Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Loosen Up!

Flexibility is the ability to move our joints and muscles through a full range of motion, and it's an important measure of both overall health fitness measure.  Because we tend to become less flexible as we age, we need to develop it while we're young and then maintain it when we're older.

What’s So Great About Being Flexible?

Here are just a few of the health benefits attributable to a regular flexibility and stretching program:

1.  Increased circulation: Stretching increases blood flow to muscles, nourishing them and eliminating waste products. It also helps shorten recovery time following a muscle injury.

2.  Improved posture: Stretching helps keep muscles loose, which allows you to maintain proper posture which means less discomfort caused by poor posture-related conditions such as back pain.

3.  Better coordination: Flexibility improves range of motion, which maximizes balance, coordination and mobility. This is especially important to minimize the risk of falls as we age.

4.  Stress relief: Because flexible muscles are loose muscles, they're less prone to tighten up during periods of excess stress and tension.

O.k., Now What?

Now that you know why flexibility is so important. Let's talk about how to make stretching/flexibility a part of your weekly routine. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are six essential guidelines to keep in mind when stretching:

1.  Warm up first. You're more likely to pull a muscle when it's cold. Start off with five minutes of walking, light limb movement or a favorite low-intensity exercise.

2.   Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds, remembering to breathe. Simply put, it takes time to stretch tissues safely. Go too fast and you could be in for trouble in the form of a muscle tear. For most muscle groups, a single 30-60-second stretch is adequate.

3.   Don't bounce. Speaking of muscle tears, bouncing during a stretch can cause microtears in the muscle, leaving scar tissue as the muscle heals, which will only make the muscle tighter and more prone to future pain and inflexibility.

4.   Avoid pain. You shouldn't feel pain during a stretch. If you do, you've gone too far and need to back off and hold the stretch in a pain-free position.

5.   Stretch both sides. Joint range of motion needs to be as equal as possible on both sides of the body; after all, if only half the body is flexible, the other half can still cause problems.

6.   Stretch before and after exercise. Stretch them lightly before a workout and then more thoroughly after your workout. Stretching before activity improves flexibility and reduces injury risk; stretching after exercise relaxes tired muscles and reduces muscle soreness and stiffness.

Simple Stretches

With the why and how in your memory bank, all you need now is a few minutes a day at least three days a week, or every time you exercise, to get flexible and stay flexible. Here are a five simple stretches (again courtesy of the Mayo Clinic) you can start doing right away:

Neck Stretch

Bend your head forward and slightly to the right to stretch the left side of your neck. With your right hand, gently pull your head downward, stretching the back left side of your neck. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.

The Shoulder Stretch

Bring your left arm across the body and hold it with your right arm above or below the elbow. Hold for 30-60 seconds, switch arms and repeat. To stretch the internal rotators of the shoulder (important if you participate in tennis, golf or other overhead/throwing/swinging sports), hold a rolled-up towel vertically with both hands. One hand should hold the top of the towel and the other hand should hold the bottom of the towel. Now gently pull the towel toward the ceiling with your top hand, stretching the shoulder on your opposite arm. Hold for 30-60 seconds, switch top hand and repeat.

The Calf Stretch

Stand at arm's length from a wall or any otherwise sturdy structure. Put your right foot behind your left foot and slowly bend your left leg forward, keeping the right knee straight and the right heel on the ground. Keep your back straight and your hips and feet facing forward. Hold for 30-60 seconds, and then switch legs and repeat.

The Hamstring Stretch

Lie on the floor near the outer corner of a wall or door frame. With your left heel resting against the wall and your left knee bent slightly, straighten your left leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your left thigh. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, switch legs and repeat.

The Knee-to-Chest Stretch

Lie on your back on a firm surface. Your knees and hips should be bent, and the backs of your heels should stay flat on the floor. Slowly pull one knee to your chest until you feel a stretch in your lower back. Keep the opposite leg relaxed in a comfortable position, with your knee bent or the leg extended. Bring the knee as close to the chest as possible without experiencing discomfort, hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat with the opposite leg.

