Blood Pressure and Losing Weight

Recent research shows that exercise is effective in lowering blood pressure. All types of exercise including both cardiovascular and resistance training were beneficial. Blood pressure medication is more effective than exercise in creating a difference but this research is still very encouraging for people to keep up their exercise. Please make sure you check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. See our Facebook post for further information.

You have probably heard that it isn't just exercising alone that helps you to lose weight, it is mainly what you eat. Research discussed in the New Scientist, January 19, 2019, shows that our bodies have a set amount of calories that it uses per day so extra exercise doesn't allow you to eat too much more food. There are several reasons for this:

1) if someone does a heavy work out, they often compensate for this by being less active or fidgety throughout the rest of the day because their body is recovering. This was shown in mice who were given running wheels and prompted to exercise, they were less active for the rest of the day.

2) People who are used to exercising become more efficient at using calories, therefore, they don't need as many calories for their daily life and exercise.

3) Our bodies have possibly evolved to use a certain amount of calories regardless of the activity we are doing. The Hadza people in Tanzania, are very active. The men walk at least 10km/day hunting for game and the woman gather food by digging for wild tubers and picking berries yet still only burn around 2000-2600 calories/day. This is only slightly more than people who drive to work and sit all day. It takes more energy and effort for a larger person to go about their daily life than an individual in a healthy weight range. When people start to lose weight, their metabolism slows down. If they start to put it back on, their metabolism stays at the slower rate as if their mass was smaller compared to their pre-weight loss state. This makes it easier to put weight back on, because our bodies have evolved to make sure we survive - smart, but kind of unfair given the abundance of food in this day and age!

If a person exercises like crazy, their metabolism also slows down because their body isn't spending enough time repairing their internal systems and can find themselves with injuries that don't heal, not being able to shake a cold or having disrupted menstrual cycles. However, there are good reasons to do moderate amounts of exercise as there are a myriad of other health benefits: improved cardiovascular health, better brain function and reduced risk of chronic conditions such as Alzheimer's.

If you experience any back pain whilst exercising please get in touch with us so we can help, please reply contact us or book online.

Anti-ageing

Exercise really is an amazing tool to keep ourselves healthy and also younger. New research compared the muscles and cardiovascular capacity of people who regularly exercise in their 20s, people in the 70s who exercised their whole adult lives and an inactive group in their 70s.

They found that the muscles of people who have exercised their whole lives closely resemble those of people in their 20s who currently exercise. The inactive group's muscles showed significant changes. The cardiovascular system of the active older group was reduced compared to the 20 year olds but their capacity was 40% higher than the inactive group as well as their cardiovascular health being equivalent to people 30 years younger than them.

So, with most of us having time off shortly, it is a great time to start making exercise a habit that you can't live without. 

If you experience any back pain whilst exercising please get in touch with us so one of chiropractors can help, by contacting us or book online.

Golf and Back Pain

Playing golf can cause injury primarily to the back, shoulder, elbow, hand, and wrist. Golfers are especially prone to low back pain because it uses muscles that aren't usually worked in everyday activities of life, as well as from the impact of hitting the ball and incorrect form. This alters ones joint alignment and posture which in turn alters performance.

Factors affecting injuries experienced during golf include weakened muscles (causes incorrect spinal joint movement and muscular contraction), reduced flexibility, excessive exercise, insufficient warm-up and an incorrect swing form.  

Due to the asymmetrical nature of golf, the uneven development of muscles can cause spinal and pelvic imbalances making it harder to maintain normal spinal curves, reduced movement range, weakened abdominal muscles and back pain. This research showed that chiropractic care in conjunction with a tailored stretching and flexibility program had a positive result on low back pain in golfers. This is something we can help you out with.

If you experience back pain either during or after golf, please see one of our North Ryde chiropractors. To do so please either email us or book online, to start feeling better today.

Plank Progressions

Planks are great for helping to build your core muscle endurance but they do get a bit boring after a while. Check out this video if you want to challenge yourself further. Remember to squeeze your butt whilst you're planking to avoid your back taking unnecessary load which may lead to injury.

