Research published by Macmillan Cancer Support shows an estimated 7 million people across the country turned to running or jogging during the Covid-19 crisis to boost their mental health.
One in seven people in the UK (14%) said running had helped them deal with stress since the first lockdown in March. And about a third said running helped them feel calmer and more positive.
All of which is great news. But it’s important that these mental benefits don’t come at a physical cost. More research (!) show that, for every 1,000 hours of running, beginners get injured twice as often as experienced runners.
Among the most common problems to plague runners are Plantar Fasciitis – painful inflammation of the tissue along the bottom of the foot and Achilles Tendonitis. This manifests as pain and tenderness in the heel and along the Achilles tendon. Which is the thickest tendon in the human body.
Responding to running injury
On a practical level, there are a couple of simple self-help measures that you can try:
- First and foremost, take an immediate break from training.
- Apply ice regularly to the painful area for the first 48-72 hours to reduce swelling.
- Take a good look at your training footwear. Running shoes will generally need replacing after you’ve run 300-500 miles.
- Consider gentle, stretching exercises, such as the heel drop (devised by Swedish sports doctor Dr Hakan Alfredson). Try three sets of 15 heel drops twice daily over three months.
Give low-level laser therapy a try
Over time, most such treatments will provide some relief. But what if you had access to a quicker, more effective and long-lasting therapy? Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) could be the answer. It’s a pain-free, non-invasive treatment that involves placing a low-power light beam on the injured area. The light stimulates repair by cellular organelles (specialised structures within a cell that carry out a particular function) called Mitochondria, This reduces pain and promotes a speedier, safer recovery.
Treatment times are relatively short and many patients report encouraging results within two or three sessions.
LLLT is used widely by osteopaths in the United States. It is gaining ground here in the UK, alongside general osteopathic techniques, as a successful treatment for sports injuries. Also, Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, back pain, various types of arthritis and other conditions including strains and sprains.
Osteopath Robin Kiashek said: “I’ve been using LLLT as part of my treatment plans for over 10 years. It sits nicely alongside the other therapies and patients frequently report great improvements to their symptoms.”
There is some useful information on the website about LLLT, including a video explaining how it works.
So, if pain has stopped play when it comes to your exercise regime then why not contact Robin to see if LLLT could get you back up and…well, running?
What can I do to relieve my back pain?
Google searches around back pain, relief for back pain and back pain exercises skyrocketed in 2020. Which is concerning news for me as an Osteopath.
In some ways it’s not surprising. Back pain affects up to 80% of us at some point in our lives. It’s one of the most common reasons for workplace absence and the NHS spends more than £1 billion per year on back pain related costs. Plus, there’s the challenges of the past year – the long term impact of working from home in an imperfect set up, new, different or abandoned exercise routines and the undoubted increase in stress.
So I can understand why, in the absence of the usual access to NHS services, people are turning to other sources. But Google is not the answer.
The good news about back pain
Pain of any sort can be distressing and worrying. It can lead to feelings of stress which can manifest physically as tightened muscles and thus increased pain. And so the cycle builds. But (and this is the important bit!) back pain is rarely due to any serious disease and the long-term outlook is good.
Your spine is made of solid, bony blocks reinforced by strong ligaments and muscles. It is surprisingly difficult to damage. But if strained, the surrounding muscles and ligaments can cause discomfort and pain.
Why Osteopathy for back pain relief?
In the UK, Osteopaths must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) to practise. They are highly trained professionals skilled in diagnosing health issues. This includes those that may require further investigation. Osteopathy is a safe and effective way to prevent, diagnose and treat a wide range of health problems. Including back pain.
I qualified in Osteopathic Medicine 25 years ago. I’ve since trained in various additional complementary disciplines to extend the options I can offer to my patients:
At your first appointment, I take a full medical and lifestyle history to get a proper understanding of the issue that has brought you to my clinic and of you as an individual. This combined with a physical examination enables me to devise a treatment plan specific to the problems you’re experiencing.
How can an Osteopath help with back pain?
