Tag Archives: posture

Link

Movement Monday: Neck and Shoulder Corrections From Your Desk

Video explanation, demonstration, and further detail over at:

Movement Monday: Countering Anterior Dominance

Running Essentials (Vol.3)

In continuation with our Running Essentials series, this week’s post will keep it relatively simple.  The emphasis here is the need for continuous, maintenance work to clear potential hurdles and road blocks to your goals.
It goes without saying that it is essential to have at your service a competent practitioner you can trust for when the wheels begin to fall off. Unfortunately it happens to all of us at one time or another, especially if you are active.
That’s not what we’re referring to here.  We are talking about regular comprehensive sessions when all is well and running smoothly, in order to keep it that way.  It is far easier for patient and practitioner to rectify neuromusculoskeletal imbalances calmly in their infancy, rather than frantically and while in pain.
Finding a practitioner who speaks the same language and understands your goals and priorities is integral in this approach.  A knowledgable, holistic alley to collaborate with in ensuring you can continue to do what you love to do.
To simply utilize this individual for a more stressful damage control, injury cleanup normally ends up taking more time, money and emotion than if the proper respect and attention was paid to the body from the jump.
We are not simply speaking of rest and passive recovery either (although this is also key).  We are talking about active recovery between workouts.  If you look at a professional athlete, you have individuals receiving some sort of treatment numerous times per week, if not daily.  And while we are not referring to professional athletes here per say, but more of the full time desk jockeys who love to get after it during “play time,” the need for attention remains, one could argue even more so.
You take an individual who spends the majority of their hours in various positions and postures that are quite the opposite of a professional athlete.  This prolonged sitting, hunched postures, driving, etc., lends itself to countless imbalances in every single aspect of the neuromusculoskeletal chain.  The spotlight then shines on these imbalances when any type of physical activity is attempted, especially as we increase frequency, intensity and duration.
When speaking specifically  of running, we are talking about a repetitive pounding; a force transmitted and absorbed by the body that is exponentially larger than when walking.  Now throw into that equation a misaligned segment of the spine, pelvis or extremity, a chronically shortened or weakened muscle, a misfiring nervous system.  What we have is a recipe for disaster.
The point being is to make the changes in daily lifestyle that can be done, and to routinely work the other  potential issues out with that knowledgable practitioner.  It may seem like more of a commitment to have a weekly or bi-monthly session, but this pales in comparison to the time, money and stress that goes into the active injury identification, care and rehab.
We take our cars in for routine oil changes. We update our phones, no questions asked. In turn we expect reliable and optimal function.  How can we possibly expect anything close to that from our bodies, the most complex machine we will ever possess, when we don’t treat it with the same respect?
Come see us and we’ll do all we can to keep you moving.

Don’t Just Sit There (Part 2)

In case you missed it, last week’s post incriminated sitting and poor posture as major contributors to not only what is deemed as “normal” pain and systemic dysfunction, but actual shorter life spans.  Not only were these two culprits incriminated but a solid case was made against them with easily graspable explanations.  So now it’s on you.  You have the knowledge.  What are you going to do with it?

As promised, we will now take it one step further and provide some easily implementable strategies for breaking up the sitting and combating the collateral damage that comes with it.

1) Get Up. Stand Up.

This will be the easiest and most intuitive of all the suggestions we bring to the table.  Break up the long periods of uninterrupted sitting by simply standing up.  Obviously the more movement, the better but I realize in many situations, getting up from your chair and busting out some squats isn’t always conducive to your surroundings. Although, it is a good idea… the new “normal,” if you will.

Set an alarm on your phone for every 15-20 minutes that reminds you to stand up for at least 60 seconds.  Take it a step further and incorporate a simple movement like the Bruegger exercise (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxXqVcDam7Y ) in order to reverse some of that anterior muscle tightening and posterior weakening.

2) Breathe Right

Standing up and executing a movement such as the Bruegger exercise will also open your chest up and provide more room for the lungs to expand, drawing more oxygen in.  This brings us to our next suggestion, and that is to be cognizant of your breathing mechanics.  This can be done in the seated or standing position.  The key is to concentrate on breathing with your abdomen or belly breathing.

This is done by utilizing the main muscle designed for breathing, the diaphragm.  This muscle separates your chest cavity from your abdomen and descends on inhalation (creating negative pressure in the chest cavity and drawing oxygen in) and ascends on exhalation (forcing the carbon dioxide out).

