New year’s resolution of spinal health, anyone?

Anisha Joshi, osteopath and director of The Woodside Clinic, Hitchin. Picture: David Woolfall

Anisha Joshi, osteopath and director of The Woodside Clinic, Hitchin. Picture: David Woolfall - Credit: David Woolfall

Once the fun of Christmas is merely a bag of recycling and a wilting tree, it’s time to start looking forward to the new year ahead – writes Hitchin-based osteopath Anisha Joshi, who is the director of The Woodside Clinic.

It’s that weird period when we all aim to do things better, look after our health more, and perhaps make a few ambitious changes.

I believe, as someone who treats a whole host of individuals – even celebrities such as Nick Grimshaw, Professor Green and Vick Hope – that caring for our backs and necks should be high up the list of improving wellbeing as the clock strikes midnight.

Typically, we tend to focus on more aesthetic changes. We overpromise and under deliver on new year’s resolutions to get fitter, lose the Christmas bloat, or to cut back on wine o’clock, but, often, these are the big and unrealistic dreams that, by January 10, we’ve already failed – planning to start again ‘on Monday’.

Rarely do we pin our hopes on improving the less glamorous but actually more important aspects of our health. How many times your friends have told you that they’d like to improve their spinal health in time for their next holiday? Yeah, probably never.

The spine is literally the backbone of our bodies. It’s the thing that keeps us on our feet, rushing about our busy lives. Anyone who has ever suffered back pain will know how it can also stop you in your tracks.

When it comes to thinking about our health, it’s regularly overlooked – particularly when setting goals.

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It really shouldn’t be though; a healthy back helps to prevent aches and pains, injuries, and can slow down common spinal conditions in older adults.

Here’s a few top tips for looking after the condition of your neck and back health to kick 2019 off.

1. Choose a mattress and pillow that offer both a comfortable night’s sleep and also support the neck and back. This is the time that the structures in the spine that work hard throughout the day finally have an opportunity to relax.

2. Don’t spend too much time on your phone and tablet devices. Our head is approximately 10-12 pounds so when we look down at our phones, it increases the pressure on the neck muscles and the vertebrae within the neck. This can predispose you to all sorts of injury and pain.

3. If you feel a twinge in your neck or back, get it checked out by a qualified expert. If you ignore it, it could stop you from being able to play with your kids, exercise, or even go to work.

4. This is a bit of a boring one, but wear more sensible shoes. High heels make you look great and stand up taller, but they also force you to increase the curvature in your lower back and put more pressure on the ball of your foot. This can predispose you to lower back pain, knee pain and feet pain.

5. Treat yourself to an osteopath treatment on a regular basis to detect, treat and prevent health problems by moving, stretching and massaging the muscles and joints in your neck and back. Not only is this beneficial to posture and wellbeing, it’s also a chance to switch off for a while.

Remember, the more you look after your neck and back, the more it’ll help you to do.

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