Bulging Discs

Poor posture, unbalanced tight and weak muscles, stress, over training and joint dysfunction are all possible causes of low back pain. Frequently we see patients who may present with acute low back pain and sciatica.

Sciatica refers to back pain caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. This is a large nerve that runs from the lower back down the back of each leg. When something injures or puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, it can cause pain in the lower back that spreads to the hip, buttocks and leg.

The most common symptom of sciatica is lower back pain that extends through the hip and buttock and down one leg. The pain usually affects only one leg and may get worse when you sit, cough or sneeze. The leg may also feel numb, weak or tingly at times.

The symptoms of sciatica tend to appear suddenly and can last for days or weeks.

Most people who get sciatica are between the ages of 30 and 50. Women may be more likely to develop the problem during pregnancy because of pressure on the sciatic nerve from the growing uterus and foetus. Other   causes include a herniated or bulging disc and degenerative arthritis of the spine.

What is a bulging disc?

To understand what a bulging disc is, we must first understand the anatomy of the spine.

Put simply, the spine is made up of individual vertebrae stacked on top of each other. Between each vertebrae is an intervertebral disc that provides a cushion so the vertebrae don’t rub together.

The discs between the vertebrae have a gel like material inside (called a nucleus pulposus).

A great way to think of the discs is like that of a balloon filled with water – these discs help resist compressive forces on the spine.

When a disc bulges, the gel like material inside gets pushed back towards the nerves and structures of the spine. This bulge can sometimes        compress nerves in your spine and cause pain, tingling / or burning sensation and / or other symptoms.

It is important to note that a bulging disc doesn’t always touch the nerves and, for many, a bulged disc doesn’t even produce any pain at all. However, it could progress to become a herniated disc eventually, which can be problematic.

What causes a bulging disc?

· Seated with poor posture for long periods of time.

· Repetitive bending, lifting and twisting, especially with poor form.

· Heavy lifting with poor form due to stress on front of spinal column causing disc to bulge out back.

· Can also result from osteoarthritis.

· Trauma such as a car accident.

How is a bulging disc different from a herniated disc and which is worse?

In most simple terms, a herniated disc is when the fluid material from the disc ruptures through the outer layer of the disc and now spills out. This material can directly compress on spinal nerves and spinal structures. If you use the water balloon example but now imagine the balloon has burst under pressure, that’s a herniated disc.

A bulging disc can be resolved over time if managed well, whereas the herniated disc will just scar down since the annulus (outer layer of disc) has ruptured.

A nice visual spine model is provided below differentiating between normal, bulging and  herniated discs:

What are the symptoms of a bulging disc in the lumbar spine?

· Low back pain.

· Leg pain (not absolute).

· Decreased lumbar lordosis (lower back curvature becomes flattened – flatter lower back over time).

· Lumbar and hip muscle tightness.

Wrists: delicate but complex

The wrist is one of the most delicate, complicated and vulnerable joints in the body. It’s classed as a complex joint, meaning multiple bones slide against each other to create a more complex movement – necessary in such a tight space and to be able to withstand the compressive forces wrists can handle! It’s capable of every movement possible from a joint in the body. 

The 7 small bones of the wrist sit between the two forearm bones and the long bones of the hand. Their location is from our tree dwelling ancestors and allows the hand to close and open, as well as working with the elbow to rotate up to (and sometimes over!) 360 degrees. Those same tree dwelling ancestors are responsible for some of the muscles acting on the wrist. There are very few muscles that exist in the wrist, the only main one called pronator quadratus. The rest live in the forearm and pass tendons across the wrist into the fingers or hands.

These tendons are the most vulnerable part of the wrist to injury and pass in a series of sheaths around the outside of the wrist, linking the wrist to conditions like tennis and golfers’ elbow. 

The most well known wrist injuries, along with the most common, are traumatic injuries from falls and impact – the typical ‘fall on out stretched hand’ or FOOSH. The small bones and corresponding joints make the area particularly susceptible to injury in this way.

