Don't let the chores break your back

Lots of patients sheepishly admit, when questioned regarding the origin of their back problem, that it all started when vacuuming. Dusting. Making the bed. Pulling laundry out of the machine. Putting the turkey into the oven. Or something along those lines. Let's face it - the home appears to be a dangerous place indeed.

There are numerous different activities in the home that are performed on a daily or at least weekly basis that can potentially be harmful to your back or your health generally, due to the combinations of bending, turning, lifting, rotating and even due to sheer monotony of repetition. The purpose of this article is to try and highlight a few key points as to how to reduce the likelihood of injuring yourself, and actually turning them into a productive part of your rehabilitative workout.

Keep your back straight

The discs in your back (the cushions between vertebrae) are most vulnerable to injury and even tearing with a combination of bending and rotating the trunk. Guess what is the most common position we get into whilst vacuuming, scrubbing the bath, ironing, making the beds, or filling the dish washer - yup, you got it. So many things in the home require us to bend and then rotate or reach. It is no surprise that there are a lot of achy backs.

Keeping your back straight ensures even distribution of weight on the discs and therefore reduces the likelihood of injury. This also enables you to activate the muscles of the back, the abdomen, the pelvic floor, and the stabilisers of the hip and shoulder girdle in an appropriate manner. The proper muscle activation if these days referred to as core stability. It means, that you are solid in your midsection, which therefore allows your limbs to move more freely and efficiently, at the same time protecting your vulnerable back.

Help with the legs

When you need to lift or pick something up - bend the legs. The hips, knees and ankles are there for precisely that purpose; so that you need not curl your spine out of shape to reach the floor. Using the legs to get down to the floor level with your hands allows you to maintain a straight back, reducing the strain on the discs, ligaments, joints and muscles of the back.

Using the legs is not only very sensible, but can be seen as a part of your training regime. People spend a lot of money these days going to gym to do squats and lunges - but here is your chance to shape the things and buttocks during your daily activities.

Keep the loads close to your body

When carrying a baby, you make sure that the baby held very secure close to your chest or hip. Anyone with a toddler will testify, that carrying them in this manner is by far easier (and a lot more comfortable) that trying to keep them at arms length. According to laws of physics, the further the object is from the body, the heavier it is to carry.

Of course, there are the awkward objects, such as laundry baskets and tellies, but then again either reducing the weight of the laundry basket (maybe make two trips) or getting someone to help with the telly are good ways maintaining good lifting and carrying technique - and the straight back.

When picking and object up the floor, either squat down or go down to one knee so that you can easily reach the object. Grab the object with both hands and lift it up to your chest. Straighten your back. Get up and move. Simple, eh? You would be surprised to know how few people actually do this - even people who have attended manual handling courses admit to doing it the bad way...

Try not to reach

When reaching with the hands you are putting yourself in danger. As stated above, the further the object is from the body, the more it weighs. Also by reaching you are putting your muscles in the back and the shoulders under a great stretch.  Generally it is not the best idea to load a muscle that is in a fully stretched position - it may go 'ping'.

It is always a good idea to have a step handy in the house. Using a step will help those of us who are 'vertically challenged' reach the upper shelves, or move around the washing machine to get into a better position to grab the washing powder off the shelf. Also when making the beds, try and go around the bed to do the corners  - there are no points awarded for being able to reach over the king size mattress to tuck the sheet under the mattress, or for being able to vacuum the bottom step all the way from the top.

Pace yourself

Is there really any need to do ironing for five straight hours without a break? Give yourself a break, do something different for a while and then come back to it. Your muscles, that are responsible of maintaining you in any given position, will thank you for the breather. The most irritating thing for any muscle is the static contraction. This usually happens, for example, when ironing. The board is either too low, which requires you to stoop and strain the low back muscles, or too high, causing you to lift your shoulders up to your ears straining the shoulder and neck muscles. These repetitive actions, with very little global movement are generally badly tolerated by muscles, as they are unable to contact and relax normally, which is required for sufficient blood flow through the muscles. When muscles at constant tension (or static contraction) the blood flow quickly ceases, causing an influx of lactic acid - which brings on the pain. So move about.

