How Healthy is Your Heart?

And you thought we were just about backs – call 01672 564646 for a free heart check…….

3 Things You Can Do Today to Have a Healthier Heart.

1 – Stop Smoking!Quit-Smoking-Cigarettes

Seriously, if you smoke, stop.  We know you’ve heard all the risks before and the effect it has on your blood pressure, cholesterol etc, but it’s still worth reinforcing.  The British Heart Foundation lists 4 ways that smoking damages your heart;

· Smoking damages the lining of your arteries, leading to a build-up of fatty material (atheroma) which narrows the artery. This can cause angina, a heart attack or a stroke.

· The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. This means your heart has to pump harder to supply the body with the oxygen it needs.

· The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates your body to produce adrenaline, which makes your heart beat faster and raises your blood pressure, making your heart work harder.

· Your blood is more likely to clot, which increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Remember an E-cigarette still releases nicotine, so even though they aren’t seen as being as bad as cigarettes they still carry some risk.

If you quit, there are immediate benefits as well as long term ones, click here for a full list.

 

2 – Move around on a regular basis!walking

Seems easy, and frankly, it is!  According to the NHS guidelines all you need to do for your heart to benefit from exercise is 20 minutes per day of fast walking.   If you think you haven’t got time bear in mind that the average British person spends 1 hour a day on social media, and with today’s smartphones you can do that while you are exercising!

Moving about affects the heart in many positive ways, it makes it grow and become a more powerful pump to get the blood around your body. The repeated increase in pressure when you exercise also makes the main arteries stretch slightly, making them wider resulting in easier blood flow.
Two very cool ways exercise improves your heart function is via your breathing and the muscles in your calves.  As you breathe in, the increased pressure in your lungs helps pump out the blood, easing the workload on the pump (a bit like giving it a squeeze), and then when you exhale, the reduced pressure causes it to expand helping it refill.
So heavy breathing (however you want to do it) helps your heart pump!

Also, when you walk or run you have to get a lot of blood to a lot of places fast, but to keep the blood circulating it needs to get back to the heart, and this is where your calf muscles come in.  As you exercise, your calf muscles exert a squeezing action on the blood vessels, creating pressure and driving the blood back to the heart to be re-oxygenised.

 

3 – Know Your Risk Level!

Information is power, you can’t make an informed and decisive change in your lifestyle until you know what you are doing it for, there are several risk factors that determine your likelihood of having heart disease, these include;

· Age – the older you are, the greater the risk

· Gender – Men tend to be a more risk earlier, but women catch up after the menopause

· Family History – If someone in your family has had heart problems before they were 55 then you may have an increased risk.

· High Blood Pressure – The higher the pressure the greater the risk and the harder your heart has to work.

· High Cholesterol – Usually a result of dietary factors, see here for a good guide to why cholesterol is important.

· A high ‘waist/hip ratio’.  This is a good measure to see if your body composition or your weight could be a risk factor for heart disease, a measurement over 1.0 in men or 0.85 in women may mean you have an increased risk.  Calculate yours here.

If you think you may be at risk of heart disease, get a full medical check as soon as possible so you can start taking action!

Throughout February, Pewsey Osteopathic & Sports Injury Clinic will be doing free blood pressure checks and waist/hip ratio measurements to help you identify if you need to do a little bit more to love your heart!

Call us on 01672 564646 to book a time (we will be offering these checks on Wednesday & Saturday only).

healthy-heart

What is Sports Massage?

Laufender Mann Silhouette mit Skelett und GelenkschmerzenAs defined by the Sports Massage Association: “Sports Massage is the management, manipulation and rehabilitation of soft tissues of the body including muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is applicable not just to sports people but to anybody wishing to guard against or recover from a soft tissue injury.”

Sports massage is used to:

  •    Improve circulation and lymphatic flow
  •    Assist in the removal of metabolic wastes

  •    Calm or stimulate nerve endings

  •    Increase or decrease muscle tone

  •    Increase or decrease muscle length

  •    Assist in the remodeling of scar tissue

Sports Massage is not just for the Olympic athlete – we treat armchair athletes too!
Around 50% of our patients are sports injury related and 50% are unrelated to sport.
Our youngest patients are still at primary school and our more senior patients are approaching their 90th birthday.

