Take Time to Stretch

Let’s face it, most people do not enjoy stretching. If you think about it, it’s probably close to the bottom of your list of priorities when you work out or do any other type of physical activity. In fact, stretching is probably the most overlooked aspect of physical fitness, and yet it is one of the most important. I continually stress the benefits of stretching to my clients, and the ones who take my advice see a difference in their workouts and everyday lives. By the end of this article, you will have the information and the tools to put together a great stretching program, too.

Why We Need to Stretch

As we age, our muscles tighten and range of motion in our joints decreases. This can impact even the most active lifestyle and hinder your normal day-to-day activities. Tasks that used to be simple, like zipping up a dress or reaching for a can off the top shelf, may become extremely difficult. A regular stretching program can help lengthen your muscles and make daily activities routine again.

The word flexible comes from the Latin word flexus, which means “to bend.” Flexibility is the degree to which an individual muscle will lengthen. Stretching increases flexibility, which will help you perform daily activities and reduce the risk of muscle, joint and tendon injuries. Stretching also improves circulation, increasing blood flow to the muscles. Increased blood flow provides more nourishment to the muscles and gets rid of more waste by-products in the muscle tissue itself. Improved circulation can also help speed up recovery time if you suffer a muscle injury.

What’s more, stretching can help eliminate or decrease low back pain, one of the most common kinds of structural pain, affecting a large percentage of the population. Muscle tightness in the quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, and low back muscles is a common cause of low back pain. Stretching these muscles will often eliminate the pain. Keep in mind that every joint is tied to another joint, so if one muscle is tight, it is going to affect another joint or muscle.

One of the greatest benefits of stretching is that you’re able to increase your range of motion, which means your joints can move further before an injury occurs. Stretching after you exercise (at least after you’ve warmed up a bit) has proven to be much more effective than pre-workout stretches, because by the time you’ve completed your workout, the muscles are “warm.” Post-exercise stretching also helps reduce soreness, improves workout recovery, and ensures muscle and tendons are working properly.

Different Ways to Stretch

There are three main types of stretching/flexibility programs: static (corrective) stretching, active stretching and functional stretching. No matter what type of flexibility program you are on, in the end it will help with posture, relieve muscle tightness and imbalances, prevent injury and improve the quality of everyday activities we take for granted from time to time.

Corrective/static stretching addresses your individual muscle imbalances, which increases extendability in muscles that are chronically tight. Typically, you will perform static stretches, meaning you hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.

Each stretch should be performed 2-3 times. The main goal of static stretching is to alleviate muscle imbalances, improve posture and prevent injury.

Active stretching gradually increases joint range of motion by moving into and out of stretches in a more rhythmic fashion. You hold each stretch for only 2-4 seconds, performing between five and 10 repetitions of a particular stretch. One of the added benefits of an active flexibility routine is that it strengthens and stretches at the same time. Active flexibility helps improve posture and your quality of movement.

Functional stretching uses muscles and the body’s momentum to take a joint through its full range of motion in dynamic, multiplanar (all directions) ways. Movement mimics those you do in everyday life or your training program, and make for great warm-up activities. Functional flexibility improves posture and the quality of your everyday life.

Static Stretches

Static Calf Stretch

Preparation: Stand facing a wall or sturdy object. Bring one leg forward, using your upper body to lean against the wall and keeping the outstretched rear leg straight.

Movement: Draw the belly button inward and keep the rear foot flat and pointed straight ahead; do not allow the rear foot to cave inward or roll outward. Bend the arms, move chest toward the wall and tilt pelvis forward. Stop the movement when slight tension is felt. Hold for 20-30 seconds, switch sides and repeat.

Static Kneeling Thigh and Hip Stretch

Preparation: Kneel with front leg bent at a 90-degree angle. Rotate the back leg slightly inward.

Movement: Draw belly button inward, keeping the rear foot flat and pointed straight ahead. Do not allow the rear foot to cave inward or roll outward. Bend the arms, move chest toward the wall and tilt pelvis forward. Stop movement when slight tension is felt. Hold for 20-30 seconds, switch sides and repeat.

Static Abdominal Stretch Over Ball

Preparation: Lie supine (on your back) on a stability ball, with arms outstretched.

Movement: Draw belly button inward and slowly allow body to drape over the ball, extending legs and reaching with arms. Hold for 20-30 seconds.

Active Stretches

Active Calf Stretch

Preparation: Stand near a wall  or sturdy object. Bring one leg forward for support; use upper body and lean against wall. The outstretched leg should form a straight line and the feet and ankle should be in a neutral position.

