Posture

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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Why Does My Back Hurt?

Posted on February 2, 2016. Filed under: Chiropractic, Health, Joints, Pain, Posture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

bigstock-Back-pain-14431652By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

There are many reasons why your back is hurting.  It could be poor posture, an injury, long term wear and tear, etc…  But the pain you are feeling, like fire shooting through your veins or the dull ache that seems constant is usually a form of inflammation.  Whether the problem stems from doing too much or too little, the result can end you up in the same place.  One of the worst things you can do is go from one extreme to another.  If you sit behind your desk all day long and then decide to go out and aggressively clean the entire yard (like shoveling mulch, pulling weeds, etc.) you could be setting yourself up for a painful injury.

Our backs have discs that are designed to cushion the bones.  When we move, those discs work like little squishy sponges.  When we move to the right, that part of the disc compresses while the other side stretches.  These discs need to ingest a certain amount of nutrients to stay healthy.

For the person who sits most of the day and doesn’t move around, the discs essentially start to starve because nutrients aren’t being circulated and they start to become brittle.  When they become brittle, they start to flake and decay and become inflamed at a quicker rate.  So by living a sedentary lifestyle and doing nothing, you can actually harm yourself even more.

For the opposite type of individuals whose career involves moving around a lot, especially those that are athletes, they too can experience problems.  For example, if a long distance runner has improper technique, the discs in their spine or “shock absorbers” can wear out faster.  Even though there is plenty of motion going on, the body is overwhelmed and can’t re-supply all the nutrients it needs quick enough to rebuild, so inflammation starts in that way as well.

Posture can also attribute to back pain.  If you take a bowling ball and hold it straight up, it’s not so hard to do, but if you keep moving it forward inch by inch, for every inch you let your arm creep forward, it will increasingly feel heavier and be harder to hold.  Imagine your head like the bowling ball with all that stress on your neck, there will probably be pain in the upper back which eventually will travel down the spine to include pain in the lower back as well.  The neck and back overwork all day long, the tissues hyper stretch out and they become inflamed and begin to hurt.

That’s why I recommend getting a checkup.  Having your posture analyzed and corrected  can help pinpoint some of the reasons you may be having back pain and help get you on the track to feeling better and reducing that back pain.

 

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Practice Deep Breathing Daily

Posted on December 10, 2015. Filed under: Breathing, Exercise, Pain, Posture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Taking cleansing deep breaths can help your health!

A major cause of illness in the elderly are lung infections. This is partly due to limited or the inability for daily exercise.  When people don’t move around enough, lung fluid can become infected and settle in the bottom part of the lungs where it can’t get out. Taking deep healthy breaths and ideally moving around helps circulation,  one of the best natural defenses against lung infections.

Another reason for practicing consciously deep breathing is that taking shallow breaths means you have to work harder and take more breaths to oxygenate your blood properly.  When you have inferior breathing, it’s less efficient having to take more breaths to try to compensate. You can become more fatigued by not breathing deeply.

Chinese medicine, talks about “qi gong” which is a breathing, energy movement where one is inhaling the good energies and purging bad energies and using healthy visualizations as well.bigstock-Beautiful-young-woman-doing-yo-13202339

Yoga is an excellent practice which provides exercise and necessary stretching of the muscles but also takes breathing to an art form.  This is a wonderful form of exercise and deep breathing recommended for all ages.

 

 

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Slowing the Aging Process

Posted on November 20, 2015. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Aging, Chiropractic, Exercise, Health, Hormone, Joints, Pain, Posture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

~ by Dr. Greg Steinerbigstock-Mature-couple-having-fun-in-co-13905050

Growing old is inevitable, but getting old shouldn’t be used as an excuse.  For those who say, “I can’t do this because I’m getting older”, that’s an insufficient answer.  You don’t have to fear aging and let it prohibit you from the things you want to do.  There are a number of things that can be done to slow the process or at the least, allow you to age well.

Many processes going on in the body effect how we age.  Circulation is one of them.  It’s similar to having narrow roads, with fewer trucks on the road making deliveries.  Circulation is our transport system for our bodie’s resources, namely oxygen and nutrition.  As we age, we have a less efficient delivery system.  Also influenced by age is mobility and elasticity.  The gradual need for reading glasses demonstrates a decrease in elasticity in eyes.  It’s kind of ironic how we age that certain things get saggy while other things stiffen up.  Hormones can also get out of whack.  Testosterone & estrogen usually become unbalanced and growth hormone, responsible for repair also decreases.  Imbalanced thyroid levels and insulin can lead us to  suffer from fatigue and other issues.  And let’s not forget about inflammation.  There is inflammation that comes from a recent injury (like breaking a toe), but there’s also inflammation from an injury from 10 years ago.  Some of this stems from scar tissue forming, which over the years becomes less elastic and reduced circulation in that area.  Natural anti-inflammatories in the body work at a slower rate so we feel pain in that particular spot.

But know this, all of those things, at least by some degree are correctable.  Stretching for elasticity and mobility is helpful, but won’t necessarily solve everything.  Due to the computer generation, people these days can barely turn their neck left or right.  It’s double the problem from what I was seeing 20 years ago.  If the neck isn’t kept flexible, it can promote shoulder pain and headaches as well.

Chiropractic can be very helpful in restoring and maintaining mobility and flexibility.  Some people stretch and stretch yet still can’t touch their toes.  Usually this indicates a ligament issue.  Their bones and spine aren’t flexing.  One of the secrets to having a bouncy, happy walk isn’t about being flexible, it’s about having your bones & ligaments moving properly.  If everything is aligned and moving correctly, and the structure is perfectly aligned, the individual has a light, bouncy walk with or without flexibility.

