Do you have Sciatica?
Symptoms of sciatica can present in varied ways. Many of which are the longterm outcome of abnormal mechanical loading and stress on specific areas of the body. One of the common areas of high mechanical stress is the base of the spine. (Take a look at the x-ray below, notice how the vertebrae look a relatively decent shape at the top of the image compared to the bottom. You can appreciate how the degeneration in this person's spine will be reflected in how they stand and their ability to walk and generally move about.)
If you are one of the many people who have developed this condition it is likely that your healthcare practitioner has informed you of the cause. X-rays and MRI scans accurately pin point a diagnosis, commonly a lumbar disc bulge/herniation, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis and such like.
These conditions describe what is going on at a highly specific spinal level (classically L5) and explain why you are in pain, but what about why this area got so bad? What's going on with your body as a whole? Looking at the whole body will explain the underlying reason these specific levels of your spine are more worn out.
When it comes to treatment for both pain relief and long term resolution, it is vital to take in the bigger picture of what and why your spine is in the condition it is in by looking at your body as a whole structure.
What condition is your spine in?
The many forms of Sciatica
Sciatica is often characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
2 easy changes that will make a start to shifting your sciatic pain.
It goes without saying that sciatica is much easier to treat earlier rather than later. Heed the early warning signs such as muscle spasms, waking up with a stiff, sore back and when the back is pulled into an antalgic (skewed) posture.
If you would like to find how well I can help you get in touch with me.
Fibromyalgia is one of those diagnostic labels for a huge catalogue of symptoms.
My colleagues and I have collectively seen many patients with Fibromyalgia with fantastic results. From the first visit I always ensure you're not expecting miracles, however over the course of just 2 weeks we will have a very good idea how well ABC will help you... watch this space.
I treated Kirsty with 'Fibromyalgia' in the PPWC office in Falkirk and in the first month of treatment she noticed encouraging improvement in her breathing and muscle soreness. Both of us would like to let everyone out there know that there is hope for you too.
What did you notice After your first visit?
Read more about Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia Madison is a fantastic website for finding out more about the underlying reasons for the pain people experience. On this site, ABCTM practitioner Dr Jeff Aberle explains the four main problems of this condition; body pain, brain fog, insomnia and stress.
Here's what you'll learn:
If you would like to find out if this treatment can help you too please feel free to get in touch then we can discuss your individual condition.
Getting fit from zero cardiovascular and strength fitness can be a pretty daunting task.
Based on my own experience and speaking to others about how they got to the level of fitness they're at the hardest bit is starting however once you have made a new habit of exercising your body will take over because of the release of feel good hormones and chemicals we get from regular exercise is a real incentive.
'Runner's high' is attributable to the release of endorphins that your brain experiences when you physically exert yourself. They help relieve pain and stress and if you've never had this feeling from exercise I highly recommend you get on it, it's a fab feeling!
Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin, all of which play an important role in regulating your mood.
In the last blog post I talked about Human Growth Hormone (HGH) aka the fitness hormone which is released in response to vigorous/exhaustive exercise. From what the research is telling us it's what we want to tap into if you want to maintain a fit and strong body and improve your quality of life at any age. In a nutshell, the fitness hormone will help you lose weight, tone up not just your muscles but your skin too, fend off middle aged spread and feel more energetic.
Researchers have found the best way to maximise the release of this hormone with cardiovascular exercise and that's to do 30 second sprints with rest intervals of 90 seconds and repeat this 8 times. This is a seriously strenuous workout and getting yourself to the point of exercising like this takes time. The thought of it can be massively overwhelming too, so here's how to start from scratch and gradually build up fitness in a super easy way.
3 new habits...
...which take very little effort and by the end of just one week you'll feel even better about yourself, motivated and may possibly have dropped a couple of lbs.
If you're starting from 'really unfit' keep it simple...
The above example of starting to get your fitness up is assuming that you don't have any conditions or problems with your body that would prevent you from walking or trying out intermittent fasting. If you're at all unsure as to whether this is good advice for you or not you're welcome to get in touch with me or seek advice from another healthcare professional.
Good luck and let us know how you got on!
Best, Sarah :o)
At around the age of 25-30 years old our bodies commonly enter a phase called 'Somatopause'. It is hallmarked by declining levels of human growth hormone (hGH) in our blood stream which continues to decrease with each passing year.
