Sedentary office based work combined with stress poses a high-risk factor for developing chronic pain. We are under increasing pressure in the workplace where goals and targets are often put before wellbeing.
When a person’s work is target driven it’s common for their awareness to be with the goal rather than the process. If people aren’t meeting their targets they often push themselves, working harder and at a faster pace. In this process you can often lose touch with how your body is feeling. Many of my clients find that they’ve been running on adrenaline in a pattern of continuous hard work with little rest. With this amount of stress the nervous system becomes sensitive and muscles tense, making the body more vulnerable to pain. Many people get stuck in a cycle where pain in the workplace compromises performance leading to more stress, fear of job security and ongoing discomfort.
Physiotherapy can give you the tools to bring relaxation into your body on a daily basis, allowing you to continue working whilst maintaining an increased awareness of tension and how to control it.
How can I control tension?
If you feel pain, let this be a kind reminder to put yourself first and job second. A really easy way to reduce tension is through simple relaxation exercises. Try taking a soft breath in followed by a soft elongated breath out through the nose whilst feeling your body melt and relax. You can focus this on specific areas of your body such as the neck and shoulders. Build this into a pattern that suits your working day, perhaps during your break, when you’re getting a drink or by using a reminder ‘bell’ app on your computer. Many of my clients have been amazed by this simple technique that when used regularly can have such dramatic effects.
This article was written by Michael Otto BSc MCSP
“I am a physio based in Exeter and Totnes with an interest in chronic pain. I have a holistic approach that draws on many approaches one of which is the use of mindfulness based relaxation in the workplace.”
Chartered Physiotherapist www.ottophysio.co.uk
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Hello << Test First Name >>Research has suggested that remaining seated for too long is bad for your health, regardless of how much exercise you do.
Studies have linked excessive sitting with being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and premature death.
Prolonged sitting is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.
Many adults in the UK spend more than seven hours a day sitting or lying, and this typically increases with age to 10 hours or more.
This includes watching TV, using a computer, reading, doing homework, travelling by car, bus or train – behaviours referred to as sedentary – but does not include sleeping.
Experts believe there is something specific about the act of sitting or lying for too long that is bad for our health.
One of the largest pieces of research to date on the subject – involving almost 800,000 people – found that, compared with those who sat the least, people who sat the longest had a:
112% increase in risk of diabetes
147% increase in cardiovascular events
90% increase in death caused by cardiovascular events
49% increase in death from any cause
How much sitting is too much?
The advice is clear: to reduce our risk of ill health from inactivity, we are advised to exercise regularly – at least 150 minutes a week – as well as reduce time spent sitting or lying.However, there is currently not enough evidence to set a time limit on how much time people should sit each day.
What Can You Do?
Adults aged 19 to 64 are advised to try to sit down less throughout the day, including at work, when travelling and at home.
Tips to reduce sitting time:
stand on the train or bus
take the stairs and walk up escalators
set a reminder to get up every 30 minutes
alternate working while seated with standing
place a laptop on a box or similar to work standing
stand or walk around while on the phone
take a walk break every time you take a coffee or tea break
walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of emailing or calling
swap some TV time for more active tasks or hobbies
Hello << Test First Name >> Sciatica is the name given to any sort of pain that is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet. When the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated, it can cause pain, numbness and a tingling sensation that radiates from your lower back and travels down one of your legs to your foot and toes. The pain can range from being mild to very painful, and may be made worse by sneezing, coughing, or sitting for a long period of time. Some people with sciatica may also experience muscle weakness in the affected leg. While people with sciatica can also have general back pain, the pain associated with sciatica usually affects the buttocks and legs much more than the back. In the vast majority of cases, sciatica is caused by a herniated or “slipped” disc. This is when one of the discs that sit between the bones of the spine (the vertebrae) is damaged and presses on the nerves. You can minimise your risk of developing a slipped disc or back injury that could lead to sciatica by adopting a better posture and lifting techniques at work, as well as stretching before and after exercise, and exercising regularly. Many cases of sciatica will pass in around six weeks without the need for treatment. However, a combination of things you can do at home – such as taking over-the-counter painkillers, exercising and using hot or cold packs – may help reduce the symptoms until the condition improves. In more persistent cases, it may be beneficial to consult a Physiotherapist to gain recovery quicker.