Diet and exercise can help circulation.  Acupuncture and herbs are also useful in promoting circulation as well as helping reduce inflammation.  If you improve the circulation, you’ve got a better supply system which can transport out the waste products.  The healthy diet can then provide the right nutrition to be transported in.  Blood tests can determine how well hormones are balanced.

Everything is tied into one another.  Just like a plate of spaghetti, if one noodle falls off, it usually takes several with it.  Just be sure to treat all the issues together as a whole rather than trying to look at each “noodle” independently.

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Tips for Texting to Protect Our Neck & Spine

Posted on October 7, 2014. Filed under: Children, Chiropractic, Pain, Posture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

by Dr. Gregory Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinictexting_posture

It seems the entire world is immersed in digital media.  It has become a part of almost everything we do.  Cell phones, once considered a luxury item are now prevalent in most homes and viewed as a necessity.  Many parents see them as an important factor in keeping their kids safe by being able to contact them at any time or place.  While this solves some issues, it’s raising others…

Today’s younger generation, (toddlers to teens) are being raised with mobile devices.  Though kids’ slouching has been an ongoing issue (usually due to laziness or not knowing the proper way to sit or stand), kids today are developing terrible posture because of how they position their bodies while using these devices.  As they peer into the device, they are usually hunched over with their shoulders rolled forward, and heads down.

Poor posture can lead to constricting of the chest cavity, which in turn causes problems with blood flow and getting full deep breaths, and over time can cause a whole host of chronic health conditions.  When a person doesn’t get full enough breaths, the cardiovascular system doesn’t work at full efficiency because it’s compressed.  When proper lung capacity isn’t continuously utilized, it becomes a struggle to get deep breaths. Over the short-term, kids will most likely be tired and low on energy. But there’s more… There are nerves in the upper back that control the heart and lungs that can eventually deform.  If the spine deforms at an early age, there is constriction and the possibility of disrupting their nerve supply in the upper back which can further effects on heart, lungs and even stomach digestion.  And because there is constant tension on the neck as well, they are far more likely to develop chronic headaches.

Having the head bent forward too often can also produce ill effects.  Every inch of forward head posture places an additional 10 lbs of pressure on the muscles and joints of the neck.  Good news is that it can be corrected.  Young people can be fully corrected because the bones are still growing (usually until the early 20’s).  While the bones are still growing there is a possibility for full correction because you can literally guide the growth, But everyone can benefit with a combination of posture correction as well as chiropractic care and corrective exercises.

One thing I do in my clinic is show patients what good posture is.  When children are taught at a young age how to “stand up straight” it can virtually shape the way they carry themselves throughout life (not only with posture, but showing confidence as well!) Teach your kids an example of good posture by having them stand with their back against the wall with heels, glutes, upper back and back of head against the wall with the chin somewhat down.

And follow some of these Tips for Texting:

  • Maintain an upright posture while texting – Avoid bending your head down and rounding your shoulders
  • Hold your phone up to face level when using
  • Rest the thumbs by using alternative fingers
  • Utilize voice-to-text so you can speak you’re message that will be typed out
  • Use a neutral grip when holding the device. A neutral grip is when the wrist is straight, not bent in either direction
  • Reduce your keystrokes. More keystrokes equals more strain on your hands and thumbs—so keep your messages brief

 

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Using Chiropractic to Improve Posture & Reduce Pain

Posted on September 3, 2014. Filed under: Children, Chiropractic, Healing, Health, Posture | Tags: , , , , , , , |

incorrect neck alignmentJust being aware of the proper neck & shoulder posture is the beginning of correcting the problem. With so many people hunched over computers and work stations these days, developing a forward leaning head posture is becoming more and more common.  Today’s “Age of the Internet” persuades everyone of all ages, especially our youth to spend what most would consider “way too much time” with eyes glued to the computer or smartphone device.  More often than not, the head is kept in a prolonged position with the neck bent and  leaning forward.   The problem is worsened when a person stands up, but instead of pulling their shoulders back and standing tall, they round them and allow the head to lean forward.

One way to check yourself is to stand against a wall and have someone look at you from the side.  If you are in complete alignment, they would be able to see an imaginary line through the center of the shoulder and up to the head.  The line should land through the middle of the ear.   (see photo for illustration)

An excellent way to help correct poor neck posture is the use of retraction & nodding neck exercises.  These types of exercises are designed to help gain control over postural neck muscles which have become weak and fatigued over time.  There are many methods in addition to these varying from lifting weights, muscle therapy, vibrational traction, manipulations, and postural re-education.   The list is almost endless of simple home based measures to state of the art appliances & tools.  Any help in the right direction is beneficial.

One great exercise starts with moving the head backwards to a position over the shoulders, then nodding up and down (with the head as far back on the shoulders as possible).  This nodding action affects the deep flexor muscles and can bring on an immediate pain reduction response.  Impaired muscle function has been shown to be a feature in painful neck disorders and exercises to retrain performance of the muscles can be effective in long term pain relief.

A variation of this same technique is to place your finger on the front of your chin.  Next, draw your chin backwards (away from your finger).  Proceed with this motion and go back and forth without dropping your head or looking down.  Repeat the motion several times.  This can be done every 30 minutes or so when sitting for extended periods of time.

Recovery from an injury like whiplash or headache prevention requires more than a symptomatic approach.  There are many different exercises that can be prescribed.  Dr. Steiner can help identify the best ones for your particular situation.

 

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