If you experience any pain, please contact our chiropractors to see if there are any areas that need addressing.

What This Biomechanics Professor Wishes People Knew About the Real Causes of Low Back Pain

Over half of the patients that Dr. Stuart McGill sees were injured by improper personal training. The following article debunks long-held myths to help you keep clients pain free.

As a spine biomechanics professor of over 32 years, I share with you an astonishing fact: Over half of the patients that had been referred to me for back pain were caused by personal trainers!

That is quite an indictment of the results from personal training, but make no mistake, I am the biggest supporter of trainers. Trainers, however, have the potential to be the most important determinant of a person’s lifelong health–perhaps more important than their family doctor, therapist, psychologist, or any other type of clinician. But personal trainers often misunderstand the true mechanics behind back pain.

My recent book, Back Mechanic, contains information that is culled from decades of research in various laboratories and clinics. In it, I provide guidelines to assess the cause of pain, then show the reader what to do, as well as what not to do. Part of what’s discussed are several myths that get perpetuated by the public and personal trainers alike. We dispel those myths and help create the framework for making better clinical decisions.

Here are just a handful of those myths, republished from my book with my own addendums, to make sure that you trainers change people’s lives for the better.

Let’s get started.

Myth 1: Back pain is linked to having tight hamstrings

Truth: Our research has found that in most cases, tight hamstrings are a related symptom of back issues rather than a cause. Interestingly, hamstrings often decrease in tightness as back pain subsides. That being said, when one hamstring is tighter than the other, the asymmetry has had mild influences on back pain, particularly in athletes. This book [Back Mechanic] will teach you proper movement patterns for daily activities such as tying your shoes. You will learn that even those of you with tight hamstrings are able to perform such activities while sparing your back.

From a performance perspective, many explosive-type athletes, such as jumpers, need tight hamstrings to store and recover elastic energy. Here the hamstrings are “tuned” rather than stretched (I dive more into this in Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance).

Myth 2: Lying in bed is good for back pain

Truth: In reality, lying in bed for excessive periods actually causes back pain. Let’s examine this more closely. A little known fact is that we are all actually taller first thing in the morning than we are before we go to bed at night. This comes down to our spinal disks. The disks in between each of our vertebrae are packed with very concentrated protein chains that love water. In scientific terms, this means they are “hydrophilic.” When we lie horizontally, the discs fill with fluid and gently push the vertebrae away from one another, lengthening the spine. The reason, our backs are often stiff in the morning is that the discs are so full of fluid, like water balloons ready to burst. When we get up in the morning, and our spines are once again vertical, the excess of fluid in each disc begins to seep out and an hour or two after rising from bed we have returned to our normal heights.

This natural ebb and flow is health and is what allows the discs to obtain nutrition. Problems arise, however, when the spine remains in a horizontal position for too long. While about eight hours in bed is healthy, much longer than that is not as it allows the spine to continue to swell and cause disc pain.

Limiting your time in bed can help with this, as can selecting the right mattress for your back.

Myth 3: My daily workouts at the gym will get rid of my back pain

Truth: The key is doing the right workouts that will preserve your back instead of destroying it. I see patients often perplexed by the fact that they take care of their bodies when an “unfit Joe” they know seems to get by with no back trouble at all.

The truth is that someone hitting the gym every day without spine sparing techniques during their workout, will develop cumulative trauma in their discs. Repeatedly bending your back at the gym, followed by long periods of sitting at work, chased down with poorly executed daily tasks such as getting dressed or gardening conspire together to cause the slow delamination of some of your disc fibers.

“Unfit Joe,” who sits all day, doesn’t experience the same strain on his back that a gym superstar does by aggravating their disc injuries every time they sit. In terms of pain, their spines are better off! The key is not to stop working out! The secret is in changing your default movement patterns so that you can enjoy the benefits of fitness without compromising your back.

