Stages of Injury and Recovery

As a Doctor of Chiropractic it is my job to help patients move and function better, and to help them recover from injuries they may be dealing with. There is more than just the physical healing that occurs with an injury. These injuries do not have to be life threatening, maybe just enough to prevent you for doing the things you love to do or maybe even prevent you from doing your normal activities of daily living. One thing that you might also want to consider when you have suffered an injury, is whether or not you might be able to get compensation for it (particularly if it wasn’t your fault). If this is something that you are interested in looking into further, the you could check out someone like this indiana personal injury lawyer. Don’t forget though, that although getting the compensation that you deserve for your injury is a good idea, the most important thing to think about is recovering yourself. If you are getting compensation for your injury then you might want to check out this personal injury calculator to make sure you are getting the right amount of compensation. Once you’ve got your compensation then make sure you are doing everything you can to get better. There is also the psychological aspect of getting injured- which is what I wanted to focus on in this Blog. When we lose someone we love or even a family pet, we usually go through the 5 stages of grief, well that also happens (to a lesser degree) when we lose our ability to do the things we love to do. I wanted to highlight those 5 stages here in respect to getting injured to help lead you towards recovery. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional athlete or just someone who likes to work in their garden, when what we love to do is taken away from us, we often go through these 5 stages of injury and recovery.

Denial

When you first experience the shock of an injury, you immediately begin an internal dialogue in which you try to convince yourself that it’s not that bad. You probably try to run, lift or garden just like you normally do, a typical form of denial that often makes matters worse. Another common thought is that the injury will ease off in a couple of days. If you continue to do your activity of choice you may aggravate the injury. In extreme cases, some people pretend there is no injury.

Anger

Often fueled by thoughts like “Why me?” or “Why now?” you direct anger at yourself for a mistake that caused the injury, or at someone else you think is responsible. Perhaps you got hurt cleaning your gutters, or working in your garden, or an athlete gets hurt during a critical part of the season. It’s natural to feel angry. You might even direct it at family and friends, because they might not understand the sense of loss you have when you can’t do your favorite activities.

Bargaining

In a sense, this is an extension of denial. You accept the injury and endure the pain, but you try to ignore it or overcome it by adapting your activities to avoid the injured area. This usually leads to your body getting out of balance by overcompensating for the injury. Bargaining with your body by overcompensating may actually make the injury worse.

Depression

Grieving over your enforced time off from your favorite activities can lead to a form of depression, at least certainly a distinct sadness. You might feel like the entire season is lost, or that rehab will never get you back to 100%, or, worst case, that you will never finish that project in the yard or never completely recover.

Acceptance

For rehabilitation to be effective, this is the stage you need to get to. The preceding stages are completely natural and understandable. Recognize them for what they are. Just saying that you have to “pull yourself together” is a form of denial. Work through that and other stages by talking to friends, therapists and family. They can help get you to the point of acceptance. If you achieve acceptance early, you can start working on your rehab right away, even while you are going through the other stages.

Getting to a Positive Attitude

Taking positive action will get you to acceptance sooner. No matter how difficult it is, a positive attitude is your best strategy on the road to recovery. Understanding the natural stages you are going through is the first step. No one escapes unscathed from at least some of the stages; they cannot be avoided. Getting back on track takes a dedicated attitude and a commitment to excellence.

If you are dealing with any kind of injury that is keeping you from your favorite activities, please come in for an appointment here at Performance Health Center and we will do our best to get you back to doing the things you love to do. Your body and your mind will thank you for it.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general you can reach me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

An Interesting Take on “R.A.”, aka- Rheumatoid Arthritis!

I was just visiting at home over this past Thanksgiving break, helping out, and doing Active Release Techniques®  (ART) on the hands of my highly active grandmother of 85 years young, and chatting about her issues with Rheumatoid Arthritis, commonly called, “R.A.”.  For those of you who are not aware, R.A. is an autoimmune condition.  Unfortunately the immune system goes after and attacks its own tissues, and in regards to this condition, the joints.  The immune system recognizes the cells and tissue as an invader, and is constantly attacking certain joints of the body more then others.  In the long run this ends of triggering chronic inflammation in the body, which equals pain surrounding the joints usually.

The most common form of “standard medical treatment”, our nemesis, is prednisone, BOO…  In the short run this drug can definitely reduce pain, but acts more like a bandage.  There are also many bad side affects in regards to using prednisone for the long run as well.  Many of those side affects have been made very well aware of to the general public over the past few years, including weakening the immune system.

