Technology- Efficient or evolutionary speed bump?

As Nick Cowan featured in Tesco Living providing expert advice,


here is a more detailed approach to this growing topic.


The human body is designed to move, however through evolving we have invented the means to be more efficient so that we don’t have to move as much. Technology, in the shape of computers and all the ever-shrinking forms have lead us to become more sedentary and ultimately caused great impairments to our posture.


When seated our core muscles largely switch off and as they are not required for use they become weaker and therefore joints in our lower back get compressed and as time progresses our upper back and neck becomes more rounded and we adopt the classic slumped/slouched posture.


Specific conditions can arise from this impaired position:

-Upper and lower back joint dysfunction

-Chronic degenerative disc disease

-Tension headaches

-Chronic rotator cuff injuries


-Carpal tunnel syndrome

-Repetitve strain injuries (Arising from small continuous movements of the hand or upper limb e.g trackpad, smartphone, tablet or games console)



“Technology and our systemic health.”


Indoor lighting.

Vitamin D deficiency is a growing problem the more sedentary we have become. A lack of time spent outdoors and under unnatural office lighting- Vitamin D is important in the role of promoting calcium absorption for healthy bones.



Office air conditioners.

Often due to building regulations and supposed health and safety rules, windows aren’t opened and circulating air is left in its place. This is a prime breeding ground for pathogens ultimately leading to a lowered immune system and therefore a reduced ability to heal amongst other things, the aching back you get from being stuck in the office in the first place!


Sleep patterns:

An over-worked brain via visual and audio stimulation by watching tv, playing a computer game or sending another stressed work email disturbs our ability to settle into an optimal sleep state. Add to this we then wake up to an alarm clock disturbing the natural pattern of our body’s built in circadian rhythm.

Sleep is vital for us to restore body function so a less than optimum sleep state leads to impaired immune function and therefore an inability to heal the problems we are developing during the working day.



“Solutions for technology-induced body pain”


The reality is that technology is very useful so when used sensibly we can avoid problems arising. Prevention is better than a cure (See later for tips and exercises) However it is somewhat out of our hands as to how little or much we use it if we are governed by the nature of our work and social life so if pain or injury does occur the most sensible solution is to seek advice from a professional physical therapist to assess the route of the problem so that treatment and a long term positive goal can be reached.





 Ergonomics. Ensure when you are sitting your lower back is well supported and the height of the chair and desk allow your eye level to be in line with the screen in front of you.

When using a laptop or tablet and you aren’t on the move turn it into a desktop by raising the screen onto a platform and attaching a separate keyboard if possible so to sit more upright in front of it.


Break the seated cycle. Get up and get moving even for a few minutes. Walking promotes good blood flow, joint lubrication and lymphatic drainage (the system to remove unwanted toxins)

Small exercises at the desk if your boss has chained you there:

shoulder and neck roles.

knee hugs,

heel raises.


If using a phone a lot– get hands free! Avoid the dreaded crooked neck.


Always keep hydrated as chronic dehydration leads to impaired healing for our muscles and joints.


Take a break and get outside for some fresh air and sunlight to increase vit d absorption.


Incorporate exercise into your life– Walk a bit more to work, or take the stairs rather than the lift. Better yet get strong and healthy away from work through a variety of exercise and sporting endeavors. Pilates and yoga are excellent disciplines to improve body balance strength and posture.


Eat well. Maintaining your blood sugar level will not only improve your powers of concentration but also limit your physical decline into a poor posture and therefore injury.


Sleep well. Reduce intake of stimulants like caffeine at least an hour before bed time and limit the levels of visual input from computers, tv’s and games consoles so to be ready for rest.




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Nick Cowan on Alan Titchmarsh!

Nick Cowan was recently approached for the Alan Titchmarsh Show for a feature on back pain, and appeared on the program in March.

“Dealing with back pain is something many of us will have to face. Recent NICE guidelines (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) indicate 4 out of 5 will have back pain at some point in their lives.

Thankfully, there are many positive ways of overcoming the pain and discomfort you might feel, especially if you take up a more active lifestyle.

“I was pleased to be asked to share my experiences of helping patients in London deal with back pain through the use of osteopathy and exercise.”


So many of us are at the mercy of our sedentary routine because of our work. It is vital that we break this routine! Some simple advice is GET MOVING. Walking is one of the fundamental movement patterns for which our bodies are designed for and undertaking more of this has been shown to reduce the risk of severe back pain later in life.”

