Monday, 27 October 2014

Exam stress and posture

Are today’s teenagers more stressed than ever before? Chiropractic clinic – Luck’s Yard in Milford, Surrey – thinks they are. Tone Tellefsen Hughes, Chiropractor and owner of the Clinic, is providing advice and treatment for more and more teenagers who are soon to be facing exams and need help with muscular pain in the shoulder and back – a common symptom of stress.

Elizabeth is 16 and lives in Surrey. About a year ago, she started getting pain in her shoulders which got worse when she was working long hours at the computer. It got to the point where she had to stop working altogether and sit with a hot water bottle on her shoulder and back. She decided to seek help at Luck’s Yard.

Elizabeth says:
“I found that as I started to spend longer hours on my computer studying for exams and doing controlled assessments, I was less active and I started to get really stiff muscles in my shoulders and back. Once I started treatment with my chiropractor, it became clear that my problems were caused by posture and hunching over my computer too much. The treatment I have had has really helped to relieve the tension that I had before and I find I can concentrate better now that I am not preoccupied with the muscular pain I had before.”

Tone Tellefsen Hughes, owner of Luck’s Yard clinic said:
“Over the past twenty years, I have treated many teenagers suffering from muscular pain caused by bad posture and stress. The symptoms worsen usually around exam season and are exacerbated by long hours of revision and working at the computer on controlled assessments."

It is important not to sit at your computer for too long but to get up and stretch every 30-40 minutes or so. Use an egg timer or your mobile phone to set up a reminder for this.
Chiropractic treatment can be really effective for relieving muscular symptoms relating to stress.
My advice and treatment tips for stressed teenagers would be to:
• Make sure you have a good work station set-up for your studying.
• The chair needs to be adjustable, supportive in the lower back and come under the desk, ensuring that you are encouraged to sit upright. It needs to be the right height for you. The worst study posture is when you sit hunched up in bed or on a low sofa.
• The computer screen should be in front of you and at eye level. If it is too low, put it on a box or a copy of the Yellow Pages.
• Make sure you have good lighting and use glasses if you have prescription lenses.
• If you work on a lap-top, I would suggest that you get a docking station and external key-board and a mouse. These are not expensive, but will encourage a good study posture.
• It is even more important to exercise during exam periods and even a quick walk, swim or run for 30 minutes will help relax the muscles and clear the mind.
• Make sure you get enough sleep, and try using a shaped neck pillow for comfort.
• Nutritionally, it is really helpful to eat three meals a day and make sure you have a snack in between and hydrate with water. The worst thing you can do could be to drink too many caffeinated energy drinks, as they may affect your sleep.

For more information check out the new App on iTunes called ChiroMoves Collection or the Luck's Yard Facebook page as we have several exercise pod-casts which can be downloaded and used for stretches when you need a break.  

Brain boosting foods for exam times
How to keep energised during the day:
The brain requires large amounts of energy to help you learn and retain information.  If you don’t eat properly whilst revising you will be depriving your brain of nutrients which can leave you unable to concentrate and easily distracted.
However, you can help yourself to minimise fatigue and boost energy by adopting the following habits:

