Focus on Flexibility

July 20, 2010

Stretching is one of the best things we can do for our bodies, but a lot of the time it is overlooked or forgotten about as we end our workouts and are completely exhausted. However if you take the extra 10 minutes a day your body will definitely reap the benefits. 

Without stretching our muscles begin to tighten and shorten, reducing our range of motion. All of the sudden the activities we do everyday like tying our shoes, zipping up a dress, looking over our shoulder when driving all become very difficult and even painful. Most of the problems we see as chiropractors stem from bad posture, and two of the main factors in developing bad posture are tight musculature and poor flexibility. Stretching helps to increase muscular balance around our joints making it easier to maintain good posture.   If you are sitting at your desk starring at a computer for 8 hours a day and not stretching, it is only natural that your body will start to conform to that position. The ligaments in your neck and back will begin to shorten and you will start to take on the hunched-back appearance of a turtle. Shortly after, it is possible that you will start to experience pain in your neck and back and even tingling in your arms. Tight hamstrings, piriformis, trapezius and rhomboid muscles in particular are closely linked to back and neck pain. It is advised that if you are sitting in the same position for a long period of time you should stand and take a few minutes to stretch every 30 minutes or so. 

When you can, it is important that you avoid stretching cold muscles as it is possible to tear or strain the muscle. At least 3 to 5 minutes of warm-up cardiovascular activity is advised before stretching. Also you should not stretch as soon as you get out of bed in the morning. First thing in the morning your discs are full of fluid and expanded to their maximum size. If you stretch before some of that fluid is pushed out through normal body movement it is possible to injure the disc. Additionally, you will not be able to stretch the muscles as effectively as it will be harder to reach your end range of motion. 

When stretching you should hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds at a point of tension, not pain. If you feel pain you have gone too far! Yoga and Pilates are excellent ways to increase your flexibility.

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Fighting Pain and Inflammation Naturally

May 26, 2010

Almost everyone will experience at least one of the more common types of chronic pain including back pain, neck pain, and headaches at some point in their life.  The typical treatment involves anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen, or pain medication such as acetaminophen and other stronger versions.  Since long-term use of these pharmaceuticals is associated with various side effects, many people are seeking out more natural approaches to reduce inflammation and pain.

Interestingly, diet combined with specific nutritional supplementation can have an equivocal impact on inflammation levels as these medications, and without the side effects.  Diet alone, nor supplementation alone work nearly as well as combining the efforts.

Not well appreciated in America is an anti-inflammatory diet.  This consists mostly of vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, potatoes in moderation, and healthy meats and proteins such as lean beef, skinless chicken, wild fish, and omega-3 eggs.  The best oils consist of olive oil, coconut oil, and butter from properly fed cows.  Certain spices such as ginger, turmeric, oregano, garlic, etc… have anti-inflammatory influences in the body.  Additionally, moderate amounts of red wine and dark chocolate are also anti-inflammatory.  Foods that invite inflammation and thus pain include refined sugar, grains, and oils, as well as fatty meat.  Unfortunately these foods seem to make up most of what we eat unless we take action.

Nutritional supplements, when used in addition to the anti-inflammatory diet can be very helpful.  These include fish oil, which is a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein-digesting enzymes such as bromelain, and concentrated spices such as ginger, turmeric, and white willow bark.  As with any supplement, quality, potency, and dosage all play a role in whether or not you will “feel” a pain relieving effect.  This is why it is important to consult with your healthcare professional regarding your specific situation and as to which supplements are most likely to help.

In summary, if your goal is to live a pain-free life, you should consider the implications of what you put into your body.  Additionally, new research is uncovering that inflammation not only leads to pain, but to higher incidence of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and alzheimer’s.  Natural options are available and are as simple as basic dietary changes along with key supplements to enhance the result.

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Make no bones without it

April 29, 2010

Vitamin K is best known for its blood clotting ability, but did you know that it plays a key factor in bone mineralization?  Although calcium is the primary nutrient that we all think of when it comes to strong bones, there are many other vitamins and minerals that play just as important of a role.

Recent research also indicates that Vitamin K helps regulate calcium balance in vascular tissue such as your arteries.  This is important because calcium buildup in the walls of the arteries is part of the process of accumulating plaque, called atherosclerosis.  Calcium accumulation is an important early sign of coronary artery disease which usually precedes the development of blockages.  And as we all know, heart disease is one of the top leading causes of death in this country.

In light of the facts that Vitamin K will help with both bone strength and heart health, we think that if you take a bone building supplement such as calcium, or even a multivitamin, that it should contain Vitamin K.  Does yours?

For more information on quality supplements, please ask the doctors at SpineCare Chiropractic in Cary.

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