At the Robin Kiashek Clinics, I aim to relieve pain and help strengthen the body, making it less susceptible to discomfort or injury. I also try to understand the lifestyle factors which may have contributed to the onset of pain. My range of gentle and effective treatments to relieve back pain includes manual Osteopathy, Western Acupuncture and Low-Level Laser Therapy.
Through these non-invasive methods and by working closely with your lifestyle, I can help minimise or even resolve symptoms and improve your overall health.
We’ve also recently added another string to our bow. With our Home Office Ergonomics service, we review your home working arrangements and make suggestions for improvement to help minimise the impact on your physical (and emotional) wellbeing.
Relief from back pain at home – Tips for self-help
Last August I wrote about back pain and millennials – some top tips for prevention. These are useful guidelines for us all and you can read them here.
If you are in pain, please don’t suffer in silence. Early diagnosis and treatment can help with recovery and get you back to usual activities more quickly. Osteopaths are considered essential workers. As such, I was vaccinated against Covid-19 in January. I also undertake weekly Rapid Flow Antigen Tests to ensure I’m Covid free. I can continue to treat patients in accordance with government guidelines through lockdown. So, please do get in touch.
Exercise and Endorphins
As a regular (three days a week) swimmer I was extremely pleased when my local pool reopened last month. Like many, I did my best to keep up with my exercise over lockdown and managed to cycle regularly. But the swimming left a hole. Which I did my best to fill with donuts!
So as soon as it was possible, I was very keen to dive back in (sorry!) to my previous – and quite rigorous – exercise regime. And the same can be said of many others if the number of exercise related injuries I’m seeing is anything to go by.
So, it seems timely to remind you about the need to be kind to yourselves. We’ve been through a lot this year. And it’s not over yet.
Here’s my top tips for exercising your way to the end of 2020:
- There’s been much talk of pivoting during this pandemic (mainly in relation to businesses I know). If you’ve had to pivot your usual exercising regime due to pool or gym closures – then please remember that a reasonable level of strength, ability or endurance in one discipline does not make you an all-rounder. Sports and activities put different requirements on your muscle groups. You WILL need to adjust your expectations of what success looks like. I’ve been treating a very keen and talented young swimmer who took up running when the pools closed. Unfortunately, she set her expectations too high (basing them around what she could achieve in the pool) and attacked this new discipline far too rigorously. The result – injury. Which may now also impact her return to swimming.
- We don’t know what’s to come in terms of restrictions or potential lockdowns and I’m seeing this lack of certainty manifest as anxiety and stress in my patients.
Perhaps we need to reframe our thinking around exercise and try something different? Or, for those of us with a little more time now we’re not commuting, something extra?
Could you fit in a yoga class? Extend that dog walk? Or organise a game of tennis – lots of local parks have courts that are easy and affordable to book.
The physical benefits of exercise are well documented but the positive impact it can have on our mental health is also significant.
- For those new to exercise -well done! Maybe you’ve started a walking or running programme or bought yourself a bike. Whatever method you choose – take it slowly. Especially if you haven’t exercised your muscles for a long time. There are many benefits to a slow and steady approach (both in terms of effort and frequency). You are more likely to stay committed if you don’t feel your new hobby is taking over your life. And less likely to injure yourself. Which would put you straight back to square one.
- A quick word about the exercising and the great outdoors. I know that we’re heading into Winter but don’t let that put you off togging up and heading out. As the Walker and Author, Alfred Wainwright, said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” Outside exercise doesn’t need to mean running or cycling – a good long walk can be a very sociable option and for those lucky enough to have outside space – some vigorous gardening can really burn the calories.
- If there’s one thing we’ve all learnt this year, it’s how to interact online. There are thousands of online exercise classes available. And many experts offering virtual training sessions. Truly something for everyone. But just a quick word of warning about following online workouts where there’s no interaction with the instructor. Be mindful of form. Especially if you’re lifting weights. It’s easy to pick up injuries when weights are too heavy or lifted incorrectly. So, if you’re a beginner then a ‘live’ session, where the instructor can make sure you’re exercising safely is probably best.
If you are carrying a sports or exercise related injury then Osteopathy could help.
Lower Back Pain
We’ve spoken before about the seriousness of back pain – a debilitating ailment that can strike at any time. And lower back pain is particularly common. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, it is the most common cause of job-related disability.