Researches have noticed that this decrease in hGH in the blood stream coincided with the onset of many symptoms of aging, including:
This decline is part of what drives the aging process. The great news is that there are several simple body 'hacks' you can start to practice that will keep your levels of hGH high and by doing so you'll enjoy lifelong, robust health.
Regardless of what stage of life and health you start from you will make noticeable positive changes to these typical signs of ageing. 'Age reversal' and looking youthful is big business, creams, makeup, antioxidants & super foods etc etc. In this blog series I will share with you the ways of exercising to 'hack' your brain to boost your release of hGH.
What is HGH?
Human Growth Hormone (hGH) is naturally produced in the pituitary gland which is located at the base of your brain. It plays a vital role in cell regeneration, growth and maintaining healthy human tissue, including that of the brain and various vital organs.
It is necessary for a child's normal growth and once we become adults, it is necessary to maintain the correct amounts of muscle, bone and fat.
hGH stimulates the liver to convert it into growth factors, the most crucial being insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which has growth-promoting properties on every cell in the body. It stimulates the production of cartilage cells, which cause bones to grow and muscle mass to develop.
The main hGH functions include:
Benefits of improving your hGH levels
An 8 week study by Phil Campbell put a cohort of middle aged workers through his 'Sprint 8' program of cardiovascular exercise. The people in the study had an average body fat loss of 31% and 71% increase in hGH levels.
It helps you burn away belly fat. Each of your body's fat cells has its own growth hormone receptor. The HGH will bind to the receptors, and when it does it will trigger a series of enzymatic reactions within the cell that lead to the breakdown of fat. This is called lipolysis. hGH also supports fat loss by the way it affects insulin.
hGH is released in waves, the highest level being released at night, about an hour after you fall asleep. It occurs during one of the deepest levels of your sleep, between rapid eye movement (REM) phases. The amount of sleep that you get and how well you sleep determines how much hGH is generated and secreted every night. If you lack sleep, you will not experience any surge of hormone at all.
Vigorous exercise, fasting and restricting carbs and sugar after exercise are all ways of naturally getting your body to produce more of this fitness hormone. In my next blog I'll talk about working smart not hard with regards to cardiovascular training to maximise your levels of this amazingly important hormone.
Have you been waking up with pins and needles in your hands?
Here's how to stop it and find out if postural issues could be causing your symptoms.
I've had many people mention that they wake up with painful pins and needles in their hands. It's easy to dismiss this annoying symptom or 'body signal' because you'll find you can just shake it out and within a couple of minutes your fingers feel like your own again.
Most cases of numbness or pins and needles are due to too much stretch/pressure on nerves or the blood vessels that supply the nerves. All too often I have found that nighttime pins and needles are the early indicators of an underlying structural issue with the spine, particularly your neck and developing musculoskeletal dysfunction in the shoulder and elbow (ie rotator cuff issues, tennis and/or golfer's elbow, cubital and carpal tunnel syndromes).
Slumped forwards position of the head and shoulders forces the muscles of the neck and back to tighten up and work hard to support the weight of the head. If this is happening in you or people you know, you will notice that the upper spine is pulled into an awkward stooped bend through which the spinal cord and nerve roots run.
The nerves can get irritated as a result of this mechanical tension.
Stretch has been shown to be one of the most irritating things for nerves and sustained traction alters the ability of nerves to work properly over time. If the stretch is bad enough you can commonly experience symptoms such as pain, pins & needles, numbness and muscle weakness.
In this blog I will discuss a few common conditions which cause pins and needles and give you my initial advice to help this irritating condition - a simple tip that may help you tonight.
To investigate the underlying cause of someone's night time pins and needles I rule out what we call 'red flags' - indicators of conditions which require immediate further medical investigation, and begin by assessing their body as a whole because we know that the body works as a single, synchronous functioning unit. Put simply this means that altered or twisted posture in one area of the body will always cause other areas to compensate in order to keep the body upright and functioning as best possible.
My first line of thinking and questioning when someone tells me they're getting pins and needles is this individual's posture, working and sleeping positions irritating the nerves in the neck and/or arm? There are several relatively simple reasons why the nerves to your hands become irritated and for these, ABCTM works really well. Many people have felt some degree of relief after their first visit and making necessary ergonomic changes.
