Articles in Category: Chiropractic

Bedding Myths

Written by Don Williams BSc, MChiro, ICSSD. on Monday, 21 January 2019. Posted in Newsletters, General Health, Ergonomics, Chiropractic

Bedding Myths

At this time of year, we find lots of people are thinking about new beds. It might be something to do with New Year's resolutions. For whatever reason, a new bed could be a good idea if your old bed is getting on in years.

I thought I might cover some of the myths and 'marketing hype' that we see in the industry.

Firstly, do I need a new bed?

How old is your current bed? Most modern beds will last 10 years. In fact, almost all new beds have a 10 year warranty. Usually, once the bed is getting over 15 years, or it has big furrows or stains, it is time to get a new one. 

How do I know if my bed is causing my back/neck pain?

Try sleeping in a spare bed. Are you better? Then go back to your bed. Is your back/neck sore again? We often find that patients start to question their own bed when they go on holidays and their back pain goes away. The bed could be the issue; however, it could also be a variance in the activities that you do in your normal life. Our tip, use this as an excuse for a weekend away. 

Non-Flip Mattresses

There is a tendency to see a lot of non-flip mattresses now. While I acknowledge that better quality materials and manufacturing can mean better mattresses, simple physics dictates that you only have one surface to wear out. So a one-sided mattress will last less time. It is cheaper to manufacture a non-flip mattress and marketing tells us it saves your back because you don't need to flip it. Our experience is the mattress will not last as long. Our suggestion... Always buy a flip-able mattress for the longest mattress life.

Pillow Tops

All the rage at present! A pillow top feels luxurious; however, this would be the greatest source of complaints about mattresses. The pillow top will generally wear out before the support characteristics of the mattress (furrows and ridges) and it seems this is very difficult to rectify or address through a warranty claim. The biggest issue with a pillow top is that if the bed is too soft, it is very difficult to make it firmer. The best solution is to buy a mattress without a pillow top and if it is too firm, then buy a great overlay. We normally suggest a gel infused memory foam overlay as they are cool, comfortable and when they wear out, it is simple to throw it away and get a new one.

'Latex is Hot'

Generally this is not the case. Good quality latex beds are core drilled and are a natural fibre. They breathe well and conform well to the body, meaning generally no pressure points. 

At Institute of Sports and Spines we stock and sell high quality memory foam overlays, latex mattresses and both memory foam and latex pillows.

If you think you need a new mattress, pillow or overlay, talk to us and we can recommend and let you trial them at the clinic to identify what is the best solution for you.


Correct Sleeping Posture

on Thursday, 31 March 2016. Posted in Chiropractic

Correct Sleeping Posture

By Jakob van Vlijmen

M Chiro, DC


As people spend almost one third of their life being asleep, it’s not strange that we get a lot of questions regarding sleep in our practice. More and more people realise that correct sleeping posture and the right mattress are vital for feeling refreshed in the morning. And what is more if done incorrectly; sleeping can be a tremendous strain on your neck and back! The following article will tell you what to look out for and should give you the tools to be able to make sure your sleep is as revitalising as possible.


The correct sleeping posture allows for the spine's natural curvature to be maintained. To help explain this we have to look at the spine's anatomy. As some of you may know, the spine is built up of 24 vertebras, a sacrum and a coccyx. The spinal column has a typical S shape with a concave cervical and lumbar curve and a convex thoracic and sacral curve.



During the day the spine is under a lot of stress especially when, during our activities, we are unable to maintain the natural curves of our spine. As discussed in previous articles, correct posture during sitting and lifting is very important to prevent excessive loading of our spines. (For more information on how to sit or lift correctly visit our YouTube channel: More and more people are becoming aware of this, which is great, however they do not seem to realise the same principles apply at night. An incorrect posture can cause incorrect and excessive loading of our joints. The following pictures should help explain what certain sleeping postures do to your spine.


Sleeping on your stomach

Sleeping on your stomach is bad for your spine as the neck is stressed by having it fully rotated and the lower back's curvature is increased causing more load on the lower back. (Image 2)



Even without a pillow the amount of cervical rotation necessary for this position can cause or perpetuate neck pain or headaches. Trying to change your sleeping position can be difficult, but there are some tricks we can teach you to help facilitate your change over to a healthier sleeping position. Ask your chiropractor about this if you want to learn more.