Lower back pain is often associated with the over 50s, but we’ve recently seen a rise in the number of millennials wanting help with this issue.
Lower back pain can, of course, be the result of an injury such as a sporting sprain or strain. Or it can be triggered by an underlying, untreated chronic symptom/s, often very mild and transient, which has been influenced by long-term lifestyle factors.
The current cohort of 20-40-year-olds is the first true ‘digital generation.’ They make up the largest generation in the workforce in the UK. They are also the people most likely to be found hunched over a computer/gaming screen, in the gym lifting heavy weights and – thanks to COVID-19 – now working from home at make-shift desks.
Robin Kiashek said: “Given these lifestyle factors, it’s not surprising that Millennials are increasingly suffering with lower back pain. And in our youth we often consider ourselves invincible, so we tend to ignore warning signs such as pain and are often not sufficiently patient with our body’s need to allow time for recovery.”
How to prevent lower back pain
Prevention is clearly the best option when it comes to lower back pain. Here’s our top tips for avoiding this painful condition:
Watch your posture
Posture is key when it comes to keeping your back in tip top condition. Avoid slumping in your chair or on the sofa and don’t hunch over your desk. Also, watch out for tech neck . This 21st century phenomena puts unnecessary pressure on your shoulders and back and is caused by resting your chin on your chest whilst looking at a phone or computer screen. If you work from a laptop then raise it so that the screen is at eye level.
Take a stand
Take breaks from your work. Try to get away from your screen, stand and move about every 30 minutes or so to get your back muscles into action. I’ve talked before about the benefits of active dynamic sitting. This is where your seating allows or encourages you to move, increase your stability and strengthen your core abdominal muscles. There are a variety of specially designed seats on the market to improve postural health and the abdominal muscles. I use the ‘Swopper Chair’ and would highly recommend it.
Exercise, exercise, exercise
It’s so important to work out the muscles in your abdomen and back. That’s because these are the core muscles attached to the spine or pelvis that help us to stand, move and go about our daily life. Just make you do so safely. If you are lifting weights, be sure to bend at the hips and not your back.
Try to relax
As a trained Osteopath and Naturopath with more than 25 years in the industry, I know there’s a close link between physical, mental and emotional health. Problems originating in one place can often show up as referred pain in another. Some people manifest stress in their minds, others manifest it physically and some will do both. This causes us to tighten our muscles, particularly around our shoulders and down our spine. We all unwind in different ways but my advice would be to find yours and make time for it!
Check out your sleeping situation
We spend a third of our lives sleeping. So, it’s definitely worth spending money on a good mattress for your back. And do be aware that a divan mattress will support your mattress and back whereas slats do not.
How we can help with lower back pain
At The Robin Kiashek Clinics, we aim to relieve pain and help strengthen the body, making it less susceptible to discomfort or injury. We also try to understand the lifestyle factors which may have contributed to the onset of pain. Our range of gentle and effective treatments includes Osteopathy, Western Acupuncture and Low Level Laser Therapy.
We’ve also recently added another string to our bow. With our Home Office Ergonomics service, we review your home working arrangements and make suggestions for improvement to help minimise the impact on your physical (and emotional) wellbeing.
Get in touch
If you are dealing with lower back pain, why not call us on 020 8815 0979 or request an appointment online?
What can we do to lessen the impact of working from home
Remote working or working from home (WFH) has been on the rise for the past last few years.
And since lockdown there’s been a huge spike in the number of people swapping their perfectly set up office desks to makeshift work spaces desks in their living rooms, kitchens or even bedrooms.
According to the latest statistics released by the UK’s Office for National Statistics in April, 49.2% of adults in employment were working from home as a direct result of the social distancing measures introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Whilst restrictions around social distancing might be easing, there’s still a huge number of people who either work remotely permanently or for the majority of the working week.
But what physical implications and emotional does WFH create?
