Welcome back Guys and Gals to part two of the lower back pain series.
Lower back pain affects every one of us at least once in our lifetime. Some of us are significantly affected by lower back pain that we miss out on activities with friends and family or take time off work due to pain.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) highlights that musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain were a cause for absenteeism in 2018 alongside other illness such as colds, physical injuries and mental health conditions. 71,300 instances of absence due to musculoskeletal conditions like back pain were reported and this figure in hours is significantly higher (ONS, 2019).
Guys and Gals, I am here to help you manage lower back pain, so you are no longer held back from all the things you enjoy doing. Lower back pain should not hold you back from joining your local football team or walking group. You do not have to cancel your ski trip next year. Yes, you can play sport with your friends, spend time with your children or grandchildren without worrying about your back getting in the way.
I have put together a few successful ways to manage lower back pain. There is an option here for everyone!
Painkillers and anti-inflammatories
Many people I see in clinic say that they are not keen on taking painkillers because they worry that medication masks pain and does not treat the root cause. Guys and Gals, it is fine to take over the counter painkillers for lower back pain. They are well tolerated by most people, reduce pain and allow you to continue your activities with minimal disruption from your back.
When taking anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen, it is important to discuss the duration of taking the medication with a healthcare professional as long-term use can be harsh on your gut. Doctors may prescribe medications like Omeprazole short term to protect your gut lining if planning on taking them regularly.
I understand that medication is not everyone’s cup of tea so if you are not keen on taking pills, read on for other ways to manage pain.
I recommend using a hot water bottle or wheat bag to apply heat to the painful area. Always wrap a hot water bottle in a towel or cloth. Never apply heat directly as it will overheat or burn the skin.
Heat works by dilating the blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the area. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients which help to heal tissue. It also helps to reduce joint stiffness leaving you feeling comfortable and mobile.
**Disclaimer –Contraindications to heat therapy include having a skin condition such as dermatitis, swelling and redness around the area, open wounds, peripheral vascular disease or deep vein thrombosis. Please discuss this with your doctor before using heat therapy**
Think of your body like a machine. If you don’t use it, it ceases up. Keep it moving Guys and Gals! Rest is not always best!
Evidence shows that exercise is the best way to manage lower back pain. It focuses on maintaining range of movement, strengthening muscles and reducing pain. Exercise options range from Pilates and Yoga to working out at the gym doing squats and deadlifts.
I have created a program of lower back exercises used frequently in clinic 1:1 sessions and in physiotherapy classes, for all abilities. Guys and Gals click on the link below to get access to the downloadable pdf document.
I recommend doing the exercises twice a day, every other day to allow your body to recover. In accordance with ACSM guidelines for strengthening work, aim for 3 sets of 10 for each exercise. If you find this difficult, start with 3 sets of 5 then gradually build up to 3 sets of 10.
You will hear me say this a lot … Your body will adapt to the demands placed on it and your back will begin to feel stronger over a few weeks if done gradually. With the right exercise prescription, you can increase the body’s tolerance to exercise.
Your physiotherapist may offer manual therapy in addition to other management options. This typically involves performing mobilisations e.g. passive accessory movements on your lower back. Whilst mobilisations can be effective in reducing pain by producing neurophysiological and mechanical effects, it is important to take part in an exercise program also as evidence shows that manual therapy has short term effects when compared to exercise as the main management option for lower back pain.
Office of National Statistics (2019). Number of occurrences of sickness absence, by reason, 2009 to 2018, UK. – Office for National Statistics. [online] Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/adhocs/10991numberofoccurrencesofsicknessabsencebyreason2009to2018uk [Accessed 31 Oct. 2020].
Hi Guys and Gals 😊
Welcome back to Lifevolution! It is great to have you here.
Today we are going to talk about lower back pain and address a few of the myths that are causing you sleepless nights. In my next post, I will recommend pain management options and a few exercises that I prescribe to my patients helping them to manage pain, recover and get back to what they love doing.
I want to let you know that you are going to be ok!
