Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Has the Back App arrived yet?

The Back App is not a household name yet - although I am confident it will become well known as more people realise how well it can help with a bad back and be very good for your posture.

I recently had a drunk ask me if the Back App I was carrying was made in Sweden and thought my message was getting through to some members of the population at least! Today in Clerkenwell I was leaving a customer carrying a Back App and I was stopped by someone asking if 'That was my Back App or was I selling them?' It turned out that the gentleman worked for one of the retailers of the Back App - he put in an order there and then and I delivered the chair later the same day.

So while Back App is not a household name yet I have been stopped in the street by people to order them!


Monday, 7 October 2013

Interview with Angela Bradshaw - an Alexander Technique Teacher

Interview with an Alexander Technique Teacher

I recently had an initial Alexander Technique lesson with Angela Bradshaw and loved it. The technique is something that most people have heard of but not that many (me included) know much about it. Angela very kindly agreed to answer some questions to educate me.

Is it possible to summarise in a line or two what the Technique is?
You learn HOW to use your body well, and be more efficient and fluid in movement.  It improves your posture, balance and coordination and as a consequence your health and wellbeing too.

I have heard of fantastic results. Without names can you mention a student that you are particularly proud of and really managed to help?
There are many actually, but in particular I am so pleased to have been able to help a client suffering with vestibular migraine who, when we began working was unable to work or drive due to incredibly difficult to manage dizzy spells.  It has been an absolute pleasure to watch her health improve and her quality of life too has improved dramatically.  She’s now able to work and can drive, she gardens, began canoeing again, and is so much happier and more fulfilled. Very rewarding.

Are there any problems that you can help with especially?
My particular expertise I feel is in helping people with Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). As a previous sufferer I know the path they’re on, having been there myself.  Back, shoulder, neck and wrist pain are effectively dealt with. Other issues I’ve personally helped with have been MS, breathing, anxiety, cycling, running, poor posture, pregnancy, mobility, musician’s performance, singing, confidence, bellringing, artists drawing, writing, computer posture……

To get benefit from the Technique how much effort/ commitment is required from the patient or student?
Great question. The student does have to actively participate.  This is self help and the student is learning how to apply the principles to themselves during their own daily life, and activities they take part in.  Like any new skill, it takes time for new ways of being to be taken up and incorporated.  I ask that students do 20 minutes semi-supine daily as ‘homework’, it’s a very nurturing practice, it’s pleasant and free! I also ask that they ‘think’ about it whenever they can.  The important thing is not to force it, it meant to be pleasurable, not a chore!

How did you get interested and want to become a teacher?
I had developed RSI to my Right shoulder which cut short my medical career as a sonographer ( Ultrasound scanning ).  I was advised to take some Alexander lessons, and I went along, not knowing anything about it, just hoping it would lessen my pain somewhat.  My first lesson was an epiphany!  I knew right there and then that this was my life’s mission.  Three months later I was enrolled onto a teacher training course to become a teacher myself.

Can you get treatment on the NHS or with private health insurance?
Yes it is possible, depending on the local area.  I have a list of private health companies who do fund lessons.

What does mainstream medicine think of the Alexander Technique?
It’s generally supportive and is becoming more widely known.  Physiotherapists, Speech Therapists have some notion of it as part of their professional training and often recommend  AT to patients. Pain Clinics recommend it to their patients.  Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Pyschotherapists recommend it to clients.

Can you point to any published studies that prove the Technique?
In June 2012 University of West England published a paper on the effectiveness of AT with pain management

In August 2008 the BMJ published an article demonstrating the effectiveness of AT on back pain

You are writing a book. What is it called and who is it aimed at, what will they get out of it?
Be In Balance is the title of my book and it is a simple introduction to Alexander Technique.
It’s aimed at conscious thinkers, creative individuals who are open and willing to learn and interested in their own personal development.
Readers will learn to understand their body, how to release pain and tension, gain mental clarity and to be their personal best. As a result of that they will be improving their posture, balance and coordination naturally too. I hope it will be used as an interactive handbook for modern living.

Would you recommend a young person to follow you and become a teacher?
I would definitely recommend all young people to have lessons.  And if they have the passion for it, the time and the funds to consider the training, it would be of great benefit to themselves.  It’s not an easy way to earn a living as a teacher however, so I would ask that they consider that carefully!  But where there’s a will there’s a way,  as they say!

Angela works in Chobham, Surrey
Tel 01276 858929


Friday, 13 September 2013

Is the Back App Chair a Household Name?

As I firmly believe that the Back App can help a lot of people to avoid back pain or help those that suffer already I am keen for more people to know about it. Most people have seen the 'kneeling chair' or have heard of it at least and in time, I think and hope, it will be the same with the Back App.
This week on the train a drunk came up to me. I had a Back App with me and he swayed a bit and then asked if it was made in Sweden. I told him it was and he rolled off congratulating himself on knowing this. So although the Back App chair is not yet a household name maybe it is starting to enter the minds of some parts of the UK population at least!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

What do YOU need to make your life better

A while ago I asked Rachael Carter of the Back2Back support group a few questions - you can see them here

One thing we chatted about was what things would help you with the practicalities of everyday life with a bad back. Rachael suggested a few items listed below.

