Tag Archives: abdominals

Top tips for preventing back pain in the workplace

It’s reported that 3 out of 4 people have back pain in their lives and 85% of those are undiagoned, meaning there is no specific medical reason why.
SO WHY?!

chained to the desk

Do you ever feel like you’re chained to the office desk?

Considering how much of your day is spent at work, you’re probably right for thinking so! Plus it’s reported 4 out 5 British workers eat their lunch at the desk so we really are chaining ourselves to the desk!

The office environment presents all sorts of physical stresses on the body.   Monitors too low for your eye-line, chairs too high or too low, phones stuck between the ear and shoulder, RSI and shoulder strain from repetitive typing without correct support, wrong lighting causing eye strain…. shall we go on?!

But one of the biggest problems we face is sitting down all day, and lets face it, most of us leave work and go home to sit all evening on the sofa! This long period of inactivity causes the spine to:

  • Slouch and gradually compress against gravity
  • Adds strain to the lower back
  • Forces the mid back to overly round and tighten the chest and weaken the back support muscles
  • Pushes the head further further, adding to neck strain, headaches and increasing load added onto the spine.
  • Shortens and tightens hip flexors
  • Weakens the important abdominal core muscles
  • Reduces space for the vital organs

So what’s the solution?

I quit quit1

Ok, maybe not! But thankfully it is possible to make a few changes that will reduce the time and how you sit at your desk and improve your back pain.

  • Swop your chair for a stability ball. Posture is greatly increased by working your core stabilising and back muscles as you sit on a ball, as well as been shown to lead to better circulation, upper body mobility and less beck and joint pain.
  • Get a raised desk and do away with the chair at all! LinkedIn staff did this and saw a 50% reduction in back pain from not sitting down!
  • Ensure typing is done with wrist support resting on the desk. Awkward positions when typing can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Get a hands free set for your desk phone. No more holding the phone between your ear and shoulder which causes neck and shoulder pain. Plus hands free means you can stand up and walk around more so less time sitting down.
  • Get a grip!  We’re losing our grip power as most things we do is by finger touch. Building up grip strength by making and tightening a fist (without tightening your shoulder and neck) will exercise the forearm and the small muscles in the hands, reduce the effects of typing RSI  and carpal tunnel syndrome and give you great toned triceps too!
  • Wiggle at your desk. if sitting still is the enemy, then have a little wiggle. Circle your ankles, flex and point the toes for improved circulation- do the same in the wrists. Stretch your neck by tipping your ear to your shoulder, circle your shoulders, lift your chest up to the sky and lengthen your spine, circle your pelvis like a clock to move the lower back.
  • Counter balance the effects of desk working by doing some Pilates regularly. Move well every day with some forward bending, side bending, twisting and back bending/extension will go a long way to helping to reduce the effects of sitting down all day.
  • Make the tea! Getting the teas/coffees in for your team will not only get you out of the chair and moving your spine but it’ll also make you more popular too! We suggest you use the handy colour chart to get the right strength of your colleagues favourite brew… mine’s a Builders Brew!

what's your strength brew?

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Written by: Michelle Smith
Director, The Pilates Pod
www.thepilatespod.co.uk

Staying fit for bump, baby and beyond

bump
Congratulations on your pregnancy! Having a baby can be a difficult and demanding time, even before the little one comes along. Carrying a baby is physically (and emotionally) tough on your body.

Let’s first get a bit geeky and look at the anatomy of your body, bear with me ok?!
Your pelvis consists of 3 bones and 3 joints, one at the front and two at the back. The bones form a protective basin for your bladder, womb and bowel. The joints of the pelvis and spine are supported by ligaments and muscle.

So then you find out your pregnant, and those lovely hormones start kicking in. Regardless of the frequent trips to the loo and the bursts into tears, these hormone changes during pregnancy soften these ligaments and the joints become less stable. As your baby grows there is a change in your centre of gravity and posture. It’s these combined changes that can lead to low back pain and/or pelvic girdle pain.

What are our choices?
Well, of course it’s a bit too late to go back on the baby front but you can do things to help reduce  the strain and discomfort you may be experiencing.

