A Road Map of Poor Posture

For most people posture is a marginal daily consideration, so it makes sense why desk jobs can inflict so much damage on the average worker. Sitting is the position most conducive to poor posture and probably the quickest to cause spinal degeneration; it is also the position that lends itself to comfort and, in our quest for comfort, we often leave our spines compromised as we slouch, slump and lean ever forward toward the computer screen. Poor sitting posture is a health concern because it leaves us open to so many injuries that are incubated and bred by weak muscles and poor curvature. Here is a road map of what poor posture and sit-heavy lifestyles do to your body:

  • Beginning with the hips: sitting shortens the hip flexors, which respond by adjusting to their new length.
  • This perpetuates anterior pelvic tilt because the tight hip flexors pull the pelvis forward, destabilizing your core, and contributing to lower back pain. 
  • The glutes are not activated regularly and thus, the entire posterior muscle chain is being used less than necessary to keep them strong. This also contributes to lower back pain because the lumber region picks up a lot of the slack in regards to initiating movement (such as rotating or lifting). 
  • Internally rotated shoulders: muscles become locked into a hunched over forward position, destabilizing the shoulder and upper back region. 

Recognizing what a mess we are in is the first step to extracting ourselves from it. At our office, we have the tools you need to overcome short hip flexors, reverse anterior pelvic tilt and restore your shoulders and upper back to a semblance of stability. Once we establish a baseline and a penchant for good posture, we can move forward with stretching and strengthening that focus on the muscles that make posture easier. If your body is in a state from the rigors of a deskbound job, give our office a call and schedule an appointment today.

Herniated Discs: Do’s/Don’ts

When it comes to healing herniated discs, knowledge is a golden ingredient. Turning yourself onto the right activities and avoiding ones that can aggravate the injury, while eating properly and checking in regularly with the chiropractor can help your body rehabilitate a herniated disc efficiently without surgical intervention. 

Avoiding bed rest is key. If the pain is severe, a few days of rest may be advisable, but it is important to keep yourself moving to prevent the injury from worsening. Avoiding activity is the best way to weaken your body, making the soft tissues surrounding the injury even more susceptible to injury. Intervertebral discs are also more likely to stiffen if they are not articulated regularly. 

  • Focus on light aerobic activity: the kind that keeps your circulation flowing and your body in balance. This is the best way to ensure 
  • Focus on strengthening the core as a stabilizer: this helps develop muscles to share the burden of the body’s weight with the lower back. 
  • Avoid certain exercises: weightlifting, leg presses, and twisting exercises can be problematic to the herniated disc sufferer. 
  • Focus on posture and forget about soft furniture that lets you sink into it. 

Our services are an augment to anyone’s fitness plan for rehabilitating a herniated disc. Chiropractic adjustment and spinal decompression are two modalities that open up the injurious region to an influx of healing nutrients, while our massage techniques help to break up scar tissue and fight inflammation, keeping you relaxed and easing the pain. 

Untying your Knots

Feeling stiff is not feeling well 

Even if we don’t have a tool to measure it with, everyone knows what it feels like to be stiff. It’s uncomfortable, it might even be a little bit painful, and when it occurs regularly, we generally look to the muscles for answers. 

Knots, trigger points, tight balls of pain

Whatever your name for them, they indicate a malfunction in the musculature. Remaining motionless for long periods of time (especially sitting) keeps some muscles constantly contracted and others completely disused. This constant contraction is what often develops into tight balls of pain and we feel tight. Your muscles are also being trained to resist elongation, perpetuating the problem further. The next time you go to activate the muscle, you feel stiff. 

Stiffness doesn’t mean there is something wrong with your range of motion.

Because the range of motion is the metric most people rely on for measuring potential movement, conversations regarding stiffness are quite often misguided in the direction of the range of motion.  Being stiff doesn’t mean you automatically have a poor range of motion: you could have an excellent range of motion and still feel stiff. When our muscles are trained a certain way and we ask them to perform an opposing motion, they are bound to feel tight. 

We want to make stiff and tight the exception, not the rule!

We identify muscles that have become excessively contracted and release them from their state of chronic tightness with trigger point therapy. By dispelling stiffness and pain, we allow you to focus on stretching and strengthening the key muscle groups that will help you stay free of pain throughout a day of sitting.

Life in the Mood Swing Lane

Mood swings are reflective of age and lifestyle.

