In my opinion, pregnancy is one of the most important times to get adjusted. A pregnant woman’s body is about to spend the next nine months growing a baby; there are postural changes associated with growing bump, hormone changes that ‘loosen’ off ligaments (which can lead to pelvic instability) as well as a host of muscles that must work harder to offset the ligament laxity. Chiropractic, and more specifically the Webster Technique is a specific sacral analysis and adjustment to restore balance and neuro-biomechanical function to the pelvis.
Women often see a chiro in the last few weeks of pregnancy to ‘ensure that their body is in a good position’. While it’s great to get checked before birth, it is important to remember that your body has been through nine months of changes and compensatory patterns that are not likely to disappear overnight.
I recommend care throughout pregnancy as it means that we can support you and the changes that your body undergoes as they happen, and allow you to be more comfortable and give more room for baby. It also means we can address any compensations that may have occurred before pregnancy (previous injury, poor posture, desk work etc.) and give you advice on how to avoid unnecessary stressors.
I have been having chiropractic care throughout my pregnancy and I have had no back pains. I feel baby has more room to move after my adjustments each week. Baby is also in the correct position and ready for labour.
Rachel Hodson checking a gorgeous pregnant mummy
Acupuncture and Pregnancy
I began having acupuncture during the early stages of my pregnancy to help with morning sickness and tiredness. I had about 10 sessions which started weekly and then spread out as I started to improve.
Morning sickness is often one of the earliest signs of pregnancy and is one of the most common complaints during the first trimester. It can also continue throughout a pregnancy. And it doesn’t have to just happen in the mornings! I personally had bad morning sickness at night-time too and worsened with tiredness.
In Chinese medicine, morning sickness is often seen as an imbalance between the liver and the stomach/spleen or from the accumulation of too much heat in the stomach. I was advised to eat warm foods and to eat earlier in the day.
As well as acupuncture; there is a wide selection of wrist bands/accessories designed to reduce nausea by pressing on acupuncture points. These can be very beneficial adjuncts to treatment, however I didn’t feel these helped as much as actually having the acupuncture sessions.
It has just flown by, so fast that I completely failed to update my blog between weeks 17 and now!
In short weeks 17-27 were great! I felt amazing and had loads of energy. The only downfall was feeling a bit of a blimp! I just looked like I had been at the biscuit box, which at times was entertaining, especially with some of the looks you get from people who haven’t seen you in a while!
From week 27 onwards its obvious that you are growing a tiny human. At 31 weeks I went to Portugal for a friends Hen Party, it was so much fun. I thought am I crazy for going? Then decided sunshine was just what the doctor ordered! (Although right now at 39 weeks pregnant in this heat wave I disagree!) The best thing about being pregnant on the hen party was I had the best excuse for going home early! I’m not really a party animal anyway and do love my sleep so was able to sneak off a smidge earlier than the 2-3am everyone else rolled in!
Speaking of Sleep…things that change in the third trimester.
This might be the hardest thing I have had to contend with, but then I should be grateful because my body is preperaing me for little sleep once the wee bean arrives. I wake up at least 5 times a night, either because I’m too hot, my feet are too hot (not just weather related, I am definitely running hotter in pregnancy), I need ANOTHER wee, my hips hurt, legs are cramping, or baby has given me a good kicking!
I purchased a pregnancy pillow quite early on, it arrived at about 17 weeks. It was nice then, but been a god send since the third trimester started. The support the pillow offers for my legs and bump are amazing, and yes I still wake up a lot, but at least it keeps me more comfortable than without it. The weight of bump is supported meaning the liagments around my baby bump get a break!
Others things you can do to helps sleep include:
Sticking to a sleep schedule – try to regulate your body clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time everyday. Since I have been on maternity leave I am sleeping in longer, but allowing myself that time means I know I am rested. Instead of being up by 6-30am its now a respectable 8am, but try not to stay in bed longer because it means your body clock will get out of sink.
Plenty of gentle exrecise – this can also help with leg cramps! Swimming, yoga and gentle walking will help and tire you out just enough to promote good sleep at night!