The chairs and the desks I can provide but what other things do you need. Maybe someone knows where to get it or possibly I can try and find it or make it for you. Give your thoughts via this post.

  • Chairs (like the Back App)
  • Special stand up/ sit desks
  • Hoover, sweepers... that mean I can actually clean my floors!
  • Special bags/suitcases
  • A bra that heats up when your thoracic spine goes into spasm to provide a little comfort from the pain

Friday, 12 July 2013

Using the Back App to Strengthen your Core

See this short video for some simple exercises on the Back App. More info is on www.relaxbackuk.com

Physiotherapy and the Corporate World - an interview with Emma James

Interview with Emma James, Physiotherapist

Emma James runs a physiotherapist clinic in Hemel Hempstead. She firmly believes that taking her services into the corporate world can provide huge benefits to the organisation and to staff members. Emma was good enough to answer my questions on this topic.

What benefits do companies get from inviting you into their offices?
There are many benefits but they generally fall into two main categories. It demonstrates an investment in the staff that they really do appreciate and this can be part of the reason they demonstrate loyalty to the employer and are less likely to move on. The costs of attracting, selecting and employing staff can be significant.
As part of a health screening program it can help to stop small health issues becoming more serious hence keeping staff healthy and cutting down on the expense of absence. There are many other benefits such as simply cutting down on the length of time it takes staff to get treated as it does not involve a trip to another location.

What will you typically do for organisations?
The services we are asked to do vary but could range from helping with an initial medical of staff, running a clinic once a week or once a month through to carrying out workstation assessments and holding pilates classes. 

Are there any particularly interesting examples of this approach in the pipeline?
Yes, I am talking with a secondary school in Hertfordshire. Teacher absence has a huge cost associated with it – this is from items such as sick pay and costs of alternative cover.  This is apart from the problems associated with lack of continuity in the teaching that the pupils face.
The school administrator has a handle on what these costs are per year. We are hoping to provide a pro-active wellness program for the school staff. The objective is to stop small health issues becoming large ones so the staff health is better and the teaching more efficient. This will obviously be better for staff and students but after the program has been running for a year we will be able to compare before and after costs.

Can you relate any specific success stories that have happened already?
Not with names attached but recently we treated a senior member of staff at Customs and Excise. They needed a disabled badge in their car and due to a bad back were only working at 10-15% of capacity. After treatment from us at their workplace they now function at full capacity and as they are a public servant this is good value for taxpayers.

What levels of ‘buy in’ do you experience from the staff of organisations that invite you to help them at their workplace?
It differs from company to company but also on how it is funded. If the company provides the service for free to the employees then the buy in is high, if it is provided via insurance then it tends to be moderate and if the individual has to pay (even a subsidised amount) it tends to be low.

One of the services that you supply is workstation assessments. What do you think of doing these via online tools? How do you like to do them?
I know lots of companies think these are useful tools but I think they then tend to be more of a tick box exercise and don’t really deal with issues properly. The best solution I have found is a human doing the assessment ( who is medically qualified) who then had access to simple implements such as lumbar rolls or footstools so that problems can be assessed and dealt with immediately.

Your clinic is very busy and I know you were treating someone famous last night. Can you say who?
No I can’t but I can say that they are a household name pretty much the world over!

 Emma James can be contacted via her clinic in Hemel Hempstead to arrange help for your staff or to make individual appointments.

Tel 01442 870686

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Construction and Back Pain

I have recently being taking part in some discussions that are aired on the UK Health Radio, Health Kick show with John Hicks as the host

The latest one was about construction and muscularskeletal issues. It was a fairly light hearted chat but did touch on some serious topics so luckily there were some experts involved. They were Val Clark-Irving who is a physiotherapist working in occupational health for a Sir Robert McAlpine and Alberto Gonzalez, a Gonstead Technique chiropractor.

The link to the whole show is below - the part taking about construction starts at around 29minutes and 25 seconds


If we touch on any areas that you want to take further please do contact us via the information given on the programme or use the discussion forum here to take things further.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Best Decision, Worst Decision, Light Bulb Moment

During an interview with Radio Verulam they asked me three quite tricky questions.
  • What was my best business decision?
  • What was my worst decision?
  • Did I have a light bulb moment?
My answers are here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52iCu1xqdno&t=46m00s

I do sound pretty awful recorded though!

Monday, 10 June 2013

Interview with Rachael Carter - founder of Back2Back Support Group

Interview with Rachael Carter – founder of Back2Back Support Group

At the last Back Pain Show I met Rachael Carter. She is a 33 year old who has had major spinal surgery and is currently unable to return to her marketing role due to the long hours, job inflexibility and the fact that her bad back does not allow her to work at a desk for any length of time.

Rachael is not the sort of person to do nothing though and until she can start work again she has started a chronic back pain sufferers support group and also volunteers at her local hospice.

