Research, news, and clarity on the field of chiropractic, and our collective model for balanced wellness and patient-focused care.



Study: Spinal Manipulation Boosts Muscle Function

Apr 13, 2015 | By Tuck Chiropractic News

Study on Spinal Manipulation & Muscle Function

Research shows chiropractic manipulation can improve muscle control and prevent fatigue.

New research from the New Zealand College of Chiropractic’s Centre for Chiropractic Research, published in the journal Experimental Brain Research, indicates that spinal manipulation may prevent fatigue and boost muscular function.

All 18 study subjects were men between the ages of 18 and 40 with spinal dysfunction not related to trauma, bone deformation, infection, or inflammation. They all had a self-reported history of chronic, low-level spinal pain, but had not previously pursued treatment for it.

Researchers measured participants’ muscle electricity activity, absolute force, and H-reflex curves, which indicate spinal cord excitability, as well as the strength of participants’ ability to send a command from the brain to a muscle, or cortical drive.

The results demonstrated an increase in muscle electrical activity of almost 60 percent. There also was an increase in absolute force of 16 percent. The brain’s ability to contract a muscle increased by 45 percent and there was a small but measurable shift in the H-reflex curve.

What Is Spinal Manipulation?

Spinal manipulation, also referred to as a “chiropractic adjustment,” is a chiropractic procedure that re-establishes spinal joint function by applying controlled pressure to joints that have decreased function or have been immobilized. Spinal joint dysfunction commonly occurs as the result of an injury to tissue that causes pain and inflammation. Chiropractic adjustment of the compromised joint loosens tight muscles and eases pain, helping injured tissues to heal. Spinal manipulation is typically administered manually by a chiropractor and is the most common chiropractic technique.

This study follows previous research conducted by Dr. Heidi Haavik, director of research at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic, on spinal manipulation’s contribution to altered motor control and sensorimotor integration. It is the first to establish a connection between an improvement in brain control of muscle function and spinal manipulation. Past research demonstrated a link between spinal manipulation and a change in various aspects of nervous system function, such as reflexes, cognitive processing, and processing speed.

Dr. Haavik said that this research indicates applications for spinal manipulation. The increase in net excitability and muscle control could make spinal manipulation a potentially beneficial treatment for patients who have lost muscle function, such as stroke patients or those who have lost muscle function after orthopedic surgery.

Dr. Haavik also pointed out that the potential relevance of the study’s findings to the athletic community warrants further study. The increased cortical drive, increased muscle strength, and prevention of fatigue following spinal manipulation could have valuable effects on sports performance.

Chiropractic’s Neurophysiological Effects Studied

The New Zealand College of Chiropractic’s Centre for Chiropractic Research has set out to research sensorimotor integration in relation to chiropractic treatment. This study was the result of collaboration between the center and neurophysiologist Kemal Türker, professor at the Koc University School of Medicine in Istanbul, Turkey. Funding for this study was provided by a grant from Spinal Research, The New Zealand Hamblin Trust, and the New Zealand College of Chiropractic.

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Study: Surgery and Conservative Care for Spinal Stenosis Have Similar Long-term Outcomes

Apr 6, 2015 | By Tuck Chiropractic News

Surgery and Conservative Care for Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis often occurs in the lumbar region of the spine and can cause numbness, trouble walking, and lower back pain.

A new study conducted by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire found that surgery and conservative treatment for spinal stenosis had similar long-term outcomes in function, disability, and pain management.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, spinal stenosis is broadly defined as a narrowing of the spinal canal. It does not always cause symptoms, and often occurs as a result of normal spinal degeneration due to age. Typical symptoms include pain or numbness in the legs, trouble walking, and lower back pain.

The study, published in the January 15 edition of Spine, focused on about 650 spinal stenosis patients. Some underwent surgery, while others pursued conservative care like physical therapy or pain medication.