The benefits of sports massage therapy may also help relieve many day to day problems, such as:

  •     Repetitive strain injury e.g: work, driving

  •     Sprains and strains

  •     Tension

  •     General aches and pain e.g: gardening, lifting, playing with the kids

  •     The effects of poor posture

  •     Tight muscles / Muscle spasm

Fotolia_41226524_XSMany sports massage practitioners work with a great range of clients in assisting with preventive treatment and injury recovery.

If you are a sports performer, of any level, a sports specific massage can be beneficial at any stage of participation – from the conditioning and training phase, the post-competition stage as well as for injury prevention and recovery.

massageWhat happens during your appointment?

A full history of your condition will be taken and you will be examined as appropriate for the area or areas concerned.  An individual treatment plan will be discussed, and then implemented by providing the appropriate massage and/or stretching techniques. You will be advised if the therapist feels any alternative actions may be required, for example referral to a doctor.

Appointments last 30, 45 or 60 minutes.  You are advised to leave up to an hour for your initial appointment. Please contact the practice for our current availability and prices.

About Paul Watson:

Paul trained at the London School of Sports Massage, gaining his Level 4 Diploma in Sports Massage Therapy in 2006.  He went on to gain a Diploma in sports Therapy from the Sports Therapy Organisation (Manchester) in 2007.

He holds clinics at Devizes and Pewsey from Monday to Saturday, with later evening appointments available.

To make an appointment, or for further information, please telephone 07737 416906.

Fascinating Fascia

fasciaWhat is Fascia?
Fascia is tough connective tissue that creates a 3-dimensional web extending without interruption from head to toe. Fascia surrounds and infuses every muscle, bone, nerve, blood vessel, and organ, all the way down to the cellular level.

The fascial system affects every system and function in your body- musculoskeletal, neurological, metabolic, etc. The white, glistening fibers you see when you pull a piece of meat apart or when you pull chicken skin away is fascia.

What is Fascia made of?
Fascia consists of a complex which has three parts:
1. Elastin fibers – This is the elastic and stretchable part of the complex.

2. Collagen fibers – These fibers are extremely tough and give support to the
structure.

3. Ground substance/matrix: A gelatinous like substance that transports metabolic
material throughout the body

What does fascia do?
The fascial system generally supports, stabilizes, and cushions. Fascia creates separation between vessels, organs, bones, and muscles. It creates space through which delicate nerves, blood vessels, and fluids can pass.

What are Fascial Restrictions?
In a healthy state, the collagen fibers wrap around the elastic fibers in a relaxed, wavy configuration. Trauma, repetitive motion, inflammation, or poor posture can cause the fascia to become solidified and shortened. These thickened areas are referred to as a fascial restriction. Fascial restrictions have the capacity of creating up to 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch in a restricted area. That crushing pressure can compromise any physiological system in the body resulting in pain and dysfunction.

The fascia throughout the body is all interconnected like the yarn in a sweater or a complex spider web. A restriction in one area of the body creates tension throughout this web pulling on other distant structures. This explains why some people may have pain that appears unrelated to their original injury. Furthermore, myofascial restrictions do not show up on common standardized tests such as x-rays, MRI, CAT scans, etc.

Fascial restrictions can pull the body out of its normal alignment, compressing joint surfaces and bulging disks, resulting in pain, loss of motion, and weakness.

 

Info collected from Spine – Health, Mayo Clinic, NIH & Medterms
Art by Dan Beckemeyer
Published on Facebook by Anatomy in Motion www.mografi.com/anatomyinmotion/

About your Spine…

Spine stretchingDid You Know:
The dynamics and supportive properties of the human spine are provided by:

• an intricate network of blood vessels

• countless specialized nerve endings

• hundreds of small nerve fibers which connect to structures of the spine

• more than 220 specialized ligaments

• greater than 120 individual muscles

• over 100 intricate joints

• 34 vertebrae

• 24 presacral vertebrae (movable)

• 5 sacral and 3-5 coccygeal vertebrae (non-moveable)

• 31 pairs of spinal nerves

• 23 intervertebral discs

The human spinal column provides flexibility for movement, support for weight bearing and protection of nerve fibers. The spinal column surrounds and protects the spinal cord, which is the main pathway of communication between the brain and the rest of the body. The spinal column also protects the nerve roots and part of the autonomic nervous system.