Lower back pain is very common and is one of the things most of my patients come in to see me for.
Several things can cause lower back pain from physical and environmental factors to stress. For example, if you have a cold, are a builder with poor lifting technique and having poor sleep then it is possible that you may develop lower back pain but it does not mean that it is going to stay with you forever!
Lower back pain is normal and resolves over a few days or weeks. Most lower back pain is caused by strains and sprains of muscles and joints. A very small percentage of back pain is caused by a serious pathology so please don’t worry.
The body’s pain mechanism is in place to protect us from harm but often, the level of pain we experience is not always proportionate to what is happening in our bodies.
The Car Alarm Analogy – I like to use the car alarm analogy. A cat may brush itself against your car door setting the burglar alarm off. This may lead you to believe that your car is being stolen. You ran outside to find no one there. The body does the same thing quite often.
This can stop us doing things like exercise which are very important for keeping us healthy and mobile. This leads on to the next myth.
2. Rest is best! Exercise will make things worse!
Guys and Gals, rest is not best! Staying inactive can cause pain to last longer. Exercise and movement encourage increased blood flow, the release of endorphins and endogenous opioids which relieve pain. Inactivity can lead to muscle weakness and tightness leaving you susceptible to long term musculoskeletal conditions. A gentle walk or yoga work just fine. It does not have to be strenuous exercise.
3. Having lower back pain means there is a problem with my disc (e.g. slipped disc)
Your vertebrae are strong structures that support the weight of your body. In between each vertebrae are your discs which act as shock absorbers.
Yes, there are disc related and degenerative conditions which can be quite uncomfortable. Arthritis is a degenerative condition however it is a normal process of aging. This may cause you to lose flexibility and cause less cushioning between the vertebrae leading to pain however pain and stiffness can be managed with exercise, allowing you to live a good quality of life. Age is just a number!!
4. Lifting will damage my spine
Lifting is absolutely fine but your technique has to be right to prevent injury. Exercises like deadlifts can be helpful in strengthening the muscles in your back but must be done correctly.
5. An MRI or x-ray will diagnose my problem
Evidence has shown that individuals can have an MRI scan which shows changes in their spine however have no symptoms at all. It works the other way too. One can have significant pain and have no changes seen on an MRI scan. Scans can often correlate poorly with symptoms.
If you are experiencing back pain, please visit a physiotherapist for an assessment and treatment. Physiotherapy is very successful in managing lower back pain.
Remember that your back is strong!
Most lower back pain is mechanical in nature and is caused my sprains and strains!
You will get better!
Remember to live purposefully and be the best version of yourself!
Monday to FriYay with a Spring in Your Step!!! Eat your way to healthy while saving the pennies with Excalibur!
Welcome Back Guys and Gals!!
Guys and Gals… drum roll 😊
Today I present to you the Excalibur Parallex Dehydrator! – **this is not a sponsored post. It is a great piece of kit that I want you all to know about because I love it. **
Excalibur is a dehydrator which comes in several sizes (4, 5 and 9 tray). It has plastic trays with mesh screen (BPA free) and can be used to dehydrating fruits, veggies, meat, nuts, proving dough for making bread and yoghurt.
You can dehydrate pretty much anything with no fuss. My mind was blown when I realised I did not need to spend a huge amount of money on dried snacks anymore and could do it myself in the comfort of my own home. Not to mention, I would know exactly what was going in my food. No scary preservatives or chemicals!!
Before I posted this post, I tested this piece of kit out quite a few times and I love it! Can you tell? 😊
My husband and I went on a wild camping trip to Loch Achray in Scotland and I wanted to have gourmet meals whilst on our trip, as you do, so… I dried some fruit (trail mix) for snacks and veggies to make a nice Chow Mein, Moroccan feast and Bolognese. It was extremely easy and tasty. It was so good I forgot to take pictures to show you guys and gals.
More recently I have been using it to dry fresh herbs (this is much better than buying store bought dried herbs every time you need them) and making smoothie powders. I am not a fan of bulking agents in some of the stuff you get on supermarket shelves, not to mention the sugar content so I make it all myself.