Movement: Draw belly button inward and keep rear foot on the ground, with opposite hip flexed. Slowly move the hips forward, creating controlled movement through the lower extremity. Hold for 2-4 seconds and repeat for 5-10 repetitions. Switch sides and repeat.

Active Standing Hip Stretch

Preparation: Stand with one leg bent and slightly forward. Turn the back leg slightly inward.

Movement: Draw belly button inward and squeeze the glutes while tucking the hips. Stride forward slowly until a mild tension is achieved in the front of the hip being stretched. Raise and stretch the stride-side arm up and over the opposite side while maintaining pelvic position. Rotate to the back leg in a controlled manner, hold for 2-4 seconds for 5-10 repetitions, then switch sides and repeat.

Tube Walking Side to Side

Preparation: Stand with feet hip width apart, knees slightly bent and feet straight ahead. Place resistance band under feet.

Movement: Draw belly button inward. Keep feet straight ahead and take 10 small side steps without allowing knees to cave inward. Repeat in the opposite direction.

Functional Stretches

Multi-Planar Lunge

Preparation: Stand in proper alignment with hands on hips and feet straight ahead.

Movement: Draw belly button inward. While maintaining total body alignment, step forward (saggital plane), descending slowly by bending at the hips, knees and ankles. Use the hips and thigh muscles to push up and back to the start position. Perform 10 repetitions, then repeat on opposite leg. Progress to side lunges (coronal/frontal plane), followed by turning lunges (transverse plane).

Russian Twist

Preparation: Lie on a ball with your head and neck supported and both feet straight ahead. Lift hips up until they are in line with knees and shoulders.

Movement: Draw belly button inward. Maintaining core control, slowly rotate trunk to each side. Perform 10 repetitions to each side.

Prisoner Squat

Preparation: Stand in proper alignment with hands behind head.

Movement: Draw belly button inward and lower to a 3/4 squat position (controlled); do not let the knees go forward or cave inward. Extend hips, knees and ankles to return to start position. Raise onto toes and then return to start position. Perform 10 repetitions of the entire move, start to finish.

Exercise ball - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkWell, there you have it in a nutshell: how to start stretching today and take your first steps down the path to a more flexible, healthier you. These stretches should get you started, but there are a lot more you can add to your flexibility routine as you progress. Which muscles are tight will determine what stretches you should be doing. The benefits of stretching are important, so make sure it’s a regular part of your fitness program. Talk to your doctor for more information.

Safe Stretching: Four Things Not to Do

There are no disadvantages to stretching – unless, of course, you do them improperly, which is actually easy to do if you don’t know what you’re doing. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before starting any stretching program:

DON’T bounce when stretching; hold your position for the specified time.

DON’T stretch cold muscles; always do some type of warm-up for at least five minutes: jogging in place, walking on a treadmill, light jump rope, etc.

DON’T overstretch. There should be a little discomfort, especially if you’re not used to stretching, but it should not be painful.

DON’T stretch a muscle improperly. If you are not sure of the proper stretch or how to perform it, get some assistance from a professional.

By Chelsea Cooper

Posted in News | Comments Off on Take Time to Stretch

The Missing Pieces to the Chronic Pain Puzzle

PAIN is a significant problem in our society, and the way too many of us deal with it, either by taking medication to temporarily relieve the pain or ignoring the pain altogether, foolishly hoping it will go away, is an even bigger problem, contributing to long-term disability and reduced quality of life. Here are a few important pieces to the puzzle that can help you deal with pain now and prevent future episodes – chronic pain- from ruining your life.

How do you feel at this very moment? You can do a easy self-check just by moving your neck, shoulders, arms and legs around. Do you have any aches and pains anywhere? If your response is, “Don’t most people have pain somewhere in their body?” or “Doesn’t pain come with old age?” keep in mind that while that’s true, it doesn’t mean you have to accept it. And remember, pain isn’t just physical. The emotional stress it creates can be as hard on you as the pain itself. Let’s talk about ways you can find relief from your physical pain, which will undoubtedly lighten your emotional load at the same time.

Pain Defined

Pain is defined as an unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localized discomfort to sheer agony. Pain has physical and emotional components. The physical part of pain results from nerves being stimulated. Pain may be confined to a specific area, as in an injury, or it can be spread throughout the body. Around the world, millions of people live with pain in some form or another, involving many different body parts, on a daily basis.

