The average life expectancy in the UK has risen once again, and as of the 2012-14 data, a newborn baby boy can expect to live to just over 79 years old, and a newborn baby girl to just under 83. When you imagine that you’ll be asleep for roughly a third of your life, if you stick to the recommended 8 hours a night’s sleep, those approximately 27 years will need to be spent sleeping in a good position. This is easier said than done in some cases, as the ideal sleeping position to prevent issues such as backache can vary depending on your status. Our osteopath, Hashim says:
“In order to prevent back pain in bed, taking care of your posture is essential. I usually recommend my patients, who are otherwise healthy, to sleep on their right hand side, with knees bent up slightly. Laying on the right hand side is good for blood flow, as you have the smaller and lighter left lung resting on the heart in this position, maximising blood flow. It is important to ensure that the gap in between the shoulder, neck and head is filled with pillow, so that the spine and neck remain in good alignment. Imagine how your neck sits vertically in line with the rest of the spine when you are sitting and standing; when you are laying on your side, you want to maintain that. Pillow depth is key, the firmness or softness is personal preference. A good mattress goes a long way to prevent pain as well, because if it isn’t supporting your spine, it will be allowing the spine to spend long periods in poor and unhealthy positions. If for other medical reasons, such as acid reflux for example, you have been advised to lay on your back, have the head slightly raised, but a much shallower pillow than described above, as once again, we do not want the neck under strain.”
“In the morning and evening I always find it beneficial for people to ‘warm up’ and ‘warm down’ from the busy days they will have had. To achieve this, some gentle stretching will help, particularly for the neck, lower back and hamstrings muscles. For the neck and lower back, gentle stretching in all vectors of movement (bending forwards, backwards, to the sides, and in rotation) will help, ensuring you engage the core muscles at all times to strengthen them and stretch the other muscles. For the hamstrings, having one leg up on the bed and gently stretching forward until you feel a stretch down the back of the leg will help, particularly if you have been sat down all day as the hamstrings will have been contracted and shortened for that whole period, they deserve a stretch!”
If you are having trouble sleeping, or have anything to ask regarding what to change, it may be worthwhile coming to see us at Atlas Osteopathy (with clinics in East Finchley and Moorgate, as well as the option of home visits), where we can explain your problems to you, why they occur and whether or not you are suitable for osteopathic treatment. Often this can be done via email or on the phone.
Hygiene is one of the easiest and perhaps most important aspect of healthcare to take care of. There are many precautions that can easily be taken to minimise and reduce the spread of infection from person to person. Personal hygiene is something everyone should take pride in, for their own sake, and for others around. In medicine and healthcare, hygiene practices are employed as preventative measures against the incidence and spread of disease.
Hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene are, in the osteopathic clinical setting, two of the more important topics. Hand hygiene would be defined as washing the hands with the use of soap and water, or hand sanitiser. This is paramount to the prevention of infectious disease spreading.
A six stage handwashing technique (Ayliffe et al, 1978) is the best known method of ensuring hand hygiene. The technique involves rubbing palm to palm, backs of both hands, palm to palm with fingers interlaced, rubbing both palms with fingertips of other hand, rubbing all parts of both hands including the wrists and finally rubbing the backs of fingers with them being interlocked. Each stage should consist of five backward and forward strokes. This may seem tedious and time consuming, but should not take more than a minute, and is vitally important in the prevention of disease spreading.
Respiratory hygiene is also linked to hand hygiene when coughing and sneezing, to reduce the spread of germs, particularly in the cold and flu season. Tissues should be carried to catch germs when sneezing, with disposal of tissues immediately after use, followed by washing hands with technique outlined above.
Osteopaths themselves take particular precautions, both for self-preservation and for patient protection. These include the washing of hands before and after each patient, fresh sheets and towels for each patient, and the daily use of new and clean uniform. Personal protection is always worn when there is a risk of coming into contact with bodily fluids, such as a cut or graze on the body.