injury, rebuild

Stopping Neck & Shoulder Pain

Posted on April 6, 2017. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Aging, Chiropractic, Exercise, Healing, Health, inflammation, injury, rebuild, Neck Pain, Pain, Posture | Tags: , , , , |

dr greg neck exercises cut out

Dr. Greg shows some simple neck exercises

By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic

Neck and shoulder pain come in many shapes and forms.  There’s the sharp & stabbing type, sometimes coming from an arthritic joint or perhaps from something as simple as bending it in the wrong direction.  Sometimes it feels like it’s a grinding sort of pain and other times it feels heavy and stiff.  Whether the neck pain is a muscular or pinched nerve type, it usually doesn’t originate just in the neck but the uppermost part of the back, where a lot of muscles are activated and connect.  In order to be thorough and correct the problem, all these areas need to be addressed and assessed.

Oftentimes, headaches are caused by neck & shoulder issues.  If the muscles in the front of the neck are spasming, it can create a headache on the side of the head.  Tight trapezius and shoulder girdle areas can refer pain up the back of the head, and at the base of the skull, the deeper layer or muscles, when contracted or spasming can irritate blood vessels or nerves and produce “migraine” symptoms.

The feeling of an electrical shock or jolt running down the arm may indicate a nerve compression of some sort while a tightness or achy pain could result from a muscle strain from training at the gym.

The type of pain itself can often help identify the problem and therapies to be used for pain relief.  Ice packs are great to help reduce sharp pain while a stiff pain can be helped with ice and then heat.  The most effective therapy I have found is a combination of both chiropractic and acupuncture.  The chiropractic adjustment can help relieve muscle tension and restore some motion on just the first visit.  Subsequent visits keep increasing that range of motion, resulting in pain relief and longer term can restore proper alignment.  Add in the use of electrical stimulation and infrared heat and spasms and tightness can be also be reduced.  Acupuncture can also give a pretty satisfying analgesic effect by helping reduce muscle tension and inflammation.

One thing that can help reduce and prevent neck & shoulder pain is to focus on mobility and correct posture.  Gentle stretching and proper movement can keep the areas flexible and lubricated.  If you sit at the computer all day with your head leaning forward and hardly move, the strained position will eventually destroy the curve of the neck.  Inflammation also occurs, and nothing seems to fit in the right place.  The ligaments are no longer in the correct position and the front muscles start to shrink (because they are always contracted) while the back of the neck muscles are over stretched and weakened.  A great deal of this can be remedied by taking breaks to gently stretch the neck & shoulders, having the computer monitor & chair at the right height, as well as sitting tall and upright with the head in alignment with the shoulders.  The earlier you catch & remedy the problem, the faster you’ll see relief and following these simple suggestions can help deter that pain from the start.

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Physical Training & Avoiding Injuries

Posted on March 21, 2017. Filed under: Acupuncturist, Aging, Chiropractic, Exercise, Healing, injury, rebuild, Pain, Posture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

monica back exercise

Monica Steiner at work in the gym

By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

“I keep getting hurt – how can I train to gain without getting injured anymore?” This and similar questions are only slightly less common than “What did I do to myself?”

Let’s face it, little is more frustrating than being knocked off the training track once again. Finding a sticking point or plateau is bad enough, but what I might call “break down points” is probably even worse. The difference is critical – a plateau is that inability to surpass a certain desired goal in size, strength or muscularity. A breaking point is one of those times when “Oops, it happened again,” such as when training weights approach a certain level at which a back, shoulder or perhaps knee always seems to give way.

The essential bottom-line point is that if you are injured over and over again, your training will suffer. If your training suffers, it is not possible to reach your peak cardiovascular fitness. So, what are we to do?  Whatever the most motivating end goals, the underlying requirement is training consistency. A week here or a month there is of no value, other than in giving one a sense that “efforts are being made, I’m trying…” Largely futile and possibly dangerous – it used to be called “the weekend warrior” syndrome, which helps fill the waiting rooms of Monday morning chiropractic clinics as these individuals exert beyond what is their safe capacity.

The next essential step is to do the exercises correctly. One of my physician mentors used to have a saying – “If it’s not right, it’s all wrong!” He didn’t pick up this phrase from school however, but from an elite military unit of which he was once a part. He himself was a super-fit, super motivated highly intelligent man with very big uppers arms and a fighting spirit to match. His relevant point in his saying however, was that in times of high stress, structures and procedures had to be tip-top, or something would break.

In weight training, this refers to cheating on form while the body is under the greatest load, usually when performing the hard reps late in a set, or when using very low reps and very heavy weights. It’s then that the weak links give way, and injury occurs.

Sorry, but no one training method or scheme produces the perfect size, fitness, strength while taking no effort, being fun to do all the time and perfectly safe.  But, the real baseline is consistency and ability to replicate useful workouts time and time again while simultaneously performing them correctly without error.  The principle behind training without getting hurt is to stress the muscles without damaging the supporting structures such as ligaments and joint capsules in order to grow and maximize them without causing them injury.  If you are not sure if you’re doing something correctly, find an expert who can help and get that extra insight.

