Smartphone, Not so Smart Posture: How Texting Adds Pressure to the Spine

Texting MobileLiving in a world of technology has made many aspects of life a lot simpler, but the damage being done to your back can be extremely dangerous. Staring down at our smartphones causes a huge amount of unnecessary pressure on the cervical spine; we take a closer look at the issue.

Texting to Trouble

It may be one of the most impressive and useful inventions of our lifetime, but the smartphone can cause a great many problems for its users. The body has a natural posture in which the weight of the head is accurately displaced, making it easily handled by the spine. The average weight of the head is between ten and twelve pounds, a number which greatly increases with the unnatural way in which people arch their necks to look at their smartphones.

So just how bad for you is it? The portion of the spine above the shoulders, known as the cervical spine, receives the highest increase in pressure. If a person tilts their head to a sixty degree angle, they are putting around sixty pounds of pressure on the cervical spine. This number may seem rather dramatic, as many people do not tilt their heads to that degree simply to look at a phone, however just a small amount of tilt – fifteen degrees – can cause up to twenty-seven pounds of pressure.

Occurring Problems

There are many issues that can be brought about through incorrect posture, namely an increase in pain in upper areas of the back and spine. Unfortunately, the level at which many people use their phones is surprisingly high, with the average person spending between two and four hours a day using their handheld tech.

So how do you combat these problems when it is so hard to get away from technology? Well, the good news is you do not have to give up your smartphone or tablet, just noticing errors in posture is enough to change them. A good posture is usually described as having the shoulder blades retracted and the ears aligned with the shoulders, meaning a a straight neck and a back which is not hunched forward. While it can be easily forgotten when entranced by our apps or sucked in by a selfie, having the spine correctly aligned is the best way to stave off any unwanted aches and pains, or an even worse case of repetitive injury.

How to Change

Changing the way in which you stand, sit and work is the best way to encourage a healthy posture. Looking at areas in your day to day lifestyle after which you notice pain occurring more frequently allows you to assess the need for these tasks, and how you can approach them in a more physically healthy way.

As with all technology, from laptops to smartphones to tablets, their immersive nature can stop us from thinking about what we are doing on a physical level which can have a detrimental effect on the health of the spine. So next time you get a text whilst taking a ride on the London tube network or just have to play Candy Crush, sitting upright with the spine aligned correctly can ensure you have just as much fun, without the added worry of never-ending back pain.

17th November, 2014

The State of the Nation’s Pain

At Back in Action UK we unfortunately see a lot of clients in a lot of pain, but rather more fortunately we get to alleviate them of that pain also!

Despite improved awareness of the benefits of corporate and occupational physiotherapy, there is still a lot of suffering going on throughout the UK. We found this fantastic infographic by pharmaceutical brand, Lloyds which mapped the state of the nations pain. See the graphic below and spare a thought for poor Wales whose inhabitants suffer the highest degree of pain in the country!

The state of the nations pain

Infographic by Lloyds Pharmacy

Coping with Back Pain & the Future of Corporate Physiotherapy

Workplace_WalkingWe’ve all suffered from a bad back at some point in our lives, however a slight twinge could turn into a continuing musculoskeletal disorder. This week, we take a look at some top tips for controlling back pain and how physiotherapy can be a considerable help. We also take a look at what Karen Middleton, Chief Executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, has to say about the future of the corporate physiotherapy industry.

Dealing with Back Pain

MSDs, or musculoskeletal disorders, are chronic afflictions in various areas of the body, including the back. MSDs are also the primary cause of sickness from work and these days and weeks of absenteeism cause huge financial strain on both employees and management. Physiotherapy has been proven to be one of the most effective treatments for back pain and other MSDs and helps prevent workers from recurring problems.

There are many ways in which you can help prevent and relieve back pain yourself; a few simple steps and changes to your daily routine can help immeasurably when it comes to aches and pains which are most commonly work-related. Some of the ways in which you can prevent MSDs from occurring are:

• Keep a fit and healthy lifestyle, this can help keep all your muscles working as they should be and prevent from strain.
• Avoid sitting for too long when working or driving and if you sit for long periods of the day, make sure you are getting up regularly to stretch.
• Check your posture when at home watching TV or playing games, as this can have a marked effect on back pain.
• Assess your work environment and check what areas of your office can be optimised for comfort, i.e., is your computer chair at the right height, is your desk too low to write comfortably?
• Avoid smoking as this can slow blood circulation and cause muscles to ache more frequently.

