We know you’ve heard this before, but we’ll say it again – stretching is important and we all need to do it more often. Stretching isn’t just for athletes, runners, and people who do yoga. When it comes to maintaining joint and muscle health – it’s important for everyone. Here are a few reasons why:
Stretching Increases Your Flexibility and Mobility
Stretching regularly will lengthen your muscles, which improves flexibility and allows your body to move more freely. Many people often overlook the connection between injuries and a poor range of motion or a lack of flexibility. Simply put, if you want to avoid back pain or other common injuries, you need to stretch more.
Stretching Improves Your Posture
When muscles are tight, the alignment of your spine will suffer. It’s common to have a tight muscle on one side of your body but not the other, thus causing postural imbalance. Over time, poor posture can cause a number of different injuries so it’s important to work out those tight muscles before things get worse.
Stretching Reduces Stress
Taking the time to stretch and breathe every day is a great way to de-stress. Pain in your neck, shoulders, and back can also be caused by muscle tension as a result of stress. So, if you’re feeling burnt out, start a stretching routine and stick to it.
Stretching Keeps You Feeling Young
Did you know that as we get older, our muscles get shorter and tighter? If you’re not stretching every day, you’re not taking proper care of your aging body. Increasing your flexibility, range of motion, and stress levels will help you feel your best no matter what age.
Some may consider gardening a sport. It may not be a competitive sport (unless you’re competing with your neighbor for who can grow the biggest tomato), but nonetheless; it requires physical activity to perform and therefore may be considered a “sport” to serious enthusiasts. Digging, pulling weeds, adding mulch, and raking can all make you feel like you’ve had a workout at the gym, so it’s essential to use the following safety precautions to prevent injuries.
SAFETY TIP #1 - WARM UP
Take a few minutes to warm up the muscles you’ll be using. Do a short, brisk walk and then lightly stretch your shoulders, back, legs, arms, and wrists. If you need inspiration, consider these two stretches:
Wrist Flexor Stretch
Corner Pectoral Stretch
SAFETY TIP #2 – USE CORRECT POSTURE
Back pain is a common ailment in gardeners, so be mindful of your posture at all times, whether you’re standing or kneeling. When lifting, bend at your knees and keep your back straight. Imagine that your spine has been strapped to a broomstick. Do not bend at your waist or twist your torso. Keep the load you are carrying close to your body.
SAFETY TIP #3 – SWITCH UP YOUR TASKS
Vary your tasks often so that you are not holding the same position for prolonged periods. Walk around and stretch a little in between tasks to help prevent stiffness and improve your circulation.
SAFETY TIP #4 – USE THE RIGHT TOOLS
If you’re using a rake that is too short for your height, you’ll be forced to bend over excessively and cause yourself some back pain. If you need to bend down frequently, consider purchasing kneepads or a mat.
SAFETY TIP #5 –DRINK WATER
Staying hydrated should always be a priority, and it’s especially important when you’re out in the sun doing physical activity. Have a drink of water at least every 15-20 minutes.
If you feel any pain after a day of gardening, apply ice to the affected area. If you still have discomfort after 24- 48 hours, give us a call to schedule a check-up. Happy Gardening!
Sitting on a long flight and carrying around heavy luggage can be torture to someone who suffers from back pain - but it does not need to stop you from seeing the world. Here are some tips to help you arrive at your destination more comfortably.
Follow these tips to make your next flight as comfortable and pain-free as possible. If you’re concerned about your back pain, call us for a pre- or post-vacation check-up.
Spring is an inspiring time of year when most people are motivated to clean out and tidy up their homes. Why not put some of that motivation towards cleaning up our health and daily routines? Here are a few ideas that will help jump start your healthy spring cleaning.
Declutter Your Diet
The winter months tend to have us craving heavier meals. Lighten up your diet by getting rid of added sugars and junk foods. Spring is an excellent time of year to shop for fresh, in-season fruits and veggies, so head out to your local farmer’s market and stock up. And don’t forget about your water intake. As the weather warms up, our bodies sweat more, which means we’ll need to replace those lost fluids with more water.