The participants were recruited from 13 spinal treatment centers in 11 states. They had experienced symptoms for longer than 12 weeks, a typical benchmark for a chronic condition. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the Office of Research on Women’s Health, and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

Similar Outcomes for Spinal Stenosis Patients

Study participants were split into two groups. Just under half chose to be randomly assigned to either surgery or nonsurgical treatment, while the rest made their own choice between. After eight years, 70 percent of those randomized to surgery eventually underwent a procedure, while 52 percent of those originally randomized to conservative treatment also underwent surgery.

The subjects were asked to evaluate numerous symptoms and physical function at three months, six months, and eight years after undergoing some form of treatment. During the first four years or so, surgery patients reported better function, less disability, and less pain.

But by the time the surgery patients reached six to eight years of treatment, most did not report feeling better or experiencing more function than patients who chose conservative care. Patients who underwent conservative care chose physical therapy, chiropractic, epidural injections, anti-inflammatory drugs, or opioid analgesics. While either treatment was considered safe, 18 percent of surgery patients had to undergo a second surgery.

A number of the original participants were not included in follow-up data and they tended to be sicker, older and experienced worse outcomes with conservative care or surgery. According to researchers, this exclusion of older, sicker participants means the final results may be a bit “optimistic,” but should be unbiased between surgery and conservative care nonetheless.

Deciding on Spinal Stenosis Treatment

Because spinal stenosis is chronic and cannot be cured, spinal stenosis patients must choose treatment carefully. Researchers noted that neither treatment successfully eliminated all pain or reduced function. Study leader Dr. John Lurie said that the study’s results will help doctors and patients make more informed decisions about treatment options for spinal stenosis.

It is the largest and highest-quality study conducted on the outcomes of spinal stenosis treatments so far. Researchers note that it is also the first study to show that, even eight years after making the choice, patients who opt to skip surgery can still manage pain and disability successfully with alternative treatment.

While chiropractic care was only one of the alternatives to surgery discussed in this study, the results might encourage patients to think about trying conservative treatment before a surgical consult. According to the National Institutes of Health, some patients who receive chiropractic treatment for spinal stenosis reported increased function and mobility, and reduced pain. For patients who are unwilling or unable to undergo surgery, chiropractic may provide a viable option for relieving suffering from stenosis.

You can learn more information about the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for spinal stenosis here.

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Study: Too Much Sitting Can Be Deadly

Mar 30, 2015 | By Tuck Chiropractic News

Negative Health Effects of Sitting

According to a research review from the University Health Network in Canada, sitting for 8 or more hours a day could raise your risk of severe health complications.

A research review by the University Health Network in Canada, published last month in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that daily sitting for long periods increases your risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and death. This risk increases independent of other health factors, including both negative factors like obesity and positive factors like exercise.

The average American sits for roughly 9.3 hours a day, more than half of the time spent awake. Researchers found that even exercising daily for 30 minutes to an hour doesn’t significantly counteract the health repercussions of sitting for long periods.

Dr. David A. Alter and doctoral candidate Aviroop Biswas analyzed 47 studies that compared inactivity and mortality. The result: People who sit for long periods in a day are 24 percent more likely to die from health problems, even if they exercise regularly.

While the time spent sitting varied slightly among the studies analyzed, Biswas estimated that sitting for more than 8 hours a day results in the most negative health effects.

Negative Health Effects Associated with Sitting for Long Periods

This research analysis is the latest in a growing number of studies linking lack of physical activity with negative health effects. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, many cases of cancer are linked to daily lack of activity, including 43,000 cases of colon cancer and 49,000 cases of breast cancer.

Long-term sitting is linked to higher rates of disability after age 60. According to a study at Northwestern University led by Dorothy Dunlop, for people over 60, every additional hour of sitting per day increases risk of disability by 46 percent. According to Dunlop’s findings, that risk increases regardless of how much time seniors spend exercising.

