Learn With OHC

Learn with OHC is an initiative where we share our knowledge and expertise in a way that is accessible to everyone. We are here to guide you to understand your body and health a little deeper on top of the Osteopathy and Physiotherapy treatments we provide.

Start with these bite-sized truths to learn more.

  • OHC Truths #01
    Why Is Sleep So Important?

    Our nerve-signaling chemicals called neurotransmitters control whether we are asleep or awake by acting on different groups of nerve cells or neurons in the brain. When trying to fall asleep, we generally will go through the 5 stages of sleep. These sleep stages progress in a cycle from stage 1 to REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and the cycle repeats again with stage 1. 

    During stage 1 (light sleep), we drift in and out of sleep and can be awakened easily. Our eyes move very slowly and muscle activity slows. People awakened from stage 1 sleep often remember fragmented visual images.

    When we enter stage 2 sleep, our eye movements stop and our brain waves become slower, with occasional bursts of rapid waves called sleep spindles.

    In stage 3 and 4 (deep sleep), extremely slow brain waves called delta waves begin to appear, interspersed with smaller and faster waves. There is no eye movement or muscle activity. People awakened during deep sleep do not adjust immediately and often feel disoriented for several minutes after they wake up.

    When we switch into REM sleep, our breathing becomes more rapid, irregular and shallow, our eyes jerk rapidly in various directions, and our limb muscles become temporarily paralyzed during sleep. Our heart rate increases and blood pressure rises. When people awakened during REM sleep, they often describe bizarre and illogical dreams. 

    So how many hours of sleep do we need? The hours of sleep correlates to our age. Infants require about 16 hours a day while teenagers require 9 hours on average. Although 7-8 hours a night appears to be the best amount of sleep for most adults, some may need only 5 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day.

    When we sleep below the recommended hours our body needs, we’ll usually feel tired and out of sorts the next day resulting in an impaired judgment or even slow reaction time. If this sleep deprivation continues, hallucinations and mood swings may even develop.


  • OHC Truths #02
    How Does Your Posture Lead To Disc Issues?

    Many people in Singapore currently have jobs that require them to work in front of computers for many hours a day. It is important for these group of people who lead sedentary lifestyles to ensure that they get sufficient exercise to lower their risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and cancers. Sitting is an inevitable static posture that increases stress on the entire back, shoulders, arms, and legs, and especially the muscles of the spine. Working long hours which leads to prolonged sitting without intermittent breaks has been proven to cause changes in disc height. When people hunch over by curving the spine or pulling the shoulders in, gradual pressure can be placed upon the spine creating disc issues. The poor posture puts unnecessary strain on the joints, inhibits mobility and creates muscle imbalances. Slouching is another form of poor posture that is damaging to the spine because it overstretches spinal ligaments and surrounding structures of the spine and nerves.

    The spine comprises of vertebrae, discs and ligaments and tendons connecting everything together. The discs between the vertebrae act as a cushion which promotes flexibility and range of motion. These discs are primarily made of water and as a body age, the amount of water decreases. The discs can then slip, develop small cracks or bulge depending upon the pressure. When people continue sitting in a poor posture as they age, the load in the back and neck increases. This results in added stress to the disc in the lower back which over time causes it to degenerate and lose its ability to cushion and act as normal shock absorbers. The discs may be pushed out towards the back from their normal position which then causes bulging or herniated discs.

  • OHC Truths #03
    Is Your Arm Pain Actually A Neck Problem

    Long hours at the office have been causing headaches and soreness around my neck region. Lately, I have also been experiencing pain and occasional numbness/tingling into my fingers. I was told that I may have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. However, the pain worsened and my friends suggested that I see someone else for a second opinion as it could possibly be a neck issue instead.

    It is often said that tingling and numbness sensations in the hand are related to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This may not be 100% true.

    The nerves that travel down to your hand actually start from the base of your skull, at the neck area. If this nerve is being irritated or compressed at the neck region, this condition is called Cervical Radiculopathy.

    So what causes Cervical Radiculopathy?

    Cervical Radiculopathy often arises from poor long term posture or degenerative changes that occur in the spine as we age or from an injury that causes a herniated or bulging intervertebral disk.

