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Speak Up and Speak Out About Stress

Posted on 1st November 2017 by

This Wednesday is National Stress Awareness Day, we take a look at what stress is really doing to our  National Stress Awareness Day bodies and how we can both recognise it and combat it.

What is stress?

Stress is anything which exerts pressure on us beyond our individual ability to cope. It has traditionally been thought of as a flight or fight response; increasing our alertness, muscle tone and heart rate to respond to a perceived threat. However modern-day stress can come in many forms such as workplace pressures, relationship issues, juggling family commitments or looking after a sick relative, which can all take their toll.

What happens when we are stressed?

When we are stressed our body releases chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones are imperative for our survival, however if their levels are sustained for a prolonged period they will start to impact on our physical health and affect many different organs in our body.

Symptoms of stress

Symptoms of stress can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Indecisiveness
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic muscle pain
  • Over or under eating
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Reflux
  • Increased risk of diabetes, heart conditions and stroke
  • Increased susceptibility to colds and viruses

Can exercise help with stress?

Yes! Exercise helps lower our blood pressure, reduce the levels of stress hormones in our body, improve our mood, our muscle flexibility and tone, as well as distracting us from other stressors and helping us to get a good night’s sleep.

Great forms of stress-busting exercise include classes such as Pilates, tai chi and yoga, which focus on breathing and flexibility of the body. They also give us the opportunity to ‘check in’ with ourselves and become more aware of how we are feeling physically and mentally. Whilst this gives us some much needed me-time, classes can also be a great social opportunity which is perfect for boosting our mood!

The ISMA (international stress management association) has come up with 7 positive ways to influence stress

1. Change the thought – Change the outcome

This is the starting point, reprogramming your brain by replacing an unhelpful negative thought or belief with a new positive one. Use your imagination to visualise or ‘show’ your brain what you want. The power of the mind cannot be over-estimated!

2. Self-belief starts with you

This is an empowering way of taking more control in your life rather than relying on others to make you feel good. Do something fun or caring for yourself today!

3. Don’t just do what you did last year

Repeating what you always do will bring you the same outcome unless others change & this is not in your control. So if you didn’t like all that happened last year make plans & set new goals, do something different!

4. Deal with difficult decisions now, not later

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” We all know this but positive action is required to make it happen. Prioritize & do the difficult tasks first in the day so you have a clear focus for the rest of the day making you less stressed & more productive!

5. Find reasons to say “yes”

“I would love to but….” here comes the negative reason why you can’t! It can be a really positive experience to just say yes, if it is possible & what you want, then try to find ways that will allow you the opportunity, maybe you need others to persuade you, take control & decide for yourself!

6. Renegotiate

Stuck with what you have always had & now want a change? Look at learning to develop & use your assertive skills, ask for what you want, discuss your changing needs, expectations with yourself & others to reach the deal that works for you!

7. Flip it!

There are always two sides to every situation, sometimes more. Take time to look at all your options, don’t just assume, maybe ask others & make informed choices based on facts!

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Migraine Awareness Week

Posted on 4th September 2017 by

This week is Migraine Awareness Week, a time to raise general awareness of migraine as a serious public health issue and to reduce the associated stigma. migraine awareness week

Migraine is the third most common disease in the world, with an estimated global prevalence of one in seven people. Despite being recognised as one of the most disabling lifetime conditions, awareness and understanding is low.

Headaches and migraines can have many different causes. You can read more about some of the common types on a previous blog. Physiotherapy techniques can be very effective at successfully relieving and preventing headaches and migraines. One such technique we use at goPhysio is acupuncture.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture works as preventative method for treating headaches and migraines – it works to resolve the cause of the issue by addressing imbalances and then continues to maintain that equilibrium to prevent any further re-occurrence of migraines.

Migraines often have a systemic cause involving reduced or compromised blood supply to the brain – TCM Acupuncture aims to improve the blood supply and circulation to help reduce the symptoms of a migraine.