Analysis of data collected in an ongoing study conducted on about 12,000 Australians estimates that spending 6 or more hours in front of the television on a daily basis decreases life span by approximately 4.8 years. Dr. J. Lennert Veerman analyzed data from the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study and found that every hour spent in front of the TV decreases life expectancy by 21 minutes. By contrast, a cigarette decreases life expectancy by about 11 minutes.

Another review published in Diabetologia analyzed 18 studies. Dr. Emma Wilmot led the study, which found that those who sat the most hours on a daily basis had a 112 percent increase in relative chances of developing diabetes, 147 percent increase in risk of cardiovascular disease, and 49 percent increase in risk of premature death.

Research continues to show that sitting for long hours is linked to increased risk of developing several major, potentially fatal health problems.

Don’t Give up on Exercise

While sitting for long periods of time does increase risk regardless of exercise, those who sat for long periods of time and who exercised regularly experienced a third less risk of dying (during the studies analyzed) than those who did not exercise.

Also interesting is that other health risks such as obesity, smoking, and age were not a direct factor in heightening health risks. A person at a healthy weight, for instance, is still at a higher risk of dying from health problems if they sit for more than 8 hours a day.

Researchers across several studies agree: Daily, vigorous exercise for about 30 minutes a day and breaking up long periods of sitting with one- or two-minute breaks to stretch and move can reduce your risk of developing severe or fatal health problems.

Reducing Time Spent Sitting

Breaking up long periods of sitting can be difficult, especially if you are dealing with work restrictions. Dr. Alter and other researchers offered these tips to reduce your risk of increased health problems:

  • Get up and move around for 2 or 3 minutes every half-hour or so of work
  • If your workplace permits, try to stand for a few hours during the work day to cut back on sitting time
  • Walk to a colleague’s office to deliver a message instead of sending an email, pace during phone conversations, and walk to a separate location to get lunch
  • Cut TV time, which is the biggest culprit for sedentary time outside of working hours
  • When you do watch TV, get up and move during commercial breaks
  • Track how many hours a day you spend sitting, and make a plan to reduce that by at least 2 or 3 hours
  • If you sit for long periods with no alternative and do not exercise, pick up regular, vigorous exercise, which can still increase your chances of living a longer, healthier life

At Tuck Chiropractic Clinic, we often treat patients with pain resulting, in large part, from a sedentary lifestyle. While sitting in a work environment is often unavoidable, one of the best ways to stay healthy is to sit less and exercise more. Taking short, frequent breaks during your workday can have a long-term, positive impact on your health and even extend your life.

Image via flickr.

Australian Study Identifies Lower Back Pain Triggers

Mar 24, 2015 | By Tuck Chiropractic News

Study Identifies Lower Back Pain Triggers

Lifting heavy objects in awkward positions is a potential trigger for acute lower back pain.

A recent study conducted by Associate Professor Manuela Ferreira, Ph.D., and colleagues at the George Institute for Global Health and Sydney Medical School at The University of Sydney in Australia has identified triggers that commonly cause acute lower back pain. According to research published in Arthritis Care and Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology, there are several factors that increase the likelihood of experiencing acute lower back pain.

One of the factors identified is intense manual labor in awkward positions, such as lifting incorrectly. When you lift bending forward at the waist, for instance, or leading with your shoulders, it can increase the chances of acute lower back pain by up to eight times. Other risk factors identified were being distracted or fatigued while performing physical labor.

Back pain affects a significant number of people. In America, lower back pain affects 31 million Americans at any given time — almost 10 percent of the population. It is also the biggest cause of disability worldwide, which has huge economic and social implications. Despite its pervasive nature, researchers are still working to understand the factors that lead to acute lower back pain.

Understanding the cause of lower back pain gives healthcare professionals the tools to more successfully prevent it, Ferreira said. It also gives patients the tools to understand how to manage and relieve lower back pain.

