One of the most often misunderstood conditions, and a frequently asked health question is “what is a herniated disc?” It’s a common condition which commonly occurs in the lower part of the spine and is often referred to as a ‘slipped disc’.
Between each vertebra in the spine lies a spinal disc. These spinal discs have three main functions. They
Each spinal disc has a semi-liquid or jelly- like centre surrounded by cartilage. This cartilage is arranged in rings, similar to the inside of a tree when you cut it in half.
When a disc is herniated, the “jelly” in the centre breaks through the cartilage rings and forms a “bulge” or “herniation” on the outside of the disc. This herniation can cause major health issues by putting pressure on the adjacent spinal nerves, causing pain and possible dysfunction of the organs that the nerves control.
Disc herniation is usually caused by an injury of some sort such as a car accident, overuse as a result of repetitive movement over time, or even just by lifting incorrectly.
There are several risk factors that can increase the likelihood of someone having a herniated spinal disc. These include smoking, lack of exercise, sitting for long periods, and being overweight. Spinal discs can also lose some of their water as a person ages, which makes the discs less supple and more prone to cracking.
Symptoms related to a herniated disc vary. Some people can experience slight localised pain, while others experience severe shooting pain into the arms or legs. Organ dysfunction can
also occur in some individuals, as a result of pressure on the nerves that control the organ.
Appropriate treatment of a disc herniation will only be recommended after an examination. Your chiropractor is trained and qualified to provide professional health advice on suitable treatment options.
Although damage to the disc may heal, often the disc does not return to its full original strength. As a result, many people experience recurring back injuries even while lifting a light object or simply bending over. It can often end in a more serious
herniation as a result.
Many things can be done to avoid disc herniation or prevent a recurrence of an existing herniation. Core strength and flexibility are at the top of this list. Yoga, strengthening exercises, swimming, and walking all help maintain good core strength and flexibility. It’s also very important to maintain correct posture when carrying out daily tasks.
An active lifestyle and a healthy diet can directly impact the health of your spine and decrease the chance of a disc herniation occurring. Seek advice from your chiropractor about concerns or symptoms you have that might be related.
Picture from Pintrest
We know that those who exercise and follow sensible healthy lifestyles live longer, healthier lives. More specifically, aerobic exercise is great for improving overall body function, stamina and fitness, but many people are unsure what it involves and how much to do.
What is aerobic exercise?
Sustained, low to moderate intensity exercise such as brisk walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, dancing, or any other activity comprising continuous energetic movement is known as ‘aerobic’ exercise. This means that it triggers the body’s oxygen use in the muscles to generate energy and burn calories.
How much should I exercise?
It depends on your starting point; if you currently do little exercise, start off gradually and progress towards an optimal exercise regime. Going straight from sedentary to serious sustained exercise can increase your risk of injury, or just prove so difficult and unenjoyable that you give up. It’s hard to say how much to exercise exactly; some health authorities recommend around three hours per week, spread out over several days. It’s okay to adapt the length and intensity of the exercise to suit your ability.
Any increase in your fitness level is a good thing; so be guided by your body, and gradually build-up the amount of aerobic exercise you do until you’re comfortable with your fitness and schedule.
Is it good for me?
Regular aerobic exercise is a great way to stay in shape and excellent for improving cardiovascular function—the health of
the heart and blood vessels. If you’re looking to build significant muscle mass however, aerobic exercise will need to be supplemented with high intensity exercise like weight training.
Aerobic exercise is achievable for many people as it can be adapted to suit most levels of ability and mobility; plus it can be a social activity. Many people find it easier and more enjoyable to exercise with a friend or in a group, and physical activity and socialising are both linked to good mental health.
If you have a specific health condition that might be affected by a sudden change in activity, remember to consult your health professional before you start.
Golf is a very popular sport for people of all ages, but it’s also one that can cause many players back pain if a few precautions aren’t taken. There are some key areas that can help prevent injury.
A proper warmup before starting your round of golf can dramatically decrease the chance of back injury. Start by walking for ten minutes to warm the muscles and joints of the body. Then perform a light stretching routine specifically targeting the hamstrings, lower back and shoulders. After stretching, a few minutes of light swinging with a club (not full golf swings), will prepare the joints and muscles for twisting. And finally, some practice shots on the driving range. Start with some easy pitch shots, then small irons before progressing to larger woods. Muscles that have been stretched gradually are much less prone to injury.
Golf is a unilateral sport; most players swing either right or left handed. This can cause an imbalance in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that protect the spine. These imbalances can lead to muscle tightness, muscle spasm, and even chronic pain. A simple tip to help avoid these imbalances is to take several swings with your opposite hand during your warm up and at least every other hole during the round.
Good balance, even weight distribution, and developing a correct technique for the swing can reduce stress to your lower back. When you first start to play golf it’s advisable to take lessons or advice from a sport professional to help you achieve the correct posture.
Strength training is sometimes overlooked by many golfers, or not considered very important, but it should be performed by all golfers. Be sure to focus on core strengthening exercises. Planks, cat-cow yoga poses, push-ups, and body weight squats are all simple, effective ways to start a core strengthening routine with no weights or gym membership needed. Of course a good weightlifting and/or yoga routine can help take your core fitness (and golf swing) to a new level.
If your technique has you missing rounds of golf due to nagging back pain, consult your chiropractor. Take care of your body and your golf handicap might just benefit as well!
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If you’re looking for an activity that has an array of health benefits, consider taking up swimming. It’s a low-cost, low-impact, and relaxing activity that provides a full body workout.
The main advantage that swimming has over other physical activities is that the buoyancy of the water takes some of the stress off your body. Therefore it’s a great low-impact exercise if you have an injury or condition that doesn’t allow you to participate in more traditional types of exercise. Swimming also allows you to exercise for longer periods of time without additional pressure on joints and muscles.
Swimming provides a great cardiovascular workout as well as a workout for nearly all of your muscles. It helps tone your muscles and builds strength and endurance. It can also improve balance, flexibility, co- ordination, and posture; all of which can help prevent an array of health problems.
While the physical benefits of swimming may be obvious, there are also hidden benefits such as being good for your mental health. Swimming helps to improve your mood and reduces mental tension and anxiety.
Before you dive into the swimming pool, remember to follow safe swimming behaviour. Make sure the environment you choose to swim in is safe, read the safety signs, speak to lifeguards for safety tips, swim with a partner, and swim within your capabilities.
If swimming laps doesn't appeal there are plenty of exercises you can do in the water without swimming. Pool-based classes such as aqua aerobics are a fun activity for all ages, especially if you prefer exercising in a group.
Swimming offers many physical and mental health benefits, and is an activity you can participate in your entire life, not to mention being a great way to cool down on a hot summer day!
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A healthy way to indulge this festive season
We are lucky enough to live in Australia, where we are inundated with amazing summer fruits to enjoy this festive season.
With a fruit platter looking this amazing its easy to find a healthy balance with all the indulgent temptations we are surrounded with at this time of year. The best part of a fruit platter is that you can choose as many or as few fruits as you want to enjoy or maybe it's an excellent excuse to try some new ones this year.
Remember that the more colours the better in terms of vital vitamins and minerals.
Adam's Back is a team of dedicated complimentary health professionals. Our aim is to support you in finding drug-free solutions for better health.