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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:

Western Medical Acupuncture
Low Level Laser Therapy (also known as Cold Laser Therapy)
The Perrin Technique for ME/CFS
Neuro Linguistic Programming & Coaching (NLP)

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.

 

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.

Millennial lifestyle

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?

 

 

How to Keep a Healthy Spine

Did you know that back pain is one of the most common reasons for  sickness absence in the UK*

Healthy Spine

According to the Office of National Statistics, an estimated 141.4 million working days are lost each year to sickness or injury.  With musculoskeletal problems – including back pain, neck pain and upper limb issues – often cited as the reason.  And the bad press about back pain doesn’t end there. It has also been recorded in recent years as the top cause of disability**.

The spine is our body’s central support structure. It’s a column of 26 bones — 24 separate vertebrae inter-spaced with cartilage, plus the sacrum and coccyx.  It makes up the spinal ‘scaffolding’, through which the spinal cord passes, keeps us upright and enables flexible movement.  It also sets us apart from those famous invertebrates – the jellyfish!

And it can be a master of disguise.  Back problems can be felt anywhere along the spine, from the neck to the lower back.  And they might include referred pain, which can give widespread symptoms (pain, numbness, pins & needles and weakness) into the upper or lower limbs, the head and abdominal/chest regions. And these referred symptoms can make diagnosis more difficult.

So, since prevention is better than cure, I’ve compiled a list of five everyday things we can all do to help look after our backs:

Good posture – day and night

Avoid slumping in a chair or on the sofa, hunching over a desk or walking with your shoulders up by your ears. And, of course, the 21st century curse of resting your chin on your chest while using your phone.  Instead, ensure your lower back is properly supported, sit up straight when you’re working on a computer or laptop and keep your chin up while you text!

And since we sleep for a third of our lives (hopefully), it’s also worth spending money on a good mattress and divan (slats do not support your mattress and in turn, your back).  The latter being ‘a mattress for your mattress’.  Ideally, the divan should not incorporate storage boxes as these lessen its effectiveness.

Bend at the hips

Always be sure to bend at the hips and not your back. Try to do this by keeping your upper body upright as much as possible and your chest forward. If you do a lot of lifting or bending, make sure you attend specific manual handling training.

Avoid shoulder/messenger bags

They might look fashionable but carrying heavy loads in shoulder and/or messenger bags can cause an imbalance of weight on your spine. If you lug around weighty items, like laptops and books, as a minimum, opt for a comfortable rucksack and be sure to use both shoulder straps. But ideally, do consider a rucksack with wheels.

Don’t stress – take a ‘chill pill’ (as my children kindly tell me)

As a trained Osteopath and Naturopath, I know there’s a close link between physical, mental and emotional health and that problems originating in one place can often show up as referred pain in another. And while some people manifest stress in their minds, others manifest it physically. Which causes us to tighten our muscles, particularly around our shoulders and down our spine.

Take a stand

Sitting for long periods of time has been proved to be bad for our health.  So get up, go for a walk or get a drink every 30 minutes to get your back muscles (and everything else) working.   If you spend your day at a desk, I’ve written before about the benefits of Active or Dynamic Sitting.  This is where your seating allows or encourages you to move, increases your stability and strengthens your core abdominal muscles.  There are lots of options on the market including the ‘Swopper Chair’, which I use myself.

Look after Your Spine

As we’ve discussed, the spine is a wonderful thing and it’s important to look after it.  So, if you’ve started the new year with back, neck or hip pain then Osteopathy may be the answer.
Why not get in touch for more information or to book an appointment?

We have Osteopath clinics in Central London and North London

 

*Sickness absence in the UK labour market: 2018

** Back pain is a massive problem which is badly treated

 

 

 

 

 

This year’s Backcare Awareness Week (8th to 12th October) focuses on back pain in older people. Awful at any age, back pain can be really disabling and miserable in the over 60s.  BackCare, the National Back Pain Association, offers useful information and resources but I want to talk about how we can help sufferers of all ages at the Robin Kiashek clinics.

Impact on society

A staggering 80% of us will suffer with some form of back pain during our lives – at my osteopathic practice in London I see several sufferers each week. The human cost in terms of pain, misery, impairment plus the knock-on effects on family and friends is enormous. Factor in the economic impact – NHS statistics for 2016/17 show that a staggering 3.2 million days were lost to back pain – and we can see how society as a whole is affected. And we do abuse our backs, with long hours of driving, sitting hunched over a screen, heavy lifting and carrying, caring for children, the elderly or disabled and some very bad lifestyle habits!

