My 10 top tips for improved posture and the health of your back

As a child, were you told “Stand up straight!” or “Don’t slouch!”. It turns out that whoever said it, they were right all along! Having poor posture when walking, sitting, working or driving can have a negative impact on your life including:

  • Pain in your back and shoulders.
  • Shallow breathing.
  • The appearance of lacking self confidence.

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What is posture?

Posture is defined as the way the body is carried. Good posture means carrying your body in a way that puts the least strain on muscles and ligaments. Poor posture can cause pain in the neck and back, and can sometimes lead to injury. Making changes to your posture is a great way of improving your overall appearance as well as your health.

Many of the reasons for bad posture can be fixed and others, like pregnancy, go away in time. Some of the reasons are:

  • Poor habits – sitting and standing incorrectly
  • Weakened muscles
  • Obesity – The extra pounds add strain to your skeleton and muscles.
  • Pregnancy
  • Ill-fitting shoes (like high heels)
  • Reduced muscle and joint flexibility (this can happen with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis)

Why Is Good Posture Important?

Good posture is good for your health in a number of ways. Standing and sitting with correct posture prevents strain and overuse of neck and back muscles, it helps the muscles work more efficiently

Good posture also has other more subtle benefits. When you stand properly, the body tends to look taller and slimmer. Good posture can also make you look more confident. And, we all know, when you look confident, you feel confident.

As most of us are seated at desks for most of the day, it is very important to have correct posture while seated.

The combination of regular stretching and massage help to improve and maintain your posture .

Are There Warning Signs Of Back Pain Caused By Poor Posture?

Back pain may be the result of poor posture if the back pain is worse at certain times of day or week. If you experience back pain at certain times of the week, but not at the weekend, this may be the problem.

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The signs to be aware of are:

  • sudden back pain that is experienced with a new job, a new office chair, or a new car
  • pain that starts in the neck and moves downwards into the upper back, lower back and extremities and pain that goes away after changing positions while sitting or standing.

Keep active

As muscles get tired, slouching, slumping, and other poor posture positions occur. This then puts extra pressure on the neck and back. In order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture, switch positions frequently. Take a two-minute break from your desk every hour to stretch your limbs.

Keep the body in alignment while sitting at your desk and standing

  • Distribute body weight evenly to the front, back, and sides of the feet while standing.
  • While sitting in at your desk, take advantage of the chair’s features.
  • Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line.
  • Any single position, even a position with good posture, will tire your muscles. Leaning forward with a straight back can alternate with sitting back, using the back support of the office chair to take some of the strain from your muscles.
  • Also be aware of (and avoid) unbalanced postures such as crossing legs unevenly while sitting, leaning to one side, hunching the shoulders and craning the neck.

Use Posture-Friendly Props & Ergonomic Chairs When Sitting

  • Supportive ergonomic “props” can help to take the strain and load off the spine.
  • Lumbar Rolls or pillows offer great support to the lower back when seated at a desk.

Increase Your General Awareness For Great Posture

Being aware of posture at work, at home, and at play is a vitally important step towards instilling good posture techniques. This includes making conscious connections between incidents of back pain and what position you were in at the time.

Use Exercise To Help Prevent Injury & Promote Great Posture

Regular physical exercise such as walking, swimming and cycling will help the body stay in good condition, while specific strengthening exercises will help the muscles surrounding the back to stay strong.

There are also specific exercises that will help maintain good posture. A balance of trunk strength with back muscles about 30% stronger than abdominal muscles is essential to help support the upper body and maintain good posture.

Wear Supportive Footwear When Standing

Avoid regularly wearing high heels, which can affect the body’s center of gravity and change the alignment of the entire body, affecting back support and posture.

Be Aware Of Your Posture When Moving Or Stationary

Walking, talking on the phone, and typing are all moving activities that require attention to posture. It is important to maintain good posture even while moving to avoid injury. Back injuries are especially common while twisting and/or lifting and often occur because of awkward movement and control of the upper body weight alone.

Do re-check your posture whenever you think of it! I often find myself reverting to old habits particularly when using laptops!!

Create The ‘Right’ Environment & Workspace Conducive To You

It does require a bit of time but the results will be well worth it. Undue strain will be placed on the spine unless your office chair, desk, keyboard, and computer screen are in the correct position.

Avoid The ‘Over-Protecting’ Posture

Remember that it is important to maintain an overall relaxed posture to avoid restricting movements by tensing muscles and adopting a stiff posture.

For people who already have some back pain, it is a natural tendency to try to limit movements to avoid the potential pain associated with movement. But, unless there is a fracture or other serious problem, the spine is designed for movement and any limitation in motion over a long period of time creates more pain and will make the overall situation worse.

You can always spot someone in pain when they walk ahead of you in the street… so take a look at yourself. If you are frightened of pain you walk in an unusual manor. It tends to be a stiff, tense and unnatural poise.