When you breathe properly, you allow the muscles of the chest and neck to relax and not be forced to work all day in order to aid in your respiration.  Unlike the diaphragm, these muscles were not designed to work with every breath. When they are forced to do so because of faulty breathing mechanics, it can lead to neck pain, muscle tightness and more of the hunched forward posture we are trying to avoid.

Being that the abdomen is heavily innervated by the parasympathetic nervous system, belly breathing will also enable us to relax and de-stress.  We explained this mechanism thoroughly in a previous post so feel free to brush up if need be.  https://clarkechiropracticwellness.com/2013/07/10/breathe-right/

3) Ergonomics

As you can see, other than physically getting up and breaking up the sitting, we want to make sure we are doing all we can to sit right.  In keeping with the theme, this also was a topic of a past post: https://clarkechiropracticwellness.com/2013/08/21/pain-discomfort-fatigue-your-workspace-could-be-a-culprit/ .  Making sure your workspace is favorably arranged so that it is the least physically stressful should not be overlooked.

Most large businesses will provide an ergonomic evaluation upon request.  I urge you to take advantage of this.  If yours does not or you work from home, I invite you to review the link above, as it provides basic tips to getting you started.  You can also feel free to contact our office (321-848-0987) as we offer full ergonomic evaluations.

4) Deskercise

A buzz word we are seeing thrown around more and more is “deskercise.”  These are exercises to do at your desk for all of you who are moving a little slow this morning.  Patients of Clarke Chiropractic and Wellness are provided with an ongoing, progressive regimen of postural and lifestyle exercises, which includes movements to keep yourself in check while at the desk.

The starter point provided in this post will be to first make sure your ears are lined up directly over the shoulders.  This will begin to reverse that attractive chin jutting.  Once you have this down (and you are naturally breathing correctly) you can begin to implement reverse shoulder rolls.

One at a time, roll your shoulder up, back and down, each time starting the next roll at the point you ended the last one.  Do this three times for each shoulder, constantly being aware that your ears remain over your shoulders.  This will again, open up your chest and engage the mid to lower back muscles as you pinch your shoulder blades together.

5) Mas Agua

Remaining properly hydrated is key to help you sustain optimal health.  This will assist in keeping your joints lubricated and keep your discs (which absorb so much of your seated weight) hydrated.  In addition to providing you an excuse to break up the sitting to refill your water, natural physiology will also kick in and force you to break up the sitting in order to revisit the restroom.  (Unless of course, corporations begin to implement a toilet-chair, which wouldn’t surprise me.)

In addition to these simple and practical suggestions, beginning to execute movements that support proper posture and movement are a must as well.  Virtually all patients we see are prescribed a progressive exercise regimen that concentrates on the core and relearning the harmful faulty movements obtained due to prolonged sitting.

If sitting, standing or any position for that matter causes you pain or discomfort, it is definitely time to listen to your body and address it.  That is where we can intervene to assist you in getting out of pain and on the course to preventing it in the future.

Hopefully this and all posts will at least plant a seed in your mind so you begin to think about these things.  Once the awareness is there, you can begin to take rectifying action.  It’s alright if it’s uncomfortable or feels unnatural at first.  The key is repetition and consistency in creating a new normal.

You have the knowledge and some strategies.  The rest is up to you.

Keep It Moving.

Don’t Just Sit There (Part 1)

The phrase move it or lose it has been around for years and for good for reason.  The concept is contingent upon the process of adaptability or plasticity.  Without moving or utilizing certain processes within our bodies, over time we lose it.  On the flip side, when we utilize certain muscles or nervous system connections known as pathways, we have the ability to strengthen them.

This concept can be simply understood by looking at what happens when you work out or don’t work out a muscle.  If you are constantly doing curls, naturally your bicep will grow as it is your body’s way of adapting to the increased demand.  However, if you don’t use your bicep, another muscle, or various pathways in your brain, the muscle or process will become weakened or atrophied and could quite possibly go away completely.  This is your body’s clever way of adapting.  In our miraculous design, the body is designed to be as efficient as possible. Lack of an activity provides feedback that we don’t need to devote any energy or memory to this process; thus not moving it or using it, leads to losing it.

While the topic of utilizing different, diverse neurological pathways leading to plasticity is a main concept behind Functional Neurology and adjunct therapies like Lumosity, what we are talking about today is literally making sure you move as much as possible.  In particular, we are speaking of trying to avoid long periods of uninterrupted sitting as much as possible.