Surveys Help Reveal Physical & Psychosocial Lower Back Pain Triggers

The study recruited 999 participants from 300 clinics in Sydney. The participants had visited a clinic for acute lower back pain between October 2011 and November 2012. Researchers asked the subjects to report whether they had experienced any of 12 possible physical and psychosocial factors in the 4 days before experiencing acute lower back pain.

They used an odds ratio to analyze the results, which ranged considerably dependent on triggers present (ranging from 2.7, which represented moderate to vigorous physical activity, to 25.0, which represented distraction during an activity.

Time of day and age were significant factors in the start of lower back pain. Researchers found that the risk of acute lower back pain was at its height between 7 a.m. and noon. The findings indicate that those carrying significantly heavy loads had a higher risk of experiencing acute lower back pain at the ages of 20 and 40, but those who were 60 years old were at slightly less risk.

This study confirms the results of previous studies about acute lower back pain risk. Identifying risk factors for back pain is particularly important because the injury is likely to happen again if the cause is not identified. This study is the first to identify links between particular psychosocial and physical factors and acute lower back pain, according to the authors.

You can learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of lower back pain here.

Text Neck: Smartphone Overuse Could Lead to Spinal Woes

Mar 18, 2015 | By Tuck Chiropractic News

Text Neck Spine Problems

The average person spends more than a thousand hours a year looking down at a smartphone, which could have devastating long-term effects on the spine.

Everywhere you look, people are staring down at their smartphones, sending texts, reading emails, and scrolling through social media. According to a November 2014 article by Lindsey Bever in The Washington Post, the average person uses a cell phone between two and four hours a day, which adds up to about 1,400 hours a year.

All this time staring down at your phone can have a huge impact on your spine. The relatively recent explosion of smartphone use has created a phenomenon known as “text neck.”

Text neck is the result of the widespread habit of bending the neck to look down at a phone instead of balancing the head between the shoulders. This posture imposes more weight on the cervical spine, the part of the spine in the neck and shoulders. The average human head weighs approximately 12 pounds, but bending the neck downward even slightly while texting can increase the weight strain on your cervical spine to as much as 60 pounds of pressure at a 60-degree tilt. The greater the tilt, the greater the burden.

While the common term for this phenomenon is “text neck,” the problem can occur as a result of gaming, typing emails, or any other smartphone use that causes the user to bend forward at the neck.

Long-Term Effects of Text Neck

Text neck results in daily wear and tear on the spine, which may have permanent and painful consequences. Some medical experts claim that for every inch the head leans forward, pressure on the spine is doubled. That pressure could lead to early spinal degeneration. Researchers suggest that there could be a drastic impact on the developing spines of teenagers, some of whom could spend as much as 6,000 hours a year in this harmful position.

Stretching the neck for long periods of time in an unnatural position causes sore, inflamed tissues. It can also lead to pinched nerves and disk degeneration, and can even permanently disrupt the curvature of the cervical spine. Forcing the spine to unnaturally support the weight of the head causes stiffness and pain, which can affect your neck, shoulders, and arms. It can even contribute to arthritis, headaches and muscle spasms. Poor posture generally is estimated to reduce lung function by 30 percent, and is associated with other health disorders, such as depression, heart disease, and headaches.

Preventing Text Neck

Text neck is primarily the result of poor posture, so the most important method of preventing it is to sit or stand up straight, with the spine correctly aligned. Pull your shoulders back slightly so you are not hunched over, and bring your phone up to eye level to avoid bending the spine to read the screen. Pull your chin toward your chest instead of dropping your head, to avoid increasing weight on the cervical spine.

Try to avoid typing long messages on your phone and use a computer or external keyboard for lengthy correspondence. Exercise regularly, focusing on developing strong core muscles, which contribute to good posture.

If you must use your phone for long periods of time, take frequent breaks to stretch and readjust your posture. Correct posture is when your shoulder blades are relaxed, your ears are lined up with your shoulders, and your head feels relatively weightless. This posture puts the least stress on your spine, preserving it from wear and tear.