Getting help for back pain

Here at The Robin Kiashek Clinics we aim to relieve pain and help strengthen the body, making it less susceptible to further discomfort or injury. Our range of gentle and effective treatments include Osteopathy, Western Acupuncture and Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT).

We also recommend yoga. It promotes physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing and helps develop and maintain a fit and supple body.  It is also an effective antidote to the stresses of modern lifestyle. A US study among 1000 long-term lower back pain sufferers found that those who practised yoga were most likely to see improved mobility and reduced pain levels. And classes are readily available and safe to try, whatever your age or level of fitness. All you need is a mat!

Based on the premise that prevention is better (or easier) than cure, here are some simple tips to maintain a healthy back:

Top tips for a healthy back

  • Keep mobile – walking, cycling and swimming, (especially back stoke) will help your back to stay supple. Remember to take a short break from sitting every half hour.
  • Reduce excess weight – extra pounds can place enormous pressure on the spine and muscles, exaggerating the curve of your lower back and causing your spine to become misaligned.
  • Lift heavy objects correctly – bend at the knee, not the back. Carry heavy loads in a well-fitted rucksack, using both straps, rather than slinging a bag over one shoulder.
  • Consider your posture – sit up straight, don’t slump in your chair.  Use a laptop riser and walk with your shoulders back and head up (not staring at the ground!).
  • Stop smoking – it can reduce blood supply to discs between the vertebrae and cause disintegration.
  • Check your bed – does it provide the correct support for your weight and build?
  • Manage stress – beat this leading cause of back pain by learning relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation or breathing.

 Get in touch

If you are experiencing back pain then why not call The Robin Kiashek Clinics on 020 8815 0979 or request an appointment? We will assess you thoroughly and provide a personalised treatment plan, including exercises and guidance on preventing future occurrences. This can bring relief and even be life-changing and transformative, allowing you to regain and retain independence.

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.

Women practicing yoga in a class

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.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/01/12/yoga-key-relieving-long-term-back-pain-new-study-suggests/

Are you giving your back pain the attention it deserves?

london osteopath w1 n2 n10Treating people with a range of back problems is a mainstay of any Osteopath’s job. Therefore, we welcome a campaign such as Backcare Awareness Week (promoted by BackCare – the National Back Pain Association) that highlights this important public health issue. This year the campaign is aimed at younger people. The campaign reports that 1 in 4 secondary school children suffer from back pain. Naturally, the focus is on prevention this year, and who better to carry good practice and knowledge forward than children between the ages 11-16.

Back pain in adults in the UK

The statistics for adults too show why action needs to be taken. In the UK each year the people who suffer most commonly with back pain are people aged 35-55, but 8 in 10 of us will report some back pain at least once in our lives. The cost to the NHS in 2014 was £1m There is an enormous amount of help available in the form of pain clinics, health practitioners such as physiotherapists and osteopaths, and in extreme cases, surgery, but these are staggering statistics none the less.

Treating Back Pain at The Robin Kiashek Clinics

subhome-column-1Robin Kiashek has over two decades of experience in treating a range of painful conditions related to the spine. By providing a thorough assessment and a treatment plan, including exercises and guidance on how to prevent future occurrences, patients receive a personalised treatment plan well-rounded individual treatment that can bring relief and independence. If the problem is severe or prolonged, such as acute pain resulting from injury, a treatment plan can be adjusted over time to help a patient regain optimum movement and strength.

How Back Pain Can Affect Society

If we consider the toll that chronic pain takes on individuals and families, it is easy to see how the whole of society is affected. This is particularly true in people’s daily occupations: heavy lifting at work, long hours of driving, looking after children, the elderly or disabled. According to NHS statistics, in 2013/2014 2.8 million working days were lost due to back pain. If you are a sufferer or live with someone who is, then you’ll know how debilitating it can be.

Transformative Treatment for Back Pain

getty_rf_photo_of_hands_on_backYou will also recognise how life-changing good treatment is. At The Robin Kiashek Clinics the aim is to make treatment as transformative as possible, not merely temporarily effective. The treatment you will be given will not only relieve pain but help to strengthen the body in order to prevent further pain or injury. It is possible to relieve symptoms with an array of gentle treatments, all with your agreement, ranging from Osteopathy to Western Acupuncture and Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT). Everything that Robin can offer is at your disposal to get you free of pain, or to get you to a place where pain is manageable and you are able to anticipate and mitigate problems yourself.

