I think we all love summer. The cold, dark days of winter are mostly behind us. The flowers are blooming, the days are longer, and the grass is growing. It’s a wonderful time to shake off the winter rust and return to an active lifestyle. Walking, hiking, gardening, biking, golfing…there are a lot of -ings that we do! These things are all great for our physical and mental wellbeing. As we start to get ready for summer, it is smart to follow the example of Major League Baseball.
I always look forward to the Mariners starting their Spring Training. The players return from their winter whatever and start to get ready for their summer jobs. The first few days are spent jogging, stretching and lightly throwing. These professional baseball players gradually get their bodies ready for activities. If these pros need a few days or weeks to get ready for summer, how important is it for us weekend warriors to prepare ourselves? Too many injuries occur in the summer because we have been sitting on the couch for the last five months, binge watching Game of Thrones and suddenly we think that we can walk five miles up and down hills.
Just like any other activity, we must allow our bodies time to adapt and build up its strength and stamina. Start slow, take appropriate breaks and do not think that you can suddenly jump back into an activity that you haven’t done since fall. As you do this, you will avoid major problems and injuries. Minor aches are expected and normal but give us a call before they become major issues. Chiropractic care should be an essential part to your summer activities.
Anyone who has been in severe pain, like after a surgery or bad accident, can attest that there are some great pain killers available. There are times when ice, rest, and a little Advil just won’t do the trick. That excruciating pain is what prescription pain killers, or opioids, are designed to help. They are not bad things when used correctly. People get in trouble, even to the point of a crippling addiction, when they use these medications longer than intended. It usually happens gradually, often because the pain becomes a daily companion. They need something to help them get out of bed, or to be able to work. They don’t have another answer, and the strong drug has been the only effective solution to that point. They are usually thinking about just getting through the day, and plan to deal with the long-term issues later.
Thankfully, research and experience is showing that there is a way to prevent and to break out of pain killer dependency. Chiropractic care has been shown time and time again to be a powerful tool to deal with pain, both new and chronic. It gets to the cause of the pain and corrects it instead of just hiding it.
I have had the privilege to see this work in many lives. I have seen patients that consider their pain killers to be a daily supplement. Some dread a visit from the grandkids because playing with them is just too much to take. Others that plan their day around their afternoon headache. It does not have to be that way!
Call 888-5477 and set up your visit today. We will talk about how your new or old pains became a part of your life, and then start the process of making them go away.
I can’t be the first person to suggest that it might not be good for you to always be on your devices. It’s in the news seemingly every night. And yet, most of use continue to be forever looking down and scrolling for the latest in Mason Jar related fashion or updates from high school acquaintances.
The physical issues associated with our device addiction are many, from pain in our thumb to severe headaches. Not to mention eye strain, neck tension, shoulder tightness, or tingling in the fingers. We were not meant to be that forward posture for a long time. We are supposed to move, look around, change positions, and be loose and free. Holding our phones brings out some of the worst in our bodies.
What can be done? I’ll bypass the obvious solution of getting off our phones. I know, just like the recommendation to avoid high heels, that it’s simply not going to happen. They are too convenient, too engrained in our lives, and too darn fun. The next thing to do is minimize the effects of our poor decisions.
The first step is to reverse to the anterior and downward posture. Instead of having the shoulders slumped and the head down, look up as high as you can and roll your shoulders back. You’ll look like an angel ascending to the heavens. This stretch should be done at least once every five minutes of work.
Another way to release the tension is to do a push-up in a corner or doorway. Push the shoulder blades together and look up, really opening the chest and shoulders. Third, and my favorite, is to find a soft ball, like a yoga ball or basketball, and lay backward on it and stretch your arms like a starfish. This lets your tight chest muscles relax and moves your shoulder blades back to where they want to be.
The second step to reverse the effects of text neck is to alter your posture while you use your phone. This means holding your phone high over your head, switching which hand you use to hold your phone, or propping the phone on something to take your hands out of the equation.