Changes in temperament are normal for everyone on earth; mood swings are the more abrupt and seemingly extreme changes that seem to come on without reason. If we take the time to probe a little deeper, however, there is always a reason. Perhaps stress has been insidiously stacking for weeks; perhaps you haven’t been eating quite right and your cells aren’t getting the nutrition they need; maybe your activity level has been down and your body is responding with signals of pain that affect your mood; most likely, it is a combination of all of the above.

Mood swings are about imbalance.

The body and brain are constantly striving for homeostasis, which taken broadly is the tendency of your body and mind to seek equilibrium between the interdependent systems. As we get older, the pressures facing the body and minds’ attempts at homeostasis grow, our bodies trend toward becoming weaker, activity levels go down while stress levels go up and diet affects us more than when we were kids. Mood swings are a natural reaction to these pressures, but when they become unpredictable and destructive to our state of mind, it is time to take action.

Accounting for mood swings with help

At our office, we believe that many of the factors contributing to our mood swings can be reined in naturally, without pharmaceutical intervention. Chiropractic helps to correct subluxation and regulate the nervous system, the main vehicle of communication between brain and body. By streamlining nerve function, homeostasis becomes easier to achieve when you exercise control over other key lifestyle factors including diet, exercise, sleep and stress management. To start coordinating an action plan for dealing with your mood swings, give our office a call to schedule an appointment today!

Putting your Body Weight to Work

It’s time to make your weight work for you!

No matter your body weight, or your level of activity, body weight training allows you to utilize the most basic resource of all, the body weight you’ve accumulated, to condition your body and build muscle. Best of all, no gym membership is required and you won’t even need to spend a dollar on a dumbbell. 

Here are some advantages to bodyweight training: 

  • Boosts circulation and improves range of motion in the joints
  • Increases core stability, easing the burden on the lower back and helping with posture
  • Increases relative strength: strength in relation to your body size. 
  • Increases reactive strength: the ability to stretch and contract muscles and prevent injury. 

Body weight training works best in circuits

And circuits are intense: the methodology relies on the fact that you do workout after workout with no break in between, conditioning your heart to work at a higher level and boosting your Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption, which means you will continue to burn calories after your work out. Body weight training circuits are much more efficient at burning calories and contributing to weight loss than basic cardio. 

As chiropractors, we would love to see people find better balance through increased core strength- this helps immensely with posture, especially if you have to sit all day at work. Furthermore, we would like to see you move with less pain and we can help you do this, through chiropractic adjustment and devoted attention to sore and tight muscles. 

Healthy-ish: Starting Small with your Fitness Plan

Why is it so difficult to join the wide world of working out? 

The start of a fitness plan is where many of us will fail. The reason is that with no momentum and no visible results, we lose motivation. We must therefore begin by redefining attitude: rather than obsessing over lost pounds, focus on the importance of fitness for your body and how it makes your brain feel. You should be getting at least a mild endorphin boost post-workout, so use what you have as motivation in the early stages. 

Walking before running

If you work at a desk, in front of a computer, chances are that between home and the office you spend up to 70% of the day on your butt. So when it comes to starting small, walking more may be the place to look and it is certainly the easiest. Experts recommend getting up to 10,000 steps a day, a goal that can be tracked with a fitness app on most smartphones.

Focus on activities that make you happy

Your brain is the most powerful muscle in your body, so we want to get it involved! The best way to do this is by choosing an exercise that makes you happy. Running bores you? Don’t make running the center of your exercise plan. The gym isn’t for you? Choose an environment, like your own home, where you feel most comfortable. At our office, we help people create clearly defined goals and stick to them. We are about making your body feel better- through chiropractic adjustment and treatment of muscle dysfunction, we get your body into conducive shape for exercise. From there, we help you maintain a fitness plan for the benefit of your body and mind. 

Television and Exercise: a Perfect Match

Television time can be doubled up as workout time.

While there is great value in using your time in front of the television to unwind- down time if you will- we often forego exercise for the easiness of kicking back on the couch. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive; you can still get a great workout while watching your favorite show. 

To demonstrate my point try this exercise while you are sitting reading this blog: 

  • Sitting with good posture, squeeze your abs, hold 5 seconds, and release. Repeat a few times. 
  • Again with good posture, squeeze your glutes, hold 5 seconds, and release. Repeat a few times. 

Just like that, you are on the road to toning your muscles, especially the external oblique muscles of the abdomen which are important for maintaining good posture while you sit and watch. 

Try incorporating an easy workout circuit into your Netflix habit.

Between episodes, try alternating between push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, lunges, squats, and wall sits. Challenge yourself to plank during the credits and in between shows. You will barely even notice the physical exertion before you sit down on the couch again, but trust me your body will be thankful! 

