Breathe Better

A sub-conscious activity that we sometimes perform in excess of 20,000 times a day? A lot of people would probably jump to blinking, which is correct also, but how about breathing? And while the muscles that control the reflexes of blinking stay in good working order throughout life, this is not necessarily the case for the diaphragm and its accessory muscles. The nerves that power the diaphragm can be interfered with, core muscles can be weakened with misuse and poor posture can subdue our respiratory process, meaning that we are not getting the oxygen our cells need to refresh and respire regularly. This is a problem!

The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that separates the chest and lungs from the abdomen and is the engine of the respiratory system. Powered by the phrenic nerve, which exits between the C3 and C5 vertebrae, the diaphragm helps to circulate oxygen into the bloodstream, facilitate the exit of CO2 and contribute to the balance of the body and the health of the cells.

70-80% of each breath should be drawn using the diaphragm, yet people are less aware than ever of how to breathe properly. This leads to shallow breath patterns that resemble people suffering from anxiety and can interfere with their quality of life. At our chiropractic office, we are big fans of breathing properly. We keep your spine aligned so that your diaphragm can function fluidly, and help you keep the right muscles in a state of strength so that each breath drawn captures the oxygen you need to thrive. We can also show you proper breathing techniques and how posture affects your ability to breathe as well. 

Foods for Strong Bones

One of the greatest things we can do to combat the bodily degeneration that comes with aging is to fortify our bones! Conditions such as osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis have traditionally been associated with the elderly, but the startling fact is that with a shift toward a more sedentary society, Americans are facing the onset of degenerative bone conditions at an earlier age than ever. It is time that we start taking this issue seriously and being proactive about keeping our bones healthy and fortified against the incursions of inactivity and age. 

Nutrition for healthy bones centers around two main ingredients: calcium for bone density and support and vitamin D as a supplement for calcium absorption and bone growth. Magnesium is another nutrient that helps with calcium absorption, although too much calcium can actually prevent magnesium from being absorbed. It is all about balance, after all. Here are some delicious food options that will keep your bones strong:

  • Dairy, of the kind that is fortified with vitamin D: Yogurt, milk, cheese, and egg (particularly the yolk) contains high values of your daily percentage for both calcium and vitamin D. 
  • Salmon, while more renowned for its omega-3 properties, also contains almost your full daily serving of vitamin D. 
  • Dark, leafy vegetables such as spinach and collard greens are rich in calcium.
  • Fortified cereal is delicious at any time of day. 
  • Fortified orange juice

Vitamin D is also the sunshine vitamin, so when you can make sure you get out and expose your skin to a reasonable amount of sunlight, without getting burned of course! You don’t need to be a professional in the kitchen or develop a taste for something you dislike in order to recoup the proper amounts of nutrients you need to keep your bones healthy. As your chiropractor, we care about your musculoskeletal well-being throughout life and that is why we practice holistic care that includes chiropractic treatment, exercise, and nutrition. Give our office a call and see how we can make small, yet delicious modifications to your diet that will help you stay proactive about, “getting old.”

Running Form

For all of its health benefits and ease of accessibility, it is almost unequaled as a mode of exercise and, at our chiropractic office, we celebrate the runners in our community. We also want to help them minimize the collateral damage incurred by joints in the back (not to mention, the knees!) which are exposed to repetitive trauma and hard surfaces. By all means continue running for the increased lung capacity and improved circulation, for the stress reduction, stretching and strengthening, but heed our advice regarding the pitfalls of running: 

  • Posture is important, to prevent a forward tilt of the pelvis which can destabilize the lower spine. Focus on keeping your face forward and not down, establishing your hips as your center of gravity, and keeping your shoulders back and relaxed. 
  • Mix up your running surfaces: strictly running on concrete is likely to cause accelerated cartilage degeneration and joint damage. 
  • Change your running shoes every 400-500 miles. Despite the financial burden, it is the only serious investment required for running and it goes a long way to protect your joints from being the only agents acting for shock absorption. 

Your body is a fine-tuned machine that can handle the physical rigors of running but, given long enough, it can take a toll. We are here to make sure that your body is maintained along the way, ensuring that muscles are free of tension, joints in the back are adjusted and nerves are free of irritation. This helps regulate the nervous system, prevents pain, and helps you recover more quicker. 

Plank you very much!

Planking is a super exercise

This exercise is a total body tonic because it focuses on building the core, which is the foundation from which the rest of the body can be developed on. Before you start to address the issues that have your shoulder and upper back in knots it is prudent to establish good core health and the plank is a go-to. Here are some of the benefits of daily planking: 

  • Reducing low back pain
  • Increasing core strength and stability
  • Boosting flexibility and balance
  • Helping you maintain good posture

The recipe for a good plank.

To get the most out of your plank, it is important to observe proper form:

  • Elbows directly under shoulders; wrists aligned with elbows
  • Push body up and hold chin close to your neck
  • Contract abdominals, squeeze glutes and thighs

Hold this position for 20-30 seconds (or as long as you can at first), no longer. Rest for 1 minute; repeat 3-5 times daily. When done properly, the plank targets every layer of the abdominal fascia with very little movement on your part. By pulling your belly button in, you can ensure that you are contracting the deepest layer of muscle possible. 

Good form starts with a visit to the chiropractor. 

As with all exercises, don’t attempt them if they cause you pain at any point. As your chiropractor, it is my job to make sure your body is in conducive shape for attempting strength-building movements. Planking daily will help you tone the muscles that make posture easier and this is a great way to combat a sit-heavy lifestyle; for help finding your perfect form, call our office to schedule an appointment today. 

