All posts by Paula

The Top 5 Clothes Making Your Back Pain Worse

A new study has found that British women are putting fashion before their health.


The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) has found that 73% of women have suffered with back pain and their wardrobe could be a major factor.

Even though 28% of women are aware that clothing affects their back pain and posture, they are still not bothered by this when shopping for clothes.

Wearing skinny jeans and backless shoes, for example, can make pain worse. 33% of women were not aware at all that their clothing and accessories could affect their neck or back pain.

Tim Hutchful, a BCA chiropractor, states: “I am always surprised at how many of my patients are unaware that their clothing and accessories can affect their back health and their posture and, equally, how many decide their outfit-choice outweighs their pain.

“Some of the most popular items of clothing can have a hidden health impact. While overloaded and heavy handbags are a common culprit, some more unexpected items like skinny jeans can also wreak havoc – they restrict free movement in areas such as the hips and knees, affecting the way we hold our bodies. New trends such as asymmetric hemlines, oversized sleeves and hoods and heavy jewellery can also create problems.”



The study showed the Top 5 clothing culprits for worsening back pain are:

1. Skinny jeans
2. Oversized shoulder bags
3. Coats with large fluffy hoods
4. High heeled shoes
5. Backless shoes, such as mules
Tim suggests: “Try and limit the number of times you wear skinny jeans or high heels every week so you’re giving your body a break, or try investing in a backpack for days when you have a lot to carry around.”

There are lots of smart handbag-style backpacks available, such as ones like this:


Here are some tips that the British Chiropractic Association provide to help you follow fashion without your health paying the price:

• Variation is key: Wearing similar pieces of clothing every day could trigger back pain, by regularly restricting certain parts of your body from moving freely. Shift the pressure on these areas by varying the styles of clothes you wear.

• Keep it loose: Tighter clothes restrict your body from moving freely so looser clothing, such as baggy trousers, maxi skirts, or straight leg jeans, are a good choice.

• Put the bag down: Heavy handbags are a particularly common cause of back pain in women. Pay attention to the bag you carry around and regularly check for and empty your bag of unnecessary items. Backpacks are the best design for your posture as they distribute weight evenly across both shoulders, so it’s great that these are back in style. Avoid bags that must be carried in the crook of your arm, as the weight of these held away from your body pulls one shoulder lower than the other, twisting your neck and spine. If your bag has one strap, alternate the shoulder you carry it on or, if it has a long strap, wear it across the body.

• Put your best foot forward: High heels force you to hold your body in a manner which promotes tension in your spine so, if you wear high heels, counteract any potential damage by wearing trainers or shoes with a lower heel from time to time and try to choose a wedge or chunkier heel over a stiletto.

• Get the right support: Clothes are important but what you wear underneath can also affect your posture. Bras need to fit properly so that your shoulders don’t take all the strain. When shopping for bras, look for one which has an underband that is neither too tight nor too loose. Ensure that the centre-fold fastener sits close to your body and that the straps are not too tight on your shoulders. Getting a fitting at a shop (many offer this service) is the best way to get a good fit.
This research was carried out between 14/02/2017 and 20/02/2017 on behalf of the British Chiropractic Association.


Relieve Back Pain By Changing The Way You Move


The way you move around has a direct impact on your back pain, and you might not know that you could be making things a lot easier for yourself and relieving your pain simply by changing the way you move.

When I was at school, I had an old 70s-80s Parker jacket like the one in the picture. They were very popular; everyone had them. One day I was walking to school with the hood up, as it was raining. When I got to school a classmate said she saw me on my way to school and called me but I didn’t hear. I asked her where she was and she said outside her house. Well, I knew that I didn’t pass her house directly. I would have been at least 80 feet away on the adjacent street when she saw me, and with the long snorkel Parker hood up, how could she have known it was me?

parka back pain“I could tell it was you because of your walk” she said. “Oh god – I have my own walk?” I thought. And I did. I was always late and have short legs so I walked fast with huge strides for my size.

When I since suffered back pain for nearly two decades, my walk changed. I could no longer walk fast, and I could no longer walk with huge strides. Sometimes the pain was so bad it was barely an old lady shuffle, and I didn’t even realize this until I got my old walk back again!

Once I was fit and well again and almost totally pain-free, I also noticed that my old, usual walk includes bobbing up and down – the way happy, confident people do!

Have you ever noticed? – Miserable people shuffle along, but happy people bob.

The key is firstly to stop fearing the pain. Be confident that you can walk how you want to and move in a fluid way, rather than a cautious, jerky way.

In addition to walking jerkily, many people with back pain are all tensed up when they move around, especially when they are anticipating pain and fearing it.

And when I say tensed up, I don’t mean in an obvious way where all our muscles are clearly flexed. We can still be tensed up without knowing it. Masseurs find tense spots all the time that the client didn’t know was tense.

One way we can test if we are unconsciously tensed up is to check where our shoulders are. If they are not as low as they can be, then you are most likely tensed up. When you lower your shoulders, you normally also relax other parts automatically.