One of the most interesting things about pain is how each human being deals with it. Some learn to live with pain. Others can’t stand to feel even an ounce of it. The most common types of pain include arthritis, lower back, bone/joint pain, muscle pain and fibromyalgia (widespread pain, tenderness and fatigue in muscles,tendons and ligaments). Back pain is the most frequent cause of limited activities for people younger than 45 years old.

Acute vs. Chronic Pain

Acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself. This type of pain comes on quickly and can be severe, but it lasts a relatively short period of time. In general, acute pain is in response to an event that happens to the body. It may be a result of surgery or an accident.

Chronic pain is different. Chronic pain tends to stay around or progress over longer periods of time. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months or even years. Oftentimes, chronic pain is resistant to traditional medical treatments. The emotional component of pain often comes into play in a chronic situation.

The Consequences of Pain

The loss of productivity and daily activity due to pain is substantial. Americans spend at least $50 billion per year on back pain, and that’s just for the more easily identified costs. Pain has a negative impact on an individual’s quality of life. It diminishes one’s ability to concentrate, do their job, exercise, socialize, perform daily tasks and sleep. Over time, this can lead to depression, isolation and loss of self-esteem. Researchers have found that depression is the most frequent psychological reaction to chronic pain.

If you hurt an area of your body and do not restore proper, healthy movement patterns, you will end up with problems later down the road. I can’t tell you how many patients I have seen who got in car accidents and hurt their neck and back, but waited to get treatment and used pain as the indicator for how they feel. Eventually, the pain went down or even away, but they were often left with problems in their bones and joints.

Common Causes and Sources of Chronic Pain

An initial injury like a trauma, fracture, sprain/strain, or serious infection may be the cause of the chronic pain. There could also be an ongoing cause like arthritis, cancer, an ear infection or injuries that never healed properly.Some people even suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage. Many chronic pain conditions affect older adults. Common chronic pain complaints include headache, low back pain, cancer pain, arthritis pain, neurogenic pain (pain resulting from damage to the peripheral nerves or to the central nervous system itself), and psychogenic pain (pain not due to past disease or injury or any visible sign of damage inside or outside the nervous system).

Quite simply, pain can come from anywhere in the body. The source can be the neck, shoulders, low back, hips and everywhere else. Many times, the location of the pain depends on how the injury happened. Perhaps someone injured their shoulder while throwing a ball. Maybe someone sprained their ankle while running. How about the person who falls down the stairs and hurts multiple parts of their body simultaneously?

Solving the Chronic Pain Puzzle

Pain is a complex puzzle. For certain cases, it takes complex solutions to help solve that puzzle. In some cases, the individual’s pain is so debilitating that it requires the use of X-rays or other special imaging to visualize the problem that is occurring in the spine or extremities. It may be appropriate to use any of the following: Chiropractic, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, nutritional supplementation, massage/bodywork, yoga and psychological therapy. In some cases, it may even require over-the-counter or prescription medication (although the goal is to avoid relying on these because of the potential side effects). But there are definitely things you can do that can help you prevent and treat chronic pain. Let’s explore these strategies that, as you might have guessed, are all related to one another.

1. Posture: You have probably been told at different times of your life about the importance of good posture. “Sit up straight” or “don’t slouch” are probably familiar phrases to you. Proper posture is difficult to attain, so don’t stress yourself out about it. When you are sitting, put a rolled-up towel or sweatshirt in the small of your back. Sit all the way back to the rear of the chair so you feel the support in your back. When you stand, stand against the wall or a post so you can maintain erect posture. It is important to strengthen your core muscles, the muscles along the spine. Yoga, Pilates or a specific workout program with weights will help you achieve this. You may want to find a personal trainer to help you focus on specific exercises to help you achieve your goals.

2. Balance: As you develop strength, you begin to develop balance. Many of the positions utilized in yoga, Pilates and weight training work specifically on balance. Would you believe that your feet also have a lot to do with balance? The three arches you have in your feet must all be supported in order for the rest of your body to have good support as well. If one or more of the arches is flat, it can significantly affect the stress to your joints and your ability to exercise efficiently. Ask your chiropractor about analyzing your feet to see if you need arch supports.

3. Spinal Load and Stability: Understanding how to exercise or perform any type of sporting activity is crucial to your health. How many people do you know who lift weights incorrectly? On a daily basis, I see patients who have hurt themselves with physical activity. By being careful and doing your exercises properly, you can reduce the amount of spinal load (stress) and instability you create for your body. I cannot tell you how important it is to make sure your feet and all of the joints above them are healthy and moving properly. When your joints move well, you can perform activities optimally and with minimal stress on your body.