Undoing the damage of sitting.

You already sat all day at work and now you are going to put your body through another spree of sitting in the evening. Simply getting up and having a stretch or doing 20 jumping jacks breaks the monotony of sitting, gets your circulation flowing, and utilizes the functional muscle groups of the body so that they don’t tighten up excessively. 

Get Excited about Snacking

Meals are most important but snacking has its place too! 

And it’s right in between! Snacking helps regulate blood sugar, which is important for people who need to stay steady throughout the day. When blood sugar drops low, we feel light-headed, hungry and stressed out- this is the classic formula known as “hangriness.” This drives us to crave something quick and satiating- say a chocolate bar. Which then does the opposite, spikes blood sugar levels, causing the body to produce more insulin, uptaking the glucose faster and leaving you low again. Snacks can help us stay balanced.  

An equation for healthy snacking

  • 150-200 calories
  • Blend of carbs, protein and healthy fats
  • Nutrient density 
  • Leave out processed fats and sugars

Some snack-y ideas that fit the formula: 

  • Apple and peanut butter
  • Granola and yogurt
  • Lunch meat and low-fat cheese
  • Quinoa 
  • Hard boiled egg and hummus
  • Certain nutrition bars

In a very basic scenario, you could split the difference between breakfast, lunch and dinner; i.e.: breakfast at 8, first snack at 10, lunch between 12-1, second snack at 3 and dinner at 6. But every schedule is different and a snacking schedule is rarely rigid. The important thing is to stay in touch with your body- know the warning signs of blood sugar dropping and hasten to eat something healthy before you cave into your sweet tooth’s tastiest desires. When done right, snacking can be fun and keep you sane! 

Welcome to the 21st Century with Repetitive Stress Injuries

Repetitive Stress Injuries are a reality for many modern workers

If you are someone who works hours in front of a computer per day, take a second to appreciate all the hours you have spent doing what you do! When you add it up, you see that every day you perform the same task and this is the basis of repetitive injury: starting from the fingers and hands, we can trace a clear path back through the forearms to the shoulders, neck and head and then down the spinal column to the lower back where injuries to muscles and joints often occur.

This map becomes more torturous if we add consistently poor posture into the mix. 

It’s no wonder that we treat many people whose bodies are reeling from the effects of a computer-reliant job. 

Prevention takes dedication 

We can treat your body for the ill-effects of a job that brings on repetitive micro-traumas, but it is up to you to carry out the task of prevention at work. Here are a few simple ways you can stay strong against the incursion of RSI:

  • Break regularly. Set a timer and stand up for even 10 seconds every half hour. Once an hour, try to put your body through a quick set of stretches. The apple watch has this feature turned on by default. The apple watch prompts you to stand up after it detects prolonged sitting.
  • Do everything you can to control and perfect your ergonomic setup. Use what materials you have; for example, a rolled-up jacket works in place of a lumbar-specific pillow.
  • Develop muscles that make holding good posture easier. 
  • Practice good technique when typing: for example, let your hands float above the keyboard.

At our office, we pledge to you that we will find and address the cause rather than treat the symptom of your pain. We treat RSI with a combination of chiropractic adjustment, massage, and a focus on ergonomics and postural adjustment. Let’s roll back to the years when you could work for hours without the added stress of RSI; call our office to schedule an appointment today!

Breathe to Relax

Deep breathing is one of the most powerful ways you can influence relaxation.

When the stresses of the moment lead you to feel spun out, it is important to take a little time to breathe. In this way, you can harness the power of oxygen to refresh your body and mind and reset your perspective. Diaphragmatic breathing, better known as deep breathing, is the kind when you breathe in through the nose, contracting the diaphragm, and fill your lungs with air. You will know you have taken a deep breath when the abdomen expands rather than the chest.

Combine deep breathing with some simple muscle action to relieve tension throughout the body. 

  • Close your eyes and begin a pattern of deep breathing, as explained above. 
  • On the inhale, contract a muscle group and hold for up to 5 seconds.
  • On the exhale, release the muscles
  • Work your way down from shoulders to toes, one muscle group at a time. 

Optimize your breathing with chiropractic

Breathing is a complex system that we tend to unlearn as get older. For example, it is an action that affects and is affected by posture. We want to help you breathe better and this begins with technique! Subluxation in the cervical region can affect the phrenic nerve which powers the diaphragm, thereby affecting breathing. Let’s work together to get your breathing back on track to fight stress and feel better!