Sleeping on your back

When you lie on your back the weight is distributed equally over a large area, this is why this position is deemed best for you. It is important however, that when you lie down on your back you are able to maintain the natural S shape of your spine. At times it is possible that the curvature in the lower back is not sufficiently supported, usually this is the case if the matrass is too hard. To prevent injury and maintain the natural curvature, you can put a pillow or towel underneath your lower back to support it. Another way of de-loading the lower back is sleeping with slightly bent knees by placing the pillow underneath your legs as shown in image 3.




When you sleep on your back you need a good pillow to support your head and neck. The height of the pillow is dependent on the curvature of your neck. The pillow needs to support the neck in such a way that the concavity is completely filled up otherwise this may cause a deviation from the necks natural curvature (see image 4). When you sleep on your back, a fairly flat pillow will suffice, however when you sleep on your sides you will need a slightly fatter pillow.


sleeping4a  sleeping4b  sleeping4c

Image 4a: pillow is to high                Image 4b: pillow is to low                Image 4c: correct pillow height


A pillow that is too hard can cause issues as well as it can create too much pressure on the back of the head. A softer pillow can be more supportive of both neck and head and therefore more suitable, ask your chiropractor if the pillow you are currently using is right for you.


Sleeping on your side

Sleeping on your side is a very suitable position, provided you are sleeping on the right pillow and mattress. When lying on your side the neck can tilt sideways due to the width of the shoulders. This is why it is important to have a pillow that is the right size so the head and neck are properly supported. Use one pillow that has the correct height (see image 5) and try avoiding folding a thin pillow up or using 2 stacked pillows.

sleeping5a  sleeping5b  sleeping5c


Image 5a: pillow is to low                 Image 5b: pillow is to high             Image 5b: pillow is the correct thickness


Orthopaedic Pillows

There are different types of pillows and the ones gaining popularity right now are the orthopaedic ones. We also stock these at IOSAS as they are shaped to perfectly fill up the area underneath your neck and head when you sleep on your side. What is very important when you buy a pillow like this is that you buy the correct size as it is intended to fill up that space and support your neck and head in such a way that your spine is able to remain straight.



Buying the correct mattress is very important, sadly there is no such thing as the perfect mattress as each one has their pros and cons. And some of these considerations are purely personal. A mattress, depending on the quality, should last about 10 years. The weight of the body distributed differently across the mattress, as you are lying on your side there will be different forces acting upon the hips than on the neck or chest. If the mattress is too soft, too much pressure can be exerting on the spine and it can sink through, as a hammock does (see image 6a). This can lead to neck or back injuries. A mattress that is too hard firstly doesn't provide enough comfort but can also cause neck and back injuries (image 6b). The drawback from sleeping on your side is that the bodies’ contours play a big part; the pressure is higher in areas where the body is wider. In places where the body is narrower it needs more support from the mattress. There are mattresses that are able to give varying degrees of support to keep the spine straight.

sleeping6a  sleeping6b  sleeping6c

Image 6a: Mattress too soft              Image 6b: Mattress too hard      Image 6c: Mattress has correct firmness


Lying on your side, on a good mattress with the arms besides the pillow and the legs tucked in slightly with a pillow in between the knees is the sleeping position that causes the least load on the spine and neck (see image 7)




If you are wondering if your pillow or mattress is right for you, ask your chiropractor about it during your next visit. If you can, bring in your pillow for them to have a look at and ask the team at IOSAS about the mattresses and pillows we sell.

Dizziness: What are the causes and when can Chiropractic help?

on Wednesday, 11 November 2015. Posted in General Health, Chiropractic

Dizziness: What are the causes and when can Chiropractic help?

By Jakob van Vlijmen

M Chiro, DC


There are very few complaints as difficult as dizziness. Even though most types of dizziness do not have a sinister cause, they can lead to certain risks. As you can all imagine, being in a car or on the top of a flight of stairs are dangerous places to become dizzy. The following article will discuss the different causes of dizziness, the different ways it can present and when a visit to the chiropractor can be helpful.


