A recent study by researchers at Harvard University have found that the use of tablet computers, like the Apple iPad, may cause neck and shoulder discomfort. Researchers found that the head and neck were more bent when using a tablet computer than when desktop or notebook computing, which might lead to neck and upper back problems. Neck and upper back posture could be improved simply by propping the device up on a table, allowing the neck to be held in a more neutral position. The full article can be viewed here.
_I was lucky enough to get tickets to see the Moscow City Ballet's production of 'Swan Lake' at Venue Cymru in Llandudno earlier this week. This production has become a 'must see' for all those who dipped their toes into ballet after seeing 'Black Swan' in the cinemas last year, but has been high up on my list for a long time. Swan Lake follows the love story of a prince who is entranced by Odette - a beautiful maiden trapped in the body of a graceful swan by an evil sorcerer - and her nemesis, Odile the black swan.
Swan Lake was fantastic - the sheer grace and beauty of the dancers as they effortlessly leapt about the stage, lithe-limbed and ethereal. It was amazing to see how they managed to transform themselves from human to swan, simply by changing the movement of an arm or leg. What was even more impressive was the way that they managed to make it look completely effortless - and yet ballet has to be one of the hardest forms of exercise.
Dancers have to be incredibly fit; strong and supple with immense stamina to be able to perform for 2-3 hours every evening, in addition to hours of practice and rehearsal during the day. I think that dance, and in particular ballet, must work pretty much every muscle in the body and relies on very good 'core stability'. A lot of dancers practice Pilates to keep these core muscles strong; one of the best workout DVD's I use is Darcey Bussell's 'Pilates for Life' (Darcey was a prima ballerina with the Royal Ballet for many years) and many of the exercises I prescribe for patients are based on Pilates.
Obviously, chiropractic is used extensively within the ballet world - most of the big dance companies have their own chiropractor as part of the medical team - and I'm sure those that have seen 'Black Swan' will remember the scene where she has her foot and ankle manipulated with an almighty 'crack'!
Seeing Swan Lake has once again shown me how impressive the human body can be, and has rekindled my passion for ballet. I danced for many years as a child, but have recently taken it up again at the Barton Dance and Drama Academy in Holyhead. There is nothing that stretches the mind and the body quite like a hard session at the barre - and who knows, maybe one day I'll realise my dream of being a ballerina!
_ It's that time of year when many of us will be hitting the slopes. Whether it being carving those parallel turns or flipping 180's in the board park, it's never too soon to start getting fit for the snow. A little bit of work at this stage will enable you to minimise injuries and maximise your time on the snow.
Some pre-season fitness tips...
Improve your overall cardiovascular fitness - cycling, running, 'bunny hops', roller blading and bouncing on a mini-trampoline will help to build up your overall fitness and strengthen those all important thigh muscles.
Feel the burn - strengthen the quad muscles and improve your core stability with squats and travelling lunges and wall sits. I've found a great explanation and demonstration here.
Get to the core - planks, sits-ups and exercises on a gym ball or wobble board will help to improve your core stability and sense of balance.
On the slopes...
Hot and cold - warm up gently at the start of the day with a walk to the first lift and few easy runs to loosen up any tired, achy muscles; don't head straight for the black runs! Watch out for icy patches. Be careful on that 'one last run before we finish' - tired legs, heavy wet snow and a thirst for the après ski are a recipe for disaster (it's sometimes better to skip the last lift and head to the bar early!)
Easy does it - take plenty of breaks, listen to your body and pace yourself. Skiing hard on days one and two will just ruin the rest of your holiday. Most skiing injuries and accidents apparently happen on day three when the confidence levels are high, but energy levels are low.
Liquid lunch - drink plenty of water and isotonic drinks to keep hydrated, and avoid tea, coffee and alcohol. Be careful of the 'lunchtime lethargy' - the wobbly legs and a sleepy head on the first post-lunch run after loading up on tartiflette!
