Tag Archives: Back pain

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The Right Way to Fall

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We’ve all done it – whether it happens on a crack in the pavement, going off a curb or missing a step – it’s usually accompanied by jumping up as quick as possible and acting like nothing happened (or is that part just me?!) The truth is – sometimes there’s no way to avoid a fall – so we may as well do it right (with the least amount of bodily harm).

Statistics tell us that more patients go to emergency rooms in the US after falling than from any other form of mishap, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly triple the number injured by car accidents. Here in Connecticut, we have to also deal with ice and snow conditions that can contribute to falls. So to put it another way, you’re more likely to miss work this week because of taking a nose dive onto some pavement or ice than catching the flu.

How you prepare for the possibility of falling, what you do when falling, what you hit after falling – all determine whether and how severely you are hurt.

Now, some things we can’t control – but luckily – there are factors that are under our control when it comes to falling. For example, what condition you are in is key. Maintaining strength and flexibility plays a big role in how your body will respond. Lower body strength is important for recovering from slips, while upper body strength is crucial for surviving falls. Even what you eat is a factor – a study of 6,000 elderly French people in 2015 found a connection between poor nutrition, falling and being hurt in falls.

If you are falling, the key is to let it happen – when you feel yourself start to fall, let your body go limp. This will allow your body to naturally
roll into the fall. The less you rigid and tense you are the less likely you are to hurt yourself.

Ideally you want to protect your head – one way to do this is to try not to fall straight forward or backward (which raises the risk of damaging your spine and organs as well). The key is to roll, and try to let the fleshy side parts of your body absorb the impact – not a hip, knee or bone. Young people break their wrists because they shoot their hands out quickly when falling. Older people break their hips because they don’t get their hands out quickly enough (you’d much rather break a wrist than a hip).

The reality is that people fall – at least now you can be prepared for it.

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Do’s & Don’ts

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Spinal Care Do's & Don'ts

When it comes to maintaining your structural alignment, what you do outside our office can have a huge impact. Here are some of the ways you can help get the best results in the shortest amount of time AND ensure that you’re not undoing your progress.

Sleep: Your bed and pillow should both help keep your body in natural alignment. Aim to sleep on your side or back. Choose a pillow that supports the head so that the neck vertebrae are neutral (level with the rest of your spine) and use a good mattress that comfortably prevents your spine from dipping or sagging while you sleep.

Work: The spine is architecturally designed for walking. Sitting in a chair is a very unnatural position for the spine. Plan to break up your sitting every 45 minutes.  Make sure you have a high quality chair that has adjustable arms, height, lumbar support and ample padding.

Movement: Ideally we should be spending a good portion of our days walking, standing and moving in general. Support your newly straightened spine by engaging in an exercise routine that encourages strengthening the core and back muscles. Be consistent with your WebExercises custom stretches/exercises.

Diet: When the body has the right nutrients it is better able to heal itself. 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.

Automobile Ergonomics: Bring the steering wheel down and towards you to minimize reach. Increase the lumbar support until it fits your back with no gaps. If your vehicle doesn’t have one, you can purchase a lumbar cushion or use a rolled up towel to give you more lower back support. Keep your head against the headrest on long drives to avoid anterior head syndrome.

Sleep: Avoid stomach sleeping. Having your head and neck turned to one side while sleeping can significantly strain the muscles and ligaments of the spine. This results in negating the work of the adjustments and adding pressure to the joints and nerves. Avoid using more than one pillow – which can push the neck too far forward.

Work: Sitting for long periods of time. The fascia (which connects muscles) begins to set when you stay in one position for too long. If you’re hunched over a keyboard all day with rounded shoulders, this eventually becomes your normal posture.

Movement: Having a sedentary lifestyle. If you spend the majority of the day sitting and not active, you are setting yourself up for muscle stiffness, poor balance and mobility, and lower-back, neck, and hip pain.

Diet: Bad dietary habits are often a contributing factor to delayed recovery from an injury. Diets high in processed vegetable oils, sugar, and flour, ALL promote inflammation in the body. Not drinking enough water – keeping the body well hydrated is important to nourish the spinal discs and help keep them healthy.

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6 Ways To Get More Movement Into Your Day

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As a society, we need to stop thinking of exercise as something that requires a change of clothes and a warm-up – after all, you wouldn’t do either of those things in an emergency. Life is busy, and fitting in exercise can be tough – but it doesn’t have to be that hard. By making a few simple changes to your life, you’ll be in better shape in weeks. It’s worth the effort – as well as making you happier, there’s evidence that regular physical activity can protect you from everything from obesity to Alzheimer’s. To help, here are 6 ways to move more every day:

1. Always Take the Stairs

Simple, and yet so easy to avoid. It’s easy to rationalize taking the easy way – elevator, escalator, that cool motorized walkway thing at airports – because you’ve had a long day, or you’ve got a heavy bag, or because it barely burns any calories anyway, right? But that misses the point. There’s evidence that even minimal amounts of resistance exercise can increase your body’s levels of a substance called GLUT4, which encourages calories from food to be stored in muscle cells rather than as body fat – so even a single flight of stairs helps.