The spine has three major types of joints:
• synarthroses
• diarthroses
• amphiarthroses

The vertebral column consists of 24 presacral (moveable) vertebrae
• 7 cervical vertebrae
• 12 thoracic vertebrae
• 5 lumbar vertebrae

The sacrum and coccyx are composed of fused vertebrae and are also considered part of the spinal column.

The cervical vertebrae are the most mobile of the 24 presacral spinal vertebrae.

The 12 thoracic vertebrae articulate with 12 pair of ribs. The thoracic spine is designed for a minimum of movement, thus providing protection for the internal organs.

The large stocky lumbar vertebrae are designed to support the weight of the body

Info By American Academy of Spine Physicians
Art by Andrea Schillaci
Originally posted by Anatomy in Motion http://www.mografi.com/anatomyinmotion/

Supporting National Back Care Awareness Week

Sharon and colleagues, together with The British Osteopathic Association (BOA) are giving their full support to this year’s National Back Care Awareness Week, which takes place from 8th to 12th October.

The theme, this year, is “Builder’s Back Pain”.  National Back Care Awareness Week aims to raise awareness of the causes and treatments of this debilitating condition.

 Back pain accounts for half of all chronic pain people suffer and is the leading cause of sickness absence from work.

 The financial burden of back pain is enormous, costing the UK economy £37 million, £13 million in disability benefits and the NHS £1.3 million EVERY DAY.

That’s a staggering £19 billion every year.

This year’s campaign is focusing on the construction industry which generates 30,000 new back injuries each year. Most back injuries for construction workers are typically sprains and strains which occur in the lower back due to activities involving lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing, or pulling.

The risk of injury increases with repeatedly carrying heavy loads and twisting the back, or when working bent over or in awkward position.

An osteopath can identify and tackle the underlying musculo-skeletal problems that cause pain. Osteopaths work with their hands using a wide range of treatment techniques, such as soft tissue and neuromuscular massage, joint mobilising techniques and corrective manipulations, all of which are designed  to improve the mobility and range of movement of a joint.

If you’re not in the vicinity of our clinics, the first step to finding an osteopath in your area is by searching on the website: www.osteopathy.org

 Top tips for preventing back pain on a building site

  • Cut down on carrying. Have materials delivered close to where they will be used.
  • Try to store heavier materials at waist height.
  • Raise your work to waist level, if you can.
  • Make sure floors and walkways are clear and dry. Slips and trips are a big cause of back injuries.
  • Take rest breaks. When you are tired, you can get injured more easily.
  • Use carts, dollies, forklifts, and hoists to move materials—not your back.
  • Use carrying tools with handles to get a good grip on odd-shaped loads.
  • If materials weigh more than about 50 pounds, do not lift them by yourself. Get help from another worker or use a cart.
  • When lifting or carrying materials, keep the load as close to your body as you can.
  • Try not to twist when lifting and lowering materials. Turn your whole body instead.
  • Lift and lower materials in a smooth, steady way. Try not to jerk to lift.
  • When you pick up materials off the ground, try supporting yourself by leaning on something while lifting.
    Also don’t bend over; instead, kneel on one knee and pull the load up on to your knee before standing. Make sure to wear knee pads when you kneel.

“Can we fix it? Yes, we can!”
If you think we could possibly help you and you would like to book an appointment at our Devizes, Pewsey or Amesbury Clinics or you’d like some further information, please call us on 07737 416906.

Hot Stone Massage

This is a treatment offered at our Pewsey clinic, and will be given by one of our sports massage therapists, Lia Rushton.

What is Hot Stone massage?

Hot stone massage is a variation of standard massage therapy, in which the therapist uses smooth, heated stones either held in their own hands, or placed on one part the body while they massage another part. The heat can be deeply relaxing and help warm up tight muscles so the therapist can work more deeply, more quickly.

The stones used are basalt, a black volcanic rock that absorbs and retains heat well. They vary in size, and have been smoothed and rounded by natural forces in the river or sea.

 

What happens during a hot stone massage?

Before you arrive, the stones will have first have been cleaned, then heated in a hot water bath until they reach a certain temperature range.

Depending on which part of you is to be treated, the starting position will vary, but most massages begin with you lying face down on the couch to enable your back, shoulders and neck to be treated.  As the stones cool down, they will be replaced with fresh warm ones.