What if we were to think outside of the box for a little bit?  Just bare with me here… Don’t you think it would be a good idea to understand where this autoimmune condition is coming from?  Can you even guess?  What are the more advanced and validated medical researchers these days saying where many, if not most conditions are coming from?  The gut, obviously!  With all of the research out there now on R.A., it is showing a huge connection between the two.

Many of you may be familiar with “Leaky Gut Syndrome”, and if you are not, it is a condition in the digestive tract where these tiny holes are created.  Factors such as poor diet and poor environmental conditions cause these little holes where the intestines are supposed to be so tightly bound together.  Bad bacteria then can freely travel and enter into the bloodstream, not good!   There are paragraphs in much greater detail about “Leaky Gut”, but this part isn’t to bore you, or more realistically, overwhelm you.  Bottom line, these factors weaken the immune system, and this is what can also lead to a multitude of food sensitivities that everyone is now talking about, and everyone now seems to have.

In regards to the use of prednisone to treat R.A., this drug also weakens the immune system as stated above.  This drug may help control the level of pain, but doesn’t it really now seem counter intuitive to use?

I was discussing with my grandmother about eating a “whole foods” diet, and trying to stay away from processed food, which she does for the most part.  How do you think she has made it this far and remained in such amazing shape?  I was also talking to her about common food sensitivities that many people seem to have; gluten, dairy, and refined sugar!  Trying to remove these things from your diet is a huge key factor in regards to any inflammatory condition, autoimmune or not.

In regards to taking supplements, there are a few natural products that could be of great help as well.  Taking a high strain good quality probiotic (everyone and their mom should be taking this) to help increase good bacteria levels in the gut, and taking ~5,000mg of L-glutamine daily to help with healing your gut lining.  Taking in more good quality fats, like a fish oil, to help decrease inflammation through out the entire body.  Some other supplements worth mentioning and taking if contending with R.A. would be high potency curcumin, MSM, and glucosamine sulphate.

I know this a lot of information, and unfortunately there is no “quick and easy fix” when dealing with an autoimmune condition such as R.A.  That is why people are so quick to turn to prednisone for pain relief.  Unfortunately, much of the population is not well educated in regards to what an autoimmune disease is, and what terrible side affects drugs such as prednisone can have on the body.  I feel it is my job as a chiropractor to help educate my patients to the best of my ability so we can all lead a healthier and happier life.

In closing and as a side note, if you are dealing with R.A., chiropractic treatment and ART® have proven to help provide a lot of relief when dealing with chronic inflammation and pain surrounding the joints.  The goal is also to remain active.  Joints are meant to move, so KEEP MOVING!  Should you have any questions, always feel free to email me at drv@performancehealthcenter.com .  Happiest and healthiest of holidays to you all, cheers!

Stay Safe During Hot Weather Exercise

If you are a regular reader of these blogs you know that I definitely advocate exercising on a regular basis, but when the summer months turn really hot and humid, you need to be careful to avoid heat related illnesses like heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Whether you’re running, playing tennis, working in your yard or garden, or going for a power walk, please be careful when the temperature rises.

Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. If you don’t take care when exercising in the heat, you risk serious illness. Both the exercise itself and the air temperature and humidity can increase your core body temperature.

To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate. If the humidity also is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from your skin. That pushes your body temperature even higher.

Under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration level adjust to the heat. But these natural cooling systems may fail if you’re exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long, you sweat heavily, and you don’t drink enough fluids.

The result may be a heat-related illness. Heat-related illnesses occur along a spectrum, starting out mild but worsening if left untreated. Heat illnesses include:

  • Heat cramps.Heat cramps, sometimes called exercise-associated muscle cramps, are painful muscle contractions that can occur with exercise. Affected muscles may feel firm to the touch. You may feel muscle pain or spasms. Your body temperature may be normal.
  • Heat syncope and exercise-associated collapseHeat syncope is a feeling of lightheadedness or fainting caused by high temperatures, often occurring after standing for a long period of time or standing quickly after sitting for a long period of time. Exercise-associated collapse is feeling lightheaded or fainting immediately after exercising, and it can occur especially if you immediately stop running and stand still after a race or a long run.
  • Heat exhaustion.With heat exhaustion, your body temperature rises as high as 104° F, and you may experience nausea, vomiting, weakness, headache, fainting, sweating and cold, clammy skin. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke.
  • Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency condition that occurs when your body temperature is greater than 104° F. Your skin may be dry from lack of sweat, or it may be moist.

