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.

 

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

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.

 

 

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

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

 

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

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.

 

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Is Sitting at the Computer Wrecking Your Health?

Posted on August 26, 2014. Filed under: Chiropractic, Exercise, Fatigue, Health, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

sitting at desk~by Dr. Gregory Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

 

In today’s society, more and more job positions are computer centralized requiring extended amounts of time sitting at a desk.  And it’s not only on the job, but at home and practically everywhere we go. Whether for work or pleasure, we spend a lot of time on the computer (including tablets and smartphones) and in turn spend a lot of time sitting in a stationary position.  Sitting down all day long can be terrible for your health, as it increases the likelihood of heart disease, weight gain, back aches and pain – among other ills.  Think about how much we sit – we sit at the office, we sit in the car, we sit to eat and even to watch tv!

Twenty years ago, the chiropractic issues I treated resulted from overwork of the spinal discs, usually brought about from manual type labor.  Now these discs in the back are becoming underworked.  The discs in your back function like a sponge.  Their job is to create a cushion between your bones but they must be nourished.  They need to flex and bend.  If they become undernourished and underused, decay sets in faster and they become more narrow and brittle.  The end result leads to increased back & joint pain.

Another result of “over-sitting” at a desk all day is incredibly poor posture.  I see patients starting to have an exaggeration of the head tipped forward with shoulders rolled inward and rounded. This forward tipping creates huge tensions on the neck.  Muscles become very imbalanced & the ones in the back of the neck are under strain all the time because things are rolled forward.  This creates weakness on one part of the body and tightness on the other part.  In the short run, this creates muscle tension.  If not corrected, the ligaments that hold the bones together actually over-stretch and the bones actually start to change shape.  If the neck and head are tilted just an inch forward, it can increase the weight of the head on the neck by 10 pounds.  A decade later that inch may have become more like 3 inches, increasing the weight of the head on the neck by 30 pounds.  This forward head position has become one of the most common causes of neck, head and shoulder tension and pain.

How can we fix this?  Small changes practiced consistently over a long period of time can make a big difference.  Try some of these:

Take hourly breaks.  Every hour, get up from the desk and walk around or stretch.  Do this for at least 2-5 minutes.  Set your mobile device or computer to alert you as a reminder to just move.

Optimize your workstation.  Fix your chair so that your legs bend at a 90 degree angle.  Have support for your upper and lower back.   Make sure your computer screen isn’t too low so that you need to bend your head down to look at it.

Sit the right way.  Try to sit tall with your shoulders back and stomach muscles engaged.  Tilt your pelvis forward and arch your lower back.  Don’t slouch or lean forward.

Exercise while at the desk.  Raise your legs while seated on your chair to stretch out your hip flexors.  Raise your arms over your head and then stretch to the left or right.  You can even do isolated isometric glute squeezes.

If you can multi-task while performing your office duties, you can teach your body to multi-task as well.  You don’t need to sit still like a statue as you work.  Ever hear of “getting those juices flowing”?  Your body will thank you for it!

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Standing Tall

Posted on October 27, 2011. Filed under: Exercise, Healing, Joints, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

by Dr. Gregory Steiner~

One of the little, silly catch-phrases we use at the clinic is “Take the Ouch! out of the Slouch.” It’s pitched at the level where everyone can remember it, and even for it’s simplistic -soundingness, there’s a lot in it.

So, let’s deal with real basics, and talk about posture from a chiropractic, mechanical and cosmetic view points.

As in so many areas of my professional life, while I learned a lot form my teachers, I’ve learned even more from the good ones and bad ones in weight training. As a general group, I would say that an unfortunate league table exists for rating how well or how badly people who lift weights wisely use their bodies natural capability. Here’s my evaluation – general impressions formed over years of watching, participating and treating men and women in all the categories.

In bottom place, bodybuilders.

In middle place, power lifters.

In absolute first place, Olympic lifters – as I’ve written many times and will do again, these people know how to stand, how to move, and how to lift great weights with great speed with impeccable co-ordination. All deserving kudos to them!

Ok, not all bodybuilders. In fact, the best ones will have learned how to balance out all main postural muscle groups in order to stand well, to present themselves in the best possible way.

Look at it this way. If you stand straight, you look better. If you stand straight, you breathe better. If you breathe better, your energy is better – and possibly your sleep. If your energy is better, you train better. You’ll have already completed the sequence – if you train better, you get bigger and stronger.

