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Bedding Selection

How to choose the right pillow

The most common cause of chronic pain is usually the result of prolonged poor posture. As we spend about one third of our life sleeping, maintaining a proper posture while sleeping is absolutely critical. If you are always feeling tired or suffering from neck and shoulder pain even after a full night’s sleep, this suggests that you are using the wrong pillow. By correctly using a right pillow, it can help improve your sleep quality and overall health.

A quality cervical (neck) support pillow is designed to support the natural curvature of the neck. When viewed from the two sides of the body, the curvature of the neck should be “C-shaped”, while the middle neck part should convex forward. There is a Chinese saying “high pillow, no worries” which literally means to always fluff up one’s pillow and to go to sleep without worries. Likewise, a pillow that is too high or firm would increase the pressure on the neck by pulling the cervical spine and muscles upward causing bone spurs and cervical misalignment. Whereas a very flat pillow cannot support the neck effectively, causing the neck to excessively lean backwards and over-strain the neck muscles.

It's usually best to sleep on a supportive pillow that is neither too hard nor too soft. So if you are used to sleeping on your side, use a pillow height that can keep your neck and spine aligned while those who are used to sleeping on their back, should use a pillow height that can support the natural curvature of the neck. If you are still experiencing pain after changing your pillow or if the pain symptoms still persist, you might have a more serious condition and should consult your doctor for a detailed examination.

How to choose a good mattress

Do you wake up with back pain and feeling tired even after a full night's sleep? Selecting a good mattress set is as important to selecting a good pillow when it comes to achieving a good night's sleep.

The human spine has three natural curvature divided into the neck, thoracic and lumbar regions that resemble an “S-” shape. The purpose of a mattress is to support the body when we lie down so that the spine and muscles can relax and rest. A mattress that is too stiff only really support your back and buttocks area as there will be a gap between your lumbar spine and the bed surface, and your spine will lack the proper support and be under tense pressure. A mattress that’s too soft cannot properly support your spine as the heavier parts of your body, such as the hips, would simply sag into the soft mattress and causing your lumbar to strain and the tension in your lower back to intensify which makes it easily prone to spinal misalignment. A perfect mattress should always fill the gaps between your waist, the back of your knees and the bed surface so to maintain the natural physiological curvature of your spine, allowing for it and the surrounding muscles to completely relax and rest.

In addition, a quality sleeping pillow can also increase the support for your lumbar spine. When sleeping on your back, you can place a thin pillow or towel around your waist, or place a sleeping pillow under your knee joints to raise your knees slightly so that your entire lumbar spine is snug against the surface of your mattress.

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Senior Activities

With the advancement of modern medical technology, the average life expectancy has reached almost 80 years making retirement life more vibrant than before. In addition to enjoying leisurely activities indoor, many seniors also tend to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, tai chi, yoga, social dancing and swimming, as their preferred choices of sports.

As you age, the deterioration of your strength and softness of your tendons and bones, as well as your joint functions and flexibility, can be susceptible to serious injury over time if you happen to exert improper force or inadvertently perform an incorrect action, it may cause serious injury over time. For example, the twisting movements of social dancing may increase the pressure on the lumbar spine, causing lower back pain and even spinal misalignment; the repetitive action in swimming may place an intolerable strain on the shoulders; the squatting and kneeling in tai chi and yoga, hiking on a slope as well as ascending and descending stairs may escalate more pressure on the knee joints several times than walking on the flat, causing problems ranging from mild knee pain to knee arthritis; and, excessively overstretching your limbs during yoga, can easily result in tendon strain or injury to joints.

The sport activities mentioned above are considered safe given that at least 30 minutes of daily healthy exercises can improve blood circulation and strengthen body functions. You only have to regulate your breathing while exercising as proper breathing in a slow, controlled rhythm is the fastest pain reliever you can use. Warming-up and cooling-down before and after exercising are essential to preventing sports injuries. Sports offer many health benefits for seniors however it’s important to choose physical activities that are appropriate to your fitness ability.

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Healthy Office

Office workers tend to work longer hours at the office and expend long periods of time in front of a computer screen, leading to improper working postures, inadequate rest and lack of physical activity. Over the course of time, this can trigger many chronic pain issues from minor neck and back pain to developing into more serious symptoms from spinal misalignment to growth of bone spurs.

The hidden traps in an office environment can harm your health and well-being. Here are some simple techniques you can practice to prevent chronic pain from happening:

Adjust your workstation screen to be at your eye level, keeping the neck straight, avoiding  leaning forward to alleviate exhaustion.Avoid using your neck to hold your phone since tilting your neck to one side for a prolong period will tense up the neck muscle, accelerating its deterioration.Avoid sitting crossed legged, especially applies to women,  since leaning your body to one side causes an imbalanced pressure to build up on your spine and pelvis, causing back pain.Ensure your tailbone is right up against the back rest of your seat to help reduce painful back muscle spasms.Try working in small time segments instead of maintaining long periods of sedentary inactivity. Taking a short breaks every 30 to 45 minutes can relax tight muscles or simply stretch in order to increase circulation.

Regular physical examinations by your doctor can help detect and treat early spinal and neck problems before they become chronically painful to manage.

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Know Your Joints

If the moment you roll out of bed there is an immediate feeling of pain or whenever you bend down to pick up something from the floor, your knees ‘pop’ in protest - these are never good signs.

Joints are the mechanical system of the human body and whenever we turn or move our joints, they make sounds due to joint friction. Normally these sounds are too small to hear since the joint capsules in the joints contain synovial fluid to lubricate the joint position so that the joint is completely sealed. In recent years, researchers have analyzed the causes of the sounds made by the joints in depth. Their findings suggest that when we stretch our joints, the joint capsules are squeezed to form bubbles from the dissolved gas in the synovial fluid, and these sounds are the cracking of the bubbles. You may have noticed that if the same joint is immediately stretched again it cannot make another sound because the cracked bubbles need time to dissolve into the synovial fluid again. Sounds can be made by squeezing only after the new bubbles have formed.

If you hear sounds from your joints but experience no symptoms or pain such as redness and swelling, there is no need to worry. However, if the sounds are accompanied by pain or other abnormal issues, it may be a sign of joint deterioration or strain. You should arrange for an examination by your doctor as soon as possible to find out the underlying causes. To help maintain your joint health, perform stretching exercises and avoid deliberately squeezing your joints to make sounds, such as cracking your knuckles.

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