Tag Archives: Posture

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New Insight on Headaches

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Headaches are a secondary condition almost everyone can attest to experiencing. But why are they so common?

Headaches are the number one reason for purchase of over-the-counter drugs. Understandably, these medications offer a temporary solution to get through the day, which is sometimes necessary in this fast-paced world. Unfortunately, it does not take care of the cause of the headaches.

There are four main types of headaches: tension, migraine, cluster and rebound. Tension is the most common, accounting for 90% of all headaches – these result in contraction of the muscles in the neck and skull, and are due to stress, poor posture and Anterior Head Syndrome (AHS). When it comes to migraines, there are often known triggers, such as dehydration, caffeine, red wine and chocolate – but avoiding these may not always help. We are now realizing why: many migraine sufferers have headaches that stem from the nerves in the neck.

A recent article at CBS News explains what structural chiropractors have always known – dysfunction in the joints of your neck (a structural shift) can irritate nerves and lead to all sorts of symptoms (including migraines). Dr. Houman Danesh of Mount Sinai Hospital explains, “Essentially the joints start rubbing against each other, and that irritates the nerve that goes from the back of your neck to the back of your head, and can offset and trigger a nightmare.”

“Essentially the joints start rubbing against each other, and that irritates the nerve that goes from the back of your neck to the back of your head, and can offset and trigger a nightmare.”

Medicine is now starting to recognize the science behind chiropractic. The difference is the medical answer to this is to inject anesthesia into the area and temporarily reduce symptoms, which can help BUT it can also lead to further degeneration and damage of the joint since it’s not addressing the underlying cause – a structural shift in the spine.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to just restore normal function to the shifted segment of the spine and alleviate the nerve irritation causing the symptoms? Good news – that’s what we do everyday at True Health through a specific, gentle chiropractic adjustment.

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It’s Not The Load, It’s The Way You Carry It

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“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” – Lena Horne

Our body is an architectural masterpiece – designed to do extraordinary things when functioning optimally. As a Structural Chiropractor, my focus is on the design of your spine. When the spine’s structure matches the blue prints from your DNA, then it is designed to handle the stresses of gravity and a healthy level of activity. However, when the spine loses its proper structure, then those stressors (gravity and activity) can suddenly reveal its weakness. In this post, we’ll focus on the cervical spine (your neck).

Structure Determines Function

The presence of a curve in your neck allows for smoother motion of each of your neck vertebra. It also plays a key role in distributing force throughout the discs of the cervical spine. In essence, a C-shaped curve in the neck can and will prevent early breakdown and degeneration of your spinal joints. As the discs and joints begin to breakdown, it can create the environment for inflammation to build up around the nerves, or even lead to disc protrusions and disc bulges.

When the head shifts forward, it causes the shoulders and thoracic spine to round. When left there over time, the facet joints of the neck stop moving smoothly and lock the head in that forward position. This shifting of the spine can also advance the age of your spine through degeneration. However, when this head forward movement is corrected, the rest of the spine will often shift back into a normal position again and reduce the rounding on its own.

How Do We Correct This?

Postural corrective exercises can be performed to strengthen the upper back and neck. Massage therapy can be performed to address the muscular dysfunction and trigger points resulting from this shift. However, if the shifting of the spine is not addressed – then a correction will often not occur. In our office, we use specific adjustments to correct Structural Shifts allow your body to make Structural Corrections naturally and to the extent that is capable for you.

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You Are As Old As Your Spine

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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 posture – This 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.

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Why I Wear Minimalist Shoes

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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.

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Optimal Structure = Optimal Function

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Optimal Structure = Optimal Function

The design of any structure dictates what the function of that object will be. Have you ever looked at the structure of the human frame? The spine is truly an incredible feat of engineering. Each piece is placed in a specific way for a specific function. When the spine’s structure matches the blue prints from your DNA, then it can handle the stresses of gravity and a healthy level of activity. However, when the spine loses its proper structure, then stress of gravity and activity can suddenly reveal its weakness.

As a structural chiropractor, it’s my job to detect structural and functional abnormalities of the spine before they become major problems. In humans, structure is dictated by your spine and function is dictated by your nervous system. The nervous system is responsible for the function of every system in the body. When the nervous system has a hiccup, then muscles, organs, or glands may overreact or under react leading to a wide variety of problems called Secondary Conditions.

What Is A Structural Shift?

A structural shifts occurs when a segment of the spine shifts and disrupts the spinal nerves and spinal cord, which can create many different secondary conditions or symptoms. The reason these are called secondary conditions is because they are a result of the primary structural shift, or the underlying cause. This shift will distort the signals going in and out of the brain. As the spine shifts, the spinal cord and spinal nerves will misfire into the brain. This misfiring causes the muscles of the spine to tighten and spasm, and create dysfunction to anywhere where those nerves travel.

The location of the structural shift and where the nerves are being disrupted will give us an idea about your secondary conditions. A structural shift may produce local pain, but this may also have an effect elsewhere in the body. For example, according to a recent study in the Journal of Neurosurgery, deformities in the neck affect the alignment of the hips and pelvis.

What You Can Do About It

The good news is that these problems are almost always preventable. With proper exercise and proper postural awareness, you can save years of wear and tear on the spine, and maintain full function of the delicate nervous system. As with anything else, it’s always important that you protect the parts of your body that you hold most dear through routine check ups. Your spine is no exception.

Reversing structural abnormalities using specific customized chiropractic care gets to the underlying cause of many conditions. The best thing about someone with Normal Structure is that it allows their spine to be stable. When the structural alignment of someone’s spine goes back to normal and it is stable, secondary conditions will often resolve and the nervous system can function optimally.

At True Health Family Chiropractic, we are focused on delivering a full structural correction to the spine. We use structural x-rays, digital structural analysis, and neuromuscular scanning tools to assess the full nature of your problem.

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