2. Walk More

You’ve heard this one before, but it’s worth looking at the numbers to get the full picture. According to a 2012 study, participants who ran one mile burned 112 calories, but those walking a mile still burned 88. While running means preparation, getting changed, finding a shower and – depending on how fast you go – a level of unpleasantness that can be tough to get psyched up for. Walking is just walking. Get off the bus a stop earlier, or park a little farther away and enjoy your exercise – without any need for equipment.

3. Break Up Your Sitting

We’ve addressed this over on over on this blog. Sitting down puts your body in neutral – it constricts circulation, slows your metabolism, shuts off muscles and tightens your connective tissues (fascia). Even exercising for an hour a day can’t do much to compensate for the 10 hours you spend slumping in a variety of chairs. But fortunately there’s a solution: just stand up. Take small breaks as frequently as possible. Go to the bathroom. Use a smaller water cup so you have to refill it more often. Do a lap around the office. Ask for a stand-up desk. Step outside for a minute to get some fresh air. Stand while you’re talking on the phone.

4. Sit on the Floor at Home

Yes, like a child. Here’s why: modern sofa technology has advanced to the point where you can remain essentially motionless through an entire Netflix streaming session, but if you sit on the floor for exactly the same amount of time  you’ll be squirming, stretching, essentially changing position the entire time. If you’re feeling really motivated, this would also be an ideal opportunity to foam-roll away some of the aches and pains of everyday life – there’s a brief guide to that here.

5. Do the 10-minute Squat Every Day

In most countries, the deep squat is still part of everyday life – it’s just how you sit, relax, or go to the toilet. For many Americans, user of chairs and western toilets –  – we probably haven’t done one in years. But you should – it’ll help enormously with your hip and ankle mobility, as well as providing you with a jolt of isometric exercise. Mobility expert Kelly Starrett suggests that you should be able to hold the position for 10 minutes, but if you can’t, just start with a minute at a time – it all counts, and it all adds up.

6. Get a Pull-up Bar

If you’re doing a lot of sitting – as in hunching over your desk or driving in a car all day – you should be doing pull-ups. They’ll counteract the computer-hunch, improve the health of your spine, build your arms and work your core muscles better than weighted crunches. Get a bar that clips over your door frame and aim to do one or two reps each time you pass through it during the day. Can’t do a pull-up? Try this: “Jump” to the top position, then lower yourself as slowly as you can – just for a rep or two. You’ll get there eventually.

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5 Reasons to See a Chiropractor During Pregnancy

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Did you know that structural shifts in the spine can happen during pregnancy? When the pelvis is shifted it affects the uterus and the position of the growing baby. However, a well functioning nervous system enables a mother to easily combat many of the hurdles of pregnancy. Often women learn to just accept pregnancy discomforts such as nausea, heartburn, constipation, pubic pain etc, when in fact they don’t need to.

Chiropractic care is extremely important before, during and after pregnancy. Studies show that having your spine checked regularly may result in a less stressful pregnancy and a less uncomfortable delivery. To shed more light on this subject, here are 5 reasons to receive chiropractic care during your pregnancy:

1. Shorter Labor Time

First time moms who received regular chiropractic care experienced on average, a 25% shorter labor time. As for seasoned moms who received chiropractic care; labor time was on average, 31% shorter. Vaginal delivery is strongly dependent on the alignment and relationship between the mother’s pelvis and baby. If there are misalignments, it can interfere with effective labor and delivery, thus prolonging it.

2.  Enhance Fetal Positioning

The Webster Technique  is a technique that is used to correct structural shifts in the sacrum to allow the baby to get into the best possible position for birth. A Webster Certified Chiropractor has advanced training in prenatal chiropractic care. It balances the pelvis, eliminating undue tension to muscles and ligaments and enhances optimal fetal positioning.

This highly effective technique is safe and gentle and should be a first approach before considering more invasive methods. As a Webster Certified Doctor, I have seen countless situations where a baby has changed position and a mother was able to avoid a C-section or medical intervention.

3. Less Painful Labor

In a hospital study that incorporated chiropractic adjustments during the patient’s pregnancy, the results indicated that there was a 50% decrease in the need for painkillers during delivery, attributable to pre-delivery adjustments.

4. Better Chance of a Natural Birth

Establishing pelvic balance and alignment is another reason to obtain chiropractic care during pregnancy. A misaligned pelvis may make it difficult for the baby to get into the best possible position for delivery. This can affect the mother’s ability to have a natural, non-invasive birth. Better positioning and proper nerve system function improve the mother’s ability to birth naturally.

5. Better Recovery After Delivery

Often after birth, whether vaginally or via c-section, the mother’s pelvic biomechanics change – these changes can bring discomfort with walking, nursing and sleeping. Receiving regular chiropractic care during your pregnancy gives you a better chance at recovering faster after delivery. After all, specific adjustments can eliminate the cause of stress in the spine and pelvis – and improve your body’s ability to function naturally.

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Performance and Prevention With Chiropractic

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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.

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