Acknowledge and thus take control of your worries – becoming a new mum means your mind can do overtime! I know I have been worrying about all sorts of funny things, from how will I know what to dress the baby in to are the windows clean enough! Writing lists of things I want to achieve in the day has been helpful and just chatting things through with Ben and my mum have been invaluable!
Try relxation techniques including breathing exercises – Progressive muscle relaxation has been proven to be very effective at helping to bring on sleep. It focuses on tensing, and then relaxing, groups of muscles in your body, alternating between your right and left side. Here’s how to do it:
Start by tensing and releasing your hand and forearm muscles, first on one side and then on the other.
Repeat with your upper arms, face and jaw, chest and shoulders, tummy (as best you can!), thighs, and so on until you reach your feet.
These techniques are often used in yoga classes along with deep breathing exercises. Try a pregnancy yoga class in the evening to help.
This recipe is also great for when you are weaning your baby, in fact my baby daughter and I both have these for breakfast sometimes, with a little greek yoghurt and some blueberries.
You can add desiccated coconut and some nut butter (or as in this picture a little chocolate spread – not as healthy, unless you make your own chocolate spread which can be done with some mashed avocado and cacao powder – see chocolate mousse receipe.)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 ripe bananas
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
coconut oil for frying
Beat eggs for a minute. Mash bananas as for a baby, add to eggs, add dry ingredients. Mix it all together. It should look a little like mashed potatoe!
Put a tsp of coconut oil in a frying pan and when is hot add a tbsp of dough, push it down a bit and reduce a heat to medium. I usually put 3 pancakes in at the time. Flip them over cook for about a minute and it is ready to eat. Repeat a process.
It is not easy to flip them over so it is good to keep them small. Makes it easier to manage!
Vitamin D is in the news all the time. We are all deficient, we must supplement one week an then the next headlines about someone who overdosed! Is this really possible? What are we really supposed to do?
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because it is produced in the skin in respone to sunlight. It also occurs in a few foods naturally, these include fish (oily fish such as salmon and mackeral), fish liver oils and egg yolks. Many foods are also fortified with the vitamin and these include grains and dairy products. It is impossible to overdose of vitamin D via sunlight and foods, however excessive supplement use can lead to Vitamin D toxicity, this is known as hypervitaminosis D and results in the buildup of calcium in the blood, hypercalcemia.
Research has shown that taking 60,000 international units (IU) daily for several months can cause this. This is much higher than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 600 IU. Unless treating a deficiency these sorts of doses are not advised and should only be taken under the supervision of a doctor, with regular blood tests to check levels for a limited period of time.
Vitamin D is essential for our musculoskeletal system, because it helps us utilise the calcum from the diet. Calcium is not only essential for strong bones, but also is important in nerve transmission and muscle contraction. Vitamin D deficiency is most commonly associated with rickets, a disease in which bone tissue does not mineralise properly, however it is also related to many more health problems.
Signs and symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency:
Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can indicate a deficiency. For some the symptoms are subtle and for others they have no obvious symptoms at all, but low blood levels still pose health risks because calcium is used so vastly in the body.1) Increased risk of Cardiovascular disease.2) Cognitive impairment in older adults – research has shown that vitamin D supplementation can help improve cognitive function in over 60s with dementia.3) Severe asthma in children.4) Research suggests that vitamin D when taken with calcium can prevent some cancers.5) Research suggests that long-term supplementation reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis.
Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency:
Not consuming RDA over time. A strict vegan dietputs you at risk of this because the vitamin is mainly found in animal products. Limited exposure to sunlight. If you are homebound you are at higher risk of deficiency, especially if you have darker skin. The skin makes vitamin D using UV light. If you live in the northern latitudes, wear clothes that cover you fully (such as those or religious reasons), do not spend much time outdoors – you are at risk. In the UK those with darker skin are a higher increased risk because the pigment in the skin (melanin) reduces the skins ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight.