You will be required to undress as far as your underwear, but during the massage, only the part of your body being massaged will be exposed, to ensure your modesty.

The stones come in a variety of sizes, so big ones can treat bigger areas of your body, smaller ones on the smaller areas.

Everyone has their own comfort range, so if you should find that the stones are too warm or the pressure of the massage is too intense, that can easily be adapted – all you need to do is speak up!  If you don’t find you like the stones, then your treatment can be changed to a regular massage.

How much does it cost?

Please contact the practice on 01672 564646 for our current fees.

Each massage will last around one hour.

Who can have hot stone massage?

Virtually anyone!  Most people enjoy the warmth and find it a comforting and relaxing experience.

It’s ideally suited for people who have muscle tension but prefer a lighter massage. The heat relaxes muscles, allowing the therapist to work the muscles without using deep pressure.

Hot stone massage may be of help to people with:

  • Back pain and aches
  • Poor circulation
  • Osteoarthritis and arthritis pain
  • Stress, anxiety and tension
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

Who should NOT have hot stone massage?

Hot stone massage is not appropriate for certain people.

If you have the following, you cannot have hot stone massage:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease – please check with your doctor first
  • You are on blood thinning medication or at a risk for developing blood clots – there is a risk that clots could be dislodged
  • You are pregnant
  • You have sunburn
  • You have just had surgery
  • You have an infectious disease, a rash or an open wound
  • You are having chemotherapy
  • You can’t be massaged over a recently fractured bone

If you are menopausal, the heat may trigger a hot flush!  Not a contra-indication as such, but something you may want to bear in mind.

Lower Back Pain

Back pain is very common – according to a survey published in 2000 almost half the adult population of the UK (49%) report low back pain lasting for at least 24 hours at some time in the year.  It is estimated that four out of every five adults (80%) will experience back pain at some stage in their life. (1)

In most cases it is very difficult to identify a single cause for back pain. In about 85% of back pain sufferers no clear pathology can be identified. (2)

The following factors could contribute to back pain:

  • Having had back pain in the past, smoking and obesity. (3)
  • Physical factors such as heavy physical work, frequent bending, twisting, lifting, pulling and pushing, repetitive work, static postures and vibrations. (4)
  •  Psycho-social factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, job satisfaction, mental stress. (3, 5)

Nearly 40% of back pain sufferers consulted a GP for help.  10% visited a practitioner of complementary medicine (osteopaths, chiropractors and acupuncturists). (6)

Common causes of low back pain include:

  • Muscular strain – sometimes you can ‘pull a muscle’ in your back, resulting in a small tear or sprain in your muscle.
  • Disc problems – sometimes the discs between the vertebrae may become weaker and bulge out.   In extreme cases, this may lead to a prolapsed disc.
  • Spinal stenosis – the spinal column runs through a narrow opening in your vertebrae.  If this opening becomes too narrow, the nerves may become trapped, which causes pain.
  • Collapsed vertebra – the vertebrae give much of the structural support to the spine but these may become damaged as a result of disease or injury.  Severe osteoporosis may result in a vertebra collapsing and by doing so, disturb the surrounding structures.
  • Inflammation of sacro-iliac joints, or lumbar spine facet joints
  • ‘Wear and tear’ ie arthritis/spondylitis of the lumbar spine

If you have a physical job, sit or stand for long periods, or are in poor physical condition, you are at greater risk of developing lower back pain.

Most people associate back pain with physical risk factors such as heavy lifting, twisting and bending and awkward postures.  These can contribute to back pain or exacerbate any existing pain. Therefore you should pay attention to controlling these factors by, for example, using manual handling aids (lift, hoists etc) and ergonomically assessed workstations.

Other risk factors of a physical nature include vibration (for example the vibrations that a driver experiences when driving a car or truck), repetitive work and static postures.

Emotional stress and long periods of inactivity can also make symptoms appear worse.

Structure of the spine:

Understanding a little basic anatomy can help you understand the nature of your pain and where it’s arising from.

Your back consists of many different structures that all have to work together.

Your spinal column is comprised of 33 vertebrae, with discs (like shock absorbers) in-between them.  You have 7 in your neck (Cervical vertebrae), 12 in your middle back (Thoracic vertebrae), and 5 in your lower back (Lumbar vertebrae). You have 5 vertebrae which are fused together to form your Sacrum, attached to which are 4 vertebrae, which are also fused, that form your Coccyx (tailbone).

