One of the downfalls of many health professionals is their inability to explain what it is exactly that they do. This leads to general confusion and misconceptions; Chiropractors and PTs’ in general tend be very bad at this! I find all too often that people do not get the care they need simply because they don’t understand.
Let’s start basic and ask the question what do chiropractors do? Any time someone asks me this question my most simple explanation is “we fix muscles and joints that do not work properly.” We accomplish this through manual therapy techniques such as myofascial release, stretching, corrective exercise, and other modalities. One of the more common techniques chiropractors tend to use is the “adjustment” (spinal manipulation.) There seems to be much confusion around the “adjustment” and how it works to help relieve pain, restore mobility, and improve performance.
Many of the problems I see and treat are a product of lifestyle (i.e. tight upper back from sitting at a desk all day), this usually later turns into a sports injury in the active population. Many of us have postural faults due to our sedentary lifestyles that later lead to injuries. Take your upper back for example, if you sit at a desk all day you likely have some degree of rounded shoulders. The rounding of your shoulders narrows the space necessary for your rotator cuff to pass through which can lead to impingement when doing shoulder presses, or playing tennis, basketball, etc.
While the problem may be the muscle, this posture has been learned by your body and is not always easily reversed. Rounded shoulders pull on the spine which locks the joints in your back. When the joints are locked no matter how much stretching or exercise is completed the problem is still going to be present because the joints are not allowing for the appropriate movement leading to a viscous cycle.
Enter “the adjustment”. The “adjustment” is a gentle, shallow, thrust that serves to restore normal joint motion and biomechanics. With joints now moving as they are suppose to we can address the entire picture more effectively, loosening and balance out both the muscles and joints. Current research has found that the spinal manipulation serves to reset the GTO (Golgi Tendon Organ) in our muscles similar to resetting the computer, allowing them to relax. Additionally, important, pain relieving bio-markers have been found post adjustment including oxytocin, and neurotensin, which serve to relax muscles and nerves allowing your body to heal!
If you have stepped foot in a gym you have undoubtedly noticed at least one person who seems to always be wearing their belt, but why? How does this actually benefit us?
It seems like to many people wearing your lifting belt simply goes with being in the gym. This is a common misconception that can actually hinder your movement and core strength. Use your belt too much, and it becomes a crutch, but appropriate use can sky-rocket your max lifts!
Before we begin to understand how to appropriately use the belt we have to understand your “Core.” A common analogy used to describe your core is that of a pressure cooker. You have your abs in front, oblique’s on the side, lower back muscles in the back, and the pelvic floor being the base. The top or “lid” if you will is that of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a huge fan shaped muscle that is your primary muscle of respiration. Breathing is huge in all aspects of performance. Breathing appropriately (i.e. vaulting the diaphragm downward to fill your lungs) not only will make you a better athlete but it is a sure fire way to prevent a lower back injury.
How do you use the belt appropriately? Back to the analogy of the pressure cooker; by breathing appropriately (vaulting the diaphragm) it will increase intrabdonimal pressure which means stability of the hips and lower back. The belt is meant to increase this pressure and thus stability. The appropriate way to use the belt is have the belt snug, but not overly tight. This will allow you to push your abdomen into the belt, thus creating more pressure, and more stability.
Save the belt for the more risky moves and save your lower back!
I think most chiropractor’s would agree, we see a lot of lower back pain, and for good reason; we are very successful at fixing it! Often patients report that the pain will travel down their leg causing a “burning” or “tingling” sensation.
What could be causing this?
Your spine has spacer’s known as intervertebral discs which serve to produce smooth movement and also act as shock absorbers. Occasionally, these shock of absorbers will bear more of a load then they are prepared to bear causing them to crack or herniate.
Through your lower spine exits nerve roots which serve to innervate the lower body. If a herniated disc compress’ these nerve roots it will interfere with the signal leading to inflammation, pain, and tingling often to the foot producing “hard borders” of where the tingling and numbness is occurring that patients can readily identify.
Another possibility is entrapment of the sciatic nerve. This is a huge nerve (about the size of a highlighter) that forms in the buttocks from several nerve roots. This will often times lead to discomfort when sitting and “burning” pain in the gluteal region that may travel to the hamstring or calf. This will usually not produce pain in the foot. This is usually caused by tight muscles in the gluteal region.
Poor posture and biomechanics is a major cause of sciatic pain.
So How do You fix it?
Chiropractic manipulation serves to re-establish movement of the joints and decrease muscle spasm. This will in turn take pressure off the nerve and decrease inflammation via opening up the joint, allowing your body to heal!
After the pain is gone it is important for the person to correct any muscle imbalances as these are usually a pre-existing factor to disc herniation’s, as these are unlikely to go away on their own. Additionally, It is very important that patient’s visit receive periodical “tune-up’s” in order to keep things in check and moving the way they are supposed to thus preventing future flare up’s.
