Our purpose is to provide a comprehensive solution to resolving problems related to structural abnormalities in the spine and nervous system, to allow your body to work at its highest capacity. We are proud to serve patients from all over Fairfield and New Haven County with our unique and gentle approach to health care.

Our focus is unique. Structural Optimization focuses on specifically addressing Structural Shifts in the spine that commonly cause secondary conditions such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, degeneration, sciatica, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel, herniated discs, and ear infections as well as immune and digestive problems. Restoring and protecting your body’s normal structural alignment is of paramount importance in maintaining optimal health.

Dr. Peter Braglia has served people of all ages and many health conditions. Use our website to find the latest in health news in our blog, and find out if customized chiropractic care is right for you or your loved ones. Experience the Structural Difference.

Author Archives: Peter Braglia, D.C.

Performance and Prevention With Chiropractic

performance chiro

Recent research from New Zealand has found that Chiropractic care may reduce gym and fitness-related injuries while also improving performance.

According to Dr Heidi Haavik, Director of Research at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic, the inability of some people to properly activate and control their core muscles when engaging in exercise, predisposes them to injury – particularly in the lower back. This may be reversible with regular chiropractic care.

“We know that delayed trunk muscle reflex responses increase the risk of low back injuries. Research suggests that this is partly due to a failure of the brain to predict what is going to happen during some movements. There is now accumulating evidence that chiropractic care may play a part in improving the ability of the brain to engage the core muscles appropriately and stabilize the spine”, states Dr Haavik.

The nervous system plays such an essential role in our bodies, especially when it comes to our fitness. Your nervous system connects to every system in your body – from your muscles and bones, down to your organs, it even controls things like your immune system. In many ways, it’s like the electrical system of your house with your brain acting as the power source. When there is interference to the nervous system (a structural shift in your spine) your electrical system will not work properly. When it comes to athletic performance, this interference results in an inability of the brain to activate the core muscles in time – which may be the cause of many gym and fitness-related injuries.

It’s important to note that poor nervous system coordination will not manifest itself as a ‘symptom’ until it is too late. So, if you’re only using chiropractic care as pain management – you’re missing out on this performance and prevention benefit.

Chiropractors and elite athletes have know for years that chiropractic care helps them perform at an optimal level – it seems that now science is finally starting to catch up and demonstrate how it actually works. From Dr. Haavik:

“Chiropractic care improves the communication between the brain and body and results in better control of the core muscles during body movements, so that your spine is at less risk of injury. We are also starting to see research developing which suggests that a single session of chiropractic care may improved muscle activation and increase muscle contractions equivalent to findings following three weeks of strength training. This line of research also suggests chiropractic care may possibly reduce muscle fatigue developing during strong contractions.”

In our office, we see Athletes, Crossfitters, Triatheletes, and Runners – and guess what? Most of them don’t have back pain, but are actually looking to make their bodies work more efficiently. After all, normal structure allows your body to operate smoothly and at its best.

You Are As Old As Your Spine

aging spine

Aging is not just the number of years you’ve inhabited planet Earth, but rather the degree of wear and tear your body, brain, and vital organs are expressing at a given point in time.Ronesh Sinha, MD

A spine with too much, too little, or improper movement directly affects the wiring and firing of nerves that come from your brain and travel down your spinal cord. Your brain and spinal cord act like the world’s most powerful computer chip which requires a proper information and power supply to work properly. Movement of the spine dictates how information is received in the brain through tiny little nerve ending’s called mechanoreceptors. The spine also houses critical nerves, arteries, and veins that carry food and waste in and out of the brain and spinal cord.

This is why – regardless of disease or symptoms – a healthy, properly moving, aligned spine is so essential to our health. By restoring motion to the spine (via the chiropractic adjustment), changes will begin to occur, such as: decrease in stress signals and stress hormones, decrease inflammation, and pain (if present) will subside. Most important of all, it results in a healthy body-brain neurological communication which is essential for overall health.

When it comes to your spine – the things we do on a daily basis are either moving us towards a healthy spine or away from health and towards a degenerating spine. Research shows that a joint (aka your spine) that has lost a degree of its normal movement will begin degenerating at a rate measurable within one week of onset. It’s important to realize that this degenerative process will continue, often painlessly, until significant degeneration has occurred. This is a big reason why you don’t need to be in pain to have chiropractic care in our office.