Are Tight Hip Flexors and Hamstrings causing your Back pain?
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Your hip flexors and hamstrings are among the most important groups of muscles in the body. They are necessary for the long term mobility and stability of your lower body. Healthy and well-conditioned hip flexors and hamstrings are key for the prevention of hip, knee and lower back issues. The health of your lumbar spine is directly affected by the action of the hip flexors and hamstrings. When there is an imbalance present in either of these muscle groups, the lower back can easily be subject to strain and injury. Corrective action is necessary to reverse this imbalance and therefore reduce the risk of injury to the spine. In most cases, people who experience lower back pain usually have accompanying tightness and imbalances in the various muscles. For example, it has been well established in both in the literature and among health professionals that tight hamstrings are one of the primary contributors to chronic lumbar pain. It is very rare to have chronically tight (or short) hamstring muscles and NOT suffer lumbar pain. The hamstring muscles are a group of very strong and large muscles which are often poorly maintained. It can be very challenging to keep them well conditioned, even under ideal situations. Tight hamstrings and hip flexors will often occur together. The strong pull of tight hip flexors can lead to an anterior pelvic tilt. This forward tilt of the pelvis causes an increased pull on the hamstrings which contributes to tightness of the muscle group. To maintain the normal and proper curvature of the spine, the muscles which are located in front and behind the pelvis must act and function in a balanced fashion throughout your daily activity. In doing this, they keep the pelvis in a neutral and safe position. In order to reduce the discomfort of lower back pain, your hip flexors and hamstrings should be exercised in many different ways. This requires several different positions, stretches and movements.
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Like back pain, headaches are one of the most common physical complaints amongst the general population. Most headaches are harmless and will resolve on their own, but they can occur for a variety of reasons. The International Headache Society classifies four types of headaches: tension headaches, migraines, secondary headaches (meaning they are caused by some other factor that could include sinuses, disease, fever, tumors, etc.), and cranial neuralgia.
The most common type of headache in adults is a tension headache and can occur because of poor posture, neck or jaw problems, fatigue and stress. Any of these can cause tension in the muscles at the base of the skull, and this tension can cause pain to radiate into the top of the head, along the temples, or behind the eyes.
A physiotherapist can treat tension headaches by first discovering its cause. To do this, they will ask questions about any previous injuries as well as the patterns and behaviors of your symptoms. Then they will look at the range of motion in your neck, shoulders and other relevant parts of your body. They will analyse your posture in a variety of positions and use hands-on techniques to assess the mobility of the muscles and joints in your neck.
Then, they can use this information to help you change the causes of your headaches. Depending on an individual’s particular case, this can involve manual techniques that will improve mobility of muscles or joints. They will also likely teach you exercises to work on your own mobility at home. Often, our postures and daily routines cause us to develop over-worked and under-worked muscles. A physio is likely also to teach you exercises to strengthen the under-worked muscles. All of this will help you to understand and maintain better posture. If necessary, an examination of the mechanics used at your workstation or home office can help you to maintain your improved posture when in one position for prolonged periods.
If you suffer from headaches, you don’t have to. There are physios who would be glad to help you get to the bottom of what can be a very debilitating problem.
Hello << Test First Name >>The shoulder girdle is made up of 3 bones, the scapula (shoulder blade), the humerus (upper arm bone) and the clavicle (collar bone). The shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body but this places it at the greatest risk of dislocations.
Shoulder instability is when the ball and socket joint is not controlled well. When the ball is sliding around it’s socket too much it can cause pain and in some cases come out of the socket and dislocate. Sometimes the ball does not completely dislocate and is only partially out and can feel locked. With a wiggle it often returns to its normal position. This is called subluxation.
To help improve the shoulder’s stability, the joint is supported by a thickened rim around the socket called a labrum, which deepens the shallow joint. The capsule around this joint is also reinforced by ligaments which become taught at the end range of all shoulder movements. When the ligaments become tight they also send important messages to the brain so that it can coordinate how the muscles around the shoulder move.