It can also help with the following:

  • Pain relief – by stimulating nerves located in the surrounding muscles, neuro-chemicals are released that alter how the brain processes pain signals.
  • Reducing inflammation – by promoting the release of vascular and immune system altering factors.
  • Regulating extra- and intra-cranial blood flow.
  • Reducing the degree of cortical spreading depression, which is an electrical wave in the brain common in migraines.
  • Affecting the serotonin levels within the brain, which can halt an acute migraine attack

Read more about the evidence and safety of using acupuncture to treat migraines.

At goPhysio, we will use an integrated approach to help you manage your migraines. We will look at all the factors involved and tend to use acupuncture as a part of your treatment programme, which may also include:

  • Exercises to address muscle strength, flexibility and stability
  • Education and advice to address any lifestyle factors or habits
  • Addressing any other areas that may be contributing to your problems, commonly neck, thoracic spine or shoulder regions

Read more

Tension headaches

Cervicogenic headaches

The prevalence of headaches

 

#letsbeatmigraine #migraineawarenessweek

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Tension Headaches: Causes & Solutions

Posted on 14th November 2016 by

A tension headache is the most common type of primary chronic headache, affecting around 3% of the general population and accounting for 40% of headaches seen within a specialist headache clinic.

They are more common in young adults but can occur at any age. They are often linked to periods of high stress or emotional distress.

A tension headache will often affect both sides of the head, with a tight band or vice like grip around the forehead. They can last from 30 minutes to several days, but on average will last 4-6 hours.

There tends to be a strong association with poor posture and often trigger points within the head and neck muscles will either cause or contribute to this type of headache.

There are a number of causes for developing tension headaches:

  • Stress
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Poor posture
  • Irregular meal times
  • Eyestrain
  • Teeth clenching/grinding (also known as Bruxism)
  • Prolonged uncomfortable positions

Tension headaches can be classified as either:

  • Episodic – fewer than 15 days within a month
  • Chronic – over 15 days a month for over 6 months

Physiotherapy can help address tension headaches with the following:

  • Postural rehabilitation
  • Strengthening weak muscles in the neck & upper back
  • Releasing trigger points
  • Easing tight muscles

If you suffer with the distress of regular headaches and think they may be tension headaches, get in touch. We’ll be able to carry out a full assessment to find out what issues may be causing your headaches.


The Prevalence of Headaches: Types and Causes

Posted on 10th November 2016 by

We often get patients coming into the clinic complaining of headaches. This blog series will look at the prevalence of headaches – what causes them, how they are classified and then will look at some of the more common types of headaches in more detail and how Physiotherapy can help with managing and resolving these.

Most of us have experienced a headache previously – the World Health Organisation has reported that:

  • 75% of adults aged 18-65 have experienced a headache in the last year
  • 47% of adults have experienced an episode of headache disorder – recurrent or prolonged headaches – in the last year
  • Around 30% of adults reported suffering from a migraine in the last year
  • Around 4% of adults report having a headache for over 15 days each month, known as Chronic Daily Headaches

These figures show us that headache disorder is a worldwide issue and they are ranked as the 3rd highest cause of ‘years lost due to disability’. Migraine on its own is the 6th highest cause. Headaches tends to affect women more than men – for example, for every one male reporting Chronic Daily Headaches, three women will be affected.

Headaches can be triggered by a number of factors:

  • Mechanical issues – poor posture, neck position, working habits
  • Hormones – likely why more women report headaches than men
  • Stress levels
  • Medication induced – known as ‘medication overuse’
  • Teeth grinding
  • External factors – smell, bright lights, pressure and humidity

Headaches can also be classified into either primary or secondary.

  • Primary headaches are benign, often recurrent but are not caused by an underlying disease or structural problem. Tension type headaches are the most common type of primary headaches.
  • Secondary headaches are a result of an underlying disease or structural issue, such as infection, head injury, vascular problems or spinal issue. Cervicogenic (neck based) headaches are the most common type of secondary headaches.

Both tension type and cervicogenic headaches are types of mechanical headaches and can be helped greatly with Physiotherapy intervention.

If you suffer with headaches and would like help in tackling them, give us a call on 023 8025 3317 and find out if we can help.