Of course this tip applies to sitting or standing still as well as moving around, but if you move around while tensed up, your pain will be more severe and you will have little chance of relieving your back pain if you make a habit of this.

Have you ever spoken without moving your mouth (usually when you don’t want to be seen speaking)?

I always think that walking chronic pain sufferers are the equivalent of this. They’re so scared they will make their pain worse, they tense up, walk jerkily and ultimitely end up being in more pain.

So remember:

  • Keep reminding yourself to lower your shoulders
  • Move in a fluid way
  • Do not fear the pain

And hopefully you can walk tall, proud and happily once again.

Take care


How Being Happy Relieves Back Pain

You might think your back pain is making you miserable, but could your back pain be because you are miserable?

I don’t just mean that your mood affects your pain, although I strongly believe that too. But when we are miserable, we are a lot less likely to see any point to doing anything ourselves to improve our situation. So we do nothing.

I found a USAtoday article today(!) about a survey that says The Older Generation Does It Best; that over 65s are happiest, and I wasn’t surprised to find it was the 45-64 age group that are the least happy people.


The middle-aged group works the hardest; some work up to 12-14 hours a day because they have families. A lot of  them have teenagers, who can be both expensive and trying! And a lot of them have chronic pain. The older ones do too, but they have learned more about what is important in life. They have also learned how to be happy, and how to look after their bodies.

A lot of poeple will not take drastic action about their health until they have had some sort of scare or bad news from their doctor, into doing so. The vast majority of us neglect our bodies. We eat the wrong things; we aren’t informed about the correct type or amount of exercise to do regularly. And even if we do know, we still don’t take action because we think we are already too busy.

Most of the responses to the article are from people who seem to think it is because the senior citizens are finacially better off. Why is everyone so obsessed with money? Happiness has NOTHING to do with money. That is one thing I do know. I have had money, and been broke while miserable and also both while being happy, and the two are not at all connected. Your attitude is what makes you happy. Only those who have learned how to be happy will ever believe this (and rich people who are miserable!) I learned how to permanently be happy while I was still £12,000 in debt (around $18,000).

The comments on the article also suggest outside influences are to blame for our happines. YOU are responsible for your health, wealth and happiness. People will always be miserable if they think the government (or whoever) is responsible for their current or future lifestyle.

So what has this got to do with chronic pain or back pain?

No matter what your situation, you can always fit in 10 minutes of exericise, twice a day. I find it so sad when people say they have no time. They also more than likely eat way too many carbs and have poor sleep patterns, so of course they have no energy. If we are more organized we can magically create an extra hour or two every day just by having more energy!


Because when we have good energy levels, we need less rest (vegging out in front of the TV) and we need less sleep!

If you want to improve your situation, no matter what that is, you must start optimizing your health by making these tiny adjustments.

But most importantly, you have to have the right attitude. If you go around saying such phrases as;  “knowing my luck” or “sod’s law”, or “murphy’s law” etc. you are telling yourself life is hard before you even give it a chance!

And do you ever allow for life’s contingencies? When you know it takes 25 minutes to drive to work, and yet day after day you leave exactly 25 minutes before you need to be at work. It’s obviously only a matter of time before there will be a holdup and you will be late. Then you’ll be angry with the “idiot” who caused an accident up ahead, or the “moron” who drove too slowly. And you’ll be flustered and angry all morning and your mood will have a domino effect on everyone around you. This leads to stress, etc, etc…

I would also strongly recommend buying the book pictured above. It will not take long to read. It’s is actually designed to look like a kids’ book. And I think that helps a lot. Because let’s face it, busy people are going to be put off simply by the thought of a long, arduous read.

“Mmm, it’s probably a good book…” I hear you say.

But you’re not planning on buying it, are you?

OK, have a look at these reviews and see what you think. Or even look inside the book, as it offers that function too. Yes, some of it is common sense, but most of us are so poor at remembering to do this stuff, it is still worth a lot more than the price of the book just to be reminded of it.

I have read my copy 3 times, and some parts of it more (because I have an abysmal short-term memory). And I got it for £1.50 from a charity shop. What a steal!

Learn to be happy and thankful for the resources you already have, and the rest is easy, I promise.

Don’t Adjust Your Gait To Ease Your Pain

If you have signed up to my free course, you will know that it is not spine degeneration that causes your back pain, and that there are things you can do to ease your pain, no matter what diagnosis you have been given.

You will also know why back pain sufferers have lots of other types of temporary pain too. While I was out walking the dog this morning, I was reminded of just how easy it is to eliminate these temporary types of pain – within minutes.

The cause must be related to the fear thing because they always used to last all day – or a few days or weeks – when I worried about them, as I did before I realized what was going on.

When you are out walking about, and have pain, such as foot pain or knee pain, you might be tempted to adjust your gait (the way you walk) or adjust how you distribute your weight, in an attempt to ease the pain.