Studies also suggest that good posture raises levels of testosterone and serotonin in the body while lowering levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

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4 Ways Sitting Affects Your Health & What To Do About It

Feb 12, 2015 | By Charlotte A. F. Farley

Health Impacts of Sitting

Sitting for long periods during the day can cause pain in your neck, head and back from bad posture.

In this modern, digital age, you’ll find yourself sitting down more than you ever have before: you spend time sitting in the car to drive everywhere, you sit in front of computer screens for work and catching up on social media, and you unwind watching television. While it’s one thing to take it easy, it’s another thing entirely to spend most of your day sitting down, especially since there are serious health hazards that come from sitting.

 

How Excessive Sitting Impacts Your Body

You might be thinking, “Health hazards? From sitting? Only if it’s a wooden chair and I get a splinter!” If only it were splinters that you had to worry about. Hunkering down for too long:

1) Exaggerates your spine’s arch
You don’t need to start working on a six-pack, but strong abdominal muscles help support your back. If you are sitting for long periods of time, you tend to neglect your posture and begin to sag and slouch in the chair, which is not good for your back.

2) Limits your range of motion
When you’re sedentary, you don’t give your hip flexor muscles a chance to work and extend.  Not only does this cause them to shorten and tense, but they also become less mobile—a major contributing factor to dangerous falls (especially in the elderly population).

3) Strains your neck
When you stretch and tilt your neck to look at a screen or look down at the keyboard, you put stress and strain on cervical vertebrae in your neck, which can cause headaches, migraine, vision problems, and vertigo.

4) Causes inflexibility and damages your discs
Staying seated for a long period of time compresses your spinal discs and prevents them from receiving blood and nutrients, causing collagen build-up on surrounding ligaments and tendons.

In addition to these impacts on your body, inactivity contributes to obesity, which can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, cholesterol problems, obstructive sleep apnea, and blood clots.

 

What you can do

You don’t have to start working out like the Olympics committee called you to represent the U.S. (unless you want to); instead, you should begin by increasing your activity levels (and decreasing your time in a chair) throughout the day. Stand up or walk around as much as possible. Take phone calls, send texts, and talk face-to-face with friends while standing up. Take a lap around the house during commercial breaks, or consider using a pedometer to track your daily steps to help you stay on your toes. If you’re working on a laptop, set it on a standing desk or countertop so you don’t have to be seated while working.

It is sometimes impossible to avoid sitting down, especially at work, but you can help yourself by being mindful of your posture when desk-bound. Make sure you’re sitting up straight with your feet planted firmly on the floor. Since you should give your eyes a break from the screen once an hour to avoid eye strain, get up and take a short walk.

If you’re already feeling the effects of sitting down for too long, get in touch with us and make an appointment to see one of our chiropractors for an adjustment and advice on how treat your personal symptoms.

Image via Flickr.

Keys to Managing Lower Back Pain Caused by Everyday Activities

Jan 30, 2015 | By Lucie Lawrence

Lower Back Pain caused by everyday activitiesIf you have ever suffered from lower back pain then you know how even the simple things in life can become a hassle quickly. Some sources say that as many as 80 percent of Americans will experience back pain at some time in their lives, and that includes 31 million Americans who experience lower back pain at any given time. With this kind of probability, it is extremely important to be aware of the preventative measures we can take to protect our back and keep it strong and healthy.

Many people believe that lower back pain only happens to those of us who have bad posture, or repeatedly lift heavy objects. While this is certainly true, there are many other causes.

Lower back pain can also be caused by being overweight or obese, carrying extra weight from pregnancy, not exercising regularly, having weak back or abdominal muscles, smoking, and even stress.

Could any of these describe you? If so how can you ward off lower back pain and ensure your back remains strong, healthy, and pain-free?

Sitting and Standing

Many of us sit at desks for long periods of time during the workday. While there is not a lot we can do to change this, there are ways to alleviate the stress this causes on our backs.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emphasizes the need to find a comfortable working posture in which your joints are naturally aligned. Working with the body in a neutral position reduces stress and strain on the muscles, tendons, and the skeletal system.