Always eat breakfast: Preferably include some high-protein foods such as eggs which can help you feel full for longer and balance blood sugar levels.  If you are one of those people who can’t face too much breakfast in the mornings, try some yoghurt sprinkled with nuts and seeds and fresh fruit.  Whiz it up into a smoothie if that helps it go down!
Never skip lunch: Skipping lunch means your blood sugar levels will remain low throughout the afternoon and continue to drop leaving you not only tired, but also unable to concentrate, irritable and hungry.
Always eat protein-rich foods at lunchtime: Try chicken, meat, tuna, eggs, beans or pulses, nuts, seeds or cheese. Protein-rich foods appear to either help to block the production of sleep-inducing serotonin or increase levels of other brain chemicals which make us feel more alert and increases our ability to concentrate.
Avoid sugar and sugary foods to perk you up: A bar of chocolate and can of cola will rapidly boost blood sugar levels to give you a quick energy boost. But the effects will be short lived. Your blood sugar levels will drop just as rapidly, leaving you right back where you started.
Stay hydrated throughout the day: Being even slightly dehydrated will make you tired and listless with poor concentration. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty before drinking either – by the time thirst kicks in you are already dehydrated. The key is to keep drinking regularly throughout the day. Aim for 6-8 glasses of water daily – more if it’s hot or you’re exercising.
If possible, do some exercise at lunchtime: If you can’t manage to exercise at lunchtime, take a 10-minute walk when tiredness hits, preferably outside. The fresh air will help you feel more alert. Plus, a quick brisk walk will improve your circulation and help you breathe more deeply so you take in more oxygen – an essential ingredient for the brain.
FOODS FOR INCREASING ENERGY LEVELS
Iron rich foods: important for energy production. 
Red meat, pulses, nuts, seeds, dark green leafy vegetables – eat with Vitamin C foods (see below) to help get the most out of vegetarian sources of iron.

B vitamin foods: help to give you a steady increase in energy instead of rollercoaster highs and lows.  B vitamins are needed for efficient metabolism. Brown rice, millet, barley, pulses (beans and lentils), seeds and nuts calm nerves and support adrenal function. Other whole grains such as rye and whole wheat.  Also found in red meat, chicken and dairy.

Vitamin C: strengthens immune system; makes collagen to keep bones strong and helps convert food into energy. Strawberries, broccoli, kiwi fruit, peppers, watercress, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes.

Magnesium foods: important for the heart muscle and nervous system and for energy production. Nuts, dark green leafy vegetables, fish, seeds, whole grains and cereals.

Coenzyme Q10: present in all human tissues and organs.  Helps the provision of energy for all human cells.  Our ability to produce CoQ10 decreases with age. Sardines,  mackerel, spinach, pork, sesame seeds, walnuts.

FOODS THAT CAN DECREASE ENERGY LEVELS
Sugar can contribute to feelings of fatigue: Too much sugar can encourage energy highs and lows leaving you feeling fatigued and lacking in energy.
Caffeine may also cause fatiguecreates a “caffeine buzz” which is followed by another “energy-crash”.  Eliminating caffeine and sugar from the diet for a couple of weeks can help make a big difference to energy levels.  Remember that caffeine is also found in ‘energy’ drinks as well as coffee and tea.
Avoid eating very large mealsdigesting food can be hard work and make you feel very sleepy especially during the day.  At lunch, thick vegetable soups are easier to digest than a large meal.  Add beans and pulses for extra protein.
Sleep and well being! Sleep and learning!
In 2013 we asked parents of children between the ages of 0-16 to complete a sleep survey to see whether children had difficulty getting to sleep and their ability to stay asleep during the night. We divided the children into 3 age groups: babies and toddlers, primary and secondary school children. We have received many replies and have collated the information.