If you think you are beginning to suffer from a MSD, contacting a physiotherapist is the first step towards finding relief from constant pain. A large number of MSDs are caused from Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) which is now more commonly known as Work Relevant Upper Limb Disorder (WRULD) which can signal that an overhaul of workplace ergonomics is needed in order to help staff maintain healthy muscle use.

Managers and employers must be mindful of the day to day strain that can be put upon workers whose offices are not optimised for comfortable working. If MSDs are becoming more and more prevalent within a workplace then corporate physiotherapy can be the answer. Having staff able to be regularly assessed and worked with on a one to one basis by seasoned professionals is the best way to ensure the lowest possible amount of sick days caused through physical afflictions.

Corporate Physiotherapy’s Future

Although the benefits of corporate physiotherapy are numerous, the chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, Karen Middleton, says she fears the future of the industry may be in question. She has already noticed a decline within the profession, citing a lack of training places as one of the main reasons.

Moreover, there can be a great deal of red tape to cut through in order to give patients the proper care they need, including charges for self-referral and some disagreement over physical contact with patients. There are so many benefits for companies and employees alike, both financially and on a more existential level. Helping workers to combat stress levels that can increase through a lack of comfort at work and deal with long-term conditions that may have caused frequent sick days will be of benefit to everyone involved.

22nd October, 2014

Occupational Physiotherapy Potential Cure For Stress Epidemic

Frustrated WorkplaceEmployee stress levels are at an all time high in London, affecting 16% of the population and the cost to businesses is an eye-watering £460million a day. Here, we take a look at how stress is caused and why Occupational Health is being hailed as the way forward in tackling the problem.

The Stress Epidemic

Having time off for stress-related illness has often had a mixed reception from employers and workers alike. Many consider this type of absence as a taboo, covering for a lack of performance or inability to do the job. However, the understanding of stress and mental health issues is changing and, with 10.4million working days lost last year, businesses are starting to take a closer look at what is causing such conditions and how they can alleviate the issue.

Many high-profile cases of stress have made the headlines, with some ending in tragedy. Employee wellbeing has been the talking point of many businesses of late with the intention of supplying workers with the support and honest communication they need in order to adapt and grow within their positions.

The OH Solution

One of the benefits of occupational health techniques is its preventative nature. Most patients treated for stress are already taking sick leave from work, whereas in-house physiotherapy and changes to the workplace tackle the problem before it has begun.

Musculoskeletal problems suffered through a less than optimal work space can directly influence stress levels, causing discomfort and lack of energy as well as chronic pain. Battling prolonged physical ailments whilst maintaining a lifestyle, both professionally and personally, causes undue strain emotionally and this has an effect on how an employee view’s their ability to cope with a job. Making changes to the office or workplace is the best way to ensure your employees have the mental tools to achieve maximum productivity.

How We Can Help You

Back in Action UK offer a wide variety of services proven to help your staff reach their full potential through workplace ergonomics and occupational physiotherapy. We can assess your office and create a more harmonious working environment using the techniques that have garnered so much praise in the media. Get in touch with us now to see how we can help you maintain a happy and contented team through proven physiotherapy methods.

Employee Wellbeing Becoming Top Aspect in Business Productivity

Workstation_AssessmentEmployee wellbeing is fast becoming one of the most important aspects of business with companies putting more effort than ever into ensuring they have wellbeing programs in place to better support workers. We look at the statistics supporting the use of workplace health programs and how corporate physio can be another step towards contented and productive employees.

The Statistics

Buck Consultants at Xerox recently published research as part of a survey entitled Working Well: a global survey of health promotion and workplace wellness strategies, which demonstrated a huge shift in the opinions of large companies supporting the use of wellbeing programs. Some of the statistics included in the Xerox research include:

• Over 1,000 people were questioned from thirty-seven countries and 65% agreed that implementing wellbeing programs into their businesses were an important part of creating a lasting team,
• Over half of those questioned now measure the ROI of wellbeing programs, a significantly higher percentage than the 36% recorded in 2012,
• The top areas companies choose to focus on with regards to employee wellbeing include lessening stress, improving poor diets and increasing physical exercise,
• 43% of businesses have developed wellbeing programs with a specific brand identity, signifying dedication to the process as a whole.