What is seasonal affected disorder (SAD):
Seasonal affected disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that often begins in the autumn and continues into the winter months. Symptoms inculde feeling sad, low mood, anxious, fatigued, irritable, concentraion problems and feelings of hopelessness. Although the exact cause is not known studies suggest a lack of sunlight is the cause, as it is more common at higher latitudes and cloudy places. This link to lack of sunlight could potenitally be due to reduced vitamin D production and thus an affect on cognitive function. The other theories include a shift in our bodies biological clock. Less sun affects our ciardian rhythm. Another theory is a change in the balance of neurotransitters in the brain (serotonin and dopamine.) These last 2 theories would both result from a lack of vitamin D.
So what should the average person do!?
As previously discussed the amount of vitamin D your skin makes can be affected by a number of factors. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle will affect vitamin D production. In many it can decrease or be completely absent in the winter months. In the summer months, especially in those who are fairer – sunscreen, whilst important, can also decrease vitamin D production.
With modernisation many now do not get enough regular exposure to sunlight, and older adults also have trouble absorbing vitamin D. Taking vitamin D drops or a multivitamin with vitamin D will likely help improve musculoskeletal health. The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 400 international units (IU) for children up to age 12 months, 600 IU for ages 1 to 70 years, and 800 IU for people over 70 years.
Including oily fish and eggs into your diet a few times a week is also advisable and if vegan eating fortified cereals and plant based milks.
Get yourself out each day and get your face in the sun. We still have the odd sunny day even in the winter! Its important to enjoy them when you can!
One of our Chiropractors, Rachel enjoying the November sunshine.
Natures life is a great Vitamin D brand. We do not profit from recommending this product in anyway, it just happens to be the one we take ourselves!It is improtant you do not exceed the dose on the product and it is also important to get a Vitamin D3 brand, because vitamin D3 is more easily used in the body to help with calcium absorption.
Penckofer, S; Kouba, J; Byrn, M and Estwing Ferrans, C. Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine? Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2010 Jun; 31(6): 385-393.
Back and neck pain is often seen as only an adult problem but new statistics, along with our own experience of treating children and teens at the Peacehaven Chiropractic, suggest this is sadly not the case. One quarter of UK secondary school pupils report that they suffer from regular or daily back and/or neck pain.
One quarter of UK secondary school students suffer from regular or daily back pain
School bag burden has been associated with a ten-fold increased rate of back pain
Back pain was also linked to prolonged sitting (something no student gets away from – now with more sedentary past times, gentle stretches and exercises are paramount on a daily basis, please see links below.
The British Chiropractic Association’s have some good advice on how to make sure your child’s backpack is loaded and carried safely. They also have a series of exercises, from the Straighten Up campaign, designed to keep the spine moving well, appropriate for both children and adults and they also include computer posture tips and breathing exercises. You would think breathing came naturally, and whilst we all do breathe, many of us don’t do it well!
Here’s some fun and kid-friendly stretches we like! Movement is key. Another fabulous set of exercsies can be found on youtube, ChiroMoves designed by a UK Chiropractor. This is also avaliable as an app.
If you have any questions about your childs spine then please do call, remember we also offer a free 15 minute consultation in clinic. Please call 01273 584812 or book an appoinment using our request form. Rachel Hodson is fully accredited to work with children and has further qualifications in this field.
Social interaction and support are paramount to our health. In fact industries have been built on this, take social media for example! Social media itself has many positives but also negatives and therefore cannot replace sharing time with people you love face to face. When together not only are we able to read our friends and families body language, but we are also blessed with the power of touch. Touch is something I believe is vital to wellbeing, both physically and mentally.
Being able to share your thoughts and feelings, opening yourself up to loved ones or to someone you trust (this could be a healthcare professional such as a Chiropractor) can help half the load! The phase a problem shared is a problem halved springs to mind. Just talking things through with someone can help sort your thoughts in your head, whether they offer advice or not. Support can help you cope with major life events, such as a divorce, house move, loss of job. Those who are lonely suffer more with stress, depression and cardoivascular issues. Everyone loves to feel valued, can you think of a time you didn’t like to be appreciated, needed or complemented?
