Monday, 14 December 2015

Safe Lifting Over Christmas - the Chiropractic way!

Christmas dinner anyone?? I love a juicy turkey with all the trimmings but if you’ve got your family coming around for Christmas lunch that turkey ends up being pretty hefty. Not to mention if anyone is staying over and you spend lots of time cleaning the house and making up beds.

The last thing you want on Christmas day (when your chiropractor is at home enjoying their own Christmas dinner) is to hurt your back lifting the turkey into or out of the oven. So here are some good bending and lifting tips to make sure the lifting of that giant turkey doesn’t spoil your dinner!!

Tip Number 1: The hip hinge
This pattern of movement ensures that you don’t add extra stresses to your lower back and spine, this is always a good way to bend especially when you are adding weight in the lift.
You can practice doing the hip hinge correctly with a broom or mop handle, if the pole stays flush against your head, mid back and bottom as you bend then you have the movement pattern correct, the aim is to bend at your hips and not in your lower back.

Tip Number 2: Use your thigh and buttock muscles
For a deeper bend that wont stress your lower back, when you come back to standing make sure you push up using your thigh and buttock muscles, as this will protect your back; one way to acheive this is to push your feet into the floor as you come back up from the bend. To help your body get used to a different movement pattern it is a good idea to practice the movement at other times as an exercise, so that when it is crucial to protect your spine you acheive the new movement pattern more naturally. A squat exercise is a good way to practice this movement pattern, whilst strengthening your thighs and buttock muscles at the same time.

Tip Number 3: Protect Your Knees
So, we've demonstrated how to maintain your spinal health but we also need to keep those knees in good condition. When you bend you want to do it as if you were going to sit on something behind you - so that your knees do not go forward of your toes as you bend down, this prevents extra stress on the knees.

Tip Number 4: 
That's the bending sorted, now for the lifting. When you lift a heavy weight you want to fix your shoulder blades back onto your rib cage to ensure you use the big muscles in your back for strength rather than the small muscles at the top of your shoulders, this simple technique will aid in keeping you injury free.

Have a happy healthy festive season!

Hazel Dillon MChiro DC is a chiropractor at The Octagon Chiropractic Clinic

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Flu season is almost upon us!

It's that time of year when the flu virus is becoming a topic of discussion.

Many people who are considered vulnerable to the flu are offered the flu vaccination - the NHS states that the viruses that cause the flu change every year, so this winters flu will be different from last winters. As the flu vaccine is created by previously known flu virus strains it may not be 100% effective against all strains of flu this year.

If you choose not to have a flu vaccination or you are not in the vulnerable section of the community who are offered one what can you do naturally to keep your immune system on red alert to fight any flu bugs that come your way?

Practice Good Personal Hygiene

The most easiest and obvious to follow and likely standard practice in your life already, but a reminder can be helpful:
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Sneeze into your elbow rather than your hand - prevents spreading any virus so easily
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Avoid touching your eyes/nose/mouth as this is a quick and easy way to spread the flu germs

Take care of yourself

If you want your immune system to be strong enough  to fight off the flu and other viruses and bugs over the winter season you need to keep yourself healthy - all the basic rules apply:
  • Eat a balanced healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables
  • Sleep 7-9 hours every night
  • Exercise several times a week 


Vitamin C for immune system boosting


There is no clinical evidence that ingesting Vitamin C can prevent you from developing a cold or flu but there are several cells in the immune system  that can accumulate Vitamin C and need it to perform their functions, so a deficiency could result in reduced resistance to certain pathogens.

Good sources of Vitamin C include:
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Peppers
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Kiwi Fruits
  • Brocolli
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes
  • Peas - fresh contain more than frozen


Some studies show that happiness can boost your immune system, so get involved in any activities that make you happy - playing with a pet, positive thinking or any other activity that you love.

 Take in as much sun as you can

 Hard enough in the summer this year, let alone as we get into the winter months - the reason we are talking sunshine is actually for the Vitamin D that your body produces as a result of exposure to the UVB rays in the sun. So our favourite choice for boosting your Vitamin D levels is a lovely winter sunshine holiday - if this isn't a viable option for you then supplementation is a good choice - always take care when choosing supplements and check with your GP if you are unsure whether supplements are suitable for you. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to infection. You can get more information on this topic from the Vitamin D council. Vitamin D Day is on November 2nd, you can get involved here. 

Stay well!

None of these suggestions can guarantee that you won't pick up a flu bug over the winter months but we hope that they will keep you generally healthy with a strong immune system.

Resources used:

Monday, 13 April 2015

Hard at work? So is your back!

As part of the British Chiropractic Association Chiropractic Awareness Week (13-19th April) we are looking at the 24 hour back.

Lets start with your day at work. We want people to take regular breaks at work to help combat neck and back pain.

This advice comes as new research from the back and spinal care experts find working to be a cause of pain for a third (34%) of people in London who have suffered from back and neck pain.

Just under half (48%) think that sitting in the same position for long periods at a time has the most negative impact on their back health. Despite recognising the source of pain, almost one in ten (8%) of those who spend the day mainly in one position don't take regular breaks.