Light headed or vertigo?

Dizziness is used to indicate a sense of instability, movement insecurity or light headedness. The term vertigo indicates a sense of spinning or whirling when the patient isn't actually moving. Light headedness is usually caused by low blood pressure, especially when it comes on after getting up too quickly. Low blood sugar however can also be a cause. If you experience these kinds of dizziness on a regular basis it might be a good idea for you to discuss this with your GP.


The 3 systems involved in processing movement information.

To be able to explain the different causes of dizziness we will have to discuss some of the mechanisms responsible for our sense of balance, the ability to register movement and our sense of positioning. These are the 3 different systems we need to discuss:


The Eyes - Among other things we use horizontal and vertical lines within our surroundings to determine our position and register movement.


The Organs of Balance - Situated deep within the ear. These organs are specialised in registering movement, acceleration and the position of the head.


Proprioception - This is information concerning the position of joints, the length of muscles and the force exerted by muscles.


By gathering and analysing the information from these systems numerous of times per second our brains can determine if anything or anyone is moving, what needs to be done to achieve movement and if we are in a balanced position.


Perfect collaboration between the 3 systems is required.

It is important to realise that these 3 systems have to work together in sync to prevent problems occurring. For example, when you turn your head to the left, the balance organs in your left ear is moving backward relatively speaking and the one in the right ear is moving forward. At the same time the position of several neck vertebra change, certain muscles are active in order for you to perform the movement and the eyes are registering the change in your surroundings. As long as all the information that your brain receives aligns with each other things will go smoothly, but if there is a discrepancy in the signals the brain receives it can lead to dizziness.


Different types of dizziness.

With the use of this background information a lot of common causes of dizziness can be explained.


Labyrinthitis (inflammation of the balance organ) With Labyrinthitis one or both of the balance organs becomes inflamed, most often this is caused by a virus infection. The afflicted organ is sending abnormal or incorrect information to the brain that doesn’t correspond with the other balance organ and other systems. This cause’s severe acute dizziness often accompanied with nausea and vomiting, sometimes the patient also experiences deafness or tinnitus. The symptoms can be so severe that the patient becomes bed ridden as every movement aggravates the symptoms. No real effective treatment exists but luckily most symptoms subside after a few days, although full recovery can take several weeks.


Meniere’s disease is an affliction of the inner ear, in which both the hearing organ and the balancing organ are affected. Meniere’s disease causes dizziness, tinnitus and deafness. These symptoms can come in waves and can persist for any length of time from a few hours to days. In some cases the deafness can be permanent. Meniere is usually treated with medications, but the success the medication has varies greatly case to case.


Benign Paroxysmal Positional vertigo (BPPV) The balancing organ registers the position and movement of the head with the use of 5 fluid filled canals. Movement of the head causes these fluids to move which is registered by little hairs within the canals. BPPV occurs when tiny particles break loose and fall into the canals stimulating the nerves that detect head rotation. The brain receives the message that the head is spinning when this isn’t the case. BPPV usually comes on after a fast head movement and disappears after 15 to 30 seconds. BPPV usually comes on at a later stage in life after an ear infection or bump to the head. Your chiropractor will be able to determine if the dizziness that you are experiencing is indeed BPPV by taking a full history of your complaint and performing several tests. If you indeed have BPPV it can usually be treated successfully within 2 to 3 treatments. During these treatments your chiropractor will be moving the head in a very specific manner in an attempt to relocate the particles that have broken off. Of all forms of vertigo BPPV is probably the most easily treated.


Cervicogenic dizziness is dizziness cause by problems in the joints or muscles in the neck. As explained earlier the brain also uses the information from muscles and joints (proprioception). Injuries or movement difficulties to the neck can cause dizziness for that reason. A good example is dizziness as a consequence to a whiplash caused by a car accident. This kind of dizziness is often seen in a chiropractic office and usually responds very well to treatment.


Sinister Causes

Besides the relatively benign causes mentioned above dizziness can also be caused by more serious afflictions luckily this is rarely the case, however if your dizziness is continuous and present for long periods at a time, uninfluenced by movement and accompanied by other symptoms. Such as headache, vomiting, problems with your eye sight it would be best to visit your GP.