Abingdon Chiropractic Clinic

Bring Sally Up….

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Have you seen the recent ‘Bring Sally Up’ challenge about doing pushups in time with the Moby track ‘Flower’? Pushups are the ultimate triceps exercise. I find it almost impossible, but I’m working on it! The lyrics are really ‘Green Sally Up’, not ‘Bring Sally Up’, but that’s a whole other story with its roots in slavery. I’ll let you Google it!

We use the triceps muscle to push things: helping ourselves out of a chair, pushing a door, and doing pushups.  ‘Tri’, means ‘three’. The triceps has three components: the medial, the lateral and the long head. These all come together  to attach onto the olecranon of the elbow.

The triceps is the muscle that is most commonly affected by a trapped nerve in the neck, the seventh cervical nerve. A problem with this nerve can give pain in the neck and arm, and weakness of the triceps. We normally test triceps strength, comparing one side to the other. As the nerve recovers, the triceps strength improves.

Pushups are a great way to develop our core stability, working multiple muscles, as well as to support our cardiovascular fitness. They help to strengthen our shoulders. They don’t require any equipment. They are free, and it doesn’t take very long to do them.

But, they are difficult. In another video I’ll show you how you can start to do pushups at a level that suits you and how to gradually progress so that you can do push-ups at a level that helps to get you fitter and stronger!

If you feel strong enough to have a go at the challenge here is a link to a YouTube video of the track with a timer so that you can see how long you can keep going. Push yourself up and stay up with ‘Green Sally Up’ and then lower yourself down and stay down with the lyric ‘Bring Sally Down’. See how long you can keep going!

Green Sally up and green Sally down

Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground

Old Miss Lucy’s dead and gone

Left me here to weep and moan….

Is your BP monitor any good?

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This article was stimulated by me seeing an article by Dean Piccone and colleagues [1] in the JAMA. I thought that all blood pressure (BP) monitors that are sold in the UK would be equally valid, but apparently not!

Why is measuring BP important? We know that elevated systolic BP is a risk factor for death. It is estimated that 10 million people die globally each year due to high BP [2].  So, identifying patients with elevated blood pressure, therefore, makes sense, so that BP lowering interventions can be made or suggested.

I like to measure my patients BP when I first see them, and annually at their review, if they are attending for regular care. Sometimes it can be very high when I first see a patient, and this might be very relevant, if the patient is complaining of left shoulder pain, for instance. Other times I might notice that it is creeping upwards year-on-year

In-clinic measurements are commonly elevated, giving a false impression of risk, due to ‘white coat syndrome’. [3, 4]. This might result in an inappropriate referral of the patient to their GP for BP meds. We often ask patients to measure their BP at home. These patients will obviously need to have their own BP monitor.

You need to ensure that your BP monitor has been validated. Not all monitors have been validated, because the regulations governing their sale are apparently as much about electrical safety as measurement accuracy. You can check yours at the National Registry  run by the British and Irish Hypertension Society.

You can learn how to reliably measure your own BP an on-line course (yes, really) here which takes about an hour [5]. Most people just follow the instructions that come with the BP equipment that they buy

If you want to learn more, read the article by Piccone and colleagues (link below). Shout out to them for a really useful article. Awesome!

Does too much exercise cause back pain?

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Sometimes you wonder about scientists. Do they want their research to be understood? Or do they want to cloak it in mystery? One study, published quite a number of years ago (2009), sounds like the title of the latest instructions from a piece of drainage kit from Plumbers World: ‘Physical activity and low back pain: a U-shaped relation’ [1], The authors are assuming that the readers are not about to unblock their sink, but are actually epidemiologists with an enthusiasm for descriptions of graphs.What our Dutch researcher friends are attempting to get across is that if you look at a graph of the incidence of low back pain after physical activity you will see that it is U-shaped. According to their study of 3364 subjects, people who exercise minimally have a higher incidence of back pain, but so do people who engage in more strenuous exercise. Those doing moderate levels of exercise have the lowest levels of back pain.

Your spouse understands this intuitively when he says: ‘In a bit love, my back is playing up’ when you ask him for the third time to put the bins out. He thinks that he is engaging in strenuous exercise, whereas in reality he does almost no exercise. So, it’s little wonder that he gets back pain.

Our spouses all believe that their thinking is correct. But is it? A recent paper [2] suggests otherwise. These researchers, from Portsmouth University, studied 5802 people over 50yrs old, and found that the only level of exercise that reduced the incidence of musculo-skeletal pain was a high level of exercise.

So, it seems that you would be justified in informing your poor spouse that if, in addition to taking the bins out, perhaps he could also cut the grass and trim the hedge? He might get a bit less back pain!

Furthermore, the same recent study found that being overweight increased the risk of suffering from musculo-skeletal pain, as did poverty, and being female. There are plenty of societal issues for us to address.

I’m just off to put the bins out……..

btw…. these studies are all looking at groups of patients and seeing what is best ‘in general’. You cannot simply apply group statistics to an individual. There are, of course, individuals for whom doing high levels of exercise will cause more problems. So, get some individual advice if you are thinking about launching into a new physical exercise regime!

  1. Heneweer, H., L. Vanhees, and H.S. Picavet, Physical activity and low back pain: a U-shaped relation? Pain, 2009. 143(1-2): p. 21-5.

2. Niederstrasser, N.G. and N. Attridge, Associations between pain and physical activity among older adults. PLoS One, 2022. 17(1): p. e0263356.

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