4 Reasons Why Winter Sun Is GREAT

Today’s blog post comes from the wonderful Lucy Anderson, one of our highly experienced osteopath and pilates instructor who specialises in your total wellbeing, not just getting rid of the niggles meaning you feel great for a long long time.

As I was going for my morning run in the park today, I couldn’t help but be reminded of what a difference a sunny day makes. I actually felt motivated and energised to push myself a bit further and less foggy-headed… like I should be back in bed!

But why does sunshine make us feel so much better?

Serotonin release: Sunshine exposure has been shown to increase brain cell production of serotonin – a hormone and neurotransmitter intricately linked with mood and central nervous system function. Research has shown a link between depression and low serotonin levels.

Vitamin D synthesis – Sunlight exposure is known to promote synthesis of Vitamin D in our skin, which is by far our most effective source. Insufficient vitamin D production makes us feel sleepy and sluggish and generally feel low by virtue of it’s link with immune and metabolic processes.
Vitamin D is not only important for mood, but also for bone health. We need Vitamin D to absorb calcium in the gut which is important for maintaining bone density.

Influences circadian rhythms – exposure to sunlight particularly in the morning and daytime helps to switch off production of melatonin, a hormone needed to promote sleep. This improves release of melatonin when it gets dark helping you sleep better.
Other benefits:….

Sunlight not only makes us feel better, but it has also been shown to help lower blood pressure. Sunlight exposure promotes release of nitric oxide from the skin. Nitric Oxide is a potent vasodilator – I.e. It widens blood vessel lumens. This reduces resistance to flow of blood within the vessel resulting in reducing blood pressure.

How can I get more sunshine in the middle of winter?
Getting sufficient sunlight exposure in the winter can be tricky given the short days and often cloudy weather (sadly, we have no control over it!) However, I have put together a few simple ideas to help improve your sunlight exposure in the winter:

1) Walk to work – ok, you might not have time to walk all the way to work, but consider getting off the tube one stop earlier and walking for 15 minutes. This has the added benefit of endorphin release from the exercise. It doesn’t always feel appealing to walk around on a cold day, but the cold air is a great way to help you wake up and become more alert for the day ahead.

2) Run outside instead of on the treadmill – Again, this might feel less tempting on a cold day, but. once you’ve taken that first difficult step out of the door there really is nothing more refreshing than a cold run along the river or through the park. Make sure you wrap up warm and invest in a good pair of running leggings – brushed fabrics offer more warmth. If, like me, you find the cold air harsh on your lungs, ears and nose, wear a hat that covers your ears – we lost most of our body heat through our head so a hat really does make a huge difference. A thin scarf or snood over your mouth and nose can help to warm the air as it passes into the lungs and also reduce pollution exposure.

3) Pop out for a coffee – while the coffee machines at work may be convenient and free, leaving the office for that mid-morning coffee instead of staying in will give you some sunlight exposure, fresh air and helps to dull that late-morning slump.

4) Invest in a light box – On gloomy days or dark mornings, sitting in front of a light box has been shown to be helpful in improving mood.

5) Take a winter holiday – depending on where you go, it can be a cheaper and a less busy time of year to get away to a beautiful beach destination. A weeks’ holiday in the sun really does help to beat the winter blues and break up the long, cold, dark days.

 

4 Reasons Why Winter Sun Is GREAT Third Space Sports Medicine

Snap, Crackle & Pop

Is that Snapping Hips Syndrome? 

1. Internal Snapping Hip

When a tendon slides over a bit of bone, the result is a snap. This is by far the most common and usually caused by Iliopsoas slipping over a protrusion of the pelvis called the iliopectineal prominence or Rectus Femoris, your main quadriceps muscle moving over the head of the femur (your thigh bone).

Symptoms?

  • Popping when running, or when the hip is flexed more than 90degrees or rotates away from the body.
  • Popping with a sharp sudden pain at the front deep in the groin.
  • Pain worsens with activity
  • The original onset is vague and may have begun as a mild annoyance.

Treatment Required? Not always. If pain is present then yes as it is important to offload the irritated tendon and make sure the iliopsoas bursa isn’t involved but usually just lots of stretching and flexibility work should resolve the issue in a couple of weeks.

