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Perfecting Your Posture With Pilates

Posted on 1st February 2019 by

You might be surprised to hear that there is no such thing as ‘Perfect Posture’. It has become a deeply ingrained belief that slouching will lead to back problems. However, the most recent evidence makes it clear that posture variability – so changing positions regularly, is the most effective way to prevent back issues. In fact, trying to hold yourself straight and upright all the time may even add to back problems, as you’ll be creating unnecessary muscular tension.

But, that said, if you do spend a lot of your day sitting at a computer, driving or sat in meetings, doing regular exercises such as Pilates, can be really beneficial.

Here’s some excellent Pilates exercises that may help combat the effects of sitting.

#1 Spine Twist

  1. Starting position: Natural standing position. Centre engaged.
  2. Cross your arms over your chest and place the palms onto the front of your shoulders.
  3. Action: Breathe in to prepare.
  4. Breathe out as you twist your upper body to the right, keeping your pelvis stable. Imagine growing taller from your waist as you twist.
  5. Breathe in as you twist your upper body back to the centre, maintaining a lengthened spine.
  6. Repeat up to ten times alternating sides.

#2 Arm Openings Level 2

  1.  Start Position: Lie on your side with your shoulders and hips stacked. Head supported on a small cushion. Ensure your back is in neutral and your centre is engaged. Hips bent to approx. 45 degrees and knees bent to 90 degrees. Arms reaching in front of the body and resting one on top of the other.
  2. Action: INHALE to prepare.
  3. EXHALE, float the top arm upwards and over your head, beginning the first part of a circular motion, keep the eyes in line with the hand.
  4. INHALE for the second half of the circle as you return to the starting position.
  5. Tips: Imagine holding a piece of chalk in the top hand and drawing a large circle above the body for level two. Think of your shoulder blade drawing downwards as the top arm lifts like the counter weight on a railway gate.

#3 Cobra

  1.  Start Position: lie on your stomach with a cushion under your tummy for support if required. Ensure centre is engaged, shoulder baldes are drawn down and back of your neck is long. Bend your arms into an ‘L’ shape and place your elbows slightly higher than shoulder height. Hips turned outwards and legs wider than hip width apart.
  2. Action: INHALE to prepare.
  3. EXHALE, gently slide your shoulder blades downwards and lengthen your upper body off the mat, using your hands for support. Maintain length from the crown of the head to your tailbone and continue peeling your body away the mat, section by section until your hip bones are lifted.
  4. INHALE and hold your cobra position.
  5. EXHALE, layer your body back down onto the mat commencing with your hip bones and finishing with your forehead to return to neutral spine position.
  6. Tips: Imagine peeling the body away from the mat section by section beginning with the forehead, then the shoulders, breastbone, lower ribcage, waist then hip bones. Reach your tailbone towards your heels to prevent over extending your lower back.

#4 Breaststroke Prep Level 2

  1.  Starting position: Lie on your front. Forehead resting on a small (1 inch) cushion or folded towel. Back of the neck long. Arms resting long beside the body on the floor. Palms facing inwards. Neutral lumbo-pelvic position. Legs out straight, hip-distance apart.
  2. Action: Inhale to prepare
  3. Exhale, slide the shoulder blades gently downwards and reach from the shoulder blades to the fingertips towards the feet and allow the arms to hover 1 2 inches off the mat. Simultaneously, lengthen the upper body off the mat to hover the breastbone approx, 1 inch form the floor (no lumbar extension). Keep the back of the neck long.
  4. Inhale and hold the position.
  5. Exhale, relax the shoulder blades and arms to the mat. Simultaneously, lengthen the upper body as to lowers to the mat to return to the starting position. Keep the back of the neck long.
  6. Repeat 6 – 8 times.

#5 Swan Dive Level 1

  1. Starting position: Lie on your front. Legs out straight, hip-distance apart. Arms bent up beside the body, with the elbows slightly below the level of the shoulders. Forehead resting on small cushion or folded towel. Neck long.
  2. Action: Inhale to prepare.
  3. Exhale, lift your breastbone to hover off the floor, allow the neck and head to follow the movement, keeping the neck long.
  4. Inhale and hold the position.
  5. Exhale and lower the breastbone to the mat, allow the neck and head to follow the movement, keeping the neck long.
  6. Repeat 6 – 8 times.