Kit-check - choose your boots carefully - head for a shop with a wide range, get them heat-moulded if possible, and if they're not right, change them. Poor fitting boots and bindings will hinder your progress - no matter how good your technique! Make sure you've got the right kit with you - skiing down in a white-out without my goggles wasn't much fun (it was sunny when I left the chalet!!).
Ice is nice - With an acute injury, use ice rather than heat. Take a couple of plastic bags with you and fill up with snow!
Following these tips will hopefully allow you to make the most of your trip - most importantly, remember that it's a holiday and make sure that you have fun and enjoy it!
_ A couple of years ago I was invited to take part in a small research project that a University colleague was running. My role was to collect some of the clinical data, and to help (a little!) with the write-up of the paper which has recently been published in the 'Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation' (Parkin-Smith et al, Arch Phys Med Rehabil Vol 93, Jan 2012 pp.11-20).
The study was designed to investigate the most effective form of treatment for acute low back pain. Normal, 'everyday' patients who presented at the Llangefni clinic were asked to complete a pain questionnaire at the start, middle and end of a course of treatment for low back pain. Comparison was made between 'usual' chiropractic care (including manipulation, soft tissue work, rehabilitation, exercise and postural advice) and a set 'structured protocol' (following specific written guidelines, specific exercise and rehabilitative advice, and specific treatment interventions). The results showed that both treatment methods resulted in a significant improvement in the patient's low back pain, and levels of patient satisfaction were high in both groups. The 'structured protocol', that ensured that advice regarding specific exercises and rehabilitation was given (and followed!) produced a slightly faster outcome.
Whilst only a small one, it is great to have been involved in such a study - and a big thank you to all the patients that took part!
_Having been a member of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) since I graduated, I was delighted to have been elected to join the BCA Council. As one of nine Council members, I am in a key position to keep abreast of the latest developments that may affect the profession, and ensure that the Association continues to provide an exemplary service.
Established in 1925, the BCA is the largest and longest-standing association for chiropractors in the UK, and represents the UK profession at the European and global level. The BCA has a membership of more than 50% of the UK chiropractors and only accepts people who have graduated from a nationally or internationally-recognised college of chiropractic education, after a minimum of four years full-time training. The BCA ensures its chiropractors maintain high standards of conduct, practice, education and training, and operates a robust professional standards and complaints management procedure. The BCA is also keen to see the chiropractic expand and progress by providing support and encouragement in the field of chiropractic research. To find out more about the BCA, have a look at their website www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk
Fortunately, most of the communication with the BCA Council occurs electronically so I don't have to spend too much time away from clinic, although it is necessary for me to attend national and international meetings every now and then. However, this does provide me with the opportunity to experience the hustle and bustle of life 'down south' and makes me appreciate the more relaxed lifestyle that we have up here in North Wales and Anglesey!
_After hanging up the baubles on the Christmas tree, we headed off to Nant yr Odyn Hotel in Gaerwen for our Christmas meal. It was a great opportunity to relax and unwind and for me to say a much-needed and enormous 'thank you' to all the staff at the Llangefni Chiropractic Clinic.
All the staff were able to attend, (although Bethan had to make a somewhat fleeting visit between taking her final bow as Cinderella and then heading back for a photoshoot with the local press!) and I managed to get my previous receptionists - Carwyn, Evie and Lowri - to come along too.
Carwyn is now a fully fledged 'man of the cloth' and is busy caring for his flock just outside Bala. He delighted us all with his tales of coaxing a reluctant donkey into the chapel to star in his Nativity play. Evie is enjoying teaching and seems to keep a cool head and professional attitude with even the most truculent of teenagers. Lowri finished working at the clinic in the summer having graduated with her degree in Business Studies and she was snapped up by the Anglesey County Council.
It was a really enjoyable evening, and I feel privileged to have such a great team at the clinic. I must commend Nant yr Odyn Hotel too (www.nantyrodyn.co.uk) for a thoroughly delicious meal, with very generous portions and a warm, inviting atmosphere. It was a great way to commence the Christmas festivities!
Your Chiropractor at Llangefni Chiropractic Clinic