You may develop confusion, irritability, headache, heart rhythm problems, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, visual problems and fatigue. You need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure or even death.

During hot-weather exercise, watch for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. If you ignore these symptoms, your condition can worsen, resulting in a medical emergency.

WARNING SIGNS:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Visual problems

If you develop any of these symptoms, you must lower your body temperature and get hydrated right away. Stop exercising immediately and get out of the heat. If possible, have someone stay with you who can help monitor your condition.

Measuring core body temperature with a rectal thermometer is essential to accurately determine the degree of heat injury. An oral, ear or forehead thermometer doesn’t provide an accurate temperature reading for this purpose. In cases of heatstroke, due to confusion and mental status changes, you won’t be able to treat yourself and you’ll require emergency medical care. The most effective way of rapid cooling is immersion of your body in a cold- or ice-water tub.

In cases of heat exhaustion, remove extra clothing or sports equipment. Make sure you are around people who can help you and assist in your care. If possible, fan your body or wet down your body with cool water.

You may place cool, wet towels or ice packs on your neck, forehead and under your arms, spray yourself with water from a hose or shower, or sit in a tub filled with cold water. Drink fluids such as water or a sports drink. If you don’t feel better within about 20 minutes, seek emergency medical care.

IF YOU HAVE SIGNS OF HEAT STROKE- SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT RIGHT AWAY

If your core temperature is less than 104° F, but it doesn’t come down quickly, you’ll also need urgent medical attention. In some cases, you may need fluids through intravenous (IV) tubes if you’re not able to drink fluids, or not able to drink enough fluids.

Get cleared by your doctor before you return to exercise if you’ve had heatstroke. Your doctor will likely recommend that you wait to return to exercise or sports until you’re not experiencing symptoms. If you’ve had a heatstroke, you may require many weeks before you are able to exercise at a high level. Once your doctor clears you for exercise, you may begin to exercise for short periods of time and gradually exercise for longer periods as you adjust to the heat.

When you exercise in hot weather, keep these precautions in mind:

  • Watch the temperature.Pay attention to weather forecasts and heat alerts. Know what the temperature is expected to be for the duration of your planned outdoor activity. In running events, there are “flag” warnings that correspond to the degree of heat and humidity. For example, a yellow flag requires careful monitoring, and races are canceled in black flag conditions.
  • Get acclimated.If you’re used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, take it easy at first when you exercise in the heat. It can take at least one to two weeks to adapt to the heat. As your body adapts to the heat over time, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts.
  • Know your fitness level.If you’re unfit or new to exercise, be extra cautious when working out in the heat. Your body may have a lower tolerance to the heat. Reduce your exercise intensity and take frequent breaks.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.Dehydration is a key factor in heat illness. Help your body sweat and cool down by staying well-hydrated with water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink fluids. If you plan to exercise intensely, consider a sports drink instead of water. Sports drinks can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating. Avoid alcoholic drinks because they can actually promote fluid loss.
  • Dress appropriately.Lightweight, loose fitting clothing helps sweat evaporate and keeps you cooler. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb heat. If possible, wear a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat.
  • Avoid midday sun.Exercise in the morning or evening, when it’s likely to be cooler outdoors. If possible, exercise in shady areas, or do a water workout in a pool.
  • Wear sunscreen.A sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself and increases the risk of skin cancer.
  • Have a backup plan.If you’re concerned about the heat or humidity, stay indoors. Work out at the gym, walk laps inside the mall or climb stairs inside an air-conditioned building.
  • Understand your medical risks.Certain medical conditions or medications can increase your risk of a heat-related illness. If you plan to exercise in the heat, talk to your doctor about precautions.
  • Choose and alternative form of exercise. If you are a runner – maybe try cycling as you create your own cooling effect by moving air over your body – or maybe give swimming a go – but beware of swimming laps in a hot (> 84° F) pool – as you can quickly overheat swimming in water that warm.

I do recommend that you continue to exercise on a regular basis even through this hot month of August, just be smart about it by following these recommendations.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general, please feel free to contact me at:  drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

 

Fall Sports Season Is Here, BELIEVE IT OR NOT!!! Dynamic Stretching, the “Pre-workout”

I wouldn’t be doing my job at Performance Heatlh Center, if I wasn’t trying to educate all my athletes how to prevent injury and showing up to my office “all banged up”.  I know I have touched on this before, but I cannot stress the importance of stretching, and when training, dynamic stretching!