She was good enough to answer some questions about her support group Back2Back.

Back2Back caters to younger people. Why is that?

 Spinal surgery due to chronic back pain in the under 45s is rare. It is a common surgery for those in later life. This means that consultants are used to dealing with the older generation and there is lots of emotional support out there for those patients. Also, when you are younger, whilst you have the advantage of youth the recovery from the surgery is quicker, emotionally it is much harder as we tend to slow down in life as we get older so you do not feel as debilitated. When you are younger and working 50-60 hours a week, socialising, running around bringing up young children etc. the impact of living with such chronic pain or following surgery can be extremely emotional as there are so many things you find a struggle.

Below is an example of a FEW things I have had to give up or dramatically change to my condition:

  • My career
  • Socialising in bars & clubs (only if I know the environment is comfortable so I go out rarely now)
  • Dancing (in clubs, at weddings and birthday parties etc...)
  • Cleaning the house (I cannot hoover or mop floors, clean a bath or toilet etc...)
  • Intimate relations with my fiancĂ© (this had a huge impact on our relationship)
  • Travelling alone to places I am not familiar with
  • Wearing heels or fashionable shoes
  • Netball (I used to play national netball then had to slow down due to my condition and played regional netball. Now I can't play at all)
  • Zumba and aerobics
  • Driving/travelling long distances alone
  • Travelling in rush hour or in traffic if driving (this would be different if I had an automatic car, but I don't)
  • My ability to get washed, dressed and styled at a 'normal' pace
  • More importantly, I am deciding whether or not I can cope with the idea of conceiving, carrying and caring for children...
As a sufferer yourself why does talking with others with similar problems help?

I have suffered since I was 17 years old. Throughout the years I have tried to keep picking myself up and carrying on, however, in 2011 I hit a point of no return and had numerous procedures until surgery was the only option. I have never felt so alone - especially as the only other people I knew who suffered with debilitating chronic back pain were 60+. As chronic back pain is invisible, many people are quick to judge and don't understand how hard it is to live a normal life. Especially if you can walk ok (I make sure I do some low impact exercise every day and physio for this reason!). It is so nice to meet others close to your age with similar lives who understand you completely. It's nice not to have to explain why you have to get up and walk around or fidget, why you can't bend to pick something up, why you can't undo your shoes standing up etc... It's also important to learn from each other and gain useful tips on how to cope with different situations.

Do you find that your back pain is taken seriously as you are so young?

It's a double edged sword. There are Doctors and Consultants out there who dismiss you before they have even checked you over or taken a scan, as they are not used to seeing 'young' patients with such chronic back/spinal problems. Some Doctors have even told me it's all in my head (this was pre-surgery)! However, on the other side, if someone does find out I have had such major surgery at my age, they are extremely supportive and even shocked.

Do you have any tips on everyday life coping strategies for younger people with back issues?

I cannot stress the importance of low impact exercise (walking, swimming, cycling, pilates etc...) every day to keep your body moving and to strengthen the muscles (Doctor allowing of course).

Physio is fantastic - especially core stability work - but it must also be done by yourself at home as per your physio's recommendations or there is no point.

Stress does not like chronic back pain, so learning to remove yourself from stressful situations where possible, and using relaxation techniques are also great learnings.

 If you are physically able, I would recommend finding a 'distraction technique'. This is usually something creative like baking, painting, drawing etc.. it should give you a bit of a rest from the pain or stressful surroundings for a moment.

Speaking to your close friends and family about how difficult you find socialising when your pain levels are too high. You would be surprised how they can rally round and help make your life more comfortable - even if that's just a case of them coming over to you with food and to catch up so you don't feel so isolated.

How do you find attitudes of employees to younger people with back pain?

I do think it depends on your employer so this is a hard question to respond to. I do know of others who have not had support and it made their situation extremely stressful. As chronic back pain is invisible I do hear of people who have to prove how ill they are to their employers as they do not believe them. However, on the flip side, there are also employees who take advantage of such an invisible disability to have time off so it does swing both ways which doesn't help people with genuine chronic back pain.

 I was quite fortunate to have permanent health insurance included in my work package so whilst I was off, my employer was considerably supportive as they had no costs to support me. However, I have been told I can only work part time and my employer has just terminated my contract as they could not make reasonable adjustments to allow me to return part time. This means I am now unemployed and looking for part time work (which is scarce) whilst trying to cope with my pain and adjustment to a new life.

Do you have tips to others for negotiating the NHS and getting the best out of it?

You know your own body. You genuinely know if something is wrong. Keep communicating with them to try and find out what is causing the pain as there are too many Doctors handing out painkillers instead of finding the root cause.

I have noticed that you are a very positive person. Do you need to work at this and how do you do it?

Thank you - that means a lot as I do have to work really hard to stay positive.

 Don't be fooled though - I have been through some really dark times over the past 2 years fighting such pain and then the adjustment of a new life and mourning my old one. However, I have been extremely fortunate to have had 12 months of therapy where I have been taught how to focus on the positives in my life and not dwell on negative things that I cannot change.