The shape and size of these vertebrae changes from the top to the bottom of the spine – cervical vertebra are small, and are designed for movement and flexibility, whilst lumbar vertebrae are much bigger, being responsible for the weight bearing of almost all of the upper body.

As the vertebrae stack up one on top of the other, a small gap called a foramen is formed.  Pairs of spinal nerves branch away from the central spinal cord and travel through these foramen to supply organs, limbs etc.

The spinal cord is encased in a ring of bone formed by the front and the back of the vertebra, and this runs from the base of the brain to the bottom of the spinal column.

The discs between the vertebrae are more formally known as intervertebral discs.  They are made up of a soft jelly like substance called the nucleus, which is held inside a tough, elastic and fibrous outer casing known as the annulus.  The vertebrae and the discs together are known as the spinal column.  This is supported by many muscles, tendons and ligaments.  Their function is to provide strength and stability to the spinal column.

The muscles are connected to your bones with tendons – when a muscle contracts, the forces are passed on to the skeletal system via the tendons. This ensures that a muscle contraction results in a movement of a certain body part. The role of a ligament is to provide stability to a joint – however, ligaments are also flexible to a certain degree, so they can stretch or contract when the joint moves.

It could be thought that any abnormalities in the structure or functioning of your back will result in pain, but this is not necessarily true.  People have very different backs and it is difficult to define a ‘normal’ structure. Some people with severe deformities may not experience any back pain while others who appear to have ‘normal’ backs experience severe pain.

Osteopathic Treatment for Lower Back Problems:

Although lower back pain is often very painful, the good news is that few people have a major problem with the bones or joints of their backs.

A good proportion of lower back problems can be resolved using non-surgical methods.  Manipulation by a specialist practitioner followed by mobilisation and exercises has been proven to be the most effective treatment for acute low back pain (UK BEAM BMJ 2004; 329; 1377)

Prevention is better than cure, and it is often easier for an osteopath to treat underlying stresses and strains when there is no current back pain. You do not have to have the pain on the day of the treatment.

Likewise, you do not have to wait for a particularly painful episode to settle before visiting an osteopath.  Most back pain is easier to treat in its early stages. It is also important for the longer term to minimise the potential for structural damage or arthritis, which can be caused by wear and tear through strain on weak areas of the spine, by getting treatment when it is needed.

During your consultation, the osteopath will take a full history of your condition, and also ask questions relating your current and past state of health.  It is helpful if you could bring a list of any medications you may be currently taking.  Once a diagnosis had been made, the osteopath will discuss it with you and outline what the best course of treatment would be.  Occasionally, further diagnostic tests may be required, such as x-rays, MRI scans or blood tests  – for these you be referred back to your GP/Specialist.

Osteopathic treatment of lower back pain may include one or more of the following techniques:

  • High velocity low amplitude thrusts (HVT) – the osteopath applies a high-velocity low amplitude thrust to the joint to reduce any restricted movement.  This is painless and makes a small ‘clicking’ or ‘popping’ sound.
  • Myofascial Release – The osteopath may use this soft tissue therapy to release muscular shortness and tightness.
  • Muscle Energy (MET) – The osteopath applies a counterforce to the muscles while they are being used in a specific position and direction, such as when flexing.
  • Soft Tissue Mobilization / Massage – The osteopath uses rhythmic stretching, deep pressure or traction techniques to engage the muscle area around the spine.

The average patient usually responds positively within three to six treatments, but more, or indeed fewer treatments may be required depending on the nature of what is being treated and the individual’s circumstances and past history of the condition.  A chronic lower back problem may well take considerably longer to resolve.

After your treatment, you may well be given a series of exercises to do, and/or postural advice if your osteopath feels this would be of benefit to you.

 

Treating lower back dysfunction Photo copyright of Kampfner Photography

 

References:

(1)    Palmer KT, Walsh K, et al. Back pain in Britain: comparison of two prevalence surveys at an interval of 10 years BMJ 2000;320:1577-1578.

(2)    Nachemson AL, Waddell G, Norlund AI. Epidemiology of neck and low back pain. In: Nachemson AL & Jonsson E (eds). Neck and back pain: The scientific evidence of causes, diagnosis and treatment. Philadelphia: Lippencott Williams & Wilkins, 2000.