If you look up Wikipedia’s definition of dynamic stretching, this is what comes up, “Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching beneficial in sports utilizing momentum from form, and the momentum from static-active stretching strength, in an effort to propel the muscle into an extended range of motion not exceeding one’s static passive stretching ability”.

Performing dynamic stretches in a “pre-workout” or warmup are a series of active stretches will help move the muscles through their range of motion, help improve range of motion surrounding the joints, help elevate core body temperature, and help to stimulate the nervous system so it is better prepared for activity.

Dynamic stretching primes the muscle to be ready to contract and relax, just as they would need to be ready to function during a sprint, run or jumping motion etc.  Being dynamic stretching is an active movement, it helps to prevent over-stretching, which can also fatigue the muscles.  Fatiguing the muscles prior to a workout can provoke injury or unfavorable symptoms to the area.  That is one of the main reasons coaching have gotten away from prescribing static stretching before a workout.  In fact, many coaches suggest athletes do a dynamic warm up every day to help keep muscles limber and ready to move at all times.

Dynamic stretching also helps to mentally prepare the athlete before the workout or competition.  Static stretching can be more relaxing, and while there is definitely a place for it, static stretching can almost trick one’s body into relaxation mode and make it more difficult to transition to “competitor” or “beast mode”.

Dynamic stretches target major muscle groups when warming up.  For example, when running, dynamic stretches target hamstrings, quads, glutes, hip flexors and calves to help prime these areas for movement.  Usually a couple of minutes of light jogging is recommended first to get the blood flowing before getting into a 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching.  Walking butt kicks (heel to butt), knee hugs (walking knee the chest), walking toe touches, walking lunges with an overhead reach, glute bridges, heel and toe walks, are just a handful of great dynamic stretches to get one warmed up and the muscle groups prepared for the intensity of the workout that follows.   It really is something so easy to work into a warm up, and would most likely replace a more static routine one is doing, so it would not add much time on to one’s routine either.    Some of you reading this may find that you are already doing some type of dynamic stretching prior to a workout without even knowing it, which is great!  Gold stars for you!

Should anyone reading this little article have any questions in regarding dynamic stretching and incorporating this into their pre-workout routine coming into the fall sports season, please feel free to contact me at: drv@performanacehealthcenter.com

Does Chiropractic Help with Allergies?

It appears that spring is finally here.  The temperature is rising, the days are getting longer and the flowers and trees are budding. Along with all these great things is an increase in pollen and the start of spring-time allergies for many people.

Many people are hypersensitive to pollen and other environmental substances. This condi­tion causes a number of irritating symptoms that can make life miserable.  An allergy is a hypersensitivity that can surface in many ways: Skin reactions, breathing difficulty and irritations to the sinuses are some of the most frequent allergy symptoms. If you have a food allergy, then problems like bloating, indigestion and diarrhea may result.

An allergic response is when your immune system activates and attempts to remove a substance that is usually considered harmless from the body. Essentially, the allergic reaction is caused not by the substance itself but by your body’s interpretation that the substance is poten­tially harmful. Inflammation, sneezing, cough­ing and vomiting are methods the immune system uses to expel any dangerous substance ingested by you.

When an allergic reaction starts, the body activates special immune cells called mast cells. On the surface of their membranes, these mast cells possess receptors that recognize substances considered either harmful or helpful to the body. When harmful substances are detected, the cells release histamines. This triggers the body to react, often with an increase in swelling, coughing, or sneezing.

An allergic reaction can be considered an interpretation of your environment. In order for your body to interpret, your body must first get information. The nervous system is part of this information-gathering function of the body. If your nervous system is dysfunctional, then the information interpreted will be altered, and this makes you vulnerable to abnormal reactions like allergies.

Many people report that Chiropractic can help with Allergies

Many chiropractic patients report a reduction of allergy symptoms when treated regularly for vertebral subluxations (misalignments and/or dysfunctional movements of the vertebrae).  These misalignments or dysfunctional movements of vertebra can cause a focal irritation in the spine, which then creates an abnormal signal received by the central nervous system.  When this abnormal signal is received by the central nervous system, the body may not interrupt the information correctly.  When this occurs, an allergic reaction can result.