Myth 4: Yoga and Pilates are great ways to alleviate back pain

Truth: While many doctors and therapists will suggest this type of exercise to their patients because of its “therapeutic” properties, our studies have not supported these claims and in fact have indicated the opposite. While some poses and movements may be beneficial or feel good at the time, there are components of both exercise systems that will aggravate an individual with back conditions. There is no such thing as an exercise program that is beneficial to all back pain sufferers and to broadly prescribe either yoga or pilates to a patient with undefined back pain is, in my opinion, irresponsible. Every single exercise should be justified and then modified if necessary to suit each person.

One of my major issues with Pilates is that one of its key principles is to flatten the spine and “imprint” the lower back to the floor when lying down. This deliberate effort to disrupt the spine from its neutral position and “straighten” one of its natural curves is not healthy and can trigger pain sensitivity in a person who is already sensitized.

Some people experience a false sense of relief while going through this motion because it stimulates the back’s stretch receptors. In reality, this relief is fleeting and pain symptoms typically return with a vengeance due to the stresses placed on your discs.

Another staple of the Pilates regimen is called the “Rollup.” This movement is essentially a sit-up that involves segmentally rolling through each joint of the spine. Our science has justified avoiding sit-ups as part of a routine for a healthy spine and the Rollup essentially takes a bad exercise and makes it worse.

Consider bending a slender branch back and forth–no stress develops. But repeat the bends with a thicker branch and it will crack and break due to the higher stress. This is why stronger people with thicker spines actually create delamination of their disc fibers with fewer bends than a slender-spined person.

Further, training mobility softens the matrix holding the collagen fibers together and decreases the load-bearing ability. Training strength toughens the collagen matrix reducing mobility. Thus, the adaptations are specific, which means that a person must choose between training predominantly spine mobility or spine strength with load- bearing ability. Very few people can have it both ways.

Thus the exaggerated fashion of the Pilates’ rollup puts an emphasis on moving through the spine, putting unnecessary load and strain on the discs. The real goal should be to minimize spinal movement and instead use our hips as primary centers for motion. This philosophy will allow the back pain to settle.

As we’ve already discussed, a therapeutic exercise must be recommended that correlates with the results of a detailed assessment. Many doctors mindlessly suggest Pilates, buying into the unexamined orthodoxy that says Pilates is good for the back. This needs to stop. Don’t get me wrong. There are many Pilates and Yoga instructors I have met taking my clinical courses and have expertise in matching specific exercises to specific people. These instructors are well aware of the importance of avoiding certain pain triggers and adjusting exercises to prevent the worsening of pain.

The bottom line is that if the specific components of Yoga and Pilates are selected and modified for the person doing them, they can help a back patient, but neither of these programs should ever be recommended as a “blanket cure” to all back pain sufferers.

Myth 5: Stronger muscles will cure my back pain

Truth: Therapists often begin strength training early in rehabilitation simply because strength is the easiest attribute to increase and requires very little expertise. Or, curiously they have decided to measure strength as a metric for disability–this is driven by a legal process seeking monetary settlements based on strength loss (or sometimes loss of motion).

Too many patients remain long-term patients because of their misguided efforts to train their back strength. In many cases, their training approach needs an overhaul. Think of strength in relation to the body like horsepower in relation to a car. If a souped-up 500 horsepower engine is put inside a dinky, broken down car and then raced around town at top speed, it’s only a matter of time before the mega-engine rips the frail frame and suspension to piece.

Similarly, a back patient who has developed a disproportionate amount of strength in relation to their current level of endurance can only expect further injury. We have measured this time and time again in strong back patients. Specifically, a resilient back has endurance matched to strength.

Back injuries are a result of putting a spine under load and then breaking healthy movement form. Maintaining proper movement patterns requires endurance. Therefore, we must always place endurance as a higher priority to strength when it comes to rehabilitating a patient with a spine condition. Only after the back-pained person has increased our endurance for sustaining healthy movement patterns, and in turn their stability and mobility, should they progress to more aggressive strength training.

