2 - Wallet in the back pocket. A common habit I frequently come across is people carrying their wallet in their back pocket. While this is no problem when you are standing or walking around, when you sit down it is like sitting on an uneven step, and if you are diving or sitting for hours it is a recipe for lower back discomfort. I once had a truck driver who came to me for relief from his chronic lower back pain. When taking his history I discovered he had driven with his wallet in his back pocket for 35 years and on x-raying his back, his entire spine had shifted and twisted to accommodate this – you could even hold up his wallet in the space it had created under his right hip and it fit perfectly! Tip number 2 – If you must carry your wallet in your back pocket, take it out when you sit down.
Habits, in my experience form the largest percentage of chronic or recurrent back problems, so over then next few posts I will present some of the most common ‘land mines’ to avoid to easily prevent back pain.
1 - Handbags on shoulders. Handbags are a well enjoyed fashion accessory, and for some reason at the moment, bigger is better. I’m not saying leave your huge handbag at home (heaven forbid!) but try this experiment – put it on the other shoulder. If it feels weird or uncomfortable then there is a good chance you are training your body to hold your handbag on one side. This usually causes a lean in the shoulders to the opposite side and also a lean in the neck to the opposite side among other compensations depending on the tonnage of the handbag load. This in turn causes shoulder pain, pain between the shoulder blades, neck pain and can cause headaches. Tip number 1 - If you do like carrying around a big handbag, or any shoulder bag for that matter, then try and get in the habit of swapping sides regularly.
An additional note to last weeks blog. What do you do with a structural short leg in a child?
Often during growth a child may present with a true short leg. It used to be thought that in these circumstances the child should be left alone and the legs may correct in length with continued growth. However, studies have shown that introducing a temporary heel lift is more likely to stimulate a leveling of the leg length as this restores normal weight bearing and therefore normal pressure on the growth plates. If a short leg appears and it is not dealt with in this manner, studies have shown that a greater discrepancy is likely to occur as the child continues to grow.
Often chiropractors are heard saying that a patient has a short leg, and then after they are adjusted the short leg is corrected. This has created a lot of confusion over the years so let me explain a bit about what this process is.
There are two types of short legs: 1 – Functional short legs. 2 – Structural short legs.
1 – A functional short leg – With this type of short leg, bad posture, or tension in your back creates the appearance of a short leg when you are lying prone. This is the type of ‘short leg’ that a chiropractic adjustment will correct. The adjustment will remove the tension, or realign your posture and as a result the leg length will level.
2 – A true short leg. This means that the bones in one leg are shorter that the bones in the other leg. In a fully grown adult, no amount of chiropractic adjusting or therapy will change this but it does need attention as it has significant effects on the individual’s spine. Having a true short leg forces your back to compensate, and creates uneven weight bearing on each leg which can cause hip, knee or ankle pain as well as back pain, and premature wear and tear in these joints. In the long term the only way to deal with this is with a heel/shoe lift which creates an artificial levelling of the leg length. This reduces the effect of the short leg on the spine and other joints. However, if you have had a short leg for a long time then chiropractic adjustments may be needed to improve the function and flexibility of your spine so that you can actually wear the heel lift comfortably.
Blog by Dr Kieron Holland and Point Clare Chiropractic.