Although scientific research shows chiropractic adjustments do not cause an improvement in all allergy cases, they’re definitely beneficial for some.  The reason for the inconsistency may be because there are a number of different causes for a patient’s hypersensitivity.  Vertebral subluxation is only one of many potential causes.

If you or someone you know suffer from seasonal allergies, consider chiropractic care.  I have many of my patients tell me they have fewer allergy symptoms when they consistently come in for their regular Chiropractic care.

If you have any questions about this blog, or about your health in general, please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

 

Does Chiropractic Help with Allergies?

It appears that spring is finally here.  The temperature is rising, the days are getting longer and the flowers and trees are budding. Along with all these great things is an increase in pollen and the start of spring-time allergies for many people.

Many people are hypersensitive to pollen and other environmental substances. This condi­tion causes a number of irritating symptoms that can make life miserable.  An allergy is a hypersensitivity that can surface in many ways: Skin reactions, breathing difficulty and irritations to the sinuses are some of the most frequent allergy symptoms. If you have a food allergy, then problems like bloating, indigestion and diarrhea may result.

An allergic response is when your immune system activates and attempts to remove a substance that is usually considered harmless from the body. Essentially, the allergic reaction is caused not by the substance itself but by your body’s interpretation that the substance is poten­tially harmful. Inflammation, sneezing, cough­ing and vomiting are methods the immune system uses to expel any dangerous substance ingested by you.

When an allergic reaction starts, the body activates special immune cells called mast cells. On the surface of their membranes, these mast cells possess receptors that recognize substances considered either harmful or helpful to the body. When harmful substances are detected, the cells release histamines. This triggers the body to react, often with an increase in swelling, coughing, or sneezing.

An allergic reaction can be considered an interpretation of your environment. In order for your body to interpret, your body must first get information. The nervous system is part of this information-gathering function of the body. If your nervous system is dysfunctional, then the information interpreted will be altered, and this makes you vulnerable to abnormal reactions like allergies.

Many people report that Chiropractic can help with Allergies

Many chiropractic patients report a reduction of allergy symptoms when treated regularly for vertebral subluxations (misalignments and/or dysfunctional movements of the vertebrae).  These misalignments or dysfunctional movements of vertebra can cause a focal irritation in the spine, which then creates an abnormal signal received by the central nervous system.  When this abnormal signal is received by the central nervous system, the body may not interrupt the information correctly.  When this occurs, an allergic reaction can result.

Although scientific research shows chiropractic adjustments do not cause an improvement in all allergy cases, they’re definitely beneficial for some.  The reason for the inconsistency may be because there are a number of different causes for a patient’s hypersensitivity.  Vertebral subluxation is only one of many potential causes.

If you or someone you know suffer from seasonal allergies, consider chiropractic care.  I have many of my patients tell me they have fewer allergy symptoms when they consistently come in for their regular Chiropractic care.

If you have any questions about this blog, or about your health in general, please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

 

It’s That Time of Year Again, Boston Marathon Time!

Calling all Boston Marathoners, it’s that time of year!  Spring is in the air, hopefully the snow is done, and the marathon is quickly approaching.  So exciting!!!

Once again, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t offering a little advice to all my patients, family and friends on how they can better take care of themselves during this exciting time of year, and the rest of the year, as “marathon-ing” is starting to become an all year round sport.

I cannot stress how important it is that runners and athletes in general be more proactive to take care better care of themselves leading up to a marathon, and in their recovery post marathon as well.   Being proactive pre-race and post-race, whether it being seeing your chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, or acupuncturist, can really help prevent injury from occurring leading up to the race, and certainly help speed up your recovery and get back on the road to training after the race.  There are so many words of advice, tips, recommendations etc., that I am going to just focus on a few things that I have found myself to fall short on after running a marathon or completing a triathlon.

One of the most commonly asked question by a runner or triathlete is, “How long should I wait to run again after the marathon?”.   After my first marathon, I had no clue, and I thought I could just jump back into running like it was nothing!  I mean, I had just completed 26.2 miles of running, I felt like I could do anything!  Boy was I wrong, and it certainly wasn’t the first question I asked.  So…for all of those who are inquiring and don’t want to be like me on the first time around, general rule of thumb seems to be 1-2 weeks depending on how one feels.