But I’ve found that if you try and just walk normally, and ignore the pain, the pain goes a lot quicker.

I cannot stress that enough. It’s happened time and time again. It can’t be a co-incidence.

In fact, if I’ve not got people around me I actually play a little game; I pretend that I’m somewhere important, and that I can’t appear to be hobbling about; I’ve got to look professional and dignified, and then I walk in an appropriate way, which would be as normally as possible – even though I’m in pain.

And the pain goes. Within minutes. It really does work.

(If I have got people around me, then it’s even easier to pretend I can walk normally).

A few years ago when I had a bad right knee, I adjusted my gait and ended up hurting my right hip and achilles heel as well, and it still didn’t help the knee pain.

Then I realized what to do, and when it returned the following year, I just walked normally, did the gentle exercises I’ve recommended on this blog, and kept my knee warm and the pain disappeared within a few days.

If you allow the pain to take over, you will walk abnormally for a long time; your pain will worsen and your mobility will deteriorate. Try to nip this behavior in the bud now, and maintain your previous level of fitness.


As Your Fear Grows, So Too Will Your Pain

Do you associate a particular activity with back pain? Or other chronic pain?

Perhaps every time you walk, you have pain. Or when you sit or stand.

I found an interesting site by Eddie who does yoga. He has also discovered that the mind is responsible for a lot of your pain and for making it worse. His teacher told him that the mind always wants to make a big drama out of everything.

In another post The Turning Point, he talks about Dr John Sarno’s book Healing Back Pain, and says that after he read the part about associating a particluar activity with pain, he was able to take measures to prevent it happening in the future. The activity that triggered his pain was sitting. He had spent days avoiding sitting! Imagine how hard that must have been.

But the turning point of the title was when he used affirmations and communicated to his unconscious mind the way Sarno suggests, and it worked. He told himself he was well, and had nothing to fear. He reminded himself by putting up notes all over his house!

Now, that is the sort of stuff you should be doing! – Not complaining about the pain and reaffirming to yourself that you are unwell. Remember, the body cannot heal itself when it is under stress. Don’t add to the stress by telling yourself you are in pain and never going to get better.

It is possible to get better, and these change in attitude and behavior are the first step.


No-one Waits for the Back Pain Sufferer

There are many difficulties that back pain sufferers face on a daily basis. It’s not just backache people have to contend with. There are many frequent practical and social issues that arise as a result of having back pain. I just found this comedy video that I think sums up one of them.

I often used to have the problem the guy in this video has (no, not his massage therapist’s unorthodox techniques). Sometimes it seems the world is in such a hurry, and full of impatient people.


Keeping the Faith to Eliminate Back Pain

Faith to relieve back painA few years ago, I was still battling to control my back pain and although I had found a few things that worked, I still suffered with the pain quite a bit, so when I had the opportunity to go to an evangelist healer’s meeting, I was more than curious and felt I had to go along, if only for the experience. I had heard about the claims from people having been “cured” of various ailments and wondered how it was done. I also felt I had nothing to lose.

Now I’m not very religious and don’t go to church, but I am not one of those annoyingly arrogant atheists who tell innocent people like Deepak Chopra on Twitter that they peddle “tosh”, like SOME people!

(I mean if you are going to have a go at someone, it might as well be someone who is actually hurting others, don’t you think?)

I have an open mind and while I don’t believe a lot of stuff in the bible I respect that Christians and other religions believe in God in order to become better human beings, and that can only be a good thing in my opinion.

But I was aware that in order to go along to this evangelist healing meeting, I was going to have to pretend I was something I was not, and I wasn’t entirely comfortable with that. But I thought “Hey it COULD cure my back pain!”

So I went along, and sang a few hymns, and then queued in a long line of people wanting to be healed. The guy had a microphone and was praising the lord, just like you see on TV. Above the loud music (the whole thing was very LOUD!) he was stating to everyone what condition each person had, and how long they had had it for. He then appeared to bless the person and then quite abruptly push them backward into someone catching them, to stop them falling.

I remember getting quite nervous at that bit, as I thought “What if the guy behind me gets distracted by something and forgets to catch me?”

I got more nervous the nearer I got to the front, especially when the lady a few people in front of me also had a “bad back” and the minister and his helpers rocked her back and forth like she was a rag doll!

I had taken my painkillers that morning, so I wasn’t worried. If they hurt me I’ll just ask them to stop, right?

The evangelist preacher continued to heal the people in the queue; each one claiming their pain was instantly gone. Some people were crying with joy, they were so overwhelmed.

Then it was my turn. The guy told everyone my name, my condition and the length of time I’d had the back pain. “Paula has had back pain for SEVENTEEN YEARS!” he shouted excitedly. He then asked me a couple more questions and then I got the same treatment as the other lady with back pain. And they weren’t gentle either! I felt like one of those 1970s drinking birds! (below).

I tensed up and thought “this is gonna hurt tomorrow” as that’s what I was conditioned to believe, so I asked them to stop, and they did and he said I should go and sit down.

