Acupuncture for Migraines and Headaches

Do you suffer from headaches and migraines?
Do you find that anxiety, periods or stress cause your headaches?
Do you suffer from neck pain or jaw pain that you think might be causing your headaches?

Why Acupuncture for Migraines and Headaches?

Did you know that large scale, high quality studies have shown that acupuncture can be as effective as drug therapy for migraines and headaches, with few contraindications or unpleasant side effects. Studies have shown that acupuncture can not only stop acute attacks of headaches and migraine, but also improve ongoing management and prevent the occurrence of symptoms in the future.

Migraines and headaches can be very complex, bringing together a variety of multifaceted causes that really need to considered in order to effectively diagnose the causes of migraine. These can include:

• Musculoskeletal issues such as posture and working position
• Stress and anxiety
• Dietary triggers
• Hormonal issues and period pains
• Jaw related posture issues such as teeth grinding at night.

Our team at the Art of Healing are experts at helping diagnose the root cause of migraines and headaches and have a bespoke, targeted and effective approach to headaches and migraines – combining traditional effective acupuncture techniques with osteopathic and physical therapy manual treatment to ensure relief from your symptoms and providing you with long term strategies to resolve and manage your symptoms.

Read more on studies about Acupuncture for Migraines and Headaches from the Migraine Trust.

Are you suffering from migraines and headaches? Looking for immediate and long term relief from your symptoms? Talk to one of our experts and give us a call at 020 3146 6755 today!

GOOD QUALITY SLEEP

One of the most common questions our patients ask us is “What’s the best position to sleep in?”

While there are definitively better positions to sleep in than others, what’s most important is that you get enough good quality sleep.

Artificial light, blue screens, constant entertainment and our hectic lifestyles means that we are sleeping far less than our predecessors and often sleep is seen as being of little importance compared to the need to get things done or squeeze in that last episode on Netflix! Yet, whilst technology, fashions and lifestyle has changed – our bodies need for good quality sleep has not.  No matter what else changes, our bodies need sleep to keep us functioning at our highest level.

While we sleep, our bodies repair themselves, preserve memories and clean out the brain for the next day. In spite of this – over a third of us report having less sleep than we feel we would need and continually report feeling tired or poorly rested the next day.

The consequences of chronic sleep deprivation cannot be overstated. Whilst having a shorter or restless sleep one night can result in you feeling groggy the next day, chronic lack of good quality sleep can have severe effects on your long term health. These include:

  • high blood pressure
  • increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • obesity
  • increased risk of diabetes
  • Decreased daytime performance and alertness – studies suggest by as much as 32% in chronically sleep deprived subjects.
  • Memory and cognitive impairment
  • Increased risk at work and injury and driving – as much as twice the risk of accident in chronically sleep deprived subjects.
  • Chronic migraines and headaches

So really the most important first step is to make sure we are getting enough sleep and of good quality. Below are some tips on how to achieve this.

  • Keep a consistent routine. Get up and go to bed as close to the same time every day of the week as possible. A regular wake time helps to set your body’s natural clock (circadian rhythm, one of the main ways our bodies regulate sleep). In addition to sleep, stick to a regular schedule for meals, exercise, and other activities. Getting used to your bodies rhythm is important.
  • Get morning light. Get up, get out of bed, and get some light. Light is the main controller of the natural body clock, and regular exposure to light in the morning helps to set the body’s clock each day.
  • Exercise during the day helps improve your sleep quality at night, reduces stress, and improves mood.
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day.
  • Cell phones, tablets, and all electronic devices make it harder for your brain to turn off, and the light (even dim light) from devices may delay the release of the hormone melatonin, interfering with your body clock. If you need something to watch to help you unwind, watching something that you find relaxing on TV from far away and outside the bedroom is likely okay for a limited time. You can also curl up with a book or listen to music.
  • Minimize alcohol intake. While alcohol can help people fall asleep, it leads to more sleep problems at night.
  • Reduce stress. The evening and bedtime hours are also a good time to perform some relaxation techniques, such as slow breathing and meditation.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment, a place that is cool, dark, and quiet.

If you find you are struggling with getting enough good quality sleep or are consistently waking up tired, this may be a sign that you have a clinical sleep problem, such as insomnia disorder or sleep apnea. If you are doing all the right things, and still have trouble falling or staying asleep, why not give us a call – we may be able to help!  Book in for a consultation with expert health and medical advice.