    The nerves that travel down into your arms exit the spinal cord through spaces between the bones in your neck. The bones have gel cushions between them called discs. As the discs in the spine age, they lose height and begin to bulge. They also lose water content, start to dry out and become stiffer. This problem causes a reduction of the disc spaces and loss of disc space height. A nerve can be compressed if the disc material is pressing on the nerve or if the bones develop spurs from arthritis, making the opening for the nerve much smaller. Sometimes the joints in the spine can become inflamed and cause nerve irritation.

    As the discs lose height, the vertebrae move closer together. The body responds to the collapsed disc by forming more bone — called bone spurs. This is actually a body response to help you and to strengthen the disc. These bone spurs contribute to the stiffening of the spine. They may also narrow the foramen — the small openings on each side of the spinal column where the nerve roots exit. Consequently, the herniation pinches the nerve root causing pain. If the nerve is impinged for a sustained period of time and left untreated, the symptoms may get more severe resulting in tingling and numbness that radiates down into your hands and fingers.

  • OHC Truths #04

    𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐨𝐧 𝐬𝐢𝐠𝐧𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐀𝐧𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐚
    Anemia happens when there is decreased red blood cells in the body, it’s the most common blood disorder and affects over 1 billion people globally. Easily treatable with diet changes and iron supplements.

  • OHC Truths #05
    Adrenal Fatigue

    What Is Adrenal Fatigue?

    Feeling tired despite getting enough sleep and endless craving of salty food might be a sign of adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is a term applied to a collection of nonspecific symptoms such as body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems. This fatigue is usually associated with intense stress and often follows with chronic infections like bronchitis, flu or even pneumonia.⁣

    When we are under stress, our immune system responds by revving up. Our adrenal glands which are small organs above the kidneys respond to the stress by releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones are part of our fight or flight response which increases our blood pressure and heart rate. When the adrenal glands that activate during stress get overworked, they are unable to keep pace with the demands of perpetual fight or flight arousal. As a result, these glands cannot produce quite enough of the hormones we need to feel good resulting in adrenal fatigue.

  • OHC Truths #06
    What Are Dermatomes

    Did you know, our human body is divided into multiple skin zones known as dermatomes?⁣

    Each specific dermatome is supplied according to the spinal nerve. The nerves from the neck supply the arms, those from the upper-middle spine supply the chest/abdomen and those from the lower spine supply the legs. The assigned nerve transmit sensory input like pain, touch, temperature or vibration from a particular region of the skin to the brain. The nerves enter the nerve root at the spine then travel toward the periphery of the body. When the nerve root gets irritated or injured, the person can experience pain or neurological symptoms such as tingling or numbness in a specific area of the skin without having suffered a local injury. Dermatomes are especially useful to diagnose the level of spinal injury or dysfunction. ⁣

    Dermatomes actually develop during the embryo stage. As we grow, they “twist” and overlap instead of following a regular pathway.⁣

    In reference to the anatomical image:⁣

    C1 does not have a dermatome.⁣

    C2 dermatome handles sensation for the upper part of the head.⁣

    C3 dermatome covers the side of the face and back of the head.⁣

    C4 dermatome covers parts of the neck, shoulders and upper part of arms.⁣

    C5 dermatome covers the outer part of the upper arm down to about the elbow.⁣

    C6 dermatome covers the thumb side of the hand and forearm.⁣

    C7 dermatome goes down the back of the arm and into the middle finger.⁣

    C8 dermatome covers the pinky side of the hand and forearm.⁣

    Clinical scenario: A patient complains of pain with associated reduced sensation in the little and ring fingers as well as inner part of their hand. They did not injure their hand but slept with their neck in a funny position the previous night and woke up with some neck stiffness. During assessment, there is no hand or forearm lesion detectable. Neck movements are uncomfortable and restricted indicates that one of the nerve roots at the base of their neck (between the cervical vertebra 7 and thoracic vertebra 1) has been irritated causing pain that reduces sensation in the two fingers and hand.