However, other injuries can come in the form of repetitive strains to any of the joints or tendons and can also show in some of the nerves that pass through the wrist into the hand. The most common of these being carpal tunnel syndrome. Other tunnel syndromes are more rare but do exist, the next most common being a tunnel of gunyon syndrome, also known as a handlebar palsy.

That name is a giveaway as to the most common population to get this type of injury! However, it isn’t just cyclists – anyone with pressure on the ulnar side of the wrist (little finger side) with a gripped fist can be in the firing line, particularly with vibration, so power tools are a common cause.

Something to bear in mind with tunnel syndromes or any injury to the nerves in the hand or extremity is that it’s very important to rule out any other pathology or cause, as conditions such as type 2 diabetes are significant risk factors – they are also very commonly present in pregnancy! 

The high usage of the wrist in nearly any movement using the hand leads to overuse or repetitive strain injuries being very common in the wrist – linked with overuse in sports, actions like using scissors in hairdressing or using keyboards excessively. 

Some of the more interesting aspects of the wrist include a muscle left over from our tree dwelling evolutionary forebears, that isn’t present in everyone, called palmaris longus. This tenses the connective tissue of the hand and assists wrist flexion. One theory as to its development is that it assists climbing primates (and possibly climbing humans?!).  Did you know, the wrist bones in horses have fused to create their longer lower foreleg bones, meaning the joint that looks like their knee / elbow on the front leg is equivalent to our wrist! 

Treatment of the wrist is often complex – reduction in load through rest and active treatments in the form of exercise or stretching are common. Many different methods of management can be performed by chiropractors including taping, acupuncture, manipulation and massage. These are effective in many types of wrist injury but, due to the complex nature of the joint and the structures passing through it, make sure to seek advice from a qualified professional (chiropractor, GP, physiotherapist or similar) before any sort of  intervention! 




Core Strengthening and why its important

Think of your core muscles as the robust central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body. Whether you’re hitting a tennis ball or mopping the floor, the necessary motions either originate in your core or move through it.

No matter where motion starts, it ripples upward and downward to adjoining links of the chain. Thus, weak or inflexible core muscles can impair how well your arms and legs function and that reduces power from many of the moves you make. Building up your core increases your power, stability and balance. It can help prevent falls and injuries during sports or other activities. A strong, flexible core underpins almost everything we do.

What is core?

Your abs are not just one muscle. The deepest layer of abdominal muscles and arguably the most important, is your transverse abdominis (sometimes called the corset or Spanx of the core), which stabilises your spine and pelvis. Then you have two layers of oblique muscles, which control lateral flexion (side bending),  rotation and other spinal movements. Last but not least is the    topmost muscle, the rectus abdominis, which runs vertically in the front of your abdomen (the six pack). It flexes / crunches your torso forward.

When reviewing your whole core (versus just your abs), there are more muscles involved: pelvic floor, back muscles that stabilise your spine and your diaphragm (the main muscle involved in   breathing).

Everyday benefits of strengthening your core

Bending to put on shoes or scoop up a package, turning to look behind you, sitting in a chair or simply standing still – these are just a few of the many mundane actions that rely on your core and that you might not notice until they become difficult or painful. Even basic activities of daily living like bathing or dressing, for example, call on your core.

Jobs that involve lifting, twisting and standing all rely on core muscles. But less obvious tasks, like sitting at your desk for hours, engage your core as well. Phone calls, typing, computer use and similar work can make back muscles surprisingly stiff and sore,  particularly if you’re not strong enough to practice good posture and aren’t taking  sufficient breaks.

A healthy back

Low back pain, a debilitating, sometimes excruciating problem, may be prevented by  exercises that promote well balanced, resilient core muscles. When back pain strikes, a regimen of core exercises is often prescribed to relieve it, coupled with medications, physical therapy or other treatments if necessary.

Sports and other pleasurable activities

Golfing, tennis or other racquet sports, biking, running, swimming, baseball, volleyball, kayaking, rowing and many other athletic activities are powered by a strong core.

Housework, DIY and gardening

Bending, lifting, twisting, carrying, hammering, reaching overhead, even vacuuming,  mopping and dusting are acts that spring from or pass through, the core.

