Spring Has (almost) Sprung – Don’t Let Your Pain Stop Your Fun

Jennifer SymeBlog

From about April a flow of sore, frustrated people tend to appear in my clinic, mainly with injuries to the back, neck and knees due to gardening, spring cleaning or DIY. So this weeks blog post is all about avoiding problems, and yes, you guessed right, it does involve my favourite topic – stretching! As we anticipate the arrival of Spring, a rush of enthusiasm often overtakes us as we wander the aisles of the garden centres, surrounded by pictures of colourful flowers and succulent crops which allows us to dream of the possibilities in our own plots.  For others it’s the sun streaming in the window warming us up and making us feel happier but unfortunately highlighting the dust along the shelves, the cobwebs in those hard to spot corners or some tired paintwork. All of which inspires a big clean and freshen up around the house. So, this week I thought we might look at some top tips for avoiding or at least reducing, the aches and pains we may suffer after the hard work has been done.   Think of the activity as you would a work out – even dusting counts as physical effort :-). So prepare your body for it with a gentle warm up routine – Walk round the garden or on the spot, circle your hips, shake your arms out, twist from side to side letting your arms swing, roll your shoulders, stretch your arms, do a few knee bends.   If you do … Read More

Repetitive Strain Injury – Part Three

Jennifer SymeBlog

Over the past couple of issues I have been looking at RSI, what it is and what can be done about it in terms of treatments. In this final part, I am looking at how to prevent it in the first place, or if its too late, how to avoid it getting worse or reoccurring. The main thing is to be aware of your body, and any little niggly pains that you get regularly. This can be the sign of a problem building up, and as with most things, prevention is key. My job is to help people feel like the lady in the picture, happy and pain free, able to throw their arms back with joy! The main points to think about are  – Look at your desk set up. Employers should offer workstation assessments, but it helps if the individual knows what they should be doing too. See http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/workplacehealth/Pages/howtositcorrectly.aspx for some good tips and videos. Mouse and keyboards – its not just in how you sit, the mouse position and keyboard are also important. The way the standard set up forces us to hold our arms out to use the mouse is one of the key causes of RSI. These days there are various options for mice. Personally I use a ‘RollerMouse’ (http://www.contour-design.co.uk) which I have recommended to several clients. It takes a bit of getting used to and is not the cheapest option, but I tried roller balls and other variations, and they didn’t help the RSI … Read More

Repetitive Strain Injury – Part Two

Jennifer SymeBlog

RSI  – What Can Be Done – Treatment As I talked about last time, the term RSI covers a range of problems, including Carpal Tunnel, Tendinitis, Rotator Cuff Syndrome, Tennis/Golfers elbow, etc. These problems develop from overuse and are exacerbated by poor posture and stress. So, once you have either recognised for yourself that you have symptoms relating to RSI, or have been diagnosed by your GP, what do you do? Unfortunately many GPs will still direct you to the painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets, which may well be necessary at some stages, but are not a cure in themselves. Where I used to work, in IT, several people developed Carpal Tunnel, and ended up having an operation to clean out their wrists – ouch! Sounds deeply unpleasant, and of course, with absolutely no change in their behaviour, or follow up bodywork, they were soon back to square one. So, while the medical approach does have its place, we really need to look at a the following steps- Assess the person’s restriction and pain. Identify the situation that has caused the problem, and trying to avoid it if possible Identify area of body causing the problem (which may not be where they feel the pain) Formulate a treatment plan using soft tissue techniques – MFR, massage and Trigger Point release. Suggest use of hot or cold packs and possibly drugs to reduce inflammation/pain if necessary. Advice on specific stretches and exercises Discuss ways that they can treat themselves and reduce the … Read More