4. Alignment: Exercising makes your muscles stronger, which also helps maintain structural and bony alignment. Chiropractic care is hopefully a regular part of your life. Visits to your chiropractor at a frequency you both find appropriate will help you maintain your alignment.

Keep in mind that pain may be indicative of a serious underlying condition. Always talk to your doctor about any pain you are experiencing, particularly if it does not go away or worsens with time.

By Dr. Kevin Wong

Posted in News | Comments Off on The Missing Pieces to the Chronic Pain Puzzle

Acid Suppressants Linked to Fracture Risk

Proton-pump inhibitors sound like something right out of Star Wars, but they’re actually common – far too common, considering their potential risks – here in the real world. This class of drugs, which includes Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, among others, is prescribed to treat digestive tract issues such as gastroesophageal reflux, chronic dyspepsia (indigestion) and peptic ulcer disease. These conditions are all characterized by excessive production of stomach acid. The intended mechanism of action of proton-pump inhibitors, as you might expect, is to reduce acid by blocking the gastric proton pump; a decidedly unintended mechanism of action is increased fracture risk.

Following a recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review of studies, the administration posted a “class labeling change”  notice on its Web site alerting health care professionals and consumers that proton-pump inhibitors will now feature a label warning regarding “a possible increased risk of fractures at the hip, wrist and spine” attributable to their use. According to the FDA, people ages 50 or older who had been taking the medication for one year or more, often in high doses, were at the greatest risk.

If your doctor tells you proton-pump inhibitors are in your immediate future, ask about the potential side effects and if you can avoid taking medication altogether.

Page printed from:

Posted in News | Comments Off on Acid Suppressants Linked to Fracture Risk

A Great Exercise to Erase Low Back Pain

Watch a toddler pick up a ball and then ask an adult to do the same task. What’s the most obvious difference you notice? The toddler hinges at the hips, sitting back and down into a deep squat to grasp the ball, pulling it close to the body.

The toddler powers through the hips, glutes and thighs in returning to the starting position. It’s all in the hips!

The adult flexes forward at the waist and lumbar spine with little to no involvement of the hips, glutes and thighs. The altered mechanics of bending at the waist, as opposed to the hips, places extreme vector loads on the lumbar spine, leading to microtrauma, dysfunctional movement patterning, and eventually pain.

Optimal movement patterning and proper lifting techniques never had to be taught to the toddler. They simply lifted without thinking. Functional movement is innate to the nervous system in pre-programmed stages of development. So, what happens during the time frame from toddler to adulthood that contributes to lifting technique going horribly wrong? Quite simply: We forget how to move. Add to that the laziness factor and countless hours people spend sitting in our culture, and you have a recipe for inefficient movement. Essentially, our rear-ends have now become our feet!

Low Back Pain - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkToddlers have to yet experience these outside contributors to movement dysfunction, otherwise known as life, and therefore move efficiently. The problem is adults don’t’ know they move wrong! They have crossed over to subconscious dysfunction; their brain perceives the abnormal movement patterning as normal. This inefficient movement leads to microtrauma, pain and injury.

The Hip Hinge

The hip hinge is a fundamental part of this reprogramming. The hip hinge, generally speaking, is any flexion / extension movement originating at the hips where there is a posterior weight shift. The hip hinge allows a person to maintain a neutral spine by moving at their hips instead of their low back.

Most people will find it difficult to do the hip hinge correctly. Using a dowel rod for neural feedback during the hinge allows you to “feel” the movement and re-establish proper patterning without overloading the nervous system. Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and a dowel running along the spine.
  • One hand should be holding the dowel on the neck while the other hand holds the opposite end on the low back. (Alternate hand positions between sets.)
  • Flex forward at the hip with slight knee bend. The dowel must remain in contact with the head, thoracic spine, and sacrum.
  • Stretch should be felt in the hamstrings. Stop movement as soon as the rod leaves contact with head, thoracic spine or sacrum.
  • Assistance may be added to “regress” the movement by placing a 1-2-inch block under the heels. This forces forward weight shift of the body so the client must sit back into the hips to prevent falling. Ankle support also removes the barrier of possible mobility issues in ankle dorsiflexion, which may prevent the squat patterning.

