Health Blog

Dozen of articles to Improve your Health & lifestyle!

Text Neck? What you can do at home..

Smart phones….what an awesome invention and a postural nightmare all at the same time!

Look around, everyone has their head down looking at their phone. So we look down at our desk, look down at our computer, and now we text and surf our phone whenever we have one minute of free time.

The neck was not designed to be like this. When you put this kind of stress on the body, the brain starts making changes to protect itself. First it shortens and tightens the muscles and eventually it starts changing the curvature of the spine. If this is left unchecked, disc degeneration and arthritis will follow. I have teenagers who are developing the “little old lady” hump before leaving high school!

To counteract this you need to stretch the anterior muscles and ligaments of your neck on a regular basis. Here are 3 ways to do this at home.

  1. Turtle stretch – take your chin and suck it back as far as you can (imagine a turtle hiding in its shell) Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times.
  2. Bed stretch – Lie on your back on top of your bed. Scoot your body until only your neck is off the bed, allowing your head to lean back as far as possible. Let your neck “hang” in this position. Start with 30 seconds…build up until you can relax for 5 minutes in this position. Think of this as “undoing” some of the postural stress you do to your neck all day long.
  3. Use a posture pump – Lie on the floor, put the pump under your neck, Velcro the straps in place and use a dual chamber pump to stretch the cervical spine into its proper position. This puts fluid into the discs and stretches the tight ligaments, tendons and muscles of the anterior neck. This works the best, but requires an investment. The dual chamber with the most pressure to change the neck curvature is normally $250. I bought several to get a good discount. They are on sale for $190 while they last.

Obviously, the last thing you can also do is get adjusted. If you put your head into a bad position regularly, the stress it places on the nerves forces the brain to “protect” and lock your neck and upper back down. So improve your posture, stretch your neck back into extension regularly, and get adjusted!

Until next time, be happy, healthy, and smart!

Dr. Jim

When to Stretch

Should I stretch before or after my exercise?

So patients are always asking me about how and when to stretch. It is really important to understand that there are different types of stretches used for different reasons.

To warm up before an event, you should perform dynamic or ballistic stretching. Examples are running in place, jumping jacks, arm circles, holding a stick and twisting back and forth, etc. The idea is to get blood flowing into the area and wake up the muscles and tendons to enhance performance and prevent injury. You should never do passive (long hold) stretches before an event. Passive stretching temporarily “turns off” your muscles so they can lengthen rather than shorten and contract. So you will actually perform worse!

On the other hand, if you are trying to relax “tight” areas of your body, doing that after your workout or performance is great. You should get into a comfortable position reach out and “hold” this position. Close your eyes, breath, mentally see your muscles relaxing and “lengthening” out. To start hold for 30-60 seconds. As you progress, you need to hold for 2-3 minutes to help “permanently” lengthen the area.

If you get “stuck”. Ask a partner or spouse to help you with resistance stretching. You contract the muscle (pushing against them) for 7-10 seconds, then relax….as you relax, your partner immediately pushes your stretch slightly farther, helping you move past your plateau.

Until next time, be healthy, happy and smart!

Dr. Jim

Nerves…what do they really do?

Nerves…what do they really do?

So we have all heard people say they have a “pinched nerve”, but what does that mean and what do your nerves really do for you?

A lot!!!!  Your nerves are the “communication highway” between your brain and every other part of your body. We all know how frustrating it is when you pick up your cell phone and can’t get service…well imagine how your brain feels when it can’t get a good “signal” from your liver! Imagine if every time you sit at your desk with poor posture, you irritate the nerves in your lower back and they flood the brain with “distress” signals.

What is your brain to do? Protect itself…that’s what!

Your brain sends signals back to the muscles telling them to tighten up and “guard” the area for protection. You stand up and feel stiff, achy, or perhaps even start limping due to muscle spasms. Is the answer to pop a “muscle relaxer”? No, the answer is to get the irritation off the nerves.

How do you do that? A chiropractic adjustment! Next step, improve your sitting ergonomics to reduce the stress from the nerves in your back. Third step, stretch and strengthen the muscles in the area to provide more strength and support to the nerves, joints and discs.

Yoga, massage, exercise, and foam rolling are all wonderful things to do for your body and your health on a regular basis. But if you don’t remove the irritation from the nerves first, they are often very ineffective. Your brain listens to its nerves first and foremost, so take good care of them!

Until next time, be healthy, happy and smart!

Dr. Jim

Carbs! Are they really all that bad?

Carbs! Are they really all bad?

Of course not!  In fact, without carbohydrates, we would not be able to function. That being said, am I a fan of restricting carbohydrates and introducing more lean protein and healthy fats into ones diet? Yes!

 

So what carbs should we eat?

The carbs that are real food….

Spinach, apples, berries, carrots, broccoli, grapefruit, whole grains, etc.

 

Which carbs should we avoid?

The refined, packaged, processed ones…

Crackers, chips, cookies, breads, cakes, etc….

 

If you look at a box of crackers at the store, and see a list of ingredients that is 6 lines long…don’t buy them! They will spike your insulin, create low blood sugar, make you over eat, and cause you to gain weight. Yeah they taste good, but is it worth all that?

We all have to splurge once in a while….it is actually healthy for your psyche to do so. But should these refined, processed carbs be a part of your daily diet? No way.

Until next time, be healthy, happy and smart!

Dr. Jim

Functional Medicine – why all the fuss?

Why do I keep hearing the word “functional” in health fields?

The new buzz word in healthcare these days is “functional”. You can get functional treatment or functional therapy when recovering from an injury. You can perform functional exercises to improve your ability to do every day activities. You can perform functional training while practicing for a sport.

What does this mean? It means rather than just lying down while receiving treatment, you have the patient move through the painful motion or action. Rather than just sitting on a bench, lifting a weight up, you perform a regular activity (squatting, throwing, jumping, running, etc) while you lift or exercise.

Why? It gets your neuromuscular pathways more involved. If your brain and body are working together, it recovers faster and gets stronger and more adept at your intended skill or movement. It also exercises the “assistant” muscles. You almost never only use one muscle to perform an activity, so why would you isolate each muscle and exercise them one at a time?

Functional is better. Try to consider this when planning your next workout!

Until next time, be healthy, happy and smart!

Dr. Jim

Use it or Lose it…myth or truth?

We all have heard to old saying, “you have to use it or you will lose it”. With all the new information about fitness …

Heavy Backpacks, What to do?

Heavy backpacks, what to do? The kids are back in school already! They are going to be carrying home heavy backpacks again. …

What is the Point of “Regular” Chiropractic Care?

In today’s crazy, fast paced world, we are often looking for ways to save time. That being said, skipping a “maintenance” …