  • OHC Truths #07
    Why Our Body Heats Up During A Fever

    A fever is our body’s response against an infection. When we are attacked by an invader, our body reacts by raising the temperature to try and kill it. ⁣

    Our normal body temperature is generally around 36 degrees Celsius. A fever would usually occur above 37 degrees Celsius.⁣

    So what causes a fever?⁣

    A fever is caused by chemicals known as pyrogens flowing in the bloodstream. Normally, pyrogens help the immune system by fighting infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses which are sensitive to temperature changes. The hypothalamus in the brain is in charge of regulating body temperature and acts as the body’s thermostat. When pyrogens bind to certain receptors in the hypothalamus, our body temperature rises.⁣

    While fever does help the body fight infections, it can also turn fatal. Body temperature above 40 degrees Celsius should be treated as medical emergencies and medical help must be taken right away. This level of heat can threaten the functions of proteins whose regular functioning depends on the body’s normal temperature. Severely high fever can cause seizures, confusion, throbbing headaches, unusual sensitivity towards bright light or sound and even difficulty in breathing.⁣

    Sufficient rest, sunshine (Vitamin D) and reduced stress can enhance recovery and help in fighting an infection. If you have a prolonged temperature, please seek medical attention immediately.

  • OHC Truths #08
    Leaky Gut Syndrome

    What Is A Leaky Gut?
    Your intestinal lining contains the ‘gut flora’ and is composed of hundreds of different ‘friendly’ bacteria. It serves the function of absorbing nutrients from food and protecting us from bacteria and toxins.⁣

    Leaky gut is a condition where the permeability of the lining increases allowance of bacteria and toxins to enter into the bloodstream. This can cause widespread inflammation and an immune system reaction. ⁣

    Leaky gut may play a role or be associated with certain conditions such as Celiac disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel disease and Type 1 Diabetes. ⁣
    There are numerous factors that affect gut permeability such as:⁣⁣⁣
    – Lack of varied diet (whole foods and whole grains)⁣
    – Deficiency in Vitamin A, D and zinc⁣
    – Excessive sugar intake ⁣
    – Lack of prebiotics ⁣
    – Chronic alcohol consumption/stress that increases sensitivity and reduces blood flow⁣
    – Lack of sleep⁣
    – Lack of physical activity⁣
    – Antibiotic use which decreases the levels of good bacteria ⁣
    – Long-term use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (such as Ibuprofen)⁣
    To improve your gut flora, you can follow the steps below:⁣⁣⁣
    – Consume a diet rich in fibers like fruits, nuts, vegetables, and whole grains as well as sources rich in probiotics (yogurt, kimchi, kefir, tempeh).⁣⁣⁣
    – Reduce your refined carb intake to reduce overall sugar intake.⁣
    – Eat foods rich in polyphenols (high in antioxidants) (blueberries, dark chocolate, green tea).⁣
    ⁣⁣- Take a probiotic supplement.⁣
    – Get in the sun for 20mins a day for the daily intake requirement of Vitamin D.⁣
    – Cutting out caffeine late in the day, sleeping in complete darkness and having a structured sleep routine.⁣⁣⁣
    – Regular exercise, meditation and deep breathing exercises to reduce stress levels.

  • OHC Truths #09
    Why Physical Activity Is Important For Mental Health

    When we talk about physical activity, we immediately think about long gym workout sessions but they are not the same thing. Physical activity is any activity that works your muscles and requires energy. This can include work, household or leisure activities.⁣⁣⁣⁣

    ⁣⁣Various types of daily physical activities such as walking, taking the stairs instead of the lift or even cycling can aid in improving your mood. You do not have to do all your different physical activities at once but the best way is to add small amounts of them throughout your day. A quick 10-15min of physical activity a day can make a bigger long-lasting difference if you stick with it. ⁣⁣⁣⁣
    Physical activity has loads of beneficial health effects on the body such as protection against heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, improving sleep and lowering blood pressure. Emotionally and psychologically, physical activity can support with fighting depression and anxiety. You will gain self-confidence when you meet your exercise goals and get into shape, foster social interaction with others when you are in the gym or exercise class and it can be used as a healthy coping mechanism in dealing with depression and anxiety. The release of feel-good endorphins and other natural brain chemicals enhances your sense of well-being while taking your mind off the negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.⁣⁣⁣⁣
    But where to begin?⁣⁣⁣⁣
    – Find an activity that you enjoy doing to fit into your daily routine as you are more likely to stick to it.⁣⁣⁣⁣
    – Talk to your GP or therapist for guidance in including a physical activity routine into your overall treatment plan.⁣⁣⁣⁣
    – Set realistic small goals you can reach and tailor your routine to your own abilities.⁣⁣⁣⁣
    – Look at physical activity positively as one of the tools to help you get better.⁣⁣⁣⁣
    – Analyze the barriers that are stopping you from being physically active and find what works best for you.⁣⁣⁣⁣
    – Give yourself credit for every step in the right direction no matter how small.