Did I mention you can make your own dried tea? Sounds a little over the top but the flavour is amazing! My favourite is ginger tea. I chop it up, pop it in the dehydrator and let it do all the work then… I have tea!
Guys and Gals… if you cannot already tell, I love the Excalibur Dehydrator so I’m giving you the link for where you can get one. Add it to your wish list. If you buy it, let me know what you think. I love hearing from you! You can also get it pre-loved on sites like Facebook Market Place or Ebay to save on the pennies. I got mine preloved and it works great! 😊
Remember to live purposefully and be the best version of yourself!
Hi Guys and Gals! It is great to have you here on Lifevolution 🙂
“A character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through the experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved” – Hellen Keller
Guys and Gals, I have been thinking a lot lately about silver linings! You know that phrase people say when you are facing a challenge … “Every cloud has a silver lining”?
On difficult days, I have joked with my husband about the universe’s motives, often wondering whether there is no straightforward and easier way to learn the lessons of life. It is almost as though the universe sits back in her chair, pours a glass of Pinot Noir, grabs the remote control and flicks through TV channels however, the only programme available is total wipeout. The exception to this game of life as opposed to the original version is that the prize for navigating obstacles is not a large pot of cash but rather a silver lining. It sounds overly dramatic doesn’t it?
For most of us, struggle is something to avoid at all costs however, other people rely on being knocked every now and again to grow and get better at what they do.
We are all human with thoughts and emotions and it is fair to say that struggle can be painful and cruel at times but it serves a purpose.
Over the last few years, I have battled with health issues and been thrown head first into the realisation that the life I envisioned for myself is not the right one for me. The best likeness to this situation I can give is a deer in the headlights. In having to work through challenging situations, I have been forced to challenge my belief system around health, food, medicine, mental health wellbeing, family, love, life, and purpose. I have gone through every thought from “why is this happening to me? It’s not fair” to “I would give anything for things to go back to the way they were. Things were great a few years ago”. Having thoughts like these is normal. The question however is, were things really good the way they were? Is it perhaps time now to change the status quo and do something greater with the life I am so lucky to have.
Guys and Gals, struggle has been my greatest gift ! Fear, pain, anxiety and struggles are part of the journey to light and we are all strong enough to handle it and inspire others through it! We have made it this far!
If you had it easy all the time, then you would never feel the need to make a change.
Struggle is necessary for change and change is necessary for growth. Struggle builds strength, compassion, resilience and courage and none of these things would be possible in the absence of challenges.
Challenges have helped me learn that:
1. We need to take care of our bodies and minds and help others do the same. Our bodies and minds are a precious gift .
2. Life is fragile so we should relish the time we have with friends and family.
3. It’s ok to take time out for yourself to do things that make you happy. Happiness and success are not defined by the amount of money you have or the size of your house but by your experiences and the positive impact you have on other people around you as well as the earth that allows us to continue thriving.
4. Forgiveness is a huge part of letting go of the past, living in the present and building a healthy future for yourself.
Despite life’s challenges, I am grateful for the opportunity for change, so guys and gals, next time you are going through a difficult time, remember there is a silver lining no matter how difficult it is to visualise in this moment. Be patient and kind to yourself. You are strong, courageous, resilient and you can get through this. It will be worth it, I promise.
Stay safe and well and remember to live purposefully and be the best version of yourself!
Hey Guys and Gals! It is great to have you here! 🙂
I hope you are all safe and well.
I am going to get straight to it and tell you that FEAR IS HOLDING YOU BACK. Fear is stopping you from being the best version of yourself. Today we are going to change that.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear ” – Nelson Mandela
We have all had sleepless nights and hours of rumination on a multitude of things from fear of failure, judgement, rejection, losing loved ones, losing our jobs, house, partners to fears that we have left the iron turned on after leaving the house.
Our natural response to these fears is avoidance. We tell ourselves that the only way to be safe is not to take risks however, avoidance strengthens fear. Fear paralyses action! A lack of action = a lack of growth!