 I also attended a 6 week NHS course in my local area called The Expert Patient. This course teaches those with chronic illnesses how to manage their days. It teaches how to be positive - you even get a course book. Again, although I was the youngest in the group by about 40 years, don't be put off by going if you think it may help. I ended up having a lot of fun with the group.

My business is supplying items to help with the practical issues of having a bad back. In an ideal world what would you be useful to you?

 So many things I can't even begin to list them all, but here are a few:

  • Chairs (like the Back App)
  • Special stand up/ sit desks
  • Hoover, sweepers... that mean I can actually clean my floors!
  • Special bags/suitcases
  • a bra that heats up when your thoracic spine goes into spasm to provide a little comfort from the pain

How can people get in touch to benefit from the Back2Back support group?

Back2Back support is currently based in Staffordshire and West Midlands, but will support anyone, anywhere.

Contact Rachael on 07950 813393, follow us on Twitter (_Back2Back), or 'Like' our Facebook page (Back2Back Support) for more details on how Back2Back can help you.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Recommendation of the Back App from Pilates and Back4good practitioner

'After trying many chairs and stools, I chose to buy the Back app stool. Best for comfort, ergonomics design and style. No complicated adjustments. One fits all so you can share it with everybody! Love it and so do my clients!'

Murielle Carrasco, Pilates teacher, Back4good practitioner and Posture4u owner.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Interview on Radio Verulam's The Business Show

On Sunday I was interviewed on Radio Verulam's show The Business. The show is hosted by Trevor Merriden, Roma Bhowmick and Victoria Scott and thank you very much for inviting me along as I enjoyed being a part of it.
The topics were not about the products that I distribute but about buisness issues and in particular those of employing staff and being in a 'high end' section of the market.
A section of the show is available on  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJSXgRTe4nU&t=33m03s

What I feel is the driving force behind my business, Relaxback UK, is summarised from 52 minutes and 49 seconds. Have a listen!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Back App in a Stylish Kitchen

Below are some photos of the Back App ergonomic chair in Poggen Pohl - the chair looks great in stylish surroundings.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Ergonomic Chairs in Smart Surroundings

The Back App ergonomic chair looks very stylish and there is a chance to see it in some very smart surroundings. At Bang and Olufsen in Harpenden there will be a launch of a new website for artists worlwide to display their work. It is www.artistsinfo.co.uk

There will be local talent on display some of which can be tasted! Drop by to sample some wine and snacks provided by local businesses, look at some state of the art AV equipment, sit on stylish Back App chairs and of course admire the art work.

The event is from 6-9pm on Thursday May 23rd at Bang & Olufsen, 82 High Street, Harpenden AL5 2SP.
Those attending will be able to sign up for a free trial of the Back App ergonomic chair - see www.relaxbackuk.com

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Two Opportunities to Help with Back Pain Research

The BackCare Charity is currently collaborating on two research projects. It is an opportunity to get involved and help progress understanding and knowledge and back pain
The Department of Primary Care & Public Health - questionnaire
BackCare is collaborating on a research project investigating the experiences and outcomes of patients with chronic pain who have used both Complementary and Alternative Medicine and/or orthodox medical approaches to the treatment and management of their symptoms'. The involvement with this will be via an email questionnaire which you will be asked to complete. If you wish to participate, please send your contact details (name, email) to yourstory@backcare.org.uk, indicating “questionnaire” and where you saw this notice
Simply Health – focus group
BackCare is also working with Simply Health on a project to address the unmet needs of back pain sufferers. We are looking for participants who can attend a focus group in the Thames Ditton area in the next couple of weeks (exact date/time will depend on the availability of participants). If you wish to participate, please send your contact details (name, email) to yourstory@backcare.org.uk indicating “focus group” and where you saw this notice

Interview with a Gonstead Technique Chiropractor

Interview with Alberto Gonzalez, a Gonstead Technique Chiropractor

I ran the London Marathon this year. It was a marvellous experience and the preparation was very much a learning experience because it, not only, involved some hard training but also treatment from a chiropractor which was a completely new experience for me.
I visited Alberto Gonzalez of the Gonstead Clinic in London and learnt a lot about myself but also some of the aspects of chiropractic and I loved it. Alberto has been kind enough to answer some of my very basic questions below.

You treated my knees by working on my spine. This may seem strange to some so can you say simply why this works?
This is a simple question to answer if you understand the way the body works. The main organ controlling all your body tissues is the Nervous System; brain, spinal cord and nerves all over your body. The brain is the computer and the nerves are the wires that link it with your muscles, tendons, joints and organs so it is very important that all signals traveling between your body and brain flow correctly.

In your case, you had a nerve impingement at the bottom of your spine that compromised the nerve flow between your knee and the brain so your muscles in the knee were weak and that gave you pain. All I did was identify that misalignment and corrected it using a spinal adjustment and helped the recovery by giving you a couple of simple exercises.