Balance and stability

Your core stabilises your body, allowing you to move in any direction, even on the bumpiest terrain or stand in one spot without losing your balance. Viewed this way, core exercises can lessen your risk of falling.

Good posture

Weak core muscles contribute to slouching. Good posture trims your silhouette and projects confidence. More importantly, it lessens wear and tear on the spine and allows you to breathe deeply. Good posture helps you gain full benefits from the effort you put into exercising too.

Weak, tight or unbalanced core muscles can undermine you in any of these realms. While it’s important to build a strong core, it’s unwise to aim all your efforts at developing rippling abs. Overtraining abdominal muscles while snubbing muscles of the back and hip can set you up for injuries and cut athletic prowess.

Where to start?

It’s very important that, once you begin to activate and work on your core, you do so with control and patience. Starting with the teaser or advanced Russian twists will likely result in injury, weakness and imbalance.

Check out our Flexicore classes to help activate the deep internal core and pelvic floor muscles. They are a perfect foundation to build from.


Understanding Blood Pressure

Normal blood pressure is vital to life, however, blood pressure can become dangerously high and it can also get too low.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is what allows oxygen and nutrients to move through our circulatory systems and is the force that moves it.  It’s an important force     because oxygen and nutrients would not be pushed around our circulatory system to nourish tissues and organs without blood pressure.

Blood pressure is also vital because it delivers white blood cells and antibodies for immunity and hormones such as insulin. Just as important as providing oxygen and nutrients, the fresh blood that gets delivered is able to pick up the toxic waste products of metabolism, including the carbon dioxide we exhale with every breath and the toxins we clear through our liver and kidneys.

Blood itself carries a number of other properties, including its temperature. It also carries one of our defenses against tissue damage, the clotting platelets that prevent blood loss following injury.

But what exactly is it that causes blood to exert a pressure in our arteries?  Part of the answer is simple – the heart creates blood pressure by forcing out blood when it contracts with every heartbeat. Blood pressure, however, cannot be created solely by the pumping heart.


Our circulation is similar to a highly sophisticated form of plumbing – blood has ‘flow’ and arteries are ‘pipes’.’

A basic law of physics gives rise to our blood flow and this law also applies in a garden hose pipe.  Blood flows through our body because of a difference in pressure.

Our blood pressure is highest at the start of its journey from our heart – when it enters the  aorta – and it is lowest at the end of its journey along progressively smaller branches of  arteries. That pressure difference is what causes blood to flow around our bodies. 

Arteries affect blood pressure in a similar way to the physical properties of a garden hose pipe affecting water pressure. Constricting the pipe increases pressure at the point of constriction.

Without the elastic nature of the artery walls, for example, the pressure of the blood would fall away more quickly as it is pumped from the heart.

While the heart creates the maximum pressure, the properties of the arteries are just as important to maintaining it and allowing blood to flow throughout the body.

The condition of the arteries affects blood pressure and flow and narrowing of the arteries can eventually block the supply altogether, leading to dangerous conditions including stroke and heart attack.


The device used to measure blood pressure is a sphygmomanometer, it consists of a rubber armband (the cuff that is inflated by hand or machine pump). 

Once the cuff is inflated enough to stop the pulse, a reading is taken, either electronically or on an analogue dial.

The reading is expressed in terms of the pressure it takes to move mercury round a tube against gravity. This is the reason for pressure being measured using the unit millimeters of mercury, abbreviated to mm Hg.


A stethoscope identifies the precise point when the pulse sound returns and the pressure of the cuff is slowly released. Using the stethoscope enables the person measuring the blood pressure to listen out for two specific points.  Blood pressure readings consist of two figures:

  • systolic pressure is the higher figure caused by the heart’s contraction
  • diastolic pressure is the lower pressure in the arteries, during the brief ‘resting’ period between heartbeats.

The reading is given as, for example, 140 over 90mmHg.


The NHS cite normal blood pressure to be below 120mmHg systolic and 80mmHg diastolic.

As a general guide:

  • ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
  •  high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
  •  low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower.

