Thursday, 4 February 2016

Bracing against high winds.

I've noticed a sharp rise in people coming in complaining of neck and back stiffness and pain since the gales began in November. One possible factor is constant bracing against the extreme winds; when added to tension already present this can result in protective spasm. Bracing in slippery conditions such as mud and ice can have a similar effect. As ever, stiffness and restricted movement can lead to inefficient movement and compensation patterns that cause the problem to spread. 

So, what to do?

Remind your body to relax. Lie on your back on the floor, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, and imagine your spine sinking down into the ground. Relax like this for at least half a minute, a couple if you can. This can be extended by consciously tensing and relaxing different muscle groups starting from your scalp and working down in turn to your feet. Tense each muscle group for ten seconds then release and appreciate the contrast before moving on to the next.

Test your range of movement with simple yoga stretches for the back. Remember to include rotational ones if you are able to do these safely; these can lead on from your relaxation exercise. There is a demonstration of a seated one on our 919 Clinic website; look for the back pain video in the Exercises section. I also like the half moon stretch, which I often do against a tree whilst walking the dog in the woods when no one is around to see. Again, hold it each side for thirty seconds.

When out and about check in with your body to see if you are tensing. In strong winds this is probably unavoidable but you may be doing it unconsciously at other times when it's not necessary. Practice consciously tensing your muscles, holding for a few seconds then allowing to relax.