Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Give your back a break from tech!

Computers are the top tech back pain trigger for people in London.

As part of Chiropractic Awareness Week (10 – 16 April 2017) The Octagon Chiropractic clinic is urging people to take a break from their tech, as well as learn some key away-from-the-desk stretches. 

New consumer research from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) has revealed that computers are the top tech back pain trigger for fast-paced, tech-addicted Londoners, with well over a third (39%) of those surveyed having experienced back or neck pain after using their laptop and 37% after using a desktop computer.
We all know how easy it is to become glued to your tech. Our devices have become an integral part of our lives, with many of us spending our days either looking down at our phones or stuck on laptops. However it’s important to think about the impact this is having on back and neck health, as well as our posture.  

Here are the Octagon we are not saying stop using tech altogether, in fact we would recommend the app Chiro Moves from our sister-clinic Lucks Yard, however it’s important to think about limiting the amount of time you spend using technology, and start building regular breaks into your day so you can give your back a rest. Particularly when using laptop or desktop computers, if you’re working in an office it’s important that you don’t spend longer than 40 minutes sitting at your desk at one time...”

The British Chiropractic Association has developed these top tips to help people tech- proof their back health:
   Sit up straight - When you are sat at your computer or laptop, it’s easy to forget your posture and lean towards your screen. To avoid developing back pain from sitting at your desk, set up your computer in a back friendly manner. The top of your screen should be at eye level, so use a stand or a ream of paper to elevate the screen to this height. Your bottom should be right to the back of your seat with your back and shoulders in contact with the back rest. Your arms should lie flat at desk level and your chair positioned so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees with your feet flat on the floor.
 On the move -  Laptops and tablets are very convenient and flexible to use so it’s tempting to use them in situations where your body may be in an awkward posture position. You are less likely to notice any discomfort developing if you are concentrating on what you are doing.
  Head up - Looking down at your mobile phone, tablet or laptop leaves your neck unsupported and the weight of your head will put pressure on your neck and spine. To help keep neck and back pain away, try to hold your phone up in front of you when using it and limit your use of portable technology devices where you can. It is a good idea when using a mobile device to elevate your arms on a table as this will help you. Walking and tech use do not mix so try not to do this at all!
  Accessorise - If you are using a portable laptop, plug in a standard mouse and keyboard, which will encourage you to sit in a more ‘back-friendly’ position.
 Take control -  Ideally, you should sit in a chair when playing video games with your back supported against the backrest and your feet on the floor. If standing, try to position your television screen at eye-level, so that you are not having to strain to look up or down regularly.
Take a break -  Our bodies are not designed to stay in one position for long periods of time so, whether working on your computer, scrolling through social media or playing your favourite video game, remember to stand up at least every 40 minutes and move around to keep your muscles active.
Detox - We are becoming much more dependent on technology and taking a break from technology is likely to benefit both your mental and physical health. Use this spare time to get outside and exercise; your back will thank you for it!

The BCA has created a programme of 3-minute exercises: which can be slotted into your daily schedule to help improve posture and prevent back pain by promoting balance, strength and flexibility in the spine.

*The consumer research was carried out on behalf of the British Chiropractic Association between 14/02/2017 and 20/02/2017 

Book in with an Octagon Chiropractor here.

Allergy Season Aid!

Feel like you're allergic to summer?! Our nutritionist Pippa is at hand to help. 

Most of us look forward to the arrival of the warmer weather, blossoms blooming and more time spent outdoors but for those unfortunate ones the spring and summer seasons brings misery in the form of seasonal allergic rhinitis AKA hay fever.

What causes Hayfever? 

Proteins in pollen irritate the delicate membranes of the nose and eyes causing inflammation. Causing the all too familiar symptoms of red, itchy, watery eyes and a runny  nose. But not all hay fever sufferers are alike. Some react to tree pollen which is present from February to May with the peak time being April (this month, eeek!). Grass pollens are prevalent in June and July and weed pollens (such as nettle) are worst in July and August. 

So what can be done to alleviate the symptoms, whichever month they fall in? 

 There are practical measures to help ward off the worst effects of pollen such as...

applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly or lipbalm around and just inside the nostrils can trap minute pollen particles and prevent them from being inhaled and starting an allergic reaction.

Steam inhalations help to reduce the “blocked nose” feeling.

Secondly there are some simple preparations that can reduce the severity of attacks later in the season....


If you are lucky enough to be able to buy organic honey that is produced locally, take a teaspoon every day. It's been shown in some studies that ingestion of tiny molecules of pollen in local honey helps build resistance to pollens when they appear in full force later in the year.


Butterbur is a herb that has undergone scientific trials showing a substantial health benefit for relieving hay fever.

Butterbur has been shown to relax blood vessels and various smooth muscles in the body. It contains chemicals that are also known to reduce inflammation, (this has been demonstrated in human studies). Some studies have also shown that butterbur extract performed as well as a common antihistamine drug taken by hay fever sufferers, but without causing that dreaded drowsiness!

Suppplement and Eat Well!

Bioflavanoids are plant compounds that have shown anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory activity. Along with Vitamin C, these supplements can help prevent the formation of histamine – the chemical that causes the common reactions of irritated itchy eyes and a congested nose. Quercitin is king! Foods rich in the bioflavanoid quercitin include onions, garlic, green tea, red wine (1-2 glasses!) and dark chocolate (the good stuff, 70%+ cocoa solids). 

Vitamin C is found in broccoli, lemon juice, green peppers, oranges, strawberries and blackcurrants, kiwi, cabbage and cauliflower.

Plant sterols are fats found naturally in plant foods. Phytosterols are highly versatile substances that have been shown to be helpful in the management of several conditions including immune disorders. Phytosterols inhibit the release of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) thus reducing the production of histamine. Plant sterols are present in foods such as soya (tempeh, tofu, miso, soya sauce etc.) and whole grains, particularly whole oats, being rich sources. Porridge is not just for winter!

Omega 3 fatty acids found in flaxseeds (AKA linseeds) and cold water fish such as salmon and mackerel, can affect chemical pathways in the body to help ease allergy symptoms and reduce inflammation.

Vitamin E taken during the pollen season alongside other anti-allergy treatments can reduce the severity of hay fever symptoms by 23% studies show. Good sources of Vitamin E in the diet include cold pressed wheatgerm and sunflower oils, hazelnuts, sweet potato, avocado and spinach.

KEY: A strong immune system is essential to help fight off allergic symptoms. The Vitamins A, C, D, E and minerals zinc and selenium are all antioxidant supplements that can help immune function.

Vitamin A is found in egg yolk, watercress, squash and oily fish such as mackerel and herring. Likewise, top sources of Vitamin D include mackerel, herring, sardines, mushrooms as well as eggs and cheddar cheese. Oh and (safe) amounts of lovely sunshine on the skin!

Zinc is plentiful in pumpkin seeds, wholemeal bread and red meats. Eating just four to five brazil nuts daily can provide your recommended intake of selenium but other sources include fresh tuna, sunflower seeds, wholemeal bread and cashew nuts.

If you are taking any medication, always check with your GP or health practitioner before taking any herbal or vitamin supplements.

More on Pippa here.