So how do we overcome fear?
Step 1 – Understand Fear
Fear is a combination of biology and psychology and we can learn to control both!
Close your eyes and take yourself back in time to the day you had to give your first speech to your peer group at school. Do you remember the sleepless night before, the butterflies in your tummy, a dry mouth, your hands trembling and the urge to run and hide to avoid it all together?
Do you remember the fear of messing up in front of the class and being laughed at? You don’t want the kids to laugh at you the same way they did when Noah fell over during sports day. You stand in front of the class and start to speak but your voice trembles and palms are shaky and sweaty.
Guys and gals that is your biological response to fear.
You will not believe that a tiny almond shaped structure in your brain is responsible for how you are feeling but IT IS TRUE … your Amygdala is causing those physical responses.
This primitive structure saved us in the past, as hunter gatherers, from being harmed by an array of predators in the wild… snakes, lions, poisonous insects, you name it. The Amygdala prepared you for flight or fight. It sounds the alarm. Your body is flooded with adrenaline and other stress hormones, non-essential processes such as digestion are stopped, your skin cools and blood is diverted to the muscles in preparation for the emergency. Your breathing rate increases, heart races, blood pressure rises infusing your body with much needed oxygen and let us not forget your liver and its pivotal role in releasing glucose to be converted to energy. You are going to need lots of energy if you are going to successfully run out of the room and avoid doing that speech all together 🙂 .
It does not stop there! Your frontal cortex (responsible for emotions and rationalisation) and hippocampus (responsible for memory formation) also want to be a part of the fear party! When it is time for you stand in front of your peers, your hippocampus which stored the memory of Noah falling over and everyone laughing activates. This in turn triggers the Amygdala, starting a cascade of automatic reactions in your body. Before you know it, you are telling yourself that doing that speech is a terrible idea and so you need to act fast to avoid doing it. We imagine the worst.
Every time you avoid doing the things you are afraid of, the fear becomes stronger.
Step 2: Challenging fear!
2. Gain an awareness on the effect fear has on your life. It is often not until we notice the negative effects something has on our lives that we decide to make a change. Noticing the possibilities for growth that are passing you by will leave you wanting to get rid of it faster than you can say fear!
3. Deal with the fearful thoughts straight away, don’t avoid them – don’t let them take over your life for another minute. Challenge the thoughts and let them go! If you deal with it this time, it will be easier the next time you are in a similar situation. Remember Denial is not a river in Egypt 😊
4. Gradual exposure to the situation that brings fear through visualisation – when fear kicks in, we imagine the worst outcome which is often unlikely or untrue. Visualisation before the event can help you to see the possibilities of a positive outcome in a fearful situation. Rather than worst case scenario, we imagine best case scenario!
5. Create a fear ladder – make a list of situations related to your fear. Arrange the situations on your list from scariest to least scary. Now try the first thing on your list. This may cause you some anxiety but should not put you off completely. Always focus on the end goal which is to overcome your fear. Move onto the next thing when the first one no longer elicits fear.
6. Remind yourself that you are human and you don’t have to be perfect. It is ok to make mistakes.
7. Be your biggest cheerleader! Give yourself credit. You are doing the best you can. When you are aware of this and comfortable with who you are, fears of things like judgement and rejection from others disappear. After all true happiness starts from within.
8. Focus on right now! We cannot see into the future. We often have a lot of “what if” thoughts when we are afraid. The truth is guys and gals that we have no control over how other people respond to us, so we have to learn to be satisfied with right now.
“Feel the fear and do it anyway”
Remember to live purposefully and be the best version of yourself!
Hello Guys and Gals! 😊 It’s great to have you here!
I have been away for a while with tech issues but I’ve been anxiously waiting to start posting again.
You have waited long enough so let’s get started…
“Minimalism is not about having less, it’s about making room for what matters”
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism is a way of life promoting a life based on experiences rather than worldly possessions. The core of minimalism is to focus on intentionality and the reduction of things that distract us from that.