Experience tells us that back pain is very individual, often is the result of multiple factors interacting in a complex way, and that the best outcome for any sufferer is a tailored treatment plan, employing a few different methods, from changes in lifestyle, to regular re-evaluation. In many instances, consultation can be a re-education for a patient who has had little explanation of his or her condition in the past.

Want Help With Back Pain?

So, if a trip to the GP has not addressed your pain, or you feel that you have neglected to seek further help for long-standing back pain, call Robin Kiashek for a consultation appointment and highly individualised therapy. You have a choice two clinics, one in North London and one in Central London. Why not request an appointment today.

Back in June, we posted an article describing The Dripping Tap Syndrome, which aims to explain the reason why many people visit an Osteopath.

This month we follow this up with a video blog from Robin explaining further what this means.

If you would like to speak to Robin about anything covered within this video or to discuss any symptoms you may have please contact the clinic on 0208 8815 0979.

sciatica_diagram [Converted]

Sciatica (or in layman’s terminology lumbago) is a common nerve pain, which is a symptom of an underlying condition that affects the back, hips and legs. It is characterised by a pain accompanied sometimes by pins & needles and/or numbness and/or weakness in the legs. Sometimes the pain affects both legs, and though it most commonly runs down the back of the legs, it can manifest at the front or side too. The cause of the symptoms is irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.

What is the sciatic nerve?

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body, beginning at lower spinal region, running through the buttocks and extends right down the length of the leg to the feet. The symptoms (pain/pins & needles/numbness/weakness) can be felt either locally in the lower back or anywhere along the course of the sciatic nerve (as far as the feet). Other areas, including the genital region, can also be affected.

How do you get sciatica?

In most cases sciatica is caused by an irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, commonly a bulging disc in the lower (Lumbar) spine. Discs are very special shock-absorbing, cushioning tissue structures, which sit between the vertebrae (the bones that make up the spinal column). Structurally, discs can the thought of as having an inner soft core (nucleous pulposus) surrounded by tough circular outer fibres (nucleous fibrosus), the outer fibres holding in place the softer inner core. Typically, over a period of time, the outer surrounding fibres develop micro tears due to, for example, poor posture or overloading over a long period of time (see the June blog article ‘The Dripping Tap Syndrome’). Bearing in mind the lower spinal discs absorb most of the upper body weight, these micro fissures in the outer fibres begin to allow the inner soft core to bulge outwards through the tougher outer fibres, resulting in a ‘disc bulge’, which in turn can begin to impinge on the surrounding tissues, including the sciatic nerve (this scenario is commonly eroneously called a ‘trapped nerve’).

How is sciatica treated?

sciaticaHere at the Robin Kiashek Clinics we promote prevention, and have plenty of advice on keeping your spine healthy and pain-free (see our recent article ’10 Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Spine’). However, if you are either experiencing symptoms, no matter how mild, or would like an assessment, an initial consultation should be considered. Robin will take a full case history followed by a clinical examination, which will provide you with a ‘working diagnosis’ of your situation.

You will get a care plan for your treatment, which may include a couple of follow up appointments, and you will get plenty of guidance on understanding pain, and will be given a strategy to move your recovery forward, including advice on exercise.

For more information on sciatica or to book an appointment with Robin, please call 020 8815 0979.

Here at Robin Kiashek Clinics we have been looking after patients with back pain and structural spinal problems for over twenty years. In some cases, pain is related to the way we are built but in others pain is present because of a recent or historical injury. Any pain is a signal that the body is out of balance and needs assistance in getting back to normal.

SONY DSC

At the Robin Kiashek Clinics, as well as treating acute pain when it occurs, we also aim to prevent problems in our patients before they take hold, so here is a list of 10 tips on how to look after your spine to ward off potentially debilitating problems.

Tip 1 – Rest Your Spine

We mean it! If you have suffered an injury or you are in acute pain, after seeing a specialist, ensure you thoroughly rest your spine. If there is swelling & inflammation, it will need time to go down and the tissue needs rest to recover.

Tip 2 – Wear Supportive Footwear

This might not be immediately obvious, or what you want to hear if you are a lover of high heels, but the plain truth is your footwear determines your posture. Your musculoskeletal structure is one system. Where one part is impacted it is felt elsewhere.

Tip 3 – Quit Smoking

This is not a big headline but it really should be. Nicotine and the general dehydration that goes along with smoking can adversely affect your spine. Also, in the same way that smoking affects blood vessels and circulation, it affects the vascular structures in your disks and joints. Many smokers suffer from lower back pain. It is no coincidence but backed up by research.