Here’s my top tips:

  • Sit correctly, and when possible sit rather than stand when performing daily activities such as ironing
  •  Ensure your work surface is at the correct height
  • Use correct technique for lifting and avoid heavy loads
  • Find a comfortable sleeping position -try using a pillow between your knees and ensure you get in and out of bed keeping your knees together and rolling onto your side.
  • Gentle exercise during pregnancy is good for you and your developing baby. Work within your own limits. You must listen to your body and stop if you feel unwell.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

mum and baby

Fast forward 9 months and baby’s here- congratulations! The ante natal classes have stopped, the midwife has gone and you’re struggling with sleepless nights, working out what the baby cries mean and trying to work out how to drink a cup of coffee without it going cold. But what about your body? I’m not talking baby weight here but your insides, the bits you can’t see and probably after having baby, can’t feel either! You’ve just carried a baby for 9 months, then delivered it. It’s an amazing thing our bodies are designed to do isn’t it?!

Time to get anatomy geeky again….

pelvic floorWhat is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor are a sling of muscles that lie at the base of your pelvis between your pubic bone and coccyx and can be likened to the shape of a hammock. Strong pelvic floor muscles help you to control the bladder and bowel. The increasing weight of your baby during pregnancy, followed by delivery, may weaken your pelvic floor muscles. This may cause you to leak urine when you exert yourself, especially after delivery. We all know those stories of laughing or coughing, or running for the bus and feeling that little accident. It happens, but we can prevent it by exercising your pelvic floor every day, both during pregnancy and after baby is born.

What is the ‘core’?

The core consists of this pelvic floor, along with the diaphragm, transversus abdominis muscles and deep spinal muscles. They work together to form an ‘internal cylinder of support’ for your spine.

Exercises like Pilates can help you get re-acquainted with your core muscles again and get them working properly.

So you’ve had baby, now what?
In the early post natal period you need to be gentle and kind to yourself. Good habits here can serve you well. So remember to:
• Give yourself time to rest, recover and bond with your baby
• Take care moving in and out of bed, especially if you have had a caesarean section
• Sit well back in the chair for feeding. A pillow or folded towel behind your back will support you and may prevent backache. Supporting your arm on the armrest or on a pillow will prevent tension building up in the neck and shoulders from holding the baby for long periods of time. Alternatively a pillow on your lap will bring the baby up to the level of the breast for easier feeding
• When changing the baby it is easier for your back if the surface is at waist height, it will prevent bending and will be easier to lift the baby from this height.
• Avoid bending forward and straining the back when bathing the baby by kneeling by the side of the bath.
• You may experience leakage of urine if you cough or sneeze as a result of vaginal delivery weakening the pelvic floor muscles, this should resolve by your 6 week check up. If it continues you may need to seek professional help from a women’s health physiotherapist.
• Avoid constipation to prevent straining against your pelvic floor muscles and prevent piles or haemorrhoids worsening. Ensure you eat a varied diet and drink plenty of fluids.
• Start your pelvic floor exercises as soon as you are able (see below for info)
• Low impact exercises such as walking are recommended.

How do we switch on the pelvic floor?
Breathing with the correct technique enables you to switch on your pelvic floor. It’s important to learn to breathe deep and wide to the bottom of your rib cage. This allows your diaphragm to work correctly and therefore your pelvic floor.

  • As you breathe out gently lift the area between your pubic bone and coccyx, the hammock. As you do this you should feel a small amount of tension in your lower abdomen as discussed above.
  • Although you may feel a gentle tensioning around your back passage, you must not tighten your buttock muscles.
  • Try and ‘close your openings’ first then imagine an escalator lifting from your bottom to your belly button.
  • Similarly, you must let your upper tummy muscles completely relax, do not pull in your upper abdomen.
  • Hold for 5 seconds then relax and let go. Repeat several times

As you get stronger you should build up the hold time up to ten seconds, and repeat ten times, several times a day

Returning to Exercise
The first 5 months following the birth of your baby is considered the ‘post natal period’.
• During this time it is best to refrain from any high impact exercise. This is to give your body and pelvic floor time to recover from child birth.
• If you are breast feeding you should take extra care in returning to any high impact exercise as the hormones produced during pregnancy may still be circulating in your system.
• There are always exceptions to the rules and if you’ve been running throughout your pregnancy and your pelvic floor is in extremely good condition then you may be able to return sooner.
• Never exercise at a level that your pelvic floor cannot cope with. If you start leaking when you are doing activities then stop immediately. This may not just be high impact activities but may also be lifting or abdominal exercises.
• All exercise should be done with a good posture as this enhances the pelvic floor contraction.