Intense foot pain first thing in the morning?

FOOT PAIN – (PLANTAR FASCIOPATHY AKA PLANTAR FASCIITIS)

Intense foot pain first thing in the morning? Like stepping on pins. 

Plantar Fasciopathy (aka Plantar Fasciitis) is a common cause of foot pain. It is often seen in people who spend a lot of time standing– eg Police officers, nurses etc and it is equally common in active or sedentary people. The typical description is that the first few steps on getting out of bed are like stepping on drawing pins.

Anatomy of Plantar Fascia 

The plantar fascia is the tough connective tissue on the sole of the foot. Think of it as the bow string on an archery bow which adds tension to the arch but allows the arch some flexibility. This is exactly how the foot works and our bony arch is the body’s first line of shock absorption.

What causes Intense foot pain? 

Repeated micro tears to the fascia have been identified as being the cause of plantar fasciitis, although inflammation is thought to have a key role.

You are more likely to be at risk injuring your plantar fascia and causing intense foot pain

if you:

  • are overweight as this will result in extra strain over your heel
  • have a tight Achilles tendon (the large tendon at the bottom of your calf muscles above your heel). This can restrict the flexion in your ankle and put you at higher risk of damaging your plantar fascia.
  • have flat feet (pronate) or a high arch
  • wear shoes with weak arch supports and thin soles
  • Are in an occupation that requires a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces for long periods
  • Suddenly start exercising or increase the intensity of your exercise too quickly
  • Have legs of uneven lengths

How can Intense foot pain be treated?

While in many cases plantar fasciitis will resolve itself over a few weeks or months, chronic cases of plantar fasciitis can reoccur and become difficult to treat fully. This can impact daily life and seriously curtail activities and exercise you may enjoy and be used to.

The recommended protocol for plantar fascia is a combination of stretching and strengthening to rebuild and support the damaged tissue, with strengthening being the most important factor in the long term. Here are some tips for helping strengthen the plantar fascia.

  1. Do calf raises. The calf muscle is continuous into the plantar fascia therefore strengthening the calf will strengthen the plantar fascia.
  2. Do the exercises very slowly. Slow is the best way to keep strengthening exercises safe. Slow means you don’t have to deal with extra forces generated by momentum in the exercise.
  3. Feel the burn. Unless you do enough exercise to feel burn in the muscle, at least twice a week, you will not get stronger over time. (NB This is true of any strengthening exercise)
  4. 1 day on 2 days off. If you are pushing the muscle hard enough to feel the burn you need to give it time to recover. Every day will overload it.

If you don’t notice an improvement within a couple of weeks or things get worse speak to a professional.

Are you in a lot of pain and want to get better as soon as possible?  If so then why not book in for a consultation with same day, hands on treatment for relief.

Acupuncture or painkillers for migraines?

Do you suffer from regular migraines or headaches?

Are you looking for a drug free solution to your pain?

Did you know that the National Institute of Clinical Excellence recommends acupuncture as an equally effective solution for migraines and headaches compared to traditional medication?

So which is preferable, acupuncture or painkillers for migraines?

If you suffer from regular headaches and migraines it's common practice to reach for some ibuprofen or an over the counter medication to ease your symptoms; or even to get a prescription from your GP for stronger anti-migraine medication. But did you know that 1 in 50 people report long term chronic headaches as a result of overusing painkillers – often leading to a reduction in the medications effectiveness and further pain.

NICE's view on acupuncture for headaches.

In fact, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence directs to the importance of correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment – including the use of acupuncture – in the treatment of long term and chronic headaches and migraines and cites studies that suggest acupuncture is as effective a prophylactic against headaches as commonly prescribed medication, with significantly fewer or no side effects.

But how does acupuncture for headaches work?

There is a growing body of controlled trials, including large high quality ones in recent years that show promising evidence to the efficacy of acupuncture for relieving migraine symptoms. Studies have shown the mechanism of how this works, which is outlined below.

Acupuncture can help in the treatment of migraine by:

• Providing pain relief : by stimulating nerves located in muscles and tissues in the head and neck, leading to a cascade of endorphin release
• Reducing inflammation – by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors
• Modulating extracranial and intracranial blood flow
• Affecting serotonin levels in the brain (serotonin is thought to be linked to migraine attacks)

Read more on Acupuncture or painkillers for migraines from The Migraine Trust.