I have been transitioning towards a minimalist lifestyle for a few months now and it has been a positive and transformational part of my journey so far so, I would like to share as much as I can with you in the hope you’ll get something great out of this too.
To give you an idea of the journey so far, below is a little background of my life pre-minimalism.
Guys and Gals – I loved shoes, particularly trainers and had them in every colour you could think of. I bought clothes to match each season of the year. I loved tech to the point where I bought stuff just because it sounded cool. I was constantly online looking for the next thing to buy. The truth is that I got a buzz from it. It really felt good. Bizarrely though I also felt extremely guilty for spending so much money when I knew I did not need the things I was buying but that voice in your head keeps saying “You deserve it. What is the point of working so hard if you can’t buy things that make you happy right?”
Hmmm… I am not so sure I agree with that now. The truth is that owning loads of stuff clutters my space and brain and does not make me happy long term. We live in an extremely consumerist society so, it can be challenging to avoid all the bright coloured billboards, the adverts and offers enticing you to buy the latest fashion or gadgets. Some of the things out there are awesome and it makes our lives easier but, I question whether we really need it to make us happy. Sure, we get a rush of excitement when an amazon package arrives. You rip off the tape in anticipation of that remote control robot dish washer you’ve been waiting to clean that heap of dirty dishes but before you know it, a robot chef hits the shelves and you find yourself queuing 36 hours to get yours before they sell out, only to realise that it was great for a little while and now needs to be hidden away in the loft.
Guys and Gals there is a science to that and it’s called Dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in control of the brain’s reward and pleasure centres. Dopamine receptors are activated when you anticipate something exciting. It’s crazy right? These little receptors are responsible for our impulses to buy and have things. We get pleasure from it so why wouldn’t we keep doing it?
Simplicity is an important component for happiness. It is about having few desires so that you can really appreciate what you already have.
I have a bucket list and this very extensive list has a lot of things I want to experience in my lifetime like… camping in Yosemite, going to Snowdonia and even strawberry picking in the summer. Experiencing these places and activities would create memories that last a lifetime and that sounds more fulfilling to me. That is the kind of dopamine experience I want to have. Minimalism allows me to do just that.
So what does a minimalist transition look and feel like for me? I write this in present tense because I am still transitioning.
Minimalism is individual so it is perfectly fine if your journey looks different to another person’s because the things that make you happy are unique to you.
I started making very small changes. A gradual change in mindset and lifestyle is a lot easier to adjust to. Extreme changes can leave you feeling lost and overwhelmed. Minimalism does not have to be extreme.
Your journey may look completely different to mine and that is ok. Remember you are working on being the best version of You.
Here are some top tips to help you on your journey.
Remember to live purposefully and be the best version of yourself!
Welcome back Guys and Gals – It’s great to have you here! 🙂
I have been away on a two week selfcare break and it has been great! I’m glad to be back 🙂
There are a lot of things going on in the world at the moment. A lot of uncertainty, stress and anxiety so the 54321 technique will help you focus more on what you can control rather than what you can’t.
So here goes…
Acknowledge 5 things you can see around you.
Acknowledge 4 things you can touch. Really focus on textures.
Acknowledge 3 things you hear.
Acknowledge 2 things you can smell.
Acknowledge 1 thing you can taste.
We are not always able to control what happens in the world around us but we can control our thoughts.
Remember to live purposefully and be the best version of yourself
Welcome back Guys and Gals. Great to have you here! 🙂
“The only thing I know is that I know nothing” – Socrates
For a significant part of my life, several people told me that I would never be successful because I was not smart or strong enough to make it and you know what, I believed their words. When I achieved anything, it felt great because I proved them wrong, but that joy was short lived. I did not believe that I deserved success. I would say things like, “I was lucky this time and I don’t know whether I’ll be able to do it again”. When things did not go to plan, I would say “They are all right. I should be better. Perhaps this is just not meant for me. There are better people out there at this”.
I stopped fighting for myself because I believed I did not matter. I believed that my thoughts were factual and despite other people’s efforts to build my confidence, nothing changed. I told myself they were just being nice.