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
Whether it’s your wrists, hands, forearms, elbows, neck or shoulders – RSI has a lot to answer for. RSI is a general term use to describe muscle, nerve and tendon pain caused by repetitive movement and overuse. It can strike anyone who performs a repetitive or high intensity action for long periods without rest. It’s also exacerbated by poor posture or activities involving working in an awkward position. Like typing on a computer or using your smartphone excessively.
Symptoms of RSI include burning, aching, or shooting pain. But you might also experience stiffness, throbbing, tingling or numbness, cramp or chronically cold hands, particularly in your fingertips.
Headaches and migraines
Bad posture, increased screen time and changes in our daily routine can all trigger tension headaches. The main feature of a migraine is a headache. But other symptoms include disturbed vision, sensitivity to light, sound and smells, feeling sick and vomiting. They can last anywhere between four to 72 hours.
Neck pain associated with badly positioned screens and looking down – attractively double-chinned – at mobile phones is increasingly common in this tech focussed world, and even more of an issue with so many of us now working from home.
According to The Institute of Osteopathy, tight neck and upper back muscles, stiff joints, and trapped nerves are common effects of spending too long being hunched over screens, and if left untreated, can cause splintering pains through the shoulders and hands.
One of my patients told me recently that she’s always referred to her husband as her nearest and dearest. But now she just calls him her nearest! And I think that many of us can probably empathise with that feeling!
Lockdown and the ongoing working from home has put many of us in much closer proximity with family than we’re used to. And that requires emotional adjustment. Plus, there can be employment and financial worries to take into account. And stress and anxiety can bring a host of physical symptoms.
What can we do to lessen the impact of working from home?
There are a variety of ways that you can lessen the impact of working from home on your physical and emotional wellbeing.
• Set the computer screen so that’s it at eye level
• Keep your feet flat on the floor and try not to cross your legs.
• Consider a wrist rest to keep your wrists straight and at the same level as your keyboard.
• Use a headset if you use the phone a lot, rather than clamping the phone between your ear and shoulder.
• Do some simple neck exercise through the day
• Drink plenty of water through the day – the discs between the vertebrae in the spine consist mainly of water so keeping hydrated will ensure they stay healthy.
• Try to take regular breaks – these are good for body and mind. Small and frequent rests are preferable to one long one
Learn about our Home Office Ergonomics service, a service designed to improve your home working arrangements
I recently spent a fascinating day at the Royal Society of Medicine for the 9th Annual Spinal Symposium which looked at the spine from a range of perspectives.
The spine is often the part of the body that people most readily associate with Osteopathy (although we can assist with many other issues and help you to reach your goals in mind and body).
I think it’s vital to remain up to date with current thinking and I regularly refresh my learning with CPD events such as this, where I am always interested to hear about new developments, opinions and practices.
Annual Spinal Symposium
We heard from six excellent orthodox medical consultants who covered topics including dizziness and facial pain, degenerative spinal diseases and sport and the spine. But, for me, the most interesting speaker was Rheumatologist, Dr Roger Wolman who talked about the different types and levels of pain that people experience, and then focussed on chronic pain.
This is an issue that fascinates me and Dr Wolman’s assertion that there is often a poor correlation between chronic pain and structural abnormality certainly resonated with my experiences in clinic. Pain is often a measure of distress , both physical and sometimes emotional and not necessarily injury.
Managing chronic pain
He spoke at length about managing chronic pain and the important role that we can play in educating people about it. According to Dr Wolman, even just understanding chronic pain can help to change pain levels. He also stressed the need for patients to understand the relationship between stress, anxiety, depression and pain; to know their pain triggers; and the limited role of medication in these situations.
I have written before about the approach I take at my Clinics and how I believe in treating the person and not just the symptom they present with. This ‘body-mind detective’ role – systematically locating and treating the root cause of often very complex problems – is one I greatly enjoy and I have been able to help a number of patients who have been suffering with chronic pain over long periods of time.
I’ll leave you with the kind words from a patient: “Robin’s treatments have helped reduce my back and neck pain which had plagued me for years. He has taught me how to reduce re-occurrences through exercise and lifestyle change – I was very despondent before I came to see him and he continues to help me hugely; I’m very grateful.”
So, if you’ve been nursing a niggle or putting up with pain for a while then why not book an appointment?