“It’s not for everyone” he said and quickly moved on to the next person without shouting the outcome for all to hear.

So I wasn’t healed, but then I didn’t give him a chance did I? I got scared and gave up. The rocking back and forth did not hurt my back though. Not then, nor the next day.

But I did learn what I believed to be a valuable lesson. One of the questions he asked me before he started “healing” me, was; “Do you believe this is going to work?”

I have to be honest. The true answer was “I don’t know” or “No, not really”. But what I said was “Yes!” as I reckoned that was the correct answer in his mind. He nodded to the others and they continued to do the old drinking bird routine on me while shouting stuff I don’t remember.

So there was my answer: You have to believe it’s going to work, or you have no chance of it doing so. Now some people reading this will think that’s a load of rubbish, but don’t under-estimate the power of the mind.

I once knew an elderly couple who were driving down the motorway (freeway) at night and saw an accident on the opposite side. The man who was driving was partially disabled and could hardly walk without severe pain, but when he saw a car plough into the back of a huge stationary truck, and saw that there were no other cars about to report the accident, he stopped his car and ran – yes, RAN – across the lanes, and jumped over the central divide to get to the victims.

I heard this story from his wife, and she said if he was claiming disability money (which he wasn’t) the authorities would be convinced he was on the fiddle if they had seen him in action on that night. Yet she knew how much he suffered every day. But the body and brain behave very differently in life and death situations. For a start, he would have been filled with adrenalin, which is an amazing pain killer. And he was on a mission to help the injured people. The last thing on his mind was his own problems.

I have heard of many similar situations where extraordinary circumstances enable us to do things we never thought we could.

My mother adopted me because she thought she couldn’t conceive. It took nearly two years to adopt me, but three months after I was adopted, guess who got pregnant? And when I tell people this, they always say that this is a common phenomenon. The same happens to men who have been told they’re unlikely to father a child, then they get a less stressful job – and Bingo!

I met a woman who read a book stating that human childbirth is done totally wrong; that we should all squat to give birth like apes do, then we would have little to no pain. She totally embraced this idea and had zero painkillers for her next child’s birth which was a great pain-free success.

In the last two examples the pressure was off, so the person was able to relax. Perhaps our bodies can only truly behave correctly (be healthy) when we are totally relaxed.

And then there’s hypnosis. Few would deny the existence of hypnosis, and how amazing things can be achieved by deceiving or manipulating the mind, and yet plenty of people still cannot accept that the mind can achieve some pretty amazing things on its own.

Now I don’t want to reject the idea that Jesus or God healed those people around me that day. But my personal belief is that they healed themselves, simply by believing they would be healed. And if so, then I guess it doesn’t matter who or what was responsible. Those people became pain free, or healed.

Even if you can’t fully believe the concept, maybe this post will help you have a more open mind. Go on – have faith!

Do you know of a story where extraordinary circumstances or faith has enabled someone to do something they didn’t think they could?

Patient’s Own Stem Cells to Treat Back Pain

stem cells back painThere is a lot of controversy about the use of embrionic stem cells to treat a miriad of diseases, but now patients are being treated with their own stem cells and a recent case invlolves a Dallas man having been treated for back pain.

As reported on (WFAA-TV), Neurosurgeon Rob Dickerman of Forest Park Medical Center in Dallas has carried out a procedure on firefighter Chris Youngman that takes cells from the hip and uses them to grow more bone tissue in place of degenerated discs in the spine.

Now Chris can work out again and return to work, thanks to the pioneering treatment.

Traditional spine surgery to treat backpain has an extremely poor success rate and has often left patients in a worse condition than before, but this type of surgery claims to be much more effective, and a lot less evasive.

Though I still think surgery should be a last resort, for people in manual jobs who don’t respond to any other treatments, this could be suitable for them.

What do you think?



One Cause of Neck Pain – Forward Head Posture

forward head positionHave you noticed you get more neck pain than you used to? Or more headaches than you used to?

One of the most common culprits for causing neck pain, upper back pain and headaches is Forward Head Posture or Forward Head Position (FHP).

Forward Head Posture can also increase insomnia and breathing problems. It’s a completely abnormal position for our heads to be in. The head should always be positioned directly over the body so that your neck is aligned with your back. Your back and neck is designed to support the head, but only when it is directly above it!

When you lean your head forward, you are demanding more work of your neck and back muscles. And as they are not used to this movement, they will ache. You are also actually producing the equivalent of adding more weight to your back and neck , in the same way that holding a heavy object with outstretched arms will seem a lot heavier than holding it close to your chest.

There are no prizes for guessing what the biggest culprit is, in making our heads universally want to move forward! Yup. Our computer screens.

So how do we get rid of this pain?

Well, the first thing is to stop our bad habits, and refrain from leaning forward. People with headrests on their office chairs are a lot less likely to be guilty of holding their heads forward. When you have a headrest, you can lean your head back against it, and even recline back a bit. This is mostly how I sit in my marvellous Kinnarps 6000+ chair.

