this winter from gales, to torrential rain to snow and frost. It’s tempting to batten down the hatches and hide away indoor. People are always asking me what they can do to support their healing, be it from back pain or something else, or just general advice as to how to get healthier. Here are a few reasons to maybe consider a winter walk.

  1. It’s really important to stay active and mobile, especially at this time of year. Walking doesn’t cost you anything, especially when you live somewhere as beautiful as we do.

  2. Walking can help to improve your postures. Especially if you spend a lot of time behind a computer, getting outside and walking helps to straighten your spine and improve how you feel.

  3. If you have a back problem, walking helps take the pressure of discs and helps to rehydrate them.

  4. Walking can help to bring the body back into balance, increasing circulation and even lowering blood pressure

  5. Walking is low impact and gentle on your body. It can help to release tension, especially in your shoulders and low back in a gentle way.

  6. Walking can be a great opportunity to meet up with old and new friends. Join a walking club such as the Ramblers or arrange to meet up with friends. Children love walking and being outside and it’s a great way to get the family together.

  7. Combined with a healthy lifestyle walking can help you to lose weight. Losing weight reduces pressure on the spine and body, helping painful areas to heal.

  8. Walking is a great way of getting more sunlight and raising your mood. During the short winter days a few hours outside can really help to lift your spirit.

So whatever your age or condition, find some time to get outside and give your body and mind a boost this February.

Why chiropractic is about more than just back pain...

Demand for chiropractic has been increasing year on year. More and more people are looking outside of the NHS for solutions to their chronic back pain and sports injuries. Many people chose chiropractic to work with their back pain because it’s non-invasive and safe, and because they want to avoid medications. More and more people are looking to get to the cause of their pain, not just mask the symptoms with ibuprofen.

The Healing Benefits of Chiropractic

We put our bodies under more and more pressure daily. Sitting behind a computer, using a smart phone, limiting our exercise because of time constraints. These are all stresses to our musculoskeletal system and create micro-injuries that left untreated can turn into pain and suffering.

Chiropractic can not only help to alleviate the pain and suffering, but people regularly report overall improvements in wellbeing, improved mood and better flexibility and function in their body.

Chiropractic Research

We chose to use an approach called Network Chiropractic which is low force and unlike anything most people have experienced before.

There was a big study into this approach (nearly 3000 people were interview) and below is a summary of the findings.

Over 70% reported improvements in all of the following areas:

  • Physical symptoms

  • Emotional/mental state

  • Response to stress

  • Life enjoyment

  • Overall Quality of Life

Specific examples reported in the study included:

  • Improved flexibility

  • Higher energy levels

  • Decrease in pain levels

  • Less headaches

  • Greater capacity to deal with daily stresses

  • Enhancement of interest in life

  • Greater sense of ease

Your Choices

We all have choices when faced with pain and symptoms. And most of us will progress to some degree in this order:

  • Ignore the pain, rest or hope it will go away

  • Self-medicate with over the counter pain killers

  • Visit your GP for stronger pain killers

  • Therapies aimed at removing symptoms

  • Chiropractic – to get a diagnosis and find out why your body is not healing and a program to get you back in control of your health and functioning to the level of wellbeing you want

Join the growing number of people benefiting from Network Chiropractic and call now.

How to Recognise and deal with the effects of Stress on your Body

Many people don’t understand or recognize Stress. As chiropractors we study the human nervous system in depth and have an in-depth understanding of how the body responds and adapts to stresses.

In this short video we explain what Stress is, how it affects your body and what you can do about it.