Tag Archives: Sleep

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What To Look For in a Pillow

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Nothing starts your day off better than getting a good night’s sleep. And sleeping with the right pillow is key.

But think about it – when you bought your mattress, you probably put a considerable amount of thought into the purchase. Things like size, material, comfort and cost were considered – and it most likely was not an easy decision. But when was the last time you gave your pillow the same thought?

While comfort plays a big role in how we choose the perfect pillow, there’s more to consider, especially when coming from someone like myself – namely support and alignment of your neck and spine. A lot of people think pillows are designed just for your head, but really a pillow needs to be designed to support your neck. Just like sleeping in the wrong position – if you’re on the wrong pillow, you can actually end up with an injury (like a pinched nerve).

The following four tips will help you get the right pillow and a  great night of sleep:

1. Thickness

You always want your neck to be in a neutral position when you are lying on your pillow. If it is not in a neutral position it can irritate the muscles and nerves in your neck causing you to wake up with a possibly sore neck, headaches, numbness and tingling, and worse. No matter what avoid buying a pillow that is too big or too small for you. So how do you do that?

First, when you lie down in your favorite sleeping position, you’ll want that pillow to fill the gap between your head and your shoulders. Then, you’ll want to take a look at your posture. If you’re lying on your back with your head on the pillow, your ear should be in line with your shoulder, not in front or behind it. If you’re lying on your side, your spine should be close to horizontal; your head shouldn’t dip down or be propped up too much. If you’re stomach sleeping (TIP: Don’t) – you really don’t need to use a pillow.

2. Material

Because comfort is highly subjective, the material of your pillow is largely up to you. The key here is the right material that works with you that keeps you comfortable but also in proper alignment. Whatever you choose be sure the pillow is firm enough to stay a consistent shape. With some materials you will often wake up with the side you generally sleep on becoming almost flat. With the pillow being consistent in shape it allows you to retain a proper sleeping and neck position all night long.

No matter the material,  a pillow is likely to begin losing it’s shape and support within about two years, when it’s a good idea to purchase a replacement. And considering the dirt, oil, dead skin cells and dust mites that can accumulate in your pillow, you might want to replace it even more regularly, anyway.

3. Shape

There are many different shapes of pillows, from your classic that looks fluffy, to the more complex and contoured. The truth again is that it really depends on your sleep position as to what shape you need your pillow to be. If you sleep on your back, you’ll need a thinner pillow, so your head and neck remain neutral and isn’t thrown too far forward. A cervical curve in the lower portion of the pillow would also be beneficial to promote the normal curve of your neck. If you sleep on your side you’ll need a firmer pillow to fill in the distance between the ear and outside shoulder – and a cervical curve would not be necessary.

Side Note: At True Health, we offer the Proper Pillow to our patients because it is the only pillow that I’ve found that allows you to sleep in proper alignment for both back and side sleepers.

4. Cost

Just because a pillow has a million features does not mean it is the right pillow for you. With that being said, when it comes to the price tag, anything $20 or under is probably cutting corners somewhere. A mid-range pillow is more than sufficient – and will probably run you $40 to $80, while anything over that mark is high-end luxury and you’re probably paying for marketing and packaging more than comfort.

 


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The 5 Most Common Chiropractic Questions

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The 5 Most Common Chiropractic Questions

As a structural chiropractor – there are certain questions that I’m asked several times a week, every week – either by patients in the office, or by email, or at a party/function on the weekend. This post aims to answer the 5 most common questions I get, along with some sources when applicable so you can do some further research of your own.

1. “What kind of mattress should I be sleeping on?”

This is one I hear all of the time, and as much as I wish that there was ONE perfect mattress that worked for everyone – there just isn’t. However, what we do know is that a mattress that is more on the firm side is best. Any sagging often undermines mattress comfort and structural support. In fact, results of a recent systematic review show that a medium-firm mattress is optimal for promoting sleep comfort, quality, and spinal alignment.

2. “Once you start getting adjusted, do you have to keep going for the rest of your life?”

In our office, when it comes to the correction of your structural abnormalities – once we have reached our goal, you’re given a couple of options in terms of protecting what we have worked so hard to accomplish. While the structural corrective exercises that were prescribed will continue to help, most of our patients opt to come in once in a while, get checked, and if need be – receive a structural corrective chiropractic adjustment. There is no obligation to continue care, BUT to most patients, it makes sense to keep things in check with periodic visits.

3. “Is It bad to crack your own __________ (neck,back, hip, etc…)?”

Yes. It amazes me that someone would think it’s a good idea to self adjust it. It’s not the sound that is the problem (which comes from tiny gas bubbles within the fluid that lubricates your joints), it’s the way the thrust affects your spine. Self-manipulation, while a temporary rush and feel-good sensation, can create hypermobility and long-term structural problems.

In addition, people who self-manipulate tend to do it several times a day, every day. This causes ligaments to stretch and eventually become less stable – not a good thing when it comes to movement. This instability not only affects the mechanics of the spine, but also can predispose you to an injury.

4. ” Why would a baby/toddler/child need an adjustment?”

The primary reason is that the birth process is physically demanding for babies. A typical birth can place 60-90 lbs of force onto an infant’s head and neck. While most children are okay, these shifts have been associated with colic, constipation, sleep issues and trouble feeding. Early check ups can help prevent structural shifts from becoming a chronic problem.