About Exercise Addiction
We all know that physical exercise offers many health-giving benefits. These include strengthened muscles and bones, and a reduced likelihood of developing such nasties as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Not to mention its mood-enhancing and stress-busting properties. But some people take it too far and become exercise addicts. According to Katherine Schreiber and Heather Hausenblas, authors of The Truth About Exercise Addiction, a worrying 25% of all runners suffer with exercise addiction, compared with 0.3% of the general population.
Nature’s best stressbuster
Our over-complicated, over-sedentary, over-digitised 21st century lifestyles have a lot to answer for when it comes to creating stress. Exercise is certainly an effective way to counter this. Any form of physical activity releases endorphins – chemicals that enhance mood – in the brain but this is particularly true of cardiovascular exercise such as running and cycling. That’s why you get the ‘runner’s high’, and it’s also why you want to keep repeating the experience.
I’m seeing more and more highly stressed professionals self-medicating with excessive exercise. They cycle or run to work, put in a full and often stressful day, and then cycle or run home. They sign up to increasingly testing challenges – running further and in more and more difficult conditions or trekking and climbing all over the world. They’re on the brink of developing an addiction to exercise.
Symptoms of exercise addiction
- Ever more exercise is needed to achieve the perceived benefits – the exercise ‘high’, increased self-esteem or reduction in anxiety – with addicts regularly exceeding their exercise limits.
- Addicts experience withdrawal effects (anger, fatigue, anxiety) when they cannot work out as planned.
- Time spent exercising is often at the expense of that spent with family and friends, at work or doing non-exercise related activities.
- They persist with physical activity despite illness, injury, anxiety and depression and even against medical advice to take a break.
Exercise addiction and injury
If someone’s exercise goal is unrealistic or the lifestyle unsustainable then the chances of something physically ‘giving way’ eventually is high.
Which is when they appear in my Osteopath Clinic looking for an instant cure for their shin splints, muscle strain, fatigue and so on. We are, after all, the ‘next-day delivery’ generation that expects a guaranteed recovery in just days or even hours. So, imagine their distress when I explain that the healing-time for an exercise-induced torn ligament for example, can stretch into weeks, requiring plenty of rest and patience, alongside Osteopathic treatment. My patients are then deprived of a tried and trusted outlet for their stress, which escalates.
I always look beyond the injury that brought the patient to my Clinic and probe deeper into their lifestyle and emotional wellbeing. This usually provides helpful clues for treatment and preventing a re-occurrence. As a qualified Osteopath and Naturopath, I work with patients to identify areas that might be undermining their health, such as diet, lifestyle choices, medical history, and physical or emotional circumstances. Treatment plans then encourage the body to heal itself and help guard against future illness or injury.
Give stress the boot
Since stress can be such a large part of the mix, I encourage patients to engage in new ways of managing it:
- Autogenic therapy, a type of relaxation. I teach patients a set of simple mental and physical exercises and techniques, often incorporating this therapy into a patient’s treatment plan to help them manage their stress and/anxiety and promote greater healing of both mind and body.
- Mindfulness. This is hugely popular and has become big business with plenty of its own apps and gadgets! But the basic idea is good – paying more attention to the present moment, to your own thoughts and feelings, and the world around you. Rather than sitting cross-legged focussing on one’s breath, ‘being in the moment’ and relaxing can take many different forms – long walks, gardening, swimming or even talking to friends. All these ways of unwinding can be a refreshing break from distractions (especially electronic ones) and have huge benefits for both physical and mental wellbeing. You can find out more about Mindfulness here.
The good news is that most people who exercise are able to maintain a healthy balance with the other areas of their life. So, please get in touch if you’ve got a pain or niggle anywhere, or if you’d like any advice on how to relax, manage stress or establish healthy habits.
There’s no official correlation between cold weather and the debilitating condition that is a frozen shoulder (although the body will generally tighten when the temperature drops which can adversely impact injury). But with five percent of adults developing this problem (which can take up to four years to resolve without treatment) at some point in their lives – one of the coldest month of the year seems like a good time to discuss it!