Research has shown that previous injury is the number-one risk factor for future injury. Motor control limitations such as balance, stabilization and basic coordination, right-to-left asymmetries in muscle activity and flexibility are the next highest indicators associated with risk of future injury. Since previous injury is unavoidable, we should focus on motor-control limitations and asymmetries as priorities for prevention or reduction of risk factors. Assume you move poorly and take steps to help master fundamental movements like the hip hinge; then watch the magic start to happen.

By Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA

Posted in News | Comments Off on A Great Exercise to Erase Low Back Pain

Pain: Putting the Fire Out

Back pain, neck pain, knee pain, foot pain – wherever the pain is, it’s a pretty powerful motivator. In fact, depending on the severity of the pain, you may be willing to do just about anything to get rid of it. That’s why so many people rush to the medicine cabinet and pop a few pills at the first sign of pain. Here’s a much better idea: Try these simple exercises that can actually help reduce pain caused by common overuse conditions.

Keep in mind that jumping right into exercises and stretches in a quest for relief from pain is not always the best course of action. The difficult part is learning what exercises you can do on your own that are safe and effective. Often, the simplest of movements can have a profound positive impact on alleviating your pain. Here are some of the more common pain syndromes and injuries, along with simple exercises to help reduce symptoms. These exercises may be done on your own or in conjunction with recommendations from your health care provider, but either way, you should consult with them first to make sure you’re pursuing the right strategy to get rid of your pain (and get rid of it for good).

Carpal Tunnel - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkCarpal Tunnel

Why It Hurts: You wake up at night with numbness and tingling in your hands. Sleeping through the night is almost an impossible task. You may be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition in which nerves from your neck traveling into your hand can become compressed in the wrist. The goal of therapy is to open up space in the wrist to take compression off of the nerves, alleviating symptoms. One of the primary causes of carpal tunnel is constant flexion (forward bending) of the wrist, as one would do typing on a keyboard.

What You Can Do: Here is a very effective exercise you can do on a daily basis for quick relief. Extend (straighten) your arm out in front of your body with your palm facing up. Straighten your fingers, keeping them close together. Bend your wrist backward and try to point your fingers toward the floor, and with the opposite hand press down on the palm side of your fingers to bend (extend) your wrist slightly further. Hold this stretch for 2 seconds, return the wrist to a straight position, and then repeat the entire movement for 10 repetitions. Exhale when pressing down. Apply gentle pressure on the pressing-down movement with approximately 2 pounds of pressure. This exercise will stretch the soft tissue of the forearm and wrist, helping to alleviate tension around delicate nerves.

Tennis Elbow - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkTennis Elbow

Why It Hurts: If you experience sharp pain on the outside of your elbow when trying to twist open a jar or grasping something with your hand, it may be tendonitis of the forearm muscles. This injury became known as tennis elbow because players would get elbow pain after hitting repetitive backswings in tennis. The constant impact trauma and overuse inflamed the tendons and caused chronic pain. A common culprit of elbow pain is muscle knots known as trigger points in the forearm, which can refer pain to the elbow.

What You Can Do: Here is a simple technique to help reduce trigger point inflammation. You will need a tennis ball to perform this self-massage technique. Stand sideways against a wall. Bend your arm 90 degrees at the elbow with the thumb facing up. Place the tennis ball between the top of the forearm and the wall, with the opposite hand press against the inside of your forearm, putting additional pressure into the ball. Move the forearm back and forth in a circular motion on the tennis ball, searching for tender spots. Spend between 30-60 seconds on each tender spot until the pain begins to fade; then search for other tender areas. Do this massage three to five times per day.

Why It Hurts: Are you feeling clicking and popping in your knee? Perhaps walking up and down stairs has become a challenge and taking those after-dinner walks is more and more difficult.

Knee pain can be a tricky condition because proper motion depends on the functioning of the hips and ankles. When you have pain in the knee, it can sometimes be difficult to do direct exercises for rehabilitation. That’s why you are going to work on moving the ankle to help the knee. Why? If the ankle does not move well enough, your body overuses the knee every time you take a step and it can become painful.

What You Can Do: Stand on the edge of a step with the balls of your feet. Make sure you have something to hold on to for balance. Keep a slight bend in your knees and let your heels drift downward towards the floor, so your toes are higher than your heels. Sink the heels downward as far as you can and hold for 5 seconds. You can progress to one foot at a time for increased intensity. Return to the starting position and repeat 10 times. For even more intensity, hold a dumbbell in front of your body. The additional weight increases motion in the ankle joint. (Note: There should be no “pinching” sensation in your ankle.)