Tip 4 – Get a Massage

getty_rf_photo_of_hands_on_backMassage is good for so many aspects of your health. Primarily it helps increase endorphins – your body’s natural painkillers – that provide relief to sufferers of chronic pain. It helps stimulate your circulation, bringing a good blood supply to the affected area, and it improves your lymphatic drainage system helping your body combat disease.

Tip 5 – Limit Sitting Time

This is rather hard if you have a desk job, but you can combat stiffness and aches by regularly getting up from your desk and having a walk around, ensuring you get outside for part of your lunch break. Some people swear by standing desks. If at home, using advert breaks to get up and potter about for 5 minutes, or setting a simple kitchen timer for 45mins to remind you to move, could help you. Any movement and activity is good.

Tip 6 – Have an Ergonomic Workspace

Taking a little time in planning where and how to position your seat, your keyboard and screen or other things on your desk or workspace, can really save your back from straining and twisting. If you spend a lot of time shackled to a phone, for instance, it makes sense to give some thought to positioning essential tools or supplies.

Tip 7 – Practice Good Posture

Whether standing or sitting, try and be aware of your spine’s position. Stand with feet a comfortable width apart and try to hold your tummy in, elongating your spine if you can. When sitting, try to sit up, and if necessary, use a lower back support to help the natural curve in your back to stay in position. Knees bent at right angles and feet flat on the floor should also help steady your posture and support your spine. It’s surprising how we forget such a simple thing!

Tip 8 – Get Comfortable in Bed

Sleep will elude you if you are not comfortable in bed at night. Ask yourself if you need any extra support (maybe a cushion under your knees or between our knees if you sleep on your side) to take the pressure off your hips or lower back? Are you getting enough support from your pillow or mattress? Even things as basic as temperature and atmosphere can affect your sleep and whether you feel pain or not.

Tip 9 – Hydration, Nutrition and Weight

Drinking plenty of water is essential, whether you have a health complaint or not. Eating right also makes the difference in the speed at which you can bounce back from pain and injury. Particularly for people with any joint or muscle pain, sufficient hydration helps lubricate the joints and eating regular, well balanced meals means good lubrication of joints and disks, and nutrition reaching the parts of the body that are struggling. Excess weight puts unnecessary pressure on already beleaguered bones and joints, and can delay recovery or prolong pain. Consider seeing a dietician if you struggle with nutrition or controlling your weight.

Tip 10 – Stay Active and Exercise Your Core

As long as you aren’t in severe pain and have the green light to walk or exercise, try to do as much as you can manage, especially if your specialist has given you particular exercises to practice. If you are able to go to classes at the gym or are fortunate enough to have a personal trainer, depending on your level of fitness, you can hone in on core strength exercises to strengthen the muscles of your abdomen and back, and also your legs. This will support your spine and take the pressure off your lower back. Ensure your instructor is qualified to help you and always make them aware of your condition.

Be it a herniated disk or muscle strain, only a thorough examination by an experienced specialist can reveal the kind of pain it is, and consequently, how to treat it. At The Robin Kiashek Clinics we can offer the very best care and all that Robin’s vast experience can offer. Requesting a consultation is easy – click here to enter your details.

With the countdown to Christmas in full swing, more and more drivers will face heavy traffic as they head to the shops or travel to visit relatives or friends. As a leading London osteopath, I regularly treat patients who are suffering from back and neck pain as a result of being in road traffic accidents. And quite often, whiplash is a major culprit.

Whiplash can occur following vigorous movement of the head that overstretches and damages the ligaments and tendons in the neck. Symptoms include neck pain and stiffness, reduced neck movements, muscle tenderness and headaches. In some cases, symptoms can become chronic; leading to anxiety and depression.

So what can you do to prevent the risk of whiplash injuries when you’re on the road this Christmas? My advice, as a reputable London osteopath, is as follows:

1: Adjust your seat appropriately

Make sure your car seat has less than a 20 degree incline angle. This will help to keep you in your seat should you be involved in a rear end collision.

2: Adjust the height of your head restraint

The top of your head restraint should be level with or above the top of your head. A good way to measure this is to place your hand on the top of your head and adjust the head restraint so that it touches your hand.

3: Position your head restraint close to your head

Adjust your head restraint so that it is about 5cm (2 inches) from the back of your head. The closer your head restraint is to your head, the less distance there will be for your head to build up speed and load the neck during a collision.

Small adjustments can make big differences when it comes to road safety this Christmas.