The health segment on the show, which is about the trials of dealing with back pain, was filmed recently in London and is to be broadcast on the 19th March at 3pm on ITV1.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter other updates about what’s happening with Nick Cowan Osteopath.//

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“It’s time to start running”



“Who’s interested in doing the Hastings half-marathon?”


At 16 years old, I was a rugby and all round team sport fanatic, not to mention a despiser of “plodding along” distance running, so why on Earth would I be interested in running a half marathon?  For starters I was rubbish at cross-country, not to mention psychologically scarred by that tedious bog of a course around my old school grounds in North London.


With a modicum of incentive in trying to beat my best mate, (and a huge one to raise much needed funds for Motor Neurone disease) training began, and some months later with baggy t-shirt flying in the coastal breeze, rugby shorts, ill-fitting trainers and all, I completed my first half-marathon.


Fast forward 17 years and I am standing amongst a group of no more than a 100. Having been read the riot act by the events’ charismatic and somewhat psychotic organizer we all stood primed, and as he bid us good luck in a manner a kin to an army drill sergeant, the verbal gun went off to signal the start of the 2012 Caesars camp 50 mile ultra marathon.


Why run?

-The cardiovascular and other systemic benefits are well documented.  It aids blood flow and therefore oxygen delivery around the body thus improving heart and lung function and in turn managing blood pressure.

-It is an efficient method in burning calories and therefore aids blood sugar regulation and metabolic rate.

-Running is a weight bearing exercise and improves bone density, therefore helping to prevent osteoporosis.

-Good running form will aid all round body strength including lower limb and core.

-The euphoric “runners high” – http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/anatomyandphysiology/qt/Runners-High.htm

-The psychological gain of exercise is very personal. It gives us time to ourselves, time to think or more importantly NOT to think and to just be.



You don’t have to be Scott Jurek (who’s Scott Jurek??)  http://scottjurek.com/eatandrun/

You could be setting yourself a new challenge, whether its for weight loss and improving your fitness levels, a bet with a friend or another race in your already busy running diary. It is all relative. Whether you are attempting your first ultra marathon or your first run round the block, it’s YOUR challenge. It’s yours to endure and hopefully most importantly, enjoy. The following are my tips to getting yourself going:


  • Assess your start point and set yourself a goal.

Don’t worry if you’re walking a few minutes or indeed all of it to start with. Don’t be concerned about a walk-run strategy YOU’RE STILL MOVING and still ACHIEVING.


  • Prepare yourself and don’t look at that TV remote!

In other words on the day you are going for your run- set your kit out, so if you return home from a busy day at the office and every imaginable distraction is there, make a bee line for the kit, get it on and get outside! Once your out that front door, you’re on your way.


  • Hydrate and eat sensibly.

Obviously depending on personal needs and how long you’re going for will dictate this. http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/nutrition/eating-and-training-how-to-time-it-right/250.html


  • Cross-trainers are for cross training!

In short, WEAR RUNNING SHOES. Regardless of whether you are a beginner or seasoned runner, the choice of shoe can be a minefield. Do not be lured into the minimalist shoe thinking that will instantly transform you into the ultimate barefoot runner, but in the same light don’t be sucked into the bells and whistles of the “shock absorbing, counter-over-pronator, so good it will run for you” supportive shoe. SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE. We are all different and don’t fit into one model.


What are you waiting for?

If that gym membership card hasn’t been out of your wallet in the last few months because quite simply, gyms bore you to tears, get your kit on and get OUTSIDE. So what if it’s raining and cold, put more layers on and boost those vitamin D levels! Or in recent weeks get that hat on and apply sun cream! Cancel that membership and try something new. Sitting down is doing nothing for your back, metabolic rate, or your general health and well-being.


A wealth of advice and tips are out there, but most importantly and so fundamental to running and indeed any exercise is to ENJOY IT. Yes, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an element of hard slog to begin with, or a significant need of self-motivation but once you are in that cycle, and seeing the changes that you have achieved the levels of empowerment are limitless.


Where to now….

So with my first ultra marathon completed last October in a less than pacey 16hrs, and despite the winner lapping me twice, (fair play to that man, as I’ve never seen someone move so effortlessly over such un-yielding terrain) I am about to embark on number two. Hadrian’s wall beckons. The official race has been and gone so the 70 miles of the undulating route will be taken on with my fellow novice ultra running buddy alone. But with our own support team alongside handing out all that is necessary for such an epic adventure we will hopefully ENJOY and ENDURE. Not bad for a bloke who once hated running.