Doing these exercises throughout the week can be really helpful at easing any built up stiffness and areas of tension and reminding muscles to work! But there’s no substitute for moving regularly. Don’t forget, the most important thing is moving and changing position throughout the day!

#LovePilates


BackCare Awareness Week 2016

Posted on 3rd October 2016 by

This week, 3rd – 8th October 2016 is BackCare Awareness Week. The focus this year is ‘Caring for Back care Awareness WeekCarers’.

Carers provide invaluable help and assistance to their children, friends, relatives, and partners. It is estimated that there are around 7 million unpaid carers in the UK.

But what happens when their work leads to back pain, compromising their ability to care?

Back pain is endemic among carers: a 2011 survey found that 70% of carers experienced back and shoulder pain. This issue seriously affects the quality of life of those who should be most valued in our society, as well as impacting on their caregiving work, which saves the NHS and local authorities very significant sums of money.

BackCare Charity aims to significantly reduce the burden of back pain by providing information and education to all people and organisations affected by back pain and to fund scientific research into the causes, prevention and management of back pain.

If you’re a carer, you can download BackCare’s publication ‘A Carer’s Guid to the Safe Moving and Handling of People’.

Our Top Tips for a Healthy Back

  1. Try and exercise regularly. It doesn’t have to be specific back exercises, walking, swimming, yoga, Pilates – any regular movement will help to strengthen your back muscles. Pilates is an ideal form of exercise for all ages and strengthens your core muscles that support your spine.
  2. If you do feel some back pain, keep active and moving. Take a look at a previous blog for more advice as to what to do if you do get some back pain.
  3. Get specialist training on manual handling techniques to make sure you protect yourself and the person you are caring for. Use appropriate equipment to help you whenever possible but again, make sure you have the right training to use it correctly.
  4. Think about your posture. Avoid slumping or staying in 1 position for extended lengths of time. This puts undue stress on your body which can lead to issues.
  5. Rotate and pace your caring tasks if you can, break up heavier tasks with lighter ones or alternate with a walk. If you can get help to share your responsibilities or can find the opportunity to take a break, accept this help. Your body needs a chance to recover too.

If you do suffer with back pain, either a long term recurring problem or a severe one off episode, please do get in touch with us. We can help find out what’s going on and provide a comprehensive treatment programme to help your recovery and more important help you become more resilient to back pain in the future.


10 Ways to Keep Your Neck Pain Under Control

Posted on 29th June 2016 by

Neck pain is a very common complaint. We see dozens of people every week at our clinic in Chandlers Ford, suffering from various degrees of neck pain. Rarely is it very serious and there are very effective treatments that we can use to help resolve the problem quickly.

Whilst physiotherapy treatment can help neck pain very effectively, it is very important that you learn to help control and manage the problem yourself too or better still, take steps to help prevent it occurring in the first place.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. Sustained poor postures can cause and re-aggravate neck pain. Learn how to maintain a good posture during common activities such as reading, watching TV, sleeping and working. This will reduce neck strain. More importantly, don’t stay in any one position for too long – shuffle and move about. It’s sustaining one position for lengthy periods of time that can cause neck issues.
  2. Overuse can over-stress the neck structures. Performing the same activity repetitively is unwise. Try to break up and vary your activity from time to time. Examples when overuse can be a problem include painting, writing, gardening, practising your sport (e.g. tennis, golf), lifting & work activities.
  3. Poor muscle control in your neck may lead to fatigue and overuse of other muscles in the area. Strengthening your neck muscles can help you control your neck problem. We will always provide you with an exercise programme designed specifically for you to help strengthen the right muscles if needed.
  4. Treatment can often help if you’ve got neck pain. Arrange to see someone when problems arise or if your neck begins to deteriorate. Don’t leave it until problems become severe. Some people find a regular massage can be helpful.
  5. Heat & massage are useful self treatment techniques. Heat & massage often helps ease muscle spasm or tension.
  6. Regular breaks are important. Try to divide your activities into small chunks and have breaks in between. Performing gentle stretches and range of movement exercises (as advised by your physio) can be very useful during these breaks. Also, get up and walk around regularly.
  7. Your chair is very important. Make sure you have a good chair for work, study or when at the computer. Your chair should have a good lower back support, height adjustment and adjustable arm rest. You could even think about having a height adjustable desk so that you vary your work between sitting and standing.
  8. Computer height is important. The monitor should be at eye level and not too far away. You shouldn’t have to twist your neck to use your computer. You should have a document holder, good light and the keyboard should be at elbow level. Your physio can provide specific guidelines about setting up your workstation properly.
  9. Avoid tension whilst working. When you are tense or you are over using the wrong muscles it will put increased stress on your neck. An example of this tension is when you shrug your shoulders and hold this position. You will feel the tension in your neck. When you relax from this ‘shrugged’ position and let your shoulders drop down and relax. This reduces the tension. Learn to relax those ‘shoulder-neck’ muscles.
  10. Improve your neck flexibility. Reduce neck stiffness by stretching tight neck muscles and joints. A stiff neck is less able to withstand strain and loading. Have your physio show you what exercises are best for you.

