Do you feel you are not getting the most out of your sleep?
Perhaps you could consider the following 10 tips to see if you need a better bed for a bad back:
- Before spending money on a new bed see if a stiff board under a mattress can improve a sagging base.
- Don’t be taken in the description on the product such as “orthopaedic”. There’s no regulation of manufacturers’ descriptions of their product. Find one that best fits your needs regarding your height, weight, age, sleeping position and back problem.
- Your new bed needs to be high enough so that you can get up and sit down with ease. It also has to be wide enough, if you or your sleep partner is restless.
- The mattress should be supportive enough to take the weight of your body without sagging and firm enough for you to turn with ease. A soft surface is hard to turn on. The heavier the person the deeper the mattress needs to be. A soft base for a heavier person usually means more sag.
- Interior sprung mattresses are the most common form of mattress and can provide sufficient support and cushion the bony curves of the body. They come with a large variation in numbers of springs and prices. Always choose as many springs as you can within your budget.
- Memory foam works by responding to temperature and weight to relieve and disperse pressure. You must ensure that you can turn with ease, because lying in one position for too long can create stiffness. There are a number of manufactures that provide both mattresses and toppers. Foam mattresses often need less turning than other kinds, which can prevent back strain.
- It is advisable to buy your mattress and base together. A solid base is good and offers support when sitting or getting off the bed. A good quality full sprung edge base is the most flexible and will absorb wear and tear well.
- You may also need to consider other aids depending on your sleeping position and back problem, for example mattress toppers, lumbar support cushions and shoulder pillows.
- A simple test whether a bed has the right level of firmness for you is to lie down on your back and slide your hand between mattress and the small of your back. If there is a large gap, the bed is probably too hard. If it is difficult to push your hand, through it is probably too soft, However, if your hand slides through but remains in contact with your back and the bed it is probably just right.
- A bed needs to be tested for at least 10 minutes according to the Osteopathic Council and some manufacturers do a home trial that is worth looking out for.
For more information on this and other back care information, please Click here
Remember, its not just the fault of the bed!
We also need to learn how to ‘prepare’ our bodies for sleep. Take a look at this post Helping Back Pain Through Sleep
For more information in Wilmslow call: 01625 533813
Why is Sleep Important in helping Back Pain?
When back pain affects you, you might despair of ever getting a good nights sleep. Not getting enough sleep or poor quality sleep can actually make you more sensitive to pain. It can be a vicious circle if back pain makes it harder to sleep and when you can’t sleep your back pain seems worse!
Here are ten tips which may help:
- Establish a good bedtime routine. Try to go to bed the same time each night.
- Avoid large meals late at night or eat early. Fight after dinner drowsiness. If you get sleepy, do an activity until it’s closer in time to go to bed.
- A warm bath before bed can be relaxing.
- Don’t have alcohol before bed. It may relax you initially but it impairs the quality of sleep.
- Don’t read or watch Television or use an iPad in bed. TV or devices that are backlit suppress melatonin and whatever you’re reading or watching may be more stimulating than relaxing! Listen to music or audio books instead.
- Try a few gentle stretches when you lie down in bed such as pulling your knees to your chest and holding for a few seconds.
- Start off in as comfortable a position as possible such as lying on your side in a foetal position with a pillow between your legs, or on your back with a pillow under your knees.
- Don’t sleep on your stomach. This may be a habit you’ve got into but keeping your back arched backwards often aggravates back pain. To break the habit, sleep in a T-shirt with a pocket and put a ball in the pocket. You’ll know about it if you roll onto your front in the night!
- Make sure the room is dark, try not to have any digital display light on an alarm clock.
- Avoid a lie in on a weekend, it may disturb your usual weekly sleep pattern. If you need to make up for a late night or lost sleep, opt for a day time nap to pay off your sleep debt. Limit it to 20-30 mins in the early afternoon.
Osteopathic soft tissue massage treatment can help ease some of the tensions in your back which can start helping back pain through sleep.
For more information in Wilmslow call: 01625 533813
Top tips to avoid Back Pain while Gardening
When the spring arrives it’s tempting to get out in the garden and do as much as we can while the weather is dry! Repetitive actions such as weeding, digging and using the wheelbarrow can lead to back pain. Here are some tips to help our backs from becoming injured:
- Have the right tools for the job at the right size.
- Go for a short walk and do some gentle warm up stretches for your legs and back before you start.