Here are some tips that may help. Try using a chair with a firm back. Be sure to make full contact with the back of the chair and place both feet firmly on the floor. Avoid crossing your legs. Relax your shoulders and bend your elbows between 90 and 120 degrees. Support your thighs and hips with a well-padded seat and keep your knees at about the same height as the hips with the feet slightly forward. One example that many people don’t think of is the habit of resting your chin in your hand when sitting down. This position puts stress on the spine and can aggravate your lower back.

When standing, always concentrate on standing straight and erect, without slouching. Visualize a vertical line beginning at the top of your head down to your hips and through your ankles. Let that line draw you up so that you stand tall.

According to OSHA, working in the same posture or sitting for prolonged periods can be unhealthy. You should change your working position frequently throughout the day by making small adjustments to your chair or backrest; stretching your fingers, hands, arms, and torso; and walking around for a few minutes every 20 minutes or so.

Physical Labor

Some careers require a great deal of standing, lifting, and bending. If yours does, try to stretch out your back muscles before starting work each day. Warm, loose muscles are less likely to be strained or pulled. Also remember to push heavy objects instead of pulling them, and avoid twisting and lifting at the same time, this can increase the likelihood of injury. The key is to consistently protect your back before and during physical labor.

Also, performing abdominal exercises that strengthen the core muscles will greatly help with preventing injuries to your spine.

Physical activities beyond the workplace can also put strain on your back. House work, yard work, and even lifting your children are common sources of strain that can result in lower back pain.

Driving

Studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that individuals who drive for 20 hours per week or more are at an increased risk for musculoskeletal disorders because driving forces you to sit in a constrained posture. Less discomfort was reported in drivers of cars with more adjustable features, such as lumbar support, seat-pan angle, and steering wheel.

To minimize the occurrence of lower back pain, keep your seat close enough to the steering wheel that you don’t need to stretch to reach it. Always bend your knees and arms to prevent strain. If you are behind the wheel for more than two hours at a time, try to stop and stretch. If stopping is not possible, roll your shoulders from time to time.

According to UCLA’s Ergonomics Program, there are things we all can do to increase comfort and reduce fatigue when driving. Try removing your wallet, keys, and any other bulky items from your pockets. Because these items press against your buttocks when sitting, prolonged pressure can reduce circulation and compress nerves and soft tissues. In addition, if your seat belt strap is uncomfortable, place a shoulder strap cushion or pad on the part of the strap that presses into your shoulder or chest. Relax your grip on the steering wheel. Change your hand position frequently to improve circulation and reduce fatigue.

Sleeping

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep. How you spend those eight hours could negatively affect your back. Be sure to take care of your back by lying on a firm mattress. Flipping the mattress every six months can help it remain firm.

We all sleep in different ways — on our back, side and stomach. When you are on your side, try using pillows to support your body and maintain neutral alignment of your spine during sleep. Placing a small pillow or rolled towel between your knees will help align the hips and alleviate pressure on your back. This is especially important for pregnant women.

Chiropractic Care For Lower Back Pain

One of the best ways to treat lower back pain is to see a qualified chiropractor. An experienced chiropractor can help manage and reduce your lower back pain. “By restoring proper motion and alignment in the spinal structures, the body is able to return the tone of the tissues in the body to normal,” says Dr. Lee Matthis of Tuck Chiropractic Clinic in Christiansburg.  “This allows for symmetrical muscle tension and ROM.  The body is then able to function normally and heal itself, symptoms often disappearing in the process”

Whether your lower back pain is caused by a sports injury, an accident, or any of the daily activities discussed above, chiropractic care — combined with routine exercise and stretching — can significantly reduce or alleviate your lower back pain.