A lot of articles say 5-7 days of rest post marathon, which I am totally fine with.  More importantly though, the next few weeks after that initial week should be taken lightly with training as the body is trying to recover.  Usually within 3-4 weeks a runner can return to regular training, or harder workouts, providing there are no injuries that the runner or triathlete is dealing with from before the race, or an injury resulting from the race.  As for triatletes, usually one can get back to swimming right away, as it is not compressive to the body, but I wouldn’t be trying to “kill it” in the pool.  As for the bike, again, less compressive to the body, but listen to your legs and your body, and how you feel over all.  To go a little lighter for a few weeks post-race is not a bad thing.  You can still get some good training and exercise in without destroying your body.

Again, as I have mentioned before, ice baths for recovery post race are awesome.  Most runners inquire about the effectiveness of ice baths and when or how long to soak in the tub of ice for.  The general idea in regards to this type of cryotherapy treatment is that the exposure to cold helps the body fight the microtrauma (tiny little tears) in the muscle fibers causing soreness by the repetitive exercise that just took place.  Constricting the blood vessels for a short period of time can help to flush toxins released by the body during the event, and intern, help to decrease or reduce inflammation, swelling, and breakdown of tissue in the body. I recommend getting into the tub and filling it with cold water around you first (up to your waste), then dumping a bag or two of ice into the water after you are submerged. It is best to stay submerged in the ice bath for about 10 minutes if you can tolerate it.

As always, I am a HUGE fan of a post marathon chiropractic adjustment and Active Release Techniques® (ART) to help realign your body, and set your straight for the rest of the season, or whatever race you have coming up next.  Post-race massage within a few days’ post marathon or whatever race you have done is so important, and something I always do without fail.  Without my chiropractors and massage therapists, physical therapist, and acupuncturist, I do not think I could train the way I do, and keep going after all of these years, seriously!

I really hope some of this information helps you all in your journey to the Boston Marathon this year, or whatever race or competition you have on your calendar in 2018.  And, in particular to the month of April, Happy Boston Marathon-ing to everyone racing.  Think positive thoughts to carry you through that day, and I will be there with you all in spirit!  If you have any questions about pre and post marathon or race recovery, please feel free and contact me at drv@performancehealthcenter.com.

 

Improve Your Posture With These Exercises and Stretches

Most people feel like they could improve their posture, yet they are not quite sure where to start.  I will list some key stretches and exercises that will help improve your posture, but first we need to determine what is causing our poor posture.

Most of us spend too much time sitting. Add up all the time we spend sitting in the car, at home, and at work and it may equal more than half your waking hours. The problem stems from the way we typically sit, or slouch, hours at a time in front of a computer, or behind the wheel of a car, or slumped on the couch at home.  Typical poor sitting posture includes: neck protracted, shoulders internally rotated, hamstrings shortened, glutes and core muscles disengaged. Consistently sitting like this will inevitably lead to muscular imbalances that translate into poor posture.

When you do sit, remember to keep your back straight with your head in a neutral position. Allow your shoulder blades to sink into your back pockets. Align your ears over your shoulders, and your shoulders over your hips to avoid that forward slouch.

Better yet, sit on a stability ball, or replace the chair, even some of the time with a stand-up desk arrangement. At the least, incorporate frequent breaks into your workday to break up extended hours of sitting at a desk.

During your breaks from sitting, stand up and do some muscle activation exercises and dynamic stretches to wake up the lines of communication to underused muscles and to increase mobility in tight areas.

MUSCLE ACTIVATION EXERCISES:

Activate your core by pulling your belly button toward your spine; then raise your arms above your head and lean back slightly while balanced on one leg. Hold it for five seconds; then switch to the other leg.

Activate your hips by standing on one leg and moving your opposite leg back and to the side. Hold for five seconds; then switch legs. Or, stand on both legs and alternately squeeze one glute and then the other, as you sway side to side.

Specific stretches to improve posture:

Open up the chest with a doorway stretch.  Stand in a doorway with your hands on each side of the opening- allow your body to “enter the room” with your hands still on each side of the door opening behind you.  Hold for 30 seconds.

To stretch your back, start with a half wall hang. With your feet shoulder-width apart, place your hands against a wall. Slowly step away from the wall as you slide your hands down the wall until your hands, shoulders, and hips are aligned and parallel to the floor. Push your hands into the wall and pull your hips away from the wall as you feel a stretch in your lower back.

From the half wall hang, move into a full hang to target more of your hamstrings. Move your hands down the wall to the floor and hang with waist bent and head relaxed.