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The Concussion & Whiplash Connection

Posted on October 4, 2016. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Children, Chiropractic, Health, injury, rebuild, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , |

football-playerBy Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

 

Head injuries can happen in a variety of ways and are more prevalent in activities that involve a lot of physical movement.  Playing an aggressive sport like football, soccer, wrestling, or any such type; one is bound to get knocked or bounced around a bit.  Following a hard hit to the head is a possible concussion.  A person can bounce back normally from a low-grade concussion but there are warning signs to look for and keep in mind:

Nausea and vomiting
Headache
Blurred vision
Dizziness
Lethargic and slow to move
Unable to concentrate or remember
Balancing or coordination problems
Slurred speech
Ringing in the ears

With these symptoms there is some varying degree of concussion experienced and should be looked over by a physician to be on the safe side. Simply put, the impact on the head causes the brain to bang against the inside of the skull and create swelling or trauma.  The extra pressure can lead to cognitive impairment and some of the symptoms seen.  Something else that is often overlooked is the neck trauma.  If a person gets concussed, they often get whiplashed.  Sometimes with a hit, the head snaps which jerks the neck back and forth.  Maybe there’s a fall, so there could be a twist in there too.  So, the secondary damage is what happens within the neck area.

Recently I had a patient who took quite a hard fall and had symptoms of a grade 1 concussion but also had a quite painful neck afterwards.  Often the neck or back issue isn’t felt until after the concussion settles down.  Even if the concussion problem heals, there can still be a problem in the neck which could last for several days or even months.   With whiplash, such as in an auto accident, if the person is young and healthy, there could be damage up to a point but if you deal with a slightly older individual, who has an arthritic neck and their joints don’t fit or align properly, their tissues and muscles are less elastic and they are likely to be damaged far more seriously.

Chiropractic care and acupuncture can be very helpful.  It is important to gently work and mobilize the neck and examine for proper function and proper movement very carefully.  The upper back should also be checked because a certain amount of neck pain often originates from the upper back.  All the muscles and tissues are connected to one another so we work with the upper back to make sure the spine, joints, and muscles are working properly because they are the base that the neck sits upon.  The acupuncture can help with relaxation of the injured muscles helping reduce inflammation and being able to help with decreasing pain as well.

Accidents happen, it’s a part of life, but getting the proper treatment and care is an important step which shouldn’t be missed.

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Repairing Your Body After Injury

Posted on July 14, 2016. Filed under: Aging, Exercise, Healing, Health, injury, rebuild, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Heat map Acupuncture doll

By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

In its simplest terms, aging could be described as the body’s failure to repair. We grow, we mature, we reach various physical and mental peaks, and then…..we age.  When we are young our hormones, e.g. testosterone and growth hormone – are at high levels and command our bodies to grow and repair; our circulatory system is efficient as it transports those hormones and necessary nutrients towards muscles and organs; we have more enzymes that we know what to do with that make the chemical process necessary for growth and repair work at super speed. Though other factors are involved, hormones, transportation, enzymes and nutrients form the basis for growth, and its first cousin – repair.

Have you noted when an athlete of say, 20 years of age sustains an injury he or she seems able to be back on the field in just a few weeks? If an athlete of age 30 sustains an identical injury, it’s often much longer before return to play. At age 40, who knows?  The younger athlete’s speed of recovery demonstrates all those factors in play, working fast and in a coordinated way.

Of course with every injury comes scar tissue. If you tear a hamstring, it will eventually heal, but somewhere within the muscle will likely be a cluster of tough, stringy tissue that while strong, is nowhere near as elastic as the original muscle, nor does it have the same circulation properties which means the scar won’t receive or use nutrients as effectively as original tissue. One thing that I’d say every aging fitness person or athlete knows very, very well is what a painful body feels like. All the accumulated injuries of younger years are still present in scar tissue, and as the body loses efficiency and elasticity, the aging athlete feels them all the more. That’s why putting a strong emphasis on ‘repair’ is crucial to prolonging your active life and living a vigorous lifestyle.

While a team doctor for Master’s weightlifters in Scotland, I would often converse with coaches and lifters who had travelled to Eastern Europe and Russia to train, learn and exchange ideas. Though many bits and pieces of knowledge were exchanged during these travels, two factors truly stuck out. First, the emphasis on conditioning no matter what the sport practiced; and second, how much effort they would put into restoration.  One way of summing up the ‘conditioning’ emphasis was to say ‘an athlete is as good as his legs,’ meaning that legs take real effort to condition, and if the legs are strong and have stamina the whole person probably does too.

Repair then, is replacing what has been lost, mending what has been torn, restoring arrangements in what has been disrupted and so on. To live is to be injured, but through nutrition, good body mechanics, enzymatic replacement, and the right type of conditioning your body has the ability to restore itself.

 

 

 

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