Why the Change?

An employee’s overall happiness correlates to their performance. Whereas previously employers may have looked at wellbeing programs as opening a can of worms, nowadays the return on investment of these programs is being measured for the first time, proving their worth. Media coverage about; employee stress levels being at an all time high, the amount of sick leave being taken for stress-related illnesses and RSI (repetitive strain injusry) due to poorly planned workspaces is extensive.

There have been recent changes in the laws on flexible working which has given some power to employees who feel it is within their right to request a change in working arrangements. Allowing staff to adapt their hours or workload to better support their lifestyles is becoming increasingly popular.

Corporate Physiotherapy and Your Business

With the corporate world so outwardly determined to make the lives of their employees more manageable, corporate physio is, as a result, a growing industry. Allowing for the physical comfort of employees is a step towards ensuring they have all the tools at their disposal to reach their maximum potential.

Back in Action UK can help your business by offering corporate physiotherapy tailored to the needs of your team, helping achieve staff wellbeing on all levels.

10th September, 2014

How Corporate Physiotherapy Helps People, Businesses and the Economy

Meeting_Corporate

Corporate physiotherapy continues to play a huge role within occupational health, with the Health and Work Service citing physiotherapists’ involvement as a key aspect in the prevention of absence and the continuation of chronic conditions. Here, we take a closer look at how corporate physiotherapy can help your business and the economy.

The Physio Facts

The collaboration between occupational health doctors and physiotherapists has always been a fruitful one and due to its continued success and return for employers, there have been discussions on to how best to accredit corporate physiotherapy under the Safe Effective Quality Occupational Health Service. The benefits of corporate physiotherapy to businesses include:

• The assessment of work environments in order to create a safe and comfortable workplace,
• The use of preventative measures (such as exercise regimes, stretching activities and posture assessment) to stop conditions before they interfere with work,
• The diagnosis and treatment of physical conditions, reducing absence time and allowing employees to return to work more quickly,
• The identification of underlying issues that may contribute to further illness, such as bad posture or workstations causing discomfort.

Physio and Your Business

Reducing company sick time benefits not just the individual and the company but also the economy itself. Keeping taxpayers healthy and in full-time work makes a huge difference to the amount of money being put back into the system reports Personnel Today. The Health and Work Service has observed the benefits this can have to both individuals and the economy and, as such, has introduced a scheme in which those who have been off sick for more than four weeks are assessed by an occupational physiotherapist to help identify underlying, and often treatable, chronic condtions. This works by:

• Using knowledge of movement and function to assess and diagnose conditions which may need further medical help,
• Adapting the workspace and work patterns to suit the physical needs of the employee, in order to help them perform their job in maximum comfort to the highest level of productivity,
• Using knowledge of body posture to make changes and adjustments; this reduces stress on the musculoskeletal system,
• Identifying regular patterns of movement that could potentially lead to chronic musculoskeletal conditions.

Some Interesting Facts

With so much to be gained from introducing corporate physiotherapy to your workers, it is surprising that many businesses still do not have these kind of resources available to staff. Some interesting facts regarding occupational physiotherapy include:

• 30% of sickness absence is due to a musculoskeletal condition which could have been treated by a physiotherapist,
• Staffordshire County Council’s recently introduced rapid-access physiotherapy service has resulted in 9,000 fewer sick days per year, a reduction of 12% in musculoskeletal conditions and a 300% return on investment,
• Evidence suggests a return of £4 for every £1 spent on occupational corporate physiotherapy.

The results speak for themselves, both financially and health-wise, and it is now more important than ever to make sure that underlying physical conditions are not stopping your employees and your business from reaching their full potential.

Kenny Butler find me on Google+.

15th August, 2014

Commonwealth Games 2014: A Spectacle of Sport

This week sees the Commonwealth Games, one of the largest multi-sport competitions in the world, in full flow. With over 4,500 competing athletes, it is a spectacle of sporting greatness and in this post we’ll look at the history of the games and what exciting events have taken place this year.