Shoulder Pain

Why It Hurts: You love playing a game of catch with your kids in the backyard. Every weekend it’s a ritual to toss the baseball around and spend quality time. But lately, you can’t throw without getting shoulder pain every time you raise your arm. What could it be? When it comes to shoulder pain, there are many different areas of the body can be involved, so an evaluation by a health care professional is encouraged. Every shoulder problem is related to how well you move in your mid-back. There is an intricate relationship between the motion of your thoracic spine (mid-back) and your shoulder.

What You Can Do: Here is a very effective exercise you can do at home or in conjunction with your rehabilitation program to speed up your recovery. Increase rotational movement in your mid-back to help your shoulder move better. Lie on your left side on the floor with knees tucked high in a fetal position at waist level. Use a pillow for head support to relax muscles in the neck. Makes sure your shoulders, knee, and ankles are stacked on top of each other to prevent twisting in the lower back. Extend (straighten) both arms out in front of your body along the floor, with palms facing each other. Take your right arm and rotate (turn) it behind your body, trying to touch the back of your hand to the floor behind you. Turn your eyes and your head to look behind in the direction you are turning. Do not let your knees separate, and keep your left arm on the floor. Return to the starting position. Exhale on every reach backward. Do 10 repetitions and repeat on the other side. You should feel this in the upper back and chest region.

Lower Back Pain - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkLower Back Pain

Why It Hurts: The thought of getting out of bed in the morning makes you cringe. The very act of sitting up sends an intense ache into your lower back. You think, ‘How can I even work today? ‘How am I even going to brush my teeth?’ Lower back pain affects 80 percent of Americans and even with rehabilitation, it is still very susceptible to re-injury.

What You Can Do: One of the most powerful ways to help your back is to help your hip joint move more. When you lose motion in your hip, it forces the back muscle to work more in an effort to compensate. So in reality, your back muscles are simply overworking and they need to rest. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep yours arms by your side with palms up. Move both feet 6 inches away from the body and make sure they remain flat. Your feet will no longer be in line with your knees. It will look like a wide-stance position. Keeping feet flat on the floor, bring both knees inward, trying to touch them together (knock-kneed position). Hold for 2 seconds, separate knees, and then repeat 10 times. Move the feet further apart when it gets easy to perform. You should feel this in the outside of the hips.

Heel and Foot Pain

Why It Hurts: You love to run. The feel of the open road invigorates your body and your mind. Then out of nowhere, you start to feel pain in your heel and the bottom of your foot.

Every step is painful and the very thought of running makes you grimace. You may be suffering from a condition known as plantar fasciitis, inflammation in the soft tissue of the sole of the foot. This can be a very difficult injury to recover from and may take several months for a full recovery.

What You Can Do: Here is an exercise that may help you get back to the road even faster. Massage the bottom of each foot on a daily basis for 5 minutes with a golf ball. Yes, a golf ball. Remove your shoes and start in a seated position with the golf ball under your foot. Press your foot into the golf ball and begin circular, side-to-side, and up-and -down motions from the heel to the ball of the foot. This may be uncomfortable and tender, but it is necessary in order to break up scar tissue in the soft tissue of the foot. Progressions include doing the exercise in a standing position and applying more body-weight to the golf ball. You can also massage the back of your calf to help release tightness in the muscle that attaches to your heel.

The most important point to remember is that no exercise should make your pain worse. Soreness and discomfort are acceptable and expected; however, increased pain and dysfunction is not. It takes time for an injury to properly heal. Do not try to rush your body beyond what it is capable of handling. The great thing about these exercises is that they can be done even after you feel better to help reduce the chances of experiencing recurring pain.

There is no real cure for aches, pains and injuries; only management. So be proactive and take back control of your body and your pain by doing these simple movements on a regular basis. Talk to your doctor for more information about these and other exercises to help keep your pain in check.

By Perry Nickelston, DC

Posted in News | Comments Off on Pain: Putting the Fire Out

Can Exercise Overcome the “Obesity Gene”?

It’s undeniable that our increasingly sedentary, technology- and processed-food-based culture is at the heart of the obesity crisis, but there’s also no denying that some people are genetically predisposed to put on the pounds – and have difficulty losing them – compared to others. Put those circumstances together and you’ve got a recipe for obesity disaster in certain individuals.

But here’s the good news: New research suggests specific kinds of exercise may help combat the “obesity gene” and help with weight loss, even in those predisposed to gain it. Published in PLOS Genetics, the study examined five measures of obesity, including body-mass index (BMI), body-fat percentage waist circumference, hip circumference and waist-to-hip ratio; and how various types of exercise impacted those measures. Researchers constructed “genetic risk scores” for each of the measures, reflecting the potential impact of genetics on each measure.