Take the crucial second

THINK! That is the most important piece of advice. How can you do what you need to do without hurting yourself. It takes less than a second. Actively remembering the previous points is good, but stopping to put them into practise is even better. Bend the knees, keep the back straight, help with the tummy muscles, use the step or move around objects - it will become second nature soon, but to get started you have to stop, think, and only then act.

If the unthinkable does happen, and you find yourself in pain, give us a call at the clinic on 01932-429584.  The chiropractors at Shepperton Chiropractic Clinic are able to treat most musculoskeletal back problems efficiently and effectively. We are also more than happy to take you through various home chores, and to teach you the appropriate technique.




Some people get blisters. That's apparently it. There is really no reason, no cause, no factor that may predict why it should be you who gets them. If you are reading this article chances are that you are a fellow blister sufferer. They may appear without warning, cause untold misery and pain, bring on an unsightly limp, and leave you with wrecked feet for a few days.

According to The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists (TSCP), blisters are caused by repeated rubbing from ill fitting footwear and socks or foot deformities, and can be a particular problem with diabetics. Normally they tend to heal within 3 to 7 days.


TSCP guide for blister prevention includes:

1. Wear well fitting shoes for running and walking

2. Wear special walking socks, or twin skin socks, that are the correct size. You may also try wearing your socks inside out so that the seams don't rub your feet.

3. Change your socks daily

4. Keep your toenails trim

5. Consider using foot antiperspirant sprays if your feet get very sweaty

6. Remove foreign bodies from your footwear or socks

7. Ensure that the tongue and laces are arranged correctly and evenly

8. Check your feet regularly for any signs of rubbing or tenderness


To treat a blister, TSCP recommends to not 'pop' the blister. Instead you should cut a doughnut from felt (or something similar) and wear it around the blister. In case of a burst blister use soap and water to clean it and antiseptic cream to stop it from becoming infected.


Let's face it - blisters are a pain and they may have a significant effect on your walking or running gait. In the long run, if blisters are a persistent problem they may alter the biomechanics of the lower limb as well as the lower back, resulting in compensatory muscular imbalances leading to various ailments such as plantar fasciitis, the runners knee, or even pains around the hip and the low back. In most extreme cases there may be need for orthotics to be worn in the shoes, yet in most cases that should not be needed.



If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me at the clinic on 01932 - 429584 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sit up straight! - my mum used to say...

Everyone remembers how parents and grandparents always used to tell them to sit up straight. How right they were! Good posture, especially sitting posture is very important for the maintenance of the human frame, and for the adequate, or even optimal, functioning of the nervous system.

Home is a place for relaxation, rest and comfort - therefore we slump in to the sofa or the settee, and often stay rooted for long times in a horrible twist to watch the telly. Not good. Not good at all! Many people will recognise themselves from one or more of  the following descriptions: 

1) Sitting leaning onto the arm rest, with legs tucked to the side of  you  - often your  neck is rotated in the opposite direction to gaze into the telly

2) Leaning back and sliding down until only your bum is touching the front edge of the sofa and your shoulders and neck are touching the cushion at the back - spine slumped down

3) Semi cross-legged sitting, one leg tucked under the bum, the other dangling in front. Crouching down to work on a laptop is optional (yet frequently observed)

4) Sitting somewhat up right, with legs crossed at the knee - sometimes legs tilted to one side to maximise the twisting of the pelvis and lumbar spine

5) Lying down on the sofa, wedged in between the arm rests, with neck jammed into full flexion against the arm rest as the legs are too long to comfortably fit in the sofa - you may require  help from someone with a crowbar to be able to get out of this position

6) Side lying, with head propped up with five cushions and one leg on the arm rest, the other twisted over so that the knee is resting on the floor - unable to get off the sofa as both arms have gone numb

7) The case of a seriously soft sofa - as you sit down, it feels like your bum is sinking through the floor, so that you end up with your knees sticking up in front of your face. It may take several attempts to get out, as you need to build up momentum by rocking back and forward to finally launch yourself up and into freedom


Needless to say - not one of the previous examples is very good for you, as all place excessive strain onto the body either through twisting, compressing or due to lack of support.