(3)    Burton AK, Balague F, et al. European guidelines for prevention in low back pain. Eur Spine J 2006:15(suppl 2):S136- S168

(4)    Andersson GBJ. The epidemiology of spinal disorders. In: Frymoyer JW (eds) The adult spine: Principles and practice.  Philadelphia: Liipincott-Raven, 1997.

(5)    Hoogendoorn WE, van Poppel MNM, et al. Systematic review of psychosocial factors at work and in private life as risk factors for back pain. Spine 2000;25:2114-2125.

(6)    Department of Health Statistics Division. The prevalence of back pain in Great Britain in 1998. London: Government Statistical Service, 1999

The Great British Pain in the Neck

  • Britons are more likely to suffer from neck pain
  • Massaging the spine is more effective than medicine in short and long term

People living in Britain are among those most likely to suffer neck pain according to an article published this month.  It states that those living in high-income countries are more susceptible to the problem than those living in low or middle-income countries.

 

The study of neck pain treatment, published in Annals of Internal Medicine earlier this month, also reveals that women are more likely than men to experience neck pain and that the problem is particularly prolific among office and computer workers.

Britons are exceptionally hardworking and driven,  with the UK ranked as the 13th most prosperous country out of the 130 countries measured in the 2011 Legatum Prosperity Index.  Much of the work in high-income countries, including the UK, is conducted at a desk where ergonomics and stress are common factors that can result in neck pain and exacerbate existing conditions.

According to the article, spinal manipulation, which is practiced by osteopaths and some other health practitioners, was more effective at relieving symptoms than medication.  Medication, whether over-the-counter or prescribed by GPs, is often a popular choice among time-poor workers who are reluctant to take time off for expert treatment.  However patients who were taught self-massage techniques rather than solely having to rely on treatment provided by professionals also benefitted more than those taking medication.

Kelston Chorley, Head of Professional Development at the British Osteopathic Association (BOA) says: “These research findings are positive for individuals, employers and employees.  Pain relief medication can be expensive and learning self-massage techniques mean individuals can be empowered to help manage their pain.  Further, where medication is ineffective, this can result in on-going problems that could have been resolved earlier and may even worsen as a result.  This can mean people have to take time off work for extended periods.

“An osteopath will usually provide some initial treatment to help correct any underlying cause for the condition and will always provide self-help strategies for neck pain so patients can manage their condition in the future.”

The article also says that mobilisation, described by the BOA as repetitive movements of joints to free up restrictions and increase the movement of joints and surrounding tissues, may be a better first treatment for non-specific neck pain than manipulation, described as unlocking restricted joint and surrounding tissues with a single highly specific movement, which can be an uncomfortable experience for some patients.

Kelston concludes: “In many cases of acute or chronic neck problems manipulation is not always the first line of treatment by an osteopath. Using a combination of soft tissue massage, mobilisations and self-help exercises often proves to be a more appropriate solution than the “neck clicking” commonly associated with manipulation.”

To read the article in full, please visit:

http://www.annals.org/content/156/1_Part_1/1.abstract?aimhp

 

 

2012 – Summer of discontent for backs!

2012 – Summer of discontent for backs!

As the nation settles in to watch the Olympic games, there has never been a better excuse to be a couch potato.

But beware – too much sitting, and in particular too much sitting in the wrong position, can lead to a whole host of back and neck problems.  In fact, the British Osteopathic Association (BOA) is anticipating a significant rise in back strain injuries because slouching on the sofa for lengthy periods of time can increase pressure on a person’s back and spine by 120 per cent.

“Britain will soon have every excuse to loll around on the sofa for hours on end as the summer progresses. However, sitting for lengthy periods of time puts too much strain on the spine and vertebrae and causes a lot of muscle fatigue and joint strain.

“If you’ve been sitting still for any length of time and then you suddenly become active, for example leaping out of your chair to celebrate a win, you are literally using muscles which have ‘gone to sleep’. This can leave you susceptible to joint stiffness and muscle tightness later on if you continue to repeat this activity.”

To take pressure off your back, Wiltshire Osteopathy advises getting up and walking about the room every 20 minutes or so. Using a straight-backed dining chair instead of the sofa can be beneficial too but if you prefer the couch, support your back properly with a cushion or two. Also, if you sit on a cushion so it raises you up slightly, this will place less strain on your back.