  • OHC Truths #10
    The Truth About Blue Light

    Blue light is everywhere around us! It is particularly found in sunlight and LEDs. We tend to get the most exposure to blue light outdoors. Some artificially created indoor sources of blue light also include LED lighting emitted from our televisions. Compared to our ancestors, our lifestyles have evolved in more ways resulting in greater exposure to sun and increasing usage of LED lighting, leading to greater risk of health issues.⁣

    Blue light is an umbrella term referring to different light variations. It is just one part of the spectrum of light emitted. The most harmful is the blue-violet light as it is a contributing factor of age-related macular degeneration and damages the retina. As almost all visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina, this light may affect vision and could prematurely age the eyes. Too much exposure to blue-violet light could lead to digital eyestrain whereby blue light from screens and digital devices can decrease eye contrast. Fatigue, dry eyes, bad lighting and poor posture in front of the computer can also cause eyestrain.⁣

    However, it is important to note that not all blue light is harmful! Some blue light exposure is essential for good health. One variation is the blue-turquoise light that enhances our cognitive and sleep behaviour. This light boosts alertness, helps memory and cognitive function and elevates mood. It is also very important in regulating our circadian rhythm — the body’s natural wakefulness and sleep cycle. Exposure to blue-turquoise light during daytime hours helps maintain a healthy circadian rhythm but too much late at night can potentially cause sleepless nights and daytime fatigue.⁣

    𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐛𝐥𝐮𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐚𝐭 𝐧𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭?⁣
    – Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythms and suppress melatonin.⁣
    – Avoid looking at screens 2 to 3 hours before bed.⁣
    – Consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app in your electronic devices that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.

  • OHC Truths #11
    Visceral Referred Pain

    Physical pain that feels diffused with poorly defined area of sensation could be referred pain from our viscera. This occurs when an organ is dysfunctional and consequently the nerves that supply it becomes irritated. When the irritated nerves arrive in the spine, they might converge with other healthy nerves which attach to the same spinal levels. All these nerves then go up in the brain, and when the brain tries to understand where the pain is coming from, it gets confused by the overlapping of irritated and healthy nerves. As a result, the brain makes us perceive pain in the area supplied by healthy nerves. ⁣

    In reference to the image:⁣
    – Liver and gall bladder can refer pain into the right shoulder and right middle back. The gall bladder can also refer pain into the right superior abdominal quadrant. ⁣
    – Stomach and oesophagus can refer pain in the middle of the chest just at bottom of the sternum and on the back in between the shoulder blades. ⁣
    – Prostate can refer pain into the lower back.⁣
    – Lungs and diaphragm can refer pain into both shoulders and neck.⁣
    – Heart can refer pain into the left chest and arm. When the pain perceived is high, it is usually a sign of heart attack therefore the person should go to the hospital immediately. ⁣
    – Bladder can refer to the inguinal and buttock area. Sometimes it might resemble hip pain. ⁣
    – Kidneys can refer in the lower back and abdomen and upper legs area. ⁣

    𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐢𝐬 𝐯𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐫𝐞𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐝𝐢𝐚𝐠𝐧𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐝?⁣
    The pain is described as a vague, constant, poorly defined sensation of discomfort in a broad area. No triggering factor or injury that caused the pain. No relieving factors and no particular movements that trigger the pain. Patient does not feel well and noticed changes in their body such as pallor, profuse sweating, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances and changes in body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. On assessment, the pain is not aggravated or reproduced by any movement performed. Specific tests are conducted to the suspected involved organ to check if the pain is reproduced.