Regardless of your health issue, it is crucial is to find a practitioner who listens to you and directs you to the most effective, cost-efficient care possible. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about managing lower back pain, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Winter Activities

Jan 29, 2015 | By Dr. Danielle Vann

Winter Activities and Chiropractic Care

Skiing and other winter sports can be enjoyed safely with a little preparation.

As I am sure you have experienced, winter recreational activities and chores can cause many potential problems for people of all ages. Activities like skiing, skating, sledding, shoveling snow, slipping on sidewalks, climbing over snow banks the wrong way, or if your like me just walking in snow, all have the potential for an accident. You can prevent the potential for this type of injury by following a few simple steps.

 

  1. Layer your clothing to keep you and your muscles warm and flexible.
  2. Stretch and warm up your muscles before heading out into the cold weather; and again when you get back inside.
  3. If you are shoveling snow, push the snow straight ahead. Don’t try to lift the snow and throw it into a pile.  And avoid excessive twisting motions.
  4. Take frequent breaks from your winter play or chore. Allow you muscles time rest, a fatigued body is more susceptible to injury.

By being proactive in your winter activities with these tips you are less likely to experience an injury or pain.  But if you do experience any symptom that does not resolve quickly from your winter activities, please call a Tuck Chiropractic Clinic near you, we are always here to help!

Image via flickr.

What is your body trying to tell you?

Jan 13, 2015 | By Dan Foley

What is your body trying to tell you?  Often times your body will give you clues as to what is going on inside and if you learn what those clues mean you can have a better understanding of what you need to do to improve your body and health.  In this article, we are going to look at what you can learn from your body fat storage pattern, your sleep, and how your body moves.

The first area you can easily learn from is how your body prefers to store fat.

Belly fat – Belly fat is one of the most common fat storage patterns today, and it relates to the hormone cortisol.  Cortisol is meant to be high in the morning and low in the evening.  This allows you to wake up easily in the morning and fall asleep easily at night.  If you have more belly fat than you would like, then you should look to improve your sleep, avoid sugar, limit the amount of caffeine you consume, avoid all known food intolerances, and try to limit the amount of stress in your life.

Love handles – If you are storing more fat on your love handles than you would like, then you are probably eating more carbs and sugar than your body can handle given your genetics and current activity level.  Love handles are a sign that you are producing too much insulin.  This is best resolved through proper nutrition.

Back of the arms – If you are storing fat on the back of your arms, then you are probably having issues with low testosterone.  The best way to combat this is to get into the gym and lift some heavy weights.  Excessive cardio and low calorie diets can often lead to fat triceps.

Quads  – If you are storing most of your fat in your quads this is a sign of estrogen dominance.  If this is the case then make sure to avoid sugar because sugar converts testosterone into estrogen.  Also lifting weights and staying away from long, slow cardio is important.  Most females with estrogen profiles typically have trouble with slow bowel movements so that should also be addressed.  If you are a male and you have fat quads then you probably need to limit your intake of sugar because high insulin levels make males more feminine.

Hamstrings - If your glutes and hamstrings are storing fat then you are probably being exposed to environmental toxins especially estrogens.  In order to help with this, make sure that you are avoiding soy, limiting your exposure to plastics, and avoiding commercially raised meats that contain growth hormones and anti-biotics.  The other thing to be aware of is cosmetics as they often contain estrogenic compounds.

Knees and calves – If you are storing fat on your knees or calves then this is a sign that you have low levels of growth hormone.  Your biggest surge of growth hormone happens when you are in deep sleep, so it is important that you sleep well.  Typically, if someone has a bad night of sleep, their knee and calf measurements can increase by as much as 50% the next day.  One of the best ways to increase the amount of growth hormone you produce is to do weight lifting with short rest intervals.

Next we will take a look at your sleep.

Trouble falling asleep – If you have trouble falling asleep at night then you probably have elevated levels of cortisol at night.  To remedy this make sure that you get into the habit of relaxing when you get home at night and that your nutrition is not stressful on your body.  Writing in a journal is also another great way to lower your stress at night.