However, blood pressure changes naturally and can have marked short term fluctuations   occurring within a 24 hour period eg beat to beat, minute to minute, hour to hour and day to night changes. There can also be long term fluctuations occurring over more prolonged     periods of time, for example days, weeks, months, seasons and even years.

If you have any concerns about your blood pressure, speak with your doctor.


The guidelines for doctors list the following measures patients can take to help keep a healthy blood pressure:

  • keep a healthy body weight
  • eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • cut down on sodium, or salt, in the diet
  • take regular aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week
  • moderate alcohol intake – men should drink fewer than 2 alcoholic beverages a day and women and men with a lower body weight should consume a maximum of one alcoholic drink a day.

Taking these steps can reduce the risk of health problems further down the line.

Check our Instagram and Facebook pages throughout the month for our Top Tips.


Check our Instagram and Facebook pages throughout the month for our Top Tips for exercises that might help give some relief for TMJ pain.


Exercise and Holistic Health

Yoga at Durham House

There are vast amounts of literature available that discuss the benefits of exercise on everything from your physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual health.  At The Studio Durham House we offer a range of weekly group classes; including yoga, flexicore, pilates and barre, as well as regular workshops and courses that can support one or more pillars of
your overall holistic health.

In today’s blog we look at the key benefits of taking part in regular group exercise on your health and well-being.

Group training for mental health. 

As far back as the early 80’s scholars were looking at the benefit of physical activity on mental health. Researchers  Folkins & Sime  found that physical fitness training leads to improved mood, self-concept, and work behaviour; whilst the evidence was less clear as to its effects on cognitive functioning, although it does appear to bolster cognitive performance
during and after physical stress. Further research in the mid 80’s by Barre-Taylor, Sallis & Needle suggested that physical activity and exercise probably alleviates some symptoms associated with mild to moderate depression.

Nowadays many organisations promote the benefits of regular exercise on our sense of self, ability to function well individually or in relationships, deal with the ups and downs of life, cope with challenges and making the most of opportunities. Regular exercise has been suggested to give us control and freedom over our lives and give us a sense of purpose and value, which is turn connects us to our community and surroundings.

Exercise and physical health.

In addition to the benefits of exercise on mental health, exercise and physical health are extremely well documented. Exercise, play and sport all constitute physical activity and all have a part to play in your physical health. This can include the management of body composition, the ability to move correctly, and being in control of your body. Furthermore, the exercise has been found to combat health conditions and diseases.

Researchers suggest that no matter what your current weight is, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol, and it decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Regular exercise helps prevent or manage many health problems and concerns, including, strokes, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and arthritis.

Exercise and intellectual health

Firstly, when you are describing intellectual health you are referring to having the ability to use the resources available to expand one’s knowledge, improve one’s skills, and create potential for sharing with others.

Countless studies have shown that regular physical activity and fine-tuned motor skills benefit cognitive function beginning in infancy and continuing through every stage of our lives.

Neuroscientists have known for decades that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is released during aerobic exercise and stimulates neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons).

This provides you with a much needed boost for the brain regardless of your age or when you start.

Exercise and spiritual health

Finally, despite less scientific research that is available, many individuals and organisations suggest a positive correlation between physical activity and spiritual health. Basic improvements like promoting mindfulness and improving your relationships, it has also been found to make you more sociable and heighten your intuition.  These can be especially prevalent in a group training environment like the one available at the Studio Durham House.

In summary

So, to summarise, any form of activity, be it running, yoga, weight training has been found through research to provide a positive effect on all aspects of your overall holistic health and, no matter who you are, it is not too late to start.

The Studio Durham House Blog | How do sports massage and pilates work together

Pilates at the Studio Durham House

Firstly, what is Pilates?

Pilates is a form of exercise which concentrates on strengthening the body with an emphasis on core strength. This helps to improve general fitness and overall well-being. It concentrates on posture, balance and flexibility. In Pilates the chance of injury has been found to be much lower than with other more strenuous forms of exercise.

Pilates also focuses on the mind-body connection. While doing the various exercises your mind needs to be constantly aware of your breathing and the way your body moves.