Common effects of lack of sleep
The most common affects of waking for both sexes and all age groups were:
  • Irritability
  • Low energy levels
  • Ability to concentrate
  • Family relationships
Exposure to screens
The 10-13 age group had more access to media in their bedrooms including TVs, and computer access where they were using social media such as YouTube or equivalent and Facebook.
There is an increasing interest in the sleep patterns of both adults and children and how it affects our health in both the short and long term.
Research from Harvard Medical School has shown that energy efficient LEDs in light bulbs, computer screens, phones are harmful to the wake sleep cycle.
TVs, laptops, hand held devices are rich in blue light.  This affects light sensors in the retina which are tuned to night-day cycle.  Artificial light inhibits sleep-promoting neurons (brain cells) and the hormone melatonin which aid sleep, and activate neurons that boost alertness.
Dr Karrie Fitzpatrick from Northwestern University in Illinois, states: “having computer screens held close to your face exposes you to more light than watching a TV that is on the opposite side of room”.  This proximity tells the brain to stay awake and resets circadian rhythm resulting in disturbed sleep.
Sleep and learning
Lack of sleep leaves pupils more emotionally volatile, potentially disruptive and physically struggling to learn.
However the good news is that loss of learning can be reversed providing the sleep deprivation has not become extreme.  An average of 7-9 hours per night should be able to restore the functionality of accumulating, processing and being able to recall memories.
Research based on 90,000 pupils in primary/secondary schools in more than 50 countries found that internationally on average pupils who have more sleep achieve higher in maths science and reading.
The researchers believe that prevalence of computers and mobile phones in childrens’ bedrooms are primarily to blame for sleep deprivation resulting in this decreased ability to learn.
Sleep and health
Till Roenneberg, a psychologist from the University of Munich found that exposure to light in the evenings was exacerbated by the fact that many children get little natural light during the day.  It seems that children are sleeping 1.2 hours less on weeknights than a century ago. The research concluded that insufficient sleep may contribute to ADHD because children become hyperactive when they have too little sleep resulting in difficulty focussing attention.
Long term sleep deprivation contributed to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and possibly neuro-degenerative disease such as Alzheimers.
Derk-Jan Dijk, professor of sleep/psychology at the University of Surrey revealed lack of sleep affects activity pattern of more than 700 genes resulting in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and  obesity.  He found that lack of sleep alters gene activity in human blood cells making some less active.  Research in sleep disorders show the importance of sleep in memory and consolidating information.  Without sleep the brain struggles to absorb and retain ideas thus linking an association between sleep and academic performance.
The Childrens’ Anxiety institute in the US state that children and teens need a lot of sleep with adolescents needing about nine to ten hours a day.  Many parents don’t realise that once children approach puberty, their internal “sleep clock” resets, signaling them to go to bed later; however, that doesn’t mean they need less sleep.  It just means that they may be incapable of getting to sleep at an early hour.

How do sleep habits affect stress and anxiety levels?
  • Sleep Deprivation Increases Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
When children and teens are deprived of sleep, the physical symptoms associated with anxiety also intensify. Headaches, nausea, and hyperactivity are common responses in sleepy children.
Furthermore, children who lack the necessary sleep experienced a decreased degree of physical coordination.
  • Sleep Disturbances Interfere with the Ability to Control Emotions
There is a direct link between sleep deprivation and depression and anxiety. Although depression may lead to excessive sleep in some individuals, studies have shown that children who are deprived of sleep are also at increased risk of depression. Sleep deprivation also makes children and teens irritable and easily frustrated, with emotions that fluctuate up and down. Children who accumulate a sleep debt are more likely to have a negative self-image than those who are well rested.
  • Sleep Deprivation Leads to Poor Decision Making
When children don’t get enough sleep they often become impatient, which leads to poor decision making. Poor impulse control is also associated with lack of sleep, which often leads to acting out behaviours.
  • Sleep Disturbances Lead to Sleepiness in School
There’s no doubt about it; sleepiness in school is a major problem for many children and teens alike. With the inability to focus, children are unable to perform optimally academically.
  • Sleep Deprivation That Occurs on a Regular Basis May Be Sleep Anxiety
Sleep anxiety is a problem for 40 million Americans alone, and many children suffer from it as well. Also known as insomnia, your child may suffer from sleep anxiety if he or she has trouble falling asleep, wakes up frequently during the night, wakes up too early, or is fatigued after what appears to be a “good night’s sleep.” If a child regularly has sleep difficulties, sleep anxiety may be an underlying factor. The question is whether child anxiety leads to sleep anxiety or whether sleep anxiety is a contributing factor to general feelings of anxiety.
2005 study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry states that anxiety disorders emerge early in life:  the median age of onset is 11, according to the study. Rates of depression spike in adolescence, too.
Prof Ronald Dahl, a leading researcher in paediatric sleep, from the University of California, Berkeley says: “We think that healthy, optimal sleep may be a buffer against developing anxiety and depression in kids.”