Do you treat many injuries brought about by sporting activities – what seems most common at the moment?
Yes I do. Together with posture and ergonomic problems, sport injuries are very common. The most typical situation is injuries brought by inadequate training in the gym, jogging or poor technique while practicing Yoga and Pilates. The reality is that these complaints are chronic but “flare up” when the person tries to do too much in training. In these cases we always find the true cause of the problem and correct it so that the patients can go back to practicing their favourite sport safely.

What are the most common other reasons that people seek your help – such as lifestyle, stress etc?
Nowadays we have a very demanding lifestyle that generally involves many hours sitting – car, office or train – combined with high stress levels.

Sitting for a long time with poor ergonomics together with lack of exercise or inadequate exercise, create what we call “repetitive microtrauma” in the joints in the spine. This basically means that repeating the same action in a poor mechanical way will create a negative impact in your spine and injure it. At present, this is being diagnosed as Repetitive Strain Injuries and it is becoming more and more typical.

In addition, as I said before, the nervous system is the main organ in our body and stress affects its normal function. You have to remember that stress is simply a “fight or flight” response that should only be triggered in certain occasions of true danger to our lives. However, at the moment this “fight or flight” reaction is being triggered constantly creating true compromise to the way the nervous system works giving us many typical discomforts like headaches, muscular tightness around the low back or neck, poor sleeping, poor digestion, etc…

After chiropractic adjustment my knees felt better but I also felt happy, confident and had more energy. This seems almost too good to be true but did this surprise you?
Not really! This sensation of “feeling good” is very common in our office. There are two reasons for this reaction. The first one is that your nerves are working better and feeding more positive information into the brain and this makes the brain produce less adrenaline (stress hormone) and that feels good. Second, is the fact that you did not use any health-destroying drugs in your treatment. These combined with the fact that you can start to carry a more normal life has a positive impact in your mood.

With this in mind could chiropractors treat illnesses thought usually to be less ‘physical’ such as depression?
There is not enough research in this area so we can’t claim that Chiropractic can treat all types of depression and mood conditions. However, we know that we can help people feel better not just physically but emotionally. Because we can make the nervous system work better and also help many pains that affect us emotionally, there is a lot of improvement that we can offer but more research is needed. It depends a lot on the individual and new studies are coming that show positive results in the management of such conditions.

After treatment I managed to complete a standard run of mine in a quicker time after no additional training. Was I lucky or could you have helped me do this?
It was not all luck! During your treatment and training we focused on enhancing your performance and we did it well. On one hand you did what you were told to do and on the other hand my job was to make sure that your spine was free of any misalignment that created nerve impingement. It can be said that before you were treated, you were between 60% and 70% of your health potential because of those impingements in your spine and after removing them and prescribing the right and simple exercises, you moved towards 100% of health potential and in those circumstances your performance increased significantly.

You specialise in the Gonstead Technique of chiropractic. Can you briefly say what that is?
The Gonstead Technique is one of the oldest techniques of Chiropractic and one of the most difficult to master for the practitioner. It was developed in the ´50s by Dr. Clarence S. Gonstead in Winsconsin, USA. He achieved great results with many patients and had the biggest Chiropractic clinic in the world (and that record still stands) and soon started to teach his technique to many Chiropractors. What makes this technique special is the way we examine the spine and the way we treat it.

The Gonstead spinal analysis is unique and aims at finding the level in your spine that is impinging the nerves. This includes a very advanced “weight bearing X-Ray assessment” throughout which we take specific measurements that help us understand where the problem is, how to fix it and how long it will take. The treatment consists of very specific spinal adjustments that also are unique to this technique and, as you have been able to check, are very safe, very comfortable and very effective. This is why it is a difficult technique to master and the reason why it is difficult to find 100% Gonstead specialists.

After my experience of being treated by Alberto I would definitely recommend him to others. He can be contacted via:

Gonstead Clnics UK, 22 Harley Street

Tel 020 76372920


Friday, 26 April 2013

Channel Radio - Who Cares Wins Radio Show on Back Pain

The Who Cares Wins team on Channel radio did a show on back pain recently. It was a general chat on back pain but also looked at the Back App ergonomic chair.
Guests on the show were:-

  •  Mary O'Keeffe - a research physiotherapist from Limerick University. She specilaises in lower back pain and has done reseacrh work on the Back App.
  • Stephen Makinde - an osteopath who has 6 clinics in and around London.
  • Me - Mike Dilke
The show has been split into three sections and can be listened to by following the links below.

Intro with Mike Dilke                       http://soundcloud.com/mikedilke/whocareswinssection2-mike

Section with Mary O'Keefe              http://soundcloud.com/mikedilke/whocareswins-maryokeeffe

Section with Stephen Makinde         http://soundcloud.com/mikedilke/whocareswins-stevemakinde

Who Cares Wins Radio Show http://www.channelradio.co.uk/shows-who-cares-wins-radio-show

Get off Your Glutes

I was flicking through the February edition of Runner's World Mag and saw a section in 'Runners' Resolutions' to 'get off your glutes.'
It says that 'a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that every hour of TV watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewers's life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. Sitting is also making you a weaker, less flexible and more injury-prone runner.'

