The worldwide burden of low back pain is increasing and despite the best efforts of the various health professions....
Grain based foods are made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or other cereal grains. Bread, cakes, pasta, oatmeal and breakfast cereals are examples of grain based food products
There are many nutritionists, dieticians and researchers who are of the strong opinion that grains should be largely avoided.
Grains naturally have a high carbohydrate content, even whole grains, especially if prepared using added sugars. Put simply, if we eat more carbohydrate than we need for our basic energy requirements (about 150 grams a day for most people), the rest gets converted to fat and stored.
This promotes weight gain and obesity as well as heart disease and type 2 diabetes over time. The typical western diet will have us eating 300-400 grams of carbohydrate a day, mostly from poor quality, refined grain based sources.
Excessive of poor quality grains, often containing added sugars has been a large factor driving the obesity epidemic we face. Refined grains also promote higher than optimal levels of insulin, which in turn can promote systemic inflammation. This may be a factor in certain chronic pain and autoimmune conditions.
The afternoon nap, around 20 minutes, no longer than thirty.
It's been shown to enhance productivity and creativity, reduce fatigue and improve employee wellbeing. The Japanese take their napping seriously.
Most of us tend to experience an energy slump mid afternoon which may also affect mood and decision making, a nap may help.
I was lying in bed a few nights ago, reflecting upon my day and thinking how fortunate I am to be doing something I really enjoy and am passionate about.
Physiotherapy allows me to work with, and help my clients overcome physical problems which are usually impacting on quality of life. To be able to help is very rewarding. Being able to work, exercise and recreate without pain and with relative ease is so important to most of us, and for good reason. It's what makes us feel alive and well.
That said, as an introvert, treating patients, interacting and engaging closely with many different people on a day to day basis is not an activity I am naturally predisposed to. My personality type would usually be more inclined towards more solitary types of work, such as computer programming perhaps.
We’ve evolved in nature, amongst trees, rivers, meadows, beaches, and other trappings of wilderness. Our genes love green space, it’s where they developed and where they are given a chance to be expressed optimally.
Spending brief periods of time in one of the many leafy parks we have on our doorstep, on a hill walking trail in the mountains or at a wild beach helps:
After 17 years as a practising Chartered Physiotherapist, completing an MSc as well as a Diploma in Medical Acupuncture, and having attended many further education courses on Physiotherapy related topics, I found myself earlier this year asking myself ‘what next?’.
Continuing professional development is very important to me both personally and professionally. However it was proving difficult to find courses and educational opportunities in physiotherapy either not already completed or relevant to my area of practice as a musculoskeletal specialist.
I have always had a keen interest in health in a broader sense, not just physical but also in relation to diet and nutrition, exercise as well as other lifestyle factors such as sleep, the role of sunlight, recreation, communication etc. All factors which can also have a profound impact on pain management and physical function which have helped me develop as a physiotherapist over the years.
Following on from my last post where I emphasised the importance of moving frequently, here I’ll be discussing how we can take a few further steps towards improving physical health.
First up is the importance of pushing, pulling or lifting something reasonably heavy which would include our own bodies. This means taking some time out away from our normal day to day activities to do some focussed strengthening exercise.
So what are some of the benefits?
- You’re more likely to burn stored fat which is useful for weight management. That is assuming of course you’re not loading up on lots of sugar and other carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, potatoes etc. The body will burn carbohydrates as an energy source first, and if taken in excess will be stored as fat, not good if you are trying to lose weight.
- Regular movement helps reduce aches and pains, motion is lotion.
- Movement enhances brain function, concentration and memory.
- As well as the function of the heart, lungs and vascular system.
- Slow, regular movement helps with stress management and promotes longevity.
It was 10 years ago when I remember hobbling down the stairs to collect my next client. I was holding my back upright and rigid, almost afraid to move in fear that I might further strain what I suspected at the time was painfully ‘unstable’ sacroiliac or pelvic joint. I had also been assessed by an experienced clinician who had told me I was ‘misaligned’.
Roll on ten years and I now understand, based on current research and expert opinion that the pelvic joints really don’t move very much, hardly at all in fact. When reflecting on my injury and considering my age, gender and how I injured myself (pulling a suitcase awkwardly form under a bed), it became clear that my strained lower back and pelvis wasn't likely to have been left unstable. But at the time I did not have this knowledge and so felt very threatened by this part of my body. It felt weak and I lacked the confidence to move freely as well as run and exercise in the gym. The pain I felt added to this sense of threat.
I was watching Toby, our 5 year old, bending down to pick up his box of wooden blocks a few days ago. The box was reasonably heavy and a little awkward but this did not seem to deter him. He bent his hips and knees, also allowing his back to flex, then took hold of the box and while holding it close straightened up. He tottered with the box into the living room then reversed the process to put the box down onto the floor.
Why did this simple functional task get me thinking?
In recent years there has been a strong move away from this idea that we should be ‘bracing’ our backs before we bend and lift everyday objects. The notion of contracting your ‘core’ muscles, becoming rigid, not allowing your back to move before doing anything of a physical nature has been strongly challenged and is now considered by low back pain researchers to be very unhelpful. This way of moving, once considered the ideal, is now understood to promote pain, limit function and encourage people not to trust their backs.