One thing you could try is to move your monitor closer to you. How much space do you actually need between you and the monitor anyway?

I know some people have their keyboards in between, but really, it’s better to have the keyboard on a shelf lower than the desk, so your arms are in the correct position. If you have that luxury, then bring your monitor closer to the front of your desk. There! –You’ve just increased your monitor size in two seconds – for free!

Also, most browsers let you increase the size of the text, by pressing Control and + together. Make sure you have just the text set to increase; not the pics too, or they’ll all be poor quality. You can change this in View > Zoom > Text Only in Firefox.

People laugh when they see the size of my screen text, and ask me if I’m half blind, but although I have 20/20 vision, I think why should I have to squint or move my head forward to read people’s miniscule online text? I work online all day – I might as well make the experience as comfortable as possible. Also, it ensures I get fewer headaches.

But what if you’ve got into the habit of having your neck forward the whole time, or for a lot of the time?

One great way to stop it, is to set an hourly timer. I have a stopwatch that bleeps on the hour every hour. And when I hear it, I check my posture, and re-adjust it if I’m not sitting straight, and I check my To Dos to make sure I haven’t got distracted. Trust me the hourly chime does wonders!

If you use this technique you’ll get out of the habit of poking your head forward pretty quickly.

I actually set up a video camera to record me for an hour on the PC a few months back. I was aware that I wasn’t aware (!) of my posture while I’m in the moment and concentrating on my work. I’m happy to report, I only lurched forward once, and that was when I saw a shocking headline, and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, so I took a closer look! (like him in the pic above!) But the rest of the time, my posture was pretty good.

So to prevent FHP and minimize the chance of getting back pain, neck pain and headaches:

  • Move your monitor closer to you
  • Increase text size
  • Use an hourly chime to check your posture regularly
  • If possible, get a ergonomics chair with a head rest (and arm rests)

And remember:

“No good deed goes unpunished”

So don’t stick your neck out – it’ll hurt!


The Right Mindset for Beating Back Pain

Churchill MindsetEarlier today I tweeted a very true quote by Winston Churchill.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”  – Winston Churchill

I see evidence of this everywhere. I meet people with back pain and other pain, and without preaching, I try to help them by telling them what I have learned.

But many are under the impression there is nothing they can do for their pain. They say stuff like “yeah, that’s a good idea, but it wouldn’t apply to me, because you see, I have __________.” (whatever other condition that prevents them from doing any exercise, for example).

Since I took action to get out of my “Back Pain Jail”(!) I am no longer thwarted by limiting beliefs. If you want to say something is not possible because of X, then do something to conquer X.

If you can’t conquer X because of Y, sort out Y before that.

I’m sure there’ll be a Z too, and an A, and a B and a C.

But be diligent. Just keep going until you have conquered them all!

With regards to pain relief, an alkaline/low carb (low GI) diet and low impact regular exericse are the two ways to start.

You CAN do it, but not if you keep coming up with reasons why you can’t.

As well as health quotes and funny quotes, I also tweet super quotes from high achievers from many walks of life, as not only are their quotes inspirational, but they are living proof that they overcame their obstacles.

People who built great empires had THOUSANDS more obstacles to overcome than you do in your battle against pain. And actually I shouldn’t use the word Battle as that implies hard work. It’s not difficult, if you remain consistent and do a bit each day.

Another great quote I love is:

“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.”  – Confucius

That quote especially applies to becoming pain-free; just don’t stop.

If you are lacking energy, and the last thing you want to do is exercise, no matter how little, try cutting down on carbs and sugar/fructose, and make the calories up by eating healthy oils, nuts, avocadoes, and beans.

I’ll cover this in more depth in another post, but it’s a start in banishing the zero energy that a lot of pain sufferers have, and the number one reason a lot of people can’t get started.

So anything is possible, as long as you have the right mindset to begin with.

The best of health to you


Do THIS When Bending to Prevent Back Pain!

prevent back painHere’s how my clumsiness reminded me of a super little tip you can do that makes a big difference if you do it every time you need to bend down, so you can protect your back.

I broke a glass this morning in the kitchen. What a clumsy clutz!

So I did the old glass breaking ritual. You know the one:

  • Put some footwear on!
  • Tell the dog to stay in the living room
  • Get emergency newspaper
  • sweep up the glass into a dustpan
  • vaccuum the area
  • vaccuum the sweeping brush!  – etc, etc…

It was when I was bent down to sweep the glass into the dustpan (with my bum in the air!) that I was aware I was tightening my tummy.

This was a great tip I found worked a treat when I was really suffering with back pain. No matter how much we avoid bending down, we can’t avoid it sometimes, can we?

But you can take some of the pressure off you back by tightening your abdominals, so your tummy is doing all the work. When I lifted myself back up, I found my gluteals and thighs were also tightened. I’d got so used to doing this a few years ago, I have probably done it ever since.

I know I do it when I put the dog’s collar on, and when I scoop her poop too!