Sometimes various writers discuss posture, usually a physiotherapist, an alternative health practitioner, or another health professional. All the technicalities are good, and alternative health models that talk about releasing energy are fine as well – if they serve their purpose to motivate you to actually stand up straight – habitually. Not for an hour, or when you feel like it, but as a natural way of life.

Probably not “sexy” enough a topic to warrant much discussion in many magazines, you’ll find it’s more the authors who maintain something of the old-time physical culture approach to training that may mention or talk around the topic of posture. Bradley Steiner’s writing has a lot of this flavour – he deserves a read as well as a lot of attention, for two simple reasons. One, he walked the walk – Bradley built himself up from frailty to power and vitality by following these principles, and two, he’s has helped and inspired many, many others to do the same for many, many years. I don’t know if we have a common ancestor somewhere back there, but we share that experience, building from relative frailty to vitality and strength through training in both fitness and martial arts. Seek him out.

The physical culturists were way ahead of their time, though the word hasn’t been used much since WWII, as far as I know. So, why were they ahead of their time? For one, their philosophy from which they designed their training methods was wholistic. That word – “wholism” refers to a certain mindset on how things fit together, the emphasis in on systems. It’s one of the main reasons why wholistic practitioners have enjoyed an tremendous increase in popularity and utilisation of their methods, whether it be wholistic medical doctors, chiropractors or Alexander technique coaches.

In direct terms, the wholistic practitioner in the best sense of the word recognises how this bit connects and interacts with that bit, and how those two bits together work together to interact with the third bit. By contract, old-school medicine perceives the “person” as distinct from the body, and each part of the body as more or less distinct from the other parts. While strictly speaking in orthopedics – sorting out joints and other musculoskeletal structures there is a real use in fixing a battered knee, for example, how that knee affects the gait, and how that altered gait causes pain in the low back or neck receives little attention. In my clinic, for we assume from the start that whatever the problem, it’s connected to something else. Of it’s pain of long standing, there will almost always be some type of distortion as the body shifts to alleviate pain as best it can. If a problem is new, we look for underlying , undiscovered weaknesses or “stuck bits” that set the stage for injury, such as bent or twisted spines in muscles imbalances front and back (or agonist antagonist).

What I’m trying to do here is give some illustration of the principles in action. Physical culture expressed a philosophy enacted in total lifestyle. If I have a criticism about most of modern body building, it’s the overly narcissistic mind set that inverts priorities that lead to long life, good health and lots of energy. What I see is body-beautiful first, strength second, and health as an after thought.

Ok, we know that culture being the way it is, no one except really close family and friends really have much concern for your health, but I can equally guarantee you that every author in Hardgainer look at things the other way round, especially if they have a few years of experience and a few miles on the body. We want to stay fit and strong and looking good – forever! And it can be done.

Ok, we also know that many more people will reward you, shun you and form impressions of you, as you do of yourself – based on how you look. Your gym buddies will categorize you on your strength, and both of these are sources of real motivation.

So, what’s all this leading to? Remember what we said about some doctors looking at the body like a collection of body parts, each one with little relation to the others? And, recall how we discussed the wholistic viewpoint? Physical culture was like the wholistic way of seeing things – healthy mind, in healthy body, in a life lived according to those principles. In daily terms this meant acting and doing in ways to promote that bigger picture of health and vitality. You train hard, you train wisely, you rest well, you eat wisely- and guess what, you look fantastic as a result. Except there is an added bonus – you radiate a certain energy that others can sense, it’s part of what makes some people “naturally beautiful.”

There is some hard-edge scientific research that shows “symmetry” be a Very Big Deal in judgements of attractiveness. Muscle size is certainly part of it, but relative balance and shape counts for much more than sheer size – unless being a strength athlete is your driving goal. The point is, some of our desire for the Better Body may be biologically based, and it operates within us all the time though our exact expression of the desire can be modified according to culture and person.

