Think Santa this Christmas!

Let’s spell it out loud and clear: SANTA (Straighten up, Active, Neck long, Take breaks, Action)

Take the S for Straighten up:

Good posture decreases our susceptibility to back pain.

Call on the A for Active:

Eating so much over the festive period requires us to be more active. Get outdoors, go for a walk, take a beach or park run with family and friends.

Sound out the N for Neck long:

Constantly looking down at our phones puts enormous strain on our necks and spines. Create ‘no phone’ policy during the festive period, allowing festive gatherings to be true social occasions. When using your phone bring it to eye level, so your neck is long.

Sing out T for Take breaks:

Christmas is always a busy time putting up decorations, wrapping presents and cooking up Christmas feasts. Our spine often feels the constant strain that we place on our bodies. Ask for help so that you are not doing all the tasks at once or on your own. Allow yourself to take frequent breaks.

Finally move the A into place for Action:

Do some simple movements outside of your repetitive movement zone as demonstrated by Santa. The action of arms out or arms up and a knee lift to the bent elbow is so easy.

Thank you, SANTA

3 Common Walking Myths Busted!

Walking as an exercise needs to be understood and respected. It is time to dismiss the commonly held idea around walking not being a worthwhile workout. Here we present the truth about three walking for exercise myths.

Myth #1: 10,000 Steps is the Holy Grail

“Wow, I’ve done it” is a common thought and produces a feeling of achievement when your fitness tracker signals you have hit the 10,000 step target. Perhaps this often used walking target is really only an arbitrary number when it comes to health benefits.

At Columbia University, Carol Ewing Garber, PhD, professor of movement sciences, believes the 10,000 step goal requires some rethinking.  “[Walking 10,000 steps] will result in health benefits,” Garber says. “But it should be noted that … there is benefit even with small amounts of walking and the benefits increase with the more steps you walk each day.”

Garber proposes that we change our goal setting thinking from how many steps we’ve walked in a day to how much moderate intensity exercise we do each week.

Based on research, Garber suggests that we aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. This moderate physical activity approach is thought to be less overwhelming to new exercisers. However, moderate intensity exercise will continue to be effective in lowering blood pressure and improving glucose tolerance.

Research published in the British Medical Journal has shown that even when a step count is minimal, walking an additional 2000 steps per day will assist to lower body mass index and boost insulin sensitivity.

Myth #2: Walking Doesn’t Help With Weight Loss

A gentle stroll is certainly not going to do the work required for weight loss. However, a stroll is still better than lounging around watching soapy dramas from a burning calories point of view. Leslie Sansone, fitness expert and well known for creating Walk at Home Workouts, has the evidence to support her claim: “Walking works for weight loss!”.

In a research study at the University of Virginia, overweight women lost more belly fat over a 12 week period when they did the following combination:

  • Three, 30 minute high intensity walks per week.
  • Two moderately paced walks per week.

When looking at the calories burnt when walking, a second study showed that 20% more calories were burnt by varying the speed of walking compared to maintaining the same pace.

Sansone recommends incorporating high intensity interval training (HIIT) into your walking program. This means a slow paced 5-minute walk to warm up, then 30-seconds of brisk paced walking. To complete this interval, you do 4-minutes of regular paced walking. The interval is repeated four times. You finish with a 5-minute slow paced walk to cool down.

The HIIT walking program assists you with living a long and healthy life.

Myth #3: Walking is Only For Those Who Can’t Run

For many people new to exercise or for those recovering from an injury, walking is an excellent “gateway exercise”. Once a level of stamina and cardiovascular fitness is achieved, walkers can transition to running.

However, not all walkers want to run — and that is fine.

Garber says, “Walking is a good exercise for everyone”.

A study looking at high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease, were shown to be lower in regular walkers compared to runners. This study was published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

Whilst walking around the block is better than no physical activity, the health benefits of walking are maximised when the walking workout is of sufficient time with added intensity levels. Garber suggests using your fitness tracker to focus on duration, distance or calorie expenditure. Remember whether you walk or run it is the amount of exercise that is important to achieve health benefits.

The words of Sansone sums it up beautifully – “If you start fitness walking today, you will instantly feel better and know you’re doing something good for your body, mind and soul.”

Neck Pain

neck-acheToday’s modern living often entails hours of driving and hunching over workstations, which can play havoc with our necks. So it is no surprising that neck pain is one of the most common condition that our practitioners treat. Whilst neck pain is less common than low back pain, millions of people experience neck pain and related arm pain at some stage in their lives and therefore seek treatment.