Now that summer is approaching many of us are trying to slim down the waist line. The task of taking on a diet can be quite daunting. Who to listen to? Where to start? While there are many diet strategies (all of which are effective for someone but not everyone), sustainability has to be a priority. Consuming certain foods can increase your metabolism and burn more body fat, naturally.
So keep it simple, eat these 3 foods regularly to boost metabolism, burn fat, and eliminate harmful toxins!
1.) Broccoli Rabe- Broccoli Rabe is very high in phytonutrients which attack and eliminate free radicals in your body. This vegetable contains Sulforaphane which stimulates your fat cells and prevents conversion to adipose tissue!
2.) Wild Salmon- The key hear is wild caught. Wild caught salmon have the optimal ratio of Omega-3 fatty acids which improve insulin sensitivity and metabolism shrinking your waist line over-time.
3.) Coconut Oil- Coconut Oil contains a special type of fatty acid known as Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT). MCT's have been shown to be beneficial in brain health and weight loss. Unlike other types of fats, MCT's are absorbed into the liver and not broken down in the intestines so can be used directly for energy. Additionally, unlike olive oil, MCT's can withstand higher temperatures without denaturing. Stick to Coconut Oil for cooking and Olive Oil for dressing.
Looking for some extra help with your own personal weight-loss plan? Call or Schedule online!
CrossFit has certainly become very popular in the recent years, and for good reason, it is a very time efficient way to build muscle and burn body fat! With fatigue however comes laxity in form. This can be a recipe for injury, but it doesn't have to be.
The amount of mobility required to complete many of the movements is lacking in many athletes; especially beginners. These problems stem mainly from lifestyle. Many of us sit at a desk all day, or have jobs that have altered our posture. This rounded posture that many of us develop may lead to shoulder, hip, or lower back issues.
Though CrossFit does a fantastic job of targeting your "functional fitness" goals, muscle activation is lacking in many athletes which will lead to compensation, and eventually injury. Try these 3 exercises below that target key areas in the shoulders, back, and hips and stay injury free.
1.) Seated Rows- Due to the explosiveness of many moves, and the focus on the entire kinetic system, the rhomboids are one muscle that is often forgotten about. This muscle group in particular is responsible for scapular retraction. Scapular retraction must occur in over-head movements in order for the shoulder to move impingement free. An extremely affective way to strengthen and activate the rhomboids is through the seated row, with a focus on pinching the shoulder blades together.
2.) Face-Pulls- The rear-deltoids are another group that is responsible for good posture, pulling your shoulder blades back. These are often inhibited by over-active or tight upper traps. Likewise, in order for the shoulder to stay healthy these must be firing and functioning appropriately.
3.) Planks- Do your knees cave or does your lower back round during your squat? Contrary to popular belief, just because you squat and deadlift does not mean you have a strong core. Planks are a fantastic core activation exercise that address's the entire circumference of the core (abs, oblique's, glutes, and lower back).
Give these exercises a try and keep the PR's rolling!
Having a practice in a gym, one thing that patients commonly complain of is a “pinching” pain in one or both hips during deep flexion (squatting, leg pressing, lunging, etc.) It has been noted that more than 80% of active adults and teens with hip pain is caused by a condition known as Femoroacetabular Impingment (FAI).
FAI is caused by a change in the shape of the hip joint. It is commonly classified as 2 types: CAM and Pincer. CAM is defined as an alteration in the shape of the femur (thigh bone), which is determined via x-ray and a characteristic “pistol grip” appearance. The second type, Pincer is defined as an abnormally shaped acetabulum (hip socket.) This can also be visualized on x-ray and your physician may note that there is abnormal bone growth (usually posterior) which covers more of the femur head than usual.
Both these types ultimately may result in a labral tear of the hip and/or arthritis due to increased friction and surface area of the hip joint, if not cared for. When addressing this issues it is important to note that exercise did not cause the impingement, this usually a present congenital anomaly of the hip joint. The exact cause is unknown.
So what can you do to Manage this Condition?
First thing first, lets talk about your foundation (your spine). Much like a house if you have a poor foundation no matter how perfect your house is it will ultimately crumble! It is important to visit your Chiropractic Physician to first ensure adequate biomechanics and movement of the spine. It is also important to then look at the muscles of the lower trunk and core. An anterior pelvic tilt caused by tight hip and lower back muscles pulls your pelvis forward increasing the amount of pressure on the hip and pelvis. Stretching your lower back, hamstrings, and hip flexors is a good place to start.
Failure to appropriately manage this condition could result in a need for surgery. Though not “curable” this condition can be successfully managed to limit damage. So don’t wait schedule an appointment today!
