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Avalon news and views

October 2015

Testimonial from a horse rider

When I first met RH she was experiencing almost constant pain at the base of her spine which was making riding and other everyday activities uncomfortable. On examination, her thoracic spine (mid back) was relatively flat and stiff and her lumbar spine (low back) had an exaggerated curvature. In the ideal spine, the whole consists of 4 curves which interact with each other and are structured to each take their share of the load. When riding, the forward movement of the horse is translated into the rider moving up and down so the spine has to absorb a lot of compression (downwards pressure). In the case of RH, as her mid back was not very flexible, too much of this force was being absorbed at the base of her spine and had caused irritation.

Over the course of a few months, with treatment and a few simple exercises, the mid back softened and began to move more freely and the pressure was relieved on the lower back. Other areas that came to light and were addressed were: very tight quadriceps (muscles at the front of the thigh), adductors (muscles in the inside of the thigh, used to grip the horse) and a slight rotation in the pelvis. These were possibly subconscious attempts to limit the forces transmitted to the spine.

The effects of all this treatment were that RH was now riding with her whole body working as a unit and could tolerate long rides (currently up to 80km) with few ill effects. Also as we addressed the pelvic rotation RH became more evenly balanced on her horse. RH’s equine physio also noticed that her horse’s musculature was more even on the shoulders where it had previously been asymmetric.

From the point of view of an osteopath, this is an incredibly satisfying outcome which partly stems from identifying the correct issues and removing barriers to their natural healing process, but also from the engagement of the patient. RH was highly motivated to get better; she was always willing to do any exercises and we were able to time treatment to have maximum effect and still fit in her longer rides.

Posted 16-10-15

Working from home - are you sitting comfortably?

Working from home - are you sitting comfortably?

As homeworking continues to be increasingly popular, allowing flexible working, there needs to be an awareness of how this can affect your health. The most obvious being the effects on your body.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, musculoskeletal disorders are the most common form of ill health related to work. They recognise that spending long hours in a poor seating position can cause back pain or make existing pain worse. There are also a range of neck, shoulder, arm and hand disorders, that can range from short to long term, that are linked to activities at work.

As a rule, if you feel uncomfortable at your desk or feel stiff after working for a while, it’s worth checking how your equipment is positioned. Most of the homeworkers I treat have a set up that is designed to fit a space rather than designed for the task, ie, using a laptop at the kitchen table or at desk crammed into a small space. In the workplace, your employer is obligated to provide you with suitable space and equipment, why shouldn’t you apply the same standards?

Most people understand the importance of a good mattress, but you can easily spend equal time working as asleep. It’s worth considering your working environment to be a similar investment as your mattress.

My first step when assessing a homeworker is to have a photo taken so we can review their home set up to see what may need improving. This can be as simple as decluttering to create space or adjusting a chair for more comfort. Laptops can be placed on a stand, so the screen is at eye level, relieving pressure on the neck. Whilst adding a plug-in keyboard and mouse relieves strain on the wrists and shoulders.

Often, I make a home visit and we work out how to get the most out of your equipment so changes (and cost!) can be kept to a minimum. I also give you a set of stretches that can be done at or away from your desk.

Here are some simple solutions which only cost a few pounds (and some are free!), yet they make a big difference to your body.

Your chair should support your lower back and you should sit comfortably upright.

The desk and chair height should be set so your forearms are roughly horizontal.

Your knees should be below the level of your hips.

The top of your screen should be at eye level.

If you mainly use a laptop, consider using a docking station, external monitor, mouse and a full-size keyboard.

Ensure wrists are comfortable when using a mouse or keyboard. Use wrist rests if possible.

Avoid clutter where possible. Document holders that place paperwork near the same level as the computer are ideal.

Take regular breaks. Regular short breaks are better than occasional long ones.

In addition, ensure you have adequate lighting.


Posted 01-10-15


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Avalon Osteopathic Clinic, Unit 2, Westway Farm, Bishop Sutton, Somerset, BS39 5XP