They do say that going for a walk every half hour or so is best for you but that standing desks 'might be the next big thing.'
I would suggest that adjustable height desks in conjunction with the Back App chair are a realistic way forward. The Back App provides some movement while you are seated, is very comfortable and also as you sit a little higher and it is easier to get up from sitting on a Back App then you are much more likely to do so.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Aching Smiling Muscles from The London Marathon

Aching Smiling Muscles etc

So many shouted my name urging me to carry on and I had to smile back and keep going. My smiling muscles hurt as much as anything else today. I haven’t felt that since my wedding and maybe the birth of my children. It was a big day.
I made it round in 5 hours and 37 minutes. I did 180 miles in training over 40 runs starting on January 12th with a 13 day gap in March and a 22 day gap prior to the race, both due to knee problems. It was just enough to get me through along with some expert help from a chiropractor who I definitely recommend. (Alberto Gonzalez of Gonstead Clinics in London)

There were jazz bands, brass bands, tyko drummers, bagpipes and loads of sound systems and of course the enthusiastic crowd dishing out encouragement, sweets, orange pieces etc. It all helped to keep weary legs moving but I had to walk most of miles 18 to 25. Then at mile 25 I learnt to get the crowd really behind me by asking them to shout and I ended up going faster than I had the whole race. I was smiling, practically crying from emotion and pain, and relieved that I was going to make it all at once.    
The whole event was brilliantly organised from bag drop off to water etc en route and followed a silence for the Boston tragedy.

I have a black toe nail, various aches and a medal to remind me of the day. Will I do it again? I don’t know but I do hope to do more running.

Monday, 15 April 2013

The London Marathon and my Chiropractor

I am 46 and a bit overweight but was persuaded by the Backcare Charity to run the London Marathon for them. It is next Sunday and I am really looking forward to it although a little apprehensive as well. The reason being that the training was going well until I had a feeling that things were not right in my knees - if I exercised they hurt.
A Harley Street chiropractor, who uses the Back App chair, offered to help me. I have not been treated by an osteopathor a chiropractor prior to this but have been so impressed by the whole experience that however I fare in the marathon I want to mention the experience.
The chiropractor is Alberto Gonzalez of the Gonstead Clinic. He took an X-ray, diagnosed a vertebrae that was out of position and has been manipulating it such that the pain in my knees has gone. There was  slight set-back as I did too much trianing too early during the treatment. Right now the kness feel great and I am looking forward to next Sunday - I might be in pain afterwards but I am confident that any knee pain will go ot can be made to go with some help from Alberto.
The website is www.gonstead.co.uk

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Apple Stores

I have just read the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and got a lot out of it.

I love the chapter that talks about the Apple Stores and how Jobs agonised over every detail of them to make them perfect. One of the team recalled 'Steve made us spend half an hour deciding what hue of grey the restroom signs should be.'

Yesterday I went to the Apple Store at Oxford Circus (which is fantastic) and was surprised at how uncomfortable the stools were and how ordinary they looked. It didn't seem to be in line with the customer experience that Jobs wanted. Maybe I should suggest the Back App to them. Does anybody know who I should talk to?

More Back App Research Published

More research has been published by Limerick University on the Back App. The abstract is below but essentially they compared how comfortable back pain sufferers were when sitting on the Back App compared to standard office chair with adjustable back rest, adjustable arms etc. The Back App came out as being significantly more comortable.
To access the complete paper you will need to go to his link http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00140139.2012.762462.

No study has examined the effectiveness of prescribing seating modifications according to the individual clinical presentation of people with low back pain (LBP). A dynamic, forward-inclined chair (‘Back App’), can reduce seated paraspinal muscle activation among painfree participants. This study examined 21 participants whose LBP was specifically aggravated by prolonged sitting and eased by standing. Low back discomfort (LBD) and overall body discomfort (OBD) were assessed every 15 minutes while participants sat for one hour on both the dynamic, forward-inclined chair and a standard office chair. LBD increased significantly more (p=0.005) on the standard office chair, with no significant difference (p=0.178) in OBD between the chairs. The results demonstrate that, in a specific flexion-related subgroup of people with LBP, increased LBD during sitting can be minimised through modifying chair design. Mechanisms that minimise seated discomfort may be of relevance in LBP management, as part of a biopsychosocial management plan.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Press Release on Latest Back App Research

Back App chair use shown to ‘significantly’ reduce lower back pain

In difficult economic times, the last thing UK businesses need is staff off sick or underperforming

ACCORDING to NHS research, back pain is the most common reason for people to miss work and when at work, it can also affect concentration and productivity.

Most people will suffer from back pain at some point in their life. It is triggered by several factors, but one of the most common is sitting badly or awkwardly, or slouching in chairs.

 Mike Dilke, owner of Back App UK Ltd, sole distributor of the Back App chair in the country, said:

“A study carried out by physiotherapists at Limerick University compared the use of the Back App with the widespread,  ‘standard’ office chair with an adjustable back and arm rests.