Neck Pain results from abnormalities in the soft tissues – muscles, ligaments, and nerves, as well as in the bone and the joints of the spine. The most common causes that we identify and treat are soft tissue abnormalities from injury or prolonged wear and tear and in many people it is also the source of pain in the upper back, shoulders and arms.

When neck pain is caused by muscle strain, you may have aches and stiffness that spread to the upper arm and forearm. Shooting pain that spread down the arm into the hand and fingers can be a symptom of a “pinched nerve” or nerve entrapment in the neck. When a nerve is “pinched” in the neck, numbness, weakness and possibly pain of the hands or arms may occur. Disc injuries are rare but it is the most common cause of nerve entrapments.

Injuries to the neck caused by a sudden movement of the head backwards and forwards or sideways, are referred to as “whiplash”. Whether from a car accident, sporting injury or an accident at work, whiplash or neck injuries warrant a thorough examination.

Whiplash is most commonly suffered as a result of a road traffic accident. An impact or collision causes the head to suddenly jerk back and forth beyond its normal limits.

Wear and Tear, Osteoarthritis or Joint Degeneration occurs due to the accumulation of stresses and trauma over time. Throughout life the spine is required to withstand considerable weight bearing strain, purely as a result of the pressures of daily living. The overall effects of degenerative changes of the spine, leads to a feeling of stiffness and reduced spinal mobility. However, just like any other part of the body, the better care that is taken of the spine, the less degeneration is likely to occur.

Chronic Headaches and Migraines

headachesIf you’re a sufferer of chronic headaches or migraines, you don’t need convincing that they’re one of the most painful, debilitating conditions you could possibly suffer. Millions upon millions of dollars a year are spent on trying to find relief from this crippling illness. But what causes migraines?

Basically it’s a decrease in oxygen to the brain. If the brain receives less oxygen per milliliter of blood, it will simply increase the amount of blood flow to increase the overall amount of oxygen received. In order to increase the amount of blood flow it must dilate the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. When these vessels dilate, it stretches pain fibres that wrap around the outside of these vessels. When these pain fibres are stretched they are activated and start sending pain signals into the brain, resulting in your perception of pain.

Headaches and migraines may also be caused by a misalignment or dysfunction of a vertebra in the top of the neck. This then causes inflammation and tension of the joints, muscles and blood vessels at the base of the neck, which then transfers pain up into the skull.

So what can help?

Gentle but specific adjustments to the neck and upper back can help to restore the normal alignment and function of the vertebrae in the neck, which removes the tension that causes headache and migraine symptoms. As well as removing the tension, the inflammation around the joints, muscles and blood vessels is decreased and the pain fibres begin to be deactivated.

There are other factors that contribute to headaches, but these figures, and everyday experiences show that neck problems are a huge contributor.

Do you suffer from headaches or migraines? The answer may be simple. Come in and see what we can do.

Shoulder Pain

shoulder-painPainful shoulder conditions that limit movement are very common, and are caused by injuries affecting the shoulder joint, muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.

It is possible to do more movements with the arm than with any other part of the body. The arm is such a useful tool that it’s a pity that there are only two of them!

Since the nerves that supply the shoulder and arm originate from the neck and upper spine, conditions such as Vertebral Dysfunction commonly contribute to pain in the shoulder.

Our practitioners may be able to assist with the following shoulder conditions:

  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Chronic Shoulder Pain and Stiffness
  • Shoulder Muscle Spasm and Tension
  • Arthritis of the Shoulder
  • Diagnosis of Shoulder Pain
  • Rotator Cuff Disorders such as tears and strains
  • Impingement Syndrome
  • AC Joint Injury

In order to determine the cause of your pain, we will conduct a full physical, orthopaedic and neurological examination of the shoulder, cervical and thoracic spine. You may be asked to perform shoulder range of motion and muscle strength tests. Where the pain is felt, both at rest and during movement of the shoulder, provides important clues as to the cause of the shoulder pain. It may also be necessary to undergo specialized diagnostic tests such as XRay, Ultrasound and/or MRI scans.

Signs of Shoulder Injury may include restriction in the movements of the shoulder.

Treatment of Shoulder Pain

Regardless of the cause, treatment of the shoulder area requires an experienced practitioner who can test the movements and structures of the shoulder and come to an accurate diagnosis of the problem. The initial objective of all shoulder injuries is to relieve pain and inflammation.