Note: The Mayo Clinic recommends osteoporosis patients avoid the knee-to-chest stretch to prevent possible compression fractures of the vertebrae.

And there you have it: why flexibility matters and what you can do to make sure you're as flexible as possible. If you have any questions regarding how to do a particular stretch or if you believe an existing health condition could limit you from safely performing a flexibility routine, talk to your doctor first.  If you’re stretching regimen isn’t relieving your back or neck pain, be sure to call and make an appointment to have your spine checked!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Do You Suffer From the #1 Cause of Disability?

Are you suffering from back or neck pain? You're definitely not alone, and I mean on a global scale. A series of studies from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Project, a collaboration between the World Health Organization, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the University of Queensland School of Population Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the University of Tokyo, Imperial College London, clarifies the worldwide health burden of musculoskeletal conditions, particularly back and neck pain, in crystal-clear fashion, with low back pain identified as the number-one cause of disability worldwide and neck pain the number-four cause. Overall, musculoskeletal conditions represent the second leading cause of global disability.

Findings emphasize the shift in global health that has resulted from disability making an increasingly larger footprint on the burden of disease compared to even 20 or 30 years ago. In addition, while more people are living longer, the flip side is that they do so with an increasing risk of living with the burden of pain, disability and disease compared to generations past.

Dr. Scott Haldeman, a neurologist and doctor of chiropractic, provides a summary of the project's findings that should make it abundantly clear that conditions many people may consider relatively harmless actually have tremendous potential for long-term health consequences:

 Musculoskeletal conditions such as low back pain, neck pain and arthritis affect more than 1.7 billion people worldwide and have a greater impact on the health of the world population (death and disability) than HIV/AIDS, tropical diseases including malaria, the forces of war and nature, and all neurological conditions combined.

When considering death and disability in the health equation, musculoskeletal disorders cause 21.3 percent of all years lived with disability (YLDs), second only to mental and behavioral disorders, which account for 22.7 percent of YLDs.

Musculoskeletal conditions represent the sixth leading cause of death and disability, with only cardiovascular and circulatory diseases, neonatal diseases, neoplasms, and mental and behavorial disorders accounting for more death and disability worldwide.

Low back pain is the most dominant musculoskeletal condition, accounting for nearly one-half of all musculoskeletal YLDs. Neck pain accounts for one-fifth of musculoskeletal YLDs.

Low back pain is the sixth most important contributor to the global disease burden (death and disability), and has a greater impact on global health than malaria, preterm birth complications, COPD, tuberculosis, diabetes or lung cancer.

When combined with neck pain (21st most important contributor to the global disease burden – death and disability), painful spinal disorders are second only to ischemic heart disease in terms of their impact on the global burden of disease. Spinal disorders have a greater impact than HIV/AIDS, malaria, lower respiratory infections, stroke, breast and lung cancer combined, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, depression or traffic injuries.

Current estimates suggest that 632.045 million people worldwide suffer from low back pain and 332.049 million people worldwide suffer from neck pain.

"The Global Burden of Disease Study provides indisputable evidence that musculoskeletal conditions are an enormous and emerging problem in all parts of the world and need to be given the same priority for policy and resources as other major conditions like cancer, mental health and cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Haldeman.

The seven studies from Global Burden of Disease 2010, as well as accompanying commentaries, appear in The Lancet.  If you’re in pain, chiropractic care has been shown in numerous research studies to be an effective conservative option so call and schedule your appointment today!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Let Us Help You Celebrate Valentine's Day!

Bring your address book in to the office with you this week and not only will we provide your Valentine’s Day cards for you but we’ll even PAY THE POSTAGE and INCLUDE A FREE GIFT for your valentine!

How does it work?

1.  Come to the office and pick out your Valentine cards.

2.  Write out your greetings and address your cards.

3.  Choose one of the Gift Certificate's from the front desk and insert it into your Valentines.

4.  Seal your Valentine and drop it in the “Valentine Mailbox”.

5.  SMILE!  You just made someone’s day with a fun Valentine!

Be sure to get in soon, the cards will be mailed out on Monday, February 11th so there's not much time left!