Freshen Up Your Exercise Routine
Use the new season as an excuse to step outside and enjoy nature more often. Walking and hiking are practical, low-impact cardiovascular exercises that almost anyone can perform. And, as an added bonus, you’ll get a beneficial dose of Vitamin D. If you’re a seasoned runner, be sure to check your shoes to determine if they need to be replaced (most running shoes have a lifespan of 300-500 miles). If you’re wondering how much exercise is the right amount, click here to review the current recommendations for daily activity.
Air Out Your Mind
Unplug from your devices and practice mindfulness to help manage your stress. Use this infographic to learn more about “mind-body relaxation” practices. If you don’t already have a healthy bedtime and sleep routine, now is a great time to start. Experts recommend that adults strive for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
And while you’re tidying up your home, don’t forget about the medicine cabinet. When possible, look for natural alternatives to over-the-counter symptom relievers. For example, conservative care (like chiropractic) is a proven-effective treatment for managing muscle and joint pain. (Learn more about how chiropractic is helping to combat the opioid crisis here.)
Lastly, make sure to schedule “Check-Ups” on your to-do list. If it’s been a while since you’ve visited your medical doctor, dentist, or chiropractor, give them a call this Spring.
Your office may be the place where good ideas come to fruition and productivity soars, but it can also be a place that triggers back pain, neck strain, and carpal tunnel. Imagine the amount of strain that is placed on your body while simultaneously sitting in a chair, hunching over a keyboard, and balancing a phone between your shoulder and ear. And full-time workers do that for over 2,000 hours each year! Consider these tips to help pain-proof your office or workstation.
1. Choose the right chair – Finding the right chair is as important as finding a good quality mattress. Remember – 2,000 hours a year… that’s a lot of sitting. Make sure you’re comfortable. You don’t want anything that lacks support for your lower back and make sure you can adjust the seat height. Your feet should always rest flat on the floor so your knees are level with your hips.
You could always skip the quest to find the perfect chair and opt for a standing desk instead; which has been shown to combat many of the scary consequences associated with prolonged sitting.
2. Think ergonomically when setting up your workstation – Computer monitors should be visible without having to lean in or strain. The top line of type should be at or 15 degrees below eye level. This helps you maintain proper posture and prevent neck strain from looking down. Also, use audio equipment that keeps you from bending your neck (i.e., Bluetooth, speakerphones, headsets).
Keep carpal tunnel symptoms at bay by making sure your wrists are not forced to bend to use the keyboard. Your forearms and wrists should not be leaning on a hard edge.
3. Take breaks – Taking a 10-second break every 20 minutes will be very beneficial. Standing, walking, or moving your head in a “plus sign” fashion are a few ideas. And don’t be afraid to stretch. One exercise we often recommend is called the “Bruegger Relief Stretch”. Click here to learn how it’s done.
Preventative care is the best solution for workstation injuries. Small adjustments to your workstation and posture will make a noticeable difference in how your body feels at the end of a long workweek.
Download this helpful infographic to learn more about proper workstation set-up.
Nowadays, almost every household owns a television, computer, and a smartphone – sometimes several of each. Although these devices make our lives easier, society has seen a significant increase in the amount of physical stress caused by excessive technology usage. Here are a few tech-related injuries that are on the rise and what you can do to prevent them.
1. Text Neck
Staring down at your cell phone places additional stress on your neck, shoulders, and upper back - causing pain with repetitive use. In fact, for every inch that your head tilts forward, your spine undergoes an additional 10 pounds of strain.
Prevent it: Be mindful of your posture while using your tech devices. Position your computer, tablet, or smartphone so that you’re not tilting your head downward. Ideally, when holding your head upright, the center of your screen should be at eye level.
2. Trigger Thumb
Sometimes called “texting thumb”, this condition is another repetitive stress injury caused by all that swiping, scrolling, and tapping on our cellphone screens.
Prevent it: If minimizing your overall screen time isn’t feasible, be sure to rest your hands and fingers. Switch sides often and stretch your muscles periodically. Enable and use voice recognition whenever possible.
3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
People with jobs that require a lot of keystrokes are at risk for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which is a painful condition of the wrist.
Prevent it: Try to minimize repetitive strain and learn to keep your wrists in a neutral position while working. Use keyboard and mouse wrist rests as not to allow your wrists to press against hard desk edges. Stretch your muscles periodically with an exercise like this.