Spring has finally sprung, and that means that bathing suit season is just around the corner. By this time many of you are second guessing that 2nd piece of pie on Christmas Day. With warmer weather, we also tend to become more active (many of us for the first time since fall). Not only does the extra body fat look bad, it wreaks havoc on your spine and muscles making you more susceptible to an injury.
The extra body weight tends to pulls your body forward, changing the curves in your spine and position of your muscles. With this change in posture it puts your spine in a “loaded” position (think of a car that is not aligned properly) adding unnecessary wear and tear to your body. A strong core is important for more than just aesthetics, it is responsible for supporting our upright posture, and providing us with flexibility and stability. When discussing effective core strengthing techniques it is important to note that we want to activate the entire core (abs, oblique’s, lower back muscles, pelvic floor, and the diaphragm). Try these exercises below and enjoy stronger, more appealing core!
Perform this routine 3x/week, 3 sets of 10 repetitions per exercise.
1.) Diaphragmatic Breathing– Lying on your back, knees bent, place on hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen. Take a deep breathe in through your nose and focus on making the hand on you abdomen rise while limiting the rise in your chest (avoid chest breathing.)
2.) Pelvic Tilts- Begin lying on your back, knees bent. Place your hands under your lower back. Focus on pushing your back into your hands by contracting your abdomen, rocking your pelvis posteriorly.
3.) Planks- Begin face down, resting on elbows and toes (knees for beginners) maintain a level “neutral spine” by contracting your abdomen. Careful more to arch your back.
4.) Supine Leg Lifts- Lying on your back, legs straight, arms at side, slowly raise and lower legs careful not to allow your legs to touch the floor.
5.) Stability Ball Pull-In- Begin by lying on top of a stability ball, belly facing down. Slowly begin to walk your hands out until just your feet are on top of the stability ball. This will look like a push-up position with your legs resting on the ball. Slowly pull your feet toward your chest by contracting your abdomen.
Much like your shoulder mobility, your hips are also negatively effected by the effects of sitting at that dreaded desk job 40+ hours a week. When discussing your “hip mobility” I am referring to the ability of the pelvis to adapt in different daily movements, such as walking, running, bending down or squatting. It is vital for our spines that hips move the way they are supposed to avoid excessive flexion of your spine. As many of you may know or have heard, when bending down or squatting down we want to limit flexion of the spine. We have all heard “lift with your legs”, the concept behind this is that it will prevent you from flexing your spine forward. Flexion and rotation under a load is one of the main risk factors for a disc herniation.
What is “hip mobility?” With our sedentary lifestyles our muscles become imbalanced, or inhibited which can hinder the ability of the hips to move the way they need to. Why does this occur? If you are sitting now pay attention to your current posture. You will likely find that you are slumped forward a bit and your lower back is slightly rounded, abs at rest, hips and knees bent. You may even “feel” your lower back. The problem occurs from too much sitting, too often. Overtime, much like learning to ride a bike, your muscles like your hamstrings and hip flexors will begin to assume this shortened position. Your core muscles (deep in the abs) will become inhibited because they are not needed to stabilize your body in a sitting position, and your glute muscles are of no use either. This means that your lower back that you just noticed is slightly flexed is now essentially the sole stabilizer of your upright posture. This is fine because you are stable when sitting, but what about when you go to get up, run, or exercise? This is where many begin to experience problems. Many people with lower back pain find that the pain has come on slowly or perhaps all of the sudden; either way, this pain is likely a result of an underlying issue that has been going on for quite some time and your body is now beginning to recognize.
How do we assess “hip mobility?” This could be as simple as a gait assessment, however, my favorite way to assess an active population is through an over-head squat. The squat is a foundational movement in humans, much like crawling. This will bring out even latent movement issues. When we begin to descend in a squat of utmost importance is to maintain a “neutral spine.” This is the position between flexion and extension where we are bracing our abdomen not allowing the back to round. In someone with the issues described above we may begin to notice the pelvis begin to “curl under” as we descend otherwise known as a “but wink”. At what point we will notice this will depend on a few factors: hamstring (and calf length), lower back tightness, core stability, balance, and of course your anatomy. Not everyone is meant to squat under a weight glutes to heels (all the way down). However, everyone should be able to perform a parallel squat.
Your body is fantastic at achieving your desired movement even if you have to recruit other muscles. If your hamstrings, hips, and lower back are tight the joints in your spine cannot and will not move the way they need to creating “hypomobilities” . With this “hypomobility” of some joints your body will begin to compensate, using other joints and muscles too much leading to extra wear and tear. Perhaps of most importance is the fact that your discs in your spine act as shock absorbers and spacers limiting friction and absorbing impact. Discs have no blood supply (except the outer layer), rather they rely on movement for nutrition. When the joints are hypomobile (stuck) your discs are getting inadequate nutrition which may over time lead to degeneration, or disc herniations. Combine the harmful effects of sitting 8 hours a day with someone who is otherwise active with sports, weight-lifting, or running and they will eventually be injured.