  • OHC Truths #12
    Anatomy Of The Muscle

    A muscle is a group of soft tissues which contract together to produce a force. A muscle consists of muscle cells fibers surrounded by protective tissue. Each skeletal muscle fiber is a single cylindrical muscle cell. An individual skeletal muscle may be made up of hundreds or even thousands, of muscle fibers bundled together and wrapped in a connective tissue covering. Each muscle is surrounded by a connective tissue sheath called the epimysium. The fascia, a layer of connective tissue outside the epimysium, surrounds and separates the muscles, allowing each part to slide and function better. Portions of the epimysium project inward to divide the muscle into compartments. Each compartment contains a bundle of muscle fibers. Each bundle of muscle fiber is called a fasciculus and is surrounded by a layer of connective tissue called the perimysium. This layer allows nerves and blood to flow to the individual fibers. Within the fasciculus, each individual muscle cell, the muscle fiber, is surrounded by connective tissue called the endomysium.⁣⁣⁣⁣

    Skeletal muscles have an abundant supply of blood vessels and nerves. This is directly related to the primary function of skeletal muscle, contraction. Before a skeletal muscle fiber can contract, it has to receive an impulse from a nerve cell. Generally, an artery and at least one vein accompany each nerve that penetrates the epimysium of a skeletal muscle. Branches of the nerve and blood vessels follow the connective tissue components of the muscle of a nerve cell and with one or more minute blood vessels called capillaries.⁣⁣⁣⁣
    Reflected in the image is the structure of the voluntary which are those muscles of which we can control the action or movement and that we voluntarily activate when we need to perform an action.⁣⁣⁣
    In comparison, involuntary muscles also known as white muscles or smooth muscles are muscles in the human body whose contraction is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. These muscles are present in the walls of the digestive system, blood vessels, bronchi, uterus and bladder.

  • OHC Truths #13

    Myotome refers to the muscles served by a spinal nerve root. Therefore, myotomes is a set of muscles innervated by a specific single spinal nerve. When the spinal nerve root or the spinal cord from which the spinal nerve root originate is damaged, the muscles supplied by these nerves (if the lesion is more extended) can become weak if the lesion is partial or paralysed if the lesion is completed. Myotomes are especially useful to determine where damage to the spinal nerve root has occurred. ⁣

    Most muscles in the limbs receive innervation from more than one spinal nerve root and are comprised of multiple myotomes. For example, the biceps muscle flexes the elbow. It is innervated by the musculocutaneous nerve, which originates from the spinal nerve roots of the cervical vertebrae 5, 6 and 7. All three of these spinal nerve roots can be said to be associated with elbow flexion.⁣

    There are 31 spinal nerves. Each vertebrae has a spinal nerve. The nerves are categorized by the vertebra which house them. There are 8 cervical nerves, 12 thoracic nerves, 5 lumbar nerves, 5 sacral nerves and 1 coccygeal nerve.⁣

    The list below details which movement(s) has the strongest association with each myotome:⁣
    C5 – shoulder abduction, C6 – Elbow Flexion Wrist extension, C7 – Elbow extension, C8 – Finger flexion, T1 – Finger abduction, L2 – Hip flexion, L3 – Knee extension, L4 – Ankle Upward Movement, L5 – Great Toe extension, S1 – Ankle Downward Movement ⁣

    Technique application: Problem lifting your foot or “foot drop” can be a sign of concern in the lower part of your spine (L4-S3). To make a diagnosis, a power test will be done to the muscles and to resist some movements. On the base of which muscles are weak and how severe the weakness is then it will possible to evaluate the location and severity of the lesion.