Repetitive Strain Injury – Part One

Jennifer SymeBlog

sore hands

RSI – What is it and how do I know I have it? This week I am looking at RSI, a very common problem, and one that is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood. It is a big subject, so I am breaking it down into 3 parts. This first section looks at what RSI is and how you know you have it. Over the next month I’ll be looking at treatments available and how you can reduce your chances of getting it. RSI is the collective term for various symptoms that result from overuse or ‘repetitive strain’ of soft tissue in the body such as muscles and fascia. The situation is often exacerbated by poor posture and stress factors. It is usually associated with arm, hand and shoulder problems, but it can affect other parts of the body, such as the back as well. However, in this series I am going to focus on the more common upper limb situations that I see in my clinic. Everyone is at risk of RSI, hence why it is so common, the main culprits being PC and mouse use, along with the increase in text message use. Various occupations are also susceptible due to the nature of the work, such as hairdressers and musicians. You may have heard people saying they have one of the following problems –   Carpal tunnel Tennis/Golfers Elbow Texters/Gamers Thumb These are all forms of RSI, the difference is in where the problem is felt – wrist, elbow, thumb. … Read More

New Year – New You?

Jennifer SymeBlog

5 Reasons Resolutions Fail How many of you made resolutions this year? And how many of you are still doing them half way through January? If you are like most people they probably only lasted a few days. Statistics suggest that 93% of people who set resolutions did so to improve fitness or lose weight but only 50% stick with it beyond January. So, why does this happen? Why is it so hard to stick to good habits and so easy to fall back into bad? 1)    Unspecific and Overwhelming  – people tend to list several resolutions like ‘lose weight’, ‘get fit’, ‘save money’. These are huge, undefined ideas. How much weight? How fit…to run a marathon or to run for the bus?  Better to say something like ‘lose 2lb a week’ and also pick one thing at a time as it will be easier to stick to. 2)    Ready to Fail – human beings are almost incapable of overnight change. How long have you been doing the thing you want to stop? Months? Years? So your mind/body is not going to give it up that easily. If you miss a class, have a cigarette or a 3rd biscuit, don’t let that be the end. Various reports say it takes anything from 3-6 weeks to form a new, good habit. (Bad ones seem to stick quicker!). It also helps to measure your efforts rather than results. So instead of fretting about only losing 1lb and blaming your weak willpower, use a … Read More

Sciatica In Pregnancy

Jennifer SymeBlog

A Pain in the Backside! Most women accept that they will get some form of backache whilst pregnant but for those that suffer from sciatica it can start to affect their day-to-day lives and be very debilitating. Sciatica is inflammation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back through the buttock and down the leg. During pregnancy the nerve can be inflamed due to a combination of posture, muscular restriction, hormones, stretching of uterine ligaments and the position of the baby. Generally if you have a shooting pain in your buttock and down into your legs, then you may have sciatica. It can be painful enough to restrict movement, especially certain actions such as getting in or out a chair, or going upstairs. It is more common in the 2nd and 3rd trimester but can occur earlier, especially if you have previously suffered from low back problems. The best way of dealing with it is to seek pregnancy massage or osteopathy where the muscles can be relieved and advice can be given on specific situations. Regular stretching and maintaining the muscles through activities such as pregnancy yoga or aquafit classes, or swimming will also help. Note that the breaststroke is not ideal for sciatica; you are better sticking to the back stroke or crawl, or perhaps just use a float and kick your feet. When doing any activity, try to work the core muscles behind the baby, as these are the ones that are important for supporting your … Read More

Families Article

Jennifer SymeBlog

I have an article in the most recent edition of Fife Families magazine, which I did in collaboration with my friend and colleague, Orla Beaton. You can read the article below. Start as You Mean to Go On – So here we are – January 2012. How are the ‘new year/new you’ plans going? If you are like most people they probably only lasted a few days. Statistics suggest that 93% of people who set resolutions did so to improve fitness or lose weight but only 50% stick with it beyond January. So, why does this happen? Why is it so hard to stick to good habits and so easy to fall back into bad? One reason people give up new activities is the aches and pains they suffer because their body is unused to the physical effort. Many people start off full of enthusiasm, forget about the boring stuff like stretching or warming up and end up sore or even injured. This can result in those who had set their sights on a specific challenge such as a 10k, not taking part, or not doing as well as they had hoped. Don’t let that happen to you, take a tip from the pros and look after your body, especially if you are planning on entering an event. Remedial massage can ease aches or pains after that latest gym session, help maintain your muscles health so as to avoid further pain or injuries and also help you to relax. Serious … Read More