Trouble getting up in the morning – Do you have to hit the snooze button 10 times before you can get out of bed in the morning?  If so, then your cortisol levels are probably low in the morning.  Remember that cortisol levels are supposed to be elevated in the morning to give you the energy to pop out of bed easily.  If you are having trouble getting up, then consider upping the protein in your breakfast.  Protein will increase dopamine and acetylcholine levels in your brain which will help give you the motivation to get going.

How Does Your Body Move?

The other thing that I have found is that the way your body moves can also give us clues as to what is happening inside.  For example, we often see clients who have very tight hips and upper traps.  These muscles are linked to your cortisol levels.  Clients who are tight in the right hip flexor often have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, and clients who are tight in the left hip flexor often have a hard time getting to sleep at night.  There are many other examples of your movement patterns being linked to body fat storage patterns and hormones, but this will give you the idea.

Putting it all together

If you have extra belly fat, have trouble falling asleep at night, and have a hard time getting into a deep squat or lunge then the odds are that cortisol is an issue for you.  The interesting thing I have found is that all of these factors are linked, and if you improve one area, then the other problems also get better.  For example, if you get your hips to move better, then you will sleep better and your belly fat will drop.  If you sleep better, then your hips will move better and your belly fat will drop, if your belly fat drops then you will typically sleep better and your hips will move better.

By paying attention to your body fat, sleep, and movement patterns, you can learn a lot about what is happening on the inside, and you can use these clues to improve the way your body looks and feels.

Blood Pressure, Hypertension & Chiropractors

Jan 11, 2015 | By Dr. A. J. LaBarbera

A. J. LaBarbera, D.C.

A. J. LaBarbera, D.C.

Really!! High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) affects 1 in 4 Americans.*  You or someone you know probably has it. Now, am I suggesting that Chiropractic is a cure for high blood pressure/hypertension?  No, no at all.  Should you stop taking your medication and go to the Chiropractor for your hypertension problem?  Definitely not.  However, recent research out of the University of Chicago suggests that Chiropractic adjustments to a specific area of the neck can lower specific types of  blood pressure an average of 14 mm/hg systolic (the top number) and 8 mm/hg diastolic (the lower number).**

“How is this possible?” you may ask.  Medical Textbooks teach us that the brain and nervous system control every function of the body.  The base of the brain/top of the spinal cord controls much of the pressure regulation mechanism of our circulatory system among other things.  The first bone in the neck, called the “atlas” (or C1) can put pressure on the base of the brain and spinal cord and create dysfunction of the vascular system causing an artificial pressure increase.  When the bone is moved (micro millimeters) by a Chiropractic adjustment, pressure is taken of the brain and spinal cord and normal function resumes according to the study.

This kind of research isn’t as far-fetched and surprising as it may seem, if we think more about it.  Chiropractors work with headaches, neck pain, upper back pain, low back pain, sciatica, hip pain, and numerous other conditions in the same basic manner as the Doctors in the blood pressure study.  Chiropractors treat patients every day with the understanding that the nervous system does indeed control and coordinate every function of the body.  That is how we have consistently achieved the great clinical outcomes over the last century.  This research piece shows that very relationship at work.

In the same breath,  that in no way means that every condition is a Chiropractic case.  However, a healthy nervous system will always contribute to overall well-being no matter where you stand on the health continuum (aged, young, sick, well, etc.)  Every day, more and more research is showing a consistent relationship between a healthy nervous system and a better functioning body.

So, when under Chiropractic care, it is essential to follow recommendations through your care plan for maximum benefit.  In addition, as you have read, it can also play an important role in affecting other systems of your body and help with overall health and well being.  Continuing with wellness care is your choice and can most definitely affect your quality of life in a positive manner for years to come!

*Harvard Health Services
 
**“Chiropractic Cuts High Blood Pressure”,   Journal of Human Hypertension (2007) 21, 347-352.