ABCTM has Great results with...
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS):
This is a condition where, typically the median nerve which supplies sensation and muscle power to the hands, becomes stretched or trapped as it passes through the (carpal) tunnel of bones of the wrist. For many sufferers of CTS the classic stretches, exercises, wrist splints and resting the hand won't cure the pain and they reluctantly opt for surgery as a final option.
Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS):
TOS is a condition whereby symptoms are produced from compression of nerves or blood vessels, or both as they pass behind the upper ribs, through the space (thoracic outlet) between the base of the neck and the armpit.
Poor sleeping position:
This may sound pretty obvious and I'm sure you've already tried changing your pillow and/or even your mattress to try and stop the pins & needles. Getting the perfect pillow is tricky (and it can cost you rather a lot too).
We're all different shapes and sizes so a pillow that helps one person isn't guaranteed to help the next. Joint restriction and postural twisting of the whole spine (that we may not be aware of) must be taken into account when finding the perfect position for your head and neck.
Get this right and you have a much better chance of having a restful, unbroken night's sleep. Ah bliss!
Try this ABC tip tonight...
As an initial temporary fix I advise people to take their thinnest pillow, then using trial and error build up layers of towels underneath it. This creates a firm base for your pillow until you reach what feels like a 'sweet spot' for the height that's right for you.
Stand facing a full length mirror and notice whether your head is level, shoulders, rib cage, hips, knees and legs look either even, tilted or rotated.
Take a good breath in, out and relax - watch for any tilting of your shoulders and ribs as you breathe and any areas of your chest and abdomen that look like they are 'folding' or slumping/ buckling.
This simple self-assessment of how 'wonky' your body is will give you the first insight as to whether your posture is contributing to your symptoms.
A fully certified ABCTM practitioner will be able to give you a thorough assessment and indication of whether ABCTM can help you. Find your nearest practitioner here.
I advised a new client, whom I haven't seen yet, about the correct set up of her pillow. She emailed me two days later...
"Hi Sarah, I had to let you know that I folded one towel and placed under my pillow and have had best sleeps ever on last 2 nights." Mrs D.
Clients who come to the clinic because of pins and needles and various associated discomfort will typically report back that their symptoms gradually disappear anywhere between their second visit and two weeks into care.
"I haven't had the pins and needles in my hand since coming to see you, the pain in my shoulder is a lot less than it was and my curled up toes are now straighter too!" Mrs M.
In all the above cases a thorough physical examination is essential when you are experiencing pins and needles in your hands as there are some potentially serious underlying reasons that need to be ruled out before a diagnosis is made.
An increasing volume of research and evidence is pointing to the greater benefits of working smart not hard when it comes to getting and staying fit. I always encourage people to find something they love doing whether it's outdoor sports, working out in the gym or simply walking.
I am also always on the look out for 'back-safe' exercises that I can give my clients. Particularly ones that won't pull their body into a forwards slump (read here for what I mean by 'going forwards') and that will help strengthen their whole body and spine so that they require less treatment from me.
Below is a 4 minute workout developed by Dr. Zach Bush MD, whose triple-board certification includes expertise in internal medicine, endocrinology and metabolism. His work out is efficient and the more you do it, the better it works. It is a new concept for fitness that's designed to use nitric oxide for muscle growth. Better still all of the movements he uses are back-safe and provided you have 'good form' as he demonstrates, I am sure you will start to notice your body getting stronger and more supple over a matter of weeks.
Watch his YouTube video below and provided your body is pain-free get started today.
As always I will have a go myself! Let me know how you get on too.
If you are in pain or your body is preventing you from exercising for any reason do get in touch with me to see whether I can help you. Getting people active again is one of the most rewarding parts of my job, I love it!
Bernard tells us how he's still climbing 6a's at 70.
Every once in a while a truly inspiring person walks through the door. It's an honour to introduce you to Bernard. His great passion is Alpine climbing the Alps, Scotland and Wales with his brother and nephews. Cycling and rock climbing play a big part of his life, age plays not part on his mind, he fully intends to complete a forfeit from a bet he lost which consists of doing press ups in a glacial stream...