Among more than 18,000 study participants ages 30-70 who self-reported performing one or more of 18 different types of physical activity on a regular basis, “regular jogging consistently presented the strongest evidence to mitigate the genetic effects on all 5 obesity measures. Moreover, mountain climbing, walking, exercise walking, international standard dancing, and a longer practice of yoga attenuated the genetic effects on BMI. The benefits of regularly performing these 6 kinds of exercise are more impactful in subjects who are more predisposed to obesity.”

Can’t seem to lose the weight (or keep it off)? Talk to your doctor about how these and other exercises can help you get – and stay – on the right track for a lifetime of good health.

Page printed from:

Posted in News | Comments Off on Can Exercise Overcome the “Obesity Gene”?

3 Reasons to See Your Chiropractor (Now More Than Ever)

Chiropractic wellness care has always been a critical element of health, but as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our lives – even as restrictions begin to ease – chiropractic is more essential than ever. Here are three reasons why you should be making an appointment (either in person or via telemedicine, depending on what’s available right now in your area) with your chiropractor today:

1. You’ve been ignoring pain: And you’re not the only one. With stay-at-home orders in place for the past few months, most health care facilities have closed their doors to all but emergency cases. Unfortunately, pain isn’t generally regarded as an emergency, particularly not things like back pain, neck pain, headaches, etc. At the same time pain services have been limited, more people have likely experienced pain, and for several reasons: stress, inactivity, improper remote work set-up, etc. That means many people have been putting up with pain – or popping pills for temporary relief that doesn’t address the underlying cause.

If you haven’t experienced any pain, you should still make an appointment with your chiropractor, especially if you have a history of back pain. That’s because research suggests maintenance care – periodic visits to your chiropractor, even when you aren’t experiencing pain –  reduces the number of days you’ll be bothered by the pain: nearly 13 fewer days a year.

2. Immune support matters: COVID-19 is opening people’s eyes to a few realities. First, your immune system is pretty powerful. In fact, it’s constantly defending the body against attack by all sorts of viruses and other invaders. Most of the time, it’s very good at its job. But if you’re old, sick or otherwise immunocompromised, you risk experiencing complications from viral invasion — as we’ve seen during the pandemic, and as we see with other viruses, such as the flu.

We’re also hearing more about how nutrition can help fortify your immune system against COVID-19, influenza and many diseases overall. Vitamin C and D, zinc and other nutrients have been shown in numerous studies to boost immunity and in some cases, directly reduce the risk of respiratory illness and complications. Fortunately, nutritional recommendations are part of comprehensive chiropractic wellness care. Your chiropractor’s job is to help unlock your body’s healing, defending, thriving potential, and nutrition is one way to do it.

3. Wellness care is here to stay: Even while the world waits for the next drugs and vaccines, your chiropractor is endorsing natural, drug-free care that helps embolden your body – that wonderful creation designed to continually fight off illness and disease if properly nourished and supported. Whether chiropractic adjustments, nutrition, exercise recommendations, stress reduction or sleep wellness, your DC can help set you on a course for lasting health and wellness.

Page printed from:

Posted in News | Comments Off on 3 Reasons to See Your Chiropractor (Now More Than Ever)

Let’s Drink to Better Brain Health

The research supporting the health and wellness benefits of both tea and coffee continues to amaze. How about brain health? Yes, both popular beverages may protect your brain against disease. Let’s look at what recent research says.

For example, in a study published in Cells, researchers discovered that certain components found in coffee (caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid) may help prevent neurodegeneration, which could reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Specifically, the two components may inhibit the influence of rotenone, a toxin that “induces [Parkinson’s]-like pathology.” In a second study published in Aging, habitual tea drinking helped preserve efficient structural organization in the brain, which researchers suggest could protect against cognitive decline associated with aging. As you might imagine, once brain structure starts to erode, ideal brain function goes with it.

Anyone who’s experiencing the effects of “growing old” will tell you that beyond the decline in physical function, it’s the threat – or current reality – of declining brain function that’s the most troublesome. But as these studies suggest, it doesn’t have to be that way. If nothing else, you can increase your chances of enjoying your Golden Years with a sharp, fully functioning brain courtesy of this simple tip: drink coffee and tea!

