Osteopathy and Healthy Ageing

Everybody gets grey hair and wrinkles as we get older. In the same way, it is normal for our muscles, bones, joints and associated tissues to change as we age. Ageing does not necessarily mean that we will experience increased pain or stiffness. However, if this does become a problem, people often find that treatment and advice from an osteopath can complement GP care and pharmaceutical products. If you do notice problems, your osteopath can work with you to keep you healthier, allowing you to enjoy the pleasures of life into your older years.

Advice as you get older

Although aches and pains may be a common element of ageing, they don’t have to get in the way of your lifestyle. Here are some healthy tips to keep you active:

  • 150 minutes of exercise per week, in blocks of ten minutes or more (enough to make you warmer and breathe harder, whilst still being able to have a conversation) can help reduce the risk of circulation problems and falls. It can also help to improve your mood and levels of confidence. This might include activities such as dancing or brisk walking.
  • Make sure you eat a healthy, varied diet.
  • Doing some form of balance exercises twice a week (for example, Tai Chi) is also recommend as you get older to help reduce the risk of falling, particularly if you are over the age of 65. Try to also include exercises that strengthen your arms, legs and body.
  • The use of trainers or similar footwear can help absorb shocks and take the pressure off your knees, hips and spine when walking for longer periods.
  • A short rest can help recover energy for the remainder of the day’s activities.

How can your osteopath help?

You don’t have to put up with aches and pains simply because you are getting older. In fact, many people find it helpful to talk to an osteopath about ways of keeping active, preventing common problems such as falls and managing conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatic pain and osteoporosis. Osteopathic care is based on the individual needs of the patient and so varies depending on your age, fitness levels and diagnosis. Osteopaths use a wide range of gentle hands on techniques that focus on releasing tension, stretching muscles and mobilising joints.

Please call us on 07423 433930 or book online via the home page.

Are You Fit For Work?

Your health at work

Do you feel fit for work?
Musculoskeletal conditions (problems with the muscles, bones, joints and associated tissues) are a major contributing factor to work place absenteeism. The Office for National Statistics reports that 30.8 million working days are lost each year due to musculoskeletal issues, such as back, neck and upper limb pain, in the UK alone.

Habitual poor posture can contribute to daily aches and discomfort in the workplace and beyond. Whether you work at a desk or have a more manual occupation, your job may expose you to stresses and strains that can cause you pain.

Common causes of strain in the workplace can include:

  • Prolonged sitting at a desk
  • Driving long distances
  • Awkward lifting and carrying
  • Overstretching
  • Bending
  • Extended periods of repetitive motion
  • Using a computer without taking breaks

These can lead to various aches and pains, and other common musculoskeletal conditions such as sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow. Furthermore, workplace stress can increase the amount of pain you feel by causing muscle tension and spasms.

Keeping healthy at work

These simple tips can keep you healthy at work and avoid unnecessary strain on your muscles and joints:

  • Frequent short breaks away from the computer may help avoid back, neck and eye strain.
  • Ensuring that your chair and computer display are appropriately adjusted so that the top of the screen is at eye level, may be more comfortable for your upper body and neck.
  • When lifting, judge whether you can do this safely alone or need help (don’t be afraid to ask for assistance). Always keep the item you are lifting close to your body. Bend your knees and make your legs do the work. Try not to twist your back – turn with your feet
  • When driving make sure you are positioned comfortably, and take regular breaks on long journeys, at least once every two hours.

How can your osteopath help?

Osteopaths are highly trained, healthcare professionals, experts in the musculoskeletal system (joints, muscles and associated tissues) and its relationship to other systems of the body. Osteopathic care is based on the individual needs of the patient and so varies depending on your age, fitness levels and diagnosis. Your osteopath can provide you with a fit note if you do need to take time off from work. You can discuss with your osteopath the impact work may have on your body and agree on an appropriate course of action that may help. Along with hands-on osteopathic treatment, your osteopath may also offer advice on posture, lifting and workplace ergonomics.

Advice for working at your desk

If your work is office or computer based, you can spend a significant portion of your day seated at a desk which can lead to host of problems for your health.  But with a few changes and addition of good habits, you can keep productive at work and keep healthy.