2. External Snapping HipThis is also when a tendon slides over a bit of bone but this time between the bone and the skin rather than deeper in the pelvis. This is still very common and usually caused by the ITB (iliotibial band) or Gluteus Maximus slipping over part of the top of the femur called the greater trochanter.

Symptoms?

  • Popping when the hip is flexing and extending e.g. when climbing stairs. Carrying heavy bags or playing golf or tennis makes this more prominent.
  • Popping with a sharp sudden pain on the outside of the hip. Sometimes this can be seen too.
  • The hip feels like it may pop out of its socket (it’s not, don’t worry!)
  • The original onset is vague and may have begun as a mild annoyance.

Treatment Required? More often than not, treatment is needed to nudge a patient in the right direction for rehabilitation. If pain is present then this is a must as your gait is likely to have been affected, which can lead to further problems down the line.

3. Intra-Articular Snapping Hip

This is a problem with the hip itself. Less common but not unheard and should always be treated professionally.Causes?

  • Acetabular Labral Tear – When the tough cartilage that rings the hip joint tears. Symptoms include snapping and pain in the groin area. The most common cause of intra-articular snapping hip.
  • Injury to articular cartilage – the surface of the joint is damaged causing aching deep in the hip, not always snapping.
  • Loose bodies in the hip – When a fragment of bone or soft tissue breaks away and gets trapped between the hip joint causing snapping or a vague locking sensation in the hip.
  • The original onset is usually traumatic and pain starts immediately.

Treatment Required? Yes, identifying what is going on with this form of snapping hip is important as the longer it goes on the longer term the effect on the function of your body.

These are the musculoskeletal causes of a snapping hip. There are other things that may cause a change in the biomechanics of the hip which may mimic this, from arthritis to infection to tumours. It is really important that these more serious causes of any pain you are experiencing is ruled out.

So if you are struggling, then our team is always here to help, whether that is on email, phone or in person.

Forward Head Posture

HoHo..Oh. Back Pain Season, Part 2

The head is heavy and balanced on top of the rather thin spinal column. The average head weighs somewhere between 8 and 12 pounds if it is balanced happily atop the spine. But if the head moves forward to any degree, the weight the spine has to cope with increases.

That extra weight can be a problem, because it adds the tension to connective tissues such as muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia.

Forward head posture

Forward head posture, which is exactly what it sounds like, is one of the most common problems for the upright skeleton, especially with these days of walking and texting – AKA Text Neck

But if your head is forward trying to pull it back into a better position is not really the answer. You have to realign the rest of your posture to enable the head to move backwards. A simple three-step way to look at it is:

1. Chest Up
2. Shoulders Down
3. Chin Tucked In

If this doesn’t work in the medium term, we need to look further afield which is where Clinical Pilates comes in. This form of Pilates is a way to teach you how to recognise where your body is in space – a surprisingly difficult task – and enables the muscles to work appropriately and to take the tension away from the wrong muscles, ligaments and connective tissue and improve blood flow around the spine and neck and help you feel all round better.

If you would like to see Lucy or Claire at our London Bridge Clinic location for 1-2-1 clinical Pilates, please see the link here

Forward Head Posture Third Space Sports Medicine

 

Bag Yourself NO Injuries

Bags are functional, beautiful, essential, but also sometimes painful? 

Carried incorrectly a bag of any size or shape can cause you pain – in your neck, shoulders and back mainly. Your muscles have to work too hard and your joints start to ache.

However, it is possible to follow just three simple guidelines when carrying a bag to prevent this pain and allow you to carry the bag of your choice whenever you like! Hurrah!

Sleep Easy

Did you sleep like a baby last night? Or like me, did you wake up and lift your head and immediately wish you hadn’t slept for 90% of the night face down into a pillow. Even osteopaths aren’t immune to poor positioning when we sleep so to coin an old phrase, “do as I say and not as I do”, watch this week’s newsletter.

I talk you through what type of pillow you should be using when, where and how you should position your body around it, whether you are naturally a side, back or face-squashed-in-the-pillow sleeper. This can even be useful if you are already in pain to alleviate tension through the joints as you sleep.