Regular bedtimes and cognitive development
The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, examined more than 10,000 children who are taking part in the Millennium Cohort Study – a long-term study of children born in the UK between September 2000 and January 2002.
The research was drawn from regular surveys and home visits made when the children were three, five and seven to find out about family routines, including bedtimes.
When children were three, almost one in five had irregular bedtimes but the figure reduced to less than one in 10 when the children were older.
By the age of seven, more than half the children went to bed regularly between 7.30pm and 8.30pm.
They found that seven-year-old girls who had irregular bedtimes had lower scores on all three aspects of intellect assessed compared to children who went to bed at a regular time. But the effect was not found in boys.
Non-regular bedtimes at age three were associated with lower reading, maths and spatial awareness scores in both boys and girls.
Girls who had never had regular bedtimes at ages three, five and seven had significantly lower reading, maths and spatial awareness scores than girls who had had consistent bedtimes. For boys this was the case for those having non-regular bedtimes at any two ages.
But they also found that irregular bedtimes by the age of five were not associated with poorer brain power in girls or boys at the age of seven.
“Sleep has a crucial and complex role in the maintenance of health and optimal function,” the authors wrote.
“Inconsistent bedtime schedules might impact on markers of cognitive development in two ways, via disruptions to circadian rhythms and/or sleep deprivation and associated effects on brain plasticity.”
“Our findings suggest that inconsistent bedtimes, especially at very young ages and/or throughout early childhood, are linked to children’s cognitive development.
“Relations between inconsistent bedtimes and aspects of early child development may have knock-on effects for health and broader social outcomes throughout the lifecourse.
Consultant paediatrician Dr Robert Scott-Jupp, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “At first glance, this research might seem to suggest that less sleep makes children less intelligent, however, it is clearly more complicated than that. Other factors such as family income, parents’ level of education and mental health with this research confirm a strong link between social disadvantage and late bedtimes.
“Researchers did go to great lengths to try to allow for this statistically yet still found the relationship between lack of sleep and development was apparent – and more so for girls.
“While it’s likely that social and biological brain development factors are inter-related in a complex way, in my opinion, for school children to perform their best, they should all, whatever their background, get a good night’s sleep.”

Strategies to encourage healthy sleep in kids
  • Set a regular bedtime and wake time, even on weekends.  Children and teens who go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time every morning sleep better and have fewer night wakings.  Studies also show that consistent bedtimes encourage cognitive development with children displaying  fewer behavioural problems and performing better in school.
  • Make the bedroom a dark and quiet oasis for sleep. No homework in bed.
  • Create a calming bedtime routine. A consistent routine (10 to 15 minutes long) – brushing teeth, changing into pyjamas and reading a book – helps children go from alert and active to a quieter state, giving them the ability to fall asleep on their own.
  • For younger kids: a bath and story. For older kids: Reading or listening to mellow music.  We recommend John Levine’s  Alphamusic (www.silenceofmusic.com)
  • Limit caffeine consumption, especially after 4 p.m. ie fizzy drinks, chocolate etc
  • Ban technology (TV, web surfing, texting) in the half hour before bed. These activities are stimulating. The light from a computer can interfere with the production of the sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin.  Encourage reading instead.
  • Don’t send kids to bed as punishment or allow them to stay up late as a reward for good behaviour. This delivers a negative message about sleep.
  • Exercise and access to fresh air and natural daylight can help improve sleep patterns.
References:
YJ* Kelly,  JAJ Kelly,  A Sacker: J Epidemiol Community Health 2011; 65:Suppl 2 A39-A40 doi:10.1136/jech.2011.143586.88

John Levine at Alphamusic: www.silenceofmusic.com/







Tone Tellefson Hughes, Luck's Yard Clinic.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

FIRST AID KIT FOR EXAM TIMES

1)      Water 
2)      Food/nutrition 
3)      Sleep 
4)      Study Posture 
5)      Exercise/breaks 
6)      Study technique 
7)      Mental attitude 
8)      “Ice cream days”- rest and recuperation for body and brain 

1) Water
The brain needs water to work. The body is made up of 90% water. If we don’t hydrate our bodies enough the brain and nerve cells of the body will struggle to work as efficiently. And the thinking and learning will become slower and sluggish.