Bernard got in touch with me to sort his back and neck out when his body was stopping him getting on with his active lifestyle. Restriction in his neck began to affect his climbing, he described having difficulty looking up at mountain peaks, feeling like he would loose balance.
When I first started working with Bernard, his spine was pretty hard and inflexible. This is something I see a lot and not just in older people! It occurs as a consequence of how the body has to twist itself up to move mechanical stress away from injured or 'weaker' areas of the spine.
I'm very happy to tell you that, having worked on his spine with ABCTM his spine is much more supple and he can walk and cycle with freedom of movement in his whole body.
I asked bernard how he says young...
Bernard: "It's all about lifestyle. I hang out with young people and the family. I've just been told that my nephew's 9 year old daughter can lead climb a 6a graded route! I need to get some practice in!!"
"It's great being down at the indoor climbing wall working out a bouldering problem with someone in their 20's. Age means nothing when you're sharing a common interest like climbing."
"I cycle everywhere with that backpack on my back, cycling is absolutely part of my lifestyle."
where does ABCTM fit in?
Bodies develop wear and tear over years because alignment of the skeleton is poor, having twisted itself to compensate for injuries and postures which force bones to move into a direction that the body cannot self-correct. This is self evident as many people's bodies develop rather varied 'wonky' adaptive postures that they didn't have in their younger years. Getting your body structurally corrected with this technique, even from day one will highlight to you how much better you can feel than you do now.
"I can now look up at mountain peak whilst walking without altering my posture, I'm now able to keep my balance whilst taking in the view." Bernard
Positivity comes naturally to Bernard which makes him very good company.
From the conversations we've had I can tell he just-gets-on-with-it. He never complains about anything and is always very positive about life in general.
With the exception of the beers on the table at our street party that I invited Bernard to in the summer, he eats a good balanced diet of fresh vegetables, meat and natural carbs. Nothing in excess, although I'm told he does like Haribo Starmix!! Nice one Bernard, I love those too!!
If you're wondering if I can help you with ABCTM regardless of your age, get in touch with me here.
Good riding posture can become uncomfortable and difficult to maintain when your spine off balance. Horse riders can spot this a mile off as it can make communicating effectively with their horse pretty challenging. Their good body awareness makes riders great people for Chiropractors to work with as we monitor functional improvements at intervals throughout a care program.
If you're having to work hard to sit upright in the saddle, something is wrong. When your spine is more comfortable in a slump and you're consciously holding yourself upright it often leads to intense aching in the mid-back and/or shoulder pain.
Test your own body...
In the last 3-4 months several horse riders have started ABCTM treatment with me. Symptoms they all share are shoulder, neck and back pain.
Pain-free and full range of movement at any joint of the body is made possible by optimum alignment of the entire skeleton, so in each person's case I assess their body as a whole, synchronous unit.
I look for abnormal posture of the spine, arms and legs, then map out the tight/knotted muscles in their body from head to toe. This results in a clear picture of how old injuries, occupational postures and daily habits have contributed to the structural configuration of someone's body. It also gives me an indication of how long it will take to get that person riding again pain-free.
Normal Shoulder Function Requires...
All of these ideals depend on the skeleton being in good alignment. Most people's shoulders abnormally slump down and forwards - next time your in town, check people's posture out! When a person's spine is crooked, specific muscles pull tight (like guy wires of a tent), in order to keep you upright. Pain almost always occurs in muscles and joints compensating for bones stuck in a direction the body cannot fix itself. In the spine this direction is forwards since the body doesn't have any muscles in the back that can pull a single vertebrae directly backwards.
Again, when you're in town next observe how many people around you are, what we refer to as 'stuck forwards'.
The following image demonstrates how mid-back ache, neck pain and a slumped posture can occur...
Here's what a couple of horse riders have noticed since starting treatment...
immediate relief of Rib fracture pain...
"I had a bad fall off my horse last week, I fractured 3 ribs which were making breathing, general movement and sleeping painful. Sarah reassured me that getting adjusted would help".
Of course this technique does not miraculously heal fractures, however it can significantly help the pain by reducing abnormal twisting throughout the whole body which influences the mechanical forces going through the fracture site.
The great thing is that by using this technique I can be super gentle, avoiding hurting Nancy whilst making the corrections needed. She did say her friends thought it seemed a bit mad to be going to the Chiropractor knowing she had fractures, but that she's extremely glad she did!! Thank you for trusting me Nancy!