The third, and maybe most important, is to get adjusted regularly. If we can’t, or won’t, remove the factors in our lives that cause problems then we need to regularly fix ourselves. Adjustments help us move better, release the built-up tension, and to remove pain. Adjustments help alleviate headaches and can remove the tingling in your hands and arms. Getting adjusted might even help you Pintrest a little better, and help you find the perfect pallet related decoration.
Our modern world can be brutal on our bodies. Everything we do tends to force us to look down, slump our shoulders, and hold our arms out in front. Computers, phones, driving, and innumerable other tasks put us in this position. It makes it worse that many of us ignore Grandma’s advice to quit slouching. Almost everyone carries their head too far forward, their shoulders down, and their back arched. Deep down inside we all fear that we will end up with a hunchback that makes Quasimodo look normal.
What can be done? How can we fight against the ravages of life and gravity? One of the questions I get often is “should I buy a posture brace?”. These braces are designed to keep your shoulders back where they are supposed to go. That sounds all fine and dandy, until you take it off. Do you know what happens? You relax, and your shoulders go right back to where they were before. You haven’t taught yourself anything, except how to suffer through an uncomfortable brace.
The best way to correct posture and get rid of the unfortunate pains that come with it, is to strengthen your back. You can train your body to be good without you telling it to do so. I use an elastic tape, the same kind that athletes use, to help remind patients to maintain proper posture. It doesn’t force them back, but when they relax their shoulders it tugs enough to remind them to be better. That starts the process of strengthening the back muscles. That, coupled with some simple stretches and exercises, can train the body to stand how it was designed.
As you start to train your body, you might feel “stuck” or restricted when trying to stand up. That is likely due to the years of incorrect posture causing dysfunction in your spine. Chiropractic adjustments are valuable in increasing and maintaining proper movement in your back, further assisting you in your quest for the perfect posture.
Real improvement in life takes effort. There are few things that can be improved through passive activity. Great posture is something that can become natural, through a little self-awareness and discipline.
Our bodies are amazing machines that continually perform amazing processes throughout the day. We take all that for granted, and with good reason. For instance, think about how you are breathing right now. Are you breathing in while you read this? How about now? Now? Chances are, now you are thinking more about how you are breathing than you would like. When our bodies function normally, we can focus on the things around us. When our bodies are hurt, dysfunctional, or sick, we become distracted, irritable, and sometimes downright mean.
There are many reasons for our bodies to not be right, too many to even pretend to list here. One of the most common ailments is headaches. According to a Google search, and confirmed by Wikipedia, over 33 million people will suffer from migraines this year. That number only includes migraines and ignores the many other types of headaches. Hopefully you have never had a migraine, but if you have you will attest that they are miserable. All headaches, really, are dumb.
There are many things that can trigger headaches; stress, physical trauma, repetitive work, children, etc. The thing that we all want to know while suffering from a headache is “how do I get rid of this thing?”. That is where chiropractic comes in to the picture. Well, we should have been in the picture before the headache got this bad, but I’m not here to make you feel guilty. Chiropractic care has been shown to be effective to not only help resolve headaches, but also to prevent them from returning. The adjustment, among other things, helps relieve pressure in the neck and shoulders. That releases the tension in the neck muscles that support the head and move the face. That reaction alone can be enough to provide significant relief, but we don’t stop there. Using various forms of massage, including Graston Technique and trigger point therapy, the whole treatment is designed to help restore the neck and shoulders to a healthier, and less headachy, state.
If you are suffering from them, give us a call at 888-5477 to make an appointment. Headaches are common, but they are not normal. They are not supposed to happen, and they can go away.
Stress Awareness Month
Someone, somewhere had the great idea to have a Stress Awareness Month. I think that is the last thing that needed an awareness campaign. We are all keenly aware of how stressed out we are in our lives. Every time we see a news report about stress we stress out over our need to be less stressed. If we don’t figure something out with our stres,s our hearts will explode like the Death Star at the end of Star Wars (or the other Star Wars, or the other one…Seriously, there’s a Death Star in every other Star Wars movie, it’s time to quit recycling that plot line). Everyone already knows that they are stressed and that being stressed is bad. What we need is a Treatment of Stress Awareness Month, to let people know there are real solutions to the problem.