Mounting research has implicated extended periods of uninterrupted sitting as a major determent to your health.  We are not just talking about a culprit behind back pain, neck pain and headache.  We are not just referring to it being a contributing factor to various diseases or conditions like osteoarthritis, diabetes, and obesity.  The eye opener here should be the fact that research has shown that regardless of your fitness level, individuals who spend their days logging long hours of uninterrupted sitting actually have SHORTER LIFE SPANS.

I don’t know about you but that’s all I need to hear to perk up and pay attention.  Being someone who has always been active and involved in some level of daily fitness or sport activity, it is quite alarming (yet logical) to hear that even if you do get a good workout in multiple times per week, if you’re logging long hours at a desk without moving, you may just meet your maker sooner than expected.

I say logical because when you think about it, it does make sense that what we do the majority of our day (sitting) would have more of an impact that what we do a fraction of the day (a workout).  Studies out of NASA on the determents of microgravity situations that the astronauts find themselves in when they travel to space found the most comparable Earth situation to be sitting.

From a biomechanical perspective, there are a variety of reasons this position is bad news.  Your anterior muscles become shorted.  There are muscles in your lower half that connect to your spine and anchor to your pelvis or hip.  From prolonged, uninterrupted sitting these muscles eventually begin to shorten due to the flexed forward position.  Now when you stand up these muscles can pull down on your lumbar spine, creating the sensation of back pain and the misconception that standing up is the problem.  While standing up does actually cause the individual discomfort, it is actually due to the prolonged sitting and subsequent shortened muscles that the dysfunction and manifestation of pain as a symptom occurs.  This is a prime example of what we talked about in the previous post of going beyond addressing the pain or symptom and fixing the breakdown that led to this symptom in the first place.

If we move up the spine and throw in the fact that prolonged sitting is usually taking place at a desk or car, we begin to flex forward in the upper portion of your body as well.  This shortens the muscles of your anterior shoulder and chest and gives you that hunched forward, kyphotic thoracic spine, and anterior head carriage.  The muscles on the posterior side now become over worked as they must fight even harder to hold you upright.  This leads to that mysterious shoulder and neck pain that you experience after a long day at work.

Lengthening, overworking and weakening the posterior side muscles from uninterrupted sitting and poor posture leads to the breakdown in function that we touched on in last week’s post that so often leads to back pain and other dysfunction.  It is these posterior chain muscles (think low back muscles, glutes, hamstrings, calves, etc.) that are designed to keep us upright and moving smoothly, efficiently and pain free through space.  When the front side muscles become shortened and the back side muscles become lengthened and weakened we begin to not only assume poor posture but a faulty movement pattern that predisposes us to other injuries at proximal and distal locations throughout the body.

Actual sitting is also the worst position for your lower back.  This makes sense too if you think about it.  When we stand, our body weight is distributed through our spine and pelvis to the lower extremity where we have numerous muscles designed to assist in this matter.  When we sit we have removed everything from the upper portion of the pelvis down as far as support goes.   Now our low backs must support the entire weight of the upper half of our body.  This load is heavily placed upon the discs in between the individual vertebrae of our spine leaving them dehydrated and compressed. It is a major reason behind the widespread and seemingly “normal” degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis seen in our heavily seated culture, but not in others.

Another pitfall of the effects of prolonged sitting is that due to the flexed forward, anterior posture assumed, you actually close down the space available for your organs to function correctly.   Full chest expansion (and thus filling capacity of the lungs) is impeded and you are no longer able to take in as much oxygen.  This leads to widespread systemic consequence because as we know, virtually all function within the body requires oxygen.  Organs within the abdomen can become compressed and deprived of optimal blood flow leading to dysfunction within the liver, digestive tract, reproductive organs, etc.

Hopefully all of these reasons are enough to spark some interest in learning what you can proactively do to make sure you are not included in the “normal” range of society.  It is currently estimated that some 80% of the population will, at some time or another, suffer chronic low back pain.  This widespread prevalence does not exist in other countries that are not sitting all day, every day.  This should tell us something.   I don’t know about you, but if “normal” is having an 80% chance of low back pain, I want no part of it.  I also don’t want any part of the other issues sited in the previous paragraphs.

Stay tuned for our next post which will illuminate some simple steps you can begin to implement as far as breaking up the sitting and doing what you can to avoid these seemingly “normal” issues.