As a case in point, picture any “charismatic” person you choose. How does that person stand? If you are picturing a slouch, let’s say your tastes are “unique!” The clearest examples of straight posture come from the military of course, and while the military posture can be too stiff – not at all like that of the Olympic lifters who have more “bounce and carriage,” it’s a lot more right than wrong. In my clinical experience I’ve worked enough years to track people’s posture. I rarely, rarely have seen long-term military-types develop that hunched over shuffle I see so much in either desk workers who don’t exercise, or manual workers who have strong back and weak stomachs. Rather, you can read the non-verbal communication that slouching – to the ex-military man – was and is seen as a sin with damnation as the penalty!

Believe it or not, taking postures (in conjunction with adopting facial expressions) characteristic of certain emotions generate real, measurable changes in physiology. For example, if a person assumes an angry posture and expression, heart rate and body temperature rises. If a person assumes the characteristics of fear, heart rate rises but temperature drops. So, there seems to be a direct posture – physiology connection, independent of environmental events that trigger.

So, let’s take this the other way around. If you slouch, there is more chance to feel depressed feelings. But, if you stand straight and tall, everything balanced and working well – you have much more of a chance to feel on top of your game.

In relation to training, what we’re trying to do is establish a basic level, foundational mind-body connection that let’s you know when your posture is “right.” If you can feel this, your margin of safety and future productivity in training has just increased dramatically – as well as your training longevity.

Look in a mirror – or better yet have a tailor look at you and measure you up; tailors and dress makers have an eye to rival the best health professionals. In my clinic I take digital photos of people to let them see what I see – which besides the off-balance and tilted shoulders and hips are shocked looks on patient’s faces when they recognise that being the human Tower of Pisa is not “normal.” After they accept that, we’re usually ready to get to work!

If you see a tilt, consult a sports oriented chiropractor, physio or doctor to advise you; Alexander technique practitioners do a good job as well. So, get to work and take the Ouch out of the Slouch!.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Stand Up Straight! Good Posture Basics…

Posted on September 27, 2011. Filed under: Aging, Joints | Tags: , , , , , |

By Dr. Greg Steiner

Usually I hear from moms and wives: “I keep telling him (her) to stand up straight! Quit slouching, or you’ll end up like your cousin Betsy who is the little old lady who is all bent over in the front row of the church!”

Ok, maybe that’s a paraphrase, but the essential worry and complaint that a Family Member A has noticed and is starting to worry about Family Member B’s slouch that isn’t going away.

It usually starts in high school, and sometimes even before – the teen age slouch. Sometimes it comes from a pain in the back caused by prolonged sitting; sometimes by sheer laziness; and sometimes from a psychological factor – either looking cool or being shy.

Regardless of the cause, what does good posture look like and how do you measure it?

Ok, grab Loved One B and stand them up and have them face a wall. You stand to their side. If they are standing correctly you should see a person that looks poised, balanced, and at ease all at the same time. Military people usually make a habit of standing very straight, but at times their stance is excessively rigid. Dancers who do modern and jazz usually stand very well – just as straight as the military folk, yet more relaxed. The surprise is that the people who lift weights in the Olympics usually have very good posture – athletic, straight, and very strong for all their size.

Ok, you have them there – what do you look for?

Look at the tip of the ear, the tip of the shoulder, the tip of the hip (usually along the seam line) and the tip of the ankle. If their posture is right, all these “tips” should be aligned along one vertical line.

If it’s wrong, many times the head is forward (called “Forward Head Tilt”).

At first there may not be more than an inch of misalignment, but given time this can develop into a slouch, and finally a great stoop and shuffling walk.

The way it works is like this: the human head weighs as much as a bowling ball. If all that weight starts to shift forward, something else in the body must adapt for you to keep balance. Imagine if your head flopped forward – without a counterbalance you would fall forward on every step. So, in order to move with balance your low and upper back change curve to keep you in a state of basic balance.

The problem is that this mechanism is a compensation for a problem, not a fix for it. In other words, if the forward head isn’t corrected and maintained, for every inch the head tilts the curve in the changes by an inch. Eventual result: back pain to go along with the likely neck pain and headaches!

Kids have it worse, if they carry a backpack that makes them bend too far forward; the load hastens the wear on the spine. If you do take the extra caring step and examine your family, you will be doing them a great favor if you help them correct the issue as soon as possible, before anymore wear takes place. Not one of those stooped, shuffling little old ladies started out that way or suddenly changed on their 60th birthday. No, they were once standing tall and straight. While it’s never too late to achieve some success with slouch and stoop, early detection and correction is always best.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...