The way to change this is to relax. Hold your head up so it is horizontal to the floor,ensure your jaw is not tense, check your breathing and walk (picking your feet up properly).

I completely believe it is possible not only to eradicate most if not all of the chronic aches and pains of a bad back. Why, because I’ve done it myself!

I really have been there and done it all with my bad back, including back surgery! For those of you who are about to switch off at the point of surgery, please allow me to continue…

Back Surgery Was Really Not The Answer!

That just took away the ‘result’ of the problem without ever addressing the cause. It’s taken me 10 years after my op to have put it together in a package to help fellow sufferers.

  • I had to address the physical aspect of the back pain and Sciatica.
  • I had to adjust many aspects of my lifestyle (mostly silly things if I’m honest)
  • I had to address the fear of the re-occurrence of pain, the ‘knowing’ when it was going to ‘go’
  • I needed prevention strategies that were easy and worked
  • I had to address the impact of my bad back and the fear of its re-occurrence because it affected me in so many ways. My back impacted on my work. My work impacted on my finances. My finances impacted on my home life and family.

I’m sure you resonate with this on some or many of these levels! I just wanted you to know that I’ve contended with the lot, and just like you I struggled.

But that is in the past now, even when I do something that in the past would have debilitated me for days if not weeks, I am in a position that I am able to do most things and indeed partake in a far more active lifestyle than I would ever have imagined, probably moreso than before in many ways!

Click HERE to book your bespoke Back Pain Reducing Realignment treatment

A back strain is a pain ful condition where the muscles of the back are injured due to a traumatic pulling and subsequent tearing of the fibres. One of the most common sites of injury, regardless of the sport, is the lower back region. There are many causes for lower back pain, for example, which you may not realise are directly related to sports e.g. I often find that runners who have weak or inflexible hamstrings can experience severe ACUTE back pain as a consequence.

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Other causes

  • Poor posture is a common cause.
  • A sudden or abrupt movement that causes the muscles to stretch the muscles past their point of elasticity usually causes these injuries.
  • Some back strains are the result of a high velocity impact such as a car accident that causes whiplash etc.
  • Muscle strains can be caused due to repetitive strains. For example, A person who maintains improper posture at a computer on a regular basis or a tennis player who uses improper form may have their muscles tighten to the extent that something as simple as reaching for a salt shaker can cause them to pull a muscle.
  • To add to the pain of a pulled muscle, the surrounding muscles react to the tear by stiffening to protect the injured muscle from further harm .

Recovery time

On average it takes about six weeks to recover from a muscle pull with some relief being felt after about three weeks. Scar tissue will continue to form past six weeks in some cases and as long as a year in severe back strains.

What Do You Do?

The first line of treatment is to support and protect the muscles, help them to loosen up and lessen the pain and minimize any inflammation. After three (or so) weeks, the muscle strain usually benefits from the introduction of mild exercise.

A few measures to ease your back pain

  • Stretching & strengthening
  • Good posture (particularly at work and on the commute)
  • Ice packs
  • Healthy diet
  • Vitamin, Mineral and Herb Supplementation (if necessary)
  • Meditation & breathing exercise to relax your back
  • Regular massage & stretches will assist on both a preventative & curative aspect.

Click HERE to book your bespoke Back Tension reducing treatment

'It's All About ME' | By Dawn SymonsA PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR A HEALTHY BODY AND MIND

 

When you become embroiled in extreme stress and burnout, one of the biggest difficulties is that is that on the surface you appear to be ‘normal’, healthy and well.

Loaded popular beliefs that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME) does not exist, along with labels such such as hypochondriac, attention seeker or lazy, do little to resolve the emotional conflict of this crippling disease.

What I know for sure is that there are things that you can do… I know this to be true because I had to find and do them myself.

I wrote this book because I burned out 3 times. Frantically chasing a solution for my problems made things even worse. But after many long years I found a solution which is the exact opposite of frantic…

Price: £6.97

 




I often wondered whether food could reduce muscular tension, after all it had a huge impact on my fatigue and energy levels when I was recovering from ME Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

It may come as a surprise that your diet can be easily adjusted very simply by way of food or supplements to ensure efficiency and well-being throughout your body.

Below is a list of various food sources and supplements which are easily incorporated into your daily intake which are easy to source. There also are some additional items listed at the bottom that may be slightly trickier to obtain, but are easily obtained via the internet.

Magnesium- what helps and what doesn’t

A Magnesium deficiency can leave you feeling anxious, stressed as well as affecting muscles (tension) try peanuts which are a great source of Magnesium.  On a personal note I have found that whenever I feel stressed cashews and pistachios seem to make me feel calmer….or perhaps its just I was a squirrel in my previous life 😉

Great Sources of Magnesium: beans, nuts and vegetables.