We've treated literally hundreds of patients successfully for headaches and migraines using our unique inhouse treatment of acupuncture and professional manual therapy. If you suffer from headaches and migraines and would like to discuss how we could help, give us a call on 0203 146 6755 today!

 

STRENGTHENING EXERCISES

4 STRENGTHENING EXERCISES FOR MANUAL WORK

 

Physical jobs such as builders, warehouse staff or delivery drivers, can be very demanding, requiring staff to lift heavy loads repeatedly throughout the day. Most medium and large companies will have manual handling training to help staff use good lifting technique, which is important in preventing injuries. However, it can also be beneficial to do some extra training in the gym once or twice per week, strengthening exercises to develop strength and muscle that makes work lifting easier.

Being stronger is good for the rest of us as well! Here are 4 exercises that will help you to stay safe and strong on the job or when lifting anything heavy at home.

1. Barbell Squat

You’ve probably all heard the mantra, “lift with your legs”. While there’s a bit more to it than that, it’s certainly very useful to have strong thigh and hip muscles. We sometimes refer to these as your big “engines” – the muscles that should do most of the work.

There are many variations of the squat – you can use a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells or even just your bodyweight.

Barbell Squat

2. Goblet squat with a dumbbell

 

3.Deadlift

The deadlift is sometimes known as the sister exercise of the squat. It will work many of the same muscles but in a slightly different way – and also help you to develop a strong grip.

We usually perform deadlifts with a barbell but there are other variations involving dumbbells. As you can see, the deadlift is similar to some of the movements that manual workers might do every day. This could include activities such as picking up a box or a wheelbarrow.

Deadlift with barbell

4. Plank

As strengthening exercises, the deadlift and the squat are two of the heavier exercises you can do in the gym which strengthen the legs, core and lower back. Maintaining stability in the core and back is vitally important to protect the spine and one of the simplest exercises to develop this is the plank.

There are many variants on the blank and as you master the basic plank we encourage you to explore different angles such as the side plank, and to challenge to yourself such as lifting one leg or arm in the air.

 

Conclusion – stay strong, stay safe

Hopefully this article has given you some ideas of what strengthening exercises you can do in the gym to build strength, which can be very useful in assisting your lifting technique at work and in daily life. Good form is of course vital with any exercise, so if you’re not sure on anything then contact one of our therapists or trainers to advise.

What is Pilates?

At the Art of Healing we strongly recommend Pilates for anyone recovering from an injury, who wants to get the most out of their sport and activity, or anyone who uses their body on a daily basis – in short – it’s good for everybody!

What is Pilates? It’s a form of low impact, whole body exercise that has revolutionised in the last twenty years from Joseph Pilates’s 34 key mat exercises into countless exercises performed on specific spring based machines (known as reformers); that either assist flexibility or resist strength which greatly enhances the benefits of Pilates.

Top reasons to take up machine-based Pilates:

  1. Increase and maintain whole body muscle strength. A good Pilates class won’t just work your ‘core’ for an hour – you should leave feeling like you’ve worked your whole body. Muscle strength is essential at all ages in order to condition our bones, joints and muscles to tolerate the physical demands of daily life. Pilates machines such as the reformer have springs that can apply resistance to key movements, strengthening our weak points and improving our stability.
  2. Optimise flexibility and mobility. Pilates machines can assist users into greater ranges of motion safely and with control, which in time will increase the flexibility of muscles and joints. Pilates is excellent particularly for sports people, optimising their mobility to allow them to generate more power and reduce their chances of overstraining and causing injury. You should leave a Pilates class feeling more light and limber!
  3. Injury prevention. Many people come to Pilates for general wellbeing and day to day injury prevention. Many also come to supplement their current exercise regimes and keep themselves fit for their respective sports; we see countless runners, footballers and racket sport players. Whatever your sport, there’s a role for Pilates in your conditioning. Injury prevention is far superior to injury management!
  4. Improve balance & co-ordination. Controlled exercises with Pilates machines allow for better coordination and neuromuscular control – simply put – they allow us to move better and this translates into improved performance in our sports and daily lives.
  5. Low impact. Pilates exercises are ideal for those returning to exercise from injury, or during pregnancy – or as a supplemental activity to a higher impact sport.

At the Art of Healing we have a dedicated Pilates and rehab suite with experienced instructors who work closely with our team of physios and osteopaths to ensure your optimal recovery. Give us a call to book a session with one of them now!

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