Myth 6: Stretching is good for reducing back pain

Truth: Although stretching is considered universally beneficial for back pain sufferers, this is an old-fashioned notion that needs challenging.

There is no such thing as a stretch that is good for all patients, just as there is no such thing as a single source of pain. Each back pain case is different, and as such each stretch must be chosen very, very carefully and tailored to the individual. Too often, therapists prescribe stretches that are totally wrong for a patient often with the ultimate goal of improving mobility in the spine. For most back pain sufferers, this is the opposite of what they should be doing in order to gain control of their backs.

Physiologically, pulling your knees to your chest, or other similar stretches, trigger the “stretch reflex.” This is a neurological phenomenon that reduces pain sensitivity. This provides about 15-20 minutes of pain relief for some, making it a short-term fix. The problem is that in putting in your spin in this position, you are aggravating your discs and after you’ve experienced temporary relief, the pain will return, often worse than before. Thus begins a vicious cycle with a misinformed back patient who thinks their only solution to pain is to “stretch it out,” not realizing that this is in fact contributing to their pain. The key is to stop the cycle!

Instead of focusing your energy on stretches that bend the spine, turn instead to stabilizing and controlling the spine. Follow the self-assessment of the pain triggers shown in Back Mechanic. Modifying your daily movements to keep your spine in postures that do not trigger pain, which for most people is “neutral.” In following this path to recovery, your discs will experience less strain, your pain will subside and your mobility will return!

Essentially, when dealing with stretches with back pain, avoid those that involve pulling your knees to your chest. Your pain triggers will de-sensitize faster.

Myth 7: Having a powerful back is protective

Truth: Power is the product of velocity and force. So high power is generated when quickly bending the spine together with a forceful exertion. Generating power in the spine is highly problematic, as it increases the risk of injury. Let’s break it down. If spine movement or bending occur at a high velocity, the forces (or load) on it must be low in order to avoid injury. For example, the golf swing has high velocity but low force.

Alternatively, if the force being placed on the spine is high, then the velocity must be kept at a low level in order to maintain a low risk of injury–think the deadlift. Essentially, the risk of back injury can be controlled by keeping spine power low.

—————-

This article has been adapted from ptdc.com

All of this information can be found in my comprehensive book about back pain, Back Mechanic. Everyone needs to learn good movement for optimal health and absence of injury and disease. Well-executed motions, postures, and loads can build the body, maintain a high-level performance, and preserve pain-free enjoyment all throughout a person’s life. By contrast, little to no movement, inappropriate exercise choice, and poor programming that lacks appropriate rest and adaptation can create cumulative trauma and ill health.

If you have any questions about this article or would like help with any spine and joint issues, please either call our North Ryde chiropractor on 8096 6781, book online or contact us.

Stronger is Better

I hope you enjoyed the October Long Weekend and have adjusted to the clock going forward.  I love this time of year as the days are getting longer.

People tend to get back into exercise if they let their exercise regime lapse over winter. I want to share with you a wonderful exercise to help strengthen your core stabilising muscles, it is called the Pallof Press. It is so important to have a strong core to minimise spinal injury.  Please take a look at this video on our new Riverside Chiropractic YouTube channel.   We will be uploading more videos to our channel in the near future which is very exciting.

 

We will be uploading more videos to our channel soon which is very exciting.

There's A Reason Why It Is So Important

Walk into any gym or health club and you’ll find people exercising their core. Core training has taken the world by storm, and for good reason as strengthening the core creates stability and better movement and helps prevent lower back pain. To help you get the most out of your efforts, it’s important you understand what you’re doing.  We’ve outlined below the difference between local and global muscles, to help you perform core work safely and effectively.

What Is your Core?

Your core is a shorthand way of referring to all the muscles of your lower back/pelvis/hip area. It’s where your centre of gravity is located and where movement begins. A strong core stabilises the spine and pelvis and supports you as you move. The core has 29 pairs of muscles that fall into two categories:

1) Local Muscles: Think of your local muscles as the deeper muscles, the ones close to the spine and responsible for stabilisation. They don’t have much ability to move the joints. The local muscles are further broken down into primary and secondary categories. The primary local muscles are the Transverse Abdominus and Multifidi (the two most critical muscles for providing stability). The secondary local muscles are the Internal Obliques, Quadratus Lumborum, Diaphragm and Pelvic Floor muscles.