 Caffeine can cause a magnesium loss. Foods with caffeine include coffee, tea, some energy drinks and bars, and some types of soda

Soy milk is high in phytoestrogens as well as magnesium, however some suggest soy is unhealthy to eat in large quantities because it may raise oestrogen levels and suggest it may cause thyroid problems.

 Foods for pain and inflammation relief

There are no hard and fast rules, however but the results of studies and case histories suggest that these foods may be helpful. It is interesting to remember that in China and other Eastern countries arthritis is almost unheard of- the suggestion is that it is diet and weight issues which cause and worsen the condition in many (but not all types) Arthritic conditions:

Anchovies: Three-and-a-half ounces of anchovies contain almost a gram and a half of omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids help regulate the prostaglandins, which play a role in inflammation and, hence, pain. However, anchovies are extremely high in sodium, so if sodium-sensitivity or water retention is a problem for you, choose a different kind of fish.

Apples: Not only can an apple a day keep the doctor away, but it may also help to hold your arthritis at bay. Apples contain boron, a mineral that appears to reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis. Moreover, when boron was given to people who already have the disease, it helped relieve pain.

Bromaline can be brought in tablet form or you can use its more common (and easily available) form of Pineapple- fresh dried tinned or juice.- a wonderful anti-inflammatory.

Cantaloupe: This sweet fruit contains large amounts of vitamin C and beta-carotene, the plant form of vitamin A. These two powerful vitamins help to control the oxidative and free-radical damage that may contribute to arthritis.

Chile peppers: Chilies contain capsaicin, which gives the peppers their heat. These vegetables also help block pain by encouraging certain nerve cells to run through their supply of substance P, which they normally use to help transmit pain signals.

Curry: A combination of spices that often includes turmeric, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and so on, curry contains powerful antioxidants that may help relieve inflammation and reduce pain.

Fish: The omega-3 fatty acids in Norwegian sardines, Atlantic mackerel, sablefish, rainbow trout, striped bass, and other fish may help reduce inflammation and pain.

Fish oils contain high levels of Vit D (known for its anti-inflammatory & pain reducing property). However, due to high levels of toxins in our oceans it may be safer to look for alternatives- one friend has recommended BioCare’s DriCelle Cod Liver Oil powder, or Higher Nature’s Omega -3 Fish oil.

Garlic: An ancient treatment for tuberculosis, lung problems, and other diseases, garlic also appears to relieve some forms of arthritis pain. Although never tested in large-scale, double-blind studies, garlic has been found helpful in many case reports. These helpful benefits may be due to the fact that garlic contains sulphur, which has been known for many years to help relieve certain arthritis symptoms.

Grapes: are good sources of the mineral boron, which is important for strong bones.

Mango: A sweet treat, mangoes are packed with three powerful antioxidants: 90 percent of the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances) for vitamin C, 75 percent of the daily dose of beta-carotene, plus vitamin E.

Nuts: Almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts are good sources of boron, a mineral that helps keep bones strong and certain arthritis symptoms at bay.

Nightshade-Family Vegetables: aubergine, peppers (bell peppers, cayenne, chili peppers, paprika), potatoes (not sweet potatoes nor yams) and tomatoes have been linked to joint pain (which has sometimes misdiagnosed as arthritis). This is due to Solanine (a slightly toxic substance which doesn’t affect the majority of people, however, by omitting them from your diet for 4/6 weeks you can see if any of these items are causing you a problem.
Tobacco is also a member of the nightshade family, and can causes pain in the same way.

Papaya: Long used as a folk medicine for diarrhea, hay fever, and other problems, a single papaya contains three times the RDA for the antioxidant vitamin C, plus more than half the daily allotment of beta-carotene.

Water: Drinking eight glasses of water per day can help battle gout by flushing uric acid from the body. Eight glasses is also the amount most health experts recommend to keep your body moisturized and healthy.

Neal Barnard, M.D. (author of several books including foods that fight pain) makes several suggestions- the following are a list of foods that may increase pain, the worst culprits are as follows. The suggestion may be to avoid or limit them, Personally I feel it is worth avoiding or reducing items you have a high intake of and finding the one(s) that don’t suit you!

alcohol coffee chocolate citrus fruits
corn dairy eggs meat
nuts salt sugar wheat
tea barley oats rye

 

Other considerations, particularly for anti-inflammatory purposes:

Glucosamine– research has shown that this product has a very similar effect as products (e.g.) nurofen,. It is derived from shell-fish so avoid if you have a severe allergy. There is a vegetarian alternative which is derived from corn. All of my clients have reported notable benefits from glucosamine. Do confirm with your GP that there is no reason why you should not use it.

Sulphur is said to have an effect on connective tissue (muscles, ligaments & tendons etc) It is claimed to soften and relax thus release tensions. I personally find this very effective,

Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties, ginger, curcumin and boswelia herbs (you can purchase these herbs in tablet form and you usually take 3-4 daily)

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