Category : General


As summer ends and we reluctantly prepare ourselves for less daylight hours, big puffy coats and turning on the heating. Autumn signals time for schools to return and the bigger kids to head back to work!

Bags full of books and long hours at a desk aren’t the best recipe for a healthy back, so this article is our Return to School/work ABC

A is for Angles – 90 degree angles at your desk

It is well documented that the most effective posture to be seated at a desk is a collection of 90 degree angles. From the ankles, to the knees, to the hips, to the elbows, all of these joint angles should be roughly 90 degrees. This indicates that feet are flat on the floor, the lower back is upright without being to flexed or extended and that the computer mouse is within comfortable distance and not pulling the arm forward and torso into rotation.

Don’t forget that this is not a universal fix and that even sitting for long hours in a good posture can cause back pain too.


B is for Bags – shoulder straps x2

The average school bag weighs in around 7kgs. This excludes the added weight of a PE/games kit bag. It doesn’t sound like a lot but the recommended weight of such a bag should exceed no more than 10% of one’s body weight, as a rough guide, (according to the American Academy of Paediatrics). Unless you have a 12 year old child who weighs 70kgs, could your child be carrying a bag that is too heavy for them?

Let’s face it, roller bags are not exactly a popular choice for school children, but what are the consequences of wearing a trendy shoulder bag? Quite simply, rather than distributing 7kgs across the shoulders – the 7kgs hangs off one shoulder. Too much pressure or tension  through the upper trapezius muscle across the shoulder can cause headaches.  Starting to sound familiar? So what can you do about it we hear you ask? You don’t want to chuck that shoulder bag away that you just brought. How about alternating sides that it’s worn on? Failing this get a shoulder bag with thicker more padded straps. Or our personal favourite…..chuck it out and get a double strap bag!

Those of you out there with double strap bags don’t think you have halos above your heads! Still got back pain? Try wearing the bag a bit higher, it shouldn’t be swinging around your bum, more like at the bottom of your rib cage. If the straps hurt then maybe it’s time to invest in a more padded comfortable rucksack. If it’s a big bag then be sensible and only put in it what you really need to take with you or the bag will become a dumping ground and before you know it you’ll be carrying everything but the kitchen sink.

Pause and take 5 minutes today to check what weight your child is carrying; how suitable their bag is and if it is positioned correctly.  You may just avert back problems for them in later life.


C is for Commuting – posture in the car

 For some people work involves commuting for long hours or their job is driving based and travelling around. No point getting an ergonomic setup correct at the desk if your office on wheels is poorly setup.  Heavy traffic, poor weather conditions and bad eyesight can all prompt our head to slope forwards and extend, potentially causing shoulders to round and pull us away from the head restraint which is providing good support.

Adjust your mirrors to work well for an upright and correct posture, if you have an adjustable back support adjust it to hug your body and this will prompt the upright position. If you can raise the height of the seat to allow you better view of the road you will not need to extend your head upwards to be able to look down at the bonnet.

Here at Amber we have advice for every letter of the alphabet. If any of this information strikes a chord with you then we might be able to help. Posture and related pains are our speciality.


Why Women Should do Weights

Osteoporosis is a condition that makes bones more brittle and prone to fracture. Although osteoporosis can affect men and younger people, post-menopausal women are most at risk. One of the best ways to help maintain healthy bones is to exercise regularly – which encourages the bones to absorb calcium and other mineral salts that keep bones strong.

Weight bearing exercises and weight resisted exercises are best for strengthening bones and muscles and as well as helping to keep bones in good health may also reduce the likelihood of falls as you age. Weight bearing exercises are those where your body is supporting its own weight, such as walking or housework or carrying groceries. Weight resisted exercise involves pushing or pulling against an additional weight, like a dumbbell or barbell or resistance equipment in a gym.


Is your desk job affecting your posture?


It is important to set up your desk at work correctly (ergonomics), so you don’t suffer long term harm through bad posture. The rain may be hanging around at the moment and we might be feeling cheated that summer seems to have disappeared and, disgruntled, it is easy to slump at your workstation and risk bad posture.  Here is why setting up your workstation correctly is so important.


For a start, we are not designed to sit or stand in one position for a prolonged amount of time. Our bodies need movement; movement encourages blood flow and blood flow is required to provide the muscles and organs with oxygen and nutrients and to remove the waste products so keep moving…

Problems you may experience, if you spend long periods of time at a desk:-

1) Neck Pain

2) Pins and needles in arms and hands

4) Headaches

5) Low back pain

6) Mid or upper back pain

7) Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)



Postural issues are not exclusive to desk bound employees. Any static position can lead to similar issues – teachers that spend all day bent over low desks helping children with their school work, decorators that spend all day painting ceilings, mums that spend their lives carrying babies around…the list is never ending. But basically – being in the same position day in day out is going to lead to problems regardless of what position it is. We, for instance, see lots of people who have jet washed the patio for 3 hours in the same position!

