Avoiding slips on icy ground

ice‘Tis the season of icy pavements. A fresh frost may look pretty as we gaze out from within our warm homes, but slips when out walking on snow and ice can lead to fractures and other injuries. The consequences can be serious for many of us, and can even lead to long-term mobility problems for older people.

If you have no option but to use walkways covered in snow and ice, do take care. Here’s our advice for avoiding taking a tumble on icy ground.

Choose sensible shoes. It’s a no-brainer, but many people don’t wear appropriate footwear for getting about in ice and snow. You need flat rubber-soled footwear with a tread that offers traction on ice and snow. Shoes or boots with ankle supports are great too as they can help prevent you going over on your ankle. Icy mornings are not the time to be stylish – don’t wear leather-soled or high-heeled shoes unless you want to land on your backside. If you need to change shoes when you get to your destination, fine; just make sure you walk on icy ground in appropriate footwear.

Take your time. Walk slowly on the ice and don’t let anyone rush you. Make sure you set off in plenty of time to avoid rushing to get to your destination.

Look ahead and plan the path you’ll take. If you see any darkened or shiny patches on the pavement ahead of you, avoid them.

Change your gait and posture. Take small steps rather than long strides. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re shuffling – if it helps you avoid a fall, it’s all good.

Lean forwards slightly as you walk. This shifts your centre of gravity forward a little, giving you more stability and meaning you’re less likely to end up falling on your behind.

Don’t put your hands in your pockets. Keeping both hands free can help you balance. Remember to wear gloves, not only to keep your hands warm but to offer some protection if you do fall and they hit the icy ground first.

Avoid carrying lots of heavy bags. Take particular care with backpacks: a heavy weight on your back can shift your centre of gravity backwards, making you more likely to fall back.

Concentrate. When out walking on icy ground, focus solely on getting from A to B safely. Try not to be distracted by mobile phones – replying to texts can wait until you’re safely inside.

Take care getting into and out of vehicles. Take your time and hold on to the vehicle for support.

Wrap up warmly. If you do fall, a padded winter coat will offer some protection as you fall to the ground.

Learn how best to fall. It takes less than a couple of seconds from losing your balance to crashing down to the ground. If you do feel yourself begin to fall, try to remember to relax your body rather than tensing your muscles. Try to go with the fall while staying relaxed as this can help to minimise any jarring to your joints. And while putting out your hands may be a natural reaction, try not to – you could end up with wrist injuries. If you find yourself falling backwards, tuck your chin into your chest so that your head is lifted and doesn’t hit the floor first.

And remember, in the event of extreme snow and ice, only make journeys, whether by foot or in the car, unless absolutely necessary.

Stay safe, everyone!

Therapies that can bring arthritic pain relief

backArthritis is a common condition that causes pain, swelling, inflammation and often stiffness in joints of the body. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis; other types include ankylosing spondylitis, gout, psoriatic arthritis and reactive arthritis.

The most common form or arthritis in the UK is osteoarthritis. Often referred to as ‘wear and tear’ on the joints of the body, it is a degenerative joint condition most common in the over 50s affecting more women than men. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the joints of the spine and neck, knees, hips and the base of the toes and hands.

Many arthritis sufferers turn to complementary medicine for the treatment of their condition and the management of their pain, often because they don’t want to take drugs long term or are concerned about side effects. Many people find that their symptoms aren’t fully controlled by conventional medicine.

Osteopathy for arthritis

Regular osteopathy treatments can be used to help manage arthritis and the associated symptoms, including joint pain, referred muscle pain, inflammation and lack of mobility. While not a cure for arthritis, osteopathy can help to relieve arthritic pain, ease any swelling and improve mobility and range of joint movement.

Many arthritis sufferers find osteopathy’s gentle manipulative and massage techniques helpful. An osteopath gently moving and stretching an arthritic joint and massaging the surrounding muscles and tissues can help to reduce joint stiffness and muscle tension, easing some of the discomfort that comes with arthritis.

Our osteopaths will also offer advice on how you can make lifestyle changes to improve your quality of life through diet, improved posture and exercise.

Chiropractic for arthritis

Chiropractors are trained to diagnose, treat, manage and prevent disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Using safe and gentle manipulation, chiropractors can help to free joints affected by arthritis that aren’t moving properly or functioning well.

The chiropractic manipulation of joints is intended to increase flexibility and range of movement. Chiropractors may use a variety of techniques including massage, ice therapy, and muscle stretching techniques. They can also offer advice about posture and lifestyle to help manage arthritic symptoms longer term.

Acupuncture for arthritis

While it can’t cure or reverse the process of arthritis, acupuncture can be used to relieve arthritic pain. Acupuncture works by helping the body’s natural energy to flow through the body via a network of channels under the skin. Acupuncture treatment helps to remove any blockages, restoring the natural balance and encouraging the body to heal itself.