If you're a horse rider and have been putting up with aches and pains, get in touch and we'll discuss how well I can help you.
I see a lot of sporty and active people in my practice so the question I hear a lot is...
'Can I keep riding my bike?'
The answer is usually yes, however it very much depends on the condition of your body. The method of body correction I use, ABCTM is so effective that in most cases, this is made possible by carefully scheduling appointments into your work and training routines.
A great example is the work I have done for our mountain biking friend, Alex Evans.
Alex got in touch to see if I could help his low back and sciatic leg pain, plus occasional 'hard to describe' dizzy/blackout episodes - which I suspect could be a result of significant biking crashes and concussions.
I modified the usual plan of treatment sessions which allowed Alex to keep riding to work and riding trails on the mountain bike.
I modified the usual plan of treatment sessions for Alex. In my experience, I've found that sports people and those with manual jobs are able to continue doing 'their thing' if we're flexible with appointments. So, on several occasions I adjusted him twice in one day (there's no additional charge for same day appointments), some days I adjusted him before and after a bike ride which meant he could continue to ride, maintain fitness. This strategy has worked amazingly well (far better than I anticipated!). He's stronger and more upright than he was before we began and no longer has the back and leg pain, nice work.
If you're a mountain biker and are interested to find out if this approach will work for you get in touch. I think you'll be surprised at how quickly you'll feel loads better.
My husband Ady and I love exercise, particularly if it involves riding mountain bikes! In recent years we've become a lot fitter, and you know the fitter you are the more trails you can get in before you're exhausted and have to call it a day. Even slogging up the steep hills near Minehead at the weekend was enjoyable!
For me this is what getting fit is all about. Friends who have just come back from a skiing holiday in Courchevel told me he's found his 'why' he wants to get fit. He described how he's a great skier but he's currently not fit enough to stay out on the slopes as long as he'd love to each day. He plans to get super fit and lean so that he can get the most out of the next trip.
This is exactly how we think when we go away on a biking holiday, or even a day out on bikes. Working out why you want to get fit gives you that drive and motivation so that you can get out there and enjoy life even more. There's nothing like a holiday or an event to make you get training.
I guess the alternative is sitting around feeling sluggish, slow, stiff and achy and getting bored and down... doesn't sound like fun.
Exercise improves brain function
This is the added bonus of playing sport and getting fit. The brain is described as being 'plastic', it is an adaptable organ that can be moulded by input in much the same way a muscle can be by lifting weights. The classic saying is 'Use it or lose it' is very true. Studies have shown that a particular region of the brain that actually grows with exercise is the hippocampus thanks to a chemical called brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The hippocampus is the area of the brain that is essential for memory, spacial memory and navigation and has a role in conflict avoidance decision making.
BDNF has received a lot of attention in the literature with regards to exercise and brain function and it's neuroprotective (protection from degeneration of brain cells- associated with cognitive decline and dementia) effects. The beneficial knock on effects of BDNF are massive for longevity and quality of life...
Benefits of BDNF in a nutshell...
How to Study for exams and improve your memory
A Californian study in 2004 involved a massive review of more than 850 studies about the physical effects of exercise on school aged children. The review showed a positive influence on memory, concentration and classroom behaviour. ECGs done on fit v's unfit children showed more brain activity in the fit kids.
In his book, SPARK, John J Ratey MD describes 'Zero Hour PE' the latest in a long line of educational experiments conducted by a group of maverick PE teachers who have turned the nineteen thousand students in Naperville District into the fittest in the nation - and also some of the smartest. They've done this by shifting the focus of physical education from sports to fitness, teaching them lifestyle by being able to maintain and monitor their own health and fitness. They get the students to run wearing heart rate monitors before classes, the outcome is their exam results have been outstanding.
"This reflects the research that physical activity sparks biological changes that encourage brain cells to bind to one another. Aerobic activity has a dramatic effect on brain adaptation and regulating systems that might be out of balance and optimising those that are not - it's an indispensable tool for anyone who wants to reach his or her full potential."
If you're interested in improving your children's and your own brain for life, your memory, learning capacity and exam results get outdoors and go walking in our beautiful countryside and find a sport that you love so much you forget you're exercising!
Have fun! I'm off out for a run!