SHOULDER RETRACTION EXERCISE:

The shoulder retraction exercise helps vertically align your head and neck with your spinal column and helps your thoracic spine move into extension. The shoulder retraction exercise is designed to relax your tight neck and pectoral muscles.

Stand up straight and keep your feet about shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing straight ahead. Slowly contract your abdominal muscles to keep your hips in a stable position. With your arms dangling freely at your sides, flip your palms over to face directly ahead and then lower your shoulders down and back so that your shoulder blades move toward your spine. Push your breastbone out and up. Position your head so that it’s directly above your spinal column and then tuck your chin to your throat. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Perform this stretch one time per working hour.

REVERSE SHOULDER SHRUGS:

Perform reverse shoulder shrugs by standing or sitting up straight and keeping your head in a neutral position, directly above your spinal column. In one fluid motion, lift both of your shoulders toward your ears. Then roll your shoulders backward and down as your shoulder blades move toward your spine. This exercise helps extend your upper thoracic spine and opens up your chest. While you’re performing this exercise, you should feel a light stretch in your chest and shoulder muscles. Perform 20 reverse shoulder shrugs two to three times a day, five days a week or more if you’re doing a lot of computer work.

CHIN TUCK EXERCISE:

Perform the repetitive chin tuck exercise to stretch your neck muscles and promote better posture. The repetitive chin tuck exercise targets the muscles in your upper cervical spine, which are situated just below the base of your skull.

Perform the repetitive chin tuck exercise by standing tall and keeping your spine straight. This is your starting position. Keeping your gaze level, pull your head and neck straight back (without tilting your neck backward) and bring your chin to your throat. You should feel a light stretch in the back of your neck, just under the base of your skull. Hold your stretch for five to seven seconds and then return to your starting position. Repeat this exercise 10 times five days a week. To enhance your stretch, you can use your index finger to place gentle pressure on your chin.

My favorite “improve your posture exercise” involves a stability ball, also known as a Swiss ball, this passive stretch should be part of your daily routine.  Lie with your back supported by the stability ball. Plant your feet firmly in the ground, hip-distance apart.  Open your arms to the sides of the room and let them hang so you feel a stretch in your chest muscles. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.  This exercise feels great as it unloads your spine from gravity and reverses the forward hunched posture we get from prolonged sitting.

To learn these and more Postural Restoration exercises in person, come to my next workshop, Postural Restoration.  Included in the class is a new Stability Ball pumped up for you.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general, please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com

The Concussion Muscle

Concussions are awful. There are close to 4 million sports related concussions in the U.S. every year. Your brain gets shaken up like an egg inside its shell. The skull doesn’t crack but the brain gets rattle around. You might lose consciousness, balance, ability to talk, have a headache and the world appears fuzzy. You go through concussion protocol testing and spend anywhere from a few days to weeks resting.
Slowly you start to feel better and eventually get on with life. 15% of concussion suffers have lingering effects which last beyond 3 months which is labeled “post-concussion syndrome. Persistent symptoms include inability to concentrate, memory issues, fatigue, dizziness, irritability, anxiousness, insomnia, blurry vision, noise and light sensitivity, and headache.

A recent study from the American Journal of Neuroradiology (AJNR) tried to determine if there was correlation between the suboccipital muscles and recovery time from post-concussion syndrome. The suboccipital muscles connect the upper neck vertebrae to the back part of the skull called the occiput. There are seven (7) muscles that make up the suboccipital muscles. An MRI of sixty-four consecutive patients with post-concussion syndrome was performed and symptoms were tested using standard concussion protocols.

Of the seven (7) suboccipital muscles only one (1) muscle’s cross-sectional diameter proved to have a direct association with post-concussion symptoms. That muscle is the Rectus Capitus Posterior Minor. (RCPMinor). There was a direct correlation with the RCPMinor and “greater symptom severity, longer recovery time, poor verbal memory performance and headache”. None of the other suboccipital muscles had a direct correlation.
What is so special about the RCPMinor muscles that it effects the recovery time ofpost-concussion syndrome? The RCPMinor is the only suboccipital muscle that has a ligament bridge that connects to the dura mater of your spinal cord right where your brain and spinal cord join. The dura mater is the outer protective membrane of the spinal cord. The theory is that the RCPMinor tugs on the spinal cord covering contributing to post-concussion symptoms.