A piece of advice that gets shared on Facebook is to remove the stressors in your life. That is probably the worst solution possible; it is impossible to remove those things from our lives because those things are our lives. Make a list of what stresses you out and then count how many of those things you can get rid of without faking your own death. Chances are there aren’t as many as you would like. How do you deal with things that drive you nuts but aren’t going anywhere? Luckily, here are two proven ways.
STRESS SOLUTION #1
The best thing to do is treat the physical manifestations of stress. Tension, aches, pains, and irritability are all consequences of being stressed. A chiropractic adjustment helps those things by relieving pressure in the joints, improving range of motion, and releasing endorphins in the body. All of which will help you feel better, move better, and live better. Coupling an adjustment with a therapeutic massage is a home run. Some might say that this is a backwards way of dealing with stress, but I have found it is
easier to live if you feel well.
STRESS SOLUTION #2
The other great strategy for dealing with stress is changing your mindset. I can hear you moaning now, “Oh great, Aaron is about to tell us that the word for opportunity and problem is the same in some language that I don’t speak”. The truth is that all stress is the same to our bodies. Physically we cannot tell the difference between a wedding and funeral (and sometimes we can’t mentally, either). Stress is our body’s way of dealing with stuff, so applying a positive mindset really can make us feel better. I know as well as anyone that it is hard to stay positive when your kid writes in permanent marker on the new hardwood floors or puts a plastic plate in the microwave for five minutes for literally no reason at all. Complaining and whining is the popular thing to do, but it limits our ability to cope and to deal with stresses. Staying positive is more than a cliché saying, it is the truth.
Of course, there are other ideas for dealing with stress, but these two methods are tried and true. What has worked for you? Comment below and tell us how you deal with stress.
–Dr. Aaron England
Why Do Chiropractors Adjust/Manipulate/Crack the Spine?
I spend a large portion of my day explaining to patients what is causing their pain. That is usually followed with recommendations for treatment. Since I am a chiropractor, it should come as no surprise that chiropractic adjustments are often a main part of the treatment plan. I have become so accustomed to explaining why an adjustment would help that I have omitted explaining how it can help. In the heat of a painful injury, most people don’t care how anything helps, they just want relief.
Hopefully all my patients know, and agree, that a chiropractic adjustment results in a relieving crack or pop. That sound that is made is from the pressure that is released from our joints during that quick movement. The movement of our joints through its full range of motion helps spread this slippery stuff called synovial fluid. When we suffer trauma or subject our body to repeated movement, we experience a buildup of pressure in our joints. Without the mobilization that comes from adjustments, that pressure will continue to build. Our joints will ache, the neighboring joints will have to compensate, and we start to have increased pain and restriction. The adjustment is a treatment that restores proper movement in the joint, reduces the pressure that causes pain and stiffness, and helps improve quality of life.
Research continues to show that adjustments are beneficial. I thought about quoting studies here, but I don’t want to reward those that have read this far with boring stats. The most effective study is to experience it yourself. If you know you want adjusted, but are curious what it looks like, check out this clip to get an idea. Notice the smile on the patient’s face when she feels the relief!
–Dr. Aaron England
Weekend Warrior Syndrome
I have seen a lot of weird things at the gym, but I would like to think that none of us would walk in off the street and start throwing around 100 pounds. Performing some sort of a warm up seems like common sense. Most people also know not to lift more than they are able.
This might come as a surprise to many of you, especially those approaching middle age, but the same rules apply at home. Too many people wake up on Saturday morning, throw on their comfy jeans, and walk straight out to their garage. Once inside they look around and find the most awkward, heavy item in there and lift it as quickly as they can. Many insist on using only their back. Once they have hurt their back they move on to raking, shoveling, or weeding to ensure that they have properly wrecked themselves.