Have a great weekend.

The Long Term Solution to Pain

To a clinician, there are a variety of reasons that the public comes knocking.  As a chiropractic physician, the overwhelming reason for that initial visit boils down to the presence of pain.  Pain is the problem and people come to us looking for a solution.  Sure, chiropractors are in the healthcare field and many have opened their own practices but the bottom line is that we are in the solutions business and to be successful you must give the people what they want.

Now, treating pain naturally is a chiropractor’s specialty.  The use of various soft tissue techniques, cold laser or e-stem, and of course the adjustment all can work wonders in alleviating pain.  However, many times the pain returns after the initial relief from treatment.  The reason for this is that the underlying cause of pain was never addressed.  This is where the profession and healthcare as a whole falls short.

When someone presents with a symptom such as pain, the goal of both the practitioner and patient is to get out of that pain.  However, pain alleviation should be just phase one of the treatment progression.   Throwing a treatment at pain, whether it be an adjustment or drug, is nothing more than symptom care at its best.  Granted, the all-natural former comes with virtually no negative side effects but the application of both by their lonesome remains the same.  This is “sick” or “symptom care” that usually leaves the pour soul dependent on treatments due to ignorance, greed, laziness or a combination of all three by the practitioner.

This is one of the main reasons that chiropractors are looked at in a negative light, as the constant need for treatment has many proclaiming, “that once you go to a chiropractor you need to go forever.”  On the same level, it is the reason people pop NSAIDs or prescription pain killers like daily vitamins (yet it seems there is less discontent in resigning to the latter).

It must be pointed out here that it truly does take two to tango in these situations.  The reason NSAID sales, prescription drugs and non-stop palliative chiropractic treatments even exist is because there is a market for it.  It is not just the practitioner who is lazy or ignorant.  Breaking the pain-treatment cycle takes more time and effort and thus many on both sides of the equation do not want to be put out.

The proper way to approach any health issue, whether it be pain or any other symptom, is to take it a step further and find the break down in function.  Symptoms such as pain are helpful signs from our body letting us know that something is wrong.  Somewhere along the line a breakdown in optimal function has occurred and because of that, symptoms of that breakdown are now outwardly manifesting themselves to the point that we have the pleasure of meeting and working together.

For the sake of this discussion, we will stay focused on pain and take it one step further to the chiropractor’s traditional forte: back pain.  Back pain continues to be one of the most debilitating conditions in this country and if the current trends continue, the majority of us will unfortunately fall victim to chronic back pain at some time or another.

Well, this is your wake up call.  You don’t need to be another statistic.  Just because something is deemed “the norm” due to the majority of the population succumbing to it, doesn’t make it right.  You can free yourself from the back pain sentence if you work with a well-trained healthcare professional to identify its cause and do what you can to properly heal and prevent it in the future.

As we stated, pain is a symptom that manifests due to an underlying breakdown in function.  Outside of trauma, back pain in this country is largely a result of our culture of desk jobs, prolonged sitting and poor posture.  What happens is our anterior muscles become tightened and shortened due to us always leaning forward.  This leaves our posterior muscles (think glutes, hamstrings, spinal muscles, etc.) lengthened and weakened.  The problem here is that it is these muscles of the posterior chain that are designed to move us efficiently through the world.

Somewhere along the way in our world of laptops and long hours seated we have picked up a new hunched forward posture and thus a new movement pattern.  Just like with anything else, we eventually adapt to this new mode of operation even though it is not the most efficient for our bodies.  The result is an eventual structural breakdown in the form of disc herniations, osteoarthritis, muscle strains and inflammation.

So how do we tie this all together?  Well, obviously the pain needs to be addressed.  It is the reason treatment was sought in the first place.  Once the pain is alleviated, it needs to be understood that this pain was not just a random, inevitable occurrence.  It occurred for a reason and many times it was due to these faulty movement patterns and a breakdown in proper function as we described.

At this point, it takes extra effort and commitment by both patient and practitioner in order to identify the exact breakdown in function and work together diligently to reset and reprogram the body’s movement pattern.  This is done through repetition and a controlled, intelligent progression through exercises and treatments in order to rebuild the foundation and retrain the body to move correctly.  Only then can we see long lasting relief and prevention of pain.

If any of this resonates with you as it has with me and you would like to work together to not only get out of pain but prevent it in the future, please give me a call (321-848-0987) and let’s get to work on a pain free, smooth moving life.