If you work in an office or drive a vehicle for long periods of time, it's easy to stay seated, rarely taking breaks. Many people are unaware that staying in the same position can place unnecessary strain on their neck and back which can lead to long term pain.

Sitting causes up to twice as much pressure on the spine as standing. If your job involves sitting for long periods of time, it's important that you take regular breaks to relieve the built-up tension in your lower back. Your back is always hard at work - even when you think you're relaxing - so ensuring you move and stretch regularly will help relieve the extra load through the discs which will prevent long term problems, keeping your back on track.

In London, 43% currently live with neck or back pain - and one in five (20%) suffer on a daily basis. So what can we do to combat neck or back pain at work?

We offer the following top tips to help people get through the working day back pain free:

  • Sit up straight: Relax when sitting into your seat, making sure you have your bottom against the seat back with your shoulder blades touching the back rest of the chair. Keep arms relaxed and close to the body and place on the desk when typing.
  • For drivers: the back of the seat should be set slightly backwards, so that it feels natural and your elbows should be at a comfortable and relaxed angle for driving.
  • Be computer compatible: Make sure the top of the screen is level with the eyebrows and the chair base is titled slightly forward, allowing for the knees to be lower than the hips and the feel to be flat on the floor. Using a laptop or tablet away from a desk will encourage poor posture, so limit time spent in this way.
  • Take regular breaks: Don't sit for more than 20-30 minutes at a time - stand up to stretch, change position and walk around a little. If you struggle to get away then take time to gently massage the back of your head and neck as you relax your stomach region with slow easy breathing. This will help to improve posture and reduce back pain by promoting balance, strength and flexibility in the spine.
  • Drink Up! Try drinking water instead of tea or coffee; it will be healthier and keep your body hydrated, which in turn keeps your vertebral discs hydrated and better able to absorb pressure.
For more information on how to maintain a healthy posture and help keep neck and back pain at bay, the British Chiropractic Association has developed 'Straighten Up' - a simple, three minute exercise programme for all ages, designed to help strengthen the spine and improve posture and help joints. 

To watch a video of the exercises you can do, please visit: and search for Straighten Up UK

If you would like to find out more about how Chiropractic could help you then contact us on 020 8563 2608 and arrange for a free 15 minute consultation.

The consumer research was carried out between: 07/01/2015 and 20/01/2015. Sample: 2.127 UK adults aged 18-65 by Opinion Matters on behalf of the British Chiropractic Association. London sample size: 126

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Exercise of the month - Chest Stretch

Following on from the shoulder stretches last month we are staying in the same area and looking at chest stretches - if you are having shoulder pain it can be important to stretch out through the chest as well; as tension in the chest muscles - the pectorals - can cause the shoulders to roll forward.

The pectoral muscles, or pecs as they are commonly known, are the large muscles of the chest which we would associate with doing press-ups.

An easy way to stretch this muscle is with the help of a door frame - you want to place your elbow against the door frame so it is level with your shoulder (picture 1 below) - then take a step forward with the leg which is closest to the wall and as your body moves forward you should feel the stretch in the chest, if you feel the stretch more in your arm than your chest you may be twisting your body to compensate for the step forward so make sure as you step forward you keep your torso straight. 

Picture 2 shows how to stretch the smaller pectoral muscle which is underneath the larger one (as seen in the muscle picture above) - this is the Pectoralis Minor, to stretch it you need to lift your elbow slightly higher than your shoulder and then repeat the stretch as before.

Picture 1
Picture 2

If you feel a stretch in the Pectoralis as soon as you place your arm against the door frame then you don't need to take the step forward, just feel the stretch at the start point, as the muscle loosens you will be able to stretch further.

Happy Stretching and we'll be back next month with another stretch or exercise for you all to try out. If you would like to visit the clinic and find out how Chiropractic could help you then you can book a free 15 consultation by calling 02085632608 or via email;

Hazel is a Chiropractor at The Octagon Chiropractic Clinic

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

I Quit Sugar! ...and this was my experience... Part 1

First of all what is this madness (!) and why?

So I first got interested in quitting sugar when I read a book called 'Anti-Cancer A New Way of Life' by David Servan-Schreiber. In this book he talks about how we can make our bodies as uninhabitable a place as possible for cancer.

To over-simplify, he talks about how cancer feeds on sugar and how sugar increases the acidity levels in our bodies - not a good thing. More on this book here. I highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with cancer, in fact, just anyone. 

There is also a history of diabetes on one side of my family and I just knew for myself that I was quite sensitive to sugar. If I ate too much or particularly had it with coffee (latte and chocolate - perfect combo!) I could get quite jittery, dizzy and light-headed.

Some time after reading the anti-cancer book a friend told me she had started Sarah Wilson's 8 week plan - aptly named 'I Quit Sugar'. I was astounded. How could anyone ever possibly consider not having even a bit of sugar for the rest of their life?! Well it turns out the plan wasn't that severe but was created to help you break your sugar addiction and find your body's balanced 'blank state'. Let's face it, sugar is so addictive, if you eat it every day you're probably addicted and for me I wanted to see if I could rid myself of that.