There are 4 very important muscles around the shoulder call the Rotator Cuff: supraspinatus, infaspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. They are constantly adjusting to maintain the ball safely in the socket. They act a bit like dynamic ligaments throughout shoulders movement. They stabilise the joint during functional tasks of the arm, such as writing, driving and using the computer when the ligaments may not be tight.
There are 3 types of shoulder instability. The most common form of instability is caused by trauma, such as a fall. The large force causes structural damage to the ligaments and socket rim (labrum). This can lead to repetitive dislocations in some people. Shoulder rehabilitation may reduce the chances of this by training the rotator cuff to fully recover and compensate. In the younger population (below 28 years old) the chances of re-dislocation are much higher and they may require surgery.
The second type of instability is caused by excessive laxity of the shoulder ligaments and poor muscle control. This is not only of the rotator cuff, but also the muscles that control the scapula on the rib cage and to the rest of the body. It is difficult to keep the ball in a socket that is not controlled. This instability is known as atraumatic instability. It requires very specialist rehabilitation to achieve the complex muscle control. In some rare cases surgery can aid the muscle retraining process by tightening up the capsule and ligaments.
The third type is very rare and called “abnormal muscle patterning”. This is when the big powerful muscles that attach around the shoulder, activate inappropriately and out of sequence. This causes very large forces that the rotator cuff simply cannot compete with. This type of instability requires very specialist physiotherapy. We aim to reteach these muscles to activate in a normal way and rewrite their programming. Occasionally, the first 2 types of shoulder instability may develop these characteristics and it is important that this is identified early and addressed.
Due to the complex nature and wide spectrum of symptoms of shoulder instability, shoulder surgeons and Physiotherapists work very closely together to manage this condition.
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Self-myofascial release (SMR) also known as self-massage can be utilised to release muscle tightness or trigger points at home. This method can be performed using a foam roller, massage ball or your own hands.
What is myofascial release? Fascia is a sheet of connective tissue fibres under the skin that attach to muscles to stabilize and separate them from other internal organs. The fascia can become stressed from repetitive movements, inflammation, or injuries causing acute strains and sprains. This poor condition of the fascia can lead to the formation of adhesions, commonly known as trigger points or ‘knots’. Trigger points can be felt as a knot in the muscle, and can refer tightness and or pain throughout connecting areas of the body. This abnormal state of fascia in the form of knots can lead to muscle imbalances, incorrect posture, and can cause reduced blood-flow to the surrounding tissues and muscles; preventing recovery.
Myofascial Release is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. Myofascial release can also aid in the recovery of muscles and assist in returning them to normal function. Normal function means your muscles are elastic, healthy, and ready to perform at a moment’s notice. Myofascial release (MFR) therapy focuses on releasing muscular shortness and tightness. There are a number of conditions and symptoms that Myofascial release therapy addresses.
How does it benefit my body? The goal of self Myofascial release (or SMR) is to relieve the tension caused by these trigger points. In return, self Myofascial release benefits include:
Improved Range of Motion – SMR works to restore proper range of motion by repairing the weak and tight fascia causing the trigger point.
Improved Oxygenation of Surrounding Muscles and Tissues – More blood flow to the adjacent areas means quicker recovery time and more efficient neuromuscular function.
Reduced Pain and Tightness – Going through your day, you might notice tight points in your legs, buttocks, and areas of your back and neck. Performing SMR on these points can help to reduce pain and tightness.
Essentially you are using these different shaped devices such as a foam roller to put pressure on and stimulate trigger points and knots. The fascia adhesions can be broken down, restoring mobility and reducing any pain and tightness you may have been experiencing in the area.
General Guidelines for using a foam roller
Spend 1-2 minutes per self myofascial release technique and on each each side (when applicable). When a trigger point is found (painful area) hold for 30-45 seconds.
Keep the abdominal muscles tight which provides stability to the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex during rolling. Remember to breathe slowly as this will help to reduce any tense reflexes caused by discomfort.
Complete the self myofascial release exercises 1-2 x daily.