6 Tips to Get You in Shape this Winter

Keeping a regular exercise routine throughout the winter can help prevent early season sports injuries when you start hill walking, fell running or playing golf again in the spring. It can also minimize your risk of catching the cold and flu, as well as prevent weight gain and seasonal depression. Often people let busy work schedules, the darkness or the drop in temperatures get in the way of their workout. Here are few tips for staying motivated and fit throughout the winter.

1. Try something new. You may not feel like putting on your running shoes in low temperatures or pouring rain, so why not try a new indoor activity? Try Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Metafit, swimming or weight training or anything else that takes your fancy. Just have fun with it. Switching to a new workout routine will ramp up your calorie burn and help you develop new muscles to make you stronger.

2. Bring a friend. When you’re able to chat with a workout partner and catch up on each other’s lives as you exercise, the time will fly by and become an occasion to which you can look forward. Some studies show that women who workout with a friend or in an exercise class work, harder and therefore burn more calories per a session than women who exercise alone. Women who bring along a friend also tend to work out more often and for longer. And you’ll be less likely to cancel because you feel tired after a long, busy day If your workout partner is counting on you to be there for an exercise session.

3. Be more active during your day. There are lots of little ways to be more active throughout the day and it all adds up. Sometimes investing in a Nike fuelband or a Fitbit bracelet to track your activity level can be a great motivational tool. Try walking around the office while you’re on the phone; take the stairs instead of the lift, walk over to a co-worker’s desk instead of just sending an email and park further away from your destination.

4. Turn your TV time into core workout. Yes, you can watch Eastenders or your favourite cooking program while holding a 60-second plank or doing other back strengthening exercises. Talk to your chiropractor for ideas about a simple and effective core muscle program.

5. Pack your own lunch. Preparing your own lunches at home will allow you to control the portions and make healthy choices. The combination of protein and fibre from whole grains, beans, nuts, vegetables and/or fruit will give you the most satisfying and nutritious combination of foods that will keep you feeling full until dinner. And it will save money as well!

6. Chiropractic. Whether you’re an athlete or an exercise newbie, your chiropractor can help you with advice on how to avoid sprain/strains injuries that are all too common when you first start working out or when changing your workout regime. Chiropractic care has been proven to be effective at treating back pain, neck pain and other musculoskeletal issues. Spinal manipulation has also been found to be a very effective treatment for lower back pain in athletes. Research also suggests that chiropractic adjustments have the potential to improve the athletic performance of football players, rugby players, golfers, etc., by restoring pain-free movement.

Calf Pain

Calf pain is something frequently experienced by athletes and those who spend their working day on their feet. Fortunately most causes of such pain are fairly minor and can be easily treated. Common causes of calf pain include shin splints, muscle strains, Baker’s cyst and Achilles tendonitis.

The location of the pain gives a good indication of the cause of the problem. For example, Achilles tendonitis usually manifests along the lower portion of the calf where the Achilles tendon attaches to the bone at the heel. Shin splints tend to present pain on either the outer or the inner surface of (the front of) lower leg, muscle strains typically cause a deep-seated pain in the upper portion of the calf muscle and a Baker’s cyst is associated with a swelling behind the knee.

Regardless of the cause, chiropractic treatment can help relieve pain by realigning the joints involved, correcting the biomechanics and helping to loosen muscles and tendons. Sometimes calf pain comes from the lower back. It can be referred pain from the muscles and joints or from irritation/pressure on a nerve root or the large sciatic sending at times severe pain down the leg and into the calf. Your chiropractor will take a full case history and perform a thorough examination which will allow a proper diagnosis and direct treatment to the appropriate area.

Occasionally calf pain is the result of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The calf may appear hot, red, or swollen and would require urgent medical attention. In such cases where the cause of calf pain is an underlying pathology the chiropractor would differentiate this and refer you for the necessary immediate care.

Hip Pain. Is it really a Hip problem or Referred Pain from Lower Back?