I made a note each week of how I felt and here's my journey through..

Week 1 (started January 5th)
This first week is about reducing sugar intake so that when you go cold turkey it isn't such a shock to the system and the withdrawals won't be so bad. I'm over half way through the week and so far so good - only a few days in but each one feels like a triumph! Without doing this plan I would be on mission to reduce my sugar intake anyway after consuming my own body weight in Christmas food over the holidays. Speaking of which this reminds of how ill I felt on a couple of occasions over Christmas from eating too much rich and sugary food and has fired up my motivation to see this plan through.

The only refined sugar I had this week was a couple of biscuits (left over clinic xmas gifts!), salad cream (which I didn't previously know was full of sugar - damnit) and some fruit.

I was umming and ahhing about whether to cut out fruit completely but for me I agree with Sarah Wilson on this one, that for the purpose of this experiment it has to be all or nothing, if only for a few weeks - just psychologically for me that's easier and clearer. There's no blurred lines to cross. Simple.
Discoveries this week: Tackling one thing at a time. I am not trying to overhaul my diet completely, I don't eat very badly anyway, but it is so much simpler when you crave something bad that, yes I can eat a bag of crisps, or replace a sugar craving with a piece of cheese and know that I can deal with other not-so-healthy food choices further down the line. I'm not even stressing about exercising loads at the minute either. Just as and when it suits. I'm making sugar-free my priority for now and getting on with my life.

Week 2 
Passed without too much event, other than a moment where my husband was happily tucking into a bar of chocolate after we'd been out for a meal (serious sugar craving time for me) and I felt an incredible urge to snatch it and his hand off! A momentary thing. Interesting though to see how psychological and habitual sugar is for me and how strong the cravings can be! 
Discoveries: I had a couple of other strong cravings this week so devised ways to distract myself. Making a herbal tea (peppermint's a good one - leaves the same feeling as when you don't want to eat after brushing your teeth). If it was really bad I'd make an avocado and cacao smoothie (recipe below), which is lovely and nutritious but I am trying to break the go-to-chocolate connection so I've avoided this if possible. Another tactic was just to acknowledge it, do something else and wait for it to pass (which it normally would in a bout 20 minutes).

So far not too grueling. Check out Part 2 of this blog for how I got on in weeks 3-5 (when the withdrawals and detox are supposed to happen - oh oh!)

Some food for thought...

Sugar-free Chocolate smoothie
Blend all ingredients until smooth:
1/2 Avocado
1 tbsp of Raw Cacao Powder
200ml unsweetened Almond Milk
1 tsp of Stevia or 1 tbsp Brown Rice Syrup (to taste)
1-2 tbsp Chia Seeds (optional - for a thicker consistency)

Tip: in summer swap a little almond milk out for a handful of ice cubes for an ice-cream, choccie slush!

Ruth Worth, Clinic Manager

Monday, 2 February 2015

Exercise of the Month: Shoulder stretches

We've all settled down after the festivities of Christmas and New Year now and are full swing into 2015.

Often this means that we settle back into old routines of working hard hunched over our desks or carrying and lifting our children.

This month we will be looking at stretches for your shoulders to help relieve some of that achy tension that can develop there. We are going to look at two different muscles to stretch.

We'll start with the upper trapezius muscle which is located in that knotty tension area you feel on the top part of your shoulder where it connects with your neck.

Upper Trapezius Muscle

This muscle can get overworked as we often rely on it when lifting heavy weights or when holding our arms up. This is not what it is actually designed to do but it likes to try and help out when it can! Its true purpose if to raise your shoulder blade and tip your head to the side.

Upper Trapezius Stretch

The picture to the right shows how to stretch this muscle. To stretch the muscle on the left side tip your head to the right (ear to shoulder) keeping your head straight (not tipping forward or backward), if you feel a stretch in the side of  your neck and top of your shoulder already then that is enough, if you want to increase the stretch then place your hand on the side of your head and gently pull a bit further. You can also sit on your (other) hand - which keeps your shoulder blade down - to increase the stretch as well.

The second muscle we are going to look at is called the Levator Scapulae - its job is to lift your shoulder blade and tilt your head to the side and backwards.

The stretch for the Levator Scapulae is very similar to the stretch for the Upper Trapezius, the difference is that as well as tilting your head to the side you also then bring it forward as well, you will then feel the stretch more in the back of your shoulder and neck than up the side, doing all the same things to increase the stretch such as gently pulling with your hand on the side of your head and sitting on your hand

These stretches are great to do at the end of a long day if you feel stiff around your shoulders or at any time that you feel some tension or discomfort in this area. If you have a tendency to hold tension in your shoulders then making this stretch a part of your daily routine can really help to keep them loose and reduce your discomfort.

If you would like more information about how Chiropractic may help you then you can call or email the clinic and you can book in for a free 15 minute consultation with one of our Chiropractors.

 Hazel is a Chiropractor at The Octagon Chiropractic Clinic