Sit-well

  • It is really important when working at your desk that you are mindful of your posture and your equipment is correctly set-up.  Things to look out for include;
  • Is your screen at eye level? If your monitor does not have height adjustment try elevating it with a riser, or even some old books!
  • Keep your mouse close.  It’s easy for your mouse to drift away from you when working, make sure you are not over-stretching to reach it
  • Keep your keyboard close.  You should be able to sit up in your chair, have your elbows in an L-shape and still be able to reach your keyboard. If you are overstretching to reach it, you will need to adjust accordingly.
  • Adjust your chair. You should be able to sit right back into your chair, so your lower back is supported while still comfortably accessing your equipment
  • Feet to the floor. The height of your chair should allow your feel to easily reach flat to the floor. Use some form of riser if needed
  • Avoid crossing your legs. It can cause circulation problems and puts unnecessary strain through your lower back.

If you are unsure about your desk or workstation set-up, ask your employers to provide a workstation assessment.

Regularly re-set your posture

While you may start off in the correct position it can be very easy to drift into slouched position as your desk.  Try putting a sticker on your monitor as a reminder to re-set your posture every time you see it.

Take regular breaks

  • It is recommended that you should take a break from your desk every 30 minutes for at least one or two minutes. Try building in some of these good habits into your working day.
  • Stand-up and move around for a few moments around your desk
  • Use a break to get a drink of water, which also helps you keep hydrated.
  • Rather than phoning an office colleague, can you walk over to talk to them?
  • When taking a call, can you take the opportunity to stand-up rather than sit?

On the phone

If your work involves making lots of calls, avoid tucking handsets between your neck and shoulder. Consider getting a headset so you are not battling with the handset, keeping your hands free and able to maintain a healthy posture.

Laptop working

Increasingly we are working directly off laptops, particularly if you are a mobile or remote worker or hot-desking across offices.  However the same rules apply, and even more so if you don’t have the luxury of an adjustable chair or monitor.

If you are mainly working off a laptop you may want to consider getting wireless keyboards and/or risers, so you can optimise your work posture.

Also consider where you work – your dining room table may be convenient but if of an incorrect height, extended working may cause shoulder, neck or back pain.

 

Advice for physical work

If your work involves lifting or more physical activities, you need to be careful that you are not putting yourself at risk of injury or long-term health problems.

One of the biggest causes of back injury at work is due to lifting incorrectly.  Additionally, continuous repetitive activities, or staying in the same position for extended periods of time, can also lead to pain and discomfort. Being aware of how to move correctly when at work can keep you healthy for longer and keep you safe from injury.

Lifting safely

  • Before you lift any object, try to establish its weight and if you can indeed lift it safely. If in any doubt, don’t attempt it.
  • Check your destination. Make sure you know where you are going to deposit your load and you have no obstructions in the way.
  • Lift in stages.  See if you can phase your lift. For example, from floor to table and then to destination. Once at the destination can you lift it in stages to its desired location?

The golden rule of lifting – Bend at the knees and not your back! 

  • Remember do not bend forward from your back to lift an item.
  • Before you start to lift make sure your footing is stable, keeping a wide stance.
  • Get a good hold of the item and keep the item close to your body as you move up, using your legs to straighten up.
  • Avoid twisting your back/body when lifting or positioning a load.

Awkward places and repetitive movements

If your work involves getting into awkward places or repetitive movements for extended periods of time, this can also put additional stress and strain on your muscles, joints and associated tissues. Overhead movements when decorating, working under cars, on knees fixing carpets or leaning over to fix pipes, are all examples. The demands of your job will often dictate what can you do, but you may want to consider:

  • Rotating jobs. If you’ve got several things to do, try and rotate from one activity to another after a shorter period of time, so you don’t get stuck in one position or activity.
  • Take regular breaks. Short regular breaks that allow you to move into different positions can be helpful
  • Keep a healthy lifestyle. With a physically demanding job it’s important to make sure you are eating healthily, and maintaining your body fit for work. Depending on your job, you may want to consider doing other physical activities for fun that will either build strength or your cardiovascular stamina.

Off work and suffering back pain?

  • Keep in regular contact with your employer to make them aware of your situation, and to discuss what adjustments might be needed once you are ready to return.
  • Discuss your needs with your employer and occupational health provider
  • If there is no occupational health provider available, your GP or safety representative may be able to discuss possible work restrictions or adjustments.
  • Suggest any practical workplace adaptations or alterations which might help you to cope while you return to full time working.
  • And of course, see your Osteopath!

We offer appointments in Devizes, Pewsey and Amesbury – please call 01380 728453 for further information or book online.

How Healthy is Your Heart?

And you thought we were just about backs……..

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!

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 remodelling 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<%2

We offer Sports Massage in Devizes, Pewsey and Amesbury – please phone 07423 433930 or book online.