The human body is very badly designed for sitting, yet in the modern world most of us spend ever increasing hours sat down. There are a few important check points that will reduce the likelihood of causing yourself mischief whilst sat down.

1) Seat height should allow you to sit with your feet resting flat on the floor and with your knees below the level of the hips.

2) Seat depth should let you comfortably rest your back against the back rest with your bum tucked into the fold of the seat and with your legs resting down with bent knees.

3) The seat as well as the back rest should be firm and supportive.

Most importantly, you should always try and sit as tall as you possibly can - Remember that sitting position is 90% reliant on the person to do it right, not the seat.


For people with back trouble, and equally for those without, the sofa is generally not the best choice. A good dining room chair with good support is the weapon of choice, or if you are particularly tired then why don't you just have a lie down on the floor?


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at the clinic, call 01932 - 429584 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Driving - The mystery of the car seat position


Most of us drive (or sit in the car as a passenger) a certain amount of miles each week. Of course the relative importance of the car seat position is greater for those with greater weekly mileage, yet everyone should take the rudimentary steps to ensure support for the back and the neck while in the car / van / truck / lorry / tractor.


Over use injuries are a common companion to many people driving the length and width of the country. These arise as the body is forced into an abnormal, and uncomfortable position for long periods. The injury itself may be relatively minor, yet the ensuing compensations are what most people notice over the course of weeks and months. The culprit in most cases is the angle of the spine in relation to hips. This is brought on by slumping into the car seat in the same way as you would into your sofa. As a result the muscles of the low back are under tremendous stress, which will lead to symptoms radiating to the legs as well as the upper back and shoulders - sometimes culminating in sciatica and headaches.


A good car seat position is very similar to that of sitting well in your office chair or whilst watching telly in your living room. The easiest way to think about it is to deviate as little as possible from the anatomical neutral. This involves upright angle of the spine (both back and neck), hips tucked back into the fold of the seat, knees lying below the level of hips (sometimes impossible with certain low slung sports cars), pedals within reach of the feet, and finally ability to reach the steering wheel with the elbows bent.


Getting into the good position for the first time may take a few minutes as you may need to adjust the seat in various different ways. It may also feel very strange, or very different from what you are used to - yet it will make sense as you examine the new situation a bit more closely.

1) As you get into the car, leave the door open so you have a bit more room to manouevre.

2) When sat in your seat, lean all the way forward (forehead resting on the top of the steering wheel if possible) and wiggle your bum all the way back into the fold of the seat

3) Staying in the forward leaning position, fasten your seat belt and tug the lap belt nice and tight. This will lock your hips back in the seat and facilitate the good upright angle for your spine.

4) With your hips securely in the back of the seat, now sit up leaning your back onto the backrest.

5) Adjust the seat position. You may need to bring your seat one or two clicks forward to reach the pedals comfortably. This means that you can press all of the pedals by extending your ankle - without needing to move your hips.

6) Adjust the backrest angle. You may now need to bring the backrest back a bit, as the seat has come forward. You should be able to reach the wheel with your elbows hanging down in front of you in a relaxed manner. As long as your hips are held to the back of the seat, it does not matter how far back you recline (within reason) as the angle of your spine will remain neutral.

7) You may need to adjust the height of the seat as well. Now as you are sitting more upright you may need to bring the seat down a bit so that your head does not scrape the ceiling.

8) Adjust the mirrors to suit your new driving position.

9) Remember to remove the wallet from your back pocket! Over longer distances this may cause irritation of the sciatic nerve and the buttock muscles, and even cause a pelvic injury.  

10) Consult your chiropractor - tell them where the problems are, when they arise and what other factors may be involved. Back problems very rarely go away on their own.


