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

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:

Telephone Mike on: 01727 757221, mobile 07979 248286 or email:


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

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 -

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. ( 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