2014_Commonwealth_Games_Logo.svg_-276x300

History of the Commonwealth Games

Originally called the British Empire Games, the first was held in Canada in 1930 and featured 400 athletes from 11 countries competing in 59 events. Taking place every four years since then, the now titled Commonwealth Games has become the fourth largest multi-sport event in the world, with numbers far outshining those of its primary years. Whilst originally being for single competition sports events only, the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur saw the inclusion of team sports for the first time, including rugby, netball and cricket. The 2002 Games in Manchester also saw elite athletes with a disability take part in full medal events, making it the first multi-sport competition to do so. Now with thousands of participants in a wide range of sports, it continues to innovate and excite.

Glasgow’s Games

This year’s Commonwealth Games look set to be as exciting as ever with over 4,500 competitors participating in 17 sports and 261 medal events. Scotland is well versed in the welcoming of the games having hosted the event on two previous occasions (1970 and 1976) and has also held competitions in every sport included in this year’s competition. Para-sport is playing a larger part in Glasgow too with a record breaking 22 para-sport events including weightlifting, cycling and athletics appearing this year – the Commonwealth is doing a great job of continuing the pioneering para-ethos started by the 2012 Olympics in London. A few sports have been removed from the lineup – archery and tennis have made way for judo and triathlon – and sports disciplines synchronised swimming and Greco-Roman wrestling have been removed, with mountain biking being contested for the first time in over a decade.

The Legacy of the Commonwealth Games

This summer has truly been a summer of sport and with the Commonwealth Games lasting until the 3rd August, the passion and drive for sporting excellence is set to continue. Just days into the competition and records have already been broken, including Australia’s women’s team beating the record 4x100m freestyle relay time by over seven tenths of a second, previously set by the Netherlands. Adam Gemili’s secured a stunning silver medal in the 100m and Jazz Carlin has won the first gold for 40 years in the pool for Wales. With over 1 billion people tuning in for the opening ceremony too, the excitement surrounding this year’s competition has far exceeded that of 2010’s Games in Delhi and, with Scotland’s recent political upheaval, all eyes are on them to showcase the Games with the appropriate style and anticipation befitting such a prestigious competition.

Even after the Games have ended, the legacy for Scotland is set to live on as well as the memories for the sportspeople who have taken part and the audience watching at home. Often, sporting competitions such as this inspire many to want to get out and take part in physical activities that both challenge and stimulate, and taking care of your body during any exertion is imperative if you are to reach your full potential, physically and emotionally.

So – that’s where we come in! Contact a member of our corporate physiotherapy team in London if you or your friends/colleagues have got a little bit over-enthusiastic from this years games and are nursing any aches or pains…we know we are!

Kenny Butler find me on Google+.

*Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Commonwealth_Games

Can physiotherapy help your headache?

The International Headache Society, yes there really is one… has identified 14 different types and sub classifications of headaches, making diagnosing their cause and treatment a real “headache” for us physiotherapists!

Julia treating our EA, Kerry, for her headaches.

At Back In Action UK we often treat patients who have headaches associated with neck pain and stiffness which are known as “Cervicogenic Headaches”.  It has been estimated that 47% of the global population are believed to suffer from headaches and 15-20% of these are cervicogenic in nature.

These headaches are usually 1 sided and start at the back of the head and neck and travel to the front- and often do not respond to medications-sounding familiar?  The neck pain may start before or at the same time as the headache and be aggravated by specific neck movements or postures. They are thought to be caused by a dysfunction in the upper neck (cervical spine) with referral of pain from either bony structures or soft tissues in the neck.

At Back in Action UK we always take a thorough history and clinical examination to make an accurate diagnosis and address individual impairments upon which we can focus our treatment in order to help relieve the symptoms.  Likely issues which may lead to these types of headaches and will need addressing  include forward head postures (such as from sitting poorly at your desk) causing stress on the upper part of the neck, tightness of the neck muscles-leading to painful trigger points, altered movement patterns (the way you move your neck) and weakness/ poor endurance of an important muscle group in the neck called the deep neck flexor muscles.

If you suffer from headaches come and have a physio assessment to see if we can help or for more information contact me julia.petersbelk@backinactionuk.com

 

Kenny Butler find me on Google+.

Simon Mesner’s clinics running on time…..

