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Helping the Cotswolds get well and stay well with the Cotswold Chiropractor, Cheltenham and Winchcombe

News from the Cotswold Chiropractor

News from the Cotswold Chiropractor


Veterinary Chiropractic

Alexandra Hurley

Well I`ve finally got round to it...the animal course! Prior to becoming a chiropractor I had a career with horses, riding, teaching, running several yards and mucking out lots! I first experienced animal chiropractic during this time and so impressed I was with the results that I decided that I wanted to train! At that time the only possible route onto an animal chiropractic course was via the human degree off I went!! After five years of human study I thought I`d have a year in practice and then embark upon the animal course, as many of you know, that was ten years ago! I have learned so much since qualifying and have worked hard, building up a lovely patient base locally. However, I felt it was about time for another challenge and so I started the BackBone Veterinary Chiropractic course in April this year (2017). It`s a fantastic course based in Buxtehude near Hamburg, Germany, extremely well-taught in modules (luckily their English is a lot better than my German!)

So, I`ve already been asked several times if I`m closing the doors to my human clinic and the answer is: Absolutely not! Clinics have had to reduce slightly whilst I study, but only marginally and will return to normal hours once the animal course finishes in September.

So if any of you are the owners of dogs or horses who would like to be case study candidates then please call my mobile 07980662229.

Back to my books now...!

The Importance of Sleep

Alexandra Hurley

Why do we need sleep?

The purpose of sleep is to repair and rejuvenate the body and mind. The energy that we naturally expend on day-time processes such  digestion, movement and thinking gets redirected towards healing and repairing the body whilst we sleep. We now know that the purpose of dreaming is to discharge emotions, through the use of metaphor and imagery, that weren`t discharged during the day. So if you don`t sleep or dream, the emotional charges of yesterday are carried on into the day after. Hardly surprising then that a couple of nights without sleep can leave a person feeling stressed!

How much do we need?

According to research, most of us require at least six hours of sleep per night. A just-discovered genetic mutation does enable some people to function normally on less, but less than one percent of people have the trait. According to David Schulman, MD and Sleep Expert at Emory University, most of us need seven to eight hours of sleep every night  in order to stay healthy.

Sleeping easy?

If you have trouble falling asleep, are waking up frequently during the night and then have difficulty getting back to sleep or wake up too early, you`re not alone! According to the World Health Organizaion (WHO), more than a third of British adults have sleep problems at least a few nights a week and a quarter of those will be taking prescription sleeping tablets. Research carried out by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) has placed sleeping and mattresses as on of the top triggers of back pain, with over a quarter of sufferers blaming their beds. 


Just 10-20 minutes is all that is required to get the benefits of napping: alertness, improved performance, better mood, according to sleep researcher Kimberley Cote PhD, Brock University, Ontario. Why? During sleep, the brain produces different kinds of waves, which correspond to how deeply you sleep. If you nap too long, you may feel groggy and disoriented upon awakening rather than refreshed, because long naps are more likely to contain slow-wave sleep.

Also, don`t be tempted to nap too late in the day as this may interfere with your ability to fall asleep at bedtime.

Top sleep tips for sound and safe slumber:

  • Make sure your mattress is neither too hard nor too soft. If you are lying on your side your spine should be parallel to the mattress, which should not sag (bed too soft) or bow (bed too hard). Personal preference is also important when it comes to how firm or soft your bed is, but these are the simple guidelines.
  • Your pillow should support your head and neck. The neck should be a continuation of the straight spine and be neither too high nor too low.
  • Try to avoid physically stressful sleeping positions like lying on your front with your neck twisted to one side. Side lying is a far less stressful on the back.
  • Keeping hydrated is important as dehydration can make muscles ache.
  • Turn your mattress every couple of months.


    Your pillow is as important as your mattress. For individuals with neck pain, finding the right pillow can be a tricky experience! The ideal pillow should cradle and support your neck without distorting its normal alignment. Unsupportive pillows can lead to recurrent stiff necks, headaches, or referred pain to shoulder, arm or hand. It is important to avoid using no pillow at all or a very low pillow as this places the unsupported neck under strain all night long. it is equally not a clever idea to sleep with too many pillows or a very firm pillow as this forces the neck up and causes joint restriction.  Orthopaedic pillows can be expensive and difficult to choose, so please ask for advice and you can have a loan pillow to try! 

Sleep-inducing tips:

  • Avoid eating heavy meals at least two hours prior to going to sleep.
  • Foods high in the amino acid L-tryptophan, such as warm milk, turkey, nuts, banana, grapefruit, dates and figs, promote the production of serotonin which is a natural relaxant.
  • Exercise can help you sleep better, but not within three hours of bedtime.
  • Don`t go to bed if you feel wide awake.
  • Take a warm bath with lavender oil to unwind before bed.
  • Keep mental stimulation to a minimum in the two or three hours preceding bedtime. 
  • Don`t use your bedroom as a TV room.
  • Keep your bedroom in complete darkness whilst you sleep.
  • If you are still awake after twenty minutes of attempting to sleep, get up and do something relaxing such as reading a book, or drink a cup of chamomile tea.

Sleep tight!

How to stay well whilst moving house.

Alexandra Hurley

One of the most stressful experiences in a persons life, moving house is right up there with bereavement and divorce. My property lawyer told me this recently, so I am speaking from fresh experience! Our recent house move has prompted me to compile a list of advice for imminent house movers to hopefully reduce the stress and the risk of back pain.....


Leading up to exchange and completion dates there is the mammoth task of packing your worldly belongings into boxes, bags and cases (unless you hire the removals company to do this for you. If so, I would high tail it to the spa and let them get on with it!) If however, like me, you insist on doing this yourself, you will be at risk of bending and leaning over boxes, lifting heavy items and reaching and twisting....all postures which can put abnormal tensile load on the structures of the back. Here are a few pointers in the right direction....

1. Warm up before you do anything! A few easy arm swings, back and side stretches can be sufficient to get the blood circulating though the tissues which will minimise the chances of you pulling your back.

2. Try to engage your core muscles during any lifting activity, to protect your back. (Draw your belly button back towards your spine).

3. Do your best to limit the time you`re in one position i.e. knelt on the floor leaning over a box packing items or wrapping fragile pieces. Yes, there`s a job to be done, but your lower back muscles will be stiff and sore when you try to move again. 

4. When lifting weight or loading onto a vehicle, face the direction in which you want to carry the weight, to avoid twisting, keep the legs hip width apart and the knees softly bent.

5. Keep the load that you`re carrying as close to you as possible.

6. Avoid bending from the waist, which increases the stress on the lower back. Never keep knees straight as this will lead to over-stretching and will cause damage to the ligaments and muscles in the lower back.

7. Always avoid lifting whilst twisting at the waist.

All of the above may seem straightforward and nothing new but it is amazing how often I see a patient who has fallen into the trap of not warming up and then bending and twisting to lift an often heavy object. This is especially true when there is a deadline involved, which there almost always is during a house move. 

So my last bit of advice is to allow lots of time. I was told that whatever time I estimated the big pack-up to take, it would take double or three times that. They were correct! 

Chiropractic is great to alleviate aches and pains in the back and neck if it all goes wrong. I made sure I received several chiropractic treatments during my move to ensure correct skeletal alignment, to reduce muscular tension and to help me get some proper sleep. 

Talking about sleep, watch out for my next blog post  which will be describing how important sleep is and why!

Thank you for reading.