Stand Tall

In a nod to our wonderful monarch and her 90th birthday celebrations we are talking about posture for this weeks newsletter.

Two easy tips here in this video:

  1. Lift your sternum to the ceiling; this allows your shoulders and ribs to relax and improves muscular efficiency and ease of breathing.
  2. Scoop the back of your ears backwards and up in a J-shape; this lessens the strain on the back of your neck and allows you to stack your head on top of your spine, reducing the load and torsion through the the neck and back.

These easy steps will help you reduce pain and tension from joint and muscular related headaches as well as improving your balance, athletic endurance and even increase your ability to relax properly.

Perfect Your Posture

Posture is something we all do – good, bad and ugly. So try these ten easy tips to improving your posture today.

  1. Identify the warning signs of back pain caused by poor ergonomics and posture. Pain that is worse at certain times of day or week (such as after a long day of sitting in an office chair in front of a computer, but not during the weekends); pain that starts in the neck and moves downwards into the upper back? All these need to be addressed asap!
  2. Sit Tall. Yes, I know you try but using things like post-it notes on your laptop or screen can help remind you periodically. Eventually you won’t need them. Distribute your body weight evenly, align the ears, shoulders and hips on roughly a vertical line.
  3. Get Moving! Muscles that are over stretches which happens when you are sitting tire more easily, leaving us open to injury so keep moving little and often to prevent this from happening
  4. Use Props. Footrests, lumbar supports and carrying your bag in the best way possible all help. Even the correct glasses prescription falls into this category so you don’t lean forward to squint at the screen.
  5. Education and Feedback. This email is a place to start! Speak to people who have good posture, your osteopath and your family for feedback. Don’t just presume you are standing tall when you may actually be lilting over to one side. This also includes being conscious of when an episode of pain starts – does it coincide with a period of poor posture?
  6. Exercise! Walking, cycling, swimming and other similar activity will help you stay aerobically fit, some specific exercises can improve your ability to tolerate poor posture for periods of time and prevent injury.
  7. Check Your Feet. Poor footwear has a lot to answer for. Those trainers may be all the rage but if they don’t suit the anatomy of your foot you are literally walking into an injury. Some people can get away with incorrect footwear but these are few and far between…
  8. Link Activities to your posture. Good posture isn’t just when you are sitting at your desk. It is drinking a coffee, sending a text message, driving a car, brushing your teeth and countless other daily activities. Start to think about this throughout your day!
  9. Personalise. Within reason, you need to personalise everything to you – your computer screen height, desk height, car seat angle and everything in-between so that it is most appropriate to you. If you need help doing this, get in touch and we can help you!
  10. Relax! Being too worked up about your posture can be as bad as neglecting it. We need the muscles to be able to relax and bounce ignored to protect us. Hard task in todays hectic society we know.

All these are small changes you can make but do them all and they make a big difference.

 

How Does Posture Affect Your Brain?

Shoulders Back, Chin Up

The way we stand, sit and walk has far more longer reaching consequences than you may think.

What happens if you shake your head? You may be trying to say no to something, but does you body subconsciously say more than this to your brain? Studies have shown that when a person hugs themselves they were sometimes able to reduce their physical pain.

We also know that exercise is linked to happiness, what we don’t know for sure is if it is the physical exertion or simply moving our body that causes this improving mood.

Here are four more fantastic things that happen when our posture changes:

  1. Sit up straight and you are more likely to remember positive memories or think positively in general.
  2. Start walking with a spring in your step instead of a slow slumped walk and you will see a boost in energy, despite the increased effort.
  3. Your hormones changes (for the better) when you stand straight.
  4. Standing in a powerful pose will empower you – it will even make you take more risky bets. Good for some, less of others!

However, please do remember there is no one ‘best’ posture but indeed some things will always help so if you are ever worried about your posture or you think you need a reminder, please do get in touch with us here!

Below we have a wonderful talk in more detail about how posture and body language can improve our lives in lots of ways:

https://youtu.be/Ks-_Mh1QhMc