CARRYING THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD ON YOUR SHOULDERS

January 25, 2010

The saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ is certainly a mantra I use on a daily basis. Cases of back pain continue to rise every year in the UK and unfortunately our lifestyles are largely to blame.

Whilst sitting for hours on end everyday and lack of exercise are common lifestyle culprits for causing posture related problems, fashion frenzies are also often to blame for the rise in back pain cases.

One trend which seems to be sticking around is oversized handbags which, whilst may look good, are causing a lot of people to carry heavy weights on one side of the body.

Whilst injuries are likely to be minor, problems with muscles and joints are often cumulative so repetitively carrying unwieldy objects may have an effect over time. These can be problems such as sprain strain injuries of neck, shoulder, fore arm and wrist as well as lower back pain.

I have put below some simple advice on carrying bags which I hope is of help.

  • Try to reduce cumulative aggravating factors, reducing the weight of the bag, carrying bags properly, improving ergonomics at work (if you have been in a compromised posture through the day this may predispose you to injury).
  • There is no ideal weight of a bag as it depends on the size and strength of the person and the style of the bag (a rucksack style over both shoulders dissipates the weight more evenly so there is less strain on the body so the lighter the better especially if you are having to carry the bag all day. Try and take out all unnecessary items, try to get in to the habit of reviewing the contents of your bag at least once a week
  • The closer the bag is to your body the better, rucksack style bags are best if not a bag that can be worn like a satchel across the body. Try to avoid holding a bag with long straps in the crook of your arm or down by your knees as this “loads your body asymmetrically” Try and keep the bag as light as possible
  • To prevent pain try a gentle “neck resisted” exercise (pushing your head in to your hand whilst looking straight ahead (tense the neck DO NOT bend or twist the neck), push gently to the right hold for 5 seconds, slowly release repeat to the left and forward and backwards always keeping the head and neck neural and ONLY do to comfort. Gentle shoulder shrugs and shoulder circles can also help.
  • Keep fit, keep supple, wear sensible footwear so when you are carrying your bag you are well balanced not “teetering on high heels” Keep the bag close to you and carry it in a relaxed position, ideally in a rucksack style- using both straps. KEEP IT LIGHT, KEEP IT SMALL.

As said prevention is better than cure – trying to avoid getting problems in the first place is always a good idea. If people are in doubt or think they may have a problem visit your local BCA chiropractor for advice or examination and treatment if needed

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Staying Safe in the Snow

January 14, 2010

The snowy conditions can be a lot of fun and a chance for some well deserved playing for some, but for others it can mean a time for pain and injury – here are a few things to think about:

 Best Foot Forward

It is a good idea to have two pairs of shoes, one for walking in the snow, the other for either driving or walking around the office. Preferably have a waterproof shoe for outside, but one that gives you support, like a walking shoe, which has a grippy sole and can be laced supportively around your foot and ankle. Whilst wellingtons can be practical they often don’t give you enough support and can be difficult to get off. Avoid walking in leather soled shoes outside and if you are driving, change your shoes if possible so your feet do not slip on the pedals.

Top Gear

Clothing wise try and layer up…..trousers should be warm and allow you to move freely – avoid things in your pockets that may do you harm if you were to fall.

Jackets should ideally go to just below your waist to hips but make sure it doesn’t impede your walking; if you fall you will be thankful for the extra padding.

In addition to keeping you warm hats and gloves can also act a padding should you fall. A hat can act a bit like a crash helmet and reduce the force of any knock to the head. Likewise when wearing gloves you are less likely to have your hands in your pockets which may save you if you were to slip.

Falling Gracefully

If you do fall, try and curl up and ‘roll’ with the fall and try to stay relaxed, this will minimise any likely jarring to your body. Whilst it may be an automatic reaction try to avoid putting your hands out to save you – this may cause wrist injuries.

Keep Your Wits

It goes without saying, try and avoid alcohol – not only will you be more prone to feeling the adverse effects of the cold (it causes Vasodilation which will make you lose body heat) but if you have alcohol in your system it may cause you to take risks in the snow and ice that you wouldn’t normally do and is of course likely to make you more unsteady on your feet. Keep topped up with warm drinks to keep your temperature up.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Plan what you need to do, especially if it involves travelling anywhere. Avoid walking too near the edge of the pavement near the road to avoid slipping into traffic. Be patient, don’t hurry and watch out for parts of the pavement that may have been in shadow or under trees, where there is more likely be black ice.

Travelling by Car

Getting the car off the drive can be a problem……. if possible, sort your garage and put the car away. If you do have to scrape the ice off your car, make sure that you have the correct implements and a can of de-icer. Stand on a stable surface and do not over stretch.

Make sure your car is regularly maintained to ensure you have good tread on your tyres – minimum tread depth is 3mm but the more the better.

Make sure your battery has been checked as a flat battery can not only cause you a great deal of inconvenience but can cause you to be stranded and exposed to the cold for a long period of time, not to mention the exertion of pushing your car. Before you turn your ignition key make sure your lights, heater and radio are turned off as this puts less strain on the battery – you can switch them on once you get going.

Finally, whether you are travelling a long distance or just around the corner, don’t forget to take a fully charged mobile phone with you, you never know when it will come in handy!

Safe Shovelling

Whilst very satisfying, clearing snow can be a very strenuous task. Make sure you bend your knees and keep your back straight, don’t twist too much as any “unaccustomed activity” may cause injury, if in doubt put some salt or grit down instead.

Remember if you do fall make sure you get checked over, especially if you hit your head.

You can also visit the BCA website for more advice and information on chiropractic.

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