  • OHC Truths #14
    What Is Spinal Stenosis

    Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spaces within the spine which then puts pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine called spinal cord or that exits from the spine called spinal nerves. Spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by wear and tear changes in the spine related to ageing. The types of spinal stenosis are classified according to where on the spine the condition occurs. ⁣⁣⁣⁣
    There are two main types of spinal stenosis:⁣⁣⁣⁣
    – Cervical stenosis is when the narrowing occurs in the part of the spine in the neck.⁣⁣⁣⁣
    – Lumbar stenosis (most common) is when the narrowing occurs in the part of the spine in the lower back.⁣⁣⁣⁣
    Some causes of spinal stenosis may include:⁣⁣⁣⁣
    – Overgrowth of bone. Wear and tear damage from osteoarthritis on the spinal bones can prompt the formation of bone spurs which can grow into the spinal canal. Anyone over the age of 50 is at risk.⁣⁣⁣⁣
    – Herniated discs. A herniated disc may allow some of the soft inner material to escape and press on the spinal cord.⁣⁣⁣⁣
    – Thickened ligaments. Ligaments of the spine can become stiff and thickened over time, bulging into the spinal canal.⁣⁣⁣⁣
    ⁣- Tumours. Abnormal growths can form inside the spinal cord compressing it. These are uncommon and identifiable on spine imaging with an MRI or CT scan.⁣⁣⁣
    – Spinal injuries. Car accidents and other trauma can cause dislocations or fractures to one or more vertebrae. Displaced bone from a spinal fracture may damage the spinal cord. Swelling of nearby tissue immediately after back surgery also can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.⁣⁣⁣
    Manual therapy can help improve the mobility of the spine and the dynamics of the nerves reduces the pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. It also helps to lessen the muscle tension caused by the condition and the poor spinal mobility. Regular exercise can help build and maintain strength in the muscles of the arms and legs. This will improve balance, ability to walk, bend, move about as well as control pain. A physical therapist can show which exercises are right.

  • OHC Truths #15
    Types Of Muscle Tissues

    Did you know that actually about half of the body’s weight is muscle? In the human muscular system, the muscle tissue is categorized into three distinct types – skeletal, smooth and cardiac.⁣

    There are over 650 skeletal muscles that move bones and other structures. Also known as voluntary muscles, skeletal muscles are attached to bones by tendons and produce all the movements of body parts in relation to each other. These muscles can also be used in involuntary reflex responses when a fast movement is required. For example, they will respond rapidly to instant chemical and electrical impulses from the brain when touching a hot stove by withdrawing the hand from the dangerous situation without conscious thought.⁣

    Smooth muscle is an involuntary muscle found in the walls of hollow organs throughout the body. Smooth muscle contractions are movements triggered by impulses that travel through the autonomic nervous system to the smooth muscle tissue. The arrangement of cells within smooth muscle tissue allows for contraction and relaxation with great elasticity. The smooth muscle in the walls of organs like urinary bladder and uterus allows those organs to expand and relax as needed. The smooth muscle of the alimentary canal (digestive tract) facilitates the peristaltic waves that move swallowed food and nutrients. In the eye, smooth muscle changes the shape of the lens to bring objects into focus. Artery walls include smooth muscle that relaxes and contracts to move blood through the body.⁣

    Cardiac muscle is found only in the heart and is an involuntary muscle, which contracts in response to signals from the cardiac conduction system to make the heart beat. The heart wall is composed of three layers. The middle layer, the myocardium is responsible for the heart’s pumping action. Cardiac muscle is made from cells called cardiocytes which have a striated appearance. Cardiocytes are branched, allowing them to connect with several other cardiocytes, forming a network that facilitates coordinated contraction.

  • Buro Exclusive written by Janice Sim
    Is your desk job silently killing your back?

    Unfortunately, being a millennial doesn’t make you an exemption

    You might think the pains and perils of a failing back is one that’s only prevalent in anyone aged above 60. Here’s where you’re wrong: I’m 25, and here I am, having the worst time trying to tie my shoelaces. In fact, my mum helped me get my sneakers on today, which brings me to a new low.

    I’m never once had a serious injury of any sort; more often than not, I’m just chided for crummy posture. I’d get the occasional back aches when I sit down for far too long but nothing that requires me to make a trip to the doctor’s.

    So when sharp jolts of pain came shooting through my lower back when I got up from my dinner table the exact same day of the interview, it was like the universe rebutting, “Joke’s on you, lady”. The impact went almost from a zero to hundred, rendering me almost immobile, and obviously scared to death. It didn’t take me very long to start wobbling back to Orchard Health Clinic. At that point, it was already immensely painful to cough, sneeze, bend over, let alone walking like a normal person.

    orchard health clinic interior room

    My diagnosis? Prolonged poor posture, deep hip flexor tension, poor hip and mid-back mobility, and weakness of core-stablising musculature. Following an hour-long treatment session, where I was tugged, lifted and rubbed with caution and care — all to reduce the spasm state of my lower back muscles and to ease the tension on my lower back, it was clear that it was impossible to fix me with just one session. I was told the pain would stick around for a week, but that I should start regular at-home stretches and exercises that would help reduce the strain and strengthen my muscles. My biggest takeaway was that sitting down for a prolonged period of time was almost dangerous — just because you feel at ease and comfortable doesn’t mean something calamitous isn’t creeping up your spine.