Because Pilates can be modified to provide either a gentle strength training program or a challenging workout, most people would have no problem with this form of exercise. It is suitable both for beginners and for people who already exercise regularly.

But i though Sports massage was just for sport people? 

Sports massage is a type of massage that focuses on deeper layers of tissues. It involves techniques such as kneading, skin rolling and trigger pointing which helps to improve flexibility, reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), prevent injury and break down tension.

Sports massage, in conflict with its name, is not only used for sports people. People who work in an office all day or have a job where they are lifting heavy objects or drive for long hours can also benefit from having a sports massage. It helps to relieve stress, improve posture and increase relaxation.

How do they work together?

Pilates ultimately is a workout for your muscles. You are putting your muscles under tension which will ultimately lead to some muscle soreness. However, where Pilates and massage go together is that they can both be used to elongates the muscles, improving muscle elasticity and joint mobility. A body with balanced strength and flexibility is less likely to be injured.

In addition, regular sports massage helps to break down muscular tension by increasing muscle temperature and encourage muscles to relax. This allows the length of a muscle to increase allowing an increase in movement and therefore further preventing injury.

Moreover, Pilates helps to further improve and maintain your posture by increasing the strength of your upper back and neck flexor muscles. A combination of both regular Pilates and massage will prevent tension and poor posture from returning. This can help alleviate both acute and chronic pain caused by injury, poor posture, stress, tension and weakness.

To summaries, sports massage has been found to help reduce pain by improving recovery post injury by improving strength and mobility. Combining both massage and Pilates would ensure pain is eliminated and prevented  from returning.

Try a combination of Pilates and Massage the Durham House, Farnham. 

Because Pilates can be modified to provide either a gentle strength training program or a challenging workout, most people would have no problem with this form of exercise. It is suitable both for beginners and for people who already exercise regularly.

If you’re a beginner you can start with basic exercises and then once you’ve mastered those, you can work on the more advanced moves. It’s a good idea when you’re just starting out in Pilates to go to Pilates exercise classes or have a private instructor. This way the instructor can make sure that you are doing the exercises correctly to avoid any injury.

If you would like to find out more, visit our website www.durhamhousechiropractic.co.uk or www.thestudiodurhamhouse.co.uk.

A Connection between Pilates & Acupuncture

Pilates & Acupuncture

In recent years, holistic approaches to health have all seen a surge in popularity – and with good reason. More than just placebo effect, practices like acupuncture have demonstrated a positive impact on health and well-being.

Pilates is another discipline that  focus on core strength and balance.

Interestingly, both Pilates and acupuncture—have much in common. From similar effects on the body to a concentration on mental cohesion, Pilates and acupuncture offer a world of tangible benefits, especially when practiced simultaneously.

Same Systems?

Western medical acupuncture  involves stimulating sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles of the body.

This results in the body producing natural substances, such as pain-relieving endorphins. It’s likely that these naturally released substances are responsible for the beneficial effects experienced with acupuncture.

Traditional acupuncture is based on the belief that an energy, or “life force”, flows through the body in channels called meridians. This life force is known as Qi (pronounced “chee”).

Practitioners who adhere to traditional beliefs about acupuncture believe that when Qi doesn’t flow freely through the body, this can cause illness. They also believe acupuncture can restore the flow of Qi, and so restore health.

Pilates also focuses on bodily movement. A typical Pilates regimen features movements designed to engage and rebalance the “myofascial meridians”. When these fascial and muscle chains are working in coordination the body can work as an integrated whole – a collaboration of many systems.

Real Relief

So, what really happens when you combine Pilates and acupuncture? According to new research published by The Mayo Clinic, acupuncture was found to dramatically relieve lower back pain and improve overall mobility.

With the addition of Pilates, the overall impact of acupuncture is only increased. Given that the overarching goal of Pilates is to improve core balance and function, the two practices can truly work in tandem – building a healthier and more balanced you.

If you would like to understand more about the benefits of acupuncture alongside your Pilates practice then visit our website www.durhamhousechiropractic.co.uk and book an appointment.