The following are the good and bad in keeping your spine as young as possible:

The Good

  • Periodic chiropractic checkups – Regardless of symptoms, the research shows we are much healthier with a properly moving spine than without.
  • Stretch regularly - Consider how inflexible most people are – how do you think they got that way? Muscles abide by the “use it or lose it” principle. Avoid this fate by isolating key muscle groups and giving them a good daily stretch (Patients in our office receive customized stretches based on their individual needs).
  • Proper hydration – Your spine and its supportive structures work best when they’re hydrated. Most people will not drink enough water to replace their original fluid deficit, and this problem is exacerbated with age.
  • Daily exercise - Ideally we should be spending a good portion of our days walking, standing and moving in general. If we don’t our bodies rebel and health declines. Do some form of exercise that significantly raises your heart rate for 30 minutes at least four times a week.
  • Supportive sleep environment - Your bed and pillow should both help keep your body in natural alignment. Dated and flimsy mattresses stress your hips, pelvis, and back, which inevitably lead to chronic pain. Buy a quality pillow that keeps your head level, and use a good mattress that firmly (yet comfortably) prevents your spine from dipping or sagging while you sleep.
  • Be mindful of your postureThis applies to whatever you’re doing, whether you’re at work, home, in the car, at the gym, or simply standing up. Good posture has benefits; poor posture has consequences.
  • Proper nutrition –  A nutrient-rich diet with a diversity of plants, healthy proteins and high quality, healthy fats actually feed and nourish your genes, slowing the degenerative process.

The Bad

  • Poor general posture (slouching) – With proper postural awareness, you can save years of wear and tear on the spine, and maintain full function of the delicate nervous system.
  • Sedentary lifestyle – A study done in over 2,000 identical twins who carry the same genetic material showed that the more active twins had longer, healthier telomeres than their genetically identical siblings.  The most active twins had genes that appeared 9 years younger than their inactive siblings. Spend less time on your computer/phone and move daily.
  • Stress – Chronic stress promotes inflammation and oxidative damage that is inflicted upon DNA, which increases disease risk and accelerates aging.
  • Sleeping on your stomach – Having your head and neck turned to one side while sleeping can significantly strain the muscles and ligaments of the spine. Repeatedly doing so every night for years slowly adds pressure to the joints and nerves, contributing to spinal degeneration and allowing for the development of a variety of health problems.
  • Neglecting your spine by not getting periodic chiropractic checkups – By restoring motion and removing nerve interference – you can begin to function how you were designed to.

How to Avoid Chronic Inflammation


Our lifestyle is so far off track – particularly from a dietary perspective -that nearly all people today are living in a state of unhealthy, chronic inflammation. It’s no wonder that we’re seeing ever-increasing rates of inflammatory related conditions and diseases. Chronic inflammation is an issue because it results in putting our body into a reactive mode sustained over time that results in destructive physiology. In other words, chronic inflammation could be described as being sick all the time, throughout the body.

The good news is that it’s almost always caused by our lifestyle choices. There are a number of choices that we can make (or not make) that will result in an inflammatory response within the body.

Foods That Cause Inflammation

  • Processed Vegetable Oils: These are some of the most chemically altered foods in our diets, yet they get promoted as healthy. They cause disease, and they’re in everything (think soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower, etc)
  • Grains: Bread, cereals, pasta, pizza, bagels, crackers – aka the foods most people eat on a daily basis.
  • Sugars (and foods that act like sugar): Our bodies are not meant to break down as much sugar as we consume. (think bread, cereals, pasta, pizza, bagels, crackers – got it?)

How Our Lifestyle Contributes To Inflammation

Stress is also a major contributor to chronic inflammation for many people; stress results in a cascade of metabolic responses within the body, lead by cortisolthe chief stress hormone. Stress creates a perfect storm of disease-producing reactions, lead by an inflammatory response – causing increased blood pressure, heart rate, blood fats, insulin resistance, along with decreased immune function, digestion, reproductive hormones, and serotonin.

There are times when the body’s stress response is appropriate or healthy; for example, a normal or healthy stress response occurs when we stress our bodies during exercise, or get chased by a mountain lion; the body is designed to endure or cope with these relatively brief periods of stress. It becomes inappropriate or unhealthy when the stress is induced from unnatural things (bad foods, stress from bad relationships, bad jobs, lack of sleep, etc.), and/or when stress occurs over sustained periods of time (i.e. long-term stress from our hectic, over-scheduled, digitally demanding, sedentary, debt-laden, traffic-stuck lives).