Diagnosing hip pain can be a tricky proposition if one does not understand how the physical structures of the region operate. Because of the way the bones, muscles and nerves are aligned in the area of the lower back and hip, the pain experienced by an individual may not be coming from the area he or she thinks it is. In other words, hip pain can be located directly in the hip joint or referred from another area.

When hip pain is referred, that simply means the issue causing the pain is occurring somewhere else. The pain is felt in the hip because the nerve expressing it terminates near the hip joint or because the hip muscles are tight/sore in a response to a lower back problem. This referred pain can actually start in a number of locations in the lower back and spine.

Irritated nerves and muscle spasms are common causes of referred hip pain. Patients experiencing these types of issues will describe the pain as sharp and/or burning, yet the hip joint itself will not be inflamed or restricted in its passive range of movement. Bending to one side or the other may relieve the pain by reducing the pressure being placed on the affected nerves.

When pain emanates directly from the hip joint, it is characterised by groin pain or even pain felt in or around the knee. This pain may be a dull ache or may at times be sharp in nature and in some cases, the skin may also be very sensitive. The two most common causes of this type of hip pain are osteoarthritis (wear and tear) of the actual hip joint and an acute groin strain.

Whether hip pain is referred or direct, it can be helped through treatment once a proper chiropractic diagnosis has been made. Chiropractic adjusting involves a specific thrust applied to the spine in the lumbar area, the pelvis or to the hip itself to help restore a more normal alignment or movement of the pelvis and hips, or we may choose to use effective non-force techniques, if that is required.

Other therapies we use include massage therapy, trigger point therapy or myofascial release and we may also want to get you started on some stretch and strengthening exercises for the area to help the body heal and maintain as much movement as possible.

Tension Headaches

Tension headache is the most common type of headache by far and the one that a lot of people think of as a ‘normal’, everyday headache. The headache tends to come on later in the day and is usually relieved by rest It usually lasts for 30 minutes to several hours, though can last for several days.

It is felt as a dull constant ache at the back of the head and often behind the eyes, a bit like wearing a tight band around the head. The neck muscles will feel tight, the normal range of movement of the neck may be reduced and the headaches will at times be accompanied by a feeling of nausea.

Most people are likely to have experienced a tension headache at some point. They are more common in women than men and can develop at any age. It is estimated that about half the adults in the UK experience tension headaches once or twice a month, and about 1 in 3 get them up to 15 times a month!

Here is the good news: You do not need to put up with these headaches as chiropractic treatment can be a very effective treatment method at reducing them or even eliminating them all together. And unlike painkillers, chiropractic treats the underlying cause of the pain, not just the pain itself.

The proper name for tension headache is ‘cervicogenic headache’ which literally means headache originating from the cervical area i.e. the neck. The underlying cause of tension headaches is loss of movement of the spinal joints of the neck and upper back and/or tightness in the neck/shoulder muscles. Chiropractic treatment works by freeing up the stiff joints and relax the affected muscles thereby taking away the cause of the headache.

At times the lack of joint movement can cause irritation to the nerves in the neck causing pain where the nerve ends. This is known as ‘referred’ pain and often gives rise to pain felt around the shoulder joint or even down the arm. The pain or pressure so often felt behind the eye during a headache is also referred pain.

The majority of neck problems are brought on by the long-term effect of bad/wrong posture putting excessive strain on the joints and neck musculature. Other causes include manual labour, heavy lifting, car accidents and falls.

Case study:

A 57 year old gentleman came to the clinic recently complaining of lower back pain. During the case history he happened to mention that he had been getting daily tension headaches for 22 years! And was taking 8 paracetamol every day! (That’s 2920 painkillers a year!!)

During the examination stiff joints and very tense muscles were identified in his neck, and it was decided to treat his neck as well as his lower back. After 3 week’s treatment, he was free of these daily headaches! And his lower back was also doing pretty well.

Plantar Fasciitis

An inflammation of the big band of tissue called the plantar fascia. This ligament runs under the foot connecting the heel bone with the bones of the foot. It supports the arch of the foot and functions as a shock absorber.It is the most common cause of heel pain but you may also feel pain in other areas along the ligamentous band.