Try do have a pitcher of water next to your desk so that you are reminded to drink regularly. And bring water in for exams if you are allowed. Remember that coffee and tea does not equal water, in fact it is recommended that you drink a glass of water for each cup of tea or coffee. Try to drink 6-8 glasses a day. Avoid caffeinated fizzy drinks as they will stop you sleeping and make you jittery.

2) Nutrition
Nourish your brain with healthy food. Try to eat 3 main meals a day and have a healthy snack every three hours to keep your glucose level steady. This is not a time to diet, but you need to feed your brain with good nutrition for learning and concentration.

Three vital rules to keep your energy level through the day: 
1)      Eat breakfast. You need to fuel your body for the day. This is essential for your body and brain. 
2)      Eat fewer carbohydrates at lunch as it will make you tired. Add more protein to all meals. 
3)      Reduce caffeinated and carbonated drinks, especially after lunch. 
4)      Cut down on sugar as it will give you a short lived high and a dip later. 
5)     Eat more complex carbohydrates such as brown/rye bread, oat cakes, brown rice and pasta, grains and seeds. 

In fact the more regularly you eat the less you will feel the need to snack. For more tips and healthy ideas of healthy snacks see our partner clinic's web site on www.lucksyardclinic.com. Just search for exam food, healthy snacks and smoothies.

Try to have simple healthy snacks in the house, oat cakes, carrot sticks, seed and nut mixtures, healthy bread and cheese.


3) Sleep

One of the first things that may affect you during this time is sleep, which is mostly due to stress.
Many students skip sleep and night cram as much as possible in the last few days. But this is the time when you do need your sleep and to let the brain organise the learning while sleeping. It sounds strange but you do really learn while you sleep. And apparently your IQ can be raised even with 30 minutes more of sleep.

You can find some good articles on the Luck's Yard Clinic website with tips for sleep, but the latest research is not to watch TV or work on small screens up to an hour before going to bed. This is because the smaller the screen and the closer your eyes are to them, the more the brain will think it is daytime and light the brain activity up.

Do get as much exercise and get fresh air during the day, and don’t eat too late. Cut down on caffeine after lunch, sugar and rich and heavy foods. Some people find meditation tapes help or listening to calm music such as Mozart and John Levine tapes. Keep the room dark and aired and for sleep if possible.

4) Study posture
Most students will spend a lot of time studying on the sofa or their bed. It can stress the muscles and can create muscle tension which can lead to back ache and headaches. This may in turn affect your ability to focus during exams. We recommend that you do most of your computer work at a proper desk with a good supportive chair. You can make your laptop into a PC by folding it out and up on a lap-top stand and get a spare key-board and mouse. Make sure the screen is at eye level. Do your study reading sitting upright and supported so you can keep your neck straight. Many people find sitting on gym balls really helpful as you are moving and keeping your core strong as well as sitting in a better position. You can also buy a simple seat wedge which is a cheaper option than getting a new office chair and encourages you to sit properly.

Take frequent breaks and move around so you will avoid stiffening up your muscles and shoulders.
There is a brilliant animated film on the Luck's Yard website about posture with computers which you can find under the Luck’s Yards film tab.