Taking part in team sports is a fantastic way to involve yourself in the community, whilst building rapport and boosting your confidence. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress levels, improve cardiovascular fitness and mental agility. Being able to spend time with others whilst exercising is a fabulous way to get social support and interaction. You do not have to join a basketball team like Michele, there are gentler group activities out there. There are several walkling groups in Peacehaven, speak to the Sussex community development association (SCDA) for more information. www.sussexcommunity.org.uk
Other benefits of social interaction:
Improves immune function
Improves mental healh
Improves pain management
Reasons why too much social media has a negative impact:
Addiction – social media stimulates the pleasure cenres in your brain. When someone ‘likes’ your post you get a feel good boost, however the reverse is true if you get no interaction from a post. The amount of dopamine release (your pleasure hormone) you get from a social media post ‘like’ as opposed to something happening in ‘real life’ is much greater and this is when addiction can form. We can never commnicate with so many people at once in normal everyday life as we can on social media.
Trolling – people can hide behind their online profile and because you are not face to face make cruel and unnecessary comments. This can lead to anxiety and depression. Online bullying can be really real, particularly for the younger generations. It is easy for truths to be mixed and hundreds of people to witness the comments causing much mental anxiety to the victim.
Affects actual ability to communicate in person – so many people become anxious about being in company because they spend all their time behind a screen. Socially people become less able to communicate clearly and politely. This not only affects them but also those they are interacting with.
Get yourself out and about, if you can’t, do not be afraid to tell a friend, colleague, someone you know how you feel. Call them, ask them to come over, don’t wait for them to get in touch with you! Best of all join a group, get in some exercise whilst enjoying the company of others.
Having good posture not only helps with keeping you injury-free, it also makes you looks taller and slimmer and gives you more energy! What’s not to love about that?!
Posture defined is the relative position of all of our body parts. Each joint has an optimal position and range of motion. In this position our joints are exposed to the least amount of wear and tear and the most efficient use of energy.
image from https://posemethod.com/pose-vs-posture2/
When we are out of alignment (poor posture) wear and tear and the cost in terms of energy are increased, not only to maintain this posture, but also to make every move. We are therefore more likely to sustain an injury. Poor posture is exactly why so many of us experience musculoskeletal pain – otherwise known as CHRONIC POOR POSTURE.
When do we first start developing our posture:
It all starts before we are even born! Nature is amazing. It is so important for mothers to look after their spinal health and remain active, because it helps their babies core muscles develop and provides them with optimal space for foetal development. At Peacehaven Chiropractic Rachel is experienced working with pregnancy and with children. Chiropractic care can help keep your pelvis aligned and moving eveningly side to side. Your uterus sits in your pelvis.
Babies are born with a set of primitive reflexes; these help them as they pass through the birth canal. Think of them as our original blueprint. As we grown, postural relflexes lay over the top and dampen down our primitive reflexes. These postural reflexes form the framework within all our systems operate effectively. The tranistiion from primitive to posural does not happen at a set time, but is gradual, often both reflexes existing together. The postural reflexes help to shape our spinal health, posture, movement and stability (1).
When babies lay on their fronts, by 6 weeks they should be able to lift their head in line with thier body and by 12 weeks maintain it there for several minutes; this helps the curvature of the neck and determines the development of the muscles that support the head (1).
At approximately 16 weeks we begin to use our arms to push our chest off the floor. eventually raising ourselves up onto our knees and rolling over (6 months) (1), this helps create our low back, lumbar, curve and imorove muscular strength. Crawling is paramount as it helps to develop an even pattern of movement across the pelvis and again improve our core strength, providing support for the lower back. These early stages are very imprortant and if a child misses any one of these steps problems can develop in the future.
Children tend to use their bodies functionally, therefore do not often feel musculoskeletal pain, however once we become a teenager we become more self aware and our posture can suffer. Teenage girls are notorious for standing with rounded shoulders to hide their developing breasts and if tall may stoop to become in line with their peers. Carrying heavy bags, often on one shoulder and spending far too long on computers, phones and tablets is definitely taking its toll!
What determines our posture?
