Avoid prolonged bed rest
Bed rest causes loss of muscle mass and bone density after just days of immobility. With an acute injury a short period of rest may be appropriate while tissues are inflamed. However, as the tissues start to heal it is equally important to stay mobile. This will encourage proper healing of the tissues and minimise scar tissue formation. Your chiropractor will advice the correct course of action for your specific case.
Humans have a poor sense of thirst. If you wait until you actually feel thirsty, then you have already been dehydrated for some time. Water is the basic building block of your body. If you allow yourself to get dehydrated, no body system will function properly. Muscles, nerves, and digestive system even your immune system is dependent on water. Drink two litres of water a day and avoid excessive consumption of drinks that have diuretic effect, such as coffee, tea and alcohol.
Do not sit with your leg crossed
Sitting with your legs crossed puts a lot of strain on the hip joint, creates torsion into the pelvic girdle, misaligns the tailbone and creates stress into the lower back. Furthermore, if you are sitting with your legs crossed, it is virtually impossible to maintain good spinal posture. But don’t sit too close, your arms should only be slightly bent. Do yourself a favour, break the bad habit and sit more comfortably.
Take regular exercise
Regular exercise is important for healthy joints, muscles, nerves, heart and lungs. It can also help improve immune system function, elevate mood, promote better sleep and aid in weight management. Always warm up properly and cool down with gentle stretches after the workout. If you haven't exercised for some time, start slowly and build it up gradually. If you are in any doubt, check with a health care professional prior to commencing on a new exercise routine.
Use medication sensibly
Don't get in the habit of popping painkillers. They may mask the pain but they do not fix the cause of your problem. All drugs have side effects. Most painkillers should be taken with some food and plenty of water. Always read instructions and follow them. Consult a chiropractor for a drug-free approach to being pain free.
Take breaks when driving
Even good cars tend to have poor seats, so make most of what you've got. When you get in your car, position yourself properly: make sure you sit right back on the seat so that your lower back is supported. Make sure you can reach all the pedals easily. Check that the backrest is not over reclined. You should be able to place your wrist on top of the steering wheel without having to reach. Take regular breaks to stretch out for few minutes and make sure you don't get dehydrated by drinking plenty of fresh water.
Do not cough or sneeze in an unsuitable position
If you are about to sneeze or cough, prepare yourself! Try to maintain good posture - do not bend or twist. Avoid whiplash injury by not letting your head swing when you sneeze. And do not hold it in. Go for it!
Keep on moving
We all know that exercise is good for you. But also, try avoiding any sustained posture for prolonged periods. Make frequent small changes to the way you sit or stand. Take a short break from the computer, gardening or house work every 15-20 minutes. Get off the sofa during advert breaks. Take the stairs instead of using the lift.
Sleep on your side or on your back - never on your front. The mattress should be firm but not too hard. A soft mattress will not give your spine proper support, and a mattress that is too hard will create pressure points and result in uncomfortable sleep. Your pillow should give support to your neck rather than your head and if you sleep on your side, the pillow should be high enough to fill the gap between your neck and the mattress, thus supporting your head and neck in alignment with the rest of the spine. To ensure a good night's sleep avoid caffeine containing drinks and alcohol in the evening and have your evening meal at least two hours before bedtime. Keep the bedroom cool and as dark and quiet as possible.
Take care when lifting
When lifting heavy objects, always bend your knees. You can also go down on one knee to grab hold of the object and then stand up while holding it close to your body. Always prepare yourself properly when lifting - even with lighter objects. Never twist and bend at the same time and when carrying try to distribute heavy weights evenly. Always tighten your abdominal muscles while lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling. Avoid performing heaviest tasks within the first few hours of getting up.
Listen to your body
Pain is a warning sign. The whole function of pain is to let you know that something is wrong, so don’t ignore it. When you feel pain, stop what you are doing. Ignoring the pain may result in a longer healing time and even in irreversible damage to your body.
For acute injury use cold rather than heat
If you have an acute injury it is much safer to use ice than heat over the injured area. Ice will bring down the inflammation and swelling and it will also reduce pain. If you not have an ice pack, use a bag of peas or something similar from the freezer. Wrap it in a tea towel and apply onto injured area for about 10 minutes. You can repeat the process as many times as you want, but leave one hour between applications. Rest the injured area and if possible, keep it elevated. For more information, or if in any doubt, consult your chiropractor or GP.
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