 “Twenty-one people did a one hour typing exercise with a laptop and mouse at a typical office desk and their experience was recorded. What scientists found was that using the Back App significantly reduced lower back pain but there was increased lower back pain on the standard chair.

Overall, the trend was for more general body discomfort on the standard chair and a lot less when using the Back App.”

 The Back App is a ‘saddle’ seated chair without a back rest, which moves around to various degrees via a ball at the base. The movement varies from slight (‘green’ zone) to dynamic (‘red’ zone.)

 Unlike the standard chair, which is stable and sets your hips at a 90 degree angle, the Back App seat sets the hips at a larger angle. This means there is less muscle effort to hold the body upright, as the spine’s position is similar to when you are standing. And this has the same, less stressful effect on the back muscles.

Scientists also recommend that movement helps with back pain and the saddle is constantly moving.

But Mike added that another advantage of using the Back App is that it can also increases alertness and productivity at work – something most of us could do with from time to time.

“Using the Back App is all about prevention as well as treatment. It can help reduce lower back pain in those already suffering from it, but it can also prevent its development over time, which is something many of us will have to deal with at some point in our lives,” he said.



About Mike Dilke, Relaxback UK and Back App:

Mike came across the Back App Chair online when looking at running a business helping people with bad backs, owing to his long-term interest in Yoga.

The chair was invented by Norwegian, Freddy Johnsen, who had suffered severe back problems during his life. It is currently manufactured in Sweden. After Mike enquired anout the product, he was invited stay with Freddy and following this visit, they agreed to do business together. Mike is now the sole distributor in the UK.


The Back App is the combination of a chair with an adjustable balancing board. It sets your position, when sitting, in an open hip angle, not at 90 degrees as in a regular chair. This means it’s less effort for the body to hold itself in a good posture and the spine is also resting in its most natural position, so the pressure between the vertebrae is less.


The adjustable ball makes the chair wobble and prevents stiffness from sitting ‘too’ still, as well as giving you a low level core workout at the same time.


For more information on the Back App, go to: www.relaxbackuk.com

Telephone Mike on: 01727 757221, mobile 07979 248286 or email: mike@relaxbackuk.com


Explanatory video

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Marathon Attempt - Latest from the Chiropractor

I have just had the second trip to a chiropractor who hs been helping me with a knee that has not felt right for about two weeks. I am losing training time but am hoping to be OK for the Marathon on April 21st and also fit in some more training before.
Something that really surprised me on this visit and the one two days ago was that the main treatment - a manipulation on my back - involved really quite a lot of force from the chiropractor. It didn't hurt but it was pretty physical.
I have to say that the treatment is going better than I could have hoped. I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Marathon Attempt Update - possible saving by a Chiropractor

So I am running the London Marathon for the BackCare Charity - if you would like to sponsor this excellent charity then please do by going to this link http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=Relaxbackuk

A few days ago something felt badly wrong with my knee and my first thought was this is going to be realy embarassing as I have told lots of people about my hope to run - not to mention my wife liking the slightly thinner version of me.

Yesterday I went to a chiropractor. He gave me a thorough exam and took X-rays and showed me vertebrae that are out of line - it looked bad to my untrained eye. The total consultation took around two hours and I really felt like I was in good hands. The end result was that he is confident that he can get me ready to run the marathon in the time available and I was really impressed. 

Today the knee feels better but I am not allowed to run on it yet - I will keep you posted and then at the end of the treatment tell you who is helping me.

I would love to hear from other would be marathoners who are in a similar fix. Comment on the blog or email me - mike@elaxbackuk.com

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Help with Running and Posture from a Member of the London Marathon Clinic

Interview with Member of The London Marathon Injury Clinic

I am slightly paunchy, 46 years old have been persuaded by the BackCare charity to run the London Marathon. I am very excited about this but in the last few years I have done little exercise so I thought I should ask one of the clinics appointed to be a member of the London Marathon Injury Clinic some advice.

Stephen Makinde is the Director of Perfect Balance Clinic (Physiotherapy, Osteopathy and Sports Injury Clinic) in Hertfordshire and London. He has great experience in injury prevention and treatment specific to endurance running and he was good enough to answer some of my questions.

Q.            I suffer from the occasional back twinge. Could the jarring from long distance running aggravate this and what can I do to try and prevent it?

A.            Long distance running may be aggravating on the back, as it is an activity that involves repetitive impact and stress to the joints. It is critical that importance is placed on not only the abdominal muscles and back muscles but most importantly the balance of the leg muscles and pelvic stabilising muscles.

Q.            Does running ever ease back pain?       

 A.            If you are experiencing back pain, it’s important that the cause is understood. There are many health benefits to exercise, but the correct exercise. Once the cause is understood then an appropriate programme can be adhered to.  Running should help some back pain in the later stages and is actually an important part of rehabilitation of back injuries as it is a natural movement for the spine and pelvis to go through.