How do you improve it?
•Get up and move hourly from your desk! Even if it is only a brief walk to the water cooler.
•Stretch your hamstrings and calves
•Foam roll your back and hamstrings before and after exercise to “warm up” the muscles.
•Get adjusted! This will relieve the muscle tension establishing normal joint movement which is oh so important.
Having a practice in a gym, I see many athletes from traditional sports such as football and baseball players, and also Cross-Fit, Bodybuilding, and Powerlifting athletes. One common denominator in many of these athletes is shoulder problems; particularly when striving for that lock out above head (which is a big part of Cross-Fit and Olympic type lifting.)
The problem is not the motion itself, it is achievable and pain-free in those with healthy shoulders. In reality however, most people’s shoulders are not as “healthy” as they think and will eventually be injured unless some intervention is made. Scapulohumeral and scapulothoracic rhythm refers to the ability of all of the muscles of the shoulder complex to work together in sync during over-head movements. When this is all in sync, no shoulder problems are usually noted. However, In todays society majority of people have some underlyeing shoulder issues that prevent this from occurring.
In order for “healthy” shoulder abduction to occur the shoulder blade must retract and rotate upwards allowing for a clear space for the tendons to pass under the acromion. In order for this to occur the rhomboids and mid to lower trapezius needs to be firing appropriately. It also happens that these are two of the more common problems areas for muscle activation in most people. We need to neurologically turn these on!
How do we do this? Step number one is to have your thoracic mobility checked by a chiropractor as this is directly related to scapulothoracic rhythm. We can then look at a few activation exercises.
Shoulders are a naturally unstable joint so it is all about prevention!
Then, Give these exercises a try and enjoy a healthier shoulder!
1.) Standing Bent Row’s from a low pully- An easy modification to the traditional seated row is to stand instead of sitting. Find a low pulley, attach the traditional pull-down bar, knees bent, core tight and focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together. You will feel this in your rhomboids and your mid to lower lats/traps if performed correctly. You can also easily switch it up by changing grips, handles etc.
2.) Standing modified pull-downs- Using a traditional pull-down station, stand about a foot behind the seat in a split stance. Using the traditional lat pull-down bar aim to pull your shoulder blades down and back.
3.) Face-Pulls with a Rope Attachment- Again using a traditional lat pull-down station or a high cable pulley, attach the rope, assume a split stance position and aim to pull the rope toward eye level, separating the two handles while contracting your back by pinching your shoulder blades together (down and back back.)
Hamstring strains/tears are very common in athletes of all types. They often take a long time to heal, with symptoms persisting for several months. What’s perhaps more problematic is that they have a high rate for re-injury!
Why are hamstring strains so common? Many of us have adapted a posture that causes tight hips, hamstrings, and lower back muscles due to our lifestyle (i.e. sitting at a desk all day.) With the hamstrings already under constant tension and the resulting imbalance in your pelvis and hips, the muscles tend to develop micro-tears which will weaken the muscles and tendons despite your bodies effort to heal. With these compensations present it may only take one faulty step, or hard sprint to damage the muscles and ligaments sending your body into a cycle of recurrent inflammation.
At initial onset many people will try to manage the issue themselves with RICE. While this will often reduce temporary pain and swelling it is not addressing the underlying cause. Many people will wait weeks or month before seeking treatment due to “nagging pain.” This is a mistake that will make you more likely to be re-injured. Due to the multiple micro-tears, your bodies healing response is to lye down collagen (think of a scab on your muscle.) Unlike normal, healthy collagen this collagen does not have the tensile strength of normal collagen (think of a scar on your muscle.)
How do we fix it? In order to truly “fix” the issue with the hamstring(s) we have to look at the entire chain. It is likely that you have tight hips, lower back muscles, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. All these muscles must be addressed in order to effectively correct the problem. Spinal manipulation may be recommended to help restore normal biomechanics to the spine, correcting any pelvic imbalances, specific stretches/exercises will be prescribed in order to change the muscles length. Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Manipulation (IASTM) is an evidence based treatment that aims to break-up any scar tissue adhesions that may be forming on the injured muscle. Through stimulation of fibroblasts (cells that help produce healthy collagen), IASTM treatment aims to restore normal, healthy, strong tissue eliminating any abnormal tissue allowing your body to heal properly.
If you are or have been experiencing hamstring pain don’t wait! Call or schedule online today and start healing! (781) 460-0939