4. Tech Arm
Holding your smartphone or tablet out in front of you for prolonged periods can cause elbow and shoulder pain.
Prevent it: Switch arms often to give your elbows a break from being in an awkward position. For time-consuming tasks, switch to an ergonomically-correct workstation.
There are many ways you can still use your devices and prevent these digital disabilities, but ultimately, reducing your screen time is the best course of action. Take frequent tech breaks and move your body to combat a sedentary lifestyle. If you do experience pain in the neck, thumb, wrist, or elsewhere, give our office a call at 772-286-5277.
You may have heard by now, “sitting is the new smoking”. Studies show that sitting for prolonged periods may contribute to many health conditions, regardless if you exercise every day or not. If you’re resolving to improve your health in 2019, strive to sit less and move more. Here are 16 ways to help you achieve that goal.
We hope you’ll be able to use at least a few of our tips to help combat excessive sitting in 2019. We wish you a healthy and happy new year!
No, well yes, okay maybe… in the right situations. That is about as clear as it gets concerning the growing epidemic of adolescent injuries via weightlifting and competitive sports.
There is no disputing the facts that plague childhood athletics. A September 2018 systematic review found that injuries increase in proportion to sports specialization. (1) However, few studies have linked the detrimental effects that any single sport has on the progression of spinal degeneration- until now.
Read more to learn what you need to know about the long-term damage a child’s sport may be causing.
Is adolescent weightlifting harmful? Parents and coaches are always looking for a competitive edge, and strength gains can help fill that role. So what are the risks and benefits of youth resistance training? Many studies highlight the detrimental effects of improper weight training. Incorrect lifting technique, lack of proper training, and advancing weights too quickly are commonplace. Faulty training methods coupled with open growth plates may lead to an increased incidence of injury and long-term damage.
A new study by Shimozaki (2) relays real-world data to help us provide evidence-based recommendations. Although this study consisted only of a dozen adolescent competitive powerlifters, the conclusions were dramatic:
“At the start of this study, there were no positive findings of LBP, and abnormal lumbar findings on MRI were observed in only 2 participants. At the 2-year follow-up, 8 of 12 participants had abnormal lumbar findings. In the final year, 3 participants had LBP; however, abnormal lumbar findings were observed on MRI in 11 participants. Among these, lumbar spondylolysis was observed in 4 participants, lumbar disc protrusion or extrusion in 2 participants, and lumbar disc degeneration in 9 participants.”
In a 3-year cohort study of child and adolescent weightlifters, 11 of 12 participants revealed abnormal lumbar findings upon MRI examination! These findings leave very little room for dispute. Results confirm that competitive weightlifting in the prepubescent population leads to degenerative changes in the lumbar spine. It would be difficult to appreciate any potential benefit compared to the long-term risk. The results of this small, very specific study are hard to extrapolate to other youth sports, but clinically, we see similar scenarios on a daily basis. Young athletes are affecting their long-term structure due to repetitive movements and lack of rest. Baseball players with little league elbow, dancers with hallux valgus, runners with shin splints, and basketball players with patellar tendinosis are pervasive. Year-round, sport-specific competitive athletes live in a physiologic environment void of rest and rebuilding.
How much activity is too much?There is no clear answer to that question, and it probably depends on the sport, but the 12 weightlifters in the Shimozaki study trained extensively; approximately 2 hours per day for an average of 5 days per week, and 500 hours per year. Clearly, from the results of this study, that amount of weightlifting was too much for a developing spine. There is no stopping the sports specialization craze that has permeated youth sports, but one realistic intervention is simply -REST.
Sports participation and resistance training are designed to stress musculoskeletal structures and therapeutically damage tissue. Rest allows rebuilding of the tissue, promoting more resilient tissue with improved capacity. Without rest, an athlete’s body is continually breaking down tissue without the ability to rebuild.
As providers, we are only one cog in the wheel of recovery. Our treatment success is often more largely dependent on our patient’s understanding of their problem and willingness to take appropriate steps to correct their problem. Patient education is one of the most critical aspects of care. Sometimes it is difficult for young athletes to appreciate the long-term ramifications of sports. Use this new lifting infographic to empower your young competitive athletes to gain an edge without sacrificing their ability to compete.
Safe Lifting Guidelines
Cliff Atwell, B.S., D.C.