2) Global Muscles: The global muscles are the outermost layer of muscle—they’re the ones you can feel through your skin. They’re responsible for moving joints. The global muscles in the core are the Rectus Abdominus, External Obliques, Erector Spinae, Psoas Major and Iliocostalis.

The core should operate as an integrated functional unit, with the local and global muscles working together to allow easy, smooth, pain-free movement. When the muscles work together optimally, each component distributes, absorbs and transfers forces. The kinetic chain of motion functions efficiently when you do something dynamic, like exercise or run.

Core Injury

An injury to one of the core muscles usually means an episode of lower back pain. When that happens, the deep stabilizers change how they work as a way to compensate for the injury and protect the area. The stabilisers now have delayed action; they’re turned on only after you move, instead of as you move. Because now they’re not functioning as they should, the brain recruits the global muscles to compensate. That causes a core imbalance. The result: pain in the lower back, pelvis and glutes (the big muscles you sit on).

Exercises designed to help get your core muscles back in balance are the best way to prevent re-injury and avoid lower back pain. Traditional abdominal exercises are often recommended to strengthen the global muscles. These exercises can actually increase pressure on the lower spine. Similarly, traditional lower back hyperextension exercises meant to stretch out the lower spine also may actually increase pressure on it. A better approach to preventing lower back pain is restoring stability with the core exercises below.

Abdominal Brace

The abdominal brace activates all the contracting muscles in the abdominal wall. This exercise strengthens the connection between the global muscles and the deep local muscles. This helps restore the balance between them and improves spinal stiffness.

To get an idea of how the muscles in your core work, place your thumbs in the small of your back on either side of your spine. Next, do a hip hinge: bend forward from the hips about 15 degrees. You should feel the muscles in your lower back move as you bend and stand back up again.

To do the brace, stand upright and suck in your stomach, as if you were about to get punched. Hold that for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat 20 times; do three sets.

You’ll know you’re doing the brace correctly if you poke your extended fingertips right into your side below your ribs and then brace. You should feel the muscles move under your fingertips.

Curl-Ups

Curl-ups train the Rectus Abdominus, the long abdominal muscle that runs vertically from your breastbone all the way down on both sides of your bellybutton.

Start by lying on your back with your hands palm-up beneath your lower back. Bend one leg and put the foot flat on the floor; extend the other leg, perform the abdominal brace. Hold your head and neck stiffly locked onto your ribcage - imagine them as one unit. Lift your head and shoulders slightly off the floor by about 10 centimetres and hold that position for 20 seconds. Your elbows should touch the floor while you do this.  

Relax and gently lie back again and repeat 10 times. Switch legs and repeat 10 times again. Do three sets.

Tip: If you experience neck discomfort doing this, push your tongue against the roof of the mouth to help stabilise the neck muscles.  If you experience pain in your low back try bending both knees.

Bridge

Lying on your back with your knees bent, brace your abdominals then raise your hips up until you are in a straight line.  Do not over arch your back.  Keep your hips level and hold for 10 seconds then lower hips to the  floor.  Repeat 10 times.

This strengthens all of your core muscles due to abdominal bracing as well as your Glutes and Hamstrings.  These muscles become weak from sitting too much.

Side Bridge

This exercise is great for training the back extensors, including the Longissimus, Iliocostalis and Multifidus.  

Start on your hands and knees (quadruped position). Raise and extend the opposite arm and leg simultaneously.  Hold for eight seconds, then return to the quadruped position. Repeat eight times, then switch arms and legs and repeat for ten reps. Do three sets.

All the muscles of the core must work together to produce efficient and effective movement. The core is the centre of the body’s motion—training it is a critical part of any exercise routine.