Dietary supplements

Our practitioners recommend Solgar 7 vegetable capsules to their patients. This daily treatment can help to increase mobility, flexibility and range of motion in sensitive joints. Ask your practitioner if you’d like to know more about Solgar 7 supplements.

Affected by arthritis? Make an appointment to see one of our practitioners to discuss how our complementary therapies could help you manage your condition and relive your pain. Call us on 0113 237 1173.

For support and advice on living with arthritis, visit the Arthritis Research UK website.

Don’t neglect yourself in the frantic festive season!

imgWe’re well into the busy pre-Christmas period – how are you feeling? With so much to get done and lots of events and occasions to remember, it’s perfectly normal to feel a little stressed. Take time to look after yourself in the frantic festive run-up to avoid burning out before the big day arrives. Here’s our advice:

Don’t put pressure on yourself to make everything perfect. Who cares if your gift wrapping isn’t the quality of a Harrods professional giftwrapper, or the plates you serve Christmas dinner on don’t all match? Some things aren’t worth stressing over. What people will remember once the New Year has dawned is the quality time spent with family and friends. Relax and enjoy it.

Don’t try to do everything at once. Break down your festive ‘to do’ list into smaller manageable chunks and use December weekends to gradually work your way through everything.

And even better: delegate! Got older kids? Get them involved in writing Christmas cards or helping to wrap the presents. They’ll enjoy having more of a role in the festive preparations and it’ll free up time for you to work through the big stuff. And if you’re struggling to make all the carol concerts, nativity plays and Christmas fairs happening this month, enlist grandparents, aunties and uncles to go along and represent the family.

Keep your energy levels up with healthy snacks. Don’t cave in to coffee and mince pies every day of advent! Look after your body with snacks that will help you power up: nuts and seeds, peanut butter & banana on wholegrain toast, hummus & veg sticks, chickpeas roasted with spices – even a simple hardboiled egg!

Don’t abandon healthy habits. Yes, December is a very busy month for many of us but try to stick to your regular exercise routine. In itself exercise can be a great stress reliever and if you don’t fall behind, you’ll have one less thing to beat yourself up about.

Keep to a regular sleep schedule if you can. Get plenty of sleep in the festive run-up, going to bed at a similar time each night. When we’re well rested, we’re more focussed and can generally perform better. Sleeping well can also help to lower stress and boost mood. And keep alcohol consumption to a minimum as it can affect our sleep cycle, giving us a disturbed night’s sleep.

Spend time outdoors. After days (and nights) of overindulgence, a wintry walk can be just the ticket to blow the cobwebs away and reenergise. Staying indoors with less light stimulus for the brain can lead to a low mood, so wrap up to the cold, get out into the fresh air and expose yourself to sunlight for that all important vitamin D. You’ll feel so much better for it!

Want more wellbeing tips to stay positive this Christmas?

This Huffington Post article gives tips on letting go of perfectionism at Christmas.

This post on Greatist is packed with advice on keeping energy levels up when you’re busy preparing for the festivities.

And the Mayo Clinic has these tips on avoiding stress and depression at Christmas.

However you’re spending Christmas and New Year, the Good Health Centre team wishes you a wonderful time with your loved ones.

Get on that treadmill!

treadmillDon’t let the cold, wet weather and dark evenings put paid to your running routine or training schedule! Get on that treadmill – your joints will even thank you for it.

Although many runners often complain that treadmill running soon gets boring, the evidence shows it can be kinder on your joints. Running on the even surface of a treadmill with padding underneath the moving belt reduces the impact on the ankles, knees and hips as you run, and even on the back and neck too.

A study has shown that runners’ foot placement when running on a treadmill is considerably flatter than when running outdoors. Uneven outdoor surfaces can cause more impact to joints and the small muscles, tendons and ligaments in the ankle have to become accustomed to a variety of landings. Obstacles that need to be negotiated can also cause more impact to the joints. Yet treadmills absorb the shock as you run. The stresses to the lower body are less, which can be particularly beneficial for anyone recovering from an injury.

Treadmill running also has the added benefit of putting you in control of the gradient at which you run. And it’s thought to be that bit easier since there’s no wind resistance to contend with. But if you’d like to replicaterunning outdoors in order to expend the same amount of effort, set the treadmill to a 1 – 1.5% gradient.

And of course, using a treadmill in the gym on dark winter evenings has got be safer that road running.

If you’re in training for a run in 2016 and decide to keep up with your training schedule on a treadmill for the next few months, make sure you gradually make the transition back to running outdoors. It’s important to give your body time to adjust back to running on an uneven surface in order to avoid injury.

Useful links

This post on Runners Connect compares the workout of road running to treadmill running.

If pounding away on the treadmill turns you off, take a look at these treadmill workout ideas from active.com to keep you interested until spring arrives.

Not a runner yet? The NHS’s phenomenally successful Couch To 5K programme is only a few clicks away. Download the app now.