Symptoms that can arise from too much lounging on the sofa:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Eye Strain
  • Muscle fatigue, cramps and stiffness
  • Muscle strain
  • Sluggish Bowels
  • Poor circulation

Tips for avoiding back pain whilst watching TV:

  • Don’t put your drink on the table behind you – you’re at risk of straining yourself when you turn to get it.
  • Do sit straight in front of the TV – if you are off to one side you’ll be twisted and this might cause you pain.
  • Get up regularly, walk around and get a breath of fresh air when the advert breaks come on – use sky plus if you have it, press pause and have a rest.
  • Make sure your spine is supported properly – if your sofa is too soft, change it now if you plan to spend a lot of time on it.
  • Flat screen TV’s are usually mounted in a high position these days – it should be in the right eye line to reduce risks to neck strain, headaches, eye strain and back strain.

Could your driving position increase your chances of whiplash injury in the event of a collision?

Drivers who fail to wear seat belts correctly are at risk of injury according to the British Osteopathic Association.

While most people are fully aware that wearing a seat belt saves lives, the majority are not aware that the way they sit in a car plays a huge part in their personal safety.

The results of a survey by the BOA has found over one in ten drivers (13%) sit too far back for their seat belt to offer effective protection in a frontal crash.
To be effective, the belt should be sitting over the bones of the pelvis and not the stomach preventing internal injuries. It should be in contact with the shoulder to prevent serious neck injury. Sitting too far from the belt can often lead to submarining – where the occupant slips under the belt which can cause catastrophic injuries.

Approximately half, that is around 15 million of all UK drivers, do not drive in a position where their head is close enough to the head restraint, or they sit too far back for their seat belt to be effective.
This means that in an accident, they would be at risk of sustaining a serious whiplash injury.
Furthermore, only 6% of people adjust the head restraint regularly, despite the fact that most people travel in a variety of vehicles (as drivers, passengers and in taxis for example) and half of all drivers surveyed (51%) said they never adjusted their head rest at all.

Head restraints work by catching and supporting the head in the event of a rear end collision, and so reduce the chance of permanent soft tissue damage.
A correctly adjusted head restraint should be as close to the back of the head as possible and as high as the top of the occupant’s head. This means that the head movement in relation to the body is reduced as the car and seat are shunted forwards when hit from behind.  In addition, the drivers’ seat should be at the correct distance from the steering wheel.

Receiving a serious chest injury as a result of being hit by an airbag during an accident is also a very real possibility for one in seven drivers (14%) who admitted sitting too close to the steering wheel.
Drivers with a gap of less than 12 inches between themselves and the steering wheel when driving are at risk of receiving the full force of an airbag deploying in a crash involving the front of the vehicle.
Airbags have to inflate very quickly (some at over 200 mph) in order to protect the head and chest of drivers and passengers in the event of a frontal crash.

Therefore an airbag needs enough space in front of the steering wheel in order to inflate properly.
People who are shorter than around 5’’ 2” (1.57m) often sit too close to the steering wheel and may be injured by the inflating airbag.
A safe distance is around 12 inches – the size of an A4 piece of paper placed lengthways.

Danny Williams, BOA Council Member, said: “While most of us are aware that seat belts save lives, it’s fair to say that the majority of us don’t know that the way we sit in a vehicle also plays a huge part in our safety and well-being.
“The position of the head restraint, how far or close we sit to the steering wheel and how long we spend sitting at the wheel without having a break are can cause long-lasting neck and back injuries.”

Matthew Avery, Crash Research Manager at Thatcham, said: “Vehicle safety has moved on at a pace with numerous new technologies now available designed to help avoid or mitigate injury during a collision. Whilst many seats and head restraints perform well in protecting the occupant, this research goes to show that too many drivers are still subject to avoidable risks by not taking the time to adjust their head restraints correctly.”

Planning a new car purchase? These are certainly points for consideration – the car should fit you, not the other way around!

Are you suffering from injuries sustained in a road traffic collision?
Perhaps osteopathic treatment could help with your recovery – please do get in touch to see if one of our friendly team could help.

With practices situated in Amesbury, Devizes and Pewsey, we can be contacted via 07737 416906 (24hrs) or email wiltshire.osteopaths@gmail.com