Not that it does any harm to continue it. It’s important to do everything you can to prevent back pain in the future, so what better time than when you are not in pain? It’s also a great trick to try when lifting is unavoidable too.

For more great tips on how to strengthen your core and back muscles and utlimitely protect your back permanently, have a look at the back pain exercises pages up at the top.

Have a great day – and don’t break stuff!



Photo by .Larry Page

Don’t Increase Back Pain by Oversleeping!

Oversleeping back painDid you know you can worsen you bad back if you oversleep? I carried out an experiment on the connection myself. More on that later.

At first, I wasn’t sure if this was just me or not. But I have asked a lot of other back pain sufferers too. And they all say their back pain is a lot worse if they oversleep. So I did some research and oversleeping does have a detremental effect on chronic back pain, as well as a whole host of other conditions, such as depression.

I knew oversleeping wasn’t good for us, as I always felt a lot worse after oversleeping myself. I have several books on sleep and it is stated in all of them that you should be consistent and aim for 7  – 7 hours 30 minutes of sleep every night.

I have found that you can maybe stretch to 8 – 8 hours 30 minutes, if you have a rough night the night before, but even if you only have 3 hours or fewer, you should not then have 9 hours or more the following night to try and make up for those lost hours. It will not make you feel better. It’s best to increase your sleep gradually. Especially if you suffer from insomnia. You need to feel tired at the end of the day, and insomniacs never do, because of poor sleeping patterns.

In my free 5 Day course, there is a section on Sleep, and another bonus section on how to stay organized enough to optimize healthy sleep patterns. Sleep is so important. But most people don’t realize just how much. And oversleeping is just as dangerous as undersleeping. Some experts even say that people who regularly oversleep are at risk of death; mainly from stroke, but also several other causes too.

Just sticking with back pain, it is not clear exactly why, but the subject of sleep is a very mysterious one. We still do not know everything about sleep, and its effect on the body and mind. As you know I strongly believe in the mindbody connection, and anything that increases the effects of depression is not good news for chronic pain sufferers. Low mood has very strong implications for chronic pain.

People (often with depression) who insist they need 8 hours or 9 hours of sleep a night, are very mistaken. They have simply never been able to stick to a healthy sleep pattern to discover the truth, and they are sleeping themselves into an early grave.

For just over a year in 2007 I kept a sleep-pain diary as I noticed a connection, and wanted to see just how much it affected me from day to day. I must say at this point that this experiment would not be accepted in any clinical way, because for my own sanity, I did not deliberately try to overlseep – or undersleep. I knew it wasn’t good to do that, so I just made a note of my pain levels as soon as I woke up, and throughout the day every day. The poor sleep patterns happened with no effort!

I would aim for 8 hours sleep in the beginning (this was before I learned that 7 hours 20 minutes was my optimum length of time to sleep) and my pain would often be a 5 or a 6 (10 being the most painful) when I first got up, and lower to a more acceptable level later in the day.

But on the days I overslept, even by one hour, not only would my pain be higher; – 7 or 8 – but it would remain quite high for the rest of the day too.

Once I learned this, I of course tried to control my sleep more, but we all fall off the wagon, and when I failed to stick to my routine, I would not be able to sleep. This would mess up my sleep patterns for up to two weeks. Yes! That’s how bad I was. I was very sensitive to just one night of poor sleep – there’s no way I could work night shifts for example.

So I got better and better at sticking to my routine, even if I did mess up occasionally, and the results were amazing. Not only would I be able to sleep beautifully most nights, my pain levels dropped considerably. This was before I implemented other extremely effective methods to relieve pain, so I knew it was definitely the healthy sleep pattern that was responsible for reducing pain.

I would strongly advise keeping a sleep-pain diary yourself. Try to keep one for at least 6 months, so you can get a really good picture of what is happening. And aim to find out your optimum length of time to sleep. If possible, try for 7 hours 20 minutes or 7 hours 30 minutes. It will not be far from that time.

And let me know your results here!

photo by Orin Zebest on Flickr

Is it Hard to Stick to a Routine for Back Pain?

pain relief schedule-routineCombatting back pain needs to have a regular routine, and consistency. But the hardest part is getting started. As I have said previously, you only need to do a few minutes of exercise every day. But when you time this exercise is crucial. It should preferably be before any kind of physical activity. The chances are, your household and daily jobs are not necessarily what our bodies are designed for, so you need to give yourself a warm-up in order to loosen the muscles, so that they are better prepared for what life throws at them.

And gently moving about every day will build up strength in your muscles over time. You’ll be surprised just how quickly this happens if you stick to a consistent routine and do it every day.

A friend of mine recently painted her house. This involved reaching up to the ceiling, and bending down to paint the skirting boards. The only breaks she gave herself were to eat meals. She then had back pain. If she had gone for a short walk and/or done 5-10 minutes of low impact aerobics before the painting AND taken regular breaks, she would not have suffered back pain.