How To Avoid Chronic Inflammation

  • Significantly reduce your intake of processed foods. By avoiding processed foods, you get extreme benefits because you avoid processed vegetable oils, sugar, and flour, ALL of which promote inflammation in the body (along with directly or indirectly causing obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, autoimmune, and dementia disorders).
  • Stop eating sugar and foods that act like sugar
  • Stop eating grains (grains present a triple threat – in addition to promoting inflammation, grains promote high insulin levels and intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome, which leads to a whole host of conditions)
  • Eat lots of organic plant foods (aim for more vegetables than fruit each day)
  • Eat pastured animal proteins (not feedlot, grain-fed meats)
  • Eat healthy fats - this includes coconut oil, raw nuts, avocado, butter from pastured cows, meat from pastured animals, wild-caught fish.
  • Exercise regularly and to the point of exertion. BUT when going for exertion, short-interval, high intensity is what you’re after, not sustained endurance exercise – meaning functional training type of exercise such as CrossFit or hour-long Bootcamp classes are what’s recommended, not training for marathons, or going to the gym for 90 minute sessions on a treadmill or bike.
  • Supplement with a high-quality omega-3 fish oil which helps to balance the critical omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in the body (people today get too much omega-6 from vegetable oils, grains, and grain fed animals; and disruption in the omega-6:omega-3 ratio leads to inflammation, disease, etc.).

Why I Wear Minimalist Shoes

Why I Wear Minimalist Shoes

If you are a patient at our office, you may have noticed that I don’t wear the typical office footwear. There is a reason for this. As a chiropractor, I believe that we were designed to be extraordinary – and I believe in the inborn intelligence of our body. I know what you’re thinking, what does that have to do with shoes? We’ll get there.

There are some chiropractors who are always very eager to recommend or order orthotics when a patient complains of foot or leg issues. To be honest, this never really made sense to me. Our body knows how to walk, and it knows how to adapt to the stressors that you place on it. Humans have been walking and running for millions of years, apparently safely, in running flats, in thin sandals or mocassins, or in no shoes at all. So why would you need to put in a rigid orthotic to “create” an arch where there was none before? My belief is that when you stress the foot and let it work the way it was intended to and become stronger, the arches will change. As opposed to relying on external support which could weaken the stabilizing muscles (by having an orthotic or shoe doing their job). It is very similar to those who recommend wearing a back or neck brace when they’ve injured themselves. You have a natural back brace – it’s called your core – and when you wear a brace you’re further weaking the core, causing your body to become dependent on the brace to do the work.

In an attempt to make shoes more comfortable, shoe companies and their technology have actually made our feet worse. The over-engineering of running shoes have caused us to learn to run in inefficiently and incorrectly. By making shoes that have thicker heels for cushioning, we’ve altered the way we are designed to move – causing our heel to hit the ground first. By shielding the foot from the ground with excessive cushioning, you limit proprioception (ground feel) and how the body reacts to the terrain through fine adjustments in balance and body position. While it may “feel” as if the shock is being absorbed by the shoe with each step – only a small amount is actually absorbed by the shoe – the rest of the force (2-3 x the body weight) is actually being transferred through the lower extremity. This over stresses the bones, joints, muscles and tendons from the toes through the spine. In my experience, many cases of lower back pain are aggravated by heel strike. If you ever walk around barefoot – notice that you walk and run correctly without thinking about it – that’s because it’s actually painful to land on your heel (landing on the forefoot much more comfortable).

Now, I realize we can’t all walk around and go to work barefoot – but we can do the next best thing – wear minimalist shoes. Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean you have to rock those funky toe shoes – it simply means wearing a shoe with minimal or no (if you’re feet can tolerate it) cushioning. These shoes encourage you to walk and run in a more natural gait. The way we are meant to move is by landing more on the balls of our feet. This two year study is proof that wearing a minimalist shoe can strengthen intrinsic foot musculature which can then change the shape of the foot and arch over time. Check out the before and after photos:

The bottom line is that our shoes can often do more harm than good. Like many things when it comes to our health, what seems to alleviate our problem in the short term, has actually masked our poor walking and running mechanics and created more problems in the long run. If you are someone who has struggled with foot pain and/or chronic lower back pain, I would suggest taking a look at minimalist shoes. It’s important to remember that this will require a careful adjustment period to make sure that the muscles of the feet and legs have time to adjust (a rapid change to minimalist footwear exclusively often causes injury). In the same way that you would slowly introduce foot orthotics, minimalist shoes should gradually be introduced – start by wearing 1 hour/day, then 2 hours/day, etc. Listen to your feet – your body will quickly tell you what to do.