I practice what I preach.  I started new shifts in August.  Previously all my shifts were within 3 miles of where I live and I ran/walked or cycled in. However now I work in Brixton on Wednesday mornings before then going to a clinic just off the Old Kent Road in the afternoon.  The Brixton clinic is 6 miles from where I live and the Old Kent Road clinic is 3 miles away.  The clinics are 3 miles apart.

On my first visit to the Brixton clinic I took the tube to suss out the place and check the shower facilities.  On my second visit I decided to run there.  I was slightly daunted as this meant getting up at 6 am and then starting to run by 6.15 am.  I prefer by far to exercise at least an hour after waking up and get better at exercising later on in the day.  But at least it was the summer when I started and it was warm and light.  I had mentally mapped out the route and had it written on a bit of paper 1980s style in case of a wrong turn.  The worst part of the route was having to run through the Rotherhithe tunnel at the start and of course to finish as I returned home.  There is a foot path in the tunnel and pedestrians are allowed through, it’s just not a great atmosphere as you can imagine.  I also intended to run between clinics.  I have an hour transit time to run 3 miles which should be time to run and shower before having some lunch.  Then it’s 3 miles home with the Old Kent Road clinic conveniently half way between my home and the Brixton clinic.  So if I could run it all I’d run 12 miles in the day.  This initially seemed a lot but it would take no more time (and in fact less time than public transport on certain sections) to run than it would to take other forms of transport.

My first time was slower than I’d have liked (most of my training for the past 6 years has been sprint/change of direction/power drills along with cycling, some weights and playing football with few long runs) at about 55 minutes there and 30 minutes in between clinics and 30 minutes home.  Since August I have run to/during/from work on every Wednesday apart from two mornings when I have to admit to taking the tube in but ran the other two sections.  This has saved me £5 in travel fares each time, saved me about 30 minutes a day sitting on buses or on a tube as my run has been quicker than the bus/tube and enhanced my fitness.  It’s cold and dark now starting out but the exertion of the run there is now much less and I’m completing it in about 42-44 minutes.  And I get home slightly earlier than taking the tube with no need to exercise once back.  This may seem extreme to some but I have found adding this exercise into my training programme eminently do-able and I feel much better for it with the knowledge I’m going to feel better for it in the future too.

Follow me, Simon Mesner, Back in Action UK’s Clinical Director, on Twitter @SimonMPhysio

Check out our website for more info, like us on Facebook or email me with a query: simon.mesner@backinactionuk.com

“The Wonder of Exercise: A True Elixir” explains our Clinical Director, Simon Mesner

Exercise on your way to and from work #urban gym

What health parameter will exercise be proved to be good for next?  What ever it is, I won’t be surprised.  Exercise has been proved to be beneficial and indeed vital for good health.  Many people are aware that being active is good for one’s heart lungs but as we can see from the other information we have posted this week, it is also good for the brain.  But the benefits don’t stop there.  Due to a myriad of processes that are enhanced/stimulated by exercise many other parts of the body are benefited by exercise.  An example is that increasing one’s exercise level increases the capillary density of the body.  This allows blood to access more areas of the body.  This of course allows nutrients and oxygen to tissues but also transports immunological factors and trace chemicals which are important for repair, fighting infection and maintaining health.

Another example is the effect exercise has on organs.  The heart becomes stronger as it beats more frequently and with greater force to push more blood per minute around the body.  The pancreas secretes it’s ‘other’ hormone glucagon in response to exercise.  This breaks down the body’s store of easy access glucose, glycogen into glucose to feed the respiring tissues.  A lack of exercise and thus imbalanced pancreatic function is linked to onset of type II diabetes.  The lungs become more efficient at releasing carbon dioxide from the body and absorbing the oxygen from the air.  The massive volume of the lungs needs to be constantly ventilated to maintain it’s elasticity and to keep it from becoming infected.  Taking deep breaths associated with exercise enhances these processes.

 

And of course regular exercisers have better mental health as well as lower cancer rates across the board.  I could go on but I hope you get the point.

See exercise as a normal part of your daily life and you’ll find out you’ll have more life to enjoy but you’ll also enjoy it with less dysfunction and disability.

If you want to start exercising but not sure where to start or get the motivation to do so, or fit it in to your already busy life, contact me Simon.Mesner@backinactionuk.com  or tweet me @SimonMPhysio for advice.