You can apply this advice, no matter what you have been told your back pain’s cause is (apart from severe recent trauma).

Image by ASurroca on Flickr

5 Tips to Relieve Back Pain

5 back pain tipsBack pain, lower back pain and sciatica are some of the biggest concerns of employers, as they keep millions of people off work every day around the globe. In fact most adults will suffer some type of back pain at some point during their lives.

If you suffer from back pain, you may not realize it but you can alleviate a lot of the pain yourself easily. Even if you have received, or are currently receiving treatment, you can still help your recovery along with these 5 simple steps.

Tip 1
prevent back painDistribute your weight evenly. When standing, don’t put your weight more on one leg than the other, as you would normally when standing with a hand on one hip for example. Also if you must carry anything for any considerable length of time, choose a backpack style bag, rather than a shoulder bag. And wear it properly! How many times have you seen backpacks thrown over one shoulder? It completely defeats the purpose! You can buy lots of purses and handbags that come in the backpack style – you don’t have to look like you’re going camping.

Tip 2
Relax! I learned this one when learning to drive. Often, I was so anxious, my shoulders were almost up to my ears! And I wondered why my back pain was worse than ever, when driving. Relax your whole body, and move in a fluid, rather than a ridged way. You may have to remind yourself to lower your shoulders, but once you get used to it, you will be able to do it automatically.

Tip 3
Improve your posture. Some people will think that this tip contradicts the last one, but you can still maintain good posture, while staying relaxed. It is when we are sitting that we tend to slump, and adopt poor posture. But a lot of chairs do not help either. Make sure your chair has a full back to it, and if it is not an ergonomic chair, add a cushion or lumbar support to keep your lower spine in the correct position. Keep your shoulders back and your head straight. You should also have your thighs parallel to the floor and your feet flat on the floor, or on a foot rest.

Tip 4
Keep hydrated. Drink plenty of water in order to keep your muscles hydrated. Hydrated muscles are happy muscles because they are more flexible and stretchy, and less likely to go into spasm or get pulled or damaged.

Tip 5
Do gentle cardiovascular exercise as often as possible. Walking for around 20 minutes is the best type of low impact cardio exercise, as it is easy to incorporate into your day, and still gets the heart pumping. It gets you moving and warms up the back muscles, and if you walk slightly faster than you would normally, you will breathe better, which gets oxygenated blood to your muscles too. In fact you can still achieve this from walking at your normal pace, and simply breathing deeply.

Try using these tips regularly and you should notice a reduction in your pain. The most important thing is consistency and organization.

photo by cambodia4kidsorg

Air Conditioning Is Bad For Your Back Pain

air con affects back painIn the last post I talked about ergonomic chairs that support the lumbar spine  in the right place, but even some ergonomic chairs, still fail to keep the back warm, because they have a mesh becking. This allows cold air from air conditioning vents to pass through.

While this is great when you first arrive at work, after you have been running up the stairs, it is not ideal after two hours of sitting down, when workers’ body temperature has considerably dropped. No-one thinks to turn the air conditioning down or increase the air temperature after an hour or so, and this too can save people’s backs.

People who are prone to back pain should not be sat near or in the path of air vents, as this can worsen their condition. It is an invisible threat and so often goes unnoticed, even by the sufferers themselves. For the people who are always hot, and insist on the air-con being ramped up to full power (“cranked up to 11” as Spinal  Tap – scuse the pun – would say!), those individuals should have an additional small fan in their faces (it’s usually their faces that need the breeze most).

Here’s another silly thing that a lot of employers do that costs them more money. They have the air con on full all day, but it’s set to room temperature. You can achieve the same results  if you have the air con on low and set to room temperature. It just takes longer initially!

Turning it up to full power is only needed for a short amount of time to change the temperature quickly.

So tell your employer you know a cool way (sorry, I’m all puns today) that they can save money on electricity AND on sick days from people with bad backs, simply by having the air con on low!

Image by Kenkwsiu on Flickr


Top 10 Ways To Prevent Back Pain When Sitting

Top 10 back pain tips when sittingSome employers are waking up to the fact that their employees need to be kept comfortable while working, in order to reduce the number of sickness days due to chronic pain; most notably Back Pain.

The Oman Observer reports that staff at Omantel are being asked “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” as part of a new campaign to reduce the number of back pain incidents and promote better posture so that they look after their backs and stay healthy.
The Omantel Human Resources Unit know that encouraging people to sit properly with the correct posture was vital in acheiving better health and safety standards at work.

Employees are also being given individual questionnaires that help them judge if their backs are healthy and give them practical advice on what to do to make sure their backs stay pain free and injury free. See the full story Here.

More companies need to follow suit. It’s fine to provide them with ergonomic chairs, but many people don’t sit correctly in them, or make the biggest mistake of all; they stay in the same position for too long.