When getting used to the new driving position it is advisable to test it on shorter journeys to begin with. Take time to adjust your seat on a few consecutive journeys as the position will somewhat change as your body is getting used to it. If you are doing a longer journey, try and take a break to walk around every 60 minutes or so.


The best example of an exellent driving position comes from the world of motor racing - namely rally. Rally drivers require the position to give them the quickest possible reactions, the shortest distance required to travel to reach various controls, the best economy of movement in the car, and the greatest sustainable endurance in the driving position. This all makes sense, as they tend to drive down narrow and bumpy roads at break-neck speeds, where lightning reactions are a must to ensure not only good result but sometimes survival. Of course the requirements are slightly different for the average commuter or mum's taxi, yet the principles remain the same.


The biomechanically correct position will reduce the risk of injury - allways and every time.


If you have any questions regarding your driving posture, please get in touch with us at the clinic. Please call 01932 - 429584 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.





Ice Pack Instructions

Cryotherapy, or application of ice packs is very useful for alleviating pain and swelling. The effects of ice are well documented and demonstrated even in the field of sport, where a fallen athlete suddenly recovers from a blow after the application of an ice pack or ice spray. In the domestic setting the use of ice is no less important.

The effects of ice

Whenever there is an injury to the tissues, there will be a certain amount of swelling as a result. The increased amount of fluid will bring along with it inflammatory chemicals which produce more heat and are noxious (they stimulate chemically sensitive and pain sensitive nerve endings) producing more pain. If the swelling goes unchecked, it may cause compression of the local nerves as well as the local blood vessels, mainly the veins, and the lymphatic vessels resulting in inability of the body to naturally disperse the fluid. The main effect of ice is vasoconstriction in the affected tissue. This means, that as ice is applied to the surface of the skin, the superficial and later deeper blood vessels will temporarily reduce in size and therefore reduce the amount of fluid being pumped into the area (swelling).

 The sensation of cool (or heat for that matter) is transmitted in larger nerve fibres than pain - this leads to partial switching off of the pain fibres resulting in numbing of the pain.


Summary: Icing reduces pain, swelling, inflammation and irritation.


In my opinion ice is the treatment of choice, as opposed to heat, for most (about 90%) of acute as well as chronic injuries. Application of ice after having chiropractic treatment is indicated in most cases, and to try and help the body recover more quickly you should carry on using the ice pack in the days between treatments.


How to apply:

The best kind of ice pack is a soft gel ice pack, not a pack of frozen peas or a hard plastic picnic ice pack. The softness of the gel ice pack allows the pack to mould to your shape and contours, and therefore improves the delivery of cold. Also it is a lot more comfortable than a hard lump.

After freezing the ice pack, wrap it in a tea towel or a normal towel to temper the cold. This will prevent any unpleasant skin reactions to the cold. If you notice, however, that the skin becomes irritated or painful, please stop using the ice pack.

Apply the ice pack for no more than 15 minutes per hour. The tissues will need time to recover from the cold before the next application. Your chiropractor will instruct you regarding the appropriate location of application, frequency and total number of applications per day.

If you have not got a gel ice pack at home, or do not know where to get one, we stock gel ice packs at the clinic.


If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at the clinic. Call us on 01932 - 429584 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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I was in so much pain last week I couldn’t imagine that I would feel this much better in 7 days
Heather Penncock

I first went to Mika About 2 months ago. I could not walk straight line or very far. I was also in pain as I have had two knee replacements. After about 3 weeks I can now walk upright and in a straight line. Also a lot of pain relief. I cannot recommend this practice enough.
Frank Whittington

I have been working with Dr Mika Janhunen of Shepperton Chirorpactic Clinic for four years. During this time he has not only been able to help me overcome various niggling injuries and to enjoy better health, but has been able to improve the performance of a number of my golf coaching clients as well. His detailed knowledge of the human body and the complexity of the golf swing movement pattern is virtually unrivalled in terms of results that I have ever seen. I will continue to refer my players to see Mika, and would encourage anyone to do the same.
Rob Watts, PGA Golf Professional