Page printed from:

Posted in News | Comments Off on Let’s Drink to Better Brain Health

5 Smart Substitutions When Eating Out

There’s nothing wrong with the occasional treat-yourself trip to a fast-food or sit-down restaurant, but Americans are eating out at an ever-increasing (sometimes daily) rate, and usually paying the health consequences. It’s tough enough finding healthy food when grocery shopping these days, but put your trust in the hands of a burger joint, a diner, a pizza parlor or the vast majority of other restaurants and you’re generally asking for trouble. Here are five substitutions to infuse a little more health into your next dining experience away from home.

1. Skip the Fries

French fries and potato chips, two of the most common sides at fast-food and sit-down restaurants, contain little or no nutritional value and large quantities of fat (oil). But they certainly are popular, which is why potatoes (in the form of fries and chips) are among the most frequently consumed “vegetables.” Skip the grease and go without if at a fast-food restaurant (most only offer fries, onion rings or other fried options, although some do offer sides of corn, beans or rice, which are definitely healthier than fries or chips). At sit-down restaurants, it should be even easier to replace the fries / chips with a side of rice, a small baked potato and/or some veggies.

2. Watch What You Drink

soda - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkSoft drinks are exactly what your body (and teeth) don’t need, yet they are a staple beverage at fast-food and other restaurants. Water offers three distinct benefits by comparison: it doesn’t cost you anything, it’s calorie-free, and it doesn’t contain any sugar. While calorie- and sugar-free sodas are available, research suggests they may still be dangerous because artificial sweeteners may condition you to crave sweets and overeat. And do you really need a 32-ounce drink (of anything) with your meal?

3. No Oversized Loads

hamburger - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkWhat’s your average family meal at home like in terms of portion size? Unless you’ve purchased oversized plates, meals are generally within reason. Not so for an increasing number of fast-food chains and sit-down restaurants. “Super-sized” combo meals and 17-inch plates heaped with Thanksgiving-like portions are a recipe for weight gain. Stick to a reasonable portion size (or eat half and get the other half to go) and you won’t have to unbutton the top button of your jeans midway through your meal.

4. Find a Veggie

veggie - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkDepending on the nature of the establishment, this can be fairly easy or a bit tricky, but either way, it’s a worthy pursuit. Whether it’s a hamburger with lettuce and tomato or a plate of pasta with broccoli, choose meals that have some natural color, courtesy of Mother Nature’s best vegetables. A burger with cheese, a bun and nothing else or a plate of pasta with cheese and cream sauce are missing the color of nutrition your body needs. Pizza is even easier; add a few veggies along with your other favorite toppings.

5. Know What You’re Ordering

nutrition facts - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register MarkIn the past few years, the majority of restaurants have begun (by mandate and/or choice) to reveal how nutritionally unsound some of their meal options are. This can range from providing complete nutritional facts to listing calorie counts on the menu. Doing so gives you the upper hand when it comes to choosing a healthy (or at least healthier) meal for you and your family. Visit the Web sites of your favorite restaurants or review the nutritional information in-house before ordering. You’ll be surprised at how much fat, sodium and calories are in some of your favorites; perhaps they won’t be your favorites after you learn what’s in them and you’ll steer toward lower-fat, lower-calorie, better-for-you selections instead.

Page printed from:

Posted in News | Comments Off on 5 Smart Substitutions When Eating Out

Two for One With Chiropractic

Can’t seem to shake that back pain? Continually plagued by headaches? You’re not alone. Chronic back and headache pain are among the most prevalent and disabling disorders worldwide. Even more troubling, experiencing one of these conditions may raise your likelihood of experiencing both. But here’s the good news: the potential reason why these two disorders may be connected points to a single solution: chiropractic care.

According to research published in the Journal of Headache and Pain, people who suffer persistent back pain or headaches are approximately twice as likely to suffer from both. Their findings are based on a review of studies involving more than 450,000 total participants suffering from back pain and headaches. Overall, the researchers found 14 studies that reported an association between “primary headache disorders and persistent low back pain.”

While the study authors do not spell out the cause of the connection between these two common, debilitating conditions, abundant previous evidence suggests musculoskeletal dysfunction, particularly involving the spine and spinal nerves, is a potential factor with both headaches and back pain.

That makes chiropractic care a great option when you’re experiencing either condition – or both. In fact, since a chiropractor can help both back pain and headaches, there’s a good chance that if you’re only suffering from one, chiropractic care may prevent the other from occurring at all. Now that’s a two-for-one win with chiropractic!

Page printed from:

Posted in News | Comments Off on Two for One With Chiropractic