In our office, we’re fortunate to have referrals from some excellent pediatricians and midwives who pick up on these symptoms and choose to recommend a safe, non-drug approach. We use very gentle corrections which help the child be more comfortable, typically after a handful of visits. It’s our experience that children who get adjusted often nurse better, are more comfortable, have regular bowel movements, sleep better, and have a stronger immune system.

5. “Are neck adjustments dangerous?”

In the past 10 years, you may have heard or seen billboards, ads, or words from doctors talking about the relationship between “spinal manipulation and stroke”. The truth is that chiropractors DO NOT cause strokes. People have strokes, are in pain, and end up seeing a doctor or chiropractor. This is not my opinion, a well designed study 5 years ago helped put this concern to rest. It showed NO ASSOCIATION between a visit to a chiropractor and a stroke. It studied thousands of people making over one million visits the offices of both chiropractors and medical doctors.

In a study of 19,700 patients and 50,000 adjustments, the most common reactions have been mild soreness, light headedness, and a minor tension headache after the first adjustment. More intense reactions were very rare and not specifically tied to the adjustment. Of course it can be easy to fall into the trap of what you might see in an article online or hearsay from someone who may not know any better (and may have ulterior motives). However, given the facts and applying a little common sense, I think you can see that chiropractic might be one of the safest forms of healthcare you may ever have the chance to experience.


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Eat. Sleep. Poop. Repeat.

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eat poop sleep repeat

If your baby is having difficulty with any of these, chiropractic care can help.

Chiropractic care is concerned with the relationship between the spine and the nervous system. Since the nervous system mediates all development and regulation in the body – when the spine shifts and obstructs the nervous system – it can prevent the body from working normally and contribute to many issues. In this post, we’re discussing issues I commonly seen in newborn and toddlers.

Most parents of newborns know that their days seemed to be filled with a constant cycle of eating, sleeping and pooping. However, for some children – an issue can occur with one or more of these daily functions. Fortunately, chiropractic care can often help resolve these disturbances. The most common secondary conditions we see in children are broken down below:

  •  EAT: difficulty breastfeeding, spitting up/acid reflux
  • SLEEP: irritability, colic, difficulty sleeping
  • POOP: gas, constipation

The first question parents usually ask is, “How can my baby/child need chiropractic care already?” The primary reason is that the birth process is physically demanding for babies. The forces during birth can cause subtle shifts in the alignment of the spine or pelvis, creating tension in the nervous system. By correcting these shifts, we can and do see improvement in function and quality of life for patients suffering with these conditions.

In our office, we’re fortunate to have referrals from some excellent pediatricians and midwives who pick up on these symptoms and choose to recommend a safe, non-drug approach. We use very gentle corrections which help the child be more comfortable, typically after a handful of visits.

It’s our experience that children who get adjusted often nurse better, are more comfortable, have regular bowel movements, sleep better, and have a stronger immune system.


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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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Why Your Injury Isn’t Healing

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heal

In our office, we see many patients who are not injured – they’re simply looking to make their bodies work more efficiently. After all, normal structure allows your body to operate smoothly and function at its best. But, for those who find their way into our office with an injury and those who may be contemplating a visit, this post is for you.

There are many reasons why an injury would not improve, here’s 5 that you may not thought of:

1. Not Enough Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the cornerstones of health. Sleep is when your body is able to heal and repair. Aim for at least 7 hours of real sleep – as in not using any sleeping “aids” (they actually impair the ability to reach the deeper stages of sleep). So what can you do: try limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption during the day, keeping your bedroom cool, avoiding foods we may be sensitive to (sugar, grains, dairy), and getting some form of exercise daily (even walking as little as 30 minutes a day).

2. You’re Not Moving

I know, you’re injured – you think you should rest. The truth is that too much rest will actually delay your recovery. Most tissues recover more quickly from injury or trauma if they’re gently used. This means staying active after an injury – it does NOT mean doing things that will likely aggravate your condition.

3. Your Diet Stinks

Harsh yes, but often times bad dietary habits are a contributing factor to delayed recovery from an injury. Studies show that as the body heals it uses more energy to aid recovery (potentially increasing energy needs by 15%). This can mean that the calorific requirement may be more than anticipated, so think twice before cutting back – just make sure that all your calories come from nutrient-dense foods: fruit and vegetables, good fats and pasture raised protein. You should also increase your intake of wild caught fish (or supplement with a high quality fish oil) which are rich in omega-3 and have an anti-inflammatory effect.

4. Attitude Adjustment

Research has found that having a positive attitude and strong mental awareness is essential in an individual’s recovery, whether it be from a physical or mental injury. This is because stress and depression have been shown to compromise every system in the body. The mind is a powerful thing – you have to want to get better. So take part in your care, be committed to your exercises,and ensure you are eating well, sleeping, and doing lots of recovery work.

5. You’re Only Addressing Symptoms

Most chiropractors, physical therapists, and massage therapists focus on relieving your symptoms. You can go to any one of these professionals – and there is no doubt that any one of them will make you feel better. However, if your injury is related to a structural shift of the spine, then you may require our care – Structural Chiropractic Care. Injuries are often a Secondary Condition of a Structural Shift. When the Structural Alignment is restored, problems related to abnormalities in the spine and nervous system resolve.

The body has an incredible ability to heal itself. When the body has the right nutrients, regular movement through exercise, a great mindset, and full function of the nervous system, it has a recipe for long lasting health.


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