A frozen shoulder, or Adhesive Capsulitis, occurs when adhesions develop around the capsule of the shoulder or glenohumeral joint, thereby restricting arm movements. In fact, the shoulder joint only accounts for half the movement in the arm; the remaining half is attributed to the shoulder complex, comprising of movement of the shoulder blade (scapula) and clavicle. Restrictions in the shoulder complex can be a major contributing factor in a frozen shoulder.
Risk of a frozen shoulder is thought to be increased for people with diabetes, as well as for those recovering from injury or surgery, like a mastectomy, where movement in the shoulder has been restricted. Stress and lifestyle factors are also thought to be potential causes. The main symptoms are a dull, achy, pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint, which can make the arm and shoulder painful and difficult to move. Depending on the severity, this debilitating condition can have a hugely negative effect on a sufferer’s life, often obstructing sporting activities, impacting sleep and sometimes even making doing up a bra or getting the arm in and out of a sleeve extremely painful. In fact, up to 15 per cent of patients are left with a permanent inability to raise their arm fully.
Traditional pain relief can sometimes help with symptoms and steroid injections and surgery are also available. But if, despite these measures, you’re still suffering with the pain and stiffness of a frozen shoulder, then maybe it’s time to consider visiting an osteopath?
Assessment of the shoulder complex (glenohumeral joint and upper back mechanics) and use of allied therapies (Western Acupuncture and Low Level Laser Therapy) can be used to achieve an effective resolution to pain and stiffness. And the prescription of ongoing exercises and also lifestyle suggestions, can be hugely beneficial to improving overall health. As this client of ours can testify:
“I had a painful shoulder for about a month before I saw Robin. I had a total of 5 treatments on my ‘frozen shoulder’, which started to improve almost immediately. It has now cleared up. I found Robin very gentle and knowledgeable. He obviously knows exactly what he is doing and I trusted him implicitly. I would definitely recommend him to any of my friends.” SB, 39
So, if you’re a frozen shoulder sufferer don’t let this debilitating condition continue to haunt you through the warmer months. Why not contact us to discuss your condition in more detail and make an appointment?
As a practising osteopath in London I see a number of clients each week that experience back pain, in varying forms and severities. For these clients I am able to provide a comprehensive treatment plan and we work together over a number of sessions to treat the problem. In addition to treatment provided by myself I also look to work with clients on what lifestyle changes can be made and other things that can be introduced to try to prevent problems such as back pain recurring again in the future. I was therefore interested to read about a recent study carried out in the US into yoga and the positive benefits it can have on long-term back pain.
A recent study into yoga and back pain
The study analysed more than 1000 men and women who were experiencing long-term lower back pain. It found that those patients who practised yoga were most likely to improve their mobility and reduce their pain levels. These patients were all taught yoga-like exercises by experienced and qualified professionals.
Lead author Susan Wieland, from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said: “Our findings suggest that yoga exercise may lead to reducing the symptoms of lower back pain by a small amount, but the results have come from studies with a short follow-up.”
Back pain affects nearly one in 10 people in the UK and becomes more common with age. Very often the cause of long-term back pain is unknown, which can be very frustrating for the sufferer. Perhaps putting down the pain-killers and picking up a yoga mat could help to relieve some of the pain.
Following on from this initial research, the scientists involved in the study are also now calling for longer-term studies to really understand the full benefits for patients.
So what is Yoga?
Yoga, stemming from the Sanskrit work ‘yuj’ to yoke or join, yoga aims to “coordinate the breath, mind and body to encourage balance, both internally and externally,” according to the British Wheel of Yoga. Yoga is a practical philosophy and a system of asanas (postures), promoting physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. It is an effective antidote to the stresses of modern lifestyle and encourages a fit and supple body. Yoga is a ‘science of the mind’ and philosophical system that originated in India thousands of years ago.
A typical yoga class here in the UK will last between 60-90 minutes and you can find them at leisure centres, gyms and in local halls and community centres. Yoga is very accessible for all body shapes and ages and you really don’t need much equipment (or even shoes!) to give it a go.
Experiencing back pain?
If you are experiencing back pain why not try a yoga class near you, or call The Robin Kiashek Clinics for a consultation on 020 8815 0979.