Look out for Rectus Diastasis
Diastasis
Rectus Diastasis is the separation of the Rectus Abdominis muscles due to excessive pressure during pregnancy. There are 4 layers to the abdominals and these are the most superficial. There are also Transversus Abdominis, Internal and External Obliques. When the tummy stretches, so does the connective tissue between the Rectus Abdominis muscles- this is normal. The muscles should recover and the gap lessen within the first 6 weeks post natally however some women do take longer to recover. Exercises that will help your diastasis to recover are ‘core stability’ exercises for your Transversus Abdominis that you do in the post natal Pilates classes.

Exercises that should be avoided are crunches, sit-ups, twists combined with crunches or anything that ‘jack-knifes’ the body, by pivoting at the hip & placing strain on the abdominals such as straight leg lifts.

Having a baby is a special time, but it’s also very demanding.  Don’t forget to take time for yourself as well as looking after baby, whether your little ‘un is still in the bump, just arrived as baby or the months beyond.

Enjoy your mummy time!

Bally Lidder

Chartered Physiotherapist and Acupuncture Practitioner

Lidder Therapies

07951 490214,
bally@liddertherapies.co.uk
www.liddertherapies.co.uk

lidder therapies

Managing back pain is like being a tight rope walker

When you think of balance, you imagine the tightrope walker desperately trying not to fall off the rope, leaning one way and the other to achieve a good centre of gravity, alignment and control to be able to walk in a straight line unaided, unaltered and with ease.

Tightrope walker
Life’s about balance, your body is the same!

Your body needs this same ‘balance’ to perform daily tasks with the same ease but we’re not talking about whether you can stand on one leg kinda balance!

Whatever the reason of this imbalance, the cause nearly always ends up the same- imbalance of muscles. As a result of your actions, your muscles may end up either too tight (pulling on the body in one direction) or too weak (allowing a lack of support the other way) and wherever the affected area, there is always a knock on effect through the rest of the body. After all we are like a jigaw puzzle, all pieces of the body connecting together with muscle, ligament, fascia, tissue and skin. You can’t finish the jigsaw without all the pieces, they work together for the overall bigger picture.
What you feel today as a pain in the knee, may later be a pain in the back but you don’t know it, don’t appreciate it and don’t do anything about it until the Doc is telling you to improve your “core” or the physio is sticking their elbow in your butt to release tight muscles.
So if you’re reading this thinking “well I don’t have back pain” GREAT, we want to keep it that way!

Of course if the tight rope walker fell off the rope, he/she’d probably end up hurting herself, just the same as if we fell of a horse, it’d hurt right? We’d know why our back hurt, why we got bruises and the cause would be obvious.BUT for most of us we don’t necessarily put two and two together. As far as we’re concerned, we wake up one day and our back hurts, or we were putting our pants on and that’s it “pop.”

In most circumstances, it’s very unlikely that the very act of putting your pants on made your back go, I severely doubt you are wearing heavily armored pants with a huge weight-bearing effect on your body?!

But instead, the years of sitting at the desk staring at the screen has driven your head and beck forward and taken its toll on your neck and shoulders and lower back by compensation, or the 2 kids you’ve got gave you a lovely baby bump that pulled your pelvis forward and down causing excess strain on your back and the weakened deep abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles have never quite been the same or said hello again to help give your back support.

Even the professional football running up and down the pitch all day every day, fit as a fiddle heart and lungs wise, will be kicking the ball repetitively, twisting and turning and running into tackles, allowing for over developed exterior muscles (they look nice don’t they) but with imbalanced weaker inner muscles that give the body support.

So my charming readers, I’m not suggesting you rush out and join the circus and start brushing up on your balance act, but a little mind to what’s going on inside your body on a daily basis as a result of your normal daily tasks is worth the effort. We want strong, healthy bodies, not because for most of us we fancy ourselves as pin-up girls and Calvin Klein models, but because with a focus on inner “core” strengthening exercises, we can develop balance to our muscles an joints and therefore pick up our kids for a cuddle, do a spot of gardening or continue running, all without pain and aches.. or just be able to put our own knickers on… a basic human right surely?!

Large undies!
Pants on time

Until next time… 😉