What should you do to improve your office set up so you are working ergonomically?

Your Chair

Chair – Sit all the way back in your chair.

Some chairs have a built in lumbar support, if that is the case make sure it is in line with the natural curve of your lumbar spine. If your chair doesn’t have a lumbar support you could try using a small pillow or cushion to provide extra support.  (in the small of your back)

Make sure the back of your chair is upright.  Adjust the height of your seat so that your hips are higher than your knees and your feet are flat on the floor.


Sometimes you can also tilt the seat to help bring your pelvis above your knees, if not try sitting on a cushion. This prevents lumbar flexion.


Adjust the arm rests on your chair so that you are able to slide your chair under your desk, this will bring you closer to your desk and prevent you having to lean forwards.



Your screen and keyboard should be directly in front of you If you are using the telephone regularly, make sure its within reach so you don’t have to twist round every time to use it. If you are using it a lot, a headset may be a good investment. NEVER USE YOUR SHOULDER TO HOLD THE PHONE TO YOUR EAR!  We have treated patients who are stuck in this position!


When you are typing your wrists should rest flat on the table, you can buy keyboard wrist supports online. These can help prevent RSI if you are doing a lot of typing.


Broad shoulders? Try getting a split keyboard, this might make it a bit more comfortable for you as you can bring your hands further apart. Laptops aren’t ideal if you’re spending all day on your computer. This is because the keyboard and screen are attached you have less room for adjustment. You tend to either end up causing RSI in your wrists or neck pain/headaches from looking down at the screen all the time. Try placing your laptop on a block so you can look straight ahead at it and get a separate keyboard so you can rest your wrists flat on the table.

Try and introduce as much movement as you can throughout the day. If you have to print a document, send it to the printer furthest away so you have to walk to get it and get outside for a quick walk at lunchtime or take the stairs instead of the lift.


Consider an app for star watching at night to make you look up and counteract “technology stoop”!


It is incredibly important to retain good posture to stave off long term issues as your body grows old so that you can continue to do all the things that you enjoy doing for as long as you can.




22nd June marks World Osteopathy Day

On 22nd June, osteopaths from around the country will be raising awareness of how they can support the health of people in their local communities.

Around 30,000 people currently consult osteopaths every working day. Patients include children, older people, manual workers, office professionals, pregnant women, children and sports people.

Patients seek treatment for a wide variety of conditions, including back pain, changes to posture in pregnancy, postural problems caused by driving or work strain, the pain of arthritis and minor sports injuries.

Osteopaths are highly trained primary healthcare practitioners adapting their therapeutic approach to the needs of the individual. They use a combination of movement, stretching, targeted deep tissue massage and manipulation of a person’s muscles and joints to improve function, relieve pain and aid recovery. They may also provide advice on posture and exercise to support healing, promote health and prevent symptoms from recurring.

Osteopaths also work closely with other health care professionals, providing onward referral if required.

Tim Moynihan of osteopathic practice Amber Health in Baldock has been a practising osteopath for 25 years. Tim said ‘I chose osteopathy as a career to care for and help people with musco-skeletal injuries as opposed to medical illness.  The relationship between this and sports injury medicine is something that I am a big fan of”.

Sciatic Pain

The Mystery of Sciatica & Back Pain

What is Sciatica?

 You must have heard of the dreadful sciatica pain, anything from a little twinge to an excruciating sharp pain.

What do you think it is? Pain at the front of the leg? In the groin ? Pins and needles in the arms ?

Sciatica is a term used to describe (and often diagnose) pain at/in the leg from the buttock down (sometimes all the way down to your foot) but it is not a diagnosis.

That means that if you’ve been told you have got sciatica (and let’s imagine it’s actually sciatica, and not something else as many different nerves can be impinged) you now need to find out what is causing it.

Have You Got Hay Fever?

Spring has arrived and the flora is coming alive once more.  The energy in the earth and around us is becoming more abundant with the increase of sunlight.  This of course is the same within us, we feel more alive, and awake earlier as the days get longer.  Unfortunately, for some people, we are also entering the period of the year when “hay-fever” symptoms start to appear:-

Safe gardening

Spring Time: 4 Top Tips for Happy Gardening

It’s Spring Time! Time to stir from your sofa of winter hibernation, feel the sap rising and get outside and start gardening. That’s great. After all gardening is an excellent way to get physical activity. And active people are less likely than inactive people to have health issues such as be obese, have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer, premature death etc etc. I think you get the picture. Exercise like gardening is a good thing. Indeed, we should all be active for at least 4 hours a week. That includes activities that raise your breathing rate and heart rate and that strengthen your muscles. And that includes gardening.

But before you rush out and do yourself a mischief, read these four quick top tips for a Spring time of happy gardening.