5) Exercise
The more you need to learn, the more you can benefit from exercising. The busier you are the more important it is to exercise. It has been shown that the fitter you are the better your brain works. You literally get more blood flow to your brain but you will also get better stamina and learning capacity. So try to find the sport that suits you best and which is easy to get to and schedule it into your day. Running and walking are obviously easy and will also give you oxygen and fresh air. But swimming, dancing and sports are also good and good distractions from the concentration. Yoga and Pilates are very good as it also helps with stress management, breathing and calming down as well as core strength.

To help you Luck's Yard Clinic have created an App called ChiroMoves Collection. It features 11, short stretch films for the whole body with a reminder system to help you schedule when to stretch-out. This can be found on iTunes or the App store. They also have many free short stretch films on our YouTube page (under Tone Tellefsen Hughes) The most efficient is to put a twice daily reminder in your e-mail calendar or phone so you won’t forget.  You can even add the YouTube link in the reminder.


6) Study technique
a) We recommend that you plan a shift of 3-4 hours of concentrated studying, and during this time set your phone or egg timer at 45 minute intervals with 15 minute breaks. When the time is up take a short break, stand up, do our stretches, walk around the house, jump on the trampoline, get fresh air, and drink water to reinvigorate your body for the next session. When you go back to studying again you will find that you are ready to focus again. Many people carry on for too long times and find that their brain will start to fade. They are wasting really important learning time and could focus better with shorter burst. 
b) Collaborate: What may work for you is to find a study partner who is at the same level as you and also share the same commitment. Work on your own in the morning, and plan to meet for a few hours later that day. Plan what you are going to discuss and stick to it. Then when you meet and work-shop you can teach each other and share the learning. This way you will know where your gaps are and you will learn from your study partner. There is no more powerful way than to teach someone else, and it often makes it clearer in your head when you know your learning gaps. But make sure it is someone whom you feel absolutely comfortable with but also will push you to do your best.
c) Learning types
To get the most out of your learning it helps to find out how you learn the best. It may be that you need to sit in solitude, with others, in lights, with soft music or loud, or with headphones. Some people prefer fresh air others will lock themselves in a dark room. Some people need to move about others can sit for hours focusing. Here are some tips for you:
Visual: If you are visual you will find Tony Buzan mind-maps and strong colours very helpful. They have been designed to mimic your brain pattern and how it works. When you are in the exam you will be able to go back to the mind-map and remember where on the page the information was.
Verbal: In this case you may need to hear what you are learning. Then you can record yourself and walk around your room while you are talking to yourself (Memory walk). It can also be helpful to stand on one leg, or on a rocker board while memorising facts out loud too. Telling it to others can be helpful. You may need to repeat it several times too.
Tactile/Kinesthetic: In this case you may need to draw on big A3 papers with lots of colour, and/or repeat it lots of times. Use the whole body in different ways. Maybe you need to hold a squishy ball in your hand to help the learning. Juggling is another good tool. Use memory cards and change from left to right hand. Put a piece of paper on the wall and draw with your left of right hand. This will engage the whole brain in a different way. Stand on your left foot and then right and do your repetitions. Cross crawl like the Grand of Duke of York which will engage the whole brain too.
Auditory: Some people find music helps like Mozart and alpha music by John Levine, and other classical music. And some people may need to have head phones to take out all other sounds. Equally to use mnemonics might work with lots of pointers to remember. Some find them easier in a song.
Look for learning types app’s on App store.

7) Mental attitude
Learning is for life, and however frustrating it becomes, you have chosen your subjects for your GCSE, AS and A levels as well as University. So try to enjoy them. If you know that you get nervous for exams, try to imagine how you are coming into the exam and how you will enjoy practicing what you have learnt. And then literally block out the result. This way you will focus on delivering your knowledge and your brain will be more positive in its ability to do so. If you only think of the result, you will get more worried, breathe shallower, and become tense and more stressed.
The journey is the learning, the application of the knowledge, not the results. It is also the ability to use your skills after School/University. It helps you mentally to focus on the exam but not the results. This is where relaxation techniques, yoga, hypnotherapy, EFT, acupuncture and mindfulness can be incredibly useful as it will put you in a more relaxed and alert state of mind.
You might find the stress from others around exam time will get to you. Take headphones and your best music to school and shut yourself out to keep your cool. Avoid those who will influence you to get worried and hang out with positive and calm people before exams. These techniques are very helpful and we can help you find the right therapist for you in the area.
For meditation apps look into the App store.