If you’re suffering with neck problems and want to take control, get in touch with us at goPhysio – we can carry out a full assessment to help you understand your neck issues and create a bespoke recovery plan to not only relieve your symptoms but give you long lasting recovery. If you need any advice, give us a call on 023 8025 3317 or you can book an appointment online.

Here are some general neck exercises that are great to help ward off neck pain.

Neck Exercises and Tension Relief

 


Look after yourself when working from home

Posted on 1st March 2016 by

Look after yourself when working from home

We seem to spend hours at a computer nowadays, not only working but shopping, socialising, researching……….

Technology now means we can work from almost anywhere, and the number of people working from home is now estimated to be 14% of the workforce.

Whereas in an office or workplace, we tend to be mindful of our workstation set up or have support and guidance from an occupational health service, at home this isn’t so. The work station can often be a lap top at a kitchen table or desk that doubles up for the kids homework!

Over time, such a set up can wreck havoc with your body.

Ergonomics

Ergonomic principles are great. They optimise your work station set up to make sure any stress on your body from working in a sustained position is minimised. However, the trouble with ergonomics is that it can make a work station TOO COMFORTABLE. This means you don’t necessarily feel uncomfortable, therefore you stay in one position longer. Staying in any position for too long isn’t recommended as over time this can lead to pain and issues in areas such as your neck, back and arms.

So, although optimising your work station ergonomically is recommended, to have the greatest benefit you need to combine this with changing position regularly, being active in the working day and taking small breaks.

It can seem a bit daunting, reviewing your work set up, but small changes can make a huge difference.

Small Changes

  • Start with your chair. Decent chairs don’t need to be expensive nowadays. The key components are that it has arm rests, is height adjustable (both seat and back rest), that it provides support for your lumbar spine and that it can swivel (which helps you move around your desk and reach for things you need).
  • On your desk make sure your mouse and keyboard are as close together as possible. Position your key board so that the letter B is right in the middle (many key boards are asymmetrical). Your key board and mouse should be positioned at a height so that your elbows are bent at 90 degrees when your working – this is applicable in both a seated and standing work position.
  • Position your monitor so that the top is about 8-10cm above eye level, so you can look straight on. It should be about an arms length away when you’re sitting. If you use a laptop, get yourself a docking station or device to raise it up so you’re not always looking down.
  • Make sure everything is within easy reach.
  •  If you use a lap top, invest in a separate keyboard and stand so that you can follow the same ergonomic principles.
  • Set your desk and chair height appropriately for your height. Ergotron offer a great interactive tool to help you work out what your optimal working position should be in both siting and standing.

Variation

As pointed out above, no matter how good your desk set up is, the key to staying pain and injury free when your work is mainly computer based is variety. Alternate positions when you can. A good way to do this is by task based working. For example, if you need to take or make a phone call, do this walking round. Put your printer in another room so you have to get up to retrieve any printing. Set a timer to remind you to take a minute out every 30 minutes or so to get up and stretch. Use your kitchen worktop for brainstorming or taking written notes. Invest in a height adjustable desk so that you can alternate between sitting and standing when you’re on your computer. Suggest a walking meeting so you can get out in the fresh air and get your body moving at any opportunity.

Working from home can be great, reduced travel time, more flexible hours and coffee at hand, but, the tendency to work longer hours at the desk can be part of it. So, just make sure you look after you body in the process.

If you’d like any help or advice with your work station set up, our team of Physiotherapist are on hand to help. Just give the clinic a call on 023 8025 3317.