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BACK PAIN AWARENESS WEEK (OCT 5-9)TOP 10 SELF-HELP TIPS FOR FIBROMYALGIA & BACK PAIN SUFFERERS IN LOCKDOWN…

To mark Back Pain Awareness Week, leading UK back-pain-prevention expert and Health Ergonomist Nichola Adams offers practical advice on coping with the growing challenges of working from home for a further six months.

 

Advice on slouching: a Work Station Assessment by Nichola Adams    

Leading UK back-pain-prevention expert and health ergonomist Nichola Adams’s workload has risen sharply during Covid lockdown.


And statistics show the numbers of us suffering from back pain are also growing, especially now that lockdown is extending for another six months.

To mark national Back Care Awareness Week (October 5-9), Nichola, a Technical Member of The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, has compiled her ‘Top 10 Self-Help Tips for Back Pain and Fibromyalgia Sufferers’.


Combining the Greek words ‘ergon’ (meaning ‘work’) and ‘nomoi’ (meaning ‘natural laws’), Ergonomics is the science of making products and tasks comfortable and efficient for human use.


“Health Ergonomics is a multidisciplinary science. It combines biomechanics (how our bodies move), anthropometrics (our measurements) and psychology to enable us to design products and services that best match people’s physical, as well as mental, capabilities,” explains Nichola.


“Ergonomics recognises that we are all individuals and that there will be many external influences that affect our recovery. This includes the environment as well as social factors that affect, for instance, our attitudes towards our back pain, our stress levels and other influencing factors that can influence our levels of back pain.” 

TIP 1 -Keep moving: When you do, blood flows more easily and brings nutrients and oxygen to your tissues and muscles. When sitting at your computer, standing breaks are vital. Take one every 30-60 minutes. Just standing up and siting back down will provide a beneficial boost. Take your laptop to a higher surface like a kitchen work-top or chest of drawers, then stand a while. Own a patio or garden? Work outside. Fresh air blows away brain cobwebs.
TIP 2 -Eat well, stay hydrated: Keeping the body stocked with immune-boosting, antioxidant-rich foods is key. Antioxidant foods are also anti-inflammatory. Enjoy dark fruit and leafy vegetables. Magnesium-rich foods are also good for reducing mental and physical stress. Check your vitamin D levels with a home testing kit. Keep hydrated, aiming for 7-8 glasses a day. It’s all too easy, when we’re working hard, to forget to drink enough water.
TIP 3 – Sit up straight: While moving regularly is key, sitting upright will also help reduce the load on your spine. Don’t sofa-slouch! If you only have your sofa to work from, mimic a good set-up. Build a supportive back using cushions (deep sofas cause slouching). Pop a cushion under your laptop to protect yourself against its heat and raise it up. Try an adjustable laptop holder that’s made for sofa or bed use.
TIP 4 -Care about your chair: Sit on a chair whenever possible. If it’s a dining chair, not an office one, always try to ensure your lower-back curve is supported as this is particularly good for easing tension build-up on sensitive backs. You can use a cushion or rolled-up towel for extra support. Better still, buy an inflatable lumbar support cushion for your lower-back curve. Ask your employer if they’ll offer you budget for a chair with a lumbar support and adjustable seat height and armrests. Always sit with your arms level with the top of the desk as this will help you avoid flicking up your wrists or hunching your shoulders to type.
TIP 5 -Get your screen height right: If you’re using a laptop, make sure you can either dock it onto a larger screen that’s at eye height, or raise the laptop onto some books. Alternatively, try using a laptop holder so that you aren’t slouching or looking down to read the screen as this will load unwelcome pressure onto your neck, shoulders and back. Then use a separate keyboard and mouse.

TIP 6 -Mind the gap: When using a keyboard and mouse, keep these close to the front of your desk so that you don’t find yourself in a position where there’s a gap and you’re needing to extend your arms forward when typing. Failure to do this can quickly bring on shoulder and neck tensions as our arms are surprisingly heavy when extended forward. Keep your wrists relaxed and straight in order to reduce pressure building up.
TIP 7 -Stay positive: Maintaining a positive frame of mind is more important than many people realise. And your brain has a far bigger say in your body’s ability to feel pain than you might imagine. If we’re stressed and worried, our body naturally tenses up. The brain then goes on alert for pain. Despite the distractions of the pandemic, try to take time out for yourself and just relax. (Bonus mini-tip: A magnesium hot bath can also work wonders for the brain and body.)
TIP 8 -And …… breathe: Slowing down your breathing can impact your cortisol levels. This brings down your stress levels and keep the oxygen flowing through the body. Try this exercise I can recommend: Step 1: Breathe in for a count of five. Step 2: Pause for a count of four. Step 3: Breathe out for eight beats. Step 4: Then pause for four. Step 5: Repeat. Get used to the maths and you’ll notice the difference straightaway.
TIP 9 -Exercise gently: With no office commute, exercising daily becomes essential. Try a morning stroll, jog or cycle as morning light helps with your circadian rhythm (helping our sleep/wake cycles) and vitamin D levels. Maybe treat yourself to a visit to your local park or a coffee, to encourage yourself to get out. By venturing out in the mornings, before work gets busy, we’re more likely to stick to the routine. Try stretching exercises, too, like yoga or Pilates.
TIP 10 -Remember, you’re worth it!: Focus on yourself and ring-fence extra time to keep in tune with what gives your life meaning and purpose. Remembering to take regular breaks at home isn’t easy, so use technology to set yourself automatic reminders on your mobile. When working from home, find ways to support your body so your muscles relax. Everyone’s an individual and ergonomists like me can conduct assessments remotely if you need bespoke advice.