9) “Ice cream days”-Rest and recuperation for the mind and body.
This is the deserved break you need to re-energise your brain, and also have fun while your brain is actually assimilating the information you have put in it. Creating a space to breathe, relax, have fun and chill out is really important. You do not need to be a wreck after exams, there is a life after exams, but actually during too. This is why we call this the survival guide.

We hope this has been helpful!









Tone Tellefsen Hughes DC, BSc, FCC (paeds)


Huge thanks to Tone Tellefsen Hughes for this superb blog and survival guide!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Exercise of the Month - foot exercise series - balance and proprioception

Here is the 2nd in our series of foot exercises, last month we looked at strengthening the small (intrinsic) muscles in your foot, this month our exercises focus on proprioception: which helps with balance and performance of the muscles and joints within the foot.

What is proprioception?

The ability of your body to know where you are in space without having to look. This means that your body senses joint position and movement within joints. This ability helps in everyday movements and is important for complicated coordinated movements.

The proprioceptive system is made up of nerve receptors positioned in the muscles, joints and ligaments. These nerve receptors sense stretch and tension and pass the information to the brain for processing - this is all done on a subconscious level, which means we don't need to think about doing it - but also means that we may not be aware when it is not functioning at 100%.

If you have had an injury in your foot or lower limb, however minor, it may lead to damage of the nerve receptors and reduce the proprioception in your foot - this in turn can lead to the muscles, joints and ligaments in the foot not functioning at their full capacity and impair the information sent to the brain.

So that's the information bit out of the way - lets move on to the exercises: What we are aiming to do is retrain and refine the proprioception in the foot to better improve foot and ankle movement patterns.

First of all you can do a test to see how your proprioception is working in your feet. This is easily done by standing on one leg - when we stand on one leg there will be minute movements in the foot and ankle as it stabalises the body. Doing OK so far? Now try it with your eyes closed - taking away another sense (vision) means your body is placing more emphasis on your proprioception - this increases the difficulty. Try it on both sides, with eyes open and then closed - often there will be one side that is harder than the other, or maybe they were both difficult.

Now its time to get the proprioception firing more efficiently and strengthening your feet and ankles.

Standing on an uneven surface: 



You can do this at home by standing on a pillow or cushion - make sure you position yourself by a wall for support in case you get a bit wobbly - start by standing on both feet and as you feel more confident with your balance you can start to stand on one foot at a time - again, as in the test, start with eyes open and progress to eyes shut.

Walking on an uneven surface: 

Walking on sand in bare feet is great for proprioception - often people with recovering foot injuries really notice them when walking on sand. If you don't fancy a trip to the beach now the weather is getting colder then you can set up a little obstacle course for yourself at home - that cushion you were balancing on - get a few more, place them in a row and walk up and down them.

Going up onto tiptoes: 

 

This increases the difficulty as you have less surface to balance on and strengthens your ankles. What you need to be careful of when doing this exercise is that your ankles don't roll outwards (seen in picture 2) as you go up onto your toes - this can be a compensation mechanism to widen your centre of gravity (and  it means you're cheating a little bit!)

A couple of easy at home exercises to do to improve your proprioception, balance and foot and ankle strength.

If you are suffering from any foot or ankle problems that would you like us to take a look at please pop into the clinic for a free consultation or book your appointment now.
info@octagonclinic.co.uk
0208 563 2608




Hazel Dillon is a Chiropractor at The Octagon Chiropractic Clinic