The relative length-tension relationship between muscles is largely responsible for our posture. These muscles are controlled by our brain, via the spinal cord. Joints have 2 sets of muscles on opposite sides, if one side is long and weak, the other will be short and weak (tight). This affects the position of the joint and its full potential movement.
A good example is our hip flexors and bottoms! Many of us sit for long periods in the day, so the hip flexors shorten and the gluteals become weakened. The result, your pelvis pulls forwards resulting in an increased lumbar lordosis (curve) and if one side is tigher than the other we end up with a torsion in the pelvis. The hip joint, knee and ankle therefore are no longer in optimal position and this affects leg range of motion. Without correction this can lead to injury.
Poor posture can also have a knock-on effect on the rest of the body, not just our musculoskeletal system (everything is connected afterall!) If you slouch, your ribcage will drop forwards restricting your diaphragm and therefore your breathing. It also means your stomach is squashed and so can give symptoms of indigestion/reflux. It will restrict blood flow to the organs including the uterus, so painful periods can result and impaired bowel digestion, thus symptoms of IBS.
Circulation and nerve signalling from the brain can also become compressed (especially with a forward head posture) which can result in headaches, migraines and numbness in the legs and arms.
How can I help myself?
We can all do a ceratin amouont of assessment by just looking in the mirror, or if you feel brave have someone take photos of you front, back and side view. Use the guide picture at the top of this article to help yiou. If you just think about stnding and sitting tall you are already halfway there! The more you remind youorself the easier it becomes, new habits take time to form, old one die hard!
Stretching a sterenthening exercises can be very helpful; however specific ones depend on your postural weakness. Most people will benefit from doing a head to toe stretching and movement programme which focuses on getting the whole body active. The Straighten Up UK (SUUK) exercises developed by British Chiropractic Association are a great starting point. We also have free leaflets in clinic that show this routine.
Can exercise make my posture worse?
Some exercises can, yes! Although many people are tols that poor posture is a result of adbominal weakness, doing repeated sit-ups actually strengthens the muscles that cause you to slouch! Your deep abdominals and pelvic floor muscles are much more important to work on, however underused muscles are hrd to wake up! Pilates, initially 1-2-1 classes are super helpful in achieving this.
Most importantly is to focus on how you sit and stand, once you are aware of how to do this well, Yoga and Pilates are great, these focus on your postual stabilising muscles. Any other exercise that challenges your balance such as free weights and stability ball exercises are also great. Of course always discuss with a fitness professional, your doctor or chiropractor before you commence if you have any concerns.
Will I achieve perfect posture?
This is unlikely! You posture has developed over years, however you can always improve it. Our environment and how we use our bodies daily have a huge impact. The important thing is to maintain mobility and be aware of when you are not holding yourself optimally.
1) Goddard, S. Reflexes. Learning and Behaviour; a window into the Child’s Mind. fern Ridge Press, 2002.
2) Liao, M.H. and Drury, C.G., Posture, discomfort and performance in a VDT task. 2000, Ergonomics, 43(3); 345-359.
3) Sauter, S.L., Schleifer, L.M. and Knutson, S.J., Work posture, workstation design and musculoskeletal discomfort in a DT data entry task. 1991, Hum Factors, 33(2); 151-167.
Marijana Dragojevic is a local Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner and also happens to be absolutely amazing in the kitchen. She has kindly shared her healthly chocolate mousse with us. The beauty about this recipe is it is so easy to make and its healthly. That’s definitely something to smile about!
Thank you Marijana!
1.5 cup soft pitted dates ( soaked overnight)
1/5 cup filtered water
2 ripe avocados
3 tbsp of raw cacao
1tbsp of coconut oil
Put the dates in the blender with half of the water. Add water gradually ( you don’t want to much water). Add avocado, cacao and coconut oil and mix until smooth. Put it in the serving dishes and refrigerate for couple of hours.
Marijana Dragojevic works primarily with people who would like to lose weight, she does this using Emotional Freedom Technique. Goodbye dieting! The first session is offered free of charge, so together you can decide if it is right for you. For more information please visit her website http://www.eft.uk.com