I am only aware of one soft tissue technique that can isolate, evaluate and treat the RCPMinor muscle. That technique is called Active Release Techniques® or (ART). ART is patented and consists of over 500 specific protocols which differentiate, isolate, evaluate and treat the individual muscles in the body. The goal of ART is to release adhesions or scar tissue in muscles, ligament and nerve pathways in the body, in essence the soft tissues of the body. ART is cutting edge and is becoming the gold standard in treating soft tissue injuries. ART is done by hand. In order to become certified in ART you need to go through a certification course. Certification needs to be renewed every year. There are only 40 +/- certified ART providers in Massachusetts.

In the suboccipital region it is possible to isolate and evaluate the RCPMinor muscle using ART. If the RCPMinor is found to be short & tight, a specific tension is applied to the muscle which can normalize the tone and function. I have been an ART provider for 20 years. I have helped many patients suffering from whiplash injuries, headaches and post-concussion symptoms. Even before this study was published I have found that clinically the RCPMinor is a key muscle to treat to resolving post-concussion symptoms. As a side note, if you are suffering from whiplash injuries due to a car accident then it might be a good idea to get a lawyer involved, particularly if the accident wasn’t your fault. A lot of law firms will have a contact us page and this will help you to find the best lawyer for you and your case.

It’s not important to remember the name of the Rectus Capitus Posterior Minor muscle, but it is important to know that ART is one technique that is very effective in finding, evaluating and treating this muscle. If you, a family member or friend has been frustrated due to post-concussion syndrome, chronic headaches or whiplash injury, please get evaluated by an ART certified provider.
To find a certified ART provider anywhere in the world clink this link: http://activerelease.com/find-a-provider.asp

If you would like more information please contact me at: drbradweiss@performancehealthcenter.com

Your Mind is Powerful; Use it Wisely!

More and more evidence is proving what we’ve been told our whole lives is true; “You are what you think.”   Hopefully, after you read this you’ll be more careful about what you think about because it can fundamentally affect you and your health!

It’s now a few years old, but in 2011 the “milkshake study” was published.  The same exact milkshake was given to the subjects on 2 separate occasions, except the labels were different each time. One label was “indulgent” and stated the milkshake was high calorie and fat.  The other label on the exact same milkshake was “sensible” and was described as low calorie and low fat.  Amazingly enough, the milkshake was metabolized differently in the subjects even though the ingredients were exactly the same.  The Indulgent labeled shake produced a significant decrease in the levels of Grehlin, one of our body’s “hunger hormones”. The drop in the hunger hormone was 3 times greater than in the sensible labeled milkshake.  When drinking what was believed to be a high fat, high calorie shake the body was fooled by the mind and was made to feel fuller, or more satiated.  The difference in how the milkshake was metabolized in the body was physiological.  The bottom line is what the body believed it was consuming affected how it was metabolized in the digestive system.

Additional studies have shown that the placebo effect in medications can be as high as 50%.  When a patient’s medical doctor says that medication is effective for their ailment, the mind believes it and feels better even though they are only consuming a sugar pill.  What is even more amazing is that the placebo effect exists even when the patient is told they are getting a placebo. This is called an open-label placebo.   Sounds crazy, that even when they are told they are taking a sugar pill, many patients feel better.

These are just a few examples of research documenting that your mind is pretty powerful and what you say, think and hear can influence you in ways that you never thought possible.  To read more about how your mind and body are affected by your thoughts, actions and beliefs all you need to do is Goggle positive thinking studies.  I got over 9 million results in less than half a second.  The take away is that the brain is more powerful than we realize. You need to be careful about what you say, especially your “self-speak” and you should focus on positive and empowering thoughts.  It’s not always easy to be positive.  You may have developed bad thought habits over the years and will need to make a conscious effort to be positive.

I try to be positive in both my personal and professional life. Chiropractic care is not a placebo, but I have found during my 34 years in practice what I say and how I say it can influence and improve how my patient’s respond to treatment.  For those patient’s I feel I can help, I focus my explanations in realistic terms, but always try to focus on the positive changes that will happen in their bodies as they receive their chiropractic treatments.  I remind my patient that it takes time to get healthy especially with chronic pain syndromes causes by joint dysfunctions, muscles imbalances and degenerative changes.  I also know that when my patient’s stick with their treatment recommendations they are usually glad they did both short term and long term.

You might have already forgotten many of the New Year’s resolutions you made just two months ago, but being positive it not as difficult as it may seem. If you need more motivation-Positive people live longer and are healthier!  Yes, there is research on that too!

DrBradWeiss@PerformanceHealthCenter.com