The key thing is that I had no evidence to support my thoughts. In fact, I had evidence to suggest the contrary. I did well in school, always worked hard in my jobs, never got in trouble, was great at music and able to build great connections with people. I shut myself away from all those great things truly believing I needed to become a perfect human being to be someone.
Guys and Gals I have learnt a lot and worked hard on my mindset over the last few years through thought work. It really does work. It is not a one time thing. You will need to keep practicing thought work throughout your life because it is important, but I promise you won’t be disappointed once you start this process.
I love the quote – “The only thing I know is that I know nothing – Socrates”. My interpretation of this quote is that we can never be certain that what we know or think is 100% factual. The aforementioned prevents us from making judgements based on potentially false information.
In the case of our thoughts, what we think may not be factual regardless of how strongly our minds lead us to believe it. When there is an awareness that our thoughts may not be factual, we invite the opportunity to reframe our mindset and in turn the way we see ourselves, achieving peace within ourselves.
Perhaps implementing a Pyrrhonist approach to thought work would be beneficial to our growth. Without boring you too much with philosophical teachings, Pyrrhonists utilised an epoche mindset which translates to suspension of judgement. Applying a non-judgemental approach to ourselves would eliminate any cognitive dissonance with regards to our beliefs about ourselves.
To keep it simple, think of it this way…
If a thought is not beneficial to your growth i.e. it is judgemental and likely to hurt your confidence and self-esteem, reframe it.
Here are a few tips to help you on your journey back to empowerment, self love and confidence – You’ve got this!
Remember to live Purposefully and Be The Best Version of Yourself
Welcome back Guys and Gals! Great to see you again :)!
What I’m about to tell you is going to help you on your path to feeling healthy physically and the bonus is it literally saves so much time.
I keep telling myself that if I had more time, I would be able to do so much more… well guess what? This tip is going to do just that. It’ll save you time so that you can do all those things you are struggling to get done in 24 hours.
To put it into perspective, I am getting an extra hour plus a day and eating healthier.
Without further ado, I present to you…. The Instant Pot.
** This is not a sponsored post. I just love how great this piece of equipment is and really wanted to tell you all about it**
The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker and multicooker (with a rice cooker, soup setting, slow cooker and saute mode) that cooks most things: beans, chicken, beef, pork, fish, cake, veggies, porridge, rice, pasta, quinoa… you name it, it does it. Did I mention that you can make your own yoghurt too?
It cooks everything quickly allowing you to get those homemade meals to the table in no time, particularly on those long days where you’re tempted to order takeaway just so you can get a few extra hours to catch up on exercise, Netflix, laundry, cleaning. Don’t order takeaway guys and gals… you can make a meal in 30 minutes that tastes so delicious and has more nutrients.
One of the really great things about this gadget is that it retains most of the nutrients as you don’t have to submerge your food (veggies and meat) in water for it to cook evenly. Boiling and traditional steaming leads to water soluble vitamins leaking out of food which reduces its nutritional value. The Instant Pot cooks food evenly allowing a 90% retention of vitamins with minimal water use.
Let’s not forget how colourful your veggies come out looking. Guys and Gals I was so done with eating browned broccoli. It went in green and that’s how I want it to stay on my plate on serving. In the Instant Pot, the steam surrounding the food stops the veggies from being oxidised from exposure to air when cooking. Save those phytochemicals!
Other really cool benefits are :
You don’t have to do loads of washing up after you cook – check out my red pepper pasta one pot recipe in the recipes tab. The pot is also dish washer safe. I don’t own a dish washer but if I did, I would use it J
It automatically switches to keep warm mode if you get caught up doing something else so your food stays at the perfect temperature till you are ready to chow down.
You can delay the cooking start time with the delay function allowing you to plan meals ahead of time.
Guys and Gals… this gadget is amazing. I have had mine for over 2 years and I can’t recommend it enough.
Have a fab start to the week and I hope that this tip will give you that extra time to do what you need to do to keep that spring in your step. Time is precious, use it wisely.
Remember to live purposefully and be the best version of you.