Source: Alec Lom – Nichola Adams, MSc Health Ergonomics, Tech CIEHF (Technical Member of The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors), Reg Member ACPOHE (The Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health and Ergonomics), is one of the UK’s leading back-pain experts and the Founder of Inspired Ergonomics (http://www.inspiredergonomics.com/)





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5 OF THE BEST YOGA APPS…

YOGA WAKE UP...

Wake up to the sounds of yoga and meditation. The Yoga Wake Up app for iPhone delivers yoga audio sequences you can do from bed for an easier transition from dreamland. Find a variety of yoga routines from the world’s top yoga instructors and wellness warriors. Choose from Wakeups that feature slow, delicious morning stretches from the warmth of your covers or Wakeups that get you energized and out of bed. There are even mindful breathing meditations and Wakeups to do with kids.

Studies have consistently shown that traditional alarm clocks and snooze buttons not only disturb your sleeping patterns but can leave you feeling groggy for the rest of the day. Discover a new wakeup routine designed by renowned yogis and never have to hit that snooze button again. Wake up more peacefully with Yoga Wake Up.

YOGA STUDIO…

For a comprehensive collection of yoga classes, opt for Yoga Studio. They offer 15-, 20-, and 30-minute pre-made classes, plus allow you to make up your own class using their library of 280 yoga poses (they’ll suggest the sequence so it actually flows together). The other nice thing about this app is that you can download the workouts to use offline, or stream the classes on your Apple TV or laptop.

 

 

Yoga Studio includes 75+ ready-made classes; including Yoga for Back Pain, Yoga for Runners, our new Hip Hop Collection and many more! Choose your level (beginner, intermediate or advanced), duration (15, 30 or 60 minutes) and focus (strength, flexibility, relaxation, balance or combination) to find the perfect class for you. They think learning how to move from one pose to the next is important – just as important as learning the poses themselves. That’s why all their classes come with full HD video and teacher commentary that’s clear and easy to follow.

Vinyasa yoga might sound like a snooze, but this app makes it more interesting with three different class structures and accompanying playlists. Each time you use the app, Down Dog will mix up the workout so you never have to repeat a flow. (BTW, the free version is great, and you’re not missing much if you opt out of the pro membership.) Down Dog

The Down Dog App provides a studio-like yoga experience in the comfort of your home.

Each time you practice, Down Dog creates a brand new vinyasa yoga sequence so that you never run out of content. Clear vocal instruction and a matching playlist round out the experience for a true studio-quality class.

DAILY YOGA…

There are yoga workouts for all levels on this app, but if you’re just starting off you’ll find the set plans very helpful. The programs range from one week to 30 days long, and focus on a theme, like fitness or mindfulness. They even have specialised courses to help you learn to safely do a split or shoulder stand.

Daily Yoga inspires yogis worldwide with the largest yoga pose base. Enables you to practice yoga on all mobile devices and multiplatforms.

ASANA REBEL…

The yoga routines offered on this app combine interval training and traditional yoga to help you build strength, so be prepared to break a sweat and do lots of planks. There are distinct categories for the yoga flows (like strength, flexibility, and relaxation), so you can dial it up or down depending on your mood.

  • Hundreds of modern yoga workouts from fatburn to strength
  • Mini-sessions for busy schedules
  • High-quality programs designed by our experts

 

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WHY IS SLEEP SO IMPORTANT FOR FIBROMYALGIA SUFFERERS?…FREE E.BOOK DOWNLOAD…

This post is a guest post from Kathryn O’Hara at N:Rem Sleep System...

When we’re sleeping, our brains are actively working to process the information from the day in to our long-term and short-term memory. Good sleep not only helps our bodies and minds to rest and repair, it allows us to perform better too.

What happens when you sleep with Fibromyalgia?

Many Fibromyalgia sufferers say they feel lucky if they reach 5 hours’ sleep a night. Do you ever find yourself stuck in a vicious cycle? Pain makes it difficult to sleep, but sleep deprivation means the body can not repair itself – making the pain worse.

Lack of sleep also causes stress, lack of coordination and agility, weight gain and poor judgement. The last thing that a Fibromyalgia sufferer needs.

How to drift in to a restful slumber:

Resist the afternoon caffeine rush:

It will take your body up to 7 hours to process only half of the caffeine in your cup of coffee. We know it keeps us awake, so try to make your last caffeinated drink before 2pm to give your body chance to process it before you hit the hay.

Set a bedtime:

Train your body to feel tired and awake at the desired times by going to bed at the same time every night, even at the weekend. It will help you to fall asleep faster, sleep for longer, and wake feeling more refreshed.

Keep your cool:

When you sleep, your body temperature naturally drops. Keeping your bedroom cool (not cold) should help to ease you in to a deep sleep. The ideal temperature is between 18-21C.

Ditch the screens:

Your body will not produce enough melatonin (sleep hormone) to help you sleep if your brain is stimulated by the blue light emitted from your phones, laptops and TV screens. Stop using electronics at least an hour before bed. A good book and some soothing music is a far better option.

THE GOOD SLEEP MANUAL

A Guide to a better night’s sleep for Chronic Pain Suffers

We are proud to launch our very first E-book, which will be a collection of useful tips to help Chronic Pain sufferers sleep better, as pain and sleep unfortunately often constitute a vicious cycle.

This is an issue we are hoping to solve, through some easy steps to follow around health, lifestyle and diet, to ease you into a better night’s sleep.

We have been fortunate enough to get some valuable help from 2 contributors who suffer themselves from Chronic Pain and have been keen to share their tips and personal journey towards a comfortable and refreshing night’s sleep.

Head over to the N:Rem Sleep System website to download your free ebook here.

Kathryn O’Hara