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include a burning or aching pain first thing in the morning which may, or may not, start to feel better as the day progresses. The pain is typically felt near the back of the foot where the plantar fascia tendon connects to the heel bone. Sometimes the pain runs along the entire foot, increasing in severity with walking or standing.The pain can be completely debilitating for weeks or months at a time and the condition can make walking and standing very unpleasant. Some people may limp or develop an abnormal walking style as they try to avoid placing weight on the affected heel.The pain is usually worse first thing in the morning, or when you first take a step after a period of inactivity. After walking the pain usually improves, but often gets worse again after walking or standing for a long time. It is often described as stepping on a piece of glass.

The specific cause of plantar fasciitis is different among individual patients. In some people it is the result of an injury caused by jumping, running, or performing repetitive movements that put undue stress on the plantar fascia. Other times it might be the result of tightness in the calf muscles, an arthritic condition, or wearing poor quality shoes.

Plantar fasciitis is particularly common in runners. In addition, people who are overweight, women who are pregnant and those who wear shoes with inadequate support are at risk of plantar fasciitis. Common treatments of plantar fasciitis involve icing the area and taking anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling as well as avoiding standing/walking for long periods of time. When chiropractic treatment is involved, it is used to realign the joints of the feet and lower back and to keep muscles and tendons as loose as possible in order to promote healing.

A chiropractor may sometimes recommend orthotics designed to help relieve pain and prevent future injury or recommend good-fitting shoes that support and cushion your foot. Regular stretching exercises to the calf muscles and the plantar fascia will also routinely be prescribed.

Pulled Muscle

Chiropractors deal with two common myths surrounding pulled muscles every day. The first is that all pulled muscle conditions will quickly go away by themselves. The second is that treating pulled muscles is the exclusive domain of the physiotherapist. Let’s take a moment to correct both.

 While it’s true that some pulled muscles will heal on their own within 2-3 days days or so, that’s not always the case. When a pulled muscle is in the spine, it may take much longer to heal and, in some cases, not even present noticeable pain during the later stages of healing. Re-injury may therefore be very possible as a result.

 For purposes of clarity, a pulled muscle is one that involuntarily contracts as a result of injury or overuse. Muscle injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time. In either case, injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain and muscle spasm.

The contraction of the spinal muscle pulls on the nearby joints, forcing the joint surfaces together to cause discomfort. A pulled muscle in the spine can therefore cause restriction of joint mobility and at times nerve irritation to the point of being debilitating.

Chiropractors are some of the most qualified to treat muscle and joint problems in the back and neck.

This brings us to our second myth regarding physiotherapy being the only treatment. A chiropractor is a highly trained specialist who understands the human musculoskeletal system (muscle, bone, joint) very, very well.

Chiropractors are able to diagnose musculoskeletal problems and have broad diagnostic skills. They are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as providing nutritional, dietary and lifestyle advice.

A chiropractor is capable of treating pulled muscles and joint problems through a number of techniques, including manipulation, stretching, trigger points and massage that will promote healing, restore joint mobility and relax the tight and sore muscles.

Chiropractors can treat muscle pulls in the neck, shoulders, arms, and legs as well as well as the spine.

Chiropractic Treatment of Babies and Children

Chiropractic treatment can be a great relief for babies. It is gentle and safe and helps relieve stress and tension in the joints and relax muscles.

If babies have experienced a difficult or assisted delivery during labour it can cause stiffness or misalignments of the spinal joints which can be uncomfortable for them.

Babies may cry when they are laid down, or in their car seats as there is pressure on the spine and back muscles, or they may lie with their heads consistently turned in one direction. These can be signs that they are feeling pain.

As children become older they are prone to accidents, bumps and falls which can cause joints to become strained just as it can to adults. Also rapid growth spurts, carrying heavy school bags, and poor posture can put stain on the spine and result in muscle spasm, restricted movement in the spinal joints and cause pain.

Chiropractic treatment can be very effective as it restores normal function and movement to the joints, reduces pain naturally and allows the body to correct/heal itself. It may also be beneficial for the growth and development of babies and children if any spinal joint restriction or muscle spasm is dealt with early on.