What is Facet Joint Syndrome?

Facet joints are the bony protrusions at the back of the spine which join the vertebrae together.  They are the joints that make your back flexible and allow you to bend and twist.

The joints are lined with cartilage and lubricated by a substance called synovial fluid. When healthy, the bones move freely over each other without grinding.

Nerves pass through the joints from the spinal cord to on their way to the rest of the body.

Degenerative changes in the discs and subsequent thinning of discs can cause pressure on the facet joints, affecting how the joints line up. This added pressure causes wear and tear which eventually destroys the cartilage and fluid in the joint and causes the soft tissue surrounding the joint to swell.

As a result of this damage, the bones rub together. When this happens, the body tries to heal itself by building new bone which results in the formation of bone spurs, growths which protrude from the bone and can press on the nerves which pass through the joint.

There is an added risk that these bone spurs continue to grow and narrow the spinal canal.

When suffering from facet joint syndrome, movements such as bending backwards or twisting sideways towards the affected joint will cause pain.

Standing for long periods may make it worse and anything which takes the weight off the joint such as sitting or lying down can ease the pain.

Why Does My Back Hurt When I Run?

Whether you’re a seasoned marathon runner or have just embarked on your first C25K, the last thing you want is back pain stopping you in your tracks (sometimes literally). Yet it’s a problem faced by many runners.

There are a number of reasons why you may feel aches in your back from running and whilst the culprit may not be running related, it could manifest itself as such.

What Is A Slipped Disc?

The intervertebral discs are made up of a tough outer shell (Annulus Fibrosus) and a soft-jelly like substance (Nucleus Pulposus) contained within it. These discs separate the bones of the spine (the vertebrae) and act as shock absorbers, protecting the bones from things like lifting, twisting and impact.

When the outer shell becomes weak or torn, the inner substance can leak out. This is referred to a slipped or herniated disc. Sometimes the outer shell doesn’t tear but the inner substance causes it to protrude. This is referred to as a bulging or prolapsed disc.

4 Simple Stretches To Beat Back Pain

4 Simple Stretches To Beat Back Pain

Back pain is a scourge of our modern lifestyle. Hours spent sedentary at the office, combined with sitting in the car or train for long periods and slumping on the sofa in front of the TV or phone after a hard day can lead to the onset of back problems.

Postural changes along with a lack of movement can reduce mobility of the spine and lead to atrophy of the muscles. One key contributor is a shortening of the muscles in the hips and legs. In a seated position, your Psoas muscle at the front of your hip is in a shortened state. Over time, this prolonged position can cause the muscles to adaptively shorten, meaning you lose flexibility and range of movement in your hips.

Because the muscle attaches to your spine - this shortening and tightening can cause an imbalance and result in a tilting of your pelvis which in turn changes the position of your spine, causing pressure on the discs and low back muscles.

Stretching the tightened muscles can help release them and improve flexibility to ease the pressure on your back.

So, what stretches should you do?

Why Does My Back Hurt When I'm Cycling?

Why Does My Back Hurt When I'm Cycling?

As well as tan lines and inside-leg chain ring imprints, there is something less welcome which many cyclists have in common.

Though it’s frequently thought that knee pain is the main culprit, back pain is in fact the biggest cause of complaint amongst cyclists spending long periods in the saddle.

In one study, out of 116 cyclists who had suffered some kind of overuse injury in the past 12 months, 58% had experienced lower back pain. 

So why is it so prevalent in such a low-impact sport? The chances are, the cause of the pain is not limited to any one thing, but a combination of factors which may or may not be correlated.

What is Sciatica?

With the approximate thickness of a pencil and running from the low back down to the feet, the sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body.

It originates in the lumbar (lower) and sacral (at the base) regions of the spine, travels through the muscles in the buttocks, branches out down the leg and attaches to the foot.

It can become irritated by muscles in its path - most commonly in the buttock or leg - tightening or going into spasm, or by a bulging or herniated disc in the low back pressing into it.

It is also associated with degeneration of the spine, or spinal stenosis, which causes a narrowing of the tunnel which the nerve passes through.

What are the signs to look for when it comes to sciatica?

The 3-Step System to Setting Clear Goals for 2019

The 3-Step System to Setting Clear Goals for 2019

Happy 2019 everyone! We’ve been working lots lately, both personally and with our clients, around goal setting. As fitness and therapy professionals, we are trained in goal setting and how to make them SMART but having attended several seminars and workshops this year, we’re really learning how to drill down and set much more manageable goals which are easy to measure.

The great thing about it is that you can use it in any context. Health-related goals, professional goals and personal goals. Let’s make a start on the bigger picture, then work it down to something you can work on a practical level.

How Sports Massage Could Be the Answer to Your Back Pain

How Sports Massage Could Be the Answer to Your Back Pain

study recently found massage more effective for reducing back pain than medication and other traditional methods.

According to the research, 40% of subjects who had a weekly massage for 10 weeks reported a significant reduction in their pain, compared to just 4% of subjects receiving usual care.

I’ve been practising sports massage for over 10 years and, where it was a little-used treatment for back pain when I first qualified, it’s now often the first thing people investigate when suffering chronic pain and we’re now getting more enquiries than ever here at the studio.

So, want to know a bit more about it and see what all the hype is? Read on…

Wonderful walks in Bristol and beyond

Wonderful walks in Bristol and beyond

Last weekend, Andy and I packed the kids and the dogs into the car and took ourselves off to Westonbirt Arboretum.  Nestled in the Cotswolds, it’s a lovely way to see the best of the gorgeous autumnal colours we get from nature this time of year. 

We were out for a good 4 hours, kids kicking up the leaves and dogs sniffing out new friends in the forest.  We were all exhausted by the time we got back.

According to research we can burn as many calories per mile brisk walking as we can jogging.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I do like to bang on about how we need to make exercise enjoyable to make it work and that the gym isn’t for everyone.

With this in mind, I’ve compiled a short list of great places to go in Bristol and beyond should you be one of the many who would much rather be out walking in the great outdoors than pounding on a treadmill in the gym.