    Sure enough, I was one of those that suffered the brunt of it, as others who have sat at their desk jobs longer than myself might have never encountered a back or neck problem. But honestly, from going from zero symptoms to a health scare to come knocking like this, prevention ultimately is better than cure. Especially when the cure isn’t one that’s as instantaneous as popping a miracle pill.  (Side note: I’m feeling better, but it’s an ongoing journey with my osteopath.)

    Sufficiently concerned yet? They shared a few tips and tricks to make sure you keep your back and neck strong and healthy within the compounds of your office.

    Roll up your towel into a third and place it at the back of your chair, before sitting back on it with only the bones of your bum. By doing so, your pelvis is tilted forward, and also distributes the weight of your head and chest onto your spine and not just the back of your neck. It’s a strange habit to have to explain to your co-workers but this relieves a load of tension.

    Laptop users might find themselves looking down at their screens a lot, which isn’t a good thing especially when we find our heads going lower and lower as the day goes by. Try to find props in order to prop up your laptop so that it meets your eye level — if needed, invest in an external keyboard. This reduces the weight on your back and forces you to sit upright.

    laptop screen back health

    Work your shoulders in circular motions, as this helps to take the tension off the front, which also coincides with your back muscles. Easing any joints and muscles at the front will benefit those at the back — after all, it’s all part of the same body.

    You might not be able to accomplish a downward dog while hard at work, but stretching your chest back and forth, rolling your hips back, and rotating your body movements allow more blood to get into the joints in order to maintain overall joint health.

  • Esquire Magazine January 2020 Issue: How To Maintain Good Sleep Hygiene
    How To Maintain Good Sleep Hygiene

    Up on the cosy fourth floor of lululemon Duxton, also known as the Luoft, an expert from Orchard Health Clinic whipped open a therapy table and gave complimentary one-on-one consultations and on-the-spot treatment.

    We sat down with an osteopath at Orchard Health Clinic who gave us three tips to maintain good sleep hygiene and improve sleep quality.

    Sleep hygiene is a behavioural and environmental practice developed in the late 1970s as a method to help people with mild to moderate insomnia. It is a variety of different practices and habits that promote good night-time sleep quality and full daytime alertness. Obtaining a healthy sleep amount of seven to eight hours is important for both physical and mental health.

    Here is how to improve your sleep and recharge your energy levels:

    Stay away from your electronics an hour before bedtime

    Blue light from lamps, mobile phone, computer and TV screens can make it difficult to fall asleep as it inhibits melatonin release to the brain. Keeping electronics out of the room will strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep. If you have your phone/computer close by, the temptation of using them will be higher and it will wake up your brain resulting in broken sleep.

    Make sure your room is cool enough

    Your bedroom should be around 20 degree Celsius for optimal sleep experience. A dark environment will also facilitate good sleep. Use heavy curtains, blackout shades or an eye mask to block light to tell your brain to switch off. Mattress and pillows should be comfortable. Lower the volume of outside noise with earplugs or a ‘white noise’ appliance.

    Cultivate an active and healthy lifestyle

    Avoid heavy, fatty or spicy food as they can trigger indigestion and heartburn. Caffeine should be avoided six hours before bedtime as well as sugar as they are stimulants that can keep you awake. Alcohol is well-known to help you fall asleep faster, but too much close to bedtime can disrupt sleep in the second half of the night. It is better to limit alcohol consumption to one to two drinks per day and to avoid drinking within three hours of bedtime. Refrain from using tobacco products too close to bedtime. As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise such as walking can drastically improve night-time sleep quality. It will be best to avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime as it stimulates the body to secrete the stress hormone “cortisol” which helps activate the alert mechanism in the brain. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before bed.