It’s essential to change position regularly, and to stretch and exercise while sitting down for long periods of time. You can achieve this by doing the following exercises; all of which can be done while sitting:

  • Shoulder rolls
  • Shoulders up (for two seconds at a time)
  • Head rolls
  • Arm Stretches
  • Elbow rolls (similar to the funky chicken, but circular)
  • Buttock clenches
  • Thigh clenches
  • Back stretch (arms back, arch the back and face the ceiling – ONLY for a few seconds)
  • Hand stretches (spread the finger out, together with regular making of fists – NO punching people!!)
  • Abdominal clenches  (while rolling your back forward for a few seconds – chin on chest)

posture at workDo these every 20 minutes if possible. No fewer than every 60 minutes. You might want to TELL people beforehand, so they understand what you are doing! In fact why not do a presentation on this for everyone to use?

Some companies don’t even supply their staff with ergonomic chairs, which is a FALSE economy, when they end up losing their staff to back problems.

My personal favorite ergonomic chair is the Kinnarps PLUS 6000 series, and it MUST have arm rests. See one Here. They come in hundreds of different colors and fabrics. And they’re very solid and durable. I have had mine since 2003 and it’s still going strong.

But the best advice to reduce back pain when sitting is to move about when on your breaks. So many people just continue to sit at their desks and look at their emails, or browse the internet. Get up and go for a walk, even if only for five minutes, and it will make all the difference to your back.




Does Acupuncture Work For Your Back Pain?

acupuncture for back painMy ex neighbor had acupuncture every two weeks for over ten years, and claimed it relieved her arthritis right up until her death at age 77.

I peronally tried acupuncture myself about 12 years ago, and although it was relaxing and didn’t hurt at all, it did not relieve my back pain. I thought I had given it a good chance to work, by going three times, but I can’t say it made a difference.

But everyone is different and many thousands of people swear by it. I can certainly understand the option to want to heal yourself naturally, rather than use medication.

The needles used release endorphins, the body’s own pain killers, and how many of these endorphins are released will vary from person to person.

Another elderly lady who recommends acupuncture is 80 year old Texan, Roberta Land, who has been showcased at See Coshandra Dillard’s article; Acupuncture: Precise Points, Body Balance for more information.

Photo by ~ggvic~

Heavy Lifting Can Be Painless!

I found this video about a product, the “Leanlever” that takes all the weight when carrying heavy loads upstairs. All the other products that claim to make lifting easier only stop the user from falling down the stairs; they don’t really take the weight of the load. This is the only one like it as far as I know. It looks like a great product that could save a lot of manual laborors’ backs.

If you’re in a hurry, he doesn’t start using the device until after 1:16. He’s demonstrating how difficult it is without it up until then!

Prevent Back Pain When Driving

back pain drivingLong car journeys can play havoc with your back, especially when you suffer from chronic pain.

The American Chiropractic Association has made some suggestions on how to relieve back pain while driving your car:

  • Adjust your seat so that you are comfortably sitting close to the wheel, with your knees slightly higher than your hips.
  • Use a Lumber Support Cushion or the BackFriend on your car seat.
  • Take regular breaks to stretch and rest
  • Stretch your shoulders, legs and toes regularly as you drive.
  • Keep hands on the steering wheel at the 3:00 and 7:00 positions, occasionally alternating to the 10:00 and 2:00 positions. (3 and 7? Really? They’re not even symmetrical!)
  • Have a relaxed grip on the steering wheel, and occasionally tighten, then loosen your grip to vary your muscle movement.

When I first passed my driving test, I was such a nervous driver, I would have my shoulders up near my ears the whole time before I realized, and my back and neck were in constant pain. When I made a conscious effort to relax my shoulders, everything else relaxed too and I was in a lot less pain. And I think, a better driver as a result!

Climbing Therapy for Low Back Pain

climbing for back painChronic Low Back Pain has been said to improve after climbing therapy, compared with non-climbing, standard exercise, a new study claims. May 15’s issue of Spine journal, published that Munich, Germany’s Technical University’s Kai Engbert, Ph.D. and Michaela Weber, tested the effects of therapeutic climbing, and they assessed how it compared to other types of exercise for chronic lower back pain sufferers.

Twenty-eight patients were tested over 4 weeks with a therapeutic climbing and standard exercise program. Participants were asked to complete questionnaires before and after the excercise, which assessed their physical and psychological well-being.

The authors state; “This finding demonstrates that therapeutic climbing is equivalent and partly superior to standard exercise therapy for patients with chronic low back pain.”

I know that climbing involves much more intensive toning exercise than regular exercise, and has been proven to improve strength in the upper body, thighs and buttocks; all of which support and take some of the load from the back. I’m certain 4 weeks was more than enough time to confirm these results.

I would not recommended however that beginners to exercise  rush out and start climbing to instantly treat their back pain. I’m sure the participants in this study were all at relatively good fitness levels. After all, extremely fit athletes can still suffer from chronic pain.

But once people have built up considerable strength in their core muscles; arms, legs, abs and buttocks,  more intesive toning exercise (such as climbing) is certainly recommended to further increase the rate of improvement.

Photo by Twistermc on Flickr