- Having raised flower beds or narrow borders can prevent bending and over reaching.
- Weeding is best done using long handled tools or by kneeling. Use a kneeling pad, especially if you already have problems with your knees and don’t stick at it for too long.
- When working on your hands and knees, keep your spine long and your shoulders relaxed.
- Avoid repetitive bending over to pick up the weeds, if doing it from standing. Leave them in a pile and do them in one go.
- When using a wheelbarrow, don’t overfill it. Think and bend from the hips and knees before you lift it. Don’t use your back for this.
- Don’t stick at the same activity for too long, listen to your muscles. If you’re feeling the muscles complain, stop and have a break or do something else.
- When you’ve finished, do some cool down stretches for those hard worked muscles. Finish the day off with a warm bath!
- Remember, it’s often normal to feel some stiffness or mild ache in muscles the next day after unaccustomed exercise. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done yourself harm!
If you’re unsure if you’ve strained you back, I can assess you to make sure and reduce tension in the muscles with appropriate osteopathic treatment.
07547 631679 / 01625 533813
Poor footwear, especially high heels, cause problems from the big toe right up to the spine causing back pain.
The first area we see problems are painful lumps (called bunions) on the outside of your big toe. Typically a bunion forms from pressure on the front of the foot causing a deviation in the bones of the big toe. It creates painful pressure contact on the bunion, looks unsightly and the big toe can get stiff.
Another issue with high heels are tight calf muscles. Because as your heels are elevated, it shortens the calf muscle. This shortened muscle can have a biomechanical impact on the legs. Constant wear also applies pressure to the shin bone and added stress to it can lead to issues such as ‘shin splints’ – pain on the front of the shin, which is common in runners.
You can also get calluses, hard patches of skin, under the front and ball of the foot.
Although there is a force distribution going through the hip joint, while wearing high heels, it may not directly causes specific hip problems but it does cause stress on the area!
What to do about poor footwear and back pain? The best way to avoid these conditions is to give the feet a rest!
- Limit the amount of time in high heels if you need to wear them to work.
- Always commute in flats and trainers to take the stress away from hips and knees.
- Those who frequently wear heels should do calf stretches.
- There are self help remedies you can do to deal with pain, such as standing on the edge of a step and letting the heel drop towards the next step, allowing the feet to stretch
- Massaging the sole of the feet can help – try using a golf ball or a rolling pin.
- Other remedies include a hot bath and mobilisation, such as drawing circles or the alphabet with your foot.
- Walk properly in comfortable shoes. Why not try Nordic Walking!
For more information in Wilmslow:
“Experts warn Back Pain treatment is useless…”
The Times, 22 March 2018 had a front page article about the current medical treatments for back pain:
Back pain is the world’s leading cause of disability. A series in ‘The Lancet’ medical journal stated it is routinely badly treated. In Britain, one in seven GP appointments is for muscle and nerve problems, mostly back pain. It reported that millions of people are receiving treatments of drugs, injections and surgery. This can make the problem a lot worse.
Doctors prefer to offer useless and often harmful treatments rather than tell patients that staying active, exercise and psychological therapy work for most cases of chronic back pain. Most people wrongly believe the myth that rest is best for the condition.
Patients understandably look for solutions and a cure. The reality is we don’t understand what causes the vast majority of back pain. A positive attitude and job satisfaction are among the strongest indicators of whether it will turn into a serious disability or not. The evidence underpinning invasive treatments is very weak. They can also cause harm. Studies show that a third of British patients are given opioid medication such as Tramadol and Morphine. However, the evidence is that they can make your pain worse and patients are becoming hooked and suffering dangerous side effects. So is conventional back pain treatment useless?
The value of early physical therapy
Several studies have investigated the effect of early intervention. Gelhorn et al (2012) found that those that received physical therapy in the first four weeks of their first recorded episode of back pain coped better long term. These had a significantly reduced likelihood of subsequent lumbar surgery, injections. Also fewer visits to a doctor over the following year compared to those that received physical therapy over three months from onset.
The fear associated with the pain can prevent a person feeling they can carry on with a normal daily routine. They get into a vicious circle of ‘not doing things’ to avoid pain. As an osteopath, I try to help patients find ways to cope and manage their pain. This is through gentle osteopathic treatment to get some initial ease, followed by supportive remedial exercises. I give advice about improving activity levels and lifestyle advice, with some help from over the counter medications if necessary, to build up their confidence and regain some control.