Lifestyles of the Anti-Inflammatory

Inflammation is one of the most insidious agents of disease because it starts with something good and necessary, the body’s natural healing response, and evolves into something destructive. Chronic inflammation compromises the systems of our body and leaves us open to the perils of age and life-altering conditions, including cancer and heart disease. Reducing inflammation’s role in your life means realizing a life with a lower risk of disease, looking and feeling younger, and living a longer, more prosperous life. We are familiar with the symptoms of chronic inflammation including persistent aches and pains in joints and muscles, and we recognize that it is no way to live. 

The basics of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle include diet, exercise and sleep. The most immediate way you can start accounting for high levels of inflammation is by avoiding foods and activities that directly aggravate the body’s inflammatory response including processed foods and sweets, alcohol and tobacco and replacing these habits with foods that fight inflammation including omega-3 fatty acids, olive oil, nuts, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables. Hydration is important, as is finding ways to relax and sleeping well. With this, we can help; our chiropractic services help to regulate the nervous system. fight inflammation and help the body relax, especially if muscle tension or achy joints are a source of consternation. 

We don’t want you to linger any longer in the grips of chronic inflammation; instead, give our office a call so we can start you on the path toward living despite conditions that are caused by or related to inflammation. 

Staying Fit and Flexible

Can you remember how it felt to move as a child? the freedom of knowing that you could trust yourself in any movement with the safety net of knowing that most injuries could be swiftly and fully healed. As we age, the consequences of injury become more severe, which makes prevention all the more important. One of the most powerful ways to keep yourself injury-free is by maintaining your range of motion. It helps to define flexibility and range of motion: flexibility refers to a joint’s ability to perform a standard range of motions and thus, a joint with a full range of motion also enjoys good flexibility. A body full of flexible joints and pliable muscles allows you:

  • to feel confident in your daily movements and exercise
  • to uphold better posture
  • to lengthen your muscles and connective tissue
  • to develop a further layer of injury resistance
  • to perform better physically.

The unhappy reality is that flexibility declines with age and facing this reality means we need to take more proactive measures to keep our bodies fit and flexible. At our office, we want to help you achieve a more flexible you. We want you to be able to perform the motions of your daily life without pain and to this end, we focus on rehabilitating injuries that may be holding you back. An important piece of any flexible human is the balance of their spine and we help you maintain this through the chiropractic adjustment. Once the injury’s grip on your life is gone, we can construct a plan for wellness that includes strong and flexible joints and muscles. 

Winter is Coming, Warm Up To It

The cold weather of winter slows our muscles down. 

This has a far-reaching impact when it comes to the range of motion and physical performance throughout the day. Whether you are working out or going to work, stepping out into the cold chill of the morning can cause muscles to lose heat and contract which leaves you feeling tight. It is no coincidence that people are more likely to report joint and muscle pain and stiffness during the chilly months. 

A gentle warm-up

Warming up could be the difference maker in your fitness this winter! People sometimes mistakenly think that warming up just means a blitz of movements and stretches that get your body ready for the impending exercise. However, it is much more subtle and we advocate a more gentle approach. We want to focus on the “warming,” part of the term: by slowly stretching, we ease our bodies into the routine and as body temperatures rise, the muscles heat up and loosen, allowing for greater muscle-building capacity, physical performance, and a lower likelihood for injury!

Keeping up fitness levels in the winter

There are a plethora of reasons why we want to keep our exercise levels steady in the colder months: 

  • Keep stiffness at bay
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Improve circulation
  • Control weight

All of these things contribute to healthier joints and bones, which in turn help you to feel happier even when the sky is grey. We urge you to not let your fitness fall by the wayside this winter. Instead, give our office a call so that we can work together on keeping your body in a state of balance and health this winter, beginning with the warm-up! 

Chiropractic & The Common Cold

The common cold is perhaps the most widely experienced illness in America 

And we are now entering its prime season. As viruses attack on all fronts (nose, throat sinuses, lung, muscles), we begin to sniffle; our heads get stuffy and we start to feel tired. Then we reach for the medicine cabinet, masking the symptoms and getting on with our day rather than treating them at the source. While there is nothing inherently wrong or bad about this approach, it could be avoided entirely in the first place, saving you money and time that could be allotted in better ways. 

Boosting the immune system

Colds generally befall people whose immune systems, for whatever reason, are compromised at a certain period of time. The germs have more potency against a weakened immune system and thrive in this environment. This is the pitfall of a traditional approach to treating the cold: by taking medicine, we are not allowing our immune systems to strengthen. Chiropractic, while not being a true treatment for the common cold, takes a different tack: by locating and correcting subluxation, we regulate the flow of the nervous system and increase your body’s capacity for natural resistance. This helps you to avoid the illness in the first place because your body’s systems are strong. 

Staying strong through the cold season with chiropractic help 

Exercise, sleep, and nutrition are other important factors that play into preventing the common cold. If you are having difficulty optimizing your lifestyle against the incursions of the common cold, give our office a call to schedule an appointment today; our services help you overcome illness quickly and increase your natural resistance to them simultaneously. In short, chiropractic combined with plenty of sleep, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, together with exercise will enable your body to fight back the onset of the microorganisms that are constantly attacking you. Good posture opens your airways, exercise opens your vasculature, and further improves your abilities to fight both small and large enemies. Stay vigilant my friends.

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.