Q.            Do people with a good posture tend to be better runners and get fewer injuries?

A.            Having good posture will aid correct and efficient running technique and will in turn prevent injuries.   However, I have seen some people with awful postures and technique that just never seem to get injured.  I am always amazed at the resilience of the human body.  It’s a difficult question to answer really but running efficiently has an underlying biomechanical basis so we can only try and stick to this and hope I guess.

Q.            Can I do any particular warm up to help prevent injury when training?
A.            A good warm up and cool down is very important in preventing injuries. A warm up aims to increase heart rate, breathing rate and blood flow to the muscles, allowing you to work more efficiently and prepare the body for vigorous activity. Warm ups should vary depending on what type of training you will be completing. For example, for an everyday run, start by walking around the block, then progress slowly to your pace. Make sure you build your warm up slowly, and be aware that warm up may take longer if tired or sore.  Prevention of injury when training I think comes from the correct physical, emotional, biomechanical and psychological preparation, these are all important factors and must not be forgotten.

Q.            Do you have any particular advice about warming down after a run?

A.            Devise a thorough warm down routine on all muscle groups and learn how to use a foam roller! Quite uncomfortable and painful at times to use, but foam rollers are very beneficial to help 'stretch' your muscles and reduce tension and knots.  Make sure you maintain your hydration levels post exercise.

Q.            Do injuries and hence your advice tend to change when runners are over 40 years old?

A.            Yes. We all should start to realise that as we become older we often find ourselves becoming less flexible and more stiff post exercise. A lot of my runners say if they could turn back time, they would have definitely stretched more often in their younger days when running. So, in short yes, I would advise taking more time stretching, using foam rollers, attending Yoga, Bikram classes. Runners like to run! Most runners find stretching time consuming and it is, sometimes dull at times too. However, if you speak to any regular runner what their routine was like 10 years ago compared to today, I can guarantee they would answer with... "I stretch more and pay more attention to my recovery in between my runs"

Q.            Is there any advice you can give that will prevent or at least lessen the stiffening of muscles after training runs.

A.            Up until a few years ago, most sporting health professionals would advise regular runners or people training for marathons to have an ice bath or cold bath post long runs. However, new scientific evidence is now suggesting otherwise. An recent article in Athletics Weekly explains further. (http://www.athleticsweekly.com/coaching/ice-baths-a-miracle-recovery-method/). My advice??? Go for a long run, 10 miles for example, warm down,  then get home and have a cold/ice bath for 10 minutes. The following week, repeat exactly the same running course and distance, warm down then go home and have a normal bath or shower, no cold/ice baths. See what difference, if any, you feel?  I think each person is individual and what research says this week will change next week, try a few ways of recovering and see what works well for you.

Q.            Do you have any special advice for race day to help ensure an injury free event and to try and stop too much pain the next day?

1. Make sure you have a well structured active/dynamic warm up and you are organised with the start time so you don't warm up too early then stand in the cold shivering! Equally make sure you leave yourself enough time! Warm up wearing old clothes on top of your race day clothes, so when you are about to start the race, you can remove your old clothes and leave them on the side of the road. Most established marathon races will have a Charity that your unwanted clothes are donated to.

2. Plan the race day, i.e. in your marathon training, pick one of your long runs and pretend that is the actual race day. Carb load the night before, organise how you are going to get to the 'race', eat the same breakfast you are going to eat for the real day, wear the same clothes, take on board the same nutrition (energy gels, sports beans) you plan to have on the day. If you are running a large, well organised race for example, find out which sporting nutrition company is sponsoring the event and giving out complimentary energy gels or energy drinks. DO NOT eat/drink foods on the race day that you haven't trained with, who knows what your stomach will do!

3. Try and keep active post marathon. At most larger marathon events, you will not go and have a shower/bath whether hot or cold, as it will be in a city. Most runners will meet their loved ones after the race and go for food, sit and relax. But try not to sit down for too long, get up regularly and stretch the legs, otherwise you are at more risk of the storage of waste products in your muscles and will seize up. Wear fresh, dry clothes once you have finished your marathon to regain normal body temperature, also known as 'Homeostasis.' If you are running for a well estabilished charity, they will often have Sports Massage Therapists providing post marathon sports massage. This is a great opportunity, for you the help reduce the waste products accumulated in your muscles, gives you some mental and physical 'downtime' whilst you are relaxing on the massage couch too, time to rehydrate and eat. Take advantage, you deserve it!

4. Most importantly.....listen to your body! If your right calf is 'crying' out to you because it is feeling so tight at mile 18, then stop, walk, stretch, take some electrolytes on board and relax. Wouldn't you rather complete your marathon happy and as injury free as possible, or are you determined to maintain your 8 minute miling, increasing the risk of a muscle tear in your calf and having to limp over the finish line to greet your family at the end of the marathon?

 5. Finally..... go and enjoy it! Feel blessed that you are able to train and compete in a marathon


Perfect Balance Clinic operate from 6 locations across London and Hertfordshire. Their flagship running clinic is in St Pauls where they work alongside top running specialists to help improve your running.

Telephone 0800 0724012