Even those that know their limits and avoid heavy lifting can fall victim to Weekend Warrior Syndrome. Seemingly menial tasks like weeding can create a pain in the back that burns deep and stabs like an ice pick. The two enemies to our lumbar health are overloading the spine through heavy lifting and fatiguing the tissues through repetitive movement. Being bent over and pulling those darn sprouts falls under the latter. These injuries do not just happen in the backyard, but also on the pick-up basketball court and behind the ski boat. Perhaps it happened because the kids goaded you into going on that hike or your friend who called you grandpa when hesitated to jump into the lake from the high cliff. In the end the result is pain, aches, and an emphatic “I told you so” from your wife.
That all sounds so scary. Few things are as bad as a finger wag and a head bob from the spouse while you are already hurting. It seems best to avoid the situation entirely, so our natural inclination is to avoid the thing that hurt us. We stop waterskiing and avoid kayaking. Power walks become slow walks and then shuffles. Eventually we consider the walk to the mailbox to be our exercise for the day. But the answer is not to avoid physical exertion; we must do a better job of preparing ourselves to move. Regular and meaningful exercise, proper stretching, a nutritious diet and chiropractic care are all essential to staying active, being healthy, and living well as we age.
Did you notice that I included chiropractic care? It is a key component of overall health. It helps us avoid the injuries that come with being a weekend warrior or the vacation viking. Adjustments help the joints in our back and extremities to work correctly. They help keep us remain balanced and moving as we were designed. Whether you come in before you need it or after you told someone to hold your root beer, chiropractic care can help prevent injury or help your recovery. Give us a call today and let us keep your weekends full of warrior activities.
-Dr. Aaron England
Dr. England’s Healthy Lifestyle Advice
Pain is a mechanism that our body uses to tell us that something is wrong. It is an alarm that warns us to change or avoid doing something harmful. Unfortunately, too many of us have learned to ignore that warning and we keep pressing on. We try to minimize the meaning of pain with cliché sayings like “No pain, no gain” or “pain is weakness leaving the body”. Unfortunately pain rarely brings gains and it is definitely not weakness leaving the body. Pain is different than the soreness, achiness or fatigue that accompanies exercise. Pain is “ouch” and swear words. Ultimately pain is suffering and misery. The true cost of pain is how it changes us from a happy person to a grump that hates life and all the people in it.
The cost of pain was made perfectly clear to my lovely wife after we opened the office. She worked as a massage therapist in a day spa while I was attending Palmer College of Chiropractic. The people she would work on were typically looking for a little relaxation after stopping at Starbucks and before their kids were done with school. Before their massage, they would have their nails done and rub some skin off their face with sandpaper. It was a luxury and a pleasure. After graduation, my beautiful wife worked as a massage therapist in our office. After a few days, she told me she hated working for me and wanted to quit. I took it personal and asked what was wrong. She said that everyone she worked on was grumpy. No one was happy and relaxed, instead she was dealing with cranky sourpusses. It was then that I realized that she had never actually dealt with people in pain. These were people that needed relief, not people killing time between yoga and play dates. I convinced her to stick with it, mostly because I didn’t have another therapist at the time and was desperate. About a week later she told me that one of her crankiest patients had become one of her favorites. She was amazed to see that this former grouch was a truly wonderful person once pain wasn’t weighing on her any longer.
That transformation is one of the reasons that I love my job. The first visit can be a rough encounter. The patient is usually in considerable pain and because of it they are irritable and frustrated. The pain can be overwhelming, scary and depressing. But after a visit or two that sour outer shell starts to crack and before you know it their sweet, gooey insides are spilling out. It’s like a human Sour Patch Kid, but even more rewarding.
The reasons that we put up with discomfort are many, but we should address them immediately. Pain wears us down whether it is severe or subtle, long or short term. There is no such thing as a “normal” pain but is a signal that something is wrong. Chiropractic care is a proven way to effectively treat